Even though a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham on Saturday took Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League on goal difference, it could be short-lived with title rivals due to play Newcastle at the Etihad on Sunday. If Manchester City bounce back from their dramatic midweek Champions League exit against Real Madrid by beating Eddie Howe’s team, they will move three points clear at the top with just three games to play.
All ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ right now, but Liverpool knew they had to keep winning to keep the heat on Pep Guardiola’s side, and the failure to win against an impressive Spurs team has given City a much-needed morale boost at the end of a draining week.
But for an inexplicable decision by Piererre-Emile Hojbjerg in the fifth minute of stoppage time, when the Spurs headed sideways rather than at goal from six yards, Liverpool could have lost this game and their first Premier League defeat since December.
Hojbjerg’s miss was significant for Spurs too. Had they won this game, Antonio Conte’s side would have moved ahead of Arsenal in the race for fourth. But the draw sees the Gunners remain a point ahead of their North London rivals and, if they beat Leeds at the Emirates on Sunday, will travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday knowing they can seal Champions League qualification with a win against their neighbors.
So, this pulsating game at Anfield ultimately ended with a draw that suits neither the two teams, but still keeps alive fading hopes of achieving their Premier League ambitions.
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“Obviously not the result we wanted, but the performance was, so with that I’m fine,” Klopp said. “It is incredibly difficult to play against an opponent with world class players and a world class manager when they have had a week to prepare and we play every three days.
“Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were completely rested, that is why it is so hard. That is why the Quadruple is so unlikely — there is a reason nobody has done it in this country. We will keep going.
“So the dressing room is not flying, come on, but there are other games to play. We just have to keep going.”
For Conte, there was a sense of frustration that his team failed to win the game, especially after Hojbjerg’s chance to seal victory late on.
“It’s not easy to play in this atmosphere,” Conte said. “It was difficult for my players with all the noise, but we played a good game and we had chances. We had a big, big chance in the final minutes and my players are disappointed. But they showed they have great desire and that is important for us.”