Manchester City v Liverpool: Talking points

Above: Manchester City defender John Stones making a last-ditch tackle to keep the ball out of his goal by 1.12cm and away from Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. Far left: Salah grimacing after being felled by a tackle by City captain Vincent Kompany as a c
Above: Manchester City defender John Stones making a last-ditch tackle to keep the ball out of his goal by 1.12cm and away from Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: Manchester City defender John Stones making a last-ditch tackle to keep the ball out of his goal by 1.12cm and away from Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. Far left: Salah grimacing after being felled by a tackle by City captain Vincent Kompany as a c
Above: Salah grimacing after being felled by a tackle by City captain Vincent Kompany as a concerned Fernandinho looks on. Kompany received a yellow card for the tackle.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Above: Manchester City defender John Stones making a last-ditch tackle to keep the ball out of his goal by 1.12cm and away from Liverpool's Mohamed Salah. Far left: Salah grimacing after being felled by a tackle by City captain Vincent Kompany as a c
Above: City's Leroy Sane scoring the winner for his side. The German rediscovered his mojo recently to restore coach Pep Guardiola's trust in him.PHOTO: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SANE TURNS THE CORNER

A season that started with Leroy Sane's future at Manchester City in doubt is no longer a tale of woe for the winger. He underlined his vast potential with the winner that kept the champions' title hopes alive.

He started City's first three league games this season on the bench amid claims Pep Guardiola was concerned by the youngster's lack of focus in training.

But the 22-year-old German gradually regained his manager's trust and scored four times in five games in October. Since then, Sane has been much closer to the buccaneering force who played a major role in their title success last season and City have opened talks over an extension to a contract that expires in 2021.

A VERY CLOSE SHAVE

Despite dominating the early stages, City were just 1.12cm away from suffering a potentially game-changing blow as John Stones atoned for a mistake in dramatic fashion.

The City defender made a panicked clearance and the ball cannoned off goalkeeper Ederson towards his own net. It looked certain to be a farcical own goal but Stones scrambled back to hook clear of an onrushing Mohamed Salah at point-blank range.

Liverpool claimed it had gone in, but goal-line technology showed that a tiny portion of the ball, just 1.12cm according to Premier League statistics, had not crossed the line.

TOO SOON TO CELEBRATE

When a video emerged of Jurgen Klopp ushering in the new year with some dubious dance moves at a party earlier this week, it was jokingly suggested the Liverpool boss was already preparing for his club's title celebrations.

After all, it was 242 days since Liverpool last lost a Premier League game and the Reds arrived at the Etihad boasting a nine-game winning run in the league.

But Liverpool, who were last crowned champions in 1990, are haunted by the ghosts of the past when Steven Gerrard's slip let City steal the title from them and once again they were punished for failing to seize the moment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2019, with the headline 'Manchester City v Liverpool: Talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe