Late drama in the eighth round of Premier League fixtures may have significant implications further on in the season as the Reds cemented an eight-point advantage at the top of the table.
Usually throughout a title-winning campaign there are moments that stay within memory for a lengthy period of time. Liverpool’s result against an impressive Leicester City outfit may well be one of those should Jürgen Klopp’s side become Premier League champions this season, but the context of the whole weekend won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
For the second-successive league match Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were forced to respond to their main competitors — the Reds — in what appears to be another two-horse title race. Despite having held their nerve on numerous prior occasions, a rare lapse in quality from an injury-hit City side meant that the gap between first and second became eight points heading into the international break.
City knew that nothing short of a win would be adequate against Wolves, especially after Liverpool’s result in which they replied to James Maddison’s late equaliser, scoring in the dying embers of the game.
The expectation of both sides to win regularly has enhanced not only the pressure, but also the importance. Both sides are firmly registered to battle it out once more to win the Premier League and, even at this early stage of the season, every dropped point is critically assessed.
Liverpool managed to avoid such treatment thanks to a cool James Milner finish from 12 yards, but a shaky Sky Blue performance has attracted a host of attention. The Citizens suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves, a side struggling to balance European commitments with the Premier League.
In previous years, Manchester City may well have stolen three points from that type of game. Take for example Raheem Sterling’s sublime stoppage time winner against Bournemouth in the 2017/18 season — the best teams, those that win titles, simply have to be able to produce those moments and Liverpool haven’t in the past.
Now, Pep Guardiola’s men look like the ones that cannot quite get over the line in these tough situations, while Jürgen Klopp’s side find a way.
Even looking back to Manchester United throughout their dominant period under management of Sir Alex Ferguson, a vast number of late goals saw any added minutes become known as ‘Fergie time’. It is the sort of grit and resilience that portrays character in a side equipped to maintain a strong push for silverware.
In addition to improving their quality towards the end of games, scoring late and grinding out results defensively, another solid improvement so far has come on the road. Already this season the Reds have managed four away wins in the league, one of which coming against Chelsea — a game in which points were dropped last time out.
Upon the horizon is a tough game at Old Trafford after the international break which could provide a clear indication as to where Klopp’s men are at. There is no doubt that the German will be out to improve on his record at Old Trafford and take full advantage of circumstances at the Manchester club.
Looking back, his Liverpool sides have struggled to broadcast their fluent style and impressive attacking forte when travelling to the red side of Manchester. The manager will need this to change next time out.