Manchester City recovered from a goal down to go second in the league thanks to Alvaro Negredo's winner, although Liverpool took heart from their performance
Well, what to make of that? Liverpool will be hugely aggrieved not to have picked up at least a point. They took the lead with an excellent goal, created and missed the best chances - unfortunately they didn't fall to Luis Suarez - and could have had a penalty at the end. To compound that, they conceded a goal from a corner and Simon Mignolet should have saved Negredo's winner. Not that Manchester City, who just had that bit more nous, weren't impressive too. They were also very good at times but will know they were in a game. The win takes them up to second, a point behind Arsenal and a point above Chelsea. Liverpool are fourth, three points off the top. I should stop typing. Steam is coming off my keyboard. Bye.
They have lost.
90 min+4: Even though they look like losing, this performance surely confirms that Liverpool should be taken seriously.
90 min+3: Suarez is offside deep on the left. It's slipping away for Liverpool.
90 min+2: Sergio Aguero is watching the end of this match from the tunnel.
90 min+1: Liverpool throw a high ball forward but Hart is there before Suarez, who almost clatters the City goalkeeper but doesn't. The crowd go mad but the players shake hands, which isn't enough to stop Lee Mason booking Suarez.
90 min: There will be four minutes of stoppage time.
89 min: In the corner goes and down Suarez goes, claiming he was pulled to the ground by Lescott. He has a case but Lee Mason, who's let shirt pulling go in both boxes, disagrees. So do the City fans, who make their displeasure with Suarez known via the medium of BOO!
88 min: Kolarov's free-kick is straight at Mignolet. Up the other end, Cissokho wins a corner for Liverpool on the left. They've had quite a few but haven't threatened at all. City are too tall.
87 min: Javi Garcia replaces David Silvas, City looking to shut up shop. Meanwhile City have a free-kick 25 yards out after a foul by Moses, who was booked.
86 min: Toure motors past Johnson on the left and Dzeko somehow fails to turn his low cross across the face of goal home.
Skrtel's Suarez's free-kick sails over.
84 min: Suarez is bundled over by Toure around 30 yards from goal. Maybe further. I don't have a ruler on me.
82 min: Liverpool replace Lucas with Iago Aspas, who isn't just a make-believe figure Brendan Rodgers used to scare Ian Ayre into giving Luis Suarez all that money.
80 min: Zabaleta reduces Moses on the left and picks up a booking.
79 min: Suarez is spitting feathers about not being given a free-kick after being bumped in the back by Lescott on the edge of the area. He gets away without a yellow card for dissent.
78 min: "Hi Jacob, unrelated to the game - here is a 2 minute mix of Football Weekly laughs from various episodes, you might share with your colleagues," says Will Oliver. "You guys are the best, especially when you laugh." This is amazing. Though I can do without a giggling Rob Smyth in my lugs.
77 min: A limping Alvaro Negredo is replaced by Edin Dzeko.
76 min: Silva darts down the left and crosses towards Negredo, but Cissokho's back header ends up with Mignolet. Then Suarez torments Lescott on the right, his low cross into the six-yard box desperately whacked away for a throw. Lescott signals to the bench that he requires the physio to untwist his blood.
73 min: What a miss by Raheem Sterling! Liverpool should be level! They're not level! Exclamation marks! Suarez wriggled away from Zabaleta on the left, leaving the right-back for dead, and he crossed to the far post to Sterling, who was six yards out with the goal at his mercy. Somehow he spooned it over the bar! Miles over the bar! If we're being kind... we're not being kind.
72 min: James Milner replaces Samir Nasri. "City have spent more money in the last 5 years than any other team in Europe's top leagues," says Nick Saberton. "A direct correlation between money spent and goals scored."
71 min: Liverpool have woken up again! Skrtel, of all people, pops up on the left flank and crosses low. Henderson's flick is saved by Hart.
70 min: City get a corner when it should have been a goal-kick. What is this, the Pellegrini Association? Kompany's header goes straight at Mignolet and Liverpool stream up the pitch, troubling City's for the first time in a while. Henderson's low cross is inadvertently diverted by Lescott to Johnson, who can't sort his feet out in time with Hart stranded. The goal was gaping! Eventually Hart manages to block his cutback behind for a corner. In it goes from the right. Sakho wins the header and there are plaintive appeals for handball. As you can see by my failure to write PENALTY! it wasn't a penalty.
68 min: Glen Johnson clips Kolarov's heels and earns himself a booking. Naughty Glen! That's the cue for Coutinho, who has run out of puff, to be replaced by Victor Moses. Liverpool's record in the second half of games this season is pretty poor and at the moment City look more likely to score again.
66 min: Sakho, who's not been great, almost gifts Nasri a goal with a terrible backpass but Mignolet is alive to the danger and wallops it clear. Moments later he gives the ball away again but City fail to make him pay.
65 min: Some fluency has disappeared from the game. It's become a little bit scrappy. Liverpool are going to introduce Victor Moses soon.
63 min: A lull.
62 min: City have scored more goals than any other team in Europe's major leagues. And Bayern Munich win 8-0 every week.
59 min: Negredo tries to chip Mignolet from 20 yards out but the goalkeeper suffers no more humiliation. For now.
58 min: Coutinho tries to trick his way past Zabaleta on the left but the right-back is having none of it, outmuscling the Brazilian and winning a goal-kick.
57 min: Has Negredo always been this good? I seem to remember him having a couple of unproductive years in Spain, although not in the past couple of seasons.
56 min: Toure bustles his way into the area and it takes Sakho and Lucas to stop him, the Brazilian, who was on the ground, hooking a leg up and knocking the ball behind. Kompany is having his shirt pulled again by Skrtel and wins the header again but Mignolet saves.
53 min: "Matt Dony is, as usual, right," says Simon McMahon. "In fact, both science and religion tell me that the world-famous Dundee United will win the league and cup double this season. But I know which one I believe."
51 min: I'm not sure what else this game is going to throw at us. City's midfielders aren't tracking the runners and Sterling seeks out Henderson with a lofted pass over the top. Lescott, who is rusty, ducks under the ball, confusing Hart, who has to stick out a leg to stop it going past him - Henderson hadn't even touched it. The ball squirts to Kolarov. Under pressure from Suarez, he decides the best course of action would be to try to dribble his way out of danger, the lummox. Naturally Suarez nicks the ball off him and tries to turn it goalwards. It's going wide but is blocked by Henderson for good measure. He's offside.
49 min: Suarez twists and turns Zabaleta inside-out on the left touchline before trying to score from a ridiculous angle. Hart pats it behind. That was optimistic, even by Suarez's high standards.
49 min: Liverpool have started on the front foot. Johnson rampages down the right again and turns a low cross into the area, looking for Suarez, but Kompany got there first, knocking the ball behind for a corner which comes to nothing.
48 min: Johnson to Allen. Allen to Suarez. He lays it off to Henderson, on the edge of the area, and he bends one over with the outside of his right boot. There's the first of many second-half chances.
46 min: Off we go again, Liverpool getting the second half underway.
I think that Suarez waved to Lee Mason to play an advantage in the build-up to Coutinho's chance.
Just to round up the action so far today ... Hull led 2-0 but lost 3-2 to Manchester United, Everton lost at home for the first time this year and to Sunderland, Sunderland won a game, Fulham and Crystal Palace both won a game, Palace are out of the bottom three, Carlton Cole did a goal, Theo Walcott scored a header, Stoke had two men and their manager sent off, Manchester City and Liverpool are producing one of the best games of the season, if not the best ... and Chelsea won 1-0. Good old Jose.
"Man City seem to have the most variety of goal scoring attack than any other team," says Jezz in Brighton. "Tiki taka build up, lightening counter attacks, Yaya freekicks, crosses for headers, play in the midfielder. If they win the league it will be because they just have more ways to hurt an opponent than any other team. They are like a Bond villain slowly unveiling his instruments of torture as your team only have to rely on the few gadgets that Q has given you."
"This is excruciating," says Shane Keenan. "Following MBM on an extremely slow connection on safari in Southern Tanzania. Haven't experienced this level of pained frustration since Ceefax circa 1996. I knew that buying my 6 year old neighbour a Liverpool shirt as a present in order to celebrate being top at Christmas would come back to bite me in the hippopotamus."
"It's not quite what you're looking for, but in dictatorships and totalitarian states there were plenty of examples of the regime's favored teams winning under dubious circumstances," says Kari Tulinius. "Dynamo Berlin won ten East German championships in a row, but that had more to do with them being Stasi's club than their prowess on the field. Not that anything like that's happening in England, as much as it sometimes felt like it during the long reign of Lord Ferguson." I'm sure that's what Owen was referencing.
"Basic statistics says it's unlikely but perfectly possible for best team not to win," says David Williams. "Arsenal/Liverpool 89 clearest example I can think of."
"Positionally, it would be generous to suggest that Skrtel and Sahko would be inferior to Wallace and Gromit/Hall and Oates/Rosie and Jim/Laurel and Hardy," says David Fallon. "Shocking for the Negredo goal."
I need a lie-down.
This is calamitous goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet and City have come from behind to lead. When a Liverpool attack broke down, City countered again and they are so dangerous in those situations. In the blink of an eye, Liverpool were torn to shreds, Navas playing a simple pass from right to left to Negredo, who was in the clear. He was outside the area but shot instead anyway. He went for the flash finish with the outside of his left foot instead of putting his boot through the ball and it seemed like he had messed it up, only for Mignolet, slightly off his line, to fail to get a strong hand on the effort, allowing the ball to trickle over the line. That's not very good, really.
44 min: "Do you have any figures there about how many goals liverpool have conceded from set pieces this season?" says Ian Kemp. "It's a shambles back there every single game." I don't - will you settle for "too many".
42 min: Another great challenge from Skrtel denies City! Negredo was released by Nasri - not sure what Sakho was up to - and he looked certain to hammer the ball past Mignolet. Until Skrtel rattled across to get his foot in and deflect the shot wide.
40 min: Oh, this would have been an amazing goal! Barcelona at their very best would have been proud of this! How dare Joe Hart not let Liverpool score. Credit goes to Lee Mason for allowing an advantage when Sterling had been fouled, realising that Suarez had space on the left. He found Sterling, now recovered, and the youngster scooped a lovely pass over the top of the City defence on the left. Suarez had his back to goal so he just cushioned the pass delicately in between two City defenders to Coutinho, who was free eight yards from goal, only to place his shot too close to Hart.
39 min: "There was an article on that very subject a few years ago in New Scientist," says Matt Dony. "As football is a relatively low-scoring game, it favours the under-dog more than many other sports. For example, if Liverpool are twice as likely to score a goal as, say, Sunderland, and a game between them finishes 1-0, there's a 33% chance that Sunderland won. I forget the exact details, but they did some statistical analysis of the 01/02 season, and came up with a 90ish percentage chance that Arsenal were in fact the best team. Science! (Through a fog of memory...)" Yeah, Mr Dony, science! Arsenal won the league that year, so there you go.
37 min: Henderson slides a pass into the area for Suarez, who falls under a challenge from Kolarov. No penalty. Suarez throws his arms up in the air and then hugs Kolarov, because he's a nice guy now, a nice guy who wouldn't bite a fly. There's no time to focus on that incident for too long, though, because City are attacking. Nasri shoots from 25 yards out. Mignolet saves and holds low to his right. Navas was free.
36 min: Toure slides a pass through the middle to Negredo but Skrtel scampers across to concede a corner before the shot comes in. This time Liverpool deal with the corner, although it wasn't especially convincing.
34 min: This game is so good. No one's bothering to defend. Mainly because they can't. Coutinho clips a pass over the top of the City defence and Henderson almost gets there before Hart, who does very well to steam off his line and gather before the Liverpool midfielder.
33 min: City fancy this again! From a Liverpool corner, they break at frightening speed, Navas set clear down the left flank. Away he goes but Liverpool do well to hold him up once he reaches the area and though he manages to work the ball on to his right foot, his shot is skewed high and wide.
That didn't take long and Liverpool's vulnerability at set-pieces is once again their undoing. David Silva whipped a corner in from the left and Kompany, despite having his shirt pulled by Skrtel, manages to direct a header past Mignolet and towards the far post, where the bounce beats Allen's efforts on the line. What a game we've got on our hands here!
29 min: A free-kick to City on the right, conceded by Lucas after a foul on Zabaleta, who won't stop attacking. With everyone amassed in the middle, Navas throws Liverpool with a chip to the far side of the area, where Kolarov is unmarked. But his low volley is blocked.
