MANCHESTER, England — The first ball floated backward, spinning and arcing toward the net. For a second, it hung in the air, a foot or so above the white goal line. Manchester City, Liverpool, the Etihad Stadium crowd all held their breath.
And then John Stones reached it, and sent it as far away from himself, from danger, as he could. Anthony Taylor, the referee, checked his watch for the goal-line technology reading that would determine if the entire ball had crossed the line before Stones reached it. He waited. Everyone waited.
He shook his head. The slightest sliver of orange and purple leather had remained above the line — less than an inch. City could breathe again.
The second ball — an hour or so later — traveled quicker, caught sweet by Leroy Sané’s left foot. It struck the sole of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s boot and flew past Alisson Becker’s outstretched hand. Its trajectory shifted, just enough. It struck the bottom of the far post, and skittered along the same white line. Another intake of breath. It clipped the foot of the near post. This time, Taylor did not need to look at his wrist.
Fine lines, slender margins. Liverpool did not score, Manchester City did. Liverpool did not win, Manchester City did. It does not change everything: Liverpool remains at the top of the Premier League, four points clear of the reigning champion. But when the time comes to look back on this season, this result may have changed enough.
That is how it felt when Taylor blew his whistle, confirming that Sané’s goal had been enough to seal a 2-1 victory for Pep Guardiola’s team, enough to end Liverpool’s 19-game unbeaten run, enough to evaporate the faint aura of invincibility that had started to attach itself to Jürgen Klopp’s team.
Manchester City’s players sank to their knees in ecstasy. The stands bounced and heaved. Guardiola — just moments removed from berating Martin Atkinson, the fourth official, for some perceived error by Taylor — embraced his coaching staff, and hugged his players.
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Later, Guardiola would be asked if his captain, Vincent Kompany, should have been sent off, instead of receiving just a yellow card, for a first-half foul on Mohamed Salah: another fine line, another slender margin. Guardiola did not want to contemplate such a question “on a night like this,” he said.
This was the moment, manager and players and fans had decided, on which the whole season would turn, when the slightest differences could have seismic consequences. Guardiola had made clear, in the days beforehand, that this was a game Manchester City could not afford to lose.
It would, he believed, be “impossible” to catch up to a team as good as Liverpool — maybe the best in the world, he called Klopp’s side, trying to kill his foe with kindness — if it won and secured a 10-point lead with 17 games to play.
The fans clearly felt the same way. As City cantered to the championship last season, the Etihad was a contented, mellow sort of place — quietly confident in its own obvious superiority. There was little tension, no drama. Against Liverpool, under pressure, it was raucous and angry, possessed of the same manic energy that infused Guardiola’s players.
By the end, that energy had transformed into jubilation. Trailing Liverpool by four points, as City does now, is hardly ideal; a month ago, most people connected to City would have been hard-pressed to even imagine such a situation. But when the damage could have been so much worse, it felt like a blessing. City can celebrate all that it has gained; it need not worry about the ground it had lost.
Four points is a couple of bad afternoons over the course of five long months. Four points is a lapse of focus in the league because of the demands of the Champions League. Four points is an unfortunate injury, or a needless sending-off. It is the bounce of a ball. It is a fine line, a slender margin.
It is particularly precarious now, in what the Premier League has become: a two-tier competition in which, every week, six elite teams demonstrate their superiority over what are in theory their peers, but their pawns in practice. The pace that Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur — in third, just six points off the lead — have set this year has been historic.
Last season City became the first ever side to pick up 100 points in a season. Both Guardiola’s team and Klopp’s side could reach that mark this year. Both win so remorselessly that what would qualify in ordinary circumstances as a perfectly acceptable, even praiseworthy, result — say, drawing away from home against a team pushing for a European place — may instead be a knockout blow.
Logic seems to suggest that City is better placed to deal with those terms than Liverpool. Guardiola’s team, after all, knows what it takes to get to 100 points. It has proved it can win, week after week, for months at a time. Despite Liverpool’s smart (and expensive) recruitment, City’s playing resources remain deeper; Guardiola has more options at his disposal for the long slog of spring.
More important, perhaps, City is not encumbered with the weight of history. It is not trying to win a championship for the first time in 29 years, trying to lift a curse, to escape the ghosts that Liverpool is trying to escape. As the denouement comes closer, Liverpool’s desperation will mount, mistakes will creep in, and points will slip away. City, the champion three times this decade, has no such reason to worry.
