1 Mar 2009

Liverpool's Premier League hopes plummet

9:51 am on 1 March 2009

Liverpool's lingering Premier League title hopes virtually disappeared on Saturday when they lost 2-0 at Middlesbrough as the home side secured their first league win in 15 matches.

Liverpool's second league defeat of the season leaves them on 55 points, seven behind leaders Manchester United, who play Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup final on Sunday and now have a game in hand.

Chelsea climbed above Liverpool into second place on goal difference after an injury-time header by Frank Lampard gave them a 2-1 home win over Wigan Athletic.

Aston Villa, fourth on 51, host Stoke City on Sunday and Arsenal's chance of catching them suffered another setback when they were held at home by Fulham for their fourth successive goal-less Premier League draw.

Arsenal were booed off and are now just two points ahead of sixth-placed Everton, who beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0.

Liverpool's failure to win the league for 20 years while continuing to taste success in the Champions League has been encapsulated by their performances in the last week.

On Wednesday they humbled Real Madrid in their own stadium but that triumph was sandwiched between a 1-1 home draw with Manchester City and Saturday's defeat by a Middlesbrough team who had not managed a league goal since 10 January.