The first matchweek of the New Year is in the books, and it was yet another tumultuous one for the Reds. Several key fixtures featured, such as Aston Villa at Manchester United and Manchester City at Chelsea.
Our rivals had favorable results, with both Manchester clubs winning all three points. Leicester and Tottenham also notched victories as all the title hopefuls pile pressure on Liverpool, who lost 1-0 to Southampton.
Beyond the utter disappointment from Liverpool, let’s look back at what we learned this week in the Premier League.
No Such Thing as Dominance
After Liverpool’s defeat to Southampton, that leaves the Reds with just two points from their last nine. Draws against West Brom and Newcastle and a loss to Southampton have removed Liverpool from the driver’s seat. Both Man City and Man United can take top spot if they win their games in hand.
Most expected Liverpool to add nine points to their league leading total after Christmas, but now the champions find themselves off the pace. With multiple key injuries in the squad, Liverpool has struggled to maintain a consistent form thus far.
However, this is not a problem unique to the Reds. Both Aston Villa and Everton have struggled to continue their winning ways after impressive starts to the season. And both Manchester clubs struggled at the start of the season before coming in to form recently.
There will not be a 90+ point champion this season. Issues will arise for other clubs as well. But if Liverpool wants to retain their title, they need to get back to winning ways before the Manchester clubs leave them in the dust.
Spurs’ Shining Duo
Not exactly breaking news, but it has to be said just how good Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are playing. Both players scored and assisted a goal against Leeds United on Saturday, the fourth time this season both scored and assisted.
That brings Harry Kane to 10 goals and 11 assists on the season, the first time he has reached double-digit assists. One of my biggest criticisms of Kane was that he was a pure target man that didn’t offer much else. Now that he has turned provider, much thanks to clinical finishing from Son, Kane has transformed into the complete package.
Son is currently on pace to his best season in the Premier League since the 16/17 season. Only two goals behind his single season-record, Son has shown no signs of slowing up. His partnership with Kane is peaking and together they have kept Tottenham in the title race so far.
There is no doubt both players are going to shatter personal and league records this season. But will it be enough to bring Tottenham to the title over other contenders?
January 17th: Mark the Date
Liverpool vs Man United at Anfield. The biggest rivalry in the entire sport gets even bigger with title implications larger than ever. Assuming both sides win their fixtures leading into the derby, it will be a must-win match for the Reds. A loss would give United (and potentially City) a sizable gap over Liverpool at the top of the table.
Since losing to Arsenal at the start of November, United haven’t lost a match in the Premier League. Draws against Leicester and Manchester City are the only blemishes on their near perfect run.
United will be red hot while Liverpool will need to scramble to get back in form if they don’t want to be dealt a harsh blow in the title race. A big game from the big three is needed, and I have faith they will deliver. Injuries still weigh heavy, but if Thiago can get comfortable in the side, anything is possible.