The title race is still very much on. Manchester City needed all three points to keep breathing down Arsenal’s necks, and they did it in a second-half show of strength, even though the leaders responded later in the day.
After Mohamed Salah scored the first goal with a smash-and-grab, Julián lvarez tied it up with a pass from Jack Grealish to make it 1-1 at the half. Then City showed why they have won the last two league titles and why they are the best team of this era.
Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool, tells Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City that he is happy for him.
“Four shows were good enough”: Klopp is upset with how Liverpool played at City.
The first blow came just seconds after the half, when Liverpool scored from the same kind of fast break. lvarez deserves praise for helping to set up Kevin De Bruyne’s goal. His crossfield pass split Liverpool open and put Riyad Mahrez in the right place to score. He passed the ball to the other side, and the Belgian, who is often City’s best player, scored.
A great day for lvarez got even better when Trent Alexander-Arnold blocked his shot and Ilkay Gündogan scored with a hook. Erling Haaland’s groin injury put the Argentine in the starting lineup, but Pep Guardiola had the perfect answer to the question of what to do when your 42-goal man can’t play: pick a World Cup winner who can fit right into the team’s rhythm and be a standout performer.
When Gündogan scored, the stadium went crazy and Jürgen Klopp was furious. Liverpool’s manager was once again watching a terrible defensive performance, so he made what seemed like a crazy move by taking off four players at the 70-minute mark: Salah, Diogo Jota, Harvey Elliott, and Andrew Robertson. They were replaced by Roberto Firmino, Darwin Nez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Kostas Tsimikas.
When the great Grealish gave Alexander-Arnold the runaround by exchanging passes with De Bruyne and scoring, Liverpool had been humiliated by opponents who had been their only rivals for the championship before this season.
“From minute one to minute 93, it was a perfect performance,” said a happy Guardiola. “Even when we gave up a goal, we were playing really well.” It’s one of the best shows I’ve seen here in seven years. The game was so even for 93 minutes that I can’t say that one player was better than the others. They were all great.”
Grealish said that he might have missed a game in which he played one of his best games for the club. “I was sick all morning and spent the whole morning in the bathroom, but I’m fine now,” he said. “I love playing and training for football, and when things are going well, there’s nothing better. I feel like myself again. Scoring a goal and getting an assist is perfect.
Four-one was also the score of City’s last league win over Liverpool, which was in February 2021. This time, it showed how badly they beat up on their opponents, who only got a breakaway in the 17th minute. Alexander-Arnold passed one of his long-range specials to Jota on the halfway line. Jota raced in like he was born to do it, holding off Manuel Akanji and setting up Salah, whose deadly left foot was never going to miss.
This was a sharp slap in the face for City. But they only know one way to get back: to fight. Soon after, Mahrez had a great chance to tie the game, but he shot wide. As City attacked Liverpool, they came very close to letting Liverpool score a second surprise goal. From a De Bruyne corner, Liverpool broke down the left side as Salah came in. But Grealish, in the kind of defensive play that Guardiola loves to see from his attackers, ran over, stuck out a foot to stop the pass, and Ederson got the ball.