Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola took a leaf out of his Liverpool counterpart Juergen Klopp’s training manual when the two clashed in a thrilling showdown at the Etihad on Sunday.
City employed a direct attacking tactic, which is Liverpool’s style, in the match. Klopp said he felt flattered, while Guardiola — tongue in cheek — admitted he always tries to imitate the best.
These and other talking points from the Premier League weekend.
City play Liverpool at their own game: Sunday’s top-of-the-table 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Liverpool lived up to expectations in so many ways, but there was an unexpected twist in the tactical approach to the game.
Under Guardiola, City are known for a more patient, short-passing possession approach but, in the first half especially, they took on Liverpool at their own game.
The choice of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling in attack, ahead of Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish, gave City more pace and directness and it was clear Guardiola had told his team to play slightly differently.
So City looked to send balls in over the top a lot more than usual. They also pressed Liverpool’s back line relentlessly and when they attacked, they did so with real directness, swarming the visitors.
That is the kind of approach Liverpool’s front three have become well known for and Klopp suggested he was flattered by the imitation.
“We don’t own the style, so it’s fine. It’s just smart. Who cares? City are allowed to play balls behind the line,” said the German.
“It’s about winning football games and not about showing which style you want to push through. Yes, there were moments that were not how they are usually, but I thought it was a good idea,” he added.
Guardiola found the suggestion he had copied Liverpool’s usual style a little amusing. “I try to imitate the best, I learn!” he joked.
Werner’s errors cannot go unnoticed despite double: Chelsea striker Timo Werner celebrated his first Premier League goals in six months with a double in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of Southampton, but the first half of the contest summed up the German’s tenure in London as he hit the woodwork three times.
While manager Thomas Tuchel will be pleased that the 26-year-old could atone for his mistakes against a team that hardly offered any resistance, he will be aware Real Madrid could make Chelsea pay for any profligacy in the Champions League.
With striker Romelu Lukaku nursing a minor injury ahead of the trip to Spain, Tuchel will hope his fellow German can iron out the flaws in his game quickly as Chelsea look on Tuesday to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg.
Arteta gets team selection wrong as Arsenal slip up: Arsenal’s hopes of moving into the top four suffered a blow with a second straight defeat, but their 2-1 home defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion was more or less self-inflicted as coach Mikel Arteta got his team selection wrong.
With left-back Kieran Tierney and midfielder Thomas Partey injured, Arteta deployed midfielder Granit Xhaka at left-back in place of Nuno Tavares, throwing the inexperienced Sambi Lokonga into the lion’s den that was Brighton’s packed midfield.
Arsenal lacked cohesion in the first half and Xhaka’s adventurous foray upfield ultimately left a gap at the back that was exploited by Brighton for their opener. By the time Arteta switched formation for the second period, it was too late.
Manchester United on course for worst season since 1991: As Manchester United’s great rivals Manchester City and Liverpool put on a footballing spectacle at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, it completed another miserable weekend for Ralf Rangnick’s side.
United limped to a 1-0 defeat at lowly Everton on Saturday, having put in another inept performance that left the English top flight’s most successful side seventh and likely to miss out on Champions League qualification for next season.
When United finished seventh in 2013/2014 under David Moyes, that was as bad as their fans thought it could get, but the current crop are on course for a lower points finish, given their average per game this season, and worst total since 1991.
A new permanent manager has yet to be named but whoever takes over from Rangnick will have their work cut out to turn things around.
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