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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Premier League: Familiar script, Liverpool and Manchester City fire up title race

City ease to a 3-1 win over Burnley and move up again to second, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference, and having played a game fewer than its two rivals

AP/PTI Liverpool Published 02.02.24, 07:04 AM
Juergen Klopp.

Juergen Klopp. File picture

Liverpool and Manchester City look primed and ready for another heavyweight clash for the English Premier League title.

Liverpool routed Chelsea 4-1 on Wednesday to restore a five-point lead for Juergen Klopp’s team atop the table before going to third-placed Arsenal this weekend.

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City eased to a 3-1 win over Burnley and moved up again to second, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference, and having played a game fewer than its two rivals.

With their fourth straight wins, the Premier League powers showcased deep squads, fast-improving young stars and, for City, the tentative return of feared forward Erling Haaland after nearly two months out injured.

Haaland came off the bench with City comfortably in a three-goal lead as Julian Alvarez again stepped up to lead the attack with two goals. The second was created by Kevin De Bruyne making his first start in the league since August.

For Liverpool, Diogo Jota again covered for the absence of Mohamed Salah and opened the scoring early against a poor Chelsea taking a pass from the impressive Conor Bradley.

Bradley, an unheralded 20-year-old right-back filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold, then scored his first goal for the club before assisting again for Dominik Szoboszlai to effectively seal the win in the 65th.

Liverpool had the luxury of forward Darwin Nunez missing a first-half penalty, one of a league record four times one player struck the frame of the goal in a game.

Man City edged Liverpool in epic duels for the title in 2019 and 2022, and north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are also currently in this race.

Tottenham scored three goals in eight second-half minutes to beat Brentford 3-2 and rise to fourth, trailing Liverpool by eight points.

Liverpool and Chelsea meet again in the League Cup final on February 25.

Maybe this time there will be a winner at Wembley Stadium within 90 minutes after the teams on Wednesday ended their streak of seven straight draws in games between them for the past 2 and half years.

Two of those seven were the English domestic cup finals in the 2021-22 season. Both the League Cup and FA Cup finals ended 0-0 before Liverpool won both penalty shootouts.

Just like two years ago, Liverpool are aiming for an unprecedented quadruple trophy sweep of each competition they entered. Also like two years ago, the league shapes up as the toughest to win with three-time defending champions Man City starting another of their mid-season surges.

On the day he turned 24, Julian Alvarez scored twice in the first 22 minutes to set Manchester City on their way to an easy win over Burnley. Rodri extended the lead 30 seconds after the second-half restart.

Manager ticks off Maddison

London: Tottenham Hotspur welcomed playmaker James Maddison back to their starting line-up for the first time in nearly three months and while he helped spark his side to a 3-2 win over Brentford on Wednesday he also got a ticking off from manager Ange Postecoglou.

Maddison, who suffered an ankle injury in November, was off the pace in the first half as a ragged Tottenham trailed 1-0, but looked more like his old self in a scintillating second-half display by the hosts.

Postecoglou accused his side of lacking discipline in the first half as they were clearly rattled by a Brentford side who took the lead through Neal Maupay’s 15th-minute effort.

“(Maddison) got more and more into the game and I think he’s one of the guilty ones who spent more time in the first half chatting to the ref than getting on the ball,” Postecoglou said.

“That’s not what we want him to do. We want him to play football and I thought in the second half his quality shone through.”

Reuters

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