Premier League title race: Mo Salah’s wonder goal puts Liverpool back on top
Manchester City remain two points behind but have a game in hand on the Reds
Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-0 to go back to the Premier League summit just hours after Manchester City had claimed top spot with a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.
The Reds are two points clear of City - having played a game more than their rivals - but they have the easier run-in with the Sky Blues hosting Tottenham on Saturday before travelling across town to take on Manchester United four days later.
“This pressure is incredible,” admitted City manager Pep Guardiola. “We think Liverpool are going to win all their games, but the Premier League position is in our hands.
“We have to win every game if we want to make back-to-back titles. We know that, and the players have shown they want to do it, and I didn’t have any doubts about that.”
Salah strikes gold
Liverpool, who hadn’t beaten Chelsea at Anfield since 2012, had to wait until six minutes into the second half to break down a resilient Blues side at Anfield on Sunday.
The goal came from the head of Sadio Mane, and if it brought relief, what happened two minutes later brought down the house.
Mohamed Salah scored his 19th goal of the season with a blistering left-footed drive into the top corner of the Chelsea net, a strike that had Jurgen Klopp purring.
“What a finish, what a shot!” exclaimed the Liverpool manager. “But the whole move around it, wow, brilliant.”
While Man City are doing battle with Spurs and United, Liverpool travel to relegation-threatened Cardiff and then host Huddersfield, who are already relegated.
Six points should be a formality and with their final two games against Newcastle (away) and Wolves (home), Klopp’s men could hardly have an easier end to the campaign.
“I’m so proud of the team, it was a fantastic performance,” said Klopp, who celebrated his 200th game in charge of Liverpool on Sunday.
“What a team, what a stadium, what an atmosphere. I’m so thankful I can be a part of this, it’s great. It’s just outstanding, very overwhelming at times.
“Well done, really well done, now let’s prepare for Porto [in the Champions League], Cardiff and whatever comes.”
In our hands
Guardiola, whose team also have the FA Cup final to look forward to, along with the Champions League, was similarly upbeat when asked about the final few weeks of the season.
“It was an incredible performance,” he said. “There’s five games left, it’s in our hands but if we just drop one or two points we won’t be champions, so we have to win all our games.”
There was also a bullish response from England forward Raheem Sterling, one of City’s goalscorers against Palace, who said of the title race: “It will go down to the wire. I don’t see us slowing down now. Liverpool have a great squad, great self-belief, but so do we.”
Top four fight
Chelsea remain fourth, behind Tottenham on goal difference, but they have played a game more than their London rivals, as they have Man Utd, in fifth. And the Blues’ failure to leave Anfield with any points could have further repercussions on Monday evening when Arsenal play Watford.
Should the Gunners win away at Vicarage Road they will move into fifth spot in the Premier League table, level on points with the Blues but with a game in hand on the Stamford Bridge club.
“It’s not easy of course but we have to fight to the end,” said Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri of the battle for Champions League places.
“It will be very hard for every team in the last month of the season. We can expect very strange results in last month because we are tiring like all the other teams.”
Premier League results
- Leicester City 0 Newcastle United 1
- Tottenham Hotspur 4 Huddersfield Town 0
- Brighton & Hove Albion 0 AFC Bournemouth 5
- Burnley 2 Cardiff City 0
- Fulham 2 Everton 0
- Southampton 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
- Manchester United 2 West Ham United 1
- Crystal Palace 1 Manchester City 3
- Liverpool 2 Chelsea 0
Premier League fixtures
Monday 15 April
- Watford vs. Arsenal (8pm, live on Sky Sports)
Tuesday 16 April
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Cardiff City (7.45pm)
Saturday 20 April (3pm unless stated)
- Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur (12.30, live on Sky Sports)
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Fulham
- Huddersfield Town vs. Watford
- West Ham United vs. Leicester City
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
- Newcastle United vs. Southampton (5.30pm, live on BT Sport)
Sunday 21 April
- Everton vs. Manchester United (1.30pm, live on Sky Sports)
- Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace (4pm)
- Cardiff City vs. Liverpool (4pm, live on Sky Sports)
Monday 22 April
- Chelsea vs. Burnley (8pm, live on Sky Sports)