January 15, 2018

FREE KICKS: Reds conquer the Invincibles

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Manchester City’s record undefeated run came to an end after one of the most exciting games of the season.

Liverpool and City put on quite the show in their 4-3 thriller. With the Reds taking an early lead, City countering, Liverpool scoring three goals in eight minutes and the league league-leader potting two late scores to nearly even things up, it was edge-of-your-seat action for most of the contest.

Most of the goals were of high quality, too. Roberto Firmino had a beauty of a chip, Mohamed Salah scored from quite the distance by chipping Ederson following a giveaway and all of the others were well-worked and well-deserved.

The Reds’ strategy to do what no other team has this season was actually quite simple: They wouldn’t sit back and allow City to play its possession game, the Reds were going to press and attack.

This was perhaps best summed up by watching left back Andrew Robertson charge down the pitch from his defensive position, chasing the ball from there all the way to Ederson. He looked like a mad man and nearly created a great scoring chance.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had an excellent game, putting pressure on the Citizens while scoring the opener and also tallying an assist.

Post-game Jurgen Klopp said there was “no alternative” strategy and that “standing on the edge of your box” was akin to “hoping to win the lottery.” He’s not wrong and he has the track record to prove it: No other manager has beaten Pep Guardiola as many times as him in all competitions, winning five matches.

Will this give other teams a formula to beat the previously unstoppable juggernaut? That remains to be seen, as, obviously, not every club has the pieces that Liverpool does in attack.

This could be the first crack in the armour for the Sky Blues, or it could just be an aberration after 23 games unbeaten. We’ll just have to see how Newcastle sets up next week, but we’re going to bet that we won’t see City drop two in a row.


Marko Arnautovic is one of the most frustrating players in the Premier League. He is remarkably inconsistent and prone to take foolish cards due to the occasional temper flare up. But it is week’s like this that remind us why he is frustrating and not just a forgettable pain: He can be REALLY good. This week he scored and set up two goals in West Ham’s 4-1 win over Huddersfield Town on the road. The Austrian is riding an incredible hot streak – which happens once or twice a season between extreme dry spells – having scored six goals with three assists in the Hammers’ past eight games. He’s certainly worth watching until the next time he blows up – which could be any minute.


We’ll talk more about transfer rumours later, but with Alexis Sanchez being left out of Arsenal’s squad, his time in London seems to be at an end. With City reportedly out on the Chilean, that could see him headed to Old Trafford for around 35 million pounds … Also being left out of their squad this week: Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian has fallen off after a hot start and might be better served with a move – potentially as part of a swap for Alexis … The Gunners completely blew it against Bournemouth, switching off on defence and allowing two goals in four minutes. These sorts of meltdowns are all too typical of Arsenal and why they’re destined to miss out on the top four again … Harry Kane was at it again in Spurs demolition of Everton, scoring twice and nearly taking of player of the week award. That’s 20 goals this season already for Kane and he also became Tottenham’s highest career scorer, edging past Teddy Sheringham … I’ll never get why players rip off their shirts to celebrate a goal. They know it’s an automatic yellow card and can hinder their game. Yet guys like Firmino do it for some reason and put themselves at a disadvantage. It’s not like he was showing off his physique or anything, the guy was wearing a long-sleeve shirt underneath … Don’t look now, but West Ham are up to 11th in the table. David Moyes is working some magic after Slavan Bilic completely bottled the beginning of the season for the Irons … Another team thriving after a managerial change: Crystal Palace … Antonio Valencia returned for Manchester United and had an immediate impact against Stoke, scoring nine minutes in. The winger-turned-fullback is having a marvelous renaissance to his career … Even with Leicester playing a man down for the final 22 minutes of the match, Chelsea couldn’t crack its defence. The Blues’ attack has been seriously lacking of late, despite what should’ve been an excellent run of fixtures.


What have we missed on our break? Well there’s plenty of transfer rumours to dive into … Liverpool started spending their Philippe Coutinho money before they even got it, signing Virgil van Dijk to a 75-million pound deal before the window even opened … At this point, it would’ve been wiser for Liverpool to just buy Southampton the club when it was for sale a couple of years ago than slowly pry away every good player it has an pay the premium … Could Salah be the next Liverpool star to leave? Real Madrid’s rumoured interest … The watch is now on for who the Reds will look to as a replacement for their Brazilian playmaker. Thomas Lemar was a hot name, but apparently the Reds’ interest has dropped in the Monaco star … How about Pierre-Emerick Aubamenyang? After being left out of this week’s match by Borussia Dortmund, a move to the Premier League could be on the horizon, but Arsenal seem to be at the top of the list … Stoke’s sacking of Mark Hughes seemed a bit overdo. Can Paul Lambert save them? The new manager is a professional at saving teams from relegation – but we’ve said that about other managers before … Everton signed Turkish striker Cenk Tosun, but let’s see how he adapts to the league. The hotter Toffees rumour is their interest in Theo Walcott, which would give them some much-needed speed … Naby Keita will have to wait until the summer to join Liverpool, with Leipzig opting to hold on to the midfielder … Gabriel Jesus is off crutches and could be back in 4-6 weeks. Just what City needs, another attacking option.

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