I’ve never seen an atmosphere at a football ground change and affect the game as much as Liverpool fans do at Anfield. Pep Guardiola’s super team were rattled from half past five when their coach was greeted by the Arkles pub, just right from the Anfield Road. They were rattled. Thousands of fans lined the street with various flares, drinks and songs to sing. Allez Allez Allez is the latest of an elite group of Liverpool chants.
City came and as they said, “they were prepared” but after the game, Pep Guardiola said: “we didn’t expect anything like that”.
50,000 scouse voices singing, shouting and booing for 90 minutes straight. Even the whole main stand was up on their feet. A sight witnessed less than father Christmas.
Guardiola came with a game plan, they had a good opening 10 minutes. Trying to get one over on Liverpool in every possible way, telling Vincent Kompany to make the reds kick towards the Kop in the first half, just like he did in the league game in January. Looks like he still hasn’t learnt his lesson, giving Liverpool fans even more motivation to be up for it.
Then Liverpool scored.
City became even more rattled. They heard every song. Felt every voice inside the ground. They found themselves doing things completely out of character. It was overwhelming for them. Leroy Sanes miss just after the first goal was key and gave Liverpool that extra bit of bite and edge. The miss put them further away. It was a chance to really quiet the storm and a chance not taken. Liverpool grasped that and took it with them.
Every stand was on their feet to witness an Alex Oxlade Chamberlain rocket into the Kop end goal. We were seeing something great. Even Perrie Edwards in the main stand couldn’t believe it. We were battering them. They were still doing silly things out of character. This time it was lazy passing around the back and shying away from tackles, which lead to the reds being given a comfortable lead.
Big managers make big calls and there were two prime examples in this game. City left out their highest goal scorer in Raheem Sterling and Pep went with Ilkay Gundogan on the right. The problem with that is, if things aren’t going well, a natural central midfielder will always want to come deep and pick up the ball, it left City without an option on the right and constantly playing through Sane on the left.
It also left Liverpool with a lot of space down the left for Andy Robertson to utilise. The other big call was from Jurgen Klopp, who picked the 19-year-old Trent Alexander Arnold to play right back against the freighting Leroy Sane.
A lot of Liverpool fans were nervous and apprehensive about this outcome, but it worked an absolute treat. Sane had one chance that he blasted wide. It was Trent’s best performance in a Liverpool shirt from a defensive point of view and long may it continue.
Liverpool pounced and made it three.
You could see it coming. We were freighting on the counter. Stand in left back Aymeric Laporte didn’t have a clue what to do with Mo Salah. It was again lazy from City in the middle and that man Roberto Firmino started it off AGAIN.
You simply can’t show Mo Salah the inside on his left foot. But they did, and Mane reacted quickest and made it 3-0. The Kop went wild, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I hugged a stranger behind me, whilst standing on my chair.
The only thing that could have topped it is if Andy Robertson’s 60 yards run a had ended in a goal, I along with a lot of others would probably be dead if that had gone in. they didn’t know where they were or what they were doing. The 3000 City fans in the Anfield road didn’t make a sound. Were they even there?
The second half was a case of looking at the scoreboard, thinking 10 minutes had past when only one had. They had a lot of ball but no end product. It was the good old sideways passing even from De Bruyne and Silva. To a man, Liverpool defended superbly. The often criticised Dejan Lovren was brave and commanding and I’ve never seen a person head a ball more than Virgil Van Dijk. Midfielders Jordan Henderson and James Milner didn’t shy away from one tackle all game and didn’t give City’s stars in the middle breathing space to move it forward. Chasing everywhere.
It didn’t make headlines. It wasn’t flashy or beautiful. But what Liverpool done in the second half was just as good as what they done in the first. All the headlines will go towards that first half mauling, but Liverpool defended resolutely and bravely.
City were rattled from half past 5. The atmosphere was tribal, partisan and aggressive. But best of all it was intimidating. It was another case that Liverpool holds something special on European nights. Manchester City are added to a long line of names who have crumbled. Chelsea, Juventus, Real Madrid, St Ettienne, Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Villareal are just a selected bunch of those.
For Liverpool to come away with their heads held high going to the Etihad, every player had to be 100% and work hard. But for Liverpool to be going to the Etihad with a 3-0 lead every fan and player had to be 100% and working hard. My voice is absolutely killing, along with many others.
Nothing is over yet. It is only halftime. But every Liverpool player and fan can be proud of what the achieved on Wednesday the 4th April 2018.
My Liverpool, the Kop will always rule, we’ll show the world how football is played.