LONDON: Chelsea condemned Liverpool to a fifth consecutive home league defeat as Tottenham and Everton both grabbed 1-0 wins to maintain the tight fight for Champions League top four slots.
Liverpool’s poor home form is now a full-blown crisis as Chelsea’s 1-0 victory inflicted a fifth successive league defeat – the worst run in the club’s history.
It shows how far the defending champions have fallen that this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place but in reality there was only one side in the hunt and all it took was Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal to lift them back into the reckoning.
Chelsea’s last win at Anfield in 2014 effectively did for the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish.
Jurgen Klopp’s side, now four points adrift of that with Everton and West Ham ahead of them, have now gone more than 10 hours without a goal at Anfield, a testament to the old adage of ‘if you don’t shoot, you don’t score’.
The hosts failed to register a shot on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to test Edouard Mendy.
In the 42nd minute Chelsea were controlling the game and caught their opponents on the counter-attack when N’Golo Kante quickly swung a loose ball out to the left wing from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot.
Liverpool have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty.
Tottenham were the beneficiaries of the controversial handball law as they held on to a 1-0 win at Fulham that boosts their top-four hopes.
The International Football Association Board’s meeting on Friday could not be more timely after the Cottagers were denied an equaliser by a harsh handball rule in the second half.
After Spurs led in the first half through Tosin Adarabioyo’s own goal, Scott Parker’s men had the ball in the back of the net when Josh Maja fired home, but replays showed the ball cannoned into the hand of Mario Lemina from a Davinson Sanchez clearance when he was a matter of yards away.
VAR applied the laws and ruled the goal out, robbing Fulham of what would have been a worthy leveller and potentially having a huge impact on their quest for Premier League survival.
They did more than enough to take at least a point out of the game, completely dominating the second half but they could not find another way through.
It was far from convincing from Jose Mourinho’s side, but they held on to register an important win, staying in eighth position but moving four points off the top four.
The striker’s second-half header lifted the Toffees into the Premier League’s top four following a third straight win.
Victory ended the plucky Baggies’ mini-revival to keep them nine points from safety as they slipped further towards the trapdoor.
Everton moved into the Champions League spots, at least until Liverpool and Chelsea faced off later on Thursday night, after Richarlison’s fourth goal in four games.
They rode their luck at times against the energetic hosts, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side secured another win and third successive clean sheet.