EPL: Manchester City, Liverpool share spoils in a thrilling draw, title race intensifies

Liverpool and Manchester City showed the Premier League what it will be missing when Jurgen Klopp walks away at the end of the season.

Anfield played host to a typically full-blooded, high-octane clash of titans in the last English top-flight encounter between Klopp and Pep Guardiola before the Liverpool manager stands down.

Arsenal ended the weekend top of the standings on goal difference, but the Londoners’ 2-1 win at Brentford on Saturday felt like a subplot in comparison to the latest and possibly last clash between Klopp and Guardiola.

John Stones gave City a first-half lead and Alexis Mac Allister leveled from the penalty spot after the break.

That only told part of the story of a thrilling encounter, which saw Luis Diaz miss a big chance to fire Liverpool ahead and Phil Foden and Jeremy Doku hit the woodwork for City. In stoppage time, Klopp thought Liverpool should have been given a penalty for Doku’s chest-high challenge on Mac Allister, only for VAR to dismiss appeals.

“Why would the guy in the VAR studio think that is not clear and obvious? What must you have for lunch if you think that is not clear and obvious?” Klopp said.

Perhaps Klopp is mellowing as he counts down his final days at Liverpool, but he preferred to focus on the performance of his rebuilt and injury-stricken team.

“For us, besides the result, the most important information is we are right there, we go the distance. Let’s see what we get for it, but the boys fought so hard through everything to be there,” he said.

“Today I saw the best 53 minutes we had against Manchester City. It was exceptional and important as well that we learned that about ourselves.”
It would be fascinating to see how this team could develop under Klopp, who has so quickly remolded Liverpool following the departure of key players like Sadio Mane, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino.

Few expected him to mount a title challenge so soon, let alone compete on four fronts this season, with the League Cup already secured. Against the odds, his team is also still in contention for the Europa League and FA Cup.

A second league title of his reign is the priority and Liverpool showed it can go head-to-head with a City team that is defending last season’s treble of trophies the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Liverpool’s 2020 title is the only thing that stopped City from completing a clean sweep of six straight triumphs under Guardiola from 2018.

Guardiola has repeatedly described Klopp’s Liverpool as the biggest challenge of his coaching career and has edged him to the title by a single point on two occasions.

“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,” Guardiola said.

It is shaping up to be another fiercely contested title race and time will tell how important a point at Anfield was.

The added factor this year is a third contender in Arsenal and Guardiola is equally aware of the threat coming from Mikel Arteta as from Klopp.

“Arsenal last year came back and will stay for a long time because they are a young team with an exceptional manager,” he said.

“Still, there are 10 games to go, 30 points to play for. One point difference. The important thing is still we are there after where we came from in previous seasons, still we are there.”

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