19, January 2020
Liverpool’s march towards the Premier League title gathered pace with a 2-0 win over rivals Manchester United.
The battle for top four places was at a standstill after Chelsea, United and Leicester were beaten, while Tottenham and Arsenal had to settle for draws.
AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from the English top-flight this weekend:
Liverpool let loose
Not until Mohamed Salah sealed another three points in Liverpool’s relentless run towards the title against Manchester United with virtually the last kick of the game did the Kop strike up a chorus of “we’re going to win the league.”
After a 30-year wait to win the title, punctuated by collapses from promising positions, the fear it could slip away again has all but evaporated at Anfield as Liverpool streak further clear of the field.
The lead now stands at 16 points with a game in hand over second-placed Manchester City.
For a side that have taken 91 points from the last possible 93 in the Premier League, and won a Champions League in that time, that is an advantage that is almost certain to not be surrendered.
Lampard eyes reinforcements
Frustrated by Chelsea’s lack of killer instinct, Frank Lampard’s patience finally wore out after a damaging 1-0 defeat at Newcastle.
In a familiar story for Chelsea fans this season, they watched Lampard’s side dominate possession at St James’ Park, only to squander the few genuine chances they created before Isaac Hayden’s stoppage-time header won it for Newcastle.
Lampard had already bemoaned the paucity of Chelsea’s creative play against defensive opponents after several shock home defeats.
But now he made it clear his young team, featuring promising striker Tammy Abraham, need reinforcements if they are to hold onto a top four place.
“If we are looking for people to bring in to the areas to win games when you are controlling it, it is scoring goals,” Lampard said.
“We can’t work anymore in training on finishing. You need to have that killer instinct in front of goal.”
Spurs goal drought
Tottenham’s goals have dried up alarmingly as they contemplate missing out on the Champions League for the first time in five seasons.
Jose Mourinho’s men have failed to score in their past three league games, against Southampton, Liverpool and Watford, despite mustering a combined 41 shots.
They are still playing inventive football but are struggling to put their chances away in the absence of the injured Harry Kane and find themselves eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Tottenham squandered a number of opportunities in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Watford but Mourinho was largely positive afterwards, praising his side’s football, though admitting they had been light on forward power.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “Again it’s the kind of game where you have a goalscorer, where you have a guy who smells goals, probably you win it. That missing link is there.”
Mourinho admitted he would be interested in boosting his attacking options if the right player became available in the January transfer window.