This is now Liverpool’s Premier League title to lose

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LIVERPOOL — November 10 may be too early for the title race to be over, especially if you are Liverpool.

But boy, it feels like Jurgen Klopp‘s side already have one hand on the Premier League trophy.

Right now it is the gigantic elephant in the room for everyone connected with Liverpool.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

They beat Manchester City 3-1 at a raucous Anfield on Sunday to pull nine points clear of the reigning champions as they’re now 12 games unbeaten and eight points clear at the top. Everyone is ready to call them the champs.

“Other people have said, 100 percent, ‘from now on Liverpool can only lose it.’ That is a very negative approach. You can see it like this but I don’t care. I can promise you we don’t care,” Klopp explained afterwards. “Today we were completely focused on this game and not the situation in the table or whatever. How many points we are ahead of City or whatever. That is crazy! Nine points, you cannot imagine something like this happens. But it is not important.

“Who wants to be first in early November!? You want to be first in May. We all know that but we don’t have to say that because it is clear. We just try what we can and in the end we will see what happens. The pressure is not there yet. It will come. At the moment it is only opportunity, go for it, do the work, throw everything in and see what happens.”

With their lead now eight points atop the table, it would take a monumental collapse from Liverpool for them to not win their first league title since 1990. Luck is on their side, they are looking more ruthless than ever and other title rivals are suffering badly timed injuries or a loss of form.

The stars are aligning.

Liverpool have lost just once in their last 51 Premier League games. That defeat came at Man City in January, as Leroy Sane’s late goal effectively cost them the chance to win the title last season.

This season there will be no fine margins deciding the destination of the trophy. There are still six months and 26 games of the season to go, but I’m ready to call it.

Unless Liverpool lose Alisson, Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Fabinho all at the same time to lengthy injuries, they’re going to win the Premier League title.

Liverpool’s fans have been here many times before over the past 30 years. Under Roy Evans, Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers, and then Klopp last season.

Nobody connected to Liverpool wants to mention the ‘t word’ right now after all of their near misses. That was evident in and around the city before the game, as even when they welcomed Man City’s team bus to Anfield it was all a little subdued.

Stewards, fans, car parking attendants and those flipping burgers in the vans lining Anfield Road all have that same look in their eye as they smirk. They know they’re so close to the holy grail. But like a banker knowing the biggest deal of his career is 99 percent done, they remain wary of a late rival bid. There’s still a sense of foreboding hanging over Liverpool.

We can’t underestimate the mental strength needed to put aside the pressure Liverpool’s players are under. Even when they were 3-0 up and Bernardo Silva made it 3-1, there were moans and groans inside Anfield. Klopp tried to rally the crowd and liven them up to help get the team over the line. They did. But it was reminiscent of the nervousness shown at very points last season when they were top of the league.

Last season their seven-point lead evaporate due to draws against Leicester, West Ham, Man United and Everton. Liverpool had the title in their grasp but it slipped out, once again.

Even if they draw four games this season and win the rest, that will now be enough to win the title on goal difference at the very least. Man City would have to win all 26 of their remaining games and hope Liverpool slip up a few times. That probably isn’t going to happen, as Pep Guardiola is clearly more focused on winning the UEFA Champions League.

Why the sense of worry, then? Last season Liverpool didn’t have any real challengers outside of Man City. Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United and Arsenal were so far behind. This season Chelsea and Leicester City are much better equipped to take points off both Man City and Liverpool.

There will be twists and turns ahead but this Liverpool juggernaut, hardened by close calls in recent seasons, hurtles on.

An image of Klopp gleaming in front of the Kop at the end of the final home game on May 9 against Chelsea with the trophy balanced on his head just became something we expect. Unless you’re Liverpool.

The only thing that can stop them now is, once again, themselves.

Dele drives Spurs past Norwich City

Tottenham Hotspur match recap and highlights
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A win is a win, even if Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 home defeat of Norwich City was anything but convincing in London.

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Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son scored as Spurs climbed sixth in the table with 34 points.

Teemu Pukki scored for the spot for the Canaries, who remain dead last and six points off the safe spaces.


Three things we learned

1. Spurs can score in 2020: The Premier League had not been kind to Jose Mourinho’s men since a they twice came back in a 2-2 draw with these same Canaries at Carrow Road. In fact, Spurs went 315 Premier League minutes without a goal before Dele got his first half marker on Wednesday. Losses to Saints and Liverpool were joined by a weekend draw at Watford, so this win was vital (Spurs thrice scored over two FA Cup matches versus Middlesbrough).

2. Bounces go the way of Spurs: Norwich can forgive itself for feeling a bit snakebit considering how poor Spurs looked for most of the day. Dele’s shot or cross was deflected high toward the back post, where Heung-min Son was able to nod it over the line from extreme close-up range.

3. Serge Aurier shines: Bad Serge Aurier shows up quite a bit, but the full back had a great day on Wednesday. Aurier had an assist to go with two interceptions and three tackles. He was a menace and stuck into 50-50 battles, earning plaudits on the day.


Erik Lamela was lively early for Spurs, seeing a free kick deflected out for a corner and another chance saved by Tim Krul.

