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Ian Cheeseman: Forever Blue

It looks like this season’s Premier League title race is going to the wire and that can’t be a bad thing can it?

Manchester City have, understandably, been the favourites from the start of the season, but Liverpool and Arsenal are above them in the table, with just ten games to go.

At Anfield, City had the chances to win but any fair-minded person, who watched the game, would probably have to agree that Liverpool were the better team over ninety minutes. Jurgen Klopp’s side seem to have that extra motivation right now, maybe because of his announced departure at the end of the season. The crowd at Anfield were certainly up for Sunday’s potential title decider.

City’s aim to constantly grow into a global force does have it’s downsides though. The travelling support at Anfield included an increasingly higher percentage of tourists among them. I witnessed one woman taking pictures on a camera with a huge telephoto lens throughout the game. She clearly wasn’t bothered which team won, she took as many pictures of the Liverpool fans as she did of the game.

As a result of the diverse nature of the away end, the atmosphere was watered down. Did that have an effect on City’s performance? In truth, I have no idea, but I know lots of City fans who’ve been following the Blues since the darker days of life at Maine Road who can’t get a ticket these days. I find that quite sad.

On the pitch, I thought Mateo Kovacic should have started. The brilliant Rodri was in danger of being overrun at times and had it not been for a couple of very good saves by Stefan Ortega, they might have lost the game. I’m not the genius Pep Guardiola, so who am I to question his decisions, but personally I’d have taken off Haaland and moved Kevin De Bruyne to the false nine position, when the changes were made late in the game.

Jeremy Doku’s late, high challenge on Alexis Mac Allister could easily have been given as a penalty, but City escaped a toxic trip to Merseyside with a point.

Before the game I witnessed hundreds of Liverpool fans trying to create an intimidating atmosphere along the route the bus was advertised to take, but (presumably) the police had brought the coach in via another road and so their arrival at the stadium was trouble free, thankfully.

It’ll be three weeks between Premier League fixtures now, due to the last International break of the season and the FA Cup weekend, which sees City host Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening. A win for the Blues will mean another trip to Wembley for the semi-final. When the Blues were at the National Stadium in August, for the Community Shield, many long standing City fans boycotted the game because of the cost and distances involved. The result was that the City end was populated by “tourists” which of course meant it was less partisan, something that was noticed by the players.

City could yet have three more trips to Wembley this season, including a potential Champions League Final. The draw for the quarter finals of the Champions League is made on Friday morning. Being a match going City fan in this modern era is very expensive and while the owners might have seemingly endless resources, the fans don’t. It remains fascinating to watch Manchester City change on and off the field and the next couple of months will certainly not be dull, because as ever, It’s Great to be a Blue!

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