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Man City the big winners as COVID-hit Liverpool slip up in Tottenham thriller



Was this the day the tide turned in the Premier League title race?

As Manchester City enjoyed a Sunday stroll on Tyneside, Chelsea stuttered in the west Midlands and Liverpool came unstuck after a chaotic clash in north London.

What an afternoon it was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Breathless, relentless, dramatic and controversial. English football at its best, some might say.

In the end, Jurgen Kloppโ€™s team may see their 2-2 draw as a point gained rather than two dropped. They certainly had to dig deep into those energy reserves, that “monster”ย mentality to ensure they left with a share of the spoils.

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Heavily depleted, without their entire first-choice midfield and with a 19-year-old making his first league start in the anchor role, the Reds rode their luck at times and cursed their luck at others. There will not have been many fingernails left unchewed in the away end, thatโ€™s for sure.

They finished with 10 men, Andy Robertson shown a straight red card for lashing out at Emerson Royal just eight minutes after giving his side the lead at 2-1. They will, though, wonder how Harry Kane escaped the same punishment for a wild lunge on Robertson in the first half.

England captain privileges, perhaps?

Klopp also felt, with some justification, his team should have had a penalty when Royal barged Diogo Jota over before halftime. No VAR check for that, which felt strange to say the least. It looked blatant.

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Jota had headed Liverpool level, his 10th league goal of the season cancelling out Kaneโ€™s well-crafted opener. Tottenham caused the visitors tons of problems with their counterattacks, and Kane, Son Heung-min and Dele Alli all might have extended the lead before Liverpool, as they always do, struck back.

When Robertson netted, reacting well to head in Trent Alexander-Arnoldโ€™s volleyed cross from close range, there were 21 minutes to go and a massive win was in sight.

But then Alisson Becker, who made a string of outstanding saves, missed his challenge as he slid out at the feet of Son, who gleefully leveled into an empty net.

Then came Robertsonโ€™s moment of madness, the red card awarded after referee Paul Tierney was advised to check his pitchside monitor. No real complaints there, other than the decisions which had preceded it. Tierney and his team had an afternoon to forget.

Liverpool held out for the draw, though might have stolen the win when Kostas Tsimikas was unable to pick out Mo Salah in injury time. Salahโ€™s run of scoring or assisting in 15 Premier League games in a row is over, by the way. The Egyptian endured a rare frustrating afternoon.

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And so Liverpool head into Christmas three points behind City, and having seen their considerable goal difference advantage wiped out in the space of a week.ย 

Of more concern, though, is the impact of coronavirus on Klopp’s squad heading into the festive period. Thiago Alcantara joined Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones in testing positive over the weekend, while Jordan Henderson was sent home from London with a cold (the Reds captain returned a negative test on Sunday).

Klopp said Liverpool wanted to play, and the club have been transparent in their communications about positive Covid tests, but with Leeds United to come on Boxing Day followed by Leicester away on Dec.ย 28, and then the prospect of a trip to Chelsea early in the New Year, surely things are only going to get worse before they get better.

Whether the Premier League will act remains to be seen โ€”ย there is a meeting of clubs scheduled for Monday, at which a “firebreak”ย will surely feature high on the agenda โ€” but for now one thing is for sure.

The big winners of this weekend play in light blue and come from the Etihad Stadium.



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