Liverpool are going to win the Premier League title this season. Unless...
Well, they’re not anymore. Not after their shambolic 2-5 defeat to Leicester City last evening (SGT).
And while it might still be early days in the EPL, it’s already looking like this season’s title race is for Liverpool to lose.
That is unless the Reds somehow contrive to suffer defeat against Arsenal when they meet at Anfield tomorrow morning, but we know that ain’t ever going to happen.
That’s how you place a jinx on a team, right?
But City’s Pep Guardiola shouldn’t be too bothered with happens at Anfield. He’s got enough problems of his own back at the Etihad Stadium without needing to worry about what happens with his rivals.
Because it wasn’t so much his team’s defeat to Leicester itself, but the manner of it that would have caused Guardiola to tear out what little hair he has left on his head in frustration.
Like all Guardiola teams, City dominated possession (72% to Leicester’s 28%)), made more passes (680 to 267), registered more shots (16 to seven), but still barely threatened Kasper Schmeichel. In fact, Ederson was the busier of the two keepers, with the Foxes registering seven shots on target as compared to City’s five.
City’s performance against Leicester comes on the back of an unconvincing 3-1 win over Wolves last weekend, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men showing that they were more than able to hold their own against last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists.
WATCH: Ake discusses his City debut against Wolves
These two games, along with City’s comparatively poor domestic campaign last season, indicates that teams in the league have perhaps figured out how to nullify City’s possession-based game. Either that, or Mikel Arteta has actually been the brains behind City’s success these past few years.
Line-up: It’s a standard 4-2-3-1 formation for Guardiola, who opts to deploy Raheem Sterling up top in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. Sterling, all 1.7m of him, will have to somehow get the better of the imposing Soyuncu, Evans and Amartey. That’s right – wily Brendan Rodgers went with a back-five, with the obvious intention to soak up City’s pressure, before hitting them on the break through Jamie Vardy.
4th minute: GOAL! Mahrez scores (and celebrates) against his former team
City fly out of the blocks and begin putting Leicester under pressure right from the start. They are suitably rewarded with the opening goal in the fourth minute, and what a beauty it is. A Kevin De Bruyne corner is weakly headed way by the Leicester defence towards Riyad Mahrez, who takes his time to pick his spot before smashing a right-footed effort into the top corner. The Algerian, however, commits the cardinal sin of celebrating against his former club - no law saying you can't do that, but just make sure it doesn't come back and bite you in the a**.
25th minute: Fernandinho proves that not all Brazilians are good at attacking
De Bruyne is pulling all the strings out there for City, as he always does. He manages to fashion a great chance for Fernandinho with a pinpoint cross into the box, but the Brazilian can only hit a tame effort straight at Schmeichel. It’s a wasted opportunity for City, but they aren’t duly worried. After all, Leicester have barely been given a sniff at the City goal so far.
36th minute: PENALTY! Walker gets a bit too handsy with Vardy in the box
A rare Leicester attack sees Harvey Barnes make a charging run through the middle of the pitch. He slips in Vardy, who is bundled over in the box by Walker before he can even say “chat sh*t get banged”.
37th minute: GOAL! Vardy draws Leicester level
Vardy dusts himself off the ground and takes the resulting spot-kick himself. He gives Ederson the eyes, then proceeds to thump the ball into the top corner of the net, as if to prove to Mahrez that he, too, can hit top bins if he wants to. The first-half ends with both sides level at 1-1.
53rd minute: GOAL! Vardy flicks the Foxes into the lead
Want to know why I’m confident that Arsenal offering Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a bumper new contract at the age of 31 is the right choice? Because of Vardy. At 33 years of age, he should be looking at moving to Major League Soccer or the Middle East to play out the remainder of his career in comfort and money. Instead, he’s still banging in the goals in a physically demanding league, against some of the best defenders in the world, and Nathan Ake. This time, Vardy applies a cheeky finishing touch to a flowing team move, as he cleverly flicks Castagne’s low cross past Ederson to give Leicester the lead.
57th minute: PENALTY! Vardy gets taken down by Garcia
City defender Eric Garcia, looking more at home on a rugby pitch than a football field with his protective headgear, barges into Vardy from the back like a rugger, and brings the Englishman down in the box. The referee has no choice but to blow for a Leicester penalty.
58th minute: GOAL! Vardy completes his hat-trick
Was there ever any doubt that Vardy would score the penalty and complete his hat-trick? He makes no mistake from the spot again, this time rifling his shot to his right to give his team a two-goal lead. City look lost and bewildered.
64th minute: Delap goes close but his effort hits the bar
Liam Delap, son of Rory, almost scores on his debut for City. Benjamin Mendy’s cross from the left finds Delap in the box, who jumps highest and sends a looping header at goal, but it hits the bar and goes over instead. It’s a good chance for City, and a great header by Delap. Looks like all those years spent practicing how to head from his father’s long-throws have come in useful.
77th minute: GOAL! Maddison with a thunderbastard
This is getting embarrassing for City. Leicester get their fourth goal on the night, and it is a beauty. Maddison receives the ball in space on the edge of the area, and curls an unstoppable shot into the top-right corner. That must have felt especially good for Maddison, whose love for Manchester United is well known.
84th minute: GOAL! Ake restores some pride for City
Ake scores a consolation goal for City, as he rises highest to head home from Mahrez’s corner. He barely celebrates, though, and why should he? The last time they celebrated a goal against Leicester (it feels like a lifetime ago now), they went on to concede four.
86th minute: PENALTY! Leicester complete their hat-trick of penalties
Unbelievably, a third penalty of the game is awarded to Leicester. This time, it’s Maddison who gets tripped in the box by Mendy. Maddison did seem to go down a little too easily, but then again, we aren’t surprised – he does support United, after all.
88th minute: GOAL! Tielemans puts the delicious icing on the cake
No Vardy, no problem. Youri Tielemans steps up to take the spot-kick, and sends Ederson the wrong way. It’s 5-2 to Leicester – what a performance by the Foxes, and what a masterclass by Brendan Rodgers.
As for City, their only consolation is that the transfer window is still open, so they can spend an obscene amount of money once again on buying new players. A new defender, Benfica’s Ruben Dias, is reportedly on the way to the Etihad Stadium to help shore up their porous defence, while another striker would surely not go amiss, especially given the mid to long-term injuries to the ageing Aguero and the inconsistent Jesus.
WATCH: Guardiola insists he will use academy players when needed
Although maybe what Guardiola really, really needs, is to get his ‘brains’ back from the dugout at Arsenal.