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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Liverpool highlight their Premier League title credentials

Five things we learned from this weekend's football

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are on the charge
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1 Liverpool are the real deal
Victories over West Ham, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Leicester were expected, but Liverpool announced themselves with their 2-1 victory against Tottenham at Wembley, which could go down as the most unflattering scoreline of the season.

Jurgen Klopp's side could have easily scored six or seven goals against Mauricio Pochettino's outfit and the ease with which they cut Spurs apart should send shivers down the spine of every other team in the top flight.

Their defence was rarely troubled and while much is made of their resources up front, it was an excellent midfield display.

It is difficult to see teams holding them at bay and their wait for their first title since 1990 could be about to end. Expect them to push Manchester City all the way.

2 Tottenham's season is at a crossroads
It's easy to overreact but Spurs' defeat at Watford before the international break cannot be regarded as a blip. They were poor on Saturday and deserved to be defeated by a much heftier margin.

The defenders plainly have little confidence in Michel Vorm's ability to command his box - his shot-stopping was pretty good - but the stand-in goalkeeper can't be blamed for everything.

Passes were sloppy but probably the most disconcerting aspect was that Spurs suddenly had square pegs in round holes, which has been an alien concept for Tottenham under Pochettino.

Eric Dier was lost and error-prone and there cannot be room for him, Mousa Dembele and Harry Winks, while Christian Eriksen was ineffective and Harry Kane needs a fortnight on a beach.

Their performance on Saturday has to provide a wake-up call and with Inter to face in the Champions League on Tuesday, there is little time for them to get going. 

3 Eden Hazard is a worthy player-of-the-year favourite
If Tottenham's England and Belgium contingent look jaded after the demands of the World Cup, Chelsea's Eden Hazard seems anything but.

The quality with which he took the first goal of his hat-trick against Cardiff was evidence of a top player at the peak of his powers, now unshackled by the management style of Maurizio Sarri.

Along with perhaps Harry Kane, he is the one talismanic player among those looking to challenge for the honour and because he stands out so much as an individual - and his fellow Belgian Kevin De Bruyne is sidelined - the 5-1 about him being PFA player of the year looks a big price.

4 Newcastle need to be more confident
The Magpies went toe-to-toe in the first half of their clash with Arsenal, but they slumped after conceding the first goal and never looked like getting back into the game.

After home defeats to Tottenham, Chelsea and now the Gunners, there seems a lack of belief that they can challenge these teams once the chips are down, and that has to be a worry with only one point earned in their six matches.

They should look at how Watford have performed in recent home matches against Tottenham and Manchester United and take inspiration from them.

5 Charlton's strikers could be the envy of Sky Bet League One
The Addicks claimed their third successive win with a 2-0 success at Bradford and strikers Lyle Taylor and Karlan Ahearne-Grant, both of whom scored, are looking the part.

Taylor has netted five goals already and Grant is brimming with confidence after returning from a decent loan spell at Crawley.

If they kick on, Charlton should at least be looking at getting into the playoffs again, despite their continuing problems off the field.

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Tottenham's defenders plainly have little confidence in Michel Vorm's ability to command his box
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