Although neither side quite hit the beautiful heights over the 90-minutes that we witness from these two last season, Manchester City showed why their being pipped to retain their title with a comprehensive victory over Liverpool as new signing Mario Balotelli watched from the stands.
Brendan Rodgers side took the game to the defending champions, but it a familiar defensive slip saw the hosts take the lead through Stevan Jovetic just before the break. The Montenegrin striker was on hand to finish a flowing move before Sergio Aguero put the icing on the cake, finishing past Reds ‘keeper Simon Mignolet immediately after entering the fray. Rickie Lambert forced Pablo Zabaletta into an own-goal after heading an inch perfect Daniel Sturridge cross on net, but it was little consolation as they slipped to their first defeat the season.
Fifty years ago today the great Bob Paisley started his Liverpool reign with a 2-1 win over Luton Town before going on to win all manners of things with the Reds.
While it’s not quite the same at all, Brendan Rodgers got his third season in the Anfield hot-seat under way earlier in the day with an scrappy, if not unconvincing, win over visiting Southampton by the exact same scoreline. It’s far too early to draw any parallels there, but there’ little doubt that the three time European Cup winning manager would have shown too much concern with the outcome. Three points is three points, now isn’t it?
It’s hard to be too upset; goals from Daniel Agger and Daniel Sturridge cancelled out an unfortunate first-half own goal from Martin Skrtel as Liverpool fought back to beat Newcastle United 2-1 in the final match of the season, but with West Ham United failing to upset Manchester City at home, the Reds came up just short in the race for the Premier League title.
Early goals from Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany ensured that the Hammer’s weren’t about to spoil the party at the Etihad Stadium as the Citizens cruised to their second triumph in three years and Liverpool — who surrendered their fate to the hands of Manuel Pellegrini’s side after the 2-0 loss to Chelsea — finished runners-up for the first time since 2009.
And, it’s with that disjointed sentence that I pull the plug on even attempting to do this right. By the 55th minute, being a blogger and all that, I should have been working on an opening paragraph, or in the very least, thinking of a half decent title for this post. Hell, I could have been enjoying the match and not worrying about this crap at all until well after the final whistle, but no, that’s not what I was doing at all.
The turnaround at Crystal Palace under Tony Pulis has been nothing short of miraculous; in his very short time in the Capital, he’s turned the Eagles from relegation certainties into a surprisingly effective and relatively composed, mid-table side.
This, obviously, comes as terrible news for Liverpool. If last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Chelsea didn’t put enough of a damper on their title hopes, then their horrible record against teams managed by Pulis will do absolutely nothing to encourage them on their visit to Selhurst Park — except, you know, the fact that should they lose this all important match then they’re really out of the race for their first title of the Premier League era for really real this time.