HOW MANCHESTER CITY BROKE THEIR ANFIELD CURSE WITH A COMPREHENSIVE WIN OVER LIVERPOOL
Manchester City have beaten Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield, with this being City's first win in the red half of Merseyside in 16 years and the result has cataclysmic connotations for both teams for different reasons.
City hadn't won at Anfield since 2003, and since then, they have lost 13 of 19 games there in all competitions but this convincing win leaves City ten points clear with a game in hand.
Liverpool were unable to halt a run of three consecutive losses for the first time under Jurgen Klopp with the last time this happened under Bill Shankly in 1961.
Liverpool hadn't scored at home for almost six hours, a bizarre run of form for a team who were unstoppable at Anfield not so long ago. Mohammed Salah managed to end that run with a penalty to equalize, but his goal come the full time whistle meant nothing.
Manchester City are the form team in the league and have passed every test thrown at them thus far.
The partnership of Ruben Dias and John Stones has given City a new resilience with the Manchester club conceding just three goals in their last 14 league games.
The first half
Manchester City and Liverpool both started the game with 4-3-3 formations. Thiago, Georginio Wijnaldum, Curtis Jones for Liverpool, and Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan for Manchester City.
Klopp went with his three pressing forwards, Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino to counteract Pep's back three/four.
Liverpool started brightly but didn't have the quality in transition to sustain attacks. The game was even, with both sides displaying the ability to play out from the back.
Liverpool weren't aggressive enough when City won back in a turnover, but the lack of quality into the front three was lacking.
City, on the other hand, were direct and used the ball efficiently. Joao Cancelo played as an inverted fullback, which seems to be a staple of a Pep Guardiola side. Under Pep, Bayern often did this with fullbacks operating as central midfielders during sustained periods of possession.
Oleksandr Zinchenko became a left centre-back to form part of a back three when Manchester City had the ball.
Phil Foden was deployed as a false-9 to add an extra midfield presence when Liverpool had the ball. When City turned the ball, Foden would drop in and leave space for midfielder İlkay Gündoğan to run into Foden’s unoccupied vacated space.
Raheem Sterling raced into the box and won the penalty after a foul by Fabinho, but Gundogan sent the ball into the Kop, much to Liverpool's relief.
Jones was Liverpool's best midfielder in the first half with the 20-year-old showing the most initiative for Liverpool, but the game ended 0-0 at the interval.
The Second half
Manchester City came out and changed the 4-4-3 to a 4-4-2 with Silva joining Foden up top. City's fullbacks reverted into traditional fullbacks, meaning Zinchenko was no longer required to sit in a back three in possession.
Manchester City's change consisted of a four across midfield with Gundogan sat in next to Rodri.
Pep said the formation change at half time was to combat the threat from Liverpool's fullbacks.
The change allowed Sterling and Riyad Mahrez to get closer to Andy Robertson and Trent, Liverpool's primary outlet.
Foden was deployed as the left-sided striker with Sterling out wide, and it would be the two who would combine to give Manchester City the lead.
A mistake by Trent Alexander-Arnold ended allowed the ball to end up at the feet of Foden who then played a one-two with Sterling before taking on a shot, which Alisson saved directly into the path of Gündoğan who had a simple tap-in.
Liverpool were offered a lifeline back into the game when Alexander-Arnold launched a ball over the top and found Salah, who went down in the box from Ruben Dias's challenge and the Egyptian forward picked himself up to dispatch the penalty.
Allison Becker had a shocking afternoon, and his back pass was intercepted by Foden, who brilliantly got beyond a group of defenders before prodding in for Gundogan to tap in his second to make it 2-1.
The Liverpool number one would again try to play it out from his area and could only succeed in finding Silva, who got down the byline and kept his cool to loft a cute cross to the back post, where Sterling was on hand to head into an empty net to make it 3-3
Gabriel Jesus then came on for Mahrez, and he would go on to have an immediate impact setting up Foden for City’s fourth.
The Brazilian sent a ball wide to Foden on the right. Foden cut inside and thumped a shot past Alisson to make it 4-1 and seal the victory which hands Manchester City a massive boost in the title race.
Peps change at halftime to switch from a 4-4-3 with Inverted fullbacks to a 4-4-2 without recognized strikers to give Foden more touches on the ball was a masterstroke and turn the game in favour of the visitors who are definite favourites for the Premier League title.