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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City

There was a moment of jarringly delicate beauty 58 minutes into this game as Liverpool did not just beat Manchester City at Anfield but wrenched that frictionless unbeaten run away from the league leaders with a startling, controlled fury.

Jürgen Klopp’s side were led here by Roberto Firmino, who produced another performance of thrillingly sustained energy and skill, terrorising City’s backline at times in the second half and embodying the pure exhilaration of Klopp’s high-craft power-chord football. With the score level at 1-1 Liverpool were already thrumming up though the gears, about to enter a rare 10-minute period of synchronised press-and-move football during which the whole world seemed to turn a shade of red; and during which they were, briefly, unstoppable.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took the ball deep in Liverpool’s half and played a snaking pass inside John Stones. As Stones turned to shield the ball he was bullocked out of the way with malevolent glee by Firmino, a player for whom pressing and closing down is not so much a chore as a hungrily devoured pleasure.
With Stones on his knees Firmino paused, looked up and produced a moment of startling delicacy, from sledgehammer to scalpel in a single shift of feet, lifting a lovingly dinked finish past Ederson as he rushed out. For a moment the ball seemed to hang dreamily under the lights, the air rushing out of the stadium, before falling in a gentle parabola and bouncing in off the post.
Anfield exploded with a huge gurgle of joy. Firmino sprinted for the corner flag. And three minutes later it was 3-1, from a similar moment of snatch and run. This time Mohamed Salah robbed Nicolás Otamendi, then fed the ball across the penalty area. Sadio Mané picked it up, paused and spanked the ball with startling precision into the top corner.
It was always likely to take something like this to throw City out of their stride, a performance where every part thunked into place, where both the plan and Torey Krug Jersey the execution reached a rare pitch of perfection.
How to play City, how to beat City, how to make at least some imprint on that well-grooved machine has been a theme of this mid‑season title stroll. Liverpool’s hard‑running, hard-pressing style had always offered some hope of locating the glass jaw some had suggested still lurks behind that annihilating jab, the poise of City’s passing game.
And City played their part in a wonderfully open game. Where other managers might have tried to shut things down away to their liveliest challengers, Guardiola put out a team with three full-time defenders and six midfielders of varying shades. Klopp made one big call, dropping the regularly unconvincing Simon Mignolet for the as-yet only briefly unconvincing Loris Karius.
On a freezing, damp, ear-numbing afternoon Anfield’s vast single-tier stands were crackling with electricity at kick-off. And with three minutes gone two things happened for the first time that would come to define this game. Firmino ripped an alarmingly huge hole in the centre of City’s defence with a single movement, barging a yard of space and flicking the ball cleverly into Mané’s path, setting the tone for an afternoon where Liverpool’s frontline would play right up against one another, like three men roped together on a mountain. Moments later the second thing happened. Raheem Sterling touched the ball for the first time, to huge boos, and then gave it away for the first time, to huge cheers. If Firmino led Liverpool’s surge here, Sterling was a key part in City’s stumbling start. Frankly, he had a nightmare. Sterling left the pitch with 25 minutes to go, roared off to a standing anti‑ovation by the home crowd after one of those performances where no matter how hard you try, how furiously you work to put things right, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Youth jersey they just keep slipping away, the bobble off the shin, the muffed dribbles, the inevitable booking. As he brushes his teeth this evening Sterling will no doubt find himself taking a sneaky look up in the mirror just to check that shape lurking by the bathroom door is not Andrew Robertson steaming out of the airing cupboard to make another sniping, raking challenge at his heels. baseball jerseys custom jerseys supply wholesale jerseys all nfl jerseys outlet

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