Liverpool, Clattenburg Conspire to Prove Gambler's Fallacy True vs. Man City

Phil KeidelContributor IIApril 14, 2014

Suarez was fortunate to stay in the match against City after yet another sorry dive.
Suarez was fortunate to stay in the match against City after yet another sorry dive.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Manchester City lost a dream-rending match to Liverpool at Anfield, and with their title hopes now dependent on the results of matches they will not play, the temptation is for the Sky Blues to rue their misfortune against the Reds.

And to be sure, misfortune abounded for City. Much of it was of their own creation. Spotting a side of Liverpool's quality a two-goal lead at home is no blueprint for success.

Plenty of City's tough luck, though, was attributable to match referee Mark Clattenburg, if you believe any of the following tweets:

Ultimately, though, City were beaten not by Clattenburg or even by Liverpool as much as they were beaten by a rare instance of the gambler's fallacy coming true.

A quick refresher may be in order for those unfamiliar with (or uninterested in) probability.'s Jonah Keri recently explained the concept succinctly: "Even if five coin flips in a row come up tails, you still shouldn’t assume the next one will be heads. It’s a 50-50 proposition each time."

In theory, then, City's result at Anfield should have borne no discernible relation to the last time the sides played each other on Boxing Day at the Etihad.

Except that the matches bore odd reverse similarities in retrospect.

At Anfield, City lost by a single goal and finished aggrieved by two penalties they were not awarded and a red card that Luis Suarez did not get.

Think back to December, though, and you will recall that Liverpool also lost by one goal (2-1) and finished in Manchester complaining of a phantom offside call against Raheem Sterling and a late penalty shout from Suarez that went unheeded.

The easy response to this is "well, of course home sides get favorable decisions, that is nothing new." Maybe, but to see it happen between two sides in their specific matches is surely rarer than the truism applied to a full season's slate.

In the cold light of morning, City will see that sharing the six points their two matches with Liverpool made available is probably about right even if the manner of the sharing was hard to take.

Because City's loss came with the end of the season quickly approaching, there is a distorted feeling that this result is more damaging to City's title bid than Liverpool's loss to City in December was to Rodgers' side.

Which, of course, is another fallacy. Three points are three points whenever they are earned or lost.

Of Liverpool's four remaining matches, only Chelsea's visit to Anfield on Apr. 27 projects to trouble the Reds. Chelsea won the first meeting between the sides 2-1.

City are now left hoping that history does not repeat. Again.