Liverpool dropped points for the second consecutive game as they were held 1-1 by West Ham United.
Sadio Mane gave Liverpool the lead midway through the first half but it would last just seven minutes with Michail Antonio equalising from a well-worked free-kick.
That would be all she wrote as neither side could find a second-half breakthrough, despite good opportunities, with the spoils shared.
But who were the winners and losers from the night?
Winner: Michail Antonio
With Marko Arnautovic still not being called upon following his China transfer saga, West Ham needed someone to take the Austrian’s role as leading man. Javier Hernandez threatened the Liverpool goal early on, but squandered his chances, leaving it to Michail Antonio to deservedly level after West Ham had gone behind.
4 – Michail Antonio has scored four goals in his five Premier League games against Liverpool, more than he has managed against any other side. Familiar. pic.twitter.com/4wt5r8quFu
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 4, 2019
His goal came from a well-worked free-kick, in which Antonio peeled off from Andy Robertson, running across Naby Keita who was being shielded well by Mark Noble, to get onto Anderson’s pass. But there was still work to be done with the angle favouring Alisson in the Liverpool goal, but Antonio’s shot was well placed, squeezing into the bottom left corner of the net, bouncing in off the post.
It was just his third Premier League goal of the season, and first since mid-December, ending a run of nine games across all competitions without scoring.
And the Englishman just loves playing against Liverpool, with the equaliser meaning Antonio has now scored against the Reds in each of the past four Premier League seasons, having played just five games across those campaigns. Only one other player can boast a similar record to Antonio: Sergio Aguero.
Loser: Liverpool’s defence
Going into Monday’s game, Liverpool boasted the best defence in the Premier League, conceding just 14 goals in 24 goals – six fewer than closest rivals Manchester City.
But the Reds’ backline has been threadbare in recent weeks, with Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez all missing from their backline. This is a problem Liverpool knew about for the duration of January, but Jurgen Klopp did not make a single signing to fix his dilemma.
Alisson has now conceded from 7 of the 11 shots on target he has faced in 2019 in the Premier League.
No ‘Big Six’ keeper has conceded more PL goals than him this year. 👀 pic.twitter.com/qNDf7tWEuV
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 4, 2019
As a result, James Milner lined up at right-back alongside Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson, a mix-matched defence of sorts. And it showed.
West Ham enjoyed a lot of freedom down Liverpool’s right, getting at James Milner whenever they could, with the 33-year-old unable to deal with the combination of Aaron Cresswell and Felipe Anderson. Twice inside the opening 15 minutes, West Ham had an opportunity to take the lead through attacks on Milner’s flank, but twice their shots went just wide of Alisson’s goal.
But Milner was not the only problem. Somehow the best defence in the league had forgotten how to defend set pieces. First in West Ham’s equaliser, where Liverpool’s high line was perfectly exploited by a simple pass out wide to Antonio, who finished well across Alisson.
The Premier League leaders should have gone into half-time a goal down too, with more poor defending from a set piece allowing Declan Rice a free header inside the Liverpool box, though the 20-year-old wasted his opportunity.
Winner: Sadio Mane
Last season, Mohamed Salah received most of the plaudits for Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final. But, despite continuing his goalscoring form, the Egyptian has been somewhat eclipsed as Liverpool’s most important attacking player.
That moniker has now been bestowed upon Sadio Mane who, for the second game running, has been Liverpool’s only real attacking hope.
Sadio Mane has scored in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since August 2017.
That lead didn’t last for long though… pic.twitter.com/2WK1JfePul
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 4, 2019
Mane opened the scoring against West Ham on Monday evening, after good work from Adam Lallana out wide in a period when Liverpool had looked more likely to concede.
Despite the controversy surrounding Milner’s part in the goal, nothing should be taken from Mane’s excellent finish, taking a touch near the penalty spot before turning and easing the ball into the bottom left corner.
It brought the third Premier League game in a row in which Mane has scored, the first time the Senegalese has done so since August 2017.