28 min: "As regards those tight trousers of yours this morning, things are meanwhile even tighter down around the bottom area...of the premier league, I mean. After today's away performances only 8pts separate the bottom 11 teams, whilst 8pts separate the top 8 teams, with Southampton in splendid isolation.....as ever," says Nigel Moore. Please. Let's not talk about it.
27 min: Yaya Toure goes so close to a swift equaliser for City but is denied by stout defending from Skrtel. A low pass found him in the area and he bulldozed his way to the left to make space for the shot but just as he looked set to score, Skrtel threw himself in front of the ball to deflect it wide of the near post. Liverpool breathe a hefty sigh of relief and it won't be the last, I'll wager.
This time the flag stays down and look at the end result. Liverpool lead and it was a truly brilliant goal. The football they are playing at the moment is a sight to behold. Henderson knocked a pass to Suarez, waiting with his back to goal on the edge of the area and his preposterous flick through to Sterling left the City defence in tatters. Sterling, running from right to left, took the ball round Hart but seemed to have overrun it a tad, only for Coutinho to arrive on the scene and clip the ball into the empty net with his left foot. Well! Liverpool, as it stands, are going top.
23 min: Having looked a bit shaky early on, Liverpool are settling into their stride, with Cissokho finding a lot of space on the left. He does so again but his cross is hooked clear. Then Coutinho pokes a pass through to the onrushing Allen, Suarez's intelligent run pulling Lescott out of the middle, but the midfielder's first touch is too heavy. What a waste. Steven Gerrard would have scored that ... but he probably wouldn't have had the legs to get there, I guess. So.
19 min: Liverpool are coming into this more in an attacking sense and are hugely unfortunate to be denied by an errant offside decision by a linesman who won't want to see a replay of this decision. With City's defence far too high to cope with Sterling's pace, Suarez slid a pass through to the winger, who was clean through on goal, only Hart to beat. But up went the flag. He looked onside in real time and a replay shows that Kolarov was keeping him onside by two or three yards. Ridiculous.
18 min: Negredo, not quite as clinical as Aguero, wastes a presentable chance for City, swiping wide from eight yards out after a cutback from Kolarov. He was under pressure but I fancy Aguero would have scored.
17 min: Suarez's free-kick beats the wall but not Joe Hart, who saves comfortably. It did bounce in front of him, mind you, and you never know.
16 min: The second duel between Suarez and Kompany. This time Suarez wins and he's miles ahead on points now. He picked up possession in his own half. He had his back to goal but Kompany got too tight and Suarez, well aware of who was around him, turned him with ease before setting off towards goal. He then played a pass with the outside of his right foot through to the speedy Sterling, who has too much pace for Kolarov. But the Serbian times his tackle perfectly as Sterling prepares to shoot from inside the area. Fine defending. But Liverpool keep the pressure on and City concede a free-kick in Suarez territory, 25 yards out.
15 min: The first duel between Suarez and Kompany. A pass is lobbed towards Suarez, who's got that mischievous look about him, and he's interested for a moment, at least until Kompany heads away and flattens him in the process.
14 min: In comes the corner from the right and there's Suarez, climbing above Lescott, to nod tamely wide of the right post. A warning for City and one they might like to heed.
13 min: Liverpool give themselves some respite, Cissokho hurtling up the left and sending in a cross that Kolarov has to head behind.
12 min: Toure snatches at one from 25 yards out. But this is looking a bit ominous for Liverpool. "Re 2 mins: Liverpool in 08/09 beat ManU twice, Chelsea twice and drew with Arsenal twice, but finshed second," says Andreas Broman. "A decent claim for best team not winning." West Ham beat Arsenal and Manchester United twice in 2006-07 and avoided relegation on the final day. Liverpool failed to beat several inferior sides at home. They weren't good enough.
10 min: Navas wins a corner for City on the right. He takes it and Kompany powerfully nuts one wide, though he was under pressure.
9 min: City are so dangerous on the right and the return of Zabaleta is crucial in that regard. Navas plays it to the overlapping full-back but his low cross is hoicked clear by Skrtel, who would have been within his rights to score an own-goal. By his standards anyway.
