Football

Home sweet home for Reds

Liverpool are now four points ahead of Man City and just six away from leaders Chelsea

EPL
LIVERPOOL MAN CITY
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Georginio Wijnaldum 8  

Jurgen Klopp won the battle of managerial masterminds at Anfield as Liverpool's 1-0 victory on Sunday (Singapore time) put a dent in Manchester City's title aspirations whilst strengthening their own.

Georginio Wijnaldum's eighth-minute goal proved enough to beat Pep Guardiola's side and ensure the Reds' maintained the six-point deficit on leaders Chelsea, whom City now trail by 10 points.

Under Klopp, Liverpool will now complete an unbeaten year of Premier League matches at Anfield - 11 wins and six draws - following a 1-0 defeat by Manchester United on Jan 17, and ahead of their next home league game against Swansea on Jan 21.

An extended run of good results at home will be required if the Reds are to reel in the Blues and win their first league title since 1990.

Clearly in a mood for mind games, Klopp said: "Can you imagine how annoying it is when you win 13 games in a row and we are only six points behind?

"It is completely not important what happens in this moment, apart from that we win games. That's the only thing we are really interested in.

"It's so difficult in this league, it's unbelievably difficult. We got the three points which I thought we deserved and that's the only thing that's really important."

Meanwhile, a fourth defeat of the season ended the City's mini revival which had seen them win the last three after a wobble earlier in the month.

For two teams who like to dominate possession, there were too many loose balls flying around in midfield.

And while the predicted goal fest between the Premier League's leading two scorers did not materialise, it was a fascinating encounter stage-managed by two of the world's top coaches.

Klopp was first to show his hand and comfortably won the opening 45 minutes.

Guardiola gained a reaction from his side after the break but failed to conjure a goal - or even a decent scoring opportunity - out of his expensively-assembled side.

City's top scorer Sergio Aguero, back after a four-match suspension, barely had a kick until he registered their first shot on target in the 54th minute.

The visitors were stifled by Liverpool's incessant pressing and harrying with makeshift left-back James Milner epitomising the team ethic with a complete shut-out job on former Reds winger Raheem Sterling, eight years his junior.

Liverpool's goal, in the eighth minute, typified their approach.

Aleksandar Kolarov lost possession in opposition territory with Wijnaldum moving the ball to Roberto Firmino whose outside-of-the-foot pass to Adam Lallana was matched by an equally tasty cross from the midfielder.

Wijnaldum, who had raced 60 yards, comfortably out-jumped Kolarov to power a header past Claudio Bravo.

Lallana, a player reborn under Klopp, continues to be the man around whom this team revolves and no midfielder in Europe has been as involved with seven goals and seven assists.

Momentum swung City's way after the break as they began to dominate the centre ground but even with David Silva, who whipped a shot past the post, seeing more of the ball they could still not either free up Aguero or create much in the way of chances.

Nevertheless anxiety spread around Anfield but City - watched by captain Vincent Kompany in with the away fans - could not capitalise with another unconvincing performance on the road which poses yet more questions for which Guardiola has yet to find answers for. - PA Sport

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