So nervy was I during the Manchester City - Liverpool clash that I never even tasted the tins of cider I quaffed to quell my nerves rather than quench my thirst. My suffering wife, listening to my groans, told me she hoped Liverpool would emerge victorious if only to spare her an evening in the company of a morose sourpuss.
This Liverpool side for all its unquestionable talent can be so frustrating. They grind out their victories even when not playing good. But for someone like me who believes in the beautiful game, winning gracelessly is like drinking alcohol free beer. That vital ingredient that gives it oomph is missing. I take the victory when it comes but cream on the cake rather than flatbread is so much more satisfying.
Prior to today's fixture either side, if they won each of their remaining games, would claim the EPL title. It was their own to lose. The nub was that they had to play each other so it was impossible for each to win all their games. This afternoon's clash was a moment of reckoning and the draw means that if both win every game the title is City's. Liverpool's fate is now in the hands of City who must falter somewhere on the home strait.
Liverpool's backline is suspect. Not in the people who make it up but in the game strategy where they push up high using a flat backline. It works against most sides but today against a top side, adept at slide ruler passing, the tide was out and the back four were seen to be naked. Time without number a exquisitely executed pass caught them out. Allison once again came to the rescue.
On balance City deserved to win. Sterling was marginally offside and had his goal disallowed. Harsh, but fair. Mahrez missed a great chance in the dying minutes. He opted for the lob when a drive would have secured the three points.
A draw is not a disaster for Liverpool. Although it puts them on the back foot it keeps them within touching distance of City.
The men from Manchester have dropped points this season in games they should have won easily. Liverpool have taken all three points from games they should have lost. Today balanced out, a spot on the road where the two met each other before heading on for the final stage of the journey. But if that pattern continues Liverpool will take the title. City should have finished them off but didn't.
While trailing City by a point I feel more confident about this Liverpool side than I did about the one that remained a point behind City for the remainder of the season having squandered a seven point lead in 2019. Lounging on a Paris street, I drowned my sorrows with red wine when it was confirmed that Liverpool blew it and threw it.
Thus far champagne remains on the menu.
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