Conte – the great spoiler of the title race


Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp have drawn four of their six meetings

The big troublemaker in the Premier League title race was back as Tottenham manager Antonio Conte realized what was beginning to look impossible and stopped Liverpool’s steamroller in its tracks.

Conte is an elite manager who is perfectly suited to elite games and a deserved 1-1 draw at Anfield was testament to the Italian’s tactical and organizational skills, putting a spin on the league climax of the season .

It’s not the first time he’s thrown a wrench in the title, having led Spurs to a 3-2 victory at Manchester City in February. He has now overseen two draws against Liverpool, and the north London club are unbeaten in their four league games against arguably Europe’s top two sides.

There was a feeling of anti-climax around Anfield at the final whistle. That the home fans were overpowered was understandable given that the match started draped in a festive air after Liverpool reached the Champions League final, where they will meet Real Madrid in Paris.

It’s been a question of who will flash first between Liverpool and City for several weeks and it was Jurgen Klopp’s side who lost points – but that was as much down to Spurs’ excellence as to a rare night when they failed to hit their usual heights. .

In a wider context, it was a result that was not ideal for either team as City have the opportunity to strengthen their position and return to an improved position at the top of the table against Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, while Arsenal can assert their authority in the race for the top four at home to struggling Leeds United.

Son Heung-min is the fifth player to score 20 Premier League goals for Spurs in a season

Spurs, however, will be happier with the draw as any point at Anfield is valuable with Liverpool such a formidable proposition. The way Spurs acquitted themselves should give them a lot of confidence as to where they could end up if they keep Conte.

Liverpool weren’t at their best and looked tired late on, the expected push past the Kop once Luis Diaz equalized Son Heung-min’s opener with 16 minutes to go failed to materialise.

Spurs actually had the best chance in the final seconds when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg failed to realize the time and space he had in front of the exposed Alisson, doing neither thing against the choice to head for the target or find the unmarked Harry Kane.

Klopp was unable to indulge in his traditional celebratory fist-pump in front of the home fans after the final whistle, but he will know this title chase is not over. The pressure is now shifting to Manchester City to take advantage of the window of opportunity that Liverpool have opened up for them.

Liverpool and PSG are the only teams in Europe’s top five leagues to be unbeaten at home in the league this season.

For Spurs, the need to support Conte and keep him in north London was underscored by the way he organized his squad to carry out their task at Anfield with fierce discipline, defensive courage, skill management street game and a real threat in counterattack.

And, with a full week to prepare for what is arguably the most formidable task in football right now, Conte has shown once again that he is a man with a plan and with the ability to deliver. so that its players realize it to the letter.

It takes something special to unlock the Liverpool defense and a sweeping move between Kane, Ryan Sessegnon and striker Son delivered it after 56 minutes.

There is still talk that Conte may not be around for Spurs in the long run and there is no doubt that he will require some serious backing from chairman Daniel Levy to keep him happy.

The bottom line is that Spurs won’t get anyone better than the Italian, a world-class manager who would be coveted by one of football’s great powers looking for a coach or manager – apart from Manchester United, of course, because they oddly decided it fiercely. The motivated winner was not for them.

Yes, Conte is unquestionably high-maintenance – as his previous clubs would attest – but he has proven himself at the highest level and Spurs could find he only wants what they and their supporters want, at know success.

As for Liverpool, they are still in a golden spell, with appearances in the FA Cup final and Champions League final coming in three weeks and with three games to go in the title race.

City may be in a stronger position but this result shows there could still be twists and turns to come and Guardiola’s side need to demonstrate they have recovered from the trauma of dropping out. Champions League final that was in his hands to escape to the Bernabeu.

Liverpool won’t go on their backs on a draw – now it’s Manchester City’s turn.

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