Friday 17 January 2020

Balance of power still with Pool

Despite dropping points at Old Trafford, league leaders are still miles ahead of Manchester United

Despite dropping points at Old Trafford, league leaders are still miles ahead of Manchester United
Despite dropping points at Old Trafford, league leaders are still miles ahead of Manchester United

They played out a draw last weekend but Liverpool are still so far ahead of Manchester United that nothing has changed in the balance of power in the Premier League.

Even though United took points off Liverpool, I still feel that it's just been a one-off result for United.

They can get a draw at home to Liverpool but they could easily go to Norwich on Sunday and lose. They don't have enough quality players in their squad where they can go on a run, winning 10 or 12 in a row.

You might get a good performance against one of your rivals but in terms of consistency and being able to challenge for trophies, United are miles behind Liverpool and Manchester City.

There is a long way to go in the season for Liverpool and, for me, their big test will be around Christmas when you have so many games.

The FA Cup comes along, the World Club Championship and they will have hard times to come - the period between now and January is huge for them.

Liverpool have to play Manchester City in a couple of weeks and they need to go into that game looking to extend their lead, not just consolidate what they already have, so it will be a test but the draw with United last won't have dented their confidence in any way.

In hindsight, the point away to United was a decent result. The Red Devils had a free week with the international games to prepare and focus on the game, they came up with a tactic where they'd play on the break and try to nick something, the way they did against Chelsea at the start of the season, so it was difficult for Liverpool and they didn't have much space to play.

Liverpool didn't play exceptionally well but with the point at Old Trafford and the win in Europe a few days later, it was a good enough week for them.

Going away to Belgium and coming home with a win was good.

There was a sense of frustration from the Liverpool camp just after the draw away to Manchester United, but I think they'll look back on it now and see it as a good result.


Liverpool were on such a good run but then you have the international break, that disrupts your rhythm, I am sure Jurgen Klopp feels that if they had played United without the break they'd have beaten them.

When the players come back from the internationals, there is that disruption, and you end up getting a day where everything doesn't go your way, as happened in the 1-1 draw. Liverpool went out with the intention of battering United and scoring lots of goals and when the match doesn't pan out like that you get frustrated. I could see the frustration in the Anfield side.

But the main thing is that they didn't get beaten, and that was a game Liverpool could have lost. The match could have just drifted away from them as the league leaders were doing some stupid things, but they worked their way to scoring a goal, and if they could have played another 10 minutes they'd have scored a winner, so that's the frustration for Liverpool. They felt they needed to win the game but had to settle for a point.

The whole aspect of VAR on the day was frustrating, the goal move was started by a Victor Lindelof challenge on Divock Origi, which was a foul - a clear foul. VAR is crazy, you are watching so many decisions where you assume the officials will change their minds and they don't. Some people feel that it will balance itself out over the course of a season in terms of good luck and bad luck but that's not happening.

I'd expect Liverpool to beat Spurs this weekend.

Tottenham don't look themselves at the moment, it's hard to know what exactly is wrong but they don't seem to have any fluidity about them.

Harry Kane hasn't scored many goals in the league and we know from Spurs' recent history that when he goes off the boil or isn't fit, Tottenham are not the same team.

Their focus has to be on getting Kane back to his best, he scored a brace in midweek in the Champions League but for them to be up where they have been, they need a fully fit and confident Kane.

Chelsea are a very enjoyable side to watch right now and it's not often I'd have said that over the last few years.

There's a youthful vigour to them right now that has them scoring goals and winning games, and beating Ajax in midweek will do so much for the confidence of a young squad.

Those Chelsea players will enjoy that run, they'll draw confidence from winning games - the other side of that with young players is that a defeat can shatter that belief and bring you back down a level, but for the moment they've had a great start to the season.

Compared to Manchester United and Arsenal, they are on the right path at the minute, they seem to be the 'Best of the Rest' when you leave out Liverpool and Manchester City.

Chelsea, under Frank Lampard, are in a much better place than United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and that's why the 1-1 draw last week shows that not much has changed.

United have fallen way behind and have a long, long way to go before they can catch up with the likes of Liverpool.

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