Considering Liverpool’s extraordinary dominance last season, the 2020/21 Premier League title race has been surprisingly competitive up until this point.
Tottenham, Chelsea, Leicester and even Manchester United were being touted as potential competition to the reigning champions, and despite their well below-par performance this season only a fool would write off Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
But, in the first midweek round of a hectic Premier League campaign, the tide started to shift once again in Liverpool’s favour.
Dramatic finale at Anfield sends Liverpool top
In a game in which they had just 24% possession and had just two shots on target, incredibly Tottenham can count themselves a bit unfortunate to have lost on Wednesday.
A 90th minute Roberto Firmino header, planted firmly in the top corner, sealed a hard-fought three points for Liverpool after Spurs came back from a 1-0 deficit, but it could have turned out very different.
Spurs defended with a resilience and organisation that has been missing from their arsenal in the past, and the second half actually saw them forge the better openings.
Steven Bergwijn missed two glaring opportunities to take the lead and Harry Kane’s point-blank header defied the laws of physics as it bounced over the bar. They would come to rue those missed chances.
It was all set up for a dramatic finish, and that’s exactly what we got. The victory sends the defending champions three points clear at the top of the table, but the season is far from over.
That was Tottenham’s first league defeat since the opening weekend against Everton, and this season Liverpool have shown vulnerabilities that simply weren’t there last term. They’re grinding out the victories – and some would say that’s the mark of a title winning team – but it’s a far cry from the dominance we saw last term.
Spurs (and others) are not out of this race yet.
Main contenders squander opportunity
With the two frontrunners locking horns at Anfield, this midweek bonanza of top flight action represented the perfect opportunity for the trailing pack to close the gap.
So far, nothing of the sort has happened.
Chelsea and Manchester City started the gameweek by dropping points against Wolves and West Brom respectively. It leaves Lampard’s Chelsea six points adrift of the top spot, while Manchester City are inexplicably down in 8th place and lag behind Klopp’s Reds by eight points.
Elsewhere, Leicester missed out on the chance to go 2nd as they lost at home to Everton, leaving them four points behind Liverpool.
Manchester United are set to play bottom of the table Sheffield United on Thursday, and victory could move them as high as 5th with a game in hand. If they won that game in hand they would be just two points adrift of their arch rivals.
Are Southampton the new Leicester?
Leicester’s Premier League title win of 2015/16 remains the biggest upset in Premier League history, but as the dust settles on Wednesday’s action a new and surprising contender has started to emerge.
Southampton picked up a point at the Emirates on Wednesday, making it just one defeat in their last 11 Premier League matches and moving them to 3rd in the table, just four points off the defending champions.
The Saints are playing incredible football under the tutelage of Ralph Hasenhuttl and are producing confident performances reminiscent of Leicester’s incredible campaign five years ago.
They couldn’t, could they? Stranger things have happened.
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