Well, that was shite.
Four changes for the Tricky Reds today, following the dismal defeat by Brighton on Wednesday evening. Alisson, Fabinho, Jones and Mané replaced Kelleher, Phillips, Milner and Shaqiri; our new loan signing, Kabak, was on the bench.
The visitors hadn’t beaten us at Anfield since May 2003 and Fraudiola brought the impressive record of one draw (although they missed a penalty) and four defeats on his five previous visits to Anfield to the table. Of course, City arrived in fine form, with thirteen consecutive victories in all competitions, and the champions desperately needed the win to both arrest their recent slump and to prevent their visitors from disappearing over the horizon in the title race.
A pretty tedious first half (this is becoming a worrying theme) was notable early only for the booking received by Thiago in the second minute. Yes, he was late on Gundogan and yes, he has a habit of making silly and unnecessary challenges. But- for fuck’s sake- Paul Scholes made about ten identical challenges every week and rarely got booked; more recently, Fernandinho has got away with similar fouls too many times to mention. I have no problem with our boys being booked when they deserve it, but the laws of the game have to be applied equally to all teams.
Mané headed over from Trent’s cross in the 24th minute- he should have at least got the effort on target, then Curtis showed good awareness to prevent Foden from bursting through on the half hour mark, City trying to break from a Liverpool corner after Ederson had comfortably turned Firmino’s effort wide.
Fabinho gave away a silly penalty with ten minutes left in the half by leaving a leg dangling as Sterling tried to wriggle past. The former Red needed no further invitation to hit the deck and Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. Soft? Yes. Inevitable? Even more so. Fortunately, lightning struck twice for the Reds. After Mahrez’s miss from the spot in that aforementioned 2018 draw, Gundogan followed suit, blasting high into the Kop from twelve yards.
Salah had a shot hit Rodri’s hand- needless to say, a certain other team in red would have been awarded a penalty for exactly the same incident. Thiago had a free kick deflect off the wall as we neared the break; from the resulting corner, Sadio headed tamely straight at Ederson. As the players trudged off for their halftime oranges, it had been a dull half and I’m sure that all viewers were hoping for a lot more in the second period from the supposed two best teams in the country.
Four minutes into the second half, Gundogan atoned for his penalty miss by opening the scoring. Sterling cut in from the left and set up Foden; Alisson saved the youngster’s shot but the ball fell straight to the German international, who prodded home before Robertson and Alisson could get there. It was poor defending from the home side, to be honest, with two City players almost unmarked in the area and Trent letting the Snake inside instead of showing him outside.
Jones had a speculative effort from 25 yards sail over five minutes after the goal; the same player had a shot deflected narrowly wide for a corner shortly afterwards.
Then, in the 62nd minute, Trent found Mo in the box. Dias pulled him back and we had the chance to equalise from the spot. Salah dusted himself down and drilled it down the middle; it was, almost unbelievably, the Reds’ first goal at Anfield in 501 minutes of play. since Mané’s early goal against West Brom.
Milner and Shaqiri soon replaced Thiago and Jones; the youngster had had a decent game but Jürgen must have thought that a bit more experience was needed for the last 25-odd minutes.
Foden whipped a cross in from a wide free kick and Stones stabbed it past Alisson; the defender was, however, clearly offside and the goal rightly chalked off. Seconds later, Alisson got himself in a real mess and hastily cleared straight to Foden. The youngster teed up Gundogan, who could hardly miss from close range. 2-1 to the visitors with 17 minutes to play.
Our bearded Brazilian repeated the feat a few minutes later, Sterling being the beneficiary this time as Foden was again gifted the ball by our normally solid keeper. 1-3 with 14 minutes left on the clock. And, with eight minutes left, Foden waltzed in unchallenged from the right and blasted a shot past- or should that be through- Alisson from about twelve yards. Poor again from the keeper.
After our long unbeaten run at Anfield, this game marked three consecutive home defeats for the Sickly Reds, something which hasn’t happened since early in the 1963-64 season. We ended up winning the title that year; although we have to be long odds to do the same now, stranger things have happened.
Next up is a tricky trip to Leicester on Saturday lunchtime. The Foxes are a point in front of us in the table and this is another game we simply need to win if we are to have any chance whatsoever of retaining our title. Some will, of course, say that we have already relinquished our crown to today’s rivals but it ain’t over until the fat lady sings and I can’t hear the mother in law doing her warm-up exercises just yet.
MOTM: Every single one of us, and millions of other Liverpool supporters worldwide, for enduring the absolute dross we have been served up over the last six weeks or so. Sure, there were the consecutive wins in London but, by and large, our performances have been woeful. Still, we know that Klopp and his team are too good to be held down for long. At the end of the storm…