All the storylines heading into Sunday’s gargantuan Premier League clash between Liverpool and Manchester City seemed to revolve around a potential winner. If Liverpool had won, they’d have leapt two points ahead. If City had won, the gap would have grown to four.
Instead, in the end, it was a draw. The status quo. A slim one-point lead for City remains. Liverpool’s goal differential edge—important if they end level on points—remains. Seven games are left to play. And Jürgen Klopp thinks it was probably the fair result.
“If we won today, which would have been possible but it would have been possible that we lost, we would have been two points up but it would have changed nothing,” Klopp said. “We have to be nearly perfect to beat this team in a game and over a season as well. Let’s see.”
It was also a game that saw both sides on top for stretches, and while City came out hard and controlled much of the possession in the first half the Reds still managed to prevent them from creating a wealth of dangerous opportunities—in the end, the two sides came out nearly level on chances created.
Territorial control, pressure, chance creation. The opponents, probably the two best sides in the world right now, approached the game in different ways and in the end ground their way to a result that’s hard to argue with but that feels a little less than conclusive.
What’s more, the two sides will meet again next weekend in the semi-final of the FA Cup, and when they do Klopp and Liverpool will have to look to take lessons from what didn’t work as well for them in the first half on Sunday and focus on their stronger second half performance.
“I knew we could improve,” he added on the half-time changes. “What we said at half-time—and what we said before the game already—was the way we have to defend because we had to be more brave in these moments.
“When we didn’t have that and we couldn’t put pressure on the ball then we were too high. The timing of their runs was outstanding and that’s why it was really tricky. But I liked a lot and that was actually the main message at half-time that when we controlled the game we caused them problems.
“Of course I would have loved it if we would have done it more often. We had 15 minutes [in the second half] where we were clear, kind of in control, but they got momentum back. You could see both teams wanted a minute, take a deep breath, and go again. A massive game.”