Another edition of Pep Guardiola’s and Jurgen Klopp’s ongoing saga is in the books and the points were shared at the Etihad on this occasion. Liverpool came from behind to come away from Manchester with a point that helped the Reds keep pace with City in the title race. The equalizer came courtesy of Trent Alexander-Arnold whose strike found the bottom corner to silence the home crowd. Klopp’s side remain one point behind their rivals in third but that is not to understate the significance of a result that stops the Cityzens registering a 100% home record in 2023.
The 56-year-old will undoubtedly be the happier of the two parties knowing Liverpool were under the cosh for large portions of the game but managed to dig deep in the closing stages to see out a vital result for the club’s title aspirations. Here’s a look at the big talking points from the weekend’s top of the table clash.
Alexander-Arnold’s tidy finish into the bottom left hand corner won’t be looked back on as THE hammer blow in the title race but it certainly ensured that Liverpool walked away the ‘winners’ of the day. The defender’s performance on Saturday proved to be a difference maker. Many a Reds fan could be forgiven for dreading City’s attacking threat at the weekend, with a particular focus on the right-back’s capability in the pre-match build-up. But those concerns were laid to rest as the game went on. City’s newest Belgian acquisition Jeremy Doku came into the fixture in fine form, and demonstrated much of the talent that led Guardiola to part with £55.5 million this summer. It was always going to be a tough task to contain the dynamic left winger but for the most part Trent did exactly that. The City attacker slipped by on occasion but the England international was strong enough in defence, winning the ball nine times over the 90 minutes, more than any other player from either side, and went on to provide his side with the all-important equalizer.
The upshot? Trent’s performance ultimately overshadowed everyone else’s come the final whistle, even Erling Haaland’s record-breaking 50th goal from 48 Premier League games. A promising sign of things to come.
The boss will be similarly pleased with the rest of his defence, particularly the output of Greek international Kostas Tsimikas. The 27-year-old came into the side under immense pressure to fill the shoes of injured left-back Andrew Robertson and sadly failed to deliver initially. His first few outings forced Joe Gomez to play out of position to compensate for the Greek’s shortcomings but thankfully for Klopp, Tsimikas put in a showing on Saturday that would’ve put his mind at ease. He followed up a confidence-building performance against Brentford with a consummate display at the Etihad in the most important game this campaign. He was rarely troubled down his flank, snuffing out any potential danger and giving Liverpool impetus to go forward and counter. He was arguably Liverpool’s best defensive performer on the day. In the biggest game of the season he delivered and repaid the faith shown in him by the manager.
It was a similar story in midfield with all eyes on how Klopp’s rebuilt engine room would fare against the toughest opposition the Premier League has to offer. In the early stages Liverpool were struggling to find their rhythm but that was to be expected; this side often has the lion’s share of possession and that was never going to be the case against City.
The hosts put a lot of pressure on the ball in tight areas throughout the game, but despite that adversity, Liverpool’s midfield showed great determination and often posed a threat on the counter-attack until they could establish more of a foothold in the game. Alexis MacAllister did his job at no.6 too with the best passing accuracy on the pitch while also making three tackles and two interceptions. Off the bench there were positive showings from Ryan Gravenberch, Harvey Elliott and Wataru Endo, all of whom added impetus to Liverpool’s attack while providing the necessary energy to keep City at bay in the closing stages. All things considered, the rebuild is working and should have the Reds front and centre in the title mix as the season goes on. Punters can enjoy a range of betting offers when placing a bet on Liverpool to win the league this season.
Surprisingly, perhaps the only potential cause for concern from that Saturday is the performance of Alisson in goal. The Brazilian was not himself in between the sticks, with unconvincing passing matched by some unforgivable naivety on the ball. The most criminal offence however was the error that led to the goal. A slip up while trying to find Salah gave the ball away cheaply and the subsequent attempt at stopping the Norwegian’s effort finding the back of the net was underwhelming having got both hands to the ball. The shot-stopper was on his last legs at full-time suffering from what appeared to be cramp and while fans will be dearly hoping it’s nothing more serious, had it not been for Trent’s effort in the 80th minute, it’s likely their inevitable fury would’ve been directed at the 31-year-old’s questionable display. Regardless, Liverpool walked away from the biggest game of the season with a crucial point and brimming with belief that if they can improve on that performance, Klopp’s side will have a big say in the destination of the title.