Liverpool condemned Manchester City to their first Premier League defeat of the season yesterday, while Alexis Sanchez neared the exit door as Arsenal slipped to a damaging defeat at struggling Bournemouth.
Jurgen Klopp sent out an attack-minded line-up and was rewarded with a scintillating 4-3 win at a jubilant Anfield, where the emotions were in sharp contrast to Arsene Wenger’s misery after a 1-2 loss.
Liverpool’s victory means Pep Guardiola’s City, who were unbeaten in 30 league games between this and last season going into the match — which included an 18-match winning streak — can no longer match Arsenal’s “Invincibles”, who went the entire 2003-2004 unbeaten.
Guardiola said City were not composed enough when Liverpool got on top in the second half, even though they came close to staging a dramatic comeback to keep their run alive.
“After the second goal they scored two in a few minutes and it is hard to recover from that,” he said. “In every press conference for the last few months you have said that the Premier League is done and I always said ‘no, it is still to be done’.
“We will defend our position game by game.”
The result means that City remain 15 points clear of second-placed Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table ahead of United’s match at home to struggling Stoke on Monday.
Liverpool, who are unbeaten in the league since October, leapfrog Chelsea into third spot, level on 47 points with the Blues and United.
Klopp’s side, in their first match since Philippe Coutinho left to join Barcelona, showed they still have enviable depth in attack, taking an early lead when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain marauded forward and thundered a shot past City stopper Ederson.
The home side held onto their lead until five minutes before half-time, when Leroy Sane gathered a raking cross-field ball from Kyle Walker and beat Loris Karius at his near post with a rasping left-foot shot that the Liverpool ‘keeper should have saved.
Guardiola’s team appeared to be in control after the break before Liverpool’s goal glut.
Roberto Firmino dinked a clever shot in off the post and just two minutes later Sadio Mane, who had struck the woodwork himself seconds before, smashed a shot into the top corner to make it 3-1.
With City rocking, Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool’s fourth with a left-footed shot from more than 35 yards out after Ederson had misplaced a clearance.
City scored late through Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan to get back into the game, but they ran out of time.
Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp was delighted with his team’s display and said it was a wonderful advert for the Premier League.
“This was a historical game you will talk about in 20 years because it looks like City will not lose another one this year,” he said.
“If you combine quality with attitude you see a game like this. I really loved it,” he added. “You will find someone who wants to talk about defending, no clean sheet, but he can blow up my boots.”
Earlier, Wenger left Chile international Sanchez out of his squad to travel to Bournemouth as transfer speculation swirls over a potential move to Manchester City or Manchester United.
“Alexis would have played,” said Wenger, after Arsenal leaked two goals in four second-half minutes to slip to a damaging defeat that leaves them eight points off the top four and staring at a second-consecutive season without Champions League football.
“Alexis would have played, but it’s a difficult period for him. He’s always been committed until now, but he could have gone yesterday and he could go in the next 48 hours.”
City remained favourites to sign the Chile international this month until United expressed their interest last week.
The Old Trafford club’s willingness to meet Arsenal’s £35-million valuation of Sanchez, who can leave as a free agent at the end of the campaign, together with the possibility of offering one-time Arsenal target Henrikh Mkhitaryan as part of any deal, has increased the chance of the forward joining Jose Mourinho’s squad.
On Saturday, 10-man Leicester held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, while Tottenham put Everton to the sword with Harry Kane scoring twice in a 4-0 rout.