7 min: Now Suarez has touched it, bringing a high ball down and laying it off to start a Liverpool move. But not before an absurd piece of skill from Negredo a few moments earlier, the City striker watching a clearance from the sky on the left and then knock an outrageous back flick to a team-mate - only problem was the ball had already gone out, but still.
6 min: I don't think Luis Suarez has touched the ball yet.
5 min: Based on these early stages, City look like they are going to dominate possession. They're playing with great confidence and Liverpool will have to work extremely very hard to stay with them. And here's why: Toure gets Kolarov involved on the left and his awkward cross from the left catches Cissokho sleeping at the far post. Navas nips in and directs a clever, looping header back across goal and with Mignolet flat-footed the ball hits the top of the right post and bounces to safety. Navas could be a great improviser, you know, thinking back to his first goal against Tottenham.
3 min: It's already pleasingly open. Joe Allen skips through the middle, City's midfield a tad hospitable, and finds Coutinho on the left. He cuts inside and shoots from distance but the effort isn't worth describing.
2 min: Michael Owen has just said that the best team doesn't always win the Premier League. I'm struggling to think of an example of that happening. City are quickly on the attack, Navas sliding Zabaleta in on the right. His low cross is almost snaffled up by Negredo but he's outnumbered inside the six-yard box. Navas gets another chance to cross but Mignolet collects.
Football! To the strains of guitar Blue Moon, City get the game underway, kicking from left to right in the first half. They're in blue. Liverpool are in red. But you didn't need me to tell you that.
Here come the teams. What to expect? Football. Which can go to hell right now.
Liverpool have done well against Manchester City recently. They were really unlucky not to win at City last season, Sergio Aguero's improvised finish rescuing a 2-2 draw for the home side. That day, back in February, was when Liverpool finally started to play with freedom under Brendan Rodgers and they have been consistently good since then. If it's any guide, the last three matches between these sides have finished 2-2. In fact, in the past eight matches between the sides there have been two wins for City, two for Liverpool and four draws. It's even. I do wonder if City's not having Aguero present to cancel out Suarez will be pivotal.
Manuel Pellegrini has just appeared in a live television interview wearing a hoodie. Who the hell does he think he is?
West Ham lost 3-1 to Arsenal and now the vending machine isn't working. Fml.
On BT Sport, David James is wearing what might be the top half of a cream suit.
Manchester City have made three changes, Pablo Zabaleta returning before time and replacing Gael Clichy at right-back, Joleon Lescott in for the injured Martin Demichelis and Jesus Navas replacing Edin Dzeko. Liverpool make one change, Aly Cissokho in for the injured John Flanagan.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure; Navas, Silva, Nasri; Negredo. Subs: Pantilimon, Clichy, Boyata, Garcia, Milner, Dzeko, Nastasic.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho, Cissokho; Lucas, Allen; Sterling, Henderson, Coutinho; Suarez. Subs: Jones, Toure, Agger, Alberto, Aspas, Moses, Smith.
Referee: Lee Mason.
Hello. It's another big game at the top of the Barclays Barclays Premier League and everyone's excited. Although the last big game at the top of Barclays Barclays Premier League was a damp squib, Arsenal's 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Monday, Jose Mourinho crushing the hype in trademark style, this is bound to be different. It just has to be. It's logic. Manchester City have scored 51 goals in 17 matches, 35 of those coming at the Etihad, where they have been majestic, and Liverpool aren't too far behind with 42. Most of those have come from Luis Suarez. What's more, neither defence is up to much. City can always be replied upon for a calamity - step forward Vincent Kompany - and Liverpool's Martin Skrtel is always good for an own goal. This should be fun.
Victory for Liverpool will take them back to the top of the league, where the situation is tighter than your trousers felt this morning, but City are only a point behind asitstands. City are undoubtedly the favourites, as they always must be at home. Arsenal lost 6-3 here, Manchester United 4-1, Norwich 7-0 and Tottenham 6-0. They have been outstanding. But they are without the injured Sergio Aguero for the next few weeks, which does strip what remains a brilliant attack of its most brilliant forward, while Liverpool's main man, Suarez, is in the kind of form when volleys from 45 yards out that whistle into the top corner seem routine. Some teams aren't doing much wrong against Liverpool other than allowing Suarez to exist. Not that they are a one-man team, with Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Coutinho all in excellent form around Suarez. This should be fun.