Liverpool 3 - 1 Manchester City
Liverpool: Fabinho 6’, Salah 13’, Mane 51’
Manchester City: Bernardo 78’
It’s no secret that this is a game that Liverpool have to win. You know it, I know it, whatever deity you worship knows it from above. And for all the hype, the facts are these: Liverpool, despite their winning record, haven’t been playing their best. Manchester City, despite their record and injuries, still have the power to do real damage to our title hopes here in November. If there ever was a time that we would need a convincing win, it’s against this “injured” City team.
Things start off with a Remembrance Day moment of silence and City deciding to attack the Kop end in the first half, which is just fine for us. City get into that area pretty easily, unfortunately, in these first three minutes.
It only takes three more minutes to find the first GOAL for Liverpool! Fabinho fires a rocket from outside the box after Sadio Mane pushes forward and City makes sure the midfielder gets on it. After those nervy three minutes, Liverpool are well on their way to controlling the game, although of course it’s still early.
Six minutes later? GOAL! A gorgeous ball from the right side (Jordan Henderson?) finds Andy Robertson who passes it to Mohamed Salah for Liverpool’s second goal of the game! Many of us were optimistic about this match, but I don’t know if anyone was “2 goals in the first fifteen minutes” optimistic. Now that we’ve got the lead, it’s a matter of maintaining it. Outside of that, the gorgeous balls have returned and Liverpool are playing smoothly and with sharp intent as they take advantage of City’s space.
City look a little bit more threatening in the half hour mark, getting into Liverpool’s third once again, but Alisson is also more ready than he was against United to make the big saves - he’s made about three so far. The threat only goes so far, as a couple of their shots have also been wildly off target. Liverpool finally get a corner at the 33rd minute and Robbo sends in a lovely curler towards Dejan Lovren but it goes just wide.
Even with the moments that City have looked able to score, Liverpool have been able to deal with it with ease — a pleasant change from the fights of the past few weeks.
The second half gets underway, and unsurprisingly Klopp hasn’t made any changes, and with the way we’ve been playing the only changes he might do are rotation later in the game.
SURPRISE GOAL! Jordan Henderson sends a pin perfect cross towards Mane to head it in and with the camera angles, it looks like it goes the other way but NO IT GOES IN! Liverpool are up 3-0 against City with nearly forty minutes left, which is fine. Maybe this is when nerves kick in? We just need Roberto Firmino to score and all of our front three will be on the board.
Whereas City... look potentially the worst they’ve ever been.
Klopp makes his first change of the game around the 60th minute, taking off Jordan Henderson (who has had a FANTASTIC game) for James Milner in what looks like a resting choice, as Henderson had been ill earlier in the week. Liverpool have been in complete control since the restart so James Milner shouldn’t have to do anything too hard to maintain it. Especially when Raheem Sterling decides he needs to dive to get any sort of call, and he’s right but not because he’s been fouled — because he keeps diving.
City make their first change, with Gabriel Jesus for Sergio Aguero because (thankfully) Aguero still hasn’t scored at Anfield and won’t today. This would be an ideal time to bring on some fresh legs, especially if we’re trying to preserve some formerly injured players. Just as this was typed, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lines up. In that moment City score their first GOAL of the day, through Bernardo. Roberto Firmino comes off for Chambo and we’ve got some fresh legs with about ten minutes to spare.
(I’m not even going to talk about Pep screaming about the second ”handball” when we’ve gotten quite a few not called for us today.)
Our midfield has lost a bit of control and City have been able to get back forward, but our defense has been able to dispatch any chances fairly quickly. Klopp makes his final change at the 86th minute, bringing on Joe Gomez for Mohamed Salah who definitely needs to rest that ankle that’s been bugging him.
Four minutes added to the second half for Liverpool to hold on tight.
Finally. Finally. A comfortable, calm, composed win without need for dying minutes theatrics. I’d forgotten what this felt like.