May 22, 2022
This was the ninth time a Premier League title race had gone down to the final day of the season, and the ninth time the team that started on top had won. But if that makes Manchester City’s eighth league title sound straightforward, it was not. This was a final day of shredded nerves and high anxiety, even if there was never actually a point when Liverpool was top in the as-it-stands table. In the end, three City goals in five second-half minutes transformed everything.
The drama began at Anfield after two minutes as Pedro Neto capitalized on an Ibrahima Konaté error to give Wolves the lead. It felt then as though this could be an anticlimactic afternoon. But Liverpool soon equalized through Sadio Mané and then came the goal that electrified Anfield—Matty Cash heading Aston Villa ahead at the Etihad. Could it be that, as Aston Villa manager, Steven Gerrard might at last win Liverpool the league title that had always eluded him as a player?
When another ex-Liverpool star, Philippe Coutinho, added a second after 69 minutes, that possibility suddenly seemed very real. Liverpool, it seemed, had 21 minutes to score. It was not, in truth, playing well. Anxiety had gripped its performance from the start. With Virgil van Dijk injured—although on the bench, suggesting he may be available for next week’s Champions League final—the back line looked shaky, never quite sure when to push up. But worse was the passing. There was a frantic quality to Liverpool’s play, exacerbated by the loss of Thiago Alcântara to injury on the stroke of halftime. Shots were blocked and through-balls misplaced.
Source: Sports Illustrated
(Photo by: IMAGO/SportImage)