Liverpool: Better Than City, Now To Take Down Boring Chelsea

City were totally stifled in the second half and it shows Liverpool truly can compete with the best away from Anfield; next up, Jose's Chelsea...
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City were totally stifled in the second half and it shows Liverpool truly can compete with the best away from Anfield; next up, Jose's Chelsea...

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Here's one way that you could look at the situation as a Liverpool fan:

One game, one loss, down from first to fourth, a defeat inflicted by an inability to convert clear cut chances or defend from set pieces coupled with a goalkeeper flapping at a shot that he could have comfortably caught only to divert said shot into the back of the net.

Doom and, indeed, gloom.

In reality though? In reality Liverpool travelled to the Etihad this Boxing Day and proved beyond any doubt exactly how far they have travelled since their abject loss on Humberside.

Manchester City have become irresistible on home soil this season; spankings are handed out quite liberally to teams that you would expect to threaten - Arsenal will readily testify to this fact – and the Liverpool team that capitulated to the might of Hull would have been praying that they avoided utter humiliation.

The Liverpool team that responded to the Hull loss with a transformation into an irresistible force of their own is a somewhat different beast; here they stood toe to toe with the team that most of us expect to win the league at a canter once they sort out their away form and traded blows.

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The obvious way to deal with City's attacking threat is to unleash your own, accordingly this encounter became a tale of attacking waves repeatedly crashing against each other; City produced pristine one and two touch football, Liverpool produced more threat with the interplay of Suarez, Coutinho and Sterling slicing apart the City back four. Coutinho's opening goal came from this three way creativity, a thoroughly deserved second almost arrived from an intricate spell of passes and flicks that could have settled the goal of the season debate now were it not for the intervention of Joe Hart.

Liverpool could have been ahead prior to the opening goal, a Suarez through ball to a clearly, obviously, blatantly onside Raheem Sterling given as offside in the most inept display of linesmanship that you are ever likely to see as Sterling rounded Hart to slot home. Brendan Rodgers has had a few things to say about this; his comments about a 'Greater Manchester' referee (Lee Mason is from Bolton) officiating will undoubtedly see the FA wanting words with Rodgers rather than taking a long overdue look at refereeing standards in the Premier League.

The lead that we did have wasn't to last long; Kompany's header from a set piece and Negredo's fairly soft but badly dealt with shot seeing the Mancunians head into the break with a lead that was ultimately sufficient to gain all three points.

There were chances to equalise in the second half; a delicate Henderson flick was saved by Hart, Johnson was unable to control the ball with the goal gaping before him and, most wastefully, the otherwise once again impressive Sterling blazed over an open goal from six yards after a pinpoint Suarez pass. City's threat in this half? Struggling to recall any to be brutally honest.

So we're disappointed. Not with losing the game but with the fact that we didn't win it as we could and should have. We've dropped from first back to fourth but are still only three points behind Arsenal in first. We've proved quite conclusively that we are currently as good as the best that the league has to offer and next up is a Chelsea side whose manager currently seems more concerned with not losing than he does with winning.

We're coming to take his Champions League place, the league may be City's to lose but the top four is ours to take.

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