Sun | Dec 15, 2019

Reds in charge in EPL - Liverpool open up 11-point lead over Man City in title race

Published:Sunday | December 1, 2019 | 7:01 AM

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (right) fights for the ball against Brighton’s Steven Alzate (left) and Pascal Gross during the English Premier League match between Liverpool and Brighton at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, yesterday. Liverpool won 2-1.
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (right) fights for the ball against Brighton’s Steven Alzate (left) and Pascal Gross during the English Premier League match between Liverpool and Brighton at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, yesterday. Liverpool won 2-1.

Liverpool’s march to a first English league championship in 30 years is turning into a procession.

Manchester City certainly look in no state to stop it happening.

The gap between the two main title contenders in the Premier League grew to a remarkable 11 points yesterday, with a match-winning performance by Liverpool’s commanding centre back, Virgil van Dijk, highlighting the difference between the teams.

Hours after City’s shaky defence conceded an 88th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Newcastle, Van Dijk ventured forward to power home two headed goals from set pieces and led Liverpool to a 2-1 win over Brighton at Anfield.

Liverpool finished the match with 10 men after goalkeeper Alisson Becker was sent off in the 76th for handball outside the area, from which Brighton scored their goal from a free kick.

If third-placed Leicester, which were tied on points with Man City, fail to beat Everton today, Liverpool will own a double-figure lead after just 14 of the 38 rounds.

“We don’t think about these things,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “It was just to win this game.”

Even with their recent history of agonising misses in Premier League title races, the Reds would be hard-pushed to mess this one up – especially with their class of 2019-20 still unbeaten and having dropped only two points all season.

Kevin De Bruyne’s rasping strike that flew in off the crossbar gave City a 2-1 lead at Newcastle in the 82nd but it proved to be in vain as Jonjo Shelvey, a former Liverpool player, equalised after makeshift City centre back Fernandinho conceded a sloppy free kick.

Short in defence

How City, deprived of star centre back Aymeric Laporte because of a long-term knee injury, would love a defender like Van Dijk to shore up their creaky backline that’s also missing Vincent Kompany after the long-time captain’s departure at the end of last season.

“To concede the goals we did today was frustrating,” City defender John Stones said. “It’s something that is hard for me to explain.”

City failed to win at St. James’ Park for the second straight season. Pep Guardiola’s side lost 2-1 in January, which sparked a 14-match winning run that took City to the title – a point ahead of Liverpool.

City might have to go unbeaten for the rest of this season to even get close to threatening Liverpool this time round.

It’s three straight wins for Jose Mourinho as Tottenham manager – and much of that is down to Dele Alli.

The midfielder has been revitalised since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino last week, playing in a more attacking role close to striker Harry Kane. He starred in the 3-2 win at West Ham in Mourinho’s first game in charge, scored the goal that started Spurs’ recovery from 2-0 down in the 4-2 win over Olympiakos in the Champions League, and yesterday scored twice in a 3-2 win over Bournemouth.

“He plays in a position where he feels happy and comfortable,” Mourinho said of Alli. “We give him space for his creativity which he always has.”

Alli scored the opening two goals before Moussa Sissoko volleyed in a third. Harry Wilson netted twice late on but Spurs held on for a win that lifted them to fifth place, having been in 14th place when Mourinho took over.