The great Premier League title race disruptor was at it again as Tottenham manager Antonio Conte achieved what was starting to look impossible and stopped the Liverpool steamroller in its tracks.

Conte is an elite manager who is perfectly suited to elite games and a deserved 1-1 draw at Anfield was testimony to the Italian’s tactical and organisational skill, putting a twist into the season’s league climax.

It is not the first time he has thrown a spanner in the title works, having led Spurs to a 3-2 win at Manchester City in February. He has now overseen two draws against Liverpool, and the north London club are undefeated in their four league games against arguably Europe’s two top sides.

There was a sense of anti-climax around Anfield at the final whistle. That the home fans were subdued was understandable given the game began draped in an air of celebration in the wake of Liverpool reaching the Champions League final, where they will meet Real Madrid in Paris.

It has for several weeks been a case of who would blink first between Liverpool and City and it was Jurgen Klopp’s side who dropped points – but this was as much down to the excellence of Spurs as a rare night when they failed to touch their usual heights.

In the wider context, it was a result that was not ideal for either team, as City have the opportunity to strengthen their position and return to an enhanced position at the top of the table against Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, while Arsenal can assert their authority in the race for the top four at home to struggling Leeds United. The Gunners currently stand in fourth place, a point ahead of Spurs, who have played a game more.

Son
Son Heung-min is the fifth player to score 20 Premier League goals for Spurs in a season

Spurs, however, will be happier with the draw because any point at Anfield is precious with Liverpool such a fearsome proposition. The manner in which Spurs acquitted themselves should give them huge confidence about where they could end up if they keep Conte.

Liverpool were not at their best and looked tired late on, the expected surge in front of the Kop once Luis Diaz levelled Son Heung-min’s opener with 16 minutes left failing to materialise.

Spurs actually had the best chance in the closing seconds when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg failed to realise what time and space he had in front of the exposed Alisson Becker, doing neither one thing nor the other when faced with the choice of heading on target or finding the unmarked Harry Kane.

Klopp was unable to indulge in his traditional celebratory fist pump in front of the home fans after the final whistle but he will know this title race is not over yet. The pressure now shifts to City to cash in on the window of opportunity Liverpool have opened for them.

Liverpool
Liverpool and PSG are the only teams in Europe’s top five leagues to be unbeaten at home in the league this season

For Spurs, the need to back Conte and keep him in north London was emphasised by how he organised his side to carry out their Anfield task with fierce discipline, defensive courage, streetwise game management and a genuine threat on the counter-attack.

And, with a full week to prepare for what is arguably football’s most formidable task at present, Conte showed once again he is a man with a plan and with the ability to get his players to carry it out to the letter.

It takes something special to unlock Liverpool’s defence and a sweeping move between Kane, Ryan Sessegnon and scorer Son delivered it after 56 minutes.

There is still talk that Conte may not be in it at Spurs for the long haul and there is no question he will demand serious backing from chairman Daniel Levy to keep him happy.

The bottom line is Spurs will get no-one better than the Italian, a world-class manager who would be coveted by any of the major football powers seeking a coach or manager – apart from Manchester United, obviously, as they bizarrely decided this fiercely-driven winner was not for them.

Yes, Conte is unquestionably high maintenance – as his previous clubs would testify – but he is proven at the highest level and Spurs might realise he only wants what they and their supporters desire, namely success.

As for Liverpool, they are still in a golden spell, with appearances in the FA Cup final and Champions League final to come within three weeks and with three games left in the title race.

City might be in a stronger position but this result demonstrates there could still be twists to come and Guardiola’s side have to demonstrate they have recovered from the trauma of letting a Champions League final place that was in their hands slip away at the Bernabeu.

Liverpool will not be going away on the back on one draw – now it is over to Manchester City.

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