Title race nonetheless firmly, exhilaratingly on: Manchester Metropolis required all three factors to maintain their breath sizzling on the necks of Arsenal and so they did the enterprise supremely in a second-half present of would possibly.
Having fallen behind to Mohamed Salah’s smash-and-grab opener, Julián Álvarez equalised to make it 1-1 on the break. Then Metropolis confirmed why they’re the champions of the previous two seasons and the dominant, garlanded aspect of this period.
A primary killer blow was administered seconds after the interval through the form of quick break Liverpool had hit them with. Álvarez can take bouquets for serving to to create Kevin De Bruyne’s strike, because the Argentinian’s crossfield ball sliced open Jürgen Klopp’s aspect and located the roving Riyad Mahrez alongside the fitting. He turned the ball throughout and the Belgian, so usually Metropolis’s key man, completed.
A memorable day for Álvarez grew to become even rosier when his shot was blocked by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ilkay Gündogan hooked house. The 23-year-old was certainly solely within the XI resulting from Erling Haaland’s groin downside but Pep Guardiola had answered completely the poser of what to do when your 42-goal man is dominated out: choose a World Cup-winner who can slot straight into the aspect’s seamless groove and be the standout performer.
Gündogan’s end had the stadium bouncing and Klopp fuming. Liverpool’s supervisor was but once more overseeing a defensive horror present so he responded with what felt like a farcical transfer, dragging off 4 gamers on 70 minutes: Salah (maybe unlucky to be eliminated), Diogo Jota, Harvey Elliott and Andrew Robertson, as Roberto Firmino, Darwin Núñez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kosta Tsimikas all entered.
When the excellent Jack Grealish gave Alexander-Arnold the runaround – swapping passes with De Bruyne – and scored, Liverpool had been humiliated by a foe who, earlier than this time period, had been their sole rivals for the championship.
4-one was the margin of Metropolis’s final league victory over Liverpool in February 2021, too, and right here it mirrored how they pummelled their opponents all through, breached solely when hit by a fast break. Liverpool pounced as Alexander-Arnold dinked one in all his long-range specials to Jota on midway and, fielded at No 9, the Portuguese raced in like a pure, holding off Manuel Akanji and teeing the ball up for Salah whose deadly left foot was by no means going to overlook.
This was a stinging black eye for Metropolis. However they, after all, know just one method: to battle again. Mahrez quickly spurned a glowing probability to equalise by blazing over. As Metropolis bombarded Liverpool they went mighty near permitting a second sucker-punch. From a De Bruyne nook, Klopp’s aspect broke alongside the left as Salah ran in however Grealish, in the kind of defensive play Guardiola adores from his attackers, raced over, caught out a foot to cease the move, and the ball deflected to Ederson. He quickly made an impression on the different finish, too. Mahrez dribbled infield from the fitting and tapped to Gündogan’s who relayed to Grealish. His slide-rule ball was excellent and Álvarez made no mistake.
The purpose had Guardiola comically involving Liverpool’s Tsimikas, who was warming up, in a high-five and there was additional hilarity from the Spain midfielder Rodri who, having coated Scotland for his or her underhand techniques in mid-week, did the identical to Cody Gakpo, felling the Dutchman illegally.
However on the ultimate whistle, the midfielder and his crew had the final giggle, and one loud sufficient to be heard on the Emirates the place the league leaders, Arsenal, will host Leeds.