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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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HERE IT IS, then.

Forget Super: this is gargantuan, head-spinning, teeth-rattling, sense-frazzling, make-your-plans-six-days-in-advance Sunday that might yet combust beneath the weight of its own anticipation.

But should we all manage to survive to 4.30pm this afternoon, then we will have the delicious prospect of a bona-fide title six-pointer – if not decider – in the middle of November.

It’s Liverpool versus Manchester City at Anfield in the Premier League aaaaannnnddd it’s liiiiiiive…..on Sky Sports but also here in largely HTML form on The42.

Happily, this is a game both sides feel they need to win.

Liverpool are six points clear of Manchester City, but bear the painful lessons of last season’s breathless race: they can’t rely on anyone else to take points off the champions.

They managed just a point off City last season – it might well have been zero had Riyad Mahrez not skied his late penalty at Anfield – and have stumbled onto a good time to face Guardiola’s injury-depleted side.

Liverpool will also recognise the need to strike while the iron is hot. Bar the opening-day injury to Alisson, they have been relatively injury-free this season and know that injuries may yet come amid a ludicrous upcoming schedule that will see them play at least 12 games – probably 13 is they win their Club World Cup semi-final – between the last weekend of November and the second day of the new year.

They have traditionally dipped in January under Klopp – even last season they spluttered with costly draws against Leicester and West Ham – so today’s a chance to better insure themselves against what is to come.

Guardiola, meanwhile, isn’t used to chasing runaway leaders across his career, so will feel he can’t afford to fall any further behind than his side already are.

His side have a host of injury issues – albeit perhaps things aren’t as bad as they looked in midweek – and must deal with their appalling record at Anfield, where City haven’t won since 2003.

Throw in the fact that virtually all of the clashes between these sides have been utterly compelling, garnish that with the trickling down of the clubs’ enmity to the managers, and this game should live up to the hype.

Let’s just hope it’s not decided by some VAR nonsense.

Get in touch with us during the game: email gavincooney@the42.ie, tweet @gcooney93 or leave a comment below the line.

Team news comes next….

Team News 

Liverpool

Here we are then. 

Liverpool are almost at full-strength, with Dejan Lovren continuing in the absence of the injured Joel Matip the only deviation from what has become Jurgen Klopp’s go-to side in big games. 

Fabinho and Jordan Henderson return to midfield; the front three assemble once again. 

Manchester City 

City are injury-depleted but not to the extent as they may have been. As expected, Claudio Bravo starts in place of the injured Ederson, but Rodri has passed a late fitness test and returns to anchor the midfield. 

Angelino is trusted at left-back to face Salah, while Fernadinho and John Stones are the central defensive duo amid Laporte’s absence. 

Otherwise, City line up as you might expect – David Silva is fit enough to make the bench. 

Another significant – and unexpected – absentee from the City squad is Benjamin Mendy, whose absence is reported to be wholly tactical. 

The clash between Angelino and – an admittedly rusty-looking – Mo Salah down City’s left could be significant. 

Ederson’s absence also means that Scott Carson – remember him? – is promoted to City’s bench. 

He should be reasonably well-remembered among fans at Anfield: he played in the home leg of the Champions League quarter-final leg against Juventus, which ended with a 2-1 win and sent Liverpool on their way to Istanbul. 

soccer-uefa-champions-league-quarter-final-first-leg-liverpool-v-juventus-anfield Source: EMPICS Sport

This is the clash of the best two sides in England – and possibly in Europe – but a couple of the weekend’s results mean that this isn’t a meeting of the top two. 

Capture

BusWatch 

Man City’s bus was hit by…a volley of abuse and nothing more on its way to Anfield this afternoon. 

Statistics 

  • Man City have failed to win any of their last 18 visits to Anfield in all competitions, the worst run they’ve had at any ground in the Premier League’s history. They last won here under Kevin Keegan in 2003. 
  • City haven’t even scored in four of their last five trips to Anfield. 
  • Pep Guardiola has lost to Jurgen Klopp eight times – more often than against any other opponent. 
  • Liverpool have won 41, drawn eight and lost just one of their last 50 Premier League games. That defeat? Why, it was away to Manchester City…
  • Liverpool haven’t lost a league game at Anfield since April 2017, and have won 19 of their last 20 home league games.

While it’s difficult to look beyond this mega-event, given it has dominated the horizon all week, but City have a fairly tricky run of fixtures (on paper!) coming up.

After today, they face Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Leicester across their next six league games. 

Elsewhere today…

  • Manchester United 3-1 Brighton
  • Wolves 2-1 Aston Villa 

 

Pep Guardiola sometimes acts as if football is the most complicated human endeavour, but when asked by Sky about his side’s approach today, it was all pretty simple. 

“Try to win the game. Run when we don’t have the ball and play when we do have the ball.”

Reminder that kick-off at Anfield is at 4.30pm. 

“If the difference is nine points, for me, goodbye.” 

Jose Mourinho on Sky reckons the title race is done if Liverpool win today. 

He then classically says that a draw would be a great result for Liverpool. 

In further classical Liverpool-baiting from Jose, he leans over to Vincent Kompany in the Sky studio, grabs his hand and says, “When I gave you the title [in 2014] you didn’t call me to say thank you.” 

Klopp says that Liverpool will need a “high frustration tolerance” today given the fact that City are quite good. 

They will attack and they will have their moments, so we have to make sure we start good, continue good and finish good.” 

Jurgen Klopp asked Liverpool fans to arrive early for this game, and the ground was pretty much packed 15 minutes ahead of kick-off. 

Not long to go now…

The teams are in beginning to gather in the tunnel.

Anfield, meanwhile, which Guardiola called a “bugger of a ground” earlier this year, has brought the noise to meet them. 

That said, the noise is likely to be stilled for a moment as a giant poppy is carried onto the field. 

The sides emerge to a thronged Anfield. 

A reminder of the teams: 

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Winjaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Man City: Bravo; Walker, Fernandinho, Stones, Angelino; Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan; Bernardo, Aguero, Sterling

You’ll Never Walk Alone clashing off the walls inside Anfield as the players gather on the centre-circle ahead of the armistice silence. 

The silence is observed impeccably….and there’s a hell of a roar at the end of it. 

Here we go! 

Context: City will attack the Kop in the first half, and Michael Oliver is the referee. 

1Mins

City begin on the front-foot, and win a corner in the very first minute. 

3Mins

It comes to nothing. Liverpool try and clear a throw-in but City’s press is extremely high, and they win it back immediately. Liverpool haven’t completed a pass from open play yet. 

3Mins

Robertson fouls Bernardo down the left-flank, with De Bruyne to take. Liverpool can’t breathe at the moment. 

4Mins

Dreadful ball by De Bruyne, hits the first man but does drop behind for a corner. 

4Mins

The cor

The corner is better, but Stones glances his header way wide of Alisson’s goal. 

8Mins

GOOOALLLLL! Liverpool 1-0 Man City (Fabinho)

Ho-lee hell! Fabinho lashes home a strike from 30 yards beyond Bravo, stuning! 

City are furious, though, as they believe Alexander-Arnold should have been penalised for handball in his own box a minute earlier, a clearance from which Liverpool broke and scored! 

VAR checked the handball and said no, so Liverpool stand. 

8Mins

Blimey – the ball definitely hit Alexander-Arnold’s hand in the box, and it had travelled a fair old distance. 

The referee said no, and VAR evidently decided that it wasn’t clear and obvious. 

9Mins

What a chance for Sterling! 

A whipped free-kick from the left, Sterling beats the offside trap but glances wide in front of the near post, with oceans of room. 

10Mins

Liverpool’s goal was totally against the run of play, and continues to be. City are pressing so high, and they can’t knit together a few passes. 

11Mins

City are so dominant here. Now Fabinho fouls Bernardo on the edge of the box, so De Bruyne will show an interest in this….

11Mins

Another huge City chance!

De Bruyne whips the ball in from the right, again City beat the offside trap – looking at you Dejan Lovren – Aguero and then Rodri completely miss the ball from yards out. 

14Mins

GOAL! LIVERPOOL 2-0 Man City (Salah)

A second attack and Liverpool, incredibly, score again! Alexander-Arnold switches play from right to left, Robertson whips the ball into the area and Salah – brilliantly – heads the ball first-time beyond Bravo. 

This is efficiency at a ludicrous rate from Liverpool. Guardiola has slumped, dismayed, in his chair. 

15Mins

Odd one on the Salah goal – he looked to be slightly offside on the first replay, but VAR found no issue with it and there was hardly a delay in it being confirmed. 

Hmmmm. 

16Mins

It’s not just that Liverpool have scored with two shots, they’ve scored with their only two attacks. 

They are beginning to pass the ball with a bit more comfort now, to that point City were totally dominant. 

18Mins

Think you’ve had a bad week? 

18Mins

Liverpool are now finding a few gears, and a lovely move down the right is thwarted by an offside flag. 

20Mins

Liverpool now stroking the ball about with total comfort. City’s high press has lost a bit of its intensity. 

21Mins

Wijnaludm links with Mane, drives into the box and his shot -going wide – is hacked behind by Fernandinho. 

21Mins

Rodri clears Alexander-Arnold’s corner. 

23Mins

Fabinho gets pinged for a very deliberate trip on Gundogan in midfield, and gets a talking to from Michael Oliver. You’d imagine he is one more foul from a booking, and was lucky to get away with that one. 

23Mins

City work that free-kick left to Sterling, having taken it short, and he wins a corner. 

23Mins

Again it’s an awful corner that doesn’t clear the first man. Liverpool look like breaking but the switch of play to Salah runs out of play. 

24Mins

Alisson saves! 

Aguero cuts in from the left, ‘megs Fabinho, and curls a shot toward the far-corner that Alisson beats away. 

27Mins

Salah, foolishly referred to as rusty by, um, this blog, has been sensational and is giving Angelino a torrid time. His skill and tenacity earn Liverpool a couple of chances, the best of which resulted in a delightful Henderson cross to the penalty spot, where Firmino was missing in action. 

Given the amount of space Salah is finding, it’s hard not to see Liverpool scoring again here…

29Mins

Angelino hits the post!

Wow, what a ball by De Bruyne to pick out Anglino surging into the box, and his shot is deflected and hits the post. Another corner for City…

30Mins

…again Liverpool allow the corner go short, and it finds De Bruyne in the right channel, but his cross is beaten away by Alisson. 

32Mins

Angelino is struggling defensively, but he is making an impact going forward. His first-time cross to the back post was slightly ahead of Aguero on that occasion, but that looks a decent attacking outlet for City. 

33Mins

Salah burns Angelino down the left again, and it ends with Walker heading a Henderson cross behind for a corner. 

33Mins

Lovren gets his head to the corner at the front post, but the ball evades Mane at the back post and City survive. 

34Mins

Sterling wins a corner of Alexander-Arnold. Needless to say Sterling has been roundly booed so far. 

36Mins

De Bruyne hits another poor corner – right into Alisson’s arms. Liverpool break, and it ends with Firmino sending Walker out for the newspaper with a dummy before toe-poking a shot over the bar. 

37Mins

Bravo slices the ball out of play as Liverpool’s front three press up and close a few passing lanes for him. Pep applauds him generously, but that’s a little snapshot of how City are missing Ederson today. 

38Mins

And Bravo makes a save! Stunning Alisson pass is controlled by Alexander-Arnold, who is allowed drive into the box, he lays it off to Firmino but his shot is right at the City ‘keeper. 

38Mins

With a hint of frustration, Walker slams a shot from distance high and wide. 

39Mins

Salah is in trouble here, he is on the ground clutching the right ankle that has been causing him bother of late. He picked it up in an inch-perfect tackle made by Fernandinho. 

40Mins

We’ve finally got the replay of Salah’s goal – it was just onside. 

Salah is back up and moving about. 

42Mins

Aguero….wide! 

De Bruyne slips Aguero in, but his shot across Alisson is narrowly wide of the far, right-hand post. Close! 

45Mins

Long spell of City possession ends with a couple of crosses, cleared by Robertson and then Lovren. After the latter, Liverpool break but a through-ball for Mane hits the forward’s heel and the counter is thwarted. 

45Mins

Liverpool attack again, Salah sweeps a shot goalward from distance but Bravo saves! 

46Mins

Aguero manages to find space in the box, but shoots at Alisson. 

45Mins

Half-time: Liverpool 2-0 Man City 

Well. City were by far the better side in the opening 15 minutes or so…but ended that period of dominance 2-0 down. Like that Champions League quarter-final the season before last, they return to the dressing rooms reeling at the scoreline. 

They have played pretty well here, but Liverpool have grown more confident and look utterly lethal on the counter. Guardiola’s players are pressing Liverpool aggressively, but once they beat that, they are finding a lot of space around that makeshift defence. 

City haven’t played too badly, but need to find a goal. 

Also – if you’re following this blog along with the coverage on Sky – that beeping Casio alarm you heard was on the TV. 

This, and further important insight, in the second half in a few minutes! 

45Mins

There are ructions over the lead-up to Liverpool’s opening goal. The ball definitely hit Alexander-Arnold’s hand in the Liverpool box, but the referee and VAR said no penalty. Our old friends, the PGMOL, say that it wasn’t given as Alexander-Arnold’s arm was not in an unnatural position, and also didn’t have enough reaction time to get his hand out of the way. 

Trent

45Mins

Pep is back on the touchline, shaking his head and gesturing to fourth official Mike Dean. 

45Mins

Peeeeeep! We’re back underway! 

45Mins

There are no changes for either side. 

45Mins

Sky have confirmed – as if we needed it – that Guardiola and the City staff are furious about the handball in the lead-up to the opening goal. 

Unless something seismic happens in the second-half, it will dominate post-game. 

48Mins

Sterling tricks with Alexander-Arnold and wins a corner. IT’s taken short, worked to Gundogan and the shot hits Firmino and drops over for another corner. 

Again it’s short, and again De Bruyne’s delayed delivery is too close to Alisson. 

52Mins

GOAL! Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City (Mane)

Jordan Henderson turns De Bruyne, and whips in a stunning cross from the right touchline, it goes over Bravo and finds Mane at the back stick, who falls and nods the ball into the corner, via a deflection. 

Mane couldn’t miss – take a bow Jordan Henderson! 

52Mins

Sterling jinks into the area, feigns to shoot once…twice…and the third is deflected over, superbly, by Lovren! 

54Mins

Again City play the corner short – they’ve played virtually all of them short – but this one bounces around the box and the move ends with Aguero being flagged offside. 

54Mins

Liverpool look like they can cut through this City defence at will. Now Firmino shoots over. 

57Mins

City break by cutting out one of those cross-field Alexander-Arnold passes, but Walker’s low cross is headed clear by van Dijk. 

Liverpool respond by playing in Firmino – blocked by Fernandinho – and crossing from Alexander-Arnold – sliced behind by Fernandinho. 

59Mins

Oooh, City waste a two-on-two with a pass that centimetres behind Sterling, forcing him to check back. Henderson eventually wins it back off him. 

City attack again, and De Bruyne wins another corner. It’s City’s tenth. 

And again it’s into Alisson’s hands. At least this one wasn’t short. 

60Mins

The decisive feature in this game – thus far! – has been the (lack of) quality in City’s defence. 

But they have misfired in other areas – they haven’t been as incisive on the counter as Liverpool, and De Bruyne’s delivery has been oddly poor. 

60Mins

Change for Liverpool – James Milner coming on for Jordan Henderson. 

63Mins

Liverpool totally dominant now. Fabinho tries his luck from distance again, but its cleared. 

They come again, and find Salah in an absurd amount of space to the right of the six-yard box, but Fernandinho scurries across and blocks the shot. 

64Mins

Sterling screams for a penalty having gone down around Mane and Alexander-Arnold. Referee says no, and Rodri is booked for arguing Sterling’s case. 

