The return of Premier League football after the international break saw Manchester City welcome their most recent bitter rival in Liverpool to the Etihad in a crunch clash in Manchester City’s title chase.
Pre game all the talk was if Erling Haaland would take his place City’s line up, as the line ups were announced there was no place for Haaland, the prevailing thought being he’s been saved for the bigger matches ahead this month.
Also there was no Phil Foden for the crunch clash after his bout of appendicitis and subsequent surgery over the break.
Manchester City’s line up for the crunch clash against Liverpool was as follows:-
Ederson, Stones, Dias, Akanji, Ake, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Mahrez, Grealish and Julian Alvarez up front leading the line.
Manchester City 4 Liverpool 1.
The game began with Manchester City dominating possession, and Liverpool looking to hit City on the counter attack. City had early chances through Ilkay Gundogan who hit his volley into Alison’s hands. Another chance came to Rodri but his rocket was well held again by Alisson.
A free kick in the 15th minute gave Riyad Mahrez the chance to open the scoring, but he put his effort agonisingly wide of the post.
A Liverpool counter attack gave them the lead in the 17th minute through Mohamad Salah, who scored his usual goal against City with a well hit shot after Diego Jota had sprung City’s offside trap. It was deflating at the time, as City were well on top of Liverpool leading up to their opener.
After Liverpool’s opener City resumed with dominating possession. Riyad Mahrez put a rasping volley over the bar, then in the 26th minute Liverpool broke again but for Jack Grealish getting a toe on a ball from the rampaging Salah to prevent him playing through a teammate.
City equalised in the 27th minute through Julian Alvarez after a well crafted Manchester City move. City picked their way through Liverpool’s midfield and Gundogan found space on the edge of the box to find Grealish out wide on the left, with Jack expertly picking out Alvarez in the middle to equalise. It was nothing more then City deserved on the balance of play up until that point.
The rest of the first half played out with City in possession, and Liverpool always a threat on the break. Half time came which would lead to second half that would make or break City’s title chase.
City came out firing in the second half and took the lead with just under a minute played in the half. Julian Alvarez who was making the moment his starting in place of the injured Haaland, played Mahrez through out wide on the right.
Riyad then played a fantastic ball across the box for De Bruyne to tap in and give City a deserved lead, and send the Etihad into raptures. City kept their foot down after De Bruyne’s goal and added a third in the 53rd minute through captain Ilkay Gundogan.
Julian Alvarez had a shot blocked on the line and the ball fell invitingly for Gundogan, who kept his composure to smash the ball into the roof of the net to make it 3-1 and seemingly put Liverpool to bed.
The rest of the second half City dominated bar the odd Liverpool counter and City added a fourth in the 74th minute through man of the match Jack Grealish after a well worked move between he and Kevin De Bruyne.
A neat one two between the pair with De Bruyne laying it on a plate for Jack to finish and finally put a nail into Liverpool’s coffin on the day. The rest of the game City dominated with the oles from the Etihad in full voice and City wrapping up a vital 3 points to set up a massive month ahead.
For me Jack Grealish was the man of the match. He tore Trent Alexander-Arnold apart all day, and was at the heart of many City attacks. He deserved his goal and his assist and it followed his recent great form. Jack has been outstanding since the World Cup and looks every bit the man City paid £100 million for and he’s silenced the critics.
Also special mention to John Stones for his outstanding game in defence and also as a central midfielder assisting Rodri. The role seems made for Stones with his range of passing and ability on the pitch. John Stones doesn’t seem to get the credit from the pundits he deserves but his great form hasn’t gone unnoticed from City fans.
The game also felt like the end of the recent rivalry between Manchester City and Liverpool, and a emphatic ending at that. By the end of the 90 minutes there was no doubt who the better side is, and the title battles of recent times seemed a distant memory. Liverpool look a tired, ageing side devoid of ideas and City look to be hitting their straps heading into the pivotal time of the season.
Onto Southampton away next weekend and a chance to put pressure onto Arsenal with them heading to Anfield. Southampton will be up for the clash so another big performance will be needed from Guardiola’s men.