Man City spurn chance to close gap on Chelsea

Liverpool delighted with 2-1 victory – as are Chelsea, who maintain their Premier League lead

Jordan Henderson

Manchester City missed out on the opportunity to close the gap at the top of the table to two points on Sunday as they lost 2-1 away at Liverpool.

With Chelsea at Wembley to contest the league cup final with Spurs, the Sky Blues had a wonderful opportunity to crank up the pressure on the Premier League leaders. But they failed because of what City manager Manuel Pellegrini described as "two beautiful goals".

The first, a curling shot from Jordan Henderson, put the Reds one up on 11 minutes but City equalised midway through the first half when Edin Dzeko fired Sergio Aguero's sweet ball past Simon Mignolet. That's how the scored remained until 15 minutes from time when Philippe Coutinho cut in from the left and unleashed a wonderful curling strike into top-right corner of the visitors' net.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The win moves Liverpool up into fifth spot and continues their unbeaten league run in 2015. Bearing in mind they spent Thursday night in Turkey, losing a penalty shootout to Besiktas in their Europa League clash, Reds manager Brendan Rodgers was understandably ecstatic with the result.

"I have to take my hat off to players," he declared. "To get back at half four in the early hours of Friday morning – by the time they got to bed it was six, and … to come out and play like they did, they were relentless."

Rodgers added that the victory should silence the club's detractors, who grew in number during Liverpool's difficult autumn.

"The character of this team was questioned at the beginning of this season," said Rodgers. "But we were just trying to find a rhythm and balance to the team, with little time and lots of new players. It hasn't just happened; they have worked hard, and believed in how they were working."

There were different emotions for Pellegrini, who is beginning to feel the pressure following the midweek defeat to Barcelona, an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands to Middlesbrough and only three league victories since the New Year.

"There is much we must analyse to improve," he conceded. Asked about the gap at the top of the table, Pellegrini replied: "It is three points less with one game less. Of course it is difficult to reach the top of table if you lose three points. But we must keep going and try to return to our normal performance and see where it takes us."

In Sunday's other Premier League game, Arsenal recovered from their shocking defeat at home to Monaco with a 2-0 defeat of Everton.

It was a case of villain to hero for Oliver Giroud, the Gunners' striker who missed a string of sitters on Wednesday, as he took the man-of-the-match award with a polished performance that included Arsenal's opening goal.

"Arsene Wenger gave me the possibility to bounce back," he said later. "We wanted to do that together and I think we did well this afternoon … we will take things step-by-step. We just want to focus on our games, we just need to keep doing what we are doing."

The win – rounded off by Tomas Rosicky's late goal – moves Arsenal back into third, above Manchester United (who beat Sunderland 2-0 on Saturday) and they are now just four points shy of Manchester City.

"You could see we suffered on Wednesday night against Monaco and that was still in our mind," reflected Wenger. "But we were patient, that got us a good chance and we got a good win today."

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.