Relief for Liverpool. Rejection for Manchester City. Those will be the moods reflected in the respective dressing rooms today as Liverpool eked out a scrappy 1-1 draw against league leaders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
Pep Guardiola’s side dominated majority of the game, holding on to possession as usual and threatening the Reds’ defense time and time again. But, an instinctive strike from Trent Alexander-Arnold in the second half clinched Liverpool a much-appreciated draw as the title race brews on, with merely one point separating both teams. City’s plan of attack was simply yet effective: unleash Jeremy Doku. The Belgian continued to plunder Liverpool’s defensive ranks on the left wing, alongside Bernardo Silva to persistently menace the Reds with runs and crosses galore.
Both teams started the game with an intent to press high and force errors from the other, but it was Liverpool who found it simply impossible to stop Doku from dominating as he pleased. Another major tactic that proved beneficial was the persistent pressure the attack placed on Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker. The likes of Haaland especially gave the Brazilian no room for error as he continually pushed him out of his comfort zone. And it paid off in the 27th minute, as a misplaced pass from a lackadaisical Alisson found its way to Ake. Ake sliced through the Reds’ defense with a simple through-ball to Haaland, who inevitably found the back of the net with a strike to the bottom corner of Liverpool’s goal. Haaland’s goal took his current season’s tally to 14 goals in 14 games, and also made him the fastest player to reach 50 Premier League goals in PL history. The Norwegian achieved the feat in a mere 48 games, surpassing the legendary Andy Cole who achieved the same feat in 65 games.
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The second half began with City going about business as usual, dominating the attack with Doku running riot over Trent Alexander-Arnold. But, Liverpool’s patience paid off, and Trent would get his revenge in the sweetest form possible, as the Liverpool wing-back slotted in a pure instinctive finish to the bottom left corner of the City goal in the 80th minute to bring Liverpool back into the game. A frustrated City tried to push for a winner, all throughout the remaining time, and almost found it in the last minute of the match. With seemingly the penultimate kick of the ball, Julian Alvarez delivered a swirling cross into the box from the corner flag that found Erling Haaland. Yet, the Norwegian’s difficult header was flicked just wide off the mark and Liverpool held on to take home the draw. “It is always difficult when we come here. We have played a lit of better games and lost here. We are not proud of our performance today, but we got the result. They are such a difficult team to play, and I believe we deserved the result today”, said Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold in a post-match interview with Michael Owen.
The result ensures that Liverpool stays at touching distance away from City, who are still top of the table. But, a window of opportunity for yet another side has opened up now for Arsenal, who have a game in hand, can take the top spot if they secure a win in their next fixture, where they play Brentford.