Gloves are off as Premier League is living up to the hype

One of the nice things about Graeme Souness’ stubborn refusal to sugarcoat his punditry is that he sometimes seems to forget who his lords and masters are, writes Liam Mackey.

At half-time at the Etihad on Thursday night, he told his Sky Sports audience that television, with its necessary focus on the ball, couldn’t possible convey the full intensity of the unfolding clash between Manchester City and Liverpool, as individual battles raged and energy was expended all over the pitch.

To a large extent, that is true of all football matches. The television cameras can’t be beaten for forensic, slo-mo, multiple replay scrutiny of key moments but you really have to be there to appreciate how player movement off the ball can be crucial in creating and closing down space, developing patterns of play and, ultimately, even shaping the outcome of a game. TV is great for detail but a seat in the stand offers the bigger picture along, of course, with the visceral experience of full-body exposure to the big match atmosphere, something which a comfy spot on the sofa can never hope to replicate.

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