How Liverpool’s collective spirit showed the title is still up for grabs

It wasn’t necessarily a game that was ever going to decide where the Premier League title ends up in May, but it certainly felt like it at Anfield during the second half against Man City.

The visit of Pep Guardiola and his all-conquering team of superstars was billed as a critical chapter in the story of the race to the finish, a race which has one more horse than we are typically used to in such scenarios.

You would be hard-pushed to find a team on the planet more capable of wreaking havoc and keeping us sweating as a visiting side, but Liverpool stood firm and were visibly the ones who were less satisfied with the honours being shared after the final whistle.

Jurgen Klopp didn’t quite come away with three points from what may well be his final encounter with his greatest rival, but to every other extent his team produced a display to validate their credentials at the top end of the pile.


Stunning performances

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 10, 2024: Liverpool's Alexis Mac Allister celebrates after scoring the his side's first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a game that must have been a hugely entertaining watch for the neutral, but one that left us as fans feeling exhausted without having even kicked a ball.

Man City did get the opportunity to demonstrate their brilliance during the first period, but after the break their threat was merely restricted to their clever and incisive movement on the counter as Virgil van Dijk continued to prove himself to be operating in a different universe to the rest.

There were 115 reasons for Liverpool to find themselves on the back foot on Sunday afternoon, but the strength of character they showed, powered by a vociferous Anfield, showed us all we needed to know about their chances of sticking in this race until the bitter end once again.

There wasn’t a single poor individual performance from anyone in red, on a day when we could scarcely afford one, despite arguably only having four guaranteed starters on the pitch had everyone been fit.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 10, 2024: Manchester City's Mateo Kova?i? (L) is challenged by Liverpool's Wataru End? during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. The game ended 1-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Our superhuman captain rightly took home the Man of the Match award, but there were at least another four or five other conceivable candidates with which few could have argued.

Wataru Endo was magnificent, with the 31-year-old continuing to make a mockery of those who questioned the decision to bring in a £16 million midfielder from Stuttgart as the answer to the summer’s No. 6 predicament.

It feels inadequate to praise the heart and desire shown by Harvey Elliott – who already has over 2,000 minutes under his belt this season – without also mentioning just how intelligently he used the football once again against some of the world’s very best.

It was a collective midfield effort that showed just how far we have come from the legginess we saw from the engine throughout almost the entirety of last season, with plenty of quality thrown in.


Tinges of regret

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 10, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. The game ended 1-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Had our most lethal finisher, Diogo Jota, been available we might instead now be picking the bones out of 3-1 or 4-1 victory, which speaks volumes for some of the breathtaking work the Reds produced going forwards.

Being comfortably the better side against the current champions takes some doing in the best of circumstances, doing it with the fitness constraints the manager is having to work with is the mark of a seriously special group.

Liverpool could still end the season with just the one trophy to show for their efforts, but I’m not sure I’ve ever been as proud of them as I am currently.

The togetherness they are showing and the sheer trust they all have in each other no matter how far they have to work their way down the pecking order is beyond admirable.

Had Luis Diaz got a goal for his efforts we might be talking about one of the best Anfield showings from a Liverpool forward in recent memory.

That he failed to find the target at decisive moments may prove costly for the bigger picture, but his all-round play in the second half certainly helped eliminate the doubts that circulated about his level only a few weeks ago.


The big picture

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 10, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) embraces Harvey Elliott after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Accompanying the vast number of big shifts put in by the players, the fans were also at the top of their game right when they needed to be.

Liverpool’s 12th man are often described as being able to suck the ball home, and while Man City won the toss and opted to force the Reds to kick away from the Kop in the second half, nothing was going to stop Anfield from being the best version of itself.

The rendition of ‘Fields of Anfield Road’ while Ederson was down receiving treatment will live long in the memory, particularly if this is a point that ends up taking us one step closer to where we need to be.

A full 21 days separate the weekend’s draw and the visit of Brighton on Easter Sunday, a day which will hold yet more significance at the top of the table.

Man City and Arsenal can’t both win at the Etihad in three weeks’ time, and while we might still not be favourites with the bookmakers, I can’t imagine many Liverpool fans would want to swap our current situation for anyone else’s.

The Reds are ready to take it all the way again in a season when not many backed them to make a dint.

The process of that might well take years off our lives, but would we want it any other way during the boss’ last hurrah?