Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table was cut to just 4 points on Thursday evening following a pulsating encounter which breathed new life into the title race.
Jurgen Klopp’s side boasted a phenomenal unbeaten record prior to their trip to the Etihad Stadium and only the finest of margins deprived them from preserving their 7-point lead. It was a game in which neither side were at their electric best, as the rugged side of football reigned supreme, with dazzling attackers and technical playmakers reduced to mere functional cogs in two relentlessly demanding machines.
The defensive units of both sides were meticulously organised and the absence of marauding runs from both sets of full-backs was a distinguishing feature of the game – just as it was in the reverse fixture at Anfield.
However, with Liverpool 1-0 down and staring defeat in the face, Liverpool had to sacrifice some defensive solidity and Andrew Robertson went surging forward in search of an opportunity – and he made no mistake when it arrived.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s immaculate cross-field ball floated over the heads in blue and arrived perfectly in the path of the onrushing Robertson, who perfectly controlled a volleyed pass which left Roberto Firmino with the simplest of tap-ins to draw the Reds level.
Liverpool’s well crafted goal was ultimately in vain but Robertson’s brilliant performance at full-back did not go unnoticed, and BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks paid tribute to the Scotland captain in his team of the week column.
‘He gets better with every game. He handled Raheem Sterling masterfully and still had the time and composure to deliver the most exquisite ball for Roberto Firmino to head home and all in a white-hot atmosphere. Make no mistake, this kid is outstanding.’
Crooks’ admission that Robertson is continuing to improve with every passing game is certainly no exaggeration. The 24-year-old has developed at an incredible exponential rate since he broke into the first-team towards the end of 2017, and at his age there is no doubt that he will continue to improve in the years to come.
Sterling has been a menace for Premier League defenders all season and, though it must be noted that he often struggles against his former team, the manner in which he was silenced by Robertson was a testament to the brilliance of Liverpool’s undisputed first-choice left-back.
The best is yet to come from a player who has all the credentials to become an Anfield legend.
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