Manchester City look almost certain to reclaim their crown, as calamity keeper Alisson handed them a first Premier League victory at Anfield in 18 years.
The Brazilian twice botched clearances in the space of three minutes – both leading to City goals – as Ilkay Gundogan atoned for a first-half penalty miss with a second-half double and Raheem Sterling nodded the killer third.
The outstanding Phil Foden crashed home a fourth as Liverpool lost three home league games in a row for the first time since 1963 – directly after a 68-match unbeaten run at Anfield had been halted.
The Reds’ title defence is now surely over, as they fell ten points adrift with this horror show.
Only Manchester United now have a realistic chance of stopping their crosstown rivals – and they are five points behind having played a game more.
Pep Guardiola had been angered by Jurgen Klopp’s baffling pre match claim that City had enjoyed a two-week break because of Covid.
The City boss had hammered his Liverpool counterpart for making excuses.
But there could be no excuses for this thumping as Guardiola’s men rattled up a 14th consecutive victory.
While Liverpool’s defensive injury crisis has been a key plotline in this Premier League season, City had been quietly chalking up victories without their best player, Kevin De Bruyne, and their most potent finisher, Sergio Aguero.
As he often does for these red-letter fixtures, Guardiola went without a specialist centre-forward, Gabriel Jesus left on the bench with Phil Foden as his ‘false nine’.
Klopp welcomed back Sadio Mane, keeper Alisson and Fabinho, who joined his fellow midfield man Jordan Henderson in central defence – the Liverpool boss opting against starting either of his new recruits, Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies.
Thiago Alcantara, fast earning a reputation as one of the Premier
League’s worst tacklers, was booked for a horrible late one on
Like the vast majority of matches between the ‘big six’ this season – there have been five goalless draws and two more without a goal from open play – the first half was as cagey as Whipsnade Zoo.
City’s passing lacked its usual snap, Liverpool were unusually standoffish.
It took 24 minutes for either side to create a clear chance, when
Trent Alexander-Arnold skewered Oleksandr Zinchenko and centred for Sadio Mane to head over.
Even with the doors locked, City seemed intimidated by their
surroundings, totally unable to strike up their usual rhythm and