Liverpool Snatch Late Winner vs. Tottenham to Go Top of Premier League

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2019

Tottenham Hotspur's Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen (L) vies with Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (R) during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 31, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

On a last-minute own goal from Toby Alderweireld, Liverpool moved back to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Sunday.  

In arguably their toughest remaining game of the 2018-19 league season, the Reds earned victory thanks to Roberto Firmino's first-half strike and Alderweireld's late calamity.

It had looked as though Liverpool would drop two points when Lucas Moura equalised with 20 minutes to go.

But Hugo Lloris' inability to deal with Mohamed Salah's header in the dying minutes of normal time (which led to the own goal) sent Anfield into rapture. 

Liverpool have played a game more than second-place Manchester City, but the Reds' only remaining game against a top-six side is at home to Chelsea on April 14. The champions have back-to-back matches with Spurs and Manchester United thereafter.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are in serious danger of dropping out the top four after going five league games without a win.


Liverpool Are Title Favourites Despite City's Advantage

Sunday's result has put Liverpool in the driving seat in the title race despite City having a game in hand. 

It will be a concern that City are likely to go back into the lead when they host Cardiff City on Wednesday, but Liverpool's run-in means they retain the edge.

Liverpool's toughest remaining game is at home to a Chelsea side who looked remarkably poor despite their win against Cardiff earlier on Sunday:

Oliver Harbord @ojharbord

Some post match thoughts. A lucky escape for Maurizio Sarri and Chelsea. #cfc https://t.co/R0XcPE8YpV

Otherwise they face matches almost exclusively against bottom-half sides—Southampton, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United—as well as a Wolverhampton Wanderers team who will have little to play for on the final day of the season. 

Not only could Liverpool take maximum points from their final six games, they could also potentially make up the seven-goal gap in goal difference to City.

The Sky Blues, meanwhile, still face fixtures against Spurs and Manchester United.

Liverpool have not played the same free-flowing attacking football this campaign as they did in 2018-19.

But their defensive solidity has been remarkable, as has their tendency to share around the magic moments.

Salah's recent goal drought has barely been noticeable as Sadio Mane's form has been so good.

And on Sunday, when the Senegalese forward was not at his best, Firmino provided the opener instead, all thanks to a magical ball from the remarkable Andy Robertson:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Andy Robertson’s first half vs. Spurs by numbers: 100% successful take-ons 100% tackles won 90% pass accuracy 6 ball recoveries 4/4 accurate long balls 1 big chance created 1 assist Top tier full-back. 👏👏👏 https://t.co/cyBHbaW7cT

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

9 - Andy Robertson has nine assists for @LFC in the Premier League this season; Andy Hinchliffe (1994-95) and Leighton Baines (2010-11) are the only defenders to have had more in a single campaign (both 11). Delivery. #LIVTOT

Having found himself in plenty of room on the left flank, Robertson put it on a plate for his Brazilian team-mate to slot home.

Liverpool then found a way to win despite being pegged back by Moura's goal following a quickly taken free-kick from Harry Kane.

It was scrappy, and Lloris should have held Salah's header rather than palming it into Alderweireld's path.

But it could well be the goal that ends Liverpool's 29-year title drought. 


Slumping Spurs Will Miss Out on Top 4

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 31:  Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur chases Andrew Robertson of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on March 31, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Bott
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Spurs are in crisis and are heading in only one direction: down the Premier League table.

They will drop to fourth if Arsenal beat Newcastle United at home on Monday, and fifth place then looks to be beckoning given Tottenham's form compared to Manchester United's.

Spurs looked well set to be potential title challengers before they played Burnley on February 23.

They have now picked up just one point in their last five Premier League games.

On Sunday they were tactically unbalanced at the start of the game, and Mauricio Pochettino's decision to start with a back three led to Liverpool's opener as it meant Robertson had space on the left.

After changing their system, Spurs then rallied well and could have won the game had Moussa Sissoko not ballooned a fantastic chance over the bar late on:

Huw Davies @thehuwdavies

I know he has improved, and I know Van Dijk handled that perfectly, but did anyone, for one moment, think Sissoko was going to score there?

But an individual error ended up costing them, and fatigue looks to be getting to many of Tottenham's stars.

The north London side could barely have picked a worse time to enter a slump, and they do not look likely to pull themselves out of it any time soon.

Missing out on the top four is the inevitable outcome.


What's Next?

Tottenham are back in action on Wednesday, when they host Crystal Palace. Liverpool visit Southampton on Friday.