KEOWN, REDKNAPP, SUTTON and CLATTENBURG on the big game

The good, the bad and the lovely! De Bruyne’s a phenomenon, full backs are defensively dodgy… and this rivalry is way too friendly – KEOWN, REDKNAPP, SUTTON and CLATTENBURG on title thriller

  • Manchester City drew 2-2 with Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday 
  • Kevin De Bruyne gave City the lead but Diogo Jota levelled the scores 
  • Gabriel Jesus restored the lead before Sadio Mane restored parity

The highly-anticipated showdown between title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool did not disappoint with both sides showcasing their quality in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

City twice lexd through Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus but Liverpool responded through Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane. 

Here, Sportsmail columnists Martin Keown, Jamie Redknapp, Chris Sutton and Mark Clattengurg give their thoughts on the big game. 

Kevin De Bruyne opens the scoring during Manchester City’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool

KEOWN: How this rivalry between Manchester City and Liverpool compares to our old one between Arsenal and Manchester United has been a hot debate over the past few days.

There are many similarities but what is glaringly different is the special respect that Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp reserve for one another. Our rivalry wasn’t the healthiest but this one is. You could see that when Virgil van Dijk took out Kevin De Bruyne to stop him from bearing down on goal in the second half. De Bruyne just got up and gave Van Dijk a fist-bump as if to say: ‘Fair play, I’d have done the same.’

This respect between the two sets of players stems from the managers. They’re the role models. If Guardiola and Klopp were at each others’ throats, then it would spill on the pitch. As it did with Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson at times, especially in the early days. But we don’t see that from Guardiola and Klopp.

SUTTON: The hug at full-time between those two said it all. I don’t think you’d find Arsenal and United’s managers and players of old doing that. Maybe a chokehold, but definitely not a cuddle.

Jurgen Klopp puts his arm around Pep Guardiola during the Premier League showdown

KEOWN: The rivalry between Arsenal and United was such that we didn’t like them and they didn’t like us. We went in to disrupt the party that United were having in the Premier League — and we definitely did that, which they didn’t like — but City and Liverpool have grown together.

It’s such a treat for us as fans to watch this total football to-and-fro. Both sides went out there with a plan to play their own game at the Etihad Stadium and enjoy the duel, and that’s what we witnessed over a pulsating 90 minutes.

REDKNAPP: From the goalkeepers to the goalscorers, these two teams were outstanding, and I have to say the refereeing from Anthony Taylor was great, too. He allowed the game to flow.

CLATTENBURG: Stop the press — we have praise for a referee! I totally agree, Jamie. OK, maybe we could say one or two tackles could have been yellow cards, but the refereeing helped make this the match it was. There was nothing controversial of note.

I saw some complaints that the free-kick in the build-up to City’s opener wasn’t taken where the foul occurred — that it was five or so yards behind. That’s just complaining for the sake of complaining. It was close enough and City didn’t take it any further forward than where the offence occurred.

REDKNAPP: Both sides stood by their philosophies. The high line of Liverpool should come with a Government health warning — I bet there were more than a few fans in Merseyside who were nervous seeing all of that space in behind their back four.

Liverpool are so good at playing that way but when you’re facing forwards as rapid and relentless as City’s, it can be a killer. Raheem Sterling thought he had got the winner but his shoulder was just behind.

Klopp will probably tell us that’s an example of his system working to perfection — the defence held its line and Sterling was off. But my word, it can be nervy to watch.

The City and Liverpool players shake hands following the referee’s full-time whistle

KEOWN: That’s their philosophy and, nine times out of 10, the opponent is caught offside when they try to get in behind. But Gabriel Jesus’s run was timed perfectly for his goal. He ran from a wide, deep position to meet Joao Cancelo’s brilliant ball and was played onside by Trent Alexander-Arnold. The assist was quality, and so was the finish from Jesus.

REDKNAPP: As great as City are, you can still miss that killer in the box. Jesus gives them that.

SUTTON: Liverpool gave their all. They left it all out on the pitch and Klopp said he was proud of his players for their efforts. Twice they fell behind to a great team who had the home advantage, and twice they bit back.

REDKNAPP: I want to talk about the full backs. We saw the good and bad of them. The good — how they’re machines designed to add to attacks, such as that assist from Cancelo for Jesus.

The bad — how they can get caught out by the space they leave behind, such as when Sadio Mane slipped behind Kyle Walker to score. It’s risk versus reward. They’re all fabulous full backs —some of the best the Premier League has ever seen.

Cancelo is arguably the best of the bunch in terms of technical ability. But we saw how both City and Liverpool tried to exploit these full backs. Defensively, they can leave a lot to be desired, but who are we to complain? That’s what made this game so exciting.

KEOWN: Mane’s equaliser saw Walker too high up initially. Mane got a head start and, for all his pace, Walker couldn’t catch him. That’s what happens when there is so much quality on show — one mistake and you’re punished.

SUTTON: If Guardiola’s final words to his troops were ‘guys, keep it tight early on’ then they weren’t heard. Walker will be disappointed with how he handled that situation but it was a gorgeous assist from Mohamed Salah.

REDKNAPP: If you asked me to pick my favourite player who graced that pitch yesterday, of all the talents on show, it would have to be Kevin De Bruyne. He’s a phenomenon who’s got so many different assets to his game but it’s the way he’s able to get away from chasing players.

He eats up the ground. Steven Gerrard had that same pace — the extra yard only a few midfielders possess. Riyad Mahrez might have won it at the very end for City, and he probably should have.

But it’s no surprise it was De Bruyne who created that chance. He is the only player in the country who could make that run and pass.

SUTTON: Neither side should be pleased with a point. They’re winners and when they don’t win, they should be angry at themselves.

The Premier League title race will rumble on, but for City, the Champions League is the one. That’s what they want most of all. That’s what they have to win if they want to be considered the very best of the best. Who knows, these two teams might be meeting again come May 28. Wouldn’t that be a treat?

REDKNAPP: Totally. I find this title race impossible to call. I’ve got this feeling Liverpool v Tottenham on May 7 will be significant. Can Klopp’s crew navigate that one? That might be the match which poses them a major problem. But what a rivalry this is.

Some people say City pass the ball too much. Others adore that about them. Some people say Liverpool’s high energy is a thing of beauty. Others don’t think they play football that’s pretty enough. It’s like the age-old debate over who you prefer between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Whatever your view on City and Liverpool and their styles, I think we can all agree that it is incredible to watch these winners strut their stuff.


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