Liverpool and Manchester City Complete a Phenomenal Season

There weren’t any unexpected twists on the last day of the Premier League. Just two of the best clubs that England has ever seen doing precisely what they’ve been doing in every league game in the last couple of months: winning.

Manchester City has managed to accumulate 198 Premier League points out of a possible 228 over the last two seasons. That showcases a level of dominance that has never been seen before in the Premier League, and it offers cause to think when it comes to those that ridiculed the achievements by Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Equally impressive is the fact that Manchester City was pushed until the end by the Reds, which is a true statement of the work done by their rivals. Most of us were too focused on the overall storylines that we never stopped to marvel at the work both these managers achieved in the 2018/19 Premier League season. Both individually and collectively as well as in the way they represented their clubs in the campaign. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at each of these clubs.

Manchester City

Manchester City was defeated 2-1 by Newcastle towards the end of January. From there on in, Man City only conceded four goals in the last 14 games. This occurred although Fernandinho only started in 5 of these games even though he is considered irreplaceable when it comes to the defence. Down the field, Pep Guardiola put his trust in two footballers who only a handful would have seen as critical contributors to their victory, one old, one young.

Oleksandr Zinchenko started as a winger but was under the radar for most of last year. However, in the previous 3 months, he was an ever-present left back, which gave the impression that he’d been part of the team for years. Vincent Kompany, a player who was slowed by injuries, seemed to have become a non-playing footballer in the last couple of years.

However, he was a secret weapon in the final weeks, especially when he scored his phenomenal goal while playing against Leicester City. He is one of the reasons why Manchester City lifted the trophy.

Liverpool

Liverpool, on the other hand, only lost one league match the entire season while boasting with the best defensive record within the league. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson as full-backs, along with Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, received loads of praise.

However, has anyone considered Joel Matip? Eighteen months ago, when he suffered from injuries and when van Dijk arrived, he seemed the had fallen behind. However, he joined the starting line-up in January and has been ever-present ever since.

Look at Naby Keita and Fabinho, two wildly expensive players that didn’t do much during the first three months. Klopp worked on them during the season, and both of them played vital roles in midfield.

Vincent Kompany’s Extravagant Goal for Manchester City

There was no way that Vincent Kompany would score a goal from there. His manager knew it, his teammates knew it, and more importantly, the Leicester City players knew it too.

There were only 20 minutes left in a game of cloying tension at the Etihad Stadium on Monday evening when Aymeric Laporte passed the ball to Vincent Kompany halfway inside the Leicester half of the field. This is the situation Manchester City was in, the team’s centre-backs were camping on the halfway line, while their forwards were ineffectively clustering around the penalty area. They managed to throw everything at Leicester City without any results.

With a record of 12 consecutive victories that preceded this match, Manchester City only took the lead after the 63rd minute of the game. For Pep Guardiola’s side, this w1as considered uncomfortable and unfamiliar terrain.

Vincent Kompany’s Goal

Kompany decided to kick the ball a couple of feet in front of him. The opposition was in Manchester City’s faces throughout the match, but here, they surprisingly decided to back off due to the identity of the player. Both Hamza Choudhury and Wilfred Ndidi continued to run across the outer edge of the penalty area, while James Maddison decided to stay off. Therefore, Kompany agreed to take another touch before he decided to let the ball fly.

The perfect camera angle to witness the shot was behind Kompany as it provided the best story for his remarkable goal. He managed to strike the ball with his right foot, lifting both his feet off the ground in his effort to get the most out of his shot. The ball travelled high towards the goal, far beyond the capable hands of Kasper Schmeichel, ending up in the top-right corner to give Manchester City the lead.

This was considered a one-in-a-million strike, a wonder goal, and the more you look at it, the more sensational it becomes. This was the first goal for Kompany in more than a year. It also provided his primary goal in the Premier League from outside the box. He hasn’t been able to hit the goalie from outside the penalty area since December 2013.

The Reaction After the Goal

In Manchester City stands, there was a massive explosion of relief and joy. When the cameras focused on the Manchester City manager, Pep was in a messianic pose with his hands towards the sky along with a sea of limbs in the background.

When Pep was asked what he thought before Vincent went for goal, he responded that he didn’t want Kompany to go for the play at all. However, once the ball landed in the back of the net, he stated that it was a sensational goal and was relieved it managed to pass the goalkeeper. This will be the last season for Kompany at Manchester City as his contract comes to an end. However, if this is his good-bye, he certainly did it in style.

