The Reds let the title slip 5 years ago by losing at residence to Chelsea on the exact same day City won at Crystal Palace – could the roles now be reversed?
We’ve been right here just before.
Liverpool and Manchester City. Barely a cigarette paper to separate them at the best of the Premier League. Every little thing at stake.
An April afternoon. Liverpool hosting Chelsea though City travel to Crystal Palace. The eyes of the globe descending on Merseyside and South London. Watching and waiting.
We know what occurred final time, of course. The events of April 2014, and these precise pair of fixtures, are nevertheless sung about currently. By City and Chelsea fans, at least.
Liverpool supporters, meanwhile, will method Sunday’s game with trepidation, and no wonder.
The memories of 5 years ago – of Steven Gerrard’s slip, Demba Ba’s finish and Jose Mourinho’s crowing – are really hard to overlook. The mere sight of Chelsea at Anfield will be sufficient to open a handful of old wounds this weekend, for positive.
Prior to that, of course, eyes and ears will be on Selhurst Park, exactly where City shoot initial against a risky but inconsistent Palace side.
Pep Guardiola’s males have been defeated when the sides met at the Etihad back in December, and know that something other than victory this time would hand the impetus to Liverpool, who kick off instantly right after that game finishes.
It was the other way round 5 years ago, when Liverpool’s loss was compounded by a City win. Brendan Rodgers, crestfallen, disbelieving, had brought his brave face to his post-match press conference that day.
But as he arrived in the old media space at Anfield, he glanced up at the Television screen on the wall. As he did, Yaya Toure gave City an benefit they would not surrender – each at Palace and in the title race.
Mourinho had currently been and gone at that point. Unshaven and dressed – unusually for him and for the climate – in hoodie, gillet, tracksuit and trainers, the Chelsea manager had revelled in his function as celebration-pooper.
“They wanted the clowns!” he had yelled right after his side’s two- victory. Earlier, he had celebrated Willian’s clinching objective by operating down the Anfield touchline towards the away supporters, beating his chest as he went. If title races throw up heroes, they also bring villains to the fore.
“Beware of the bug,” Mourinho cackled at his personal press conference. He’d been laid low by flu that week – therefore the scruffiness and the truth he travelled to Liverpool separately to his players – and produced positive he coughed a handful of germs towards the assembled media just before he left. It wasn’t his finest moment.
Prior to boarding his team’s coach, Mourinho identified time for a single additional dig. Approaching a legendary Liverpool figure outdoors Anfield’s Principal Stand, he stretched out his arms in disbelief.
“I gave you a point!” he shouted. “Why didn’t you just take it?!”
Mourinho and Chelsea had arrived with additional than just the flu. They carried a resentment, also, towards Liverpool, whom they felt have been getting preferable remedy from not only the media, but from referees as properly. “It felt the nation wanted Liverpool to be champion,” Mourinho stated.
A row more than the timing of the fixture added further spice. Chelsea had wanted to move the game from Sunday to Saturday, on account of their upcoming Champions League semi-final with Atletico Madrid.
Requests to the Premier League and to Sky Sports went ignored, as did a late plea to Liverpool. “I believe if we play the day just before, I do not believe we play with the exact same spirit as the Sunday,” Mourinho would later say. In standard style, he made use of the dispute as motivation.
He also produced positive his group have been the ultimate nuisance. He rested quite a few star males – Eden Hazard, Petr Cech, Oscar, Ramires and John Terry have been left out, though Willian and Gary Cahill began on the bench.
Tomas Kalas – “a player for education” – produced his Premier League debut in defence, though the veteran Mark Schwarzer was in objective. A 21-year-old Egyptian named Mohamed Salah began on the appropriate flank.
Mourinho’s techniques have been clear. They set up with a rigid, tight-as-tight back 4, screened by two specialist holding midfielders in Jon Obi Mikel and Nemanja Matic.
The aim was to cease Liverpool developing momentum by means of a speedy begin, to frustrate and to stifle. “They parked two buses,” grimaced Rodgers, but it worked.
As early as the fifth minute, Schwarzer was wasting time more than a objective kick, one thing he revealed this week had been instructed by Mourinho.
Quickly right after, Mourinho was grappling with Gerrard and Jon Flanagan, holding the ball to avoid a swift throw-in. Anfield, accustomed to higher-speed, at instances frenzied football, was tetchy, nervous, irate.
A draw would hold Liverpool in handle, but they have been not comfy playing for it. Their good results, an 11-game winning run, had been constructed on the front foot.
Gerrard’s slip in initial-half stoppage time, of course, meant Mourinho got the spend-off for his spoiling techniques. Liverpool seldom looked like recovering from that physique blow, their second-efforts crumbling amid a wave of speculative shots, hopeful crosses and dreadful corners.
By the time Fernando Torres galloped clear to set up Willian for the clincher, Anfield was resigned to its fate. Rodgers’ reign under no circumstances recovered.
This time, Liverpool will hope for roles reversed. It is they who head into the weekend best, but City who hold the important to the door. It is Guardiola’s side, with a game in hand, who have their destiny in their personal hands.
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That could adjust by six.30pm on Sunday, of course. The exact same can be stated for each weekend, but this a single feels like it could be a decisive a single.
The day the Premier League was decided? Time will inform.
Liverpool will just hope the memories of this April afternoon are sweeter than 5 years ago…