With their first Premier League title wrapped up last week, Liverpool were far below their best at the Etihad and Manchester City took full advantage to claim a 4-0 win
This could be dressed up as a statement performance from Manchester City, the 2018 and 2019 Premier League champions reacting to their guard of honour to embarrass the 2020 winners and ridicule suggestions that Liverpool could be unstoppable for years.
For Pep Guardiola though, it was also a vindication of what he has been saying for some time: his team are really not that far away from Liverpool, despite what the yawning points gap in the table would suggest.
Despite the encounter being meaningless in terms of the title race, Jurgen Klopp picked his strongest XI but watched his Reds get blown away nonetheless.
Joe Gomez set the tone by inexplicably tugging Raheem Sterling’s shirt for far longer than he was ever going to get away with.
Kevin De Bruyne scored the resulting penalty before Sterling scored with a cheeky finish, while young Phil Foden made it three before the interval.
Gomez was hooked at the break and was followed by Roberto Firmino and Gini Wijnaldum as Liverpool tried to get back into the game.
What Went Wrong?
But what did Klopp get wrong on a night which ended 4-0 to City and might leave a sour taste in the newly-crowned champions’ mouths?
No rest for Robertson
Andy Robertson has been one of Klopp’s best signings but he has a night to forget at the Etihad.
The Scotsman made mistakes for at least two goals and looked way off the pace. Klopp could have given James Milner a start in his place.
De Bruyne given freedom
Kevin De Bruyne’s talents are no secret and it was a surprise that the Belgian playmaker was given so much space against Liverpool.
He pulled the strings in midfield as neither Fabinho, Jordan Henderson or Wijnaldum were tasked with stopping him.
The lovely one-two which left Robertson chasing shadows to set up Foden’s goal was a classic KDB moment.
Where were the youngsters?
Only Klopp will know why he didn’t give the likes of Curtis Jones or Harvey Elliott the chance to gain experience against a top class outfit in City.
Jones has displayed his quality in the FA Cup this season, scoring a worldie to knock Everton out and earning rave reviews all around.
Elliott has a huge future but may be frustrated at a lack of game time despite the tender years.
Neco Williams was also watching from the bench, although he was given 15 minutes of action.
Lack of mind games
Klopp has spoken of wanting to emulate Fergie’s Manchester United dynasty but he has some way to go based on tonight’s performance.
Can you imagine Man Utd losing 4-0 to their biggest rivals a week after winning the league?
Klopp’s charisma is what makes him such a fantastic man-manager but he might need to add some more edge if he wants to keep Guardiola’s City beneath him again next season.
Few options in attack
Adam Lallana’s Reds career is over and Xherdan Shaqiri seems to have no future at Anfield, so Klopp will need to address the strength in depth of his squad this summer.
Bringing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi off the bench is not exactly going to strike fear into the top clubs next season.
The Arsenal man was credited with an own goal for City’s fourth, while Takumi Minamino again did little to suggest he will be the bargain Klopp hopes.