Manchester City’s Lead Over Liverpool Comes Down to Millimetres

It would be fitting, after a relentless chase between Liverpool and Manchester City, if the title race of the season was won by the leanest of margins. However, it will also feel cruel at the same time. At Merseyside, hearts must have sunk when the referee signalled the close-range effort from Sergio Aguero after it crossed the line. It managed to beat the desperate lunge of Matt Lowton by only 29.51 millimetres.

In two weeks, Jurgen Klopp could be looking back at the priceless moment that occurred in January when both contenders clashed, and John Stones managed to stretch out to his limit much like Lowton, hooking the ball away from the goal line even though nine-tenths of it crossed the line. Before the technology surrounding the goal-line was introduced, when officials had to rely on guesswork and instinct, the two decisions could have been reversed. It’s quite clear that justice has been done. However, never has the thinnest of distances been felt quite in the same manner as the contingency by Manchester City.

Manchester City’s Victory Over Burnley

Manchester City did not expect anything for free while playing at Turf Moor. In the previous season, the team endured a 1-1 draw in the same location against Burnley. However, it proved to be far less consequential when it came to their title hopes compared to any stumble that might have occurred on Sunday. It had all the ingredients to be considered another upset, and it should have been one at the end.

Instead, Manchester City managed to avoid a couple of awkward moments in the beginning, shut out the suggestion made by Klopp that it would be a difficult assignment on Thursday, and brilliantly completed the job. It was mainly an afternoon filled with experienced and calm heads where Guardiola was purring after the occasion.

During the first 20 minutes, it looked like Vincent Kompany could have been in for an enormous battle against Barnes, a player who scored while playing against Chelsea and is renowned for taking down the big guns in soccer. However, Kompany managed to end the struggle at the top, and Sergio Aguero, who didn’t see much of the ball during the first half, also got much stronger. This was the 20th goal in the Premier League for Aguero and managed to achieve this for five consecutive seasons.

Manchester City resembled a thunderstorm during the first 18 minutes of the second half, and once Aguero pounced, it was inevitable that a goal would be scored. On a day where Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling completely misfired, it was no coincidence that Aguero would be the one to settle the nerves for the team. Manchester City continues to win games in the Premier League, even if the win is calculated by millimetres. It’s these close encounters, with difficult VAR decisions that will see Manchester City take the title this year if they can continue winning in their last remaining games.

Liverpool Claims Victory over Porto in Champions League Quarterfinal


A first leg, by definition, is all about preparing the groundwork for an upcoming fixture. However, the 2-0 victory by Liverpool at Anfield against Porto isn’t just remarkable in relation to the second leg of the Champions League in Portugal, but in relation to Liverpool’s run-in as well. Five matches from the end of a magnificent and potential title-winning Premier League season, Jurgen Klopp somehow realised a brand-new midfield system, including Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, and Fabinho.

The New Midfield of Liverpool

None of the three midfielders have played consistent campaigns. For instance, Fabinho, after he arrived from Ligue 1 and Monaco, struggled initially to get into the Liverpool side due to his fitness levels. He only found his feet after three months of getting used to the system incorporated by Klopp. Keita has primarily been a disappointment since he made the transfer from RB Leipzig, while Jordan Henderson was partially a victim to the improvement of Fabinho where he lost his holding role position to the Brazilian.

However, Friday evening’s come-from-behind win against Southampton came equipped with a Keita equaliser where he burst forward to provide a goal. Then after Salah placed Liverpool in the lead, Jordan Henderson – a substitute with game-changing abilities who injected energy, tenacity, and fright – made his way to the penalty box to provide a remarkable pull-back for Roberto Firmino, sparking celebrations that gave everyone the impression that this is definitely the season for Liverpool.

Then, for the game against Porto in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, the midfield of Klopp didn’t come with Georginio Wijnaldum, who is the most consistent midfielder for Liverpool this season. It also didn’t feature James Milner, Adam Lallana, or Xherdan Shaqiri. This midfield had Henderson, Keita, and Fabinho that represented the high-pressure triangle of Jurgen Klopp.

During an open match with opportunities on both sides, Liverpool managed to score within 25 minutes of the game, with both Henderson and Keita vital in the two goals. The initial goal was fortunate, with the shot by Keita from the edge of the penalty box being deflected off a player to pass Iker Casillas. The 2nd goal was brilliant. Keita managed to spread the ball from left to right, allowing Henderson to slip the ball between defenders before he placed it in the back of the net.

Henderson, Keita, and Fabinho

Both Henderson and Keita were brilliant in the recent matches they have played. Henderson and Fabinho are undoubtedly the best beneficiaries for Liverpool at the moment, contributing loads of skilful and clever playing tactics to get past defenders in midfield. The most recent victory is Liverpool’s 44th game in this campaign, signalling the first time that the trio played together on the field. If this trio is used again throughout the remainder of the Premier League season and the Champions League campaign, they will have a real chance to bring home some trophies at the end.

