Liverpool in charge heading into second half of Premier League

Six points clear at midway point of season, Reds look to stay unbeaten when they host Arsenal. Champions Manchester City try to get back on track after being overtaken in table by streaking Tottenham.


London (dpa) – The second half of the Premier League season kicks off this weekend with Liverpool suddenly enjoying a comfortable lead at the top of the table.
The unbeaten Reds have taken advantage of recent slip-up by champions Manchester City to go six points clear heading into Saturday's meeting with Arsenal at Anfield.
The Gunners are one of only three teams to take points from Juergen Klopp's team this season following a 1-1 draw in London in November.
But recent history hasn't been kind as Liverpool are unbeaten in their last seven league meetings with Arsenal and haven't lost to them at home since 2012.
With a showdown with City to follow on January 3, Klopp knows the title chase can tighten very quickly.
“It means nothing,” he said of his team's lead. “We play Arsenal and City so it’s good that we have six or seven points more than other teams.
“There’s a long way to go and we all know that.
“We have to win our games, we have to be focused, we need to be really in the mood with having tunnel vision.
"That’s really important and then we will see where it leads us.”
City, meanwhile, are in a bit of crisis as 2018 draws to a close.
After sitting top most of the season, Pep Guardiola's side have lost three of four in the league to fall seven points off the pace.
A second consecutive defeat at Leicester on Wednesday dropped them to third behind Tottenham Hotspur ahead of Sunday's game at Southampton.
"Liverpool and Tottenham deserve it, they win games and we don't, the gap is increased,” Guardiola said.
“Last season we had a big gap, this season Liverpool and Tottenham are very good.
“We have finished the first half of the season, we have enough points to be champions but the other teams make more, they are better than us at the moment.”
Tottenham quietly have thrown themselves into the title chase. 
Spurs have won five straight in the league but Mauricio Pochettino remains cautious heading into his side's game with Wolverhampton.
"We are in a very good position, but Liverpool and Manchester City are the real contenders,” the Tottenham manager said.
“It is one thing to be a point above them, but Manchester City are the reigning champions and Liverpool are doing fantastic.
“We are between them and there is still a lot of work to do.”
Fourth-placed Chelsea can strengthen their grip on the final Champions League qualifying spot at Crystal Palace, while Manchester United shoot for a third straight win under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when they host Bournemouth.
“You don’t change anything in one week, but you change the mindset,” Solskjaer said following Wednesday's 3-1 win over Huddersfield.
“It’s a work in progress, that’s what it is. It will improve as time goes on.”
The league's bottom two teams face off when Huddersfield visit Fulham, Brighton host Everton, Leicester take on Cardiff, Watford face Newcastle and West Ham are at Burnley in the weekend's remaining fixtures.

Thursday, December 27th 2018
By Bob Bensch,

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