Thursday 22 August 2019

Nerveless Liverpool won’t give up title fight – but United look a shambles

Divock Origi’s late winner against Newcastle took the Reds back to the top of the table – for the time being at least.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Jordan Henderson after the Premier League match at St James’ Park, Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates with Jordan Henderson after the Premier League match at St James’ Park, Newcastle (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Phil Casey, Press Association Sport

Manchester City and Liverpool remain locked in a nerve-jangling battle for the Premier League title as the season approaches its climax.

However, the scrap for Champions League places behind them is effectively settled after the chasing pack dropped more points.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at what we learned from the latest round of league fixtures.

Liverpool will not give up the fight

Just three days after a demoralising 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final, Jurgen Klopp’s side came through the latest test of their character with a 3-2 win at Newcastle, despite seeing Mohamed Salah carried from the pitch on a stretcher. The home side twice came from behind before substitute Divock Origi kept Liverpool’s title hopes alive with a late winner, taking them two points above Manchester City – who play Leicester on Monday – and ensuring the title battle will go to the final day of the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a major rebuilding task on his hands

ipanews_31032304-fa6d-4108-85dd-cf72d20fb805_embedded242689835
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during the Premier League match at the John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Solskjaer won his first eight games in charge after replacing Jose Mourinho, but the wheels have come off since he was handed the job on a permanent basis. Sunday’s 1-1 draw at relegated Huddersfield means United have failed to win any of their last five matches and cannot qualify for the Champions League next season. Asked after the game how far behind Manchester City and Liverpool his side are, Solskjaer said: “Many levels at the moment, but that’s the size of the challenge. It’s a great challenge for us and I’m sure we’re going to make it.”

Europa League holds key to Arsenal’s ambitions next season

Arsenal now almost certainly have to win the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League after being held to a 1-1 draw by Brighton, a result which means they have taken just one point from their last four Premier League games. Unai Emery’s side are in good shape in the Europa League semi-finals after beating Valencia 3-1 in the first leg and could face London rivals Chelsea in the final. But to qualify for the Champions League via the Premier League, the Gunners have to beat Burnley next week and hope Tottenham lose at home to Everton, all while making up a goal difference deficit of eight.

Goals = points

ipanews_31032304-fa6d-4108-85dd-cf72d20fb805_embedded242675369
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock reacts during the Premier League match at Cardiff City Stadium (Simon Galloway)

Cardiff’s relegation was confirmed on Saturday after they lost 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace. Neil Warnock’s side had numerous decisions go against them on the pitch and were also hit by the death of new striker Emiliano Sala, who was killed when the plane he was aboard crashed in the English channel on January 21. There is no way of knowing if Sala would have scored the goals required to keep the Bluebirds in the top flight, but there is no doubt that a lack of goals was costly. Only bottom side Huddersfield scored fewer goals than Cardiff, whose lack of firepower put too much pressure on their defence.

Harvey Elliott makes us all feel old

Elliott became the Premier League’s youngest ever player when he came on as an 88th-minute substitute in Fulham’s 1-0 defeat at Wolves at the age of 16 years and 30 days. The previous record was held by another Fulham player, Matthew Briggs, who made his Premier League debut aged 16 years and 68 days against Middlesbrough in May 2007. Elliott will be sitting his GCSE’s in a few weeks’ time, but Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker, himself a child prodigy, is predicting a bright future for the teenager. “He is a special talent, he’s one we are going to look after and nurture and we’re going to try to turn him into a top player,” Parker said.

PA Media

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport