Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool and Manchester City escaped with their unbeaten Premier League records intact after a disappointing 0-0 draw at Anfield, but both failed to inflict an early blow in the title race.
Far from the enthralling encounters between the sides last season, neither team hit top gear as City halted a run of three straight defeats by Liverpool, but passed up the biggest chance to win the game when Riyad Mahrez blasted a late penalty over the bar.
Here, AFP Sport looks at three things we learned on Sunday:
Pep plays it safe
City boss Pep Guardiola had lost on all three of his previous visits to Anfield and learned his lessons from last season.
While Guardiola admitted his decision to opt for control had hindered City’s creativity, the visitors’ use of the ball minimised Liverpool’s opportunities to spring quick counter-attacks.
“If you play so quick they are much better than us,” said Guardiola. “We want to create something but they wait when you make a mistake.
“If it is an open game at Anfield you don’t even have a one-percent chance.”
Salah slump is real
Even with Liverpool’s limited chances, the Mohamed Salah of last season would surely have guaranteed victory.
In keeping with his slump in form so far this campaign, Salah snatched at shots when offered a clear sight of goal early on and on a rare effective Liverpool break 20 minutes from time.
Jurgen Klopp insisted before the match he was not concerned by the Egyptian’s form.
But Salah has now scored just once since August at club level and that was a tap-in from barely a yard in a routine 3-0 victory over Southampton.
More than a two-way race
Billed as a showdown between the champions and the most likely challengers to their title, City and Liverpool ended the day in a three-way share of the Premier League lead alongside Chelsea.
Arsenal moved into fourth, just two points back, with a highly impressive 5-1 thrashing of Fulham earlier on Sunday to record their ninth straight win in all competitions.
And Tottenham are also only two points off the top despite their early-season struggles with a World Cup hangover and the uncertainty over when their new stadium will be ready for business.
“I knew it before,” said Klopp when quizzed if Liverpool have to beat more than City to land a first title in 29 years.