Saturday, May 25, 2024

Liverpool cling to slim Premier League title hopes as Tottenham Hotspur’s UCL dreams fade

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Liverpool kept their minimal Premier League title chances alive — just about — on Sunday with a 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield which leaves the Londoners seven points adrift of Aston Villa in the final UEFA Champions League qualification position. Jurgen Klopp’s men worked up a comfortable 4-0 lead through Mohamed Salah, Andy Robertson, Cody Gakpo and Harvey Elliott goals before Ange Postecoglou’s side rallied with late Richarlison and Son Heung-min strikes made it a decidedly nervy final 10 minutes.

Despite the Reds’ worrying late wobble, they remain five points behind Arsenal at the EPL summit with just six points left to play for although Manchester City can extinguish those hopes by winning their game in hand which happens to be against Spurs. Tottenham, though, now need to win their three remaining games and hope that Villa pick up no points from their final two games with their next outing a visit from none other than Liverpool at Villa Park in the penultimate game of the campaign.

This after Villa went down 1-0 away at Brighton and Hove Albion earlier on Sunday and lost yet another player to injury in Morgan Rogers with Unai Emery’s walking wounded needing a miracle to overturn a 4-2 first-leg deficit against Olympiacos in the UEFA Europa Conference League semifinals. Despite another entertaining and goal-filled round of games, Liverpool and Spurs’ positions remain unchanged and both essentially have to win their remaining fixtures to stand any chance — no matter how remote — of finishing higher than their current position.

Even six points for Klopp’s Reds will almost certainly not even be enough to move up to second while nine points is a massive ask of Postecoglou’s Tottenham from their three final games which include Pep Guardiola’s City who could seal the title by overtaking Arsenal. Spurs have lost four consecutive games now and conceded 13 goals in that time with one win from six EPL outings a return not worthy of a top-four finish by usual standards and one more Villa win against either Liverpool or Crystal Palace would deny that possibility.

For Klopp and Liverpool, Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers will be Klopp’s final goodbye in what will feel like a massively underwhelming end to what has generally been a wonderful period for the club under the German’s leadership. Whether it ends in anything higher than third place or not, at least the EFL Cup win guaranteed a final piece of silverware even if it was not quite the trophy haul which had looked possible until even just a few weeks ago.

The bottom line for both Liverpool and Tottenham in all of this is that both are on the verge of paying for a lack of consistency with both letting themselves down at key moments which may well turn out to define their years. A run of two wins from seven for the Reds put paid to their Premier League and UEFA Europa League hopes while Spurs somehow failed to seize upon their 4-0 thrashing of Villa away with just two wins for five losses and a draw since.

Postecoglou is already speaking publicly about the need to make wholesale changes to this Spurs side despite being more active than most this past January and whether it was a bid to motivate his troops or not, it is not exactly an incentive for the current crop to perform. Barring the most unexpected of scenarios now, there should not really be any major changes to the top five in the EPL with Tottenham being caught by Newcastle United equally as likely as Spurs overtaking Villa at the last second.

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