Liverpool uncover hole, Chelsea being frank, Covid break – Premier League talking points

Klopp thinks first-half decisions had impact on Liverpool’s draw at Spurs

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In an advert for putting your feet up this Christmas, Harry Kane’s were up so high they should not have touched a football pitch again until January if the officials had done their job properly. Instead, it is Manchester City who can relax going into Christmas after cruising through a weekend which saw their closest rivals stutter.

ARMBAND OF BROTHERS

Gary Lineker was never booked. Bryan Robson, in his Middlesbrough days, arrived so late with some tackles he was still wearing a United shirt. And Wayne Rooney’s famous f-word rant at Graham Poll without censure was a sure sign that one day he too would earn the protection that comes from the England captain’s armband.

Harry Kane’s challenge on Andy Robertson was a straight red – pure and simple.  Paul Tierney should have seen that on the pitch. If not, Chris Kavanagh should have told him to have another look from the VAR booth.

On his podcast, Peter Crouch credited another England captain, John Terry, with pioneering calling referees by their first names to cosy up to them and the only conclusion it is possible to reach from White Hart Lane is that the officials were just a little bit star-struck.

PARKING THE VAN

Liverpool had won their last 11 games without Virgil Van Dijk, suggesting they had finally come to terms with an absence that cost them so dear this time last year.

Not so.

Against Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, one of the most able strike forces in the Premier League – and revitalised, it seems, by Antonio Conte’s energy – Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate looked off the pace.

Tottenham could have been four ahead by the time Liverpool equalised and with Kane, Son and Alli pulling the trigger, usually you would expect it to be game over.

Ibrahima Konate was eventually signed to fill the chasm that appeared when Van Dijk was injured in October – but he still has some growing to do in the Premier League before he can plug the gap completely.

COVID BREAK

Tottenham’s clash with Liverpool was so much the shot in the arm football fans up and down the country so desperately need as we head into another period of pandemic uncertainty.

But the game’s top clubs meet today to discuss whether football can continue amid unprecedented levels of positive testing.

Football backed itself into a corner by insisting all seasons be fully complete, despite a World Cup hurtling in our direction that would give an already crammed fixture calendar nowhere to bend to take up the slack.

And yet the players are human beings and perhaps they deserve to go to work every day without the fear that they will be bringing back from the training ground a dose of Covid for Christmas. Not to mention the mass-spreading opportunities top games present.

We don’t have to give in to the pandemic, perhaps just show a little bit of common sense when it seems to have its nose in front. Maybe it is time for a break.

TUCHEL BEING FRANK

Just one win in five for Chelsea – the last time the club went through a run that bad, Frank Lampard had been sacked by the end of the month…

It was shortly after this that videos started to emerge of a more fiery Tuchel than the one we have seen so far, pulling no punches in bawling out players during his earlier days coaching in Germany.

Throughout his career, his man-management has been called into question when things are not going so well, and this period now with Chelsea is the first test of this.

Thankfully, when you have already delivered the Champions League for your dressing room, the players have to take on board what you say and there is no reason why Chelsea will not pull themselves out of this dip and challenge strongly again in the New Year.

TOP OF THE TREE

All of which leaves Manchester City three points clear at Christmas.

Since 2008-09 season, only one team who has led the table on December 25 has failed to win the title.

Indeed, Liverpool have made something of a speciality of it, throwing away leads after being top-dogs at Christmas in 2020, 2018, 2013 and 2008.

So that looks like another Pep Guardiola title all but gift-wrapped.

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