Liverpool suffers title setback as draw with Spurs aids Man City’s bid
LIVERPOOL, England — Frustration but no moaning from Jurgen Klopp, even after a title setback for Liverpool.
Klopp’s side being held 1-1 by tactically disciplined and defensively robust Tottenham on Saturday handed Manchester City an even greater initiative in the Premier League title race.
The damage would have been greater had Luis Diaz’s deflected strike not canceled out Son Heung-min’s tap-in for the fifth-placed visitors.
“I’m really proud of the performance,” Klopp said. “The mentality we showed.”
It’s the mentality that might yet propel the Champions League and FA Cup finalists, who have already collected the League Cup, to a treble.
A quadruple of trophies could soon become out of reach.
Liverpool is back in first place in the league but City can pull three points clear with three games remaining by beating Newcastle on Sunday.
“I would love to sit here and say, ‘Yes, City will drop points,”’ Klopp said. “The only problem is I can’t see it.”
It’s a testament to Liverpool’s recovery this season that the title race is going this close to the wire. Being held by Tottenham was only the second time in 14 matches that Liverpool has dropped points, and the other time was against City.
While Tottenham is the only team unbeaten against City and Liverpool this season — with eight points from a possible 12 — drawing at Anfield also hurts Spurs’ bid to qualify for the Champions League.
Arsenal in fourth place can pull four points ahead of Tottenham by beating Leeds on Sunday ahead of a north London derby meeting on Thursday.
But the performance against the 2020 champion will galvanize Tottenham for the run-in.
“This was perfect in our game plan, good team play,” Son said. “But we should have got more.”
The moment to take the lead was seized with a flowing attack in the 56th minute when Harry Kane laid the ball off to the left flank where Ryan Sessegnon squared for Son to finish simply into an unprotected net.
Chances to double the lead were minimal before Diaz’s shot in the 74th deflected off Rodrigo Bentancur and beat goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. It was one of only three shots on target from 22 attempts — the same number Tottenham managed from eight.
“I don’t like this kind of football but that is my problem,” Klopp said. “I cannot coach it.”
It’s five straight away losses for Manchester United — with 16 goals conceded in that run — after a 4-0 loss to Brighton for another low in Ralf Rangnick’s interim spell as manager.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime after Moises Caicedo’s long-range strike, United conceded three goals in 11 minutes from the 49th as Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard scored for a rampant Brighton team with little to play for at the end of the season.
The best United can realistically hope for is a sixth-place finish and a spot in the Europa League.
The season will end with United’s fewest points since 1991, before the Premier League era launched. It’s a challenging situation for incoming manager Erik ten Hag to inherit.
Todd Boehly certainly got drama after taking his seat at Chelsea as a prospective part-owner, just not what he was hoping for as the west London club collapsed to draw against Wolverhampton 2-2.
Boehly appeared to live the emotional rollercoaster of the match — from the early VAR calls disallowing two Chelsea goals, to the double from Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, to the equalizer by Wolves defender Conor Coady in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.
“We are disappointed not to give the first win for him,” Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta said of Boehly.
A consortium fronted by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ part-owner agreed on terms for the 2.5 billion-pound ($3.1 billion) purchase of Chelsea. The takeover needs Premier League and government approval.
Third-placed Chelsea is still not certain of securing Champions League qualification for the first full season of Boehly’s reign. The team is four points ahead of Arsenal, which plays Leeds on Sunday.
Roy Hodgson couldn’t keep Watford up in perhaps the final job of his long coaching career.
Watford’s immediate return to the Championship was sealed by a 1-0 loss at Crystal Palace, for whom Wilfried Zaha scored a penalty.
When Hodgson — the 74-year-old former England manager — was hired in January, Watford was in next-to-last place and the team is still there with three games remaining. Time has run out, though, with Watford on 22 points — 12 from safety.
Burnley might yet join Watford and already-relegated Norwich in the Championship after losing at home to Aston Villa 3-1 for its first defeat under interim manager Mike Jackson.
It left Burnley two points clear of third-to-last Everton, which has two games in hand — the first at Leicester on Sunday.
Brentford, though, can start preparing for another season in the Premier League after beating Southampton 3-0 in its first top-flight campaign since 1947.