LONDON (Reuters) - Talking points from the Premier League weekend:
If the weekend’s action at the bottom of the Premier League is anything to go by, managers, fans, owners and players are in for a nerve-shredding final third of the season.
While Norwich City’s 0-0 draw at Newcastle United left them five points adrift at the bottom they are not yet considered a lost cause. Above them resembles a relegation revolving door.
West Ham United led Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 and 3-1 on Saturday — with “live” tables showing them out of the relegation zone and Brighton in it. They ended up drawing 3-3, leaving them third from bottom and Brighton in 15th spot.
Likewise Watford blew a 2-0 lead at home to Everton, losing 3-2 to stall their revival and leave them second bottom.
Bournemouth, apparently in an uncontrollable downward spiral a couple of weeks ago, claimed a second successive win as they beat fellow strugglers Aston Villa despite playing nearly half the match with 10 men.
It all means that only three points separate 19th-placed Watford (23 points) and 15th-placed Brighton (26) while even the teams looking safe, such as Crystal Palace (30), Southampton (31), Newcastle United (31) and Burnley (31) will not be resting on their laurels yet.
So powerful is the aura Liverpool have built up this season that, even when not playing anywhere near their best, they are simply brushing teams aside, apparently in cruise control.
Southampton gave Juergen Klopp’s side a proper fight for most of Saturday’s clash at Anfield, yet still lost 4-0 with Mohamed Salah’s late double putting a gloss on the scoreline.
Liverpool have now collected 100 points from the last 102 available and with a 22-point lead over Manchester City, a first title for 30 years is now an inevitability.
They have records to break though. They have matched City’s 20 consecutive Premier League home wins and equalled Nottingham Forest’s 42-match unbeaten top-flight streak set in 1977-78.
When France World Cup winner Hugo Lloris suffered a serious elbow injury in October some Tottenham Hotspur fans believed his absence would have no great impact on the team — such was the erratic nature of the keeper’s form.
Manager Jose Mourinho did not hesitate to return a fit-again Lloris to the side, however, and in the two games he has played, both wins, he has looked much more like his old self.
Lloris was superb for Tottenham in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Manchester City, making a string of saves from Sergio Aguero and keeping out Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty. He looks refreshed and sharp which is good news for Tottenham, in their quest for a top-four finish, and France at this year’s Euros.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge