It was a day that started with talk of Sergio Aguero’s return and of Raheem Sterling’s first encounter with Liverpool since his much protracted summer move.
It ended with Kolo Toure enjoying a three-minute cameo as a central-midfielder / right-winger hybrid with the Reds 4-1 up. What a time to be alive indeed.
Mate, Kolo is playing CDM away at the Etihad and we’re winning 4-1. What a time to be alive!
— Zak Forster (@ZakForster_AI) November 21, 2015
There’s no doubting that this was the most complete performance we’ve seen in Jurgen Klopp’s short tenure so far. It wasn’t just the scoreline that enthralled, although a 4-1 win at Manchester City was enough to make us all feel giddy. It was the manner with which the tricky Reds dismantled their opponents. We played them at their own game – with all manner of tricks and flicks, dummies and backheels – and emerged as the undisputed victors.
The Reds flew out of the blocks quicker than Charlie Adam gobbles down a KFC. It was the best first half from any Liverpool side since the 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal back in the hedonistic days of 2013-14 and that Klopp has achieved such a performance after less than two months in charge is a remarkable achievement. The arrogance and swagger, which has been so desperately missing for almost 18 months, returned with aplomb. Emre Can’s backheel for the third goal was sumptuous. Adam Lallana’s second-half dummy was a moment of outstanding awareness. And I don’t even know where to begin with Philippe Coutinho’s mesmerising first-touch and dink to Roberto Firmino, who in turn went close with a left-footed volley. Four touches of the ball in the air, all perfectly controlled as the Man City defence watched in awe. Had Firmino found the back of the net, it would have rivalled our third strike for goal of the season.
We all marvelled at the pressing and counter-attacking in the first half, but the more considered second-half performance was equally as impressive. Prior to Saturday’s game, no Premier League side had scored more goals than Man City this term, but aside from two moments when we quite literally gifted them possession (I’m looking as you, Messrs Skrtel and Milner) they simply did not threaten.
What’s more, a setback such as Aguero’s goal on the stroke of half-time would have unnerved recent Liverpool teams, but the mettle and calmness in the first 15 minutes of the second half was astounding. Man City started the day as league-leaders and named a front four that cost in excess £150m to assemble, but they were nullified by Dejan Lovren. Who’d have thought it?
Whisper it quietly, but there may even be more to come.
We thrashed Man City without our best defender, our captain and our best player. Just think what we might be able to achieve when Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge return to the fold. And that’s before the likes of Jon Flanagan, Danny Ings and Joe Gomez are even considered.
“The game was not perfect, but it was very good,” Klopp said after the final whistle. “The good news is that we can do better.”
If Klopp is suggesting that Saturday’s performance can be bettered, then strap yourselves in. We’re in for a hell of a ride.