Liverpool, City keep the heat on each other – who’s going to blink first?

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It’s little wonder that we all miss the Premier League so much when it’s not around, with Sundays like this to savour. More intrigue than your average Agatha Christie in this season’s title-race, and both protagonists were putting it all on the line for our entertainment once again this afternoon.

First up were reigning champions Manchester City, visiting a massive potential banana-skin in the shape of Crystal Palace. The London outfit humbled City at the Etihad earlier in the season, courtesy in part to a ‘worldie’ from Andros Townsend, and if City were to nose back ahead of Liverpool a win was the only palatable outcome from those of a sky blue persuasion.

City habitually start well, and this was to be no exception. Within the first ten minutes Sterling missed an absolute howler of a sitter, after great work from the irrepressible Bernardo Silva. Guardiola fielded an extremely offensive-minded side, in direct contrast to the cautious approach taken at Spurs earlier in the week, and they didn’t have to wait long for their reward.

De Bruyne threaded a beautiful ball through to Sterling, who advanced under pressure into the box and lifted a smart cross-shot over the keeper and into the net. City had the lion’s share of possession and were fairly comfortable – one-nil at the break.

Palace had occasional moments, but in truth their performance just had the faintest whiff of ‘phew, we’re safe.’ If they were embroiled in the relegation dogfight one might have expected just a little more, but City kept them fairly expertly at bay for the most part.

63 minutes – a degree of security for City, as Raheem Sterling notches number 2 from close range after smart work from Leroy Sane, who looked much brighter than of late throughout. However – with ten minutes to go a free-kick was conceded to Palace just outside the City box. Up stepped Milivojevic – free kicks, penalties, they all come the same to the Serbian midfielder – and he clipped a low one home out of Ederson’s reach as the wall crumbled untidily.

An uncomfortable few minutes for City should have ensued, but Palace couldn’t capitalise, and after a great break from KDB as normal time just about expired, substitute Jesus calmly tucked a precious ‘reliever’ away, and the Blues were home and hosed.

So – noses once again in front of Jurgen Klopp’s Red Army – but for how long? Chelsea visited Merseyside looking to keep their own top-four hopes secure, while nothing less that a win would take Liverpool back to the summit. Another gripping encounter looked assured.

The first half was tight, and Liverpool understandably saw more of the ball – 60/40 – but chances were few and far between. Only 2 corners in the half too, both for the home side. Lots of tension – not so much in the way of invention. 0-0 at the break.

Liverpool began the second period with plenty of urgency, and were soon rewarded. 50 minutes – Sadio Mane coolly nods in at the far post, and Anfield erupted after good work down the right from Henderson. Just two minutes later – Mo Salah cuts in from the right, and unleashes a left-peg thunderbolt into the far top corner. A magnificent strike – 2-0.

What a response. Salah played in the infamous ‘Gerrard slip’ match between the two sides five years ago – for Chelsea – and now he’s ensuring Liverpool go back to the top of the pile once again. Stunning stuff.

Chelsea rallied, and Hazard hit the post. It was now open, fast and furious. A fabulous second-half. There was plenty to admire, not least a brilliant display from Mane, but no further goals. 2-0, and the number one spot, once again, for Liverpool.

There was predictably a significant market reaction …

To win the Premier League

Man City 8/11

Liverpool 11/10

 

Top Four Finish

Spurs 1/5

Arsenal 4/5

Chelsea 5/4

Man Utd 9/4

 

Golden Boot

Mo Salah 7/4

Sergio Aguero 2/1

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 11/2

Sadio Mane 6/1

Raheem Sterling 12/1

 

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