Premier League title race becomes a two-horse race after Spurs loss

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It has taken until the end of February, but finally the race for the 2018-19 Premier League title is a two-horse affair After 180 goalless minutes against Bayern Munich and Manchester United, Liverpool surged back to their attacking best with five goals against Watford Battered and bruised from 120 gruelling minutes in the Carabao Cup final, Manchester City escaped from the visit of West Ham with three points thanks to a Sergio Aguero penalty Season at a glance Live tables Fixtures Scores Premier League Premier League Championship League One League Two Scottish Premiership Scottish Div 1 Scottish Div 2 Scottish Div 3 Ligue 1 Serie A La Liga Bundesliga More tables More fixtures More scores And at Stamford Bridge Tottenham’s challenge finally appeared to subside, a comical Kieran Trippier own goal condemning them to a second defeat in a row, leaving them nine points adrift of leaders Liverpool with 10 games to play  After returning to the summit on Sunday it was a must-win game for Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, if only to arrest a run of form that had produced three wins in nine in 2019 Liverpool responded in style. ‘That was no fun at all. It were dog***t.’, mused Ben Foster afterwards The evening began with some alarm as Jurgen Klopp named a reshuffled front three for just the fourth time in the league this season  Surprisingly Sadio Mane began through the middle, with Divock Origi – a replacement for the injured Roberto Firmino – moving to the left ‘It was our first idea’, said Klopp. ‘We needed someone who can work in small spaces, give you something in behind and with pace  ‘Sadio has played many positions in his career – for us too – so we knew he could do it well ‘  And so it proved. The Senegalese continued his rich run of form to head the Reds into an early lead and doubled his tally with a sensational back-heeled finish from 12 yards out – a goal more likely to grace a five-a-side Powerleague match than Anfield He now has six goals in his last six league games.The returning Trent Alexander-Arnold was instrumental, providing both goals for Mane and the fourth for Virgil van Dijk He showcased the wonders of a right-back who can produce a pinpoint delivery, after James Milner’s struggles at Old Trafford at the weekend Origi made the most of his opportunity, putting in a lively shift and firing home their third of the night After conceding five in their previous three, Liverpool have now registered four clean sheets in a row The base upon which their title tilt has been built is returning.’You look at one loss in 28 they’ve played all their main rivals away from home already, and the way they dispatched Watford today was quite comprehensive ‘I feel like my money’s safe. Not a lot, 40 pence or something, but it’s a run for my money I’m getting’, said Ian Wright on Match of the Day Manchester City fielded a makeshift back four with both Aymeric Laporte and John Stones missing through injury  Benjamin Mendy was a heartening sight on the bench for Pep Guardiola – for just the second time since the turn of the year As expected Ilkay Gundogan slotted in at the base of the midfield in place of the absent Fernandinho City monopolised the ball in the first-half, at one point West Ham had seen just 19 per cent of it But they managed to create precious little with it.Guardiola left it 10 minutes until after half-time before sending for reinforcements Within four minutes of the arrival of Raheem Sterling, and then Bernardo Silva, City were ahead through Sergio Aguero’s penalty The awarding of the spot-kick itself was debatable as Silva tripped under pressure from Felipe Anderson  Liverpool fans may moan it was soft – indeed Manuel Pellegrini said that would be ‘a little generous’ – but there was no doubting the injection of directness had West Ham’s defenders scrambling It was far from pretty from Guardiola’s side in their first league outing since the 6-0 demolition of Chelsea 17 days ago But what a time to produce just your second 1-0 win of the league campaign.Guardiola was left purring after the final whistle: ‘It was a very hard result, but the performance was incredible We defended perfectly the set pieces into Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio.’Had we scored one or two in the first five minutes the game would have been completely different, but we did very well ‘The game became a little bit flat. We started the second half really well. We just didn’t score enough goals to make the last 15 to 20 minutes a little bit more relaxed ‘ For Tottenham it was a limp and listless surrender at the home of one of their biggest rivals ‘We didn’t shoot’, conceded Mauricio Pochettino.Indeed he was right, for the first time under his tenure, and since December 2013, they failed to register a shot on target in the Premier League Kieran Trippier’s mix-up with Hugo Lloris for Chelsea’s second, after Pedro had opened the scoring, summed up an evening to forget for Spurs CLATTENBURG ON KANE Harry Kane can count himself lucky not to have been sent off on Wednesday I have experienced just how competitive these matches are and Kane lost his cool with Cesar Azpilicueta in the first half, deliberately moving his head towards the Chelsea defender There looked to be contact but it does not matter how severe the contact was with Azpilicueta Even if it was an attempted headbutt, that still carries the same punishment – a red card The incident seemed to be missed by the match officials and the FA could now take retrospective action against Kane Read the full story here The return of Harry Kane has failed to lift them to new heights and they now have back-to-back defeats Kane was off the pace and almost lost his rag. He appeared to try and headbutt Cesar Azpilicueta in the first-half and was then booked for a late tangle with David Luiz Tottenham have performed remarkably to make it this deep into the title race. Unless they can win at both Anfield and the Etihad though their race is done Could their top four spot be under threat now too? They host Arsenal at Wembley on Saturday, where a third successive defeat would move the Gunnners just a point behind Pochettino did not betray any worries: ‘I am not afraid. I have freedom in my mind I have the same feeling as before.’If people are scared now about the top four, that is football ‘After two defeats, maybe we’re not there and not content, but we need to keep going and try to be ready for the next game But it’s not a drama.’  TITLE RIVALS REMAINING PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURES  LIVERPOOLMarch 3 Everton (A)March 10 Burnley (H)March 17 Fulham (A)March 31 Tottenham Hotspur (H)April 5 Southampton (A)April 14 Chelsea (H)April 21 Cardiff City (A)April 26 Huddersfield (H)May 4 Newcastle United (A)May 12 Wolves (H) MANCHESTER CITYMarch 2 Bournemouth (A)March 9 Watford (H)March 30 Fulham (A)April 6 Cardiff City (H)April 14 Crystal Palace (A)April 20 Tottenham (H)April 24 Man United (A) April 28 Burnley (A)May 4 Leicester City (H)May 12 Brighton (A) TOTTENHAMMarch 2 Arsenal (H)March 9 Southampton (A)March 31 Liverpool (A)April 7 Brighton HApril 13 Huddersfield (H) April 20 Manchester City (A)April 27 West Ham (H)May 4 Bournemouth (A)May 12 Everton (H) 

 

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