It’s only the fourth match of the Premier League season, but Manchester City have made a big statement of intent with a 5-0 win over Liverpool at the Etihad on Saturday. Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Jesus (2) and Leroy Sané (2) scored the goals as the Blues destroyed the Reds and showed that they’re strong enough to win the Premier League this season.
The game was very stop-start in the first 10 minutes, with many throw-ins and fouls and not a lot of action. Liverpool had most of the possession, and they looked dangerous every time Mohamed Salah was able to get in behind Benjamin Mendy and run at Nicolas Otamendi, who was booked early on for a foul on the Egyptian and was easily beaten by the Liverpool winger in the early minutes.
City slowly grew into the game and looked dangerous in transition, with Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho requiring Simon Mignolet to make good saves in two situations where City got into the attacking third quickly with very little passing. Liverpool responded with a few good cross into the box from the right side, but City keeper Éderson Moraes was always alert and made some smart stops and interceptions.
The game looked very equal after 25 minutes, and that’s when Kevin De Bruyne started to shine. The Belgian played a sensational through ball that put Sergio Agüero in front of the goal, and the Argentine easily rounded Mignolet to put the Blues in front. Liverpool responded instantly with a shot from Emre Can, but Éderson once again made the save. The Brazilian would come up big in the 30th minute when Salah beat the offside trap and found himself through on goal, but Éderson showed amazing reflexes and dived to his right to stop Salah’s shot.
Éderson was very much the story of the first half, but the final chapter was not a good one for the Brazilian: after Sadio Mané was found through on goal with a long pass from the back, Éderson came out of his area to head the ball away from danger, and while he did that he was also caught with a boot to the face from Mané. The Liverpool winger was sent off by referee Jonathan Moss who thought the challenge was dangerous and intentional, but things were even worse for Éderson who needed to be stretchered off and was replaced by Claudio Bravo.
Moss added eight minutes of stoppage time because of Éderson’s injury, and De Bruyne took advantage of the extra period to once again show his magical powers: the Belgian received a pass on the left wing, did a beautiful Cruyff turn to get away from his defender and played a fantastic cross into the head of Gabriel Jesus who couldn’t miss.
At halftime, the Blues had a 2-0 lead thanks to De Bruyne’s magic and a comfortable position ahead of the second half. City now needed to finish the job against 10 men.
Jürgen Klopp switched his formation to a 5-3-1 and gave a debut to former Arsenal man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in hopes of getting Liverpool back into the match, but Pep Guardiola had a tactical tweak of his own: Danilo was moved from right center-back to a defensive midfielder role on the left side, with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva moved out wide.
The tactical change worked wonders for the Blues, who gained control of the midfield and were a lot more secure defensively. Liverpool played a very high line throughout the match, and they were punished once again when Fernandinho played a fantastic through ball to Sergio Agüero, who found himself in front of goal again but this time decided to be the provider and gave Gabriel Jesus a tap-in. The Brazilian got his second of the match, and City had the three points seemingly very much guaranteed.
With a comfortable lead against 10 men, Guardiola decided to rest Gabriel Jesus and took him off as soon as he scored, with Leroy Sané coming on. The German brought his usual energy and skill on the left wing, and Leroy made the win even bigger for the Blues. His first goal came after a combination play with Benjamin Mendy, who played a perfect cross that Sané directed into the net. Sané added his second and City’s fifth with an insane strike from outside the box.
The game ended with City’s biggest home win against Liverpool in more than 80 years, and Pep Guardiola will certainly be very happy with his team’s performance and the way the Blues simply destroyed the visitors after they went down to 10 men. Manchester United may have a perfect record so far, but they’ll have competition for the title.
The Blues are coming.
Man City: Éderson (Bravo); Walker, Danilo, Stones, Otamendi (Mangala), Mendy; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Agüero, G.Jesus (Sané)
Goals: Agüero (24’), Gabriel Jesus (45’+6, 53’), Sané (77’, 90’+1)
Liverpool: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Moreno; Wijnaldum (Milner), Henderson, Can; Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Firmino (Solanke), Mané