Manchester City and Liverpool played out a frantic 2-2 draw in the biggest Premier League game of the season so far—and arguably the biggest in the league for some time.
At the end of it there was a sense of unfinished business, a league title not yet decided despite pre-match hype suggesting it might be a winner takes all moment.
That there was no winner contributed to the sense of continuation in this head to head between the two best teams in the world, which now stretches back several years.
The buildup to the game was like no other. Is it really a rivalry? Will it decide the Premier League title? It certainly will decide the league title! Said many before the game.
The two managers, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, weren’t so convinced.
“If you win against City—which is already difficult enough—nobody would think: ‘OK, that’s it decided,’ because of the quality of the opponent,” Klopp said prior to the game.
“Everybody knows about the importance of the next game, but after it there will be other games in other competitions and in the Premier League as well.”
The two managers are known for showing respect to each other, but this respect also extends to other teams in the league.
This is partly a motivational tool to make sure their players do not get complacent against teams below them, even when they are dominating games.
After all, every game needs to be won, and as the teams below Liverpool and Man City show on a regular basis, winning Premier League games is far from easy.
After an enthralling, exhausting game, there was still a sense that we were nowhere near knowing who would lift the 2022 Premier League title.
City are in the driving seat—a point ahead of Liverpool, and slightly ahead of them in terms of quality if today’s game is anything to go by.
The only reason Guardiola’s side may not be happy with the 2-2 draw is because they will believe there were chances to win it.
Otherwise, they will leave the game believing they were the better side, with the league table still proving as much.
The rivalry between these two sides can be overhyped, but the game itself can’t. It is rich entertainment for neutral viewers and a rollercoaster ride of emotions for fans of the two teams.
Many of those watching on in support of Liverpool or Man City will have felt as exhausted as the players by the end of the game.
The game itself was played at high intensity until periods in the second half when players obviously tired.
These sides are regularly playing twice per week and have squads full of players who also appear for their national teams, meaning there is no rest during international breaks either.
The tiredness towards the end of the game didn’t lead to a stalemate, rather an exchange of counter-attacks as mistakes increased from both sides and substitutes such as Luis Diaz and Riyad Mahrez added fresh legs against tiring defences.
City took the lead twice—which is another reason they may leave this game disappointed.
Kevin De Bruyne’s shot deflected off Joel Matip to open the scoring before Trent Alexander-Arnold set up Diogo Jota for the first equaliser.
Gabriel Jesus turned home Joao Cancelo’s cross just before halftime, and the second half had barely begun before Mohamed Salah fed Sadio Mane for another equaliser.
It was to remain level for the rest of the game, and there is still a sense of parity in the league even though the title is now in City’s hands.
The sense that there is unfinished business is only increased by the fact the two teams play each other in an FA Cup semifinal at Wembley next weekend, and they could yet meet in the Champions League too.
Rather than being a season finale, it was more like the opening to another chapter in this high-quality head-to-head.