Manchester City put pressure on Arsenal in the Premier League title race with a convincing 4-1 win against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
Defending champions City were without the injured Erling Haaland but goals from Julian Alvarez, Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish saw them emphatically respond to Mohamed Salah’s early opener.
The win closed the gap at the top to five points ahead of Arsenal’s game against Leeds United later on Saturday as City clinched their fourth league win in a row.
It was the latest blow to Liverpool’s hopes of clinching a top-four spot, with Jurgen Klopp’s men staying five points behind Newcastle United in fifth and seven behind Tottenham in fourth.
It was Liverpool who went in front in the 17th minute as they played out from the back before Trent Alexander-Arnold’s long ball found Diogo Jota, who raced through and held off Manuel Akanji before Salah ran onto the loose ball and smashed it into the net.
That lead lasted just 10 minutes as a neat move from City ended with Gundogan playing in Grealish down the left and he provided a low cross for Alvarez to execute a simple finish past Alisson.
It took less than a minute of the second half for City to go ahead as a long ball was played out to Riyad Mahrez, who played an inch-perfect ball across from the right to De Bruyne for a tap-in.
The third was not far behind as Gundogan put away a close-range finish after good work from Alvarez, while Grealish added a fourth following a neat one-two with De Bruyne to wrap up an ominous performance as far as Arsenal will be concerned.
Manchester City player ratings vs Liverpool (4-3-3)
GK: Ederson – 6/10 – Couldn’t have done much about Salah’s opener. A useful player in possession.
RB: John Stones – 6/10 – Occasionally tucked into midfield to create the 3-2-3-2 formation Guardiola has deployed this season. Like many of his defensive colleagues looked a little shaky early doors but grew into the game.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 5/10 – His trailing leg played Jota onside for the opener. Seemed fine after that but it was a needless lapse in concentration.
CB: Ruben Dias – 6/10 – Man City’s most assured defender on the day.
LB: Nathan Ake – 5/10 – A man in fine form but his touch was a little off and Salah relished their physical encounters.
DM: Rodri – 5/10 – May have been sent off in the first half on another day following two quick cynical fouls but escaped with just a booking. Hesitant off the ball but Liverpool’s passiveness meant this didn’t matter too much.
CM: Kevin De Bruyne – 9/10 – Back to his best without feeling the need to force the issue with crosses. Dictated play and showed a great understanding with Mahrez down the right.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 9/10 – Superb. Popped up all over the pitch making Man City’s attack tick, grabbing a goal for his efforts.
RW: Riyad Mahrez – 9/10 – Every touch felt like it was going to end with something special. Now the wrong side of 30 but showing no signs of slowing down.
CF: Julian Alvarez – 9/10 – No Haaland? No problem. Alvarez stepped into the Norwegian’s big shoes and Man City looked a far more fluid side for it.
LW: Jack Grealish – 9/10 – Really establishing his place as a key member of Guardiola’s attack this season. A touch like velvet, ran the hard yards and provided two goal contributions in one of his best ever performances for Man City.
Bernardo Silva (83′ for Rodri) – N/A
Cole Palmer (89′ for Grealish) – N/A
Pep Guardiola – 8/10 – This was one of Man City’s best performances all season and it came without their goal machine.
Liverpool player ratings vs Man City (4-3-3)
GK: Alisson – 5/10 – Made some decent saves but missing Mahrez’s cross for the second goal changes the game, even if the move should never have gotten to that point.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4/10 – Excellent passing range but naive defensively. Nothing new.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 4/10 – Guilty of pushing high up the pitch but he was not the worst offender.
CB: Virgil van Dijk – 3/10 – Dragged all over the place by Man City’s tricky frontline. Somehow ended up in midfield for Alvarez’s equaliser in which he tapped the ball in from 10 yards.
LB: Andy Robertson – 5/10 – Brought energy but it was wasted when trying to clamp down Mahrez.
DM: Fabinho – 4/10 – Sloppy from the off and that set the tone for Liverpool’s day.
CM: Harvey Elliott – 3/10 – Scarcely got involved, which is not what you want for a midfielder.
CM: Jordan Henderson – 3/10 – Left chasing De Bruyne’s shadow for much of the afternoon.
RW: Mohamed Salah – 7/10 – Took his early goal excellently, but was booked soon after for kicking the ball in frustration and he didn’t look the same after.
CF: Cody Gakpo – 4/10 – A player with many qualities, but not the right ones to lead the line for Liverpool. Fortunate not to have been booked for a dive.
LW: Diogo Jota – 6/10 – Superb assist for Salah but is seriously lacking that extra yard of pace following his injury.
Darwin Nunez (70′ for Salah) – 5/10
Roberto Firmino (70′ for Jota) – 5/10
Kostas Tsimikas (70′ for Robertson) – 4/10
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (70′ for Elliott) – 4/10
James Milner (82′ for Gakpo) – N/A
Jurgen Klopp – 2/10 – Liverpool simply don’t enjoy defending anymore and that’s on the coach.