Liverpool takes command of title race after trouncing Manchester City

Manchester City's chances of winning a third straight title were dealt a big blow as clinical Liverpool earned a huge 3-1 win at Anfield.

Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane celebrate Liverpool's third goal against Manchester City on Sunday.   -  Getty Images

Liverpool ruthlessly dispatched title rival Manchester City 3-1 in a barnstorming clash at Anfield to open up a commanding eight-point gap at the top of the Premier League.

Fabinho rifled the Reds into a sixth-minute lead moments after the visitor was left seething when Trent Alexander-Arnold was not punished for a seeming handball in the penalty area.

Mohamed Salah doubled the lead in a pulsating start and Sadio Mane completed the ransacking early in the second half as Liverpool's hopes of ending 30 years of title pain earned a monumental boost despite Bernardo Silva's 78th-minute strike giving the visitor late hope of a revival.

Liverpool – which is now unbeaten in 17 Premier League contests with City at Anfield – has an eight-point lead over Chelsea and Leicester City but perhaps far more significant for Jurgen Klopp's men, is the cushion of nine it has over Pep Guardiola's defending champion.

City was outraged not to be awarded a fifth-minute penalty for handball against Alexander-Arnold and their sense of injustice was exacerbated less 60 seconds later when Fabinho picked up Ilkay Gundogan's poor clearance and lashed home an unstoppable 25-yard thunderbolt.

- AS IT HAPPENED -

Despite the setback, the away side continued to press the issue but Raheem Sterling wastefully headed wide from Kevin De Bruyne's whipped free-kick and City was made to pay.

Alexander-Arnold's exquisite cross-field ball found Andy Robertson, whose sublime left-wing cross was nodded home by Salah.

Sergio Aguero tested Alisson and surprise inclusion Angelino clipped the post in an action-packed first half, while Roberto Firmino and Salah drew good stops from City's stand-in keeper Claudio Bravo.

The game was essentially put to bed six minutes after the restart when Jordan Henderson hung up a wonderful cross from the right that Mane gleefully headed in at the far post.

Sterling and Alexander-Arnold were both denied penalties before City game themselves a glimmer of hope when Angelino's low centre was drilled home, via a slight kiss of the post, from Silva.

City had Liverpool on edge again shortly after but Gabriel Jesus failed to make clean contact when Sterling had seemingly laid one on a plate.

Another claim for handball against Alexander-Arnold went unheard and Jesus wasted another golden opportunity as Liverpool saw it out to lay down a huge marker.

 

What does it mean? It's a long way back for City

Talk of diving and 'tactical fouls' dominated the build-up to this blockbuster clash but any thought Liverpool may have been rattled by the perceived attempt at mind games was quickly dispelled. Last term, City took four points off the Reds which proved vital in pipping Klopp's men by the narrowest of margins. It is too soon to say City's chances of a third straight title are over, but there is now absolutely no room for error for Guardiola's side.

Fabulous Fabinho justifies Klopp's gamble

With four yellow cards to his name this term, Fabinho has been walking the fabled 'disciplinary tightrope'. Klopp opted to rest the Brazil international in last week's late come-from-behind win at Aston Villa in order to avoid him being banned against City. It was a gamble that paid dividends, with the defensive midfielder lashing home the opener and doing his part to shackle City's midfield. 

More Anfield woe for Aguero

For a player with Aguero's incredible scoring record it is remarkable he has now failed to score in eight appearances at Anfield. The Argentina striker had plenty of opportunities to break that duck but was uncharacteristically poor before being hauled off for Jesus in the 71st minute.

Key Opta Facts

- Liverpool has won 11 of its first 12 Premier League games this season and lead the table by eight points – only Manchester United in 1993-94 has had a bigger lead after 12 games of a Premier League season (nine points).

- City manager Guardiola has lost eight matches in all competitions against Klopp – three more than he has against any other manager.

- This was the second time this season City has conceded three goals in a Premier League game (also 3-2 against Norwich) – it only did so once last season, losing 3-2 to Crystal Palace in December 2018.

- Liverpool’s Salah has been involved in 69 goals in 60 appearances at Anfield for the Reds in all competitions (51 goals, 18 assists), scoring in three of his four home appearances against Man City in that time.

- Guardiola has lost more away games at Anfield against Liverpool than he has at any other ground in all competitions (four defeats).

- Fabinho’s goal was Liverpool’s ninth from outside the box in all competitions this season – more than any other Premier League side.

- Since August 2018, Mane has scored 22 Premier League goals at Anfield for Liverpool – more than any other player has scored at a single venue in that time.

- Since the start of last season, only Bournemouth's Ryan Fraser (16) has provided more Premier League assists than Liverpool full-back Robertson (15).

- This is the fewest points Guardiola has won through his first 12 top-flight league matches of a season (25), and the first time he has been more than three points behind the top of the table at this stage of the season (nine points currently).

- This was Aguero’s ninth match at Anfield against Liverpool in all competitions for City – he has never scored there for City, attempting 14 shots without success across those nine games.

 

What's next?

Liverpool takes a sizeable lead at the top of the table into the international window and resumes Premier League duties at Crystal Palace on November 23. City faces a tough task at home to Chelsea on the same day.

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