As Jurgen Klopp headed for the hills, it was easy to imagine him going home to indulge in a spot of head-banging as he saw in the New Year.
Heavy metal music blaring from fancy Bose speakers, and a bottle of Becks in hand, the German would have had good reason to rock out around his living room as he toasted a fine end to a fine year.
He’d outwitted Pep Guardiola in the Premier League’s latest clash of the managerial titans with a very clever display.
And he’d brought down the curtain on a calendar year that has given Klopp and his loyal legions in Liverpool much hope for 2017.
Make no mistake about it, he has re-established his side as major players over the past 12 months.
And while titles are neither won or lost with one victory or defeat in December, this triumph sounded a warning, another warning, to all concerned that the Reds will be there or thereabouts in May.
Pep Guardiola, on the other hand, probably went home to indulge in a spot of head-banging of his own.
The sort that would put a forehead-like dent in a brick wall.
Because while City enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, the same old defensive frailties that have nagged him this season were evident again here at Anfield.
And they proved costly as Klopp edged ahead of him, 5-4, in their personal head-to-head.
Not for the first time in recent months, Aleksander Kolarov was the guilty party in City’s back four.
He didn't attack Adam Lallana’s cross, Georginio Wijnaldum did. It really was that simple.
And the Dutchman’s thumping header left Claudio Bravo no chance as it nestled in the bottom corner of the City goal.
How they have missed the calming influence of captain Vincent Kompany, who watched the game in the stand alongside the City fans.
Of course, it would be foolish to write off City’s title credentials at the halfway stage.
But even so, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see Guardiola’s men winning it this season.
They looked like they might at a canter when they opened up with six Premier League victories on the spin.
But ever since then they’ve taken two steps forward and one back, and unless they sort that out — and fast — then they simply won’t catch Chelsea.
At this rate, they might not even catch second-placed Liverpool.
Much was made in the build-up to this game of the fact that Klopp's gegenpressing style had caused problems for Guardiola’s teams in the past.
Hell, the Spaniard has admitted himself he’d had to resort to more of a long-ball style to compete with it at times.
This time there was an element of counter-attacking to it and it was one such breakaway from which Lallana unlocked the visitors’ defence.
Even with Sergio Aguero back, chances at the other end were few and far between, and certainly Simon Mignolet did not have to make a save of any real note.
There were big performances from Liverpool players all over the pitch. Wijnaldum, Dejan Lovren, Jordan Henderson, Lallana, they kept their shape superbly and did their jobs very well.
But that is what Klopp has drilled into them during his time at the club and that’s why once again they’re a force to be reckoned with.
On this sort of evidence, it’s easy to understand how Klopp has lost just one of 13 games against the so-called Big Six since he arrived in the Premier League and that is the foundation upon which the Liverpool giant is reawakening.
It has threatened to stir in the past then nodded off again, but you get the sense that this time Klopp won’t allow that to happen.
He will know that this victory over sets up the second half of the campaign perfectly.
And the noise which greeted the final whistle suggests the supporters agree.
Like Klopp, they will have woken with a celebratory headache this morning.
While Guardiola will have woken with a very different kind.
Source: Daily Mirror
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