Liverpool Claims Another Win Against Southampton

Jurgen Klopp informed reporters that they shouldn’t stress about Mohamed Salah. Fifty-five days after he scored his 49th goal for Liverpool, he managed to score his 50th goal to transform what seemed like a nervous draw against Southampton into a phenomenal 3-1 victory on Friday that allowed Liverpool to reclaim the Premier League top spot for at least another nine days.

Mohamed Salah on His 50th Goal for Liverpool

Mohamed Salah seemed jittery all evening. Nothing he tried was on point. His passes were a little off, the ball seemed to get caught under his feet, and he was stumbling here and there for most of the game. Similar to previous games, he seemed desperate to score a goal, frantically attempting to put a stop to his poor form of late.

However, when he eventually got the ball from the header of Jordan Henderson, he made a run for goal on a counterattack, and it seemed like he entered a state of trance 50 yards away from goal. Although he had several passing options, he decided not to use it and instead go for glory. Salah was never going to miss this little opportunity. While the world was on pause, he selected his spot and drove the ball into the back of the net like a real football star.

“I never considered passing the ball as you need to score when you are a striker,” stated Salah after the match. He provided the perfect combination of nerve and technique when he made his way down the pitch to score his 50th goal. It was even more impressive when Henderson managed to score the third goal of the game which was considered the nerve-settler of the match. Also though he is not regarded as the most exceptional player in the team, he provides the necessary caution that brings with it certainty and control.

Jurgen Klopp’s Decisions with Liverpool

Klopp initially wanted to provide his captain the evening off, leaving James Milner and Jordan Henderson on the bench, while Fabinho and Naby Keita were brought onto the field. However, when Southampton made another run down the pitch passed the wispy midfield of Liverpool, changes had to be made, and Henderson was brought onto the field to make an impact. It worked beautifully in Klopp’s favour as Henderson provided the crucial goal to ensure Southampton couldn’t end the game in a tie.

You can easily make a case that this match was the most difficult when compared to the remaining games Liverpool still need to play. The revival of Southampton included wins against Arsenal and Tottenham. This is quite impressive when you consider that Southampton was below Huddersfield when Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived at the club.

Liverpool now needs to face Wolves, Newcastle, Huddersfield, Cardiff City, and Chelsea in the Premier League before the campaign comes to an end. They will also need to face Porto on two occasions in the Champions League before then.

How Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham Can Finish in the Top 4

The title race for the Premier League between Liverpool and Manchester City is alive and well. However, when you look at the clubs behind them, things are equally compelling in the fight for the top-four places. With just 3 points between Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham, it’s finally possible to make a case as to where each team might end up.

Tottenham Hotspur

The wait is finally over for Tottenham to make their return to White Hart Lane. The stadium has offered a crucial morale boost for the club that is currently struggling after they only made 1 point in the last five games. The 2-0 win against Crystal Palace doesn’t solve the question entirely of how well each player adjusted, but fans are much happier in the great new arena, following two years of travelling from London to Wembley. A place that never honestly felt like home. Tottenham Hotspur also has a relatively easy run going forward. Apart from Manchester City, they can enjoy a few simple home games against Everton, West Ham, Brighton, and Huddersfield along with an away trip to face Bournemouth.

Arsenal

The 2-0 win against Manchester United in March represented the last fixture against a Big 6 club, which means their remaining run is much easier on paper. Arsenal has also managed to collect 16 points in their previous 6 matches. Unai Emery has also managed to get the perfect balance with his team after spending the first half of the season changing and chopping. If things continue down this glorious path, Arsenal will be in the top 4 of the Premier League.

Chelsea

The 3-0 win against Brighton might prove crucial, especially when you consider that Maurizio Sarri’s brand-new changes made a significant impact on the field. Fans of Chelsea remain anti-Sarri. However, the use of Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Oddi proved very popular on the pitch, giving Chelsea a breath of fresh air going forward. If the club can create a winning streak going forward with new players on the field successfully doing what they need to do, Chelsea can make a significant impact on the top 4 teams in the Premier League.

Manchester United

Manchester United has four matches at home out of 6, with the away games being played against Huddersfield and Everton. There’s also a feel-good atmosphere at Old Trafford, and while the likes of Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba haven’t been in the same form, they showcased during the first few months under Solskjaer, the overall improvement on the tenure of Jose Mourinho is very clear. Manchester United are the least favourite team to make it to the Champions League semi-final this year because they are playing against La Liga giants, Barcelona. However, this gives them the perfect opportunity to place all their focus on the remaining Premier League games to ensure they reach the top four.

