LIverpool: Klopp hails "unbelievable" Alisson goal
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Matthew Dunn addresses the main talking points to come out of the Premier League this weekend – Alisson’s ‘survival’ goal, Chelsea’s Premier League priority and Alli for the Euros
ALISSON’S GOLDEN GOAL WORTH MORE THAN SILVER
Alisson’s goal will probably become the defining moment of Liverpool’s season and show how much Champions League football has come to mean to the big Premier League clubs.
His sublime header did not win any trophies, but just like Jimmy Glass’s famous forerunner for Carlisle in 1999, it almost certainly means survival.
Survival in the Champions League. Qualifying to take part is now not a trophy, as Arsene Wenger always tried to claim. To some, it is more important than that.
And Alisson’s delight – and that of his team-mates -shows the Liverpool owners what it means to count yourself among the elite on sporting merit rather simply to book your usual table year on year regardless of whether you are worth it.
SHARED SPOILS WOULD SPOIL IT FOR NOBODY
Fans from both sides had had barely 24 hours to digest the implications of the FA Cup final, when it started to become clear that in the modern world Tuesday night’s rematch is arguably bigger.
With Liverpool ensuring a top four finish remains in their own hands, it now looks like a straight must-win game for Chelsea against Leicester at Stamford Bridge if they are to qualify for the Champions League, with any other nod giving the last place to the Foxes.
Both managers will have gone into the double-header wanting to win both games.
However, with hindsight, having seen what a first ever Cup success meant to Leicester, and knowing that from Day One Thomas Tuchel’s mission was to claim a place among Europe’s top clubs, if the spoils are to be shared then at least it will have fallen the right way for both clubs.
SNEAKING INTO THE EUROS BY THE BACK ALLI
What was this? Tottenham one goal to the good and still banging shots against the woodwork and eventually adding a second.
By BASKing in the glory of the Fantasy Formation of Bale, Alli, Son and Kane, Ryan Mason has given Spurs fans a taste of what they are dreaming of. And with speculation surrounding Kane, it might be last fleeting glimpse of a line-up for the ages.
If it was still the 2013 Gareth Bale and Dele Alli from 2017, Spurs’ season would have been very different indeed.
But at least these last more cossetted games of the season, away from Jose Mourinho’s abrasive abuse, have given both players a chance to rebuild some confidence.
Sadly for Bale it is unlikely to be enough to earn him a final-year Real Madrid swansong, so his summer looks uncertain.
But Alli is still just 25.
As he showed four seasons ago, he has the potential to be among the very best. And with his pace over five yards, his energy and, yes, that ‘devilment’ Mauricio Pochettino kept going on about, he offers something different.
Gareth Southgate has three places extra in his Euro 2020 squad that he was not expecting. Is it time to hold out the olive branch to Alli and see what he can do?
HAMMERS NEED TO NAIL TOP SEVEN
Too little, too late from Said Benrahma. His late equaliser against Brighton was probably not enough to keep West Ham in the hunt for a Champions League; certainly was not enough to keep him ahead of Alisson Becker in the scoring charts for long.
Since his arrival from Brentford, he has worked hard for the team and David Moyes has been consistent in his praise.
The problem was, when Michail Antonio got injured, Moyes was always going to need some sort of Plan B – and Benrahma has not been it.
So having hovered around the top four for so long, in the final furlongs West Ham are slipping.
With Declan Rice at least back they can hope to cling on to seventh.
That means the new Europa Conference League – a competition that admits the San Marino Cup winners and the third-best team in Gibraltar.
Not quite the destinations from Statford International station Karren Brady envisaged but an important European taster for a club slowly learning to take things one step a time.
PLAYERS TAKE A BOW
Hooray for the Premier League! When one team has already claimed the title and the other is safe from relegation, you could be forgiven for not expecting much.
But Newcastle and Manchester City continued what has been an enthralling season with a seven-goal thriller of absolutely no import – just the joy of a sporting spectacle swinging back and forth over the whole 90 minutes.
Great for the armchair fans but mouth-watering, too, for the supporters who finally get to support their clubs albeit in a largely meaningless two rounds of fixtures.
It will be great just to be back out there again.
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