We might not see a more enthralling Premier League match all season than Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool on January 3.
Big matches can sometimes leave us all feeling rather underwhelmed, but this one certainly lived up to the pre-match billing.
City won the hugely entertaining spectacle 2-1 thanks to goals either side of half-time from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane, reducing the gap on league-leaders Liverpool to four points while leapfrogging Tottenham into second place in the process.
Liverpool remain the narrow favourites to win this season’s Premier League title, but it will be fascinating to see how they recover from this setback.
This was the Reds’ first league defeat of the season and Pep Guardiola’s side will now be breathing firmly down their necks with the aim of moving back into pole position as quickly as possible.
However, former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal believes Liverpool will finish the season as Premier League champions, despite this week’s scoreline.
The Dutch coach, speaking to the Mirror, has given his very honest opinion about the difference between Jurgen Klopp and Guardiola.
Van Gaal reckons Klopp is giving Guardiola a masterclass in coaching from a defensive point of view.
The 67-year-old has suggested that Klopp is the more complete coach because Guardiola can’t teach his players to defend.
“Klopp has turned Liverpool into an absolute fighting machine – both attacking and defending,” the outspoken Dutchman said.
“So, if I was to put my money on one club for the league, it would be Liverpool.
“Liverpool’s team is not based on the highest quality when it comes to their players. In fact, the highest quality players are at City.
“But, at the same time, that is the weakness in Guardiola. He only coaches his teams in an attacking way. Always.
“The moment his team have to defend, they look terrible. Liverpool have a team that can defend much better.
“That’s because Klopp has trained them to be a fighting force, whether they have the ball or not. That’s exactly what is lacking in Guardiola’s team now.
“City have fabulous football ideas and a sparkling way of playing – but not the right fighting spirit.
“Don’t get me wrong, I still love to watch the way City play. But the way Klopp makes Liverpool play is absolutely fantastic.”
Strong words there from Van Gaal, who isn’t one to sit on the fence with his opinions.
Guardiola is widely regarded as the world’s best coach but Van Gaal clearly doesn’t believe that’s the case.
“The match proved to me that City cannot defend,” he continued.
“When Liverpool equalised, there were enough City defenders around the box to prevent it.
“But most of the time, in the Premier League, City don’t have to defend because they outplay most opponents.
“When they face a strong side like Liverpool, you can see that the City players are not able to defend properly. They look erratic.”
Van Gaal went on to praise Klopp and Liverpool even further and believes the Reds’ players have more desire to win this season’s Premier League title than their Man City counterparts.
“Liverpool deserve applause because most teams cannot force Man City into a situation where they have to defend,” he added.
“Liverpool did push them at one point in the second half and then we could see that City were in trouble. Just look at Roberto Firmino, he hardly touched the ball, but his amount of running for the team was incredible.
“Klopp also has Sadio Mane and even Mo Salah running their socks off in all matches.
“Those three help the others to defend and they also have the energy to counter-attack and create things when they win the ball back.
“Having said that, I am glad that City beat Liverpool because it has made this title race even more sensational.
“The excitement is huge right now. Three teams can still become champions – because we can’t rule Tottenham out.
“But, if you ask me which of the title chasers has the best team, I will say Klopp.
“Liverpool’s players have a bigger desire to win the title and that will help them win the league. For me, Liverpool just want it more than the Man City players.”