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EPL Week 21 review: City inflict Liverpool’s first defeat; close gap to 4 pts

TAGs: English Premier League, liverpool, Manchester City

Week 21 of the English Premier League sees Manchester City close the gap to four points after beating Liverpool 2-1 in the top of the table clash at The Etihad.

12-months ago, unbeatable Manchester City waltzed into Anfield with a cocky stride in their step and left suffering their first defeat of the season.

EPL Week 21 review: City inflict Liverpool’s first defeat; close gap to 4 ptsPress the fast-forward button on the Betamax of life, and this time unbeatable Liverpool waltzed into The Etihad with a cocky stride in their step and left suffering their first defeat of the season.

It’s been a tumultuous Christmas period for both clubs, with Liverpool, the benefactor of a 12-point swing that saw them start the most exciting clash of the season thus far with a seven-point gap at the top with City nestled in third.

The gap is now four points.

No manager has beaten Pep Guardiola’s teams with more ruthlessness than those managed by Jürgen Klopp, but arguably the best side of his career couldn’t find the right balance of grit, determination and joie de vivre in a game that Man City deserved to win.

City was the 10/11 favourite to win the game, and the home crowd were as boisterous as ever raining boos down from the stand like skydivers loaded with dynamite each time a Liverpool player touched the ball.

But the Liverpool players seemed nonplussed.

Klopp’s men came into this tie having won their previous nine league games, and in the first 20-minutes they looked the better side and could have taken the lead on 17-minutes.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino cut through the City midfield with ease before the Egyptian put Sadio Mané through on goal. The Senegalese international struck the foot of the post, and John Stones fired the rebound into the head of Ederson, and it came within a stud of crossing the line before Stones got his size nine on the ball to hoof it clear.

It was a moment that seemed to act like a smashed bottle to the temple of the City players who suddenly sprang into life. On 27-minutes, Raheem Sterling found David Silva, unmarked in the box, but the Spaniard chose to take a touch instead of hitting it first time, and the Liverpool defence found time to block.

Then on 40-minutes, City found their way through. Aymeric Laporte swung a cross in from the left, and Sergio Agüero fell to the ground claiming a penalty after a push from Virgil van Dijk. The ball broke to Bernardo Silva, and in the time it took the Portuguese star to get to the byline, Agüero got to his feet, picked up the ball and smashed it into the roof of the net at the near post to take City into the interval one-goal to the good.

Liverpool emerged from the break the better side, controlling the ball without providing a threat up front, but all that changed in the 64th minute when Trent Alexander-Arnold floated a ball into the far post, Andy Robertson got on the end of it with a controlled volleyed pass that found Firmino who equalised with a close-range header.

City reacted brilliantly, retaking the lead on 74-minutes in what would be the winning goal. Danilo sent Sterling free down the right, and the former Liverpool star cut in-field and found Leroy Sane who coolly slotted home with a sweet low drive. It was the German star’s seventh league goal of the season.

With Liverpool pouring forward in search of an equaliser, Agüero should have put the game to bed when Sterling released him during a counter-attack, only for Alisson to pull off the save as the Argentinean tried rounding him.

Mo Salah came close to equalising in the 84th-minute only for Ederson to get a firm palm to his shot tipping it wide of the post, and Sterling shot wide during another City counter-attack when it looked easier to score.

City held on for the win, ending Liverpool’s unbeaten streak and closing the gap to four points.

Here are the results in full.

Results in Full

Everton 0 v 1 Leicester
Arsenal 4 v 1 Fulham
Cardiff 0 v 3 Spurs
Wolves 0 v 2 Crystal Palace
Chelsea 0 v 0 Southampton
West Ham 2 v 2 Brighton
Huddersfield 1 v 2 Burnley
Newcastle 0 v 2 Man Utd
Bournemouth 3 v 3 Watford
Man City 2 v 1 Liverpool

Premier League Table

1. Liverpool – 54 points
2. Man City – 50
3. Spurs – 48
4. Chelsea – 44
5. Arsenal – 41
6. Man Utd – 38
7. Leicester – 31
8. Watford – 29
9. Wolves – 29
10. West Ham – 28
11. Everton – 27
12. Bournemouth – 27
13. Brighton – 26
14. Crystal Palace – 22
15. Newcastle – 18
16. Burnley – 18
17. Cardiff – 17
18. Southampton – 16
19. Fulham – 14
20. Huddersfield – 10

Odds

To Win

Liverpool 8/15
Man City 7/4
Spurs 20/1

Top 4 Finish

Spurs 1/7
Chelsea 4/11
Arsenal 7/2
Man Utd 3/1

Relegated

Huddersfield 1/10
Fulham – 1/2
Burnley 8/11
Cardiff 10/11
Newcastle 3/1

Top Scorer

Harry Kane 2/1 (14 goals)
Mohamed Salah 5/2 (13 goals)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 3/1 (14 goals)
Sergio Aguero 9/1 (9 goals)

Next Manager to Leave

David Wagner 6/4
Claude Puel 54/1
Rafa Benitez 8/1

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