65Mins

City have another corner. One of these must stick at some point…

66Mins

..that one didn’t: Firmino won the ball above Stones. 

Alexander-Arnold counters, goes down in the City box but the referee is once again unmoved. 

68Mins

What a chance for Aguero! 

Oooohhhh – De Bruyne cuts in from the left, squares it to Aguero, but the striker completely misses the ball. Any kind of connection and the ball would have gone in. 

He still hasn’t scored a goal at Anfield, remarkably. 

68Mins

There was a great moment before that – the camera cut to Sean Cox, who is back at Anfield for the first time since that appalling attack in 2018. 

70Mins

That’s it for Aguero – Gabriel Jesus replaces him. 

73Mins

Another divine Alexander-Arnold switch to Robertson leads to the left-back slipping through a ball for Milner, which Stones does well to intercept and put behind for a corner, which City clear. 

73Mins

Oh my word. Summing up City’s day: Bravo plays a kick-out about two yards to Stones, who just shanks the ball into the stand. 

Dismal. 

75Mins

Sterling cuts inside Alexander-Arnold, but a backtracking Mane gets his foot to the ball and kicks it back to Alisson, who reacts by putting the ball out for a corner. 

Again the corner is short, again it comes to nothing. 

78Mins

GOAL! Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City (Bernardo, 78′)

City finally score. Angelino’s low cross from the left is swept across for Bernardo, who scores with a first-time shot into the corner.

The couldn’t, could they? 

79Mins

Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Liverpool; Firmino off. 

80Mins

Big chance City! 

Sterling one-two with De Bruyne, but instead of shooting in the area he squares it for Jesus, and it is just behind him! 

This game isn’t over yet…

80Mins

Sterling now beats Alexander-Arnold, but his squared ball is too close to Alisson. 

Anfield is getting nervy…

81Mins
83Mins

Guardiola is going mad on the bench again. Sterling slalomed into the box again, and his shot hit Alexander-Arnold’s hand at point-blank range. 

Fair that it wasn’t a penalty, in this blog’s humble opinion. 

83Mins

City are in total control here, and Liverpool need the whistle. Sterling has the beating of Alexander-Arnold every time he gets the ball. 

85Mins

Angelno whips in another cross from the left that Lovren deals with. City get the ball back again, and recycle it out left again. 

Angelino crosses again, deep, but it’s headed over at the back-post by Walker! 

86Mins

Klopp tries to dam the flood – Joe Gomez coming on for Salah. They’ll go five at the back, and need to do something to deal with Sterling and Angelino down the City left. 

88Mins

Liverpool cannot keep hold of the ball. Anfield is pleading for time to tick a bit faster…

88Mins

City try to play a direct ball for Walker on the right wing, but it runs out of play. Robertson grins in response. Out of relief as much as anything else.

90Mins

Gomez is penalised for tugging at Sterling’s shirt as they chased a ball down the left wing. He is terrorising his former side by himself.

De Bruyne-territory this…

90Mins

…Jesus heads over but is flagged off anyway. 

Four added minutes. 

91Mins

Robertson intercepts a pass down the wing for Walker, and then boots the ball out for a throw-in. 

De Bruyne’s cross is headed clear by van Dijk, and Liverpool survive again. 

90Mins

De Bruyne slides a ball into the channel for Jesus, but Van Dijk follows him and shoves him off the ball. He then prevents the ball rolling out for a corner, and is kicked late by Sterling as he clears the ball, and wins a free-kick. 

Liverpool are home, here. 

Flag

Full-time: Liverpool 3-1 Man City 

All over – the gap goes to nine points, and eight at the top. City will moan with some justification over the opening goal, and then found themselves 2-0 down after a superb start. 

Liverpool were excellent from there, scored again, but were made to sweat when City scored late. Luck broke their way, but Liverpool were ultimately good enough to expose the weaknesses in City’s defence. 

Guaridola approaches the referee at the end, shaking his hand with a sarcastic ‘Thank you very much.’ 

Thank you for following – keep across The42 for reaction. 

Bye! 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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