Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk (L) and Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (R) chat on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on July 2, 2020. Manchester City won the game 4-0. Photo: AFP
Jurgen Klopp admitted Manchester City are the one side capable of “smashing” his newly-crowned Premier League winners after Liverpool’s first match since becoming English champions ended in a 4-0 thrashing at the Etihad.
City sent a warning shot of their intentions to take the title back next season as Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden all struck before half-time to inflict just Liverpool’s third league defeat in 71 games.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s own goal rounded off a miserable night for Klopp’s men, who could have conceded many more in the second half.
The gap at the top of the table between the two remains 20 points, but Liverpool’s charge to better a series of records set by City two seasons ago was stalled on a chastening night for the champions.
“I wanted to see a brilliant attitude and I saw that, the boys were really fighting. Nobody was like ‘hey I am coming here, we don’t care’. We care a lot. That is how it feels, it feels not good and it should not feel like it is,” said Klopp.
Klopp explained that “If there is a team in the world that can smash us like this it is probably City but we will come again.”
City began the evening by giving a guard of honour to their opponents, but showed little respect once the action got underway.
“I saw them in the guard of honour and they were so focused, they didn’t even say ‘thank you’. That is why they are champions of Europe and the Premier League,” said City boss Pep Guardiola.
According to Guardiola, “They drank a lot of beers in the past week but they arrive here without beers in the blood to compete against us.”
The early signs suggested Liverpool would be able to pick off a leaky City defence that has cost them their title.
Mohamed Salah struck the post and Sadio Mane headed wastefully wide as chances came and went for the visitors.
“We had our moments where we were really close to make something,” added Klopp. “They used our mistakes, we didn’t use their mistakes.”
Liverpool’s first big error came when Joe Gomez pulled Sterling to the ground inside the area and De Bruyne converted the resulting penalty.
Sterling was suspended by England manager Gareth Southgate after he squared up to Gomez in the canteen on international duty the day after Liverpool’s 3-1 win over City at Anfield earlier in the season.