You’d have to think when Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool nearly two months ago, this would have been a game the German would have been dreading. Coming back from an international break, after suffering his first loss of the season to face the league leaders at their stronghold was hardly an ideal situation for Klopp’s men. And yet, yesterday was not the massacre promised. It was a huge step forward for a side who would have struggled in this fixture a mere two months ago.
While the international break may have been identified as a potential problem by Klopp and his backroom staff, he didn’t need to worry. Two players who weren’t involved with their country over the break proved to be the match winners yesterday. Coutinho and Firmino in the estimations of many this year, had been underperforming under Brendan Rodgers. Coutinho wasn’t proving the creative spark he had been in the past while his fellow Brazilian had yet to show the form that deserved a £29 million move from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. However, they were fresh from not playing abroad and excelled under Klopp’s gegenpress against tired opposition.
“The Little Magician” as he has become known to the Red fans, started like a man possessed. For Liverpool’s opener, Coutinho viciously but fairly caught Bacary Sagna in possession in a style Vinnie Jones would have been proud of. Linking up with his compatriot eventually lead to City centre back Mangala to bundle over the line. The Frenchman looked a danger to his team all day. It doesn’t prove well for City fans. Instead of having their rock solid captain Vincent Kompany leading from the back, they can look forward to Mangala and Demichelis (now to be known as the Chuckle Brothers) for the next
For a man Rodgers once played at right wing back, Firmino showed some brilliant attacking acumen all day. He held the ball up well, played off the shoulder and looked like a leader up front on his own. He looked like a player who knew this was his big chance with Christian Benteke watching from the bench. Breaking through half tackles brought him out to the right hand side where he played the perfect pass in for a marginally offside Coutinho to slot past a hapless Hart in goal.
The finest bit of play put the game out of City’s reach before the half time break. The two Brazilian’s linked up once again following a clever back pass from Emre Can for Firmino to score his first Premier League goal for the Reds. The close control and tidy finish meant that this goal wouldn’t be out of place on the concrete streets of Sao Paulo.
A classic Sergio Aguero goal took a bit of the shine from Liverpool’s golden first half but by that stage it was a case of job done. Aguero kept Lucas at bay before unleashing an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box which left the unsighted Mignolet scrambling.
After fabulous attacking play all day, it was somewhat refreshing to see a defender put the final nail in the coffin. An Adam Lallana corner became caught up between substitute Benteke and Martin Skrtel who volleyed past Hart to put the result beyond all doubt.
While the Brazilian connection only lasted 68 minutes with Jordan Ibe coming on for Coutinho with Firmino coming off nine minutes later, this was a performance to remember. While Mangala may have nightmares for weeks to come about the two, Liverpool fans will be dreaming of a brighter future.