Liverpool slip to let City back in title race

Chelsea's victory halted the Reds' winning streak before Manuel Pellegrini's men hauled themselves back in reckoning - just another weekend in the world's most exciting league

Teng Kiat

On Sunday, Anfield, then Selhurst Park, both bore witness to 2-0 victories by the away side. Two similar scorelines that blew open the Premier League title race once again.

Liverpool’s misery at losing to Chelsea was compounded two hours later when Manchester City dispatched Crystal Palace, with both victors seeing off resurgent sides to ink another twist in a thrilling drama that has three more episodes left until its final conclusion.

Triumphant in 11 games before yesterday, Brendan Rodgers’s merry Reds side were seemingly bound for joyous celebrations. Did Jose Mourinho and his tactical masterclass – or some might say defensive bore-show – alter that ending? To be honest, no one knows, even as England’s top flight inches ever closer to its finish line.

After all, who could have foreseen Steven Gerrard’s costly slip? The Liverpool captain, having urged team-mates in a post-match huddle following victory over Norwich to exactly not do that, unfortunately stumbled and let Demba Ba in. The Senegalese made no mistake with only Simon Mignolet between him and the goal.

Ba was part of a supposedly weakened selection that wily Portuguese in the Blues dugout had threatened to field at Anfield. Mourinho got his tactics right yet again with Willian’s late breakaway goal sealing victory, which he claimed was his objective all along despite the stultifying means that was employed to achieve it.

Liverpool’s inability to break down the two parked buses, in the words of Rodgers, paved the way for City to steer themselves back on the road to glory. They took a wrong turn two games ago at Anfield, but Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure helped them regain their bearings and pull up alongside the league leaders.

It is yet another bump for the red half of Merseyside in their quest for a first-ever Premier League title. City has been there, done that. Whatever the experience, both would have preferred a canter to the crown. But there will be no fun in that. After all, the excitement is what keeps millions of fans in England and around the world transfixed from August to May every season.

The subplots are intertwined with the potholes, the highs very much tied to the lows, even down at the other parts of the table. The race for fourth spot is still on. The three relegation spaces have not been decided still. One would be hard pressed to find such a scenario elsewhere in Europe, where champions have emerged or are just mere formalities away. Ajax Amsterdam, Fenerbahce, Benfica have emulated Bayern Munich. Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are set to follow suit. Only La Liga can claim to rival the Premier League’s nervy finish.

For the neutrals, they will hope it goes down to the wire, to the last day of the league again. For the hearts of City and Liverpool supporters, this campaign probably cannot end soon enough. For Manchester United fans, it is likely to culminate in hangovers and a trip to a remote place where no one knows football.

Will Manuel Pellegrini be sending a case of champagne to Mourinho when it’s all over? Or will Gerrard be able to look back and laugh off that slip? I don't know. But I can’t wait to find out.