Dele put Spurs ahead when he lunged past Christoph Zimmermann to poke a Serge Aurier cross past Krul. Heung-min Son set up the play with a lay-off to the Ivorian.

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VAR was kind to Todd Cantwell early in the second half, as the sliding midfielder put his studs into Lamela and it was worth only a yellow card.

Spurs youngster Ryan Sessegnon fouled Max Aarons in the 68th to give Norwich a chance from the spot, and a long review did not lead to a reprieve. Pukki beat Lloris low and to the right for 1-1.

But Dele’s cross floated to Son for a back post winner and blushes were spared for Mourinho.

Leicester City smashes West Ham, loses Vardy

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Leicester City snapped a two-match losing run with a 4-1 defeat of West Ham United on Wednesday.

The third-place Foxes move to 48 points, but lost Jamie Vardy and Nampalys Mendy to first half injuries.

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Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira set each other up for goals and Ayoze Perez scored twice late in the win.

Mark Noble scored a penalty of his own for the losing side, whose 23 points are out of the drop zone on goal differential. The Irons have played one fewer match than everyone but Liverpool.


Three things we learned

1. Barnes rides high:  Harvey Barnes is having an uneven season in the Premier League, like many to just turn 22. But the youngster is certainly on an upswing, having scored in a weekend loss at Burnley and collecting a goal and an assist on Wednesday. His six assists lead the Foxes, and may just be the tip of the iceberg.

2. More of the same from West Ham (and that’s not good): David Moyes‘ West Ham looks a lot like Manuel Pellegrini‘s West Ham, which isn’t a surprise given the latter’s better reputation in recent seasons. It’s a draw and two losses since the 4-0 win over an abject Bournemouth, and the Irons’ match-in-hand on the relegation field is against Liverpool (who they still face twice). Felipe Anderson is set to miss a month and that won’t ease concerns either.

3. Vardy injury, defense a big concern: The league’s leading scorer got his leg stretched out on the pitch and was favoring his gluteal area in the first half, eventually limping off the field. Losing him would ask a lot of Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Foxes also would be wrong to overlook another goal conceded, even if it came by controversial penalty. Leicester has conceded in seven of eight league matches,  and five included multiple goals. It’s not a huge worry in a 4-1, but a trend indeed.

Man of the Match: Barnes.


Jamie Vardy cut into the box early but his first touch betrayed him and couldn’t get full power on a shot to Darren Randolph.

The in-form Barnes got the Foxes in front by turning a Ricardo Pereira dinked pass into the open goal.

An injury to Nampalys Mendy accelerated the return of Wilfred Ndidi to the pitch, the midfielder returning in the 34th minute.

Vardy was then forced off the pitch with an apparent back injury, bringing Kelechi Iheanacho into the fold in the 44th minute.

Barnes then returned the favor to Pereira, who whistled his effort into the goal in the fifth minute of first half stoppage time.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

But hold on.

Noble needed just five second half minutes to pull one back for David Moyes’ men, as Sebastien Haller won a suspect penalty off Ndidi.

Kasper Schmeichel made a fine save on Michail Antonio to keep it 2-1.

Leiceste regained control and looked the only threat to make it 3-1 after that, with Perez converted a penalty after Angelo Ogbonna fouled Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Nigerian forward then set up Perez for his second to salt away the win.

Leicester City’s Vardy limps off pitch versus West Ham

Jamie Vardy injury
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January is not being kind to English forwards.

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy limped off the pitch at King Power Stadium on Wednesday, an apparent upper leg injury the cause.

It was a non-contact injury, as Vardy pulled up lame after clearing the ball.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Kelechi Iheanacho replaced Vardy, who leads the Premier League Golden Boot race by one goal over Sergio Aguero.

Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham was injured in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, while Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford are all nursing long-term injuries.

That had led many to infer that England manager Gareth Southgate might ask Vardy to reconsider his international retirement, but here we are.

Leicester City is in the thick of a Top Four chase in the hopes of returning to the UEFA Champions League, and losing Vardy would be a monumental blow.

Griezmann’s second half brace saves Barcelona from shock upset in Ibiza

Barcelona survives Copa del Rey scare
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Like a college kid on Spring Break, Barcelona vastly underestimated the power of Ibiza.

One of the biggest clubs in the world had loads of trouble in its Copa del Rey Round of 32 meeting at UD Ibiza on Wednesday.

Barcelona barely got past the third-tier side thanks to two Antoine Griezmann goals and a comeback 2-1 win at the Estadi Municipal de Can Misses.

UD Ibiza playing in a 5,000-seat stadium, took a ninth-minute lead and had more shot attempts as late as the 65th minute. New manager Quique Setien was left to sweat it out.

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Somewhat fitting that a man named Pep got the early goal. Josep Caballe Martin has more yellow cards than goals in Segunda B this season.

Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, and an injured Luis Suarez were among the players left behind, but this wasn’t a massively depleted Barcelona side. Arturo Vidal and Jordi Alba were brought off the bench.

Frenkie de Jong set up Griezmann for a 72nd minute equalizer, and Griezmann added his second off an Alba feed in the fourth minute of stoppage time.