Liverpool loses control of title race after draw with Everton

AP, Reuters

Two months after blowing the chance to go 10 points clear, Liverpool isn’t even top of the Premier League any more.

With nine matches to go, the advantage is now back in the capable hands of defending champion Manchester City.

City is a point ahead of Liverpool thanks to its 1-0 win at Bournemouth on Saturday and Juergen Klopp’s side being held 0-0 by Everton on Sunday.

The stalemate wasn’t a blip in Liverpool’s quest to end a 29-year top-flight title drought, but the latest in a worrying trend for Klopp. His side has drawn four of its last six league matches to hand the initiative to Pep Guardiola’s City.

Blame the weather, not the players, according to Klopp.

“(A) very, very difficult game for different reasons,” Klopp told broadcaster Sky Sports. “A wild opponent and — I know people don’t like it when I say this — the wind came from all different directions, you saw that in a lot of situations.

“It didn’t help any football play, especially when the ball was in the air, which it was a lot. In a game that was difficult to control because of those things, we had I think three or four really big chances.”

It promises to be a tense and thrilling finale, but Liverpool, which has frittered away a seven-point lead, will need to regain its momentum quickly in order to push for its first league title since 1990.

“I’m completely fine with chasing,” said Klopp.

“Who wants to be top of the table at the beginning of March? It is nice but there are lots of games to play.”

The home crowd created an intense and passionate atmosphere at Goodison Park, something of a rare occurrence in another disappointing season for Merseyside’s blue half.

“It felt amazing in our stadium. Our fans were amazing and they pushed the team from the first minute,” said Everton’s Marco Silva.

Everton fans taunted Reds supporters at the end, suggesting that Liverpool was not going to win any trophies this season.

It’s not only the title race that has been transformed in recent weeks. The race for third and fourth place is now looking more open.

Tottenham’s grip on third spot has been weakened, with Manchester United three points behind.

And while Chelsea remains sixth, a 2-1 victory at relegation-threatened Fulham put Maurizio Sarri’s team one point behind Arsenal and within two of United, with a game in hand.

“We were trying to involve Tottenham in the fight (for fourth) and I think that now they are involved. So, better two teams for four places than three for one place,” Sarri said.