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The hype is real – five Liverpool v Man City talking points – BBC Sport

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  • By Phil McNulty
  • Chief football writer at Anfield

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Liverpool’s match against Manchester City was pulsating, chaotic and, at times, combative

It was hyped as the game of the Premier League season so far and it didn’t disappoint.

Leaders Arsenal are only above Liverpool on goal difference, while champions Manchester City are just one point behind them in third.

“What a game,” said former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports. “It was fantastic from both teams. They should be proud of themselves.

“What these two teams and managers have given us over the past six-to-seven years has been outstanding. It looks like the title race will go down to the wire.”

From Kevin de Bruyne’s substitution surprise to Liverpool’s late penalty pain, here are five of the major talking points to come from another Anfield cracker:

1. Klopp & Guardiola’s fitting farewell?

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Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola shared a warm embrace both before and after the game – in what could be their final meeting as managers

The Premier League’s recent history has been defined by the managerial rivalry between Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. If this was its final chapter, then Liverpool and Manchester City closed the book in fitting fashion with an Anfield classic.

They could yet have one more meeting in the FA Cup this season – but it felt like the end of something special as Klopp and Guardiola shared a long embrace at the final whistle. In a breathtaking 1-1 draw, both teams contributed to a thriller in the style that has been the trademark of their managers.

In the first half, Manchester City were the composed and measured pass masters, dousing a red-hot Anfield atmosphere with cool periods of possession. It was a silky smooth performance that had Guardiola’s philosophy stamped all over it.

And then, once Alexis Mac Allister equalised from the spot early in the second half, City were subjected to the sort of assault Klopp’s Liverpool have inflicted on them here before.

No-one has been able to make Guardiola’s City rattle like Liverpool under Klopp.

Klopp and Guardiola have pushed each other to great heights, with Guardiola the winner when measured in trophies. How many more pieces of silverware would Klopp have claimed without the presence of Guardiola’s City?

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Klopp ‘will be back’ as he ‘loves the job’ – Guardiola

“Jurgen will be back,” said Guardiola after the match. “He loves the job too much. What can I say? He made us a better team. He made me a better manager.

“I wish he will be back soon because football needs personalities like him.”

In the meantime, and until Klopp and Guardiola meet again, we have the memory of yet another superb game. That show of respect for each other at the final whistle said it all.

2. ‘What did he have for lunch?’ – Liverpool’s VAR fury

Manchester City have left Anfield on many occasions believing they have been on the wrong end of crucial decisions. On this occasion, it was Liverpool who felt they had been robbed.

In what would have provided a contentious, dramatic finale to this high-quality encounter, Jeremy Doku’s high challenge on Mac Allister in the area was at best high risk and at worst reckless.

Anfield held its breath as the video assistant referee studied the incident. But referee Michael Oliver gave nothing, and seconds later, blew the final whistle.

It was hard to see how a penalty was not given but, this time, there were no complaints from City. Only relief. It would have been a match-shaping, potentially match-winning, moment.

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Jeremy Doku challenge a clear penalty – Alexis Mac Allister

Liverpool manager Klopp was a mixture of anger and disbelief and, like Guardiola after previous encounters at Anfield, it was easy to see why.

He said: “It was 100% a penalty. They will find an explanation. It was 100% a foul in all areas of the pitch and probably a yellow card.

“All the people with iPads around me were ‘wow, clear’. Maybe they can hide behind the phrase it is not clear and obvious.

“Why did the guy in the VAR room think it was not clear and obvious? What did he have for lunch?”

Manchester City, in contrast, may just feel they were due one at Anfield. They certainly got one.

3. De Bruyne dismayed – but Guardiola says ‘we’re fine’

Games between Liverpool and Manchester City are built for world-class players. Those players want to be centre stage. Perhaps, then, it is understandable that Kevin de Bruyne delivered a very visible show of dissent as he made his way towards the bench on being replaced by Mateo Kovacic in the 69th minute.

The great Belgian had already made his mark with the cute corner that unlocked Liverpool for John Stones’ opener and was still gliding around with menace when his number came up.

