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Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City: Anfield whips up a storm and blows Manchester City away

  • The balance of power between the two sides has shifted from blue to red 
  • Ederson did not cover himself in glory across the goals he conceded at Anfield 
  • It turns out Pep Guardiola's Manchester City team are not perfect after all  
For City manager Pep Guardiola this was the worst kind of Groundhog Day. With Bayern Munich in 2014, he lost a Champions League semi-final 5-0 over two legs to Real Madrid. In Manchester next week, he has the chance at least to save face even if it will take something quite extraordinary to save this tie.

And this is the thing with the Guardiola philosophy. It is special and it is beguiling and it is his to patent. But when it goes wrong it goes really wrong and here at Anfield the wheels came spinning off during a first half that was memorable even by the standards of this great stadium

This night at Anfield was an example of when Pep Guardiola's philosophy can go really wrong

Ederson did not cover himself in glory as Mohamed Salah scored to give Liverpool the lead
Liverpool fans displayed a banner that listed a quintet of European Cup wins before the match

Earlier City's supporters had attempted to project some kind of superiority over those massed at the Kop end. 'Just like United, you live in the past,' they sang and a banner held aloft by the Liverpool fans listing a quintet of European Cup wins that concluded with their most recent 13 years ago maybe added a little credence to that.

But Klopp's Liverpool are a burgeoning force in England and in Europe and this was another night to add a layer or two more to the feeling that it will be they who challenge City for domestic dominance next season.

Before the game Guardiola had said he hoped that the Liverpool supporters would be 'nice and polite'. That was always a rather forlorn hope and after the regrettable and inexcusable attack on the City team bus before the game came the kind of ambush on the field with which they have become strangely familiar.

It seems strange on nights like this to think that Liverpool came close to leaving Anfield for a new stadium built on Stanley Park nearby. That plan - scuppered by the shambolic nature of Liverpool's previous ownership - may have helped Liverpool off the field. It would have made the club some money. On the field, however, this famous old stadium and the atmosphere that can be built within it remains a rare asset.

This place was jumping prior to kick-off, as we knew it would be. There was some choreography to it as George Sephton, Anfield's DJ, tailored his music to the occasion before 'You Will Never Walk Alone' was played a little early to allow the atmosphere to build subsequently.

The truth is, though, that you cannot impose an atmosphere on a football stadium. It either works or it doesn't and on nights like this it still works. One banner on the Kop proclaimed Liverpool to be 'European Royalty' and if that felt like a glance back to the glory days of the 70s and 80s, it did not by the time half-time arrived.

The atmosphere that was built inside Anfield remains to be a rare asset and overwhelmed City

Amid the din, what City did not need to do was present Liverpool with encouragement. That they did so was a surprise and the way they did so was staggering.

As Guardiola and his team have strode through their season so imperiously, it has at times been hard to fault them. There have been times, though, when we have wondered how they would cope against a team that placed them under real pressure, against a team that played with ambition and confidence.

Here, problems experienced briefly against teams like Napoli this season were magnified.

Mohamed Salah looked offside as he broke ahead of scoring the first goal but Ederson and Kyle Walker should have done better. Why the City goalkeeper didn't dive when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain beat him for the second is a mystery while Nicolas Otamendi lost possession rashly ahead of Sadio Mane scoring Liverpool's third.

Guardiola had said it would be 'scary' to ask his team to play a containing game here. Well, some of his team's football before half-time must have terrified a coach who places so much emphasis on control.

Questions will be asked of Guardiola's selection and perhaps justly. What had Ilkay Gundogan done to justify a place?

But that is to miss the point. This was not a failure of coaching or management. This was a collective failure by a group of footballers that have looked almost faultless this season.

It turns out Guardiola's team are not perfect after all. Far from it.

Over the course of three games between these teams this season, Manchester City now lead Liverpool by an aggregate of 8-7. Given the fact they won the first game in September 5-0, the balance of power has now shifted alarmingly from blue to red.

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