Manchester City and Liverpool played out a pulsating 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
It was a match displaying many of the best qualities of the Premier League and was packed with incidents, controversies and missed chances as both sides focused on attack.
But was the result satisfactory for either side and where does it leave them in the race for Champions League qualification?
Was a draw good enough for either side?
At the end of the day, after such a compelling and keenly-fought spectacle between two seemingly well-matched sides, a draw was a fair result and both teams should be satisfied. They both gave their all for victory and had their chances to win but neither could claim they truly deserved to do so. Looking at the bigger picture, however, City should be the happier. They remain third, a point above Liverpool, who have played a game more. For both clubs the priority is now Champions League qualification and City’s position is currently the stronger.
Was Pep Guardiola right to claim the result was one of the greatest of his career?
This did seem an over-the-top claim from the City manager, given that he won 21 trophies across his two spells in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, including two Champions League successes. However, last Wednesday’s defeat in Monaco was very disappointing for a club of such ambition and a blow to Guardiola’s pride. He wanted a response and he got it, with his team playing the brand of attacking football he wanted and with John Stones excelling in defence. Had they been more clinical in front of goal and not conceded a penalty, they could have won.
What happens next for City?
City cannot afford to let their intensity slip. They may be third in the table but the battle for top-four places is still tight with not only Liverpool behind them but also Manchester United and Arsenal still pushing. Even seventh-placed Everton cannot be discounted. There is also the additional possibility that Leicester could throw a spanner in the works and actually win the Champions League this season, meaning a top-three finish would be required for qualification. The coming fixtures are difficult with trips to Arsenal and Chelsea after the international break. They also still have a difficult derby to come against United next month.
What happens next for Liverpool?
Liverpool also have a tough assignment after the international break with a visit from neighbours Everton. In terms of games against the current top six, the Reds are now finished and will be very happy with the 20 points they have taken from the 30 available. It is their form against lower-ranked opposition that has been their weakness this term, however, and there are still some potentially tough games ahead against Stoke, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Southampton.
Will Adam Lallana be waking up in a cold sweat?
Lallana’s late miss, when he failed to connect with a gilt-edged chance to win the game, may take some living down. But otherwise Lallana’s performance was excellent and his improvement under Jurgen Klopp has been impressive. He has little to worry about. Besides, Sergio Aguero showed a similar lack of composure when presented with a clear-cut chance in the dying moments by blazing over. Such things can even happen to the very best.