Bold Moves From Germany Pay Off in Euro 2020 Qualifier Against Netherlands

Fifteen years performing at the highest level provides a coach of a national team loads of sporting capital. For instance, enough to survive a World Cup first-round exit and relegation from the Nations League. It also provided Joachim Low to make bold moves which he did when Germany made their way to the Netherlands during the 2020 Euro qualifiers.

Joachim Low’s System

Having already dropped Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng, Low decided to draw a 3-4-1-2 system that featured two wingers, including Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane, masquerading as forwards, while the forward runs of Leon Goretzka offered the heft from the number 10 position along with the creativity from Toni Kroos and Joshua Kimmich in midfield. It’s a system that seemed reasonable in theory but required field-testing that doesn’t exist when it comes to international matches.

Having already been defeated 3-0 by the Netherlands in October 2018, it was a massive call from Low. Fortunately, it paid off. Gnabry and Sane provided the Dutch with no reference points, and they assisted with a 2-0 lead for Germany, before the Dutch managed to tie the game at 2-2. Thankfully, Nico Schulz eventually obtained a winner during the final moments for Germany whose forward runs were devastating down the left for most of the game.

You are left to wonder whether we will see this scheme again frequently from Germany. The Gnabry-Sane partnership matched up well while playing against the back four of the Dutch because the defenders of Koeman’s team lacked the athleticism to successfully counter the pair as the midfield were more focused on creating as opposed to destroying. However, if they face an opponent with more defence, the lack of a central striker can be problematic.

It’s also worth mentioning that although Germany seemed reasonable during the first half of the match, Ryan Babel produced two phenomenal chances that needed some Manuel Neuer excellence to stop them. Therefore, Germany is still considered a work in progress at the moment, but it’s quite encouraging to witness how Low is making bold moves to win games.

Great Effort from the Netherlands

As for the Netherlands, kudos for the effort. Matthijs De Light might be two years removed from his debut for the national team, but he is only 19 years old. To see this young talent stumble and then recover with a brilliant goal along with some impressive defensive work during the second half of the game is evidence that processes the right stuff. The young footballer has the stigmata of a not too distant future captain.

Praise can also be given to Memphis Depay. Even though he isn’t as prolific as he was last season, he showcased yet again that he can produce game-changing results. If De Jong and De Light are considered the future of the back and midfield, Depay is then indeed the future up front.

Manchester City Can Become Immortal

Manchester City is currently chasing history. The team’s journey to Craven Cottage to play against Fulham on the 30th of March 2019 will make the first of a potential 15 matches in 64 days. This journey will end with Manchester City and Pep Guardiola becoming immortals in the world of football.

There hasn’t been an English club that has managed to achieve a clean sweep of the competition in a season. In 1999, Manchester United claimed victory in the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the Premier League, while in 1984, Liverpool won the European Cup, the League Cup, and the Premier League. Liverpool also managed to win a treble of cup competitions, including the UEFA Cup, League Cup, and FA Cup in 2001.

An Unprecedented Quadruple

After winning the Carabao Cup against Chelsea with a penalty shoot-out last month at Wembley, Manchester City are still hunting down a quadruple. Every win will take them one step closer to success in their quest. After the controversial and dramatic 3-2 victory against Swansea on the FA Cup quarterfinal on Saturday, Pep Guardiola admitted that he was tired and was in desperate need of a break. However, although the international fixtures provide a much-needed break for the players and the manager. It will only be a brief interval as the next two months will be career-defining, draining, and hectic.

Manchester City will head into the final 15 matches after an incredible run that has witnessed the team winning 18 matches and losing one from 20 fixtures in every competition they participated in. The draw against Chelsea ended in a win thanks to penalties which means they won 19 matches of the last 20. If they can maintain this kind of form, there’s no doubt that the record books will be rewritten. However, fatigue will come into play as Manchester City will need to overcome several elite opponents to claim victory in all four competitions. Their journey to the quadruple has recently been confirmed, and Manchester City is heading for a difficult two months to achieve it.

Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League

Manchester City still has 8 matches to play in the Premier League and are two points behind Liverpool at the moment. In the Champions League, Manchester City is well aware that a win against Tottenham Hotspur in the quarterfinals will set them up for a semi-final battle against either Juventus or Ajax. In the FA Cup, only Hove Albion and Brighton stand in their way to reach the FA Cup Final where they will either face off against Wolves or Watford on 18 Mat 2019.

