Pep Guardiola’s Gabriel Jesus bet pays off, Diogo Jota steps in when Mo Salah won’t, and more

MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City and Liverpool played out a thrilling 2-2 draw on Sunday in a clash at the pinnacle of the Premier League.

The chance for one party to take over the table came and went, but it offered plenty of talking points nonetheless. Here are three thoughts on the game.

1. The Premier League title race remains a toss-up

Manchester City and Liverpool played out a thrilling draw at the Etihad Stadium, and we’re still no closer to knowing who will win the Premier League title this season.

City took the lead twice through Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus but were caught first by Diogo Jota and then Sadio Mane to ensure the two sides remained a single point apart at the top of the table with seven games to play.

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp – whose sides also drew 2-2 at Anfield in October – will have to start all over again in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in six days and could yet meet in the Champions League final in Paris at the end of May.

The result means both teams are still in contention for their own piece of history; Man City are trying to replicate Manchester United’s treble of 1999 and Liverpool are trying to become the first English club to win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup treble.

Man City and Liverpool will eventually have to be separated for the trophy presentation, but for now they remain locked up after another fierce and entertaining encounter.

2. Pep Guardiola pulls off a surprise and it pays off

Klopp probably didn’t expect Guardiola to hand Gabriel Jesus his first Premier League start since January 1, but he did and you can’t argue with the result. Jesus had already created a fantastic first chance for Raheem Sterling when he pounced on Joao Cancelo’s cross from the left to put City 2-1 up just before half-time with his first league goal since September.

Despite being the only recognized striker in City’s squad, Guardiola has managed to play him on the right wing in the past. It was in this position that he played a key role in the 2-1 win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the 2019-20 Champions League Round of 16 and he had two assists in the win 5-0 against Norwich at the Etihad Stadium in August when he was the best player on the pitch.

The Brazilian has only scored seven goals all season but the majority have been big goals. He scored against Arsenal in August and the only goal in the 1-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in September. In November, he came off the bench to score the winning goal against Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium and he can now add Liverpool to his list.

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3. Liverpool will be okay if Mo Salah leaves

There’s no doubt that Mohamed Salah gives to Liverpool, but they are far from a one-man team. If Salah does not sign a new contract at Anfield and leaves as a free agent in the summer of 2023, Jurgen Klopp’s side are more than capable of absorbing his absence and his performance at the Etihad on Sunday is the answer. proof.

Salah was on the edge of the action for much of the game while others in the front three, Jota and Mane, scored the goals. Liverpool have recruited well to bring in Jota and Luis Diaz to ensure there is not an overreliance on Salah and that means if the Egypt international leaves they are ready-made replacements to fill in the void.

It would be a blow to lose a player who is once again on track to score 30 goals in all competitions again this season, but it’s not the nightmare scenario some are predicting. Yes, he’s important – he showed his class with the assist for Mane’s goal – but he’s scored just once since late February and Liverpool are still in the hunt for four trophies.

The good news for Liverpool and the board is that Salah is unable to make extraordinary demands on his contract.