It is not, though, quite so simple as that. The next few months are as much a test of City’s nerve as Liverpool’s. No team came close to keeping pace with Guardiola’s team last year. It sauntered to the title, setting itself the vaguely artificial target of getting a century of points just to stay motivated.
This season represents a different sort of challenge, one in which City’s standards and its focus cannot slip, one in which it has a rival that has — so far, at least — been able to match its relentlessness. City has the head-to-head advantage, winning here and drawing in autumn at Liverpool’s Anfield. Narrow or not, it can regard itself as the better of the two teams.
That, though, is not what will decide the title. The crown will go to whichever of these two — or Tottenham, outsider though it may be — can maintain the fearsome pace both have set so far. More to the point, it will go to the team that does not blink first. There is less than the width of a line between Manchester City and Liverpool, between Guardiola and Klopp: a roll of the dice, a spin of the ball. One has the lead, the other has the impetus.
Who comes out on top when it matters, right at the end, will be whichever can thrive in a world of the finest lines, the most slender margins.B:
香港正版铁算盘五码王【第】125【章】【衡】【山】【之】【乱】 【本】【就】【应】【该】【如】【此】。 【万】【物】【皆】【有】【灵】【性】。 【一】【路】【上】【小】【和】【尚】【都】【非】【常】【的】【警】【惕】，【就】【怕】【那】【些】【妖】【物】【会】【突】【然】【折】【返】【回】【来】。 【不】【过】，【上】【到】【山】【顶】【之】【后】，【一】【切】【都】【是】【非】【常】【的】【顺】【利】【的】，【再】【也】【没】【有】【遇】【到】【任】【何】【的】【妖】【物】。 【小】【和】【尚】【在】【想】，【莫】【非】【那】【些】【妖】【物】【是】【害】【怕】【了】【自】【己】【不】【成】。 【不】【过】，【既】【然】【没】【有】【妖】【物】【了】，【他】【便】【更】【加】【的】【放】【心】【去】【采】【药】
【沧】【龙】【凶】【兽】【从】【水】【面】【骤】【然】【间】【抬】【起】【脑】【袋】，【让】【龙】【昊】【和】【马】【小】【胖】【都】【愣】【住】【了】。 【特】【别】【是】，【他】【们】【清】【晰】【的】【看】【见】，【这】【沧】【龙】【凶】【兽】【眼】【里】【闪】【过】【的】【神】【采】，【是】【无】【比】【惊】【愕】【以】【及】【不】【解】【的】。 “【怎】【么】【了】？” “【不】【清】【楚】，【不】【过】【看】【着】【家】【伙】【的】【样】【子】，【像】【是】【吓】【住】【了】。” 【龙】【昊】【愣】【神】：“【吓】【住】，【谁】【能】【吓】【住】【他】？” 【紧】【接】【着】，【眼】【里】【露】【出】【了】【一】【丝】【欣】【喜】【之】【色】：“【难】【不】【成】
