NO LESS than four pages of the newly-tabloided Guardian were devoted to the Liverpool versus Manchester City game and across the media, there was mild rejoicing that City are, after all, only human.
Liverpool put on a superb display, there’s no denying that, Klopp declaring that “we made the right statement”. The Guardian said that every part of Liverpool’s team “thunked into place”, thanks to Klopp’s hard-running, hard-pressing style.
Liverpool are looking remarkably Dortmund-esque, and in some ways, they are facing their own Bayern Munich in City. The BBC noted that very few teams in the Premier have got the energy and pace to play the way Liverpool did against the Premier leaders. “Liverpool’s fitness levels were excellent.”
The Telegraph, meanwhile, gave gegenpressing the credit for the victory that ended City’s 22-game unbeaten run. The newspaper said it was a win in Klopp’s image – full of heart and absolutism – with just a hint of vulnerability. “It was a joy to watch,” said the Reds’ manager. However, Miguel Delaney, in The Independent, said City’s sense of invincibility and aura had taken a big hit. And the likes of Raheem Sterling failed to rise to the occasion, allowing himself to be distracted by the jeers of the fans that once sung his name. “He played poor pass after poor pass”.
Liverpool made City look anything but runaway Premier leaders, to quote Delaney, “more like 2015-16 than 2017-18”.
Nevertheless, City’s start to the season has been bettered only twice in Premier League history, Manchester United in 2010-11 when they were beaten in game 25 and of course, the Arsenal team of 2003-04 which avoided defeat all season in the league.
The result was welcomed by many as it breathed a little life back into the title race, although nobody seriously expects City will be caught. Pep Guardiola insists it is far from over and in recent weeks, City have been more challenged than at any time this season. Rory Smith of the New York Times notes that Crystal Palace held them 0-0 at Selhurst Park and Bristol City gave them a tricky game in the Football League Cup. And now Liverpool really got under their skin. “All three did so by refusing to be cowed by City. Most teams, faced with Guardiola’s expansive style and swirling passing patterns, had decided simply to batten down the hatches and hope for the best.”
Smith goes on to claim Liverpool have some of City’s qualities, but they cannot roll them out as reliably as City have this season. Tottenham, too, have that skill set, but not enough to catch City. Smith concludes that Liverpool’s win does not represent an “Independence Day moment” (the movie, that is, when the aliens are finally overcome by a virus), but it merely guarantees that City would not be unbeaten all season. They’re applauding that in North London!
Sources: BBC, Guardian, Independent, New York Times, Telegraph