LONDON, UK, April 11 – The Premier League title race is on a knife edge after Manchester City retained pole position with a thrilling 2-2 draw against closest challengers Liverpool.
Antonio Conte’s Tottenham revolution gathered pace with a 4-0 rout of Aston Villa boosting their top four, while Leeds should be safe after an impressive win at Watford.
AFP Sport looks back at three things we learned from the Premier League over the weekend:
Prize fighters cannot land a knockout blow
Manchester City and Liverpool traded blows in a thrilling Premier League heavyweight clash but neither could land the knockout blow that would have put them on course to clinch the title.
Leaders City are a point ahead of second-placed Liverpool after goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus were canceled out by Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane.
It was the kind of high quality contest that underlined why both teams could claim to be the best in the world.
Liverpool could cement that argument if they can propel City to the title, but Reds boss Jurgen Klopp knows the defending champions will be hard to catch.
“It was an outstanding game of football. Two heavyweights biting into each other. It’s crazy the intensity. A completely different level,” Klopp said.
“Both arms down for a second and you get a massive blow. Now we need to be as close to perfection as possible to win seven Premier League games. Mad!”
Guardiola agreed with Klopp’s assessment that only perfection would be enough to win the title, and he admitted it was frustrating not to kill their rivals.
“He loves his hitting games! No regrets, but I had the feeling that with this result we missed an opportunity, a feeling that we let them live,” Guardiola said.
Conte prepares for the task at Spurs
It’s been a curious season for Tottenham, who topped the Premier League table at the end of August before results plummeted and they parted ways with manager Nuno Espirito Santo.
Antonio Conte, who arrived in November, often appeared grumpy in the early weeks of his reign, making no secret of his displeasure with the club’s transfer policy.
But now the former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss is reinvigorated and smelling ‘blood’ after Spurs beat Aston Villa 4-0 to edge closer to a Champions League place next season.
Tottenham have won six of their last seven league games at a time when Arsenal and Manchester United have stumbled, both losing on Saturday.
Spurs have more firepower than their main rivals, with Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and January signing Dejan Kulusevski having had a devastating effect in recent weeks.
Tottenham – three points clear of Arsenal and six ahead of United – are now favorites to return to Europe’s elite club competition for the first time since the 2019/20 season.
“We had to show right now that you’re starting to smell your opponent’s blood and it’s important not to fail,” Conte said.
“For this reason, we work a lot on the mentality. Players give me great satisfaction in many ways.
Leeds walk away from danger
The Leeds hierarchy’s decision to do without the services of beloved manager Marcelo Bielsa was not popular, but their decision now looks sound.
Leeds, in their second season in the Premier League, were just two points clear of relegation when the Argentine was sacked at the end of February.
There was no immediate rebound under United States coach Jesse Marsch, but three wins from four games put the club nine points above danger and close to safety.
Fans chanted Marsch’s name in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Watford, which included goals from Raphinha, Rodrigo and Jack Harrison.
“I put so much emphasis on the team and us as a group and who we are and how we’re going to achieve things together and every time that draws attention to me, I don’t like it. necessarily,” says Marsch.