‘No opera’ as Liver­pool ex­tend lead

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SPORT -

LON­DON: Mohamed Salah’s sec­ond-half penalty moved Liver­pool seven points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to a 1-0 win away to Brighton, while Ar­se­nal’s hopes of a top­four fin­ish suf­fered an­other body blow in de­feat by West Ham on Satur­day.

Chelsea now lead the Gun­ners by six points in the race for Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion af­ter beat­ing New­cas­tle 2-1.

Liver­pool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp ad­mit­ted it had been “no opera” watch­ing his side strug­gle to cre­ate chances on the south coast in a game of lit­tle goal­mouth in­ci­dent other than Salah’s 17th goal of the sea­son af­ter the Egyp­tian had been hauled down by Pas­cal Gross five min­utes into the sec­ond half.

“We are not the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters, we have to de­liver re­sults,” said Klopp, as his side got back to win­ning ways af­ter a first Premier League de­feat of the sea­son by Manch­ester City and an FA Cup exit to Wolves.

“For that, we need to per­form. The per­for­mance was good. It was not the best per­for­mance of the sea­son in a few de­part­ments but I would say it was the most ma­ture per­for­mance of the sea­son.”

City can close the gap to four points with vic­tory over Wolves on Mon­day, while Tot­ten­ham can close to within six should they move above the cham­pi­ons with vic­tory over Manch­ester United on Sun­day.

How­ever, if United con­tinue Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer’s per­fect record as care­taker boss, the Red Devils will have eroded an eight-point gap to Ar­se­nal in the month since Jose Mour­inho was sacked.

Teenager De­clan Rice scored his first West Ham goal as Unai Emery’s men suf­fered on the road once more in a 1-0 loss at the Lon­don Sta­dium.

Me­sut Ozil was again not se­lected even in Emery’s squad as Ar­se­nal’s win­less run away from home in the league ex­tended to five games.

“We de­cided that the play­ers here were the best for this match,” said Emery of the Ger­man’s ab­sence.

“We’ve won with him, we’ve lost with him. No one player makes the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing the game.”

How­ever, it was not a per­fect af­ter­noon for the Ham­mers ei­ther as Marko Ar­nau­tovic ap­peared to wave good­bye to the home fans when sub­sti­tuted with the Aus­trian strongly linked with a move to the Chi­nese Su­per League.

Chelsea took ad­van­tage of Ar­se­nal’s de­feat de­spite mak­ing heavy work of see­ing off New­cas­tle.

Pe­dro Ro­driguez’s early opener was can­celled out by Ciaran Clark’s header for the vis­i­tors, but Wil­lian’s fine 57th-minute strike se­cured all three points for Mau­r­izio Sarri’s men.

De­feat al­lied to re­sults else­where saw New­cas­tle slip into the bot­tom three as 10-man Southamp­ton held out to win 2-1 at Le­ices­ter.

James Ward-Prowse’s penalty gave the Saints an 11th-minute lead be­fore Yann Valery was sent off.

Southamp­ton still dou­bled their lead in first-half stop­page time through Shane Long and with­stood a sec­ond-half fight­back from the Foxes when Wil­fried Ndidi pulled a goal back.

“I’m un­be­liev­ably proud of my play­ers,” said Southamp­ton man­ager Ralph Hasen­huttl.

“To go 2-0 in the lead at Le­ices­ter is not easy and we de­fended with fan­tas­tic com­mit­ment.”

Ful­ham re­main in the rel­e­ga­tion zone as Burn­ley won 2-1 at Turf Moor de­spite not even hav­ing a sin­gle shot on tar­get.

An­dre Schur­rle’s stun­ning ef­fort put Ful­ham ahead in just the sec­ond minute but Burn­ley equalised in the 20th minute through Joe Bryan’s own goal and were soon in the lead when De­nis Odoi also put through his own net.

“It is un­be­liev­able. We scored a great goal and then sud­denly two own goals,” said Ful­ham man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri.

Craig Cath­cart scored at both ends as Wat­ford beat Crys­tal Palace 2-1 thanks to Tom Clev­er­ley’s volleyed win­ner with 16 min­utes left at Sel­hurst Park.

Hud­der­s­field are still rooted to the foot of the ta­ble fol­low­ing a goal­less draw at Cardiff. AFP

Ar­se­nal’s Span­ish head coach Unai Emery ges­tures on the touch­line dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween West Ham United and Ar­se­nal at The Lon­don Sta­dium, in east Lon­don on Jan­uary 12, 2019. - AFP photo

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