The Premier League will be the most difficult to claim, while the Champions League is undoubtedly the most prestigious tournament to claim in 2019. Manchester City will take the FA Cup this year, but are they able to claim victory in the other two competitions to successfully rewrite history with a quadruple?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Proves His Worth at Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently admitted that he wanted to give the best interview possible during his temporary spell as manager for Manchester United. He already managed to do this before his club defeated PSG to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. However, this incredible victory will surely confirm that he is indeed the perfect man for the permanent role.

Solskjaer can’t do more to prove that he is the man to become the full-time successor at Manchester United after the match against PSG. The 3-1 result and performance being showcased in front of Sir Alex Ferguson, Avram Glazer, and Eric Cantona, it was an evening that felt like an inauguration.

The next time United makes a public announcement, it will be about Solskjaer as the new manager for United. If not, supporters of the team are going to storm the club in protest, and who would blame them?

PSG vs Manchester United

Never before had Manchester United lost a home game in a European tournament. Managing not to qualify for the next round after that. Never before, in a total of 106 attempts, had a football club fought back from a 2-0 defeat at home to progress.

However, Solskjaer’s team, missing a total of 10 senior football players due to injury. Including Paul Pogba as an 11th due to suspension, managed to rewrite the history books while playing in Paris to successfully book a place in the final eight.

To further add to the list of achievements created by Solskjaer, this was the ninth consecutive win for Manchester United, a club record. However, when asked after the match whether he had the permanent position, Solskjaer stated that he is still waiting to hear.

“No, I’m going to keep doing my job to the best of my abilities and see where it takes me,” Solskjaer stated. “It’s been a phenomenal time with the staff and players that I have working with me.

“I will continue to enjoy my job for as long as I have it. I will smile and enjoy it for as long as I can.”

Solskjaer’s Road at Manchester United

When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived at Old Trafford in December 2018. He answered an SOS from his former club who managed to drift badly off course under Mourinho in the Premier League.

Manchester United was 11 points away from the top 4 teams, and most of the senior players had various issues with Mourinho at the time, especially Paul Pogba. Solskjaer was called by the executive vice-chairman of United, Ed Woodward, to steer the ship back on course. They were salvaging something from the current season while they searched for someone else to take the role.

Mauricio Pochettino was obviously at the top of the list of Woodward. However, Solskjaer managed to restore believe with United supporters, repaired the dressing room that was broken, and placed a smile back on the face of the club.

Liverpool’s 5-0 Victory Against Watford

Liverpool’s outstanding performance in the 5-0 whipping of Watford was an example of how football should be played. The Reds produced their most significant victory of the season and managed to maintain their one-point lead against Manchester City in the title race for the Premier League trophy.

After two consecutive goalless draws, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane managed to score at Anfield. While Divock Origi also found the back of the net in only his third start of the Premier League season.

Comments from Jurgen Klopp

“This is exactly what I wanted from my team,” Klopp stated during the post-match press conference. “Even though tomorrow will bring new challenges for Liverpool, today we managed to deliver some outstanding football.

“I’m extremely happy for my players because they deserve it so much. We, unfortunately, drew against Manchester United and Bayern Munich and everyone starts talking. I’m not 100% sure what they talk about, but it all comes down to showing reactions.

“We would love to play like this in every single match, and that’s perhaps possible at times. You need to be stable, and the players on the field were constantly stable and truly fluent offensively. It was fantastic and a great example of how football should be played. We now need to do it again and again.”

Liverpool vs Watford Match Analysis

Since Roberto Firmino was injured, the Liverpool manager had to decide to let Mane lead the front line of the team against Watford, while Origi lined-up on the left0hand side. Mane managed to score two goals within 20 minutes, the first with a leaping header and the second with a creative backheel kick past Ben Forster.

“I didn’t see the backheel goal,” Klopp stated. “However, I loved the first goal, especially when he jumped so high. “Mane was placed in a new position, and he played it exceptionally well. He managed to assist in the build-up situation because he is that kind of football. However, we also needed him in the box.

“Mo Salah also played phenomenally. He wasn’t playable tonight. However, in a match where he didn’t score, he still produced an exceptional performance for his team.

“Divock is not a natural defender as a wing. However, he managed to perform quite well offensively and was a constant threat on the field. He also scored an incredible goal. Both my full-backs were flying down the wing, while the midfield produced good passes and was very flexible and aggressive. “Overall, it was just an outstanding performance. I’m delighted with my players. It was exceptional, and it helped a great deal.”

The victory witnessed Trent Alexander-Arnold become the youngest footballer to assist with three goals in a match. He managed to produce inviting delivers to both Van Dijk and Mane which allowed them to score. He was absent during the game against Manchester United, but he quickly made up for it when he played against Watford.