Manchester City 4-1 Liverpool: Guardiola's men thrash Reds despite Haaland absence
Manchester City put pressure on Arsenal in the Premier League title race with a convincing 4-1 win against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
Defending champions City were without the injured Erling Haaland but goals from Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish saw them emphatically respond to Mohamed Salah's early opener.
The win closed the gap at the top to five points ahead of Arsenal's game against Leeds United later on Saturday as City clinched their fourth league win in a row.
It was the latest blow to Liverpool's hopes of clinching a top-four spot, with Jurgen Klopp's men staying five points behind Newcastle United in fifth and seven behind Tottenham in fourth.
It was Liverpool who went in front in the 17th minute as they played out from the back before Trent Alexander-Arnold's long ball found Diogo Jota, who raced through and held off Manuel Akanji before Salah ran onto the loose ball and smashed it into the net.
That lead lasted just 10 minutes as a neat move from City ended with Gundogan playing in Grealish down the left and he provided a low cross for Alvarez to execute a simple finish past Alisson.
It took less than a minute of the second half for City to go ahead as a long ball was played out to Riyad Mahrez, who played an inch-perfect ball across from the right to De Bruyne for a tap-in.
The third was not far behind as Gundogan put away a close-range finish after good work from Alvarez, while Grealish added a fourth following a neat one-two with De Bruyne to wrap up an ominous performance as far as Arsenal will be concerned.
What does it mean? City hitting familiar form
City have won four straight Premier League games for the first time in 2022-23.
While Arsenal have a good lead at the top, City have a penchant for merciless form when they have the scent of a title in their nostrils.
Should the Gunners slip and leave an opening, Pep Guardiola's men will still believe they can snatch it in the final 10 games.
No Haaland? No problem
It does look like a weird debate on paper to suggest that City are better without 42-goal Haaland.
However, this was undoubtedly one of their best performances of the campaign as their movement and passing opened up Liverpool time and again, something that has certainly been less consistent this season despite Haaland's goals.
Slow Liverpool pay the price
De Bruyne's strike after 53 seconds was the earliest Liverpool have conceded in the second half of a Premier League game since Sylvain Distin scored after just 40 seconds for Everton in January 2011.
On the plus side, Salah became the first Liverpool player to score in four different games against an opponent in a single campaign since Ian Rush did so in five meetings with Everton in 1986-87.
Key Opta Stats:
- Liverpool have lost eight Premier League away games this season – their most in a single season since 2014-15 (also 8) and as many as they had lost on the road in their three previous campaigns combined.
- This was City's 100th PL home win under Guardiola, in their 128th such match at the Etihad (D16 L12). It's the fastest a manager has reached 100 home wins, beating Arsene Wenger's previous record (139 games).
- Liverpool lost when scoring first in a Premier League match for the first time since February 2021 (3-1 vs Leicester). They had been unbeaten in 44 such games before this (W39 D5), winning the last 22 in a row.
- The Reds have conceded 30 Premier League goals against Man City under Jurgen Klopp, 11 more than they have against any other opponent.
- Liverpool had just four shots in this match, their fewest in a single Premier League game since September 2011 (3 vs Tottenham).
- Grealish has more PL goal involvements against Liverpool than he does any other opponent (7 with 3 goals and 4 assists), despite this being just the second game he has scored or assisted against them.
Man City travel to relegation-threatened Southampton next Saturday while Liverpool have a trip to Chelsea to contend with on Tuesday before hosting league leaders Arsenal.