Ozil dropped as Arse­nal loses; Liver­pool leads by seven points

Gun­ners fall six points be­hind Chelsea, which holds fourth spot in Cham­pi­ons League

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Sports - ROB HAR­RIS

LON­DON — Trail­ing 1-0 in a dreary Lon­don derby, what Arse­nal man­ager Unai Emery needed was a cre­ative spark to in­spire a come­back at West Ham.

Me­sut Ozil, per­haps? The play­maker wasn’t in the start­ing lineup, but he wasn’t on the bench ei­ther. And he was not in­jured.

Arse­nal’s high­est-paid player — re­put­edly earn­ing £350,000 (US$450,00) a week — wasn’t in Emery’s tac­ti­cal plans so didn’t make the trip across Lon­don to the Olympic sta­dium.

“I de­cided the idea of the play­ers that I think are the best for this match,” Emery said. “To­day the play­ers who were here are the play­ers who de­served to be in this match. We could’ve won or lost.”

But Arse­nal lost — for the third time in six English Premier League matches — after De­clan Rice’s first goal for West Ham three min­utes into the sec­ond half earned the vic­tory.

“We tried for the re­ac­tion after the goal, but could not be ef­fi­cient to cre­ate a goal,” Emery said. “We need more, to re­cover our play.”

Re­cov­er­ing league po­si­tions is prov­ing harder. Fifth-place Arse­nal fell six points be­hind Chelsea, which ex­tended its grip on the fourth and fi­nal Cham­pi­ons League place after labour­ing to a 2-1 vic­tory over New­cas­tle.

Win­ing the Europa League — some­thing Emery achieved three times at Sevilla — might be Arse­nal’s only route back into the Cham­pi­ons League. In Emery’s first sea­son in charge, Arse­nal is only two points bet­ter off after 22 games than in Arsene Wenger’s fi­nal cam­paign.

With­out a Premier League ti­tle since 2004, Arse­nal looks far from be­ing a con­tender any time soon.

Liver­pool, though, is well placed to end its 29-year league drought. After the leader’s un­beaten start was ended by Manch­ester City and then it was knocked out of the FA Cup by Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers, Liver­pool beat Brighton 1-0 thanks to Mo­hamed Salah. The African player of the year net­ted a penalty four min­utes into the sec­ond half after be­ing brought down by Pas­cal Gross.

It put Liver­pool seven points ahead of City ahead of the cham­pion play­ing Wolves on Mon­day.

“It was not the best per­for­mance of the sea­son in a few de­part­ments but from a ma­tu­rity point of view, I would say it is the most ma­ture per­for­mance in the sea­son,” Liver­pool man­ager Juer­gen Klopp said. “We are not the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters. We have to de­liver re­sults.”

Wil­lian’s fu­ture

After be­ing linked with a de­par­ture from Stam­ford Bridge, Wil­lian in­sisted his “fu­ture is at Chelsea” after curl­ing a win­ner into the top cor­ner of the New­cas­tle goal in the 57th minute.

Chelsea should have com­pleted the job far sooner against a strug­gling team after Pe­dro Ro­driguez net­ted the opener in the ninth minute. But Ciaran Clark equal­ized in the 40th minute after leap­ing to reach Matt Ritchie’s cor­ner and head­ing past goal­keeper Kepa Ar­riz­a­bal­aga.

“It was dif­fi­cult to kill the match,” Wil­lian said. “We have to be more clin­i­cal, but we have the qual­ity to do it.”

New­cas­tle dropped into the rel­e­ga­tion zone, a point from safety.

On the rise

Southamp­ton is out of the bot­tom three after win­ning at Le­ices­ter 2-1. James WardProwse’s penalty and Shane Long’s goal earned Southamp­ton a fourth win of the sea­son — three of them com­ing in the month since Ralph Hasen­huettl re­placed Mark Hughes.

Tom Clev­er­ley scored from a vol­ley as Wat­ford came from be­hind to beat Crys­tal Palace 2-1 and rise to sev­enth place.

Rel­e­ga­tion strug­gle

Last-place Hud­der­s­field was ini­tially awarded a penalty at Cardiff after Florent Hadergjonaj fell in the box. But it was over­turned after protests by Cardiff play­ers and the game ended 0-0.

Ful­ham re­mains three points ahead of Hud­der­s­field in next-to­last place. The Lon­don club led at Burn­ley through An­dre Schuer­rle’s sec­ond-minute strike be­fore con­ced­ing two own-goals in three min­utes to hand Burn­ley a 2-1 vic­tory. Jeff Hen­drick’s strike went in off Joe Bryan and his cross was headed in by De­nis Odoi to lift Burn­ley three points clear of the rel­e­ga­tion zone.


West Ham’s De­clan Rice cel­e­brates at the end of an English Premier League soc­cer match against Arse­nal in Lon­don on Satur­day. West Ham won 1-0.

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