“【这】【没】【头】【没】【脑】【的】，【阴】【铁】【在】【哪】【也】【不】【知】【道】，【我】【们】【去】【哪】【里】【找】？” 【一】【路】【上】【魏】【无】【羡】【已】【经】【抱】【怨】【了】【数】【回】，【不】【过】【也】【对】，【蓝】【氏】【寒】【潭】【下】【的】【那】【块】【阴】【铁】【已】【经】【被】【混】【元】【钟】【吸】【收】，【没】【有】【阴】【铁】【共】【振】【引】【路】，【还】【真】【有】【些】【大】【海】【捞】【针】【的】【意】【思】。 【不】【过】【陆】【明】【的】【记】【忆】【里】【却】【知】【道】，【除】【了】【温】【氏】【温】【若】【寒】【手】【中】【与】【混】【元】【钟】【吸】【收】【的】【两】【块】，【还】【有】【三】【块】。【一】【个】【在】【潭】【州】【时】【花】【女】【处】，【一】【个】【在】
【并】【不】【像】【过】【去】【那】【样】【繁】【忙】【孤】【单】，【在】【还】【算】【轻】【松】【逍】【遥】【的】【生】【活】【中】【渡】【过】【了】【十】【年】【左】【右】【的】【日】【子】【之】【后】，【让】【张】【凡】【似】【乎】【有】【些】【没】【有】【想】【到】【的】【意】【外】【出】【现】【了】。【在】【最】【初】【的】【几】【年】【时】【间】【里】，【张】【凡】【似】【乎】【就】【开】【始】【感】【觉】【到】【了】【一】【件】【事】【情】：【当】【自】【己】【的】【精】【神】【力】【能】【力】【加】【上】【其】【他】【方】【面】【的】【造】【诣】【修】【为】【达】【到】【一】【定】【程】【度】【的】【时】【候】，【本】【质】【上】【就】【不】【是】【一】【名】【寻】【常】【意】【义】【上】【的】【武】【人】，【而】【在】【某】【种】【程】【度】【上】【迈】【入】【到】香港正版铁算盘五码王【时】【白】【梦】【一】【上】【车】【就】【听】【时】【父】【在】【诉】【苦】，【说】【沈】【雨】【迟】【不】【知】【趣】，【他】【来】【一】【趟】B【城】【是】【来】【看】【宝】【贝】【女】【儿】【的】，【不】【是】【来】【加】【班】。 【时】【白】【梦】【听】【着】【时】【父】【像】【个】【老】【小】【孩】【似】【的】【抱】【怨】，【时】【不】【时】【就】【忍】【不】【住】【笑】【出】【来】。 【谁】【让】【时】【父】【刚】【来】B【城】【没】【两】【天】【就】【恰】【好】【被】【沈】【雨】【迟】【抓】【包】【了】。 【大】【老】【板】【亲】【自】【来】B【城】【了】，【沈】【雨】【迟】【作】【为】【分】【公】【司】【的】【负】【责】【人】，【能】【不】【让】【大】【老】【板】【去】【公】【司】【过】【目】【么】。
“【你】【喝】【酒】【了】？” “【关】【你】【什】【么】【事】。”【程】【暮】【嘟】【嚷】【一】【声】：“【你】【又】【管】【不】【着】【我】。” “……” 【我】【要】【是】【在】【你】【那】【边】，【分】【分】【钟】【弄】【死】【你】！ 【初】【筝】【看】【下】【时】【间】，【已】【经】【过】【了】【凌】【晨】【两】【点】，【不】【能】【再】【传】【东】【西】。 【初】【筝】【提】【醒】【他】：“【别】【趴】【在】【这】【里】，【去】【睡】【觉】。” “【我】【就】【要】！”【程】【暮】【小】【孩】【儿】【闹】【脾】【气】【似】【的】，【非】【常】【固】【执】【的】【趴】【着】【不】【动】。 【初】【筝】【毫】【无】【同】
【当】【初】，【赵】【枫】【的】【修】【为】【才】【第】【四】【大】【境】【行】【星】【境】【时】，【便】【已】【用】【一】【枚】【雷】【源】【珠】，【成】【功】【地】【轰】【杀】【过】【一】【位】【有】【着】【第】【九】【大】【境】【原】【点】【境】【修】【为】【的】【天】【机】【族】【高】【层】【了】。 【眼】【下】，【他】【已】【是】【第】【八】【大】【境】【黑】【洞】【境】【的】【强】【大】【存】【在】，【对】【雷】【帝】【宝】【印】【的】【掌】【控】【能】【力】【提】【升】【了】【一】【大】【截】，【早】【已】【远】【非】【昔】【日】【可】【比】，【正】【因】【如】【此】，【这】【一】【次】【祭】【出】【雷】【帝】【印】，【才】【会】【于】【背】【后】【显】【化】【出】【雷】【印】【孕】【育】【的】【异】【象】！ 【这】【一】【点】，
【大】【魔】【头】【的】【功】【力】【真】【的】【不】【是】【盖】【的】，【与】【鬼】【婆】【婆】【交】【手】【丝】【毫】【没】【有】【落】【下】【风】，【几】【招】【之】【内】，【就】【有】【压】【倒】【性】【的】【优】【势】。 【李】【连】【在】【一】【旁】【冷】【冷】【地】【看】【着】【打】【斗】【的】【两】【人】，【似】【乎】【不】【打】【算】【出】【手】，【偶】【尔】【眼】【神】【瞟】【到】【顾】【清】【歌】【身】【上】【似】【乎】【在】【监】【视】【什】【么】。 【顾】【清】【歌】【感】【知】【到】【一】【旁】【的】【窥】【探】，【想】【起】【之】【前】【他】【们】【的】【对】【话】，【心】【中】【已】【有】【了】【猜】【测】，【大】【概】【是】【为】【了】【自】【己】【之】【前】【从】【桃】【师】【姐】【那】【里】【得】【到】【的】【那】