Liverpool v Manchester City: great games in the Klopp-Guardiola era

The first meeting between Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City took place at Anfield in December 2016 과, 후 much hype, proved an anticlimax – a low-quality encounter that ended in narrow victory for the hosts. The teams met again four months later at the Etihad Stadium and this time there was no disappointment. The game was a barnstormer, full of speed, skill, aggression and ambition as both sides went at each other from the start. There were two goals – a James Milner penalty on 51 minutes cancelled out by Sergio Agüero’s strike soon after – and there would have been more but for poor finishing by both teams. This was a breathless contest marked by moments of drama and controversy – Milner was fortunate not to be sent off for a first-half foul on Raheem Sterling – a precursor for what was to come.

The teams’ first meeting of the new season was less a contest and more a pummelling. City tore Liverpool apart, with Kevin De Bruyne especially excellent for the hosts. The visitors had no answer for the Belgian, nor for how to cope with 10 players after Sadio Mané’s sending-off on 37 minutes for an accidental but reckless collision with Ederson that led to the goalkeeper being carried away on a stretcher. By Klopp’s admission Liverpool wilted after the red card, conceding two goals apiece from Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sané, after Agüero’s opener on 24 의사록, and this was almost certainly a game, along with others to come, notably against Tottenham, to make it clear to the German he needed Virgil van Dijk. Liverpool had failed to sign the Dutchman from Southampton that summer but would not be denied come January.

Van Dijk had completed his £75m move to Anfield by the time City arrived for this game but did not feature because of a tight hamstring. 그, 일부, explained another ragged defensive display by Liverpool but, 정말, the story was how aggressive and explosive they were in attack, notably during a nine-minute spell in the second half when Roberto Firmino, Mané and, in especially spectacular fashion, Mohamed Salah scored to make it 4-1. 그것은 front three in full flow. City fought back, with Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gündogan scoring late on to add to Sané’s 40th-minute strike, which had cancelled out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s early opener, but suffered a first defeat of the season. No longer invincible, City remained imperious, going on to win the title with a string of landmark achievements, 포함 most points (100) and most wins (32) in Premier League history.

Not an especially fun encounter but that’s because by this stage things had become very serious between these sides. They were the top two and this was in effect a title decider, with Liverpool travelling to Manchester seven points clear of City and really needing only a draw. City had to win to save the championship and did so thanks to goals from Agüero and Sané either side of a Firmino header. Through a combination of determination and quality, and spurred on by a raucous crowd, they had cut the gap and would retain the title at the end of an absorbing race, while for Liverpool there was ultimately a sense of what might have been, given John Stones’s clearance of a chance that technology showed was only 1.12cm away from crossing the line. There was also a sense of injustice after a two-footed lunge by Vincent Kompany on Salah that resulted in a booking for City’s captain but probably should have led to a red.

The last occasion Liverpool and City met in front of spectators and one the majority of those inside Anfield throughly enjoyed. The hosts delivered a complete performance; secure at the back and deadly in attack, with Fabinho, Salah and Mané scoring the goals that restored Liverpool’s eight-point lead at the top and put them well and truly on course for that first title in 30 연령. Bernardo Silva got one back for City but they were well beaten, although the visitors could argue things would have been different had Michael Oliver awarded them penalties for two handballs involving Trent Alexander-Arnold. The non-award of the latter led to Guardiola thrusting two fingers towards the sky and repeatedly shouting, “Twice!”, and in that moment this particular rivalry had provided something else memorable and noteworthy: a meme.

Three months after Liverpool had blown away City at Anfield, they did it again, this time in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final. Amid the din of a classic European night at Anfield, the hosts flew out of the traps, swarming over their opponents and scoring thee times inside 31 의사록, courtesy of Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mané. City were shellshocked and their cause had not been helped by Guardiola’s odd tactical approach, namely playing Aymeric Laporte at left-back and Gündogan instead of Sterling at right wing. He’d clearly been spooked by what had happened in the league game but the tinkering only had the effect of destabilising, and confusing, his team. It was also a sign of things to come in regards to Guardiola’s approach to crunch Champions League fixtures. 리버풀, 그 동안에, won the second leg at the Etihad 2-1 and progressed to the final in Kyiv, where they lost to Real Madrid. Loris Karius and all that.

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