Liverpool, Spurs face crucial derby showdowns
As the Premier League title race gathers pace and the fight for top-four places heats up, two of English football’s biggest derbies will play a key role in the mounting drama.
Questions were asked about Liverpool‘s spluttering attack after four draws in five matches, including goalless stalemates with Manchester United and Bayern Munich, with suggestions they were cracking under the pressure of challenging for their first English crown since 1990.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side silenced the doubters with their biggest win in almost 12 months as Watford were demolished 5-0 at Anfield on Wednesday.
“To be fair, I always have that feeling that it will click. The belief is always there. We just have to make sure that it does click,” he said.
This time last season City were cruising towards a record-breaking Premier League title triumph that sucked all the drama out of the race.
But 12 months later, Pep Guardiola’s side are locked in a nail-biting sprint to the finish line with Liverpool and the City manager expects plenty more twists and turns before the trophy is lifted in May.
“We know with 10 games to go, many things are going to happen,” he said.
“I think we are going to drop points, Liverpool are going to drop points. So we are going to see, until the end.”
Asked to survey the wreckage of Tottenham‘s faltering title challenge, Mauricio Pochettino refused to condemn his team despite their latest high-stakes flop.
That setback followed hard on the heels of an equally frustrating 2-1 loss at Burnley, but while Pochettino concedes his team have played below their potential of late, the Argentine still believes they can muster an upbeat end to the season.
To do so, they desperately need to beat Arsenal, who are only four points behind their hated rivals after thrashing Bournemouth, and then ensure their progress to the Champions League quarter-finals in the last 16, second leg against Borussia Dortmund.
“Everyone from the beginning of the season should be satisfied with the possibility of playing against Arsenal at Wembley with the gap at four points. The pressure is on them, not only us,” Pochettino said.
Chelsea responded well to the turbulent few days as they produced one of their best performances of the season to give Sarri some breathing space.
The ray of sunshine could be banished if they lose against a Fulham side hoping the appointment of Scott Parker as caretaker replacement for the sacked Claudio Ranieri can spark a last-ditch bid to avoid relegation.
Fixtures (1500 GMT unless stated):