But, unfortunately for Liverpool, Mane was unable to take a win on his own, being let down by his largely ineffective team-mates up against a good West Ham defence.
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Loser: Naby Keita
Would the real Naby Keita please make himself known?
When Liverpool agreed a deal to buy Keita from RB Leipzig in the summer of 2017, the Reds were hailed to securing the future of the the brightest young midfielders in Germany.
The Guinean international was the perfect all-round midfielder, playing a huge role in Leipzig’s debut campaign in the Bundesliga which saw them finish second, chipping in with eight goals and eight assists while also putting in a shift defensively.
But Liverpool fans, and the wider football public, are still waiting for that version of Keita to turn up in the Premier League. For some reason or another, the 23-year-old just hasn’t kicked off and looks a shadow of the man signed from Leipzig.
Against West Ham on Monday, the Guinean was largely ineffective with his attempted driving runs not adding much in terms of end product. Keita also had his role in West Ham’s equaliser, allowing Antonio to run across him into space, before failing to put pressure on the Englishman.
Winner: Manchester City
Ladies and gentlemen, the Premier League title race is well and truly on.
Liverpool have dropped points in successive Premier League games for just the second time this season.
This title race could go down to the wire. 😬 pic.twitter.com/L0ZHNAHnpa
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 4, 2019
Just six days ago things looked in danger of being over as Manchester City were beaten 2-1 by Newcastle United, with Liverpool preparing to face an out-of-sorts Leicester City side the following day.
But the Foxes took a point from Anfield, denying the Reds a chance to go seven points clear and put real daylight between them and Man City.
Pep Guardiola’s side then bounced back from their shock defeat brilliantly, beating Arsenal 3-1 on Sunday to put pressure on Liverpool, moving to within just two points.
And now, things could be about to take a massive swing in the opposite direction following Liverpool’s draw at the London Stadium.
Liverpool are now just three points ahead of City, who play Everton on Wednesday – a game rearranged due to City’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final.
Should Pep Guardiola’s side beat Liverpool’s rivals, City will move top of the Premier League on goal difference, putting even more pressure on the Reds – who had once looked comfortable and en route to the title.
Premier League table after 25 games:
1️⃣ Liverpool (62 pts)
2️⃣ Man City (59)
3️⃣ Spurs (57)
4️⃣ Chelsea (50)
Man City could go top on Wednesday. 👀 pic.twitter.com/sMtmoOMMpK
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) February 4, 2019
Loser: Simon Beck
Another game, another urgent reminder as to why VAR is needed in the Premier League.
Referees and their assistants are human and will make errors, which football fans do need to understand before shouting their abuse at the officials.
But that doesn’t mean they should not be criticised when a call is wrong, and help is needed.
With 20 minutes gone, Liverpool attacked down the right with Lallana hugging the touchline. Some neat footwork from the Englishman saw him play the ball in to James Milner, who eventually set up Sadio Mane for the game’s opening goal.
However, replays showed Milner, standing close to assistant referee Simon Beck was at least a yard offside. In fairness to Beck, he was paying close attention to the ball at Lallana’s feet, ensuring it did not go out of play.
But it was still a mistake on his part, albeit one which could have easily been rectified had VAR been in play. One look by referees watching on from far would have seen Liverpool’s goal correctly ruled out, and Beck being forgotten as any good official is.
Beck also made another incorrect call towards the end of the first half, flagging Salah offside when the Egyptian was not past the last man, though it was not as costly as his first error.
Winner: Declan Rice
On a night where Naby Keita once again failed to fulfil the promise built by his spell in Germany with RB Leipzig, Declan Rice showed just why England tried so hard to lure him from the Republic of Ireland.
The 20-year-old was outstanding in midfield alongside Mark Noble, perfectly nullifying his Liverpool counterparts in all aspects of the game.
Rice won eight tackles against Liverpool, twice as many as any other player on the pitch and six more than his closest team-mates.
He also made two vital interceptions and recorded just one foul towards the end of the match, though it made no difference to the final result.
What a young player Rice is turning out to be.