To say he was unhappy was an understatement, his feelings relayed via expressions and gestures, arms outstretched, words with the bench, before a conversation with Guardiola…

And De Bruyne continued to look disgruntled when he eventually took a seat on the sidelines…

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But Guardiola has seen it all before and swiftly moved on, saying: “That’s good. He will have a chance to prove it next game.

“We needed a player who keeps the ball. It’s not about pressing. Mateo Kovacic is really good at that.

“We were happy with Kevin. It’s not a problem. We’re fine.”

Players of De Bruyne’s stature treat elite games as their natural habitat – and he had already made a significant contribution by setting up City’s goal. He has now been involved in 13 goals in 12 appearances for City in 2024 – two goals and 11 assists – the most of any Premier League player across all competitions this year.

De Bruyne missed four months of the season with a hamstring injury, so maybe there was a desire to protect the 32-year-old, but this will blow over and he will be making a huge contribution before the season ends.

4. Diaz produces ‘special’ display – but Liverpool need Salah

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Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville said Luis Diaz has “had this game on a plate for him” after he missed numerous good chances to score

Mohamed Salah’s introduction on the hour was greeted with predictable rapture and within seconds he showed what Liverpool have been missing during his absence with a hamstring injury, as well as the world-class quality he will offer in this season’s climax.

The Egyptian produced a long pass of dream-like quality with his first touch, low and drilled with remarkable precision, into the path of Luis Diaz, who was clean through on goal.

The Colombian had time and space to steady himself, with only Stefan Ortega to beat, before leaving Anfield aghast by sending his finish wide. Diaz could not believe it and neither could anyone else inside the stadium.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, former Scotland winger Pat Nevin described Diaz’s performance as “really, really special”, while ex-England striker Daniel Sturridge said he “did everything besides score”.

But therein lies Liverpool’s issue – he didn’t score and for all the quality elsewhere, Salah remains their biggest threat and most reliable marksman.

Diaz is bursting with pace and menace and will get his share of goals, but he is not in Salah’s league when it comes to the cold, ruthless business of goalscoring. Diaz was a handful every minute – until it came to the business part of putting the ball in the net.

If Liverpool are to claim silverware this season, Salah’s brilliance in front of goal will be central to that pursuit.

5. Liverpool & Man City live up to the hype

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Liverpool 1-1 Man City: I’ve never seen City struggle like they did today – Jurgen Klopp

The anticipation around meetings between Liverpool and Manchester City is greater than for any other Premier League game and rarely do they disappoint.

Manchester City have found Liverpool their most formidable foe in the Guardiola era, their title battles a constant narrative, often stretching to the final day of the season.

The head-to-head meetings, showcasing their the different styles, have made for a heady football cocktail and Anfield was the scene of another cracker to add to a lengthy list.

Once the sound and fury had died down after referee Oliver’s final whistle, a long spell of applause broke out around the stadium from supporters able to appreciate the quality of what they had witnessed.

As Nevin aptly put it at full-time: “Everyone around this ground just stood up and applauded. It was a kind of ‘well, thank you’.”

It was a tribute to both managers and both teams.

BBC Sport readers were equally engrossed in the action, with this a selection of the best social media messages posted in our live text page:

Neal: What a delightful watch! Two great teams who have won everything in the past seven years going head to head. Mikel Arteta deserves huge credit for bringing a young Arsenal side into the title mix with these two incredible sides.

David: Premier League football at its best. As a Sheffield United fan, I haven’t said that much this season.

John: Two wonderful football teams with two top, top coaches, competing at the top of a brilliant league. What a time to be alive. Happy Sunday guys!

Saqub_sheikh: What a spectacle! Liverpool and Man City produced a compelling and superb match. Two champion teams showed why they have been so good for many years. As a neutral, it highlights why the Premier League is simply the best.

Steve K: Can we have extra time please?

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Manchester City, who are bidding to win a fourth successive Premier League title, went in front when John Stones scored

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But Alexis Mac Allister’s second-half penalty earned Liverpool a point at a raucous Anfield

Where next?

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