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Liverpool verdict - the day fortune favoured the Reds as title swings on Man City victory

Paul Gorst was in place to see Liverpool produce a stunning display and put Manchester City to the sword with a 3-1 victory

By Paul Gorst Liverpool FC correspondent
09:23, 11 NOV 2019

Was this the moment? After three decades of false dawns, near falls and nowhere-nears, was this the day when fortune's favour finally swung, irreversibly, in Liverpool's direction?
Jurgen Klopp will be leading the charge to say it isn't, but if his team do not end up with Premier League winners' medals from this position, they will look back at their season on May 17 next year and wonder just where it all went wrong.

Victory here condemned City to their third reverse already this term after just 12 games and takes the Reds nine points clear of their biggest on-pitch rivals heading into the international break. A 5-1 win over Arsenal back in December saw the Reds briefly open up the same margin last season, but City's game in hand swiftly reduced the arrears to six 24 hours later.

Now, with both teams having played a dozen games, it is simply Liverpool's title to lose. And they look in no mood to slip up any time soon as they stretched their unbeaten record to 28 dating back January's loss at the Etihad.
Brendan Rodgers' Leicester and Frank Lampard's Chelsea, who sit second and third, respectively, might demand their own attention, but this win opens up a massive gap between the two best teams in England, and in all likelihood, in Europe, too.
One loss in 50 top-flight games is proof of the stratospheric standards Klopp has put in place with the side he made European champions in June. The build-up to this game originally centred around a slipping of the mask for both managers as Klopp and Pep Guardiola aimed less-than-subtle volleys at one another's side.

Guardiola, whose bleating about officials fell on deaf ears all game, began the transparent attempt at 'mind games' as he accused Sadio Mane of being a diver last Saturday before Klopp's riposte came with a wrap about City's penchant for cynical and 'tactical' fouls'.

That two managers who have done so much to re-shape and elevate the quality of a Premier League title race were forced into the unedifying tit-for-tat was unnecessary, but it just added "oil to the fire" to paraphrase both managers this week.
Meanwhile, the growing dislike between the two sets of supporters deepened as City expressed their concerns about a potential threat to their team bus en route into Anfield. City's worry was misplaced. Liverpool sources, privately, expressed the opinion that their visitors were blowing a social media poster way out of proportion, while Merseyside Police said they anticipated no trouble.

All those pre-match shenanigans just added more spice to the soup as a raucous, raw and simply red-hot Anfield greeted the arrival of both sides at 4.30pm. Game on, it was time for the real drama.
The start of the game matched the feverish intensity of the crowd and City wanted a penalty when the ball appeared to brush Trent Alexander-Arnold's arm. Referee Michael Oliver waved it away and Liverpool broke. It fell to Fabinho who lashed home from 25 yards to give the Reds the perfect start.

City's complaints cut little ice as replays showed the ball had bounced off Bernardo Silva's own hand before taking a touch from Alexander-Arnold's. Liverpool didn't wait for the whistle, they sent the ball up the other end and smashed one home.
It was this reverse fixture earlier this year when the influential Fabinho was left on the bench before his introduction began to get the Reds ticking. Since that game, his importance to this Liverpool side has only grown and grown. Now one of the first names on Klopp's team sheet, the former Monaco man has been a revelation.

Liverpool doubled their lead with a break that was simply stunning. Alexander-Arnold swept it across field to his fellow full-back Andy Robertson and his cross was inch perfect for an on-rushing Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian King planted a header past Bravo to send the Kop into delirium.

City nearly squeezed one back when Angelino's deflected shot hit the outside of the post but other than a Sergio Aguero shot that forced Alisson into a decent stop, the visitors offered little in the way of real chances.

Liverpool fans' hearts were in their mouth when Salah went down under a firm but fair tackle from makeshift centre-back Fernandinho. Salah beat the ground in pain and was immediately treated by the physios. City fans opened up a song about their Brazilian midfielder. It would be about as loud as the travelling support got all day.

Liverpool's third arrived via a conventional route to goal after the break as captain Jordan Henderson drove down the right before slinging in a teasing cross like the most ageing of old-school wingers. Sadio Mane met it with a header at the back post and the hapless Bravo could only get a hand on it. before it went over the line.

Henderson was then withdrawn to a huge ovation from the Kop as the Liverpool skipper put in a captain's performance. Illness might have ruled him out of Tuesday's win over Genk but that was never going to deny him here, even if his early substitution made clear he was nowhere near 100 per cent. Like against Tottenham last month, the Reds leader came up with the goods when it was needed.

City reduced the deficit as the game ticked towards the final 10 minutes when Silva's effort got past Alisson after a low cross into the box. Klopp, sensing City were doing a good job of finally finding their way into the match sent on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Roberto Firmino.

The midfielder was given one task - to offer Alexander-Arnold vital protection from a marauding Sterling whose quality was starting to tell. City's goal gave the impression the charge would be imminent from the visitors, but Liverpool defended resolutely with numbers behind the ball.

It is not a strategy that will ever become the norm under Klopp at Anfield but they impressively implemented it as Sterling and De Bruyne tried their utmost to unpick the lock to little joy.

The final whistle was greeted with a huge cheer from every corner as the three points were confirmed. It is now 13 points from a possible 15 against the rest of last season's top six. City, in the sharpest of contrasts, have picked up one from games with the Reds and Tottenham.

"We are the champions, champions of Europe," boomed the Kop as the three points came into full view. Maybe, just maybe, those lyrics will be tweaked next season.

Copyright - Liverpool Echo

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