Manchester City’s Unbeaten Run Ends; Liverpool’s Defensive Problems Persist

It took twenty-three matches, but Pep Guardiola and Manchester City’s stunning unbeaten run has finally come to an end at the hands of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. It’s a bit ironic that Guardiola’s side were beaten by his old, rival manager Jurgen Klopp, the man who less ironically has more wins against him than any other manager, but Liverpool coming out on top by a score of 4-3 was a result no one saw coming.

Pre-Match History

No one was expecting the result to go Liverpool’s way in such dramatic fashion but upon further analysis, it does make sense that City’s unbeaten run would come to an end at Liverpool’s home. Anfield has served as a tumultuous place for Manchester City to come over the past decade, with only one win since 2003, and that was on penalties in the league cup. Almost every single recent match at Liverpool’s home has ended with a Liverpool win. Famously, that 3-2 win back in April 2014, was supposed to be the match that finally ended up winning Liverpool the title. It did not and City kicked on to lift the trophy. But Anfield has still served as an uneasy place for Manchester City to go over the years and the last time the Citizens won at Anfield in the league was back in 2003. Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp has more victories against Pep Guardiola than any other manager, winning 6 of 12 encounters. So although Pep Guardiola’s team came into this match as clear favourites and were looking likely to go the entire season without even losing a single match, one could have foreseen the stars aligning given all the signs that were in place.

Ederson Collapses

Ederson Moraes has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League this season. With 10 clean sheets and 0.59 goals conceded per game, the Brazilian goalkeeper stands almost alone on a tiny island, as one of Europe’s top keepers this season. But when everyone was expecting Liverpool’s Loris Karius to have a bad day at the office, it was Ederson who fumbled in the big match and cost his side the victory.  Ederson made a key error in the second half of the game by giving the ball away right to the feet of Mo Salah, who barried the ball into the back of the net, making the score 4-1 at the time and essentially ending Man City’s hopes of winning the match. It was a shocking performance from Ederson, who is still a very young keeper learning his trade, but on three of the Reds’ four goals, the Brazilian keeper simply should have done better.

Salah, Firmino and Mane Run Riot

Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp didn’t miss Philippe Coutinho one bit against Manchester City and it’s hard to imagine that this result would have gone the exact same way had the Brazilian star been in the team. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stepped up brilliantly in his absence with a goal and an assist, but it was the front trio of Mohamaed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane who caught the eye once again. The trio looked lively in City’s half all game long, combining excellently well and together having a hand in all four goals. Salah in particular put in another eye-catching display, scoring and assisting a goal and running circles around Fabian Delph and Danilo. Roberto Firmino was also a non-stop running machine as usual while Sadio Mane had several great chances to score and hit the post moments before scoring the best goal of the night. With Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in their ranks, Liverpool won’t miss Philippe Coutinho one bit.

Liverpool’s Defensive Problems Persist

Liverpool had the match all done and dusted thanks to the fantastic trio mentioned above, but they nearly lost it at the end thanks to some more poor defending; letting a 4-1 lead slip to 4-3. It seems to be the trend every single game with Liverpool, yet it never seems to be properly addressed. The problem doesn’t necessarily lie at the hands of the personnel and it’s not even safe to say that 75 million-pound signing Virgil Van Dijk will fix the issue at hand. What needs to change is Liverpool’s approach to defending. Jurgen Klopp must already put in hours of work on defending in training every week but it seemingly never seems to pay off. Something isn’t right about that, and it’s not who they have in their lineup. When Klopp was at Borussia Dortmund he had one of the best back-lines in the world, comforted by solid defensive midfielders like Nuri Sahin and Ilkay Gundogan. Yet, they still conceded plenty of goals every single game because of silly mistakes and foolish errors. Klopp needs to sort this out and it’s not just about buying Virgil Van Dijk or anyone else; it’s about putting in the work on the training ground, changing up tried and tested methods and analyzing how the mistakes have been happening so that they don’t happen again.

Where Do Liverpool Go From Here? 

Manchester City will undoubtedly win the Premier League title. They remain fifteen points ahead of second place Manchester United, 21 goals up on goal difference. But their Liverpool loss does mean they won’t be the second team in history to become “invincible” (Arsenal achieved the feat back in 2003-04). It also means that City now have just one less loss than Liverpool, who have only been beaten by Tottenham and Manchester City themselves this season. The Reds have actually been really impressie lately and have quietly journeyed on an unbeaten run of their own that extends all the way back to late October (18 matches in all competitions). Perhaps Liverpool will be the team rather than Chelsea or Manchester United to give Man City the biggest run for their money in the title race this season. But it will certainly be all for nothing when Manchester City get going again. This might be the only loss Pep Guardiola’s team encounter all season long but it sure will be a historic one. For Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp will be hoping they kick on and at least make an attempt to challenge his biggest managerial rival.

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