Manchester City have finished above Liverpool in each of the past eight Premier League seasons – something they have managed to accomplish despite never winning at Anfield during this time.
Indeed, we must go back to May 3, 2003 for the last time City left the red side of Merseyside with all of the points.
But who was playing for City then and did the result matter? What were the other big stories in sport and who was top of the charts? Read on to find out.
City were winding their way towards a creditable mid-table finish on their first season back in the top-flight under Kevin Keegan, while Liverpool – treading a now familiar narrative arc – had top-four ambitions to satisfy. A pleasingly open game remained goalless until just before the hour, when Milan Baros volleyed the hosts ahead. Nicolas Anelka levelled from the penalty spot after drawing a foul from Djimi Traore and the France striker – then City’s record signing having arrived for £13million from Paris Saint-Germain the previous year – crowned a fabulous one-touch move in stoppage time to stun the Kop.
Anelka spent the 2001-02 season on loan at Liverpool, who neglected to make his deal permanent, allowing City to pounce. A man used to playing alongside the elite during his career up until that point, Anelka found himself in a transitional City side. Shaun Wright-Phillips was enjoying his first season as a Premier League regular in a midfield featuring a fresh-faced Joey Barton on his sixth senior appearance. Richard Dunne and Sylvain Distin had established the centre-back alliance that would serve City handsomely for half a decade and lined-up on this occasion before Peter Schmeichel – the great Dane and Manchester United icon on the penultimate appearance of a celebrated career that ended somewhat improbably with a sojourn on the other side of town. Anelka was far from the most familiar face to the Anfield masses. His strike partner that day was a certain Robbie Fowler.
Defeat meant Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool needed to beat Chelsea in their final match of the season at Stamford Bridge to reach the Champions League. Jesper Gronkjaer’s goal to secure a 2-1 win for Claudio Ranieri’s hosts meant Chelsea qualified for Europe’s top competition at Liverpool’s expense and a game dubbed the “£20m match” ended up being worth far more than that. Chelsea’s dramatically grasped place in the top four was enough to solidify Roman Abramovich’s interest in the club. Cue an era of transfer billions and wealthy foreign owners that would also alter City’s trajectory beyond all recognition.
THE HIT PARADE
As fresh faced as the young Barton but falling some distance below his discerning musical tastes, guitar-clad boyband Busted would celebrate their first number-one single with ‘You Said No’ on May 3. Top of the independent charts at the same time, a decade before it would become the soundtrack to more-or-less every major football game in Europe, was the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’. Opposite City’s mixture of youth and experience, Madonna provided a seasoned counterpart at the album chart summit with ‘American Life’. Over in America, 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ was closing a two-month stint atop the Billboard Hot 100.
THE BOX OFFICE
On both sides of the Atlantic, ‘X-Men 2’ was the highest grossing movie of the week. An all-star cast including Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry helped the blockbuster to net $85.6m within the first weekend of its release.
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
Swansea City, now in their seventh consecutive Premier League season, needed a 4-2 win over Hull City on May 3 to preserve their Football League status – James Thomas the hat-trick hero. In horse racing, Funny Cide came close to becoming the first New York-bred horse to win the Triple Crown. Victory in the Preakness Stakes took him to the cusp of immortality, before a third-place finish at the Belmont Stakes.
Two days before Liverpool met City at Anfield, United States president George W Bush made his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, declaring major combat operations to have ended in Iraq. In reality, a brutal war rumbled on and US troops did not withdraw from Iraq until December 2011. A US president making regrettably bombastic public statements – the more things change, etc etc…