Reds keep pressure on City, Conte suffers 12-year low in Spurs stumble

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Everything was set up at Turf Moor for Liverpool to drop vital points against Burnley in their improbable attempt to reel in Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Then salvation came in the unlikely form of Fabinho.

Or perhaps not so unlikely as the defensive midfielder’s scruffy winner in the 1-0 victory on Sunday was actually his fifth goal in his last seven games in all competitions.

“I am surprised at my form,” Fabinho, a player known for his tackles rather than goals, said with a smile.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was just pleased that his side passed the fierce examination against the league’s last-placed team, who didn’t really play like it.

“Everything today was set up to be a banana skin for us,” Klopp said. “The balls in the air were so tricky to defend because the wind came from all directions. We played the circumstances rather than suffered from them.

“We like each other, we respect each other. We had to work incredibly hard and that is what the boys did. We made our shirts dirty.”

The Reds aren’t letting up in their pursuit of City.

The lead is back down to nine points between the top two and Liverpool have a game in hand, at home to struggling Leeds on February 23. Crucially, Klopp’s team also have to play at City in April.

Liverpool have quietly put an impressive streak together, winning six in a row in all competitions and losing just once since November 7.

Elsewhere, a couple of free kicks from Kieran Trippier helped Newcastle pull clear of the relegation zone at St James’ Park.

His first was in a 3-1 win over Everton on Tuesday and on Sunday, he smashed one through the defensive wall, via a slight deflection, and high into the net to earn his team a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa.

Newcastle, boosted by five arrivals – including Trippier – in January thanks to the recent Saudi-funded buyout, have now won three straight league games and are four points clear of the bottom three.

Wolves were Sunday’s big winners in the race to finish in the top four as they earned a 2-0 win at defensively hapless Tottenham.

Wolves scored both their goals in the opening 18 minutes, through Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker, with Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris at fault for both.

It was the first time that Tottenham manager Antonio Conte had lost three straight league games in any competition in 12 years.

Spurs, loudly booed off at full-time, dropped to eighth place, five points adrift of the Champions League places.

“We created chances but in the end we are talking about another defeat. We have to work and to know it won’t be easy for us. It’s difficult to explain the way we started,” Conte said.

It moved Wolves above Spurs and into seventh place, four points off fourth-placed West Ham.

A few hours later, West Ham drew 2-2 at Leicester and are clinging onto the final Champions League qualification spot, a point ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United. Arsenal are in sixth, two points behind West Ham but with three games in hand on their London rivals.

Jarrod Bowen’s seventh goal in his last seven games put West Ham ahead but Leicester turned the game around thanks to Youri Tielemans’ penalty on the stroke of halftime and Ricardo Pereira’s 57th-minute header, before Craig Dawson bundled in an equaliser in stoppage time.

Kurt Zouma was named in West Ham’s starting line-up but pulled out during the warm-up, having complained of feeling unwell.

The France international had been jeered by fans for the second straight game after being filmed kicking and slapping a cat, conduct which is the subject of an animal-abuse inquiry and led to him being fined two weeks’ salary and losing his sponsorship deal with Adidas.

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