LIVERPOOL: Georginio Wijnaldum's early header cemented Liverpool's title credentials by clinching a 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Saturday as Pep Guardiola's side slipped 10 points behind leader Chelsea.
While Guardiola is discovering just how competitive the English Premier League is in his first season at City, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp will start the second half of the season only six points behind Chelsea.
The 18-time English champions are mounting their strongest challenge for the trophy in three years, predating Klopp's arrival from Borussia Dortmund, as they seek to deliver league silverware to Anfield for the first time since 1990.
In a New Year's Eve game of few scoring chances, Liverpool completed the job after eight minutes as Klopp renewed his former Bundesliga rivalry with Guardiola, the ex-Bayern Munich coach.
Wijnaldum will take the plaudits for providing his second goal of the season, but Adam Lallana's contribution underscored how the midfielder is an essential ingredient in the title bid.
It was Lallana's seventh assist of the season — he has also scored seven — that set up Wijnaldum. The Dutch midfielder climbed above City defender Aleksandar Kolarov to meet Lallana's well-placed cross from the left flank before planting a header beyond goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
While Liverpool was pressing with rhythm, the visitors looked ragged. Even with striker Sergio Aguero back from suspension, the attacking threat was minimal.
There wasn't even a shot on target from City until the 54th minute. Even then Aguero struck centrally and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet easily gathered into his hands.
There was an encouraging moment for City when Silva provided some menace with a run through the Liverpool defense before firing just wide of Mignolet.
The momentum was with City, a team transformed after its disjointed first half but it couldn't penetrate the Liverpool defense. Mignolet will have few quieter days in the Liverpool goal.