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brennan's brief After two seasons of excellence, the Premier League has descended into a bad game of snakes and ladders

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Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the winner against Spurs at Anfield

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the winner against Spurs at Anfield

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino scores the winner against Spurs at Anfield

Did we see last night a decisive result in a Premier League title race that nobody seems to want to win?

After two seasons of sustained excellence in England's top-flight, this Covid-disrupted campaign had descended into a bad game of snakes and ladders. Just as one team makes a move, they fall back down again.

But last night, thanks to Bobby Firmino’s late header, Liverpool bounded three points clear of the chasing pack. Right now, in a mixed-up season that started a month late, a three-point lead seems like a chasm.

Two seasons ago, Manchester City and Liverpool thrilled us with a duel that brought the best out of two great teams. Last term, we could but admire the relentless return of the Anfield club to the summit of English football for the first time in three decades.

But this year? I mean, there are a growing number of Manchester United supporters who are seriously cheesed off with the club’s board and their manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and yet they are this morning only eight points off the top of the table with two matches in hand.

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Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his side's winner

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his side's winner

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring his side's winner

Interestingly, those two games are against teams currently in the relegation zone, Sheffield United – tonight – and Burnley, on a date to be arranged. Bad as they have been in so many games this season, Manchester United are right in the title race.

As for the rest? Well, it's a mess. Chelsea were really going well under Frank Lampard, but have lost their last two matches, admittedly tough away fixtures to Everton and Wolves.

Yet, even before those two defeats, the Stamford Bridge boys were anything but convincing – particularly in their victory over Leeds. They might have won the game, but Patrick Bamford put the Yorkshire side ahead with an early goal before missing a great chance to make it 2-0. If that second Bamford goal attempt had been converted, Chelsea could now be looking at three losses on the spin.

Manchester City couldn’t beat West Brom at home on Tuesday night. Two years ago, opponents of a similar stature would have been swatted aside. But the Sky Blues are not the same force.

Two key men, Vincent Kompany and David Silva, have left the club – while a third top man, striker Sergio Aguero, now misses more games than he plays through injury.

Back on Merseyside, Everton made a great start to the season and people were wondering if their wily manager, Carlo Ancelotti, had finally turned the sleeping giants into title contenders.

They had a great win at Leicester last night – and are now at least sniffing around a Champions League place. And of course, Leicester, had they won that match, would have led the table for a couple of hours anyway. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

And finally, of course, there's Spurs. Jose Mourinho was stretching it, in his usual way, when he said that his boys were the better team last night. What is not open to contradiction, however, is that Tottenham had three great chances to score when the game was tied at 1-1. Take even one of them and the Premier League table is very different than the one we look at today.

So maybe last night wasn’t a season-turning result. After all, in this campaign where teams are struggling for any consistency, we still haven’t even reached Christmas.

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