Liver­pool move 22 points clear, Chelsea sal­vage point

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

London, UK - Liver­pool surged a mas­sive 22 points clear at the top of the Pre­mier League with a 4-0 win over Southamp­ton as Le­ices­ter and Chelsea con­sol­i­dated their place in the top four in a thrilling 2-2 draw at the King Power.

Mo­hamed Salah scored twice as the cham­pi­ons-elect equalled a Pre­mier League record with a 20th straight home win at An­field.

Southamp­ton be­lieved they should have had a penalty early in the sec­ond half when Danny Ings went down in the box against his old club, but no spot­kick was given and Liver­pool went straight up the other end to take the lead through Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain.

Jor­dan Hen­der­son dou­bled the Euro­pean cham­pi­ons lead with a smart fin­ish on the hour mark.

Salah then pro­duced two cool fin­ishes in the fi­nal 20 min­utes as Jur­gen Klopp’s men took their tally of points to a re­mark­able 100 from the last pos­si­ble 102.

Chelsea stretched their ad­van­tage over Manch­ester United, Wolves and Tot­ten­ham to seven points, but of­fered fur­ther hope to the chas­ing pack in the bat­tle for a Cham­pi­ons League place.

Frank Lam­pard’s men have now won just four of their last 13 league games and the Blues’ boss’ frus­tra­tion at not be­ing able to add to his for­ward op­tions in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow was ex­ac­er­bated as the visi­tors needed two goals from cen­tre-back An­to­nio Rudi­ger just to claim a point.

“Not many people gave us the top four slot and I un­der­stand why, and it’s prob­a­bly the same now,” said Lam­pard. “We’ve come to Le­ices­ter, who ev­ery­one’s rav­ing about, quite rightly, and we’ve got a point.”

All the goals came in the sec­ond half as Rudi­ger nod­ded

Chelsea in front be­fore two goals in 10 min­utes from Har­vey Barnes and Ben Chilwell turned the game around for Le­ices­ter.

A bril­liant leap from Rudi­ger 19 min­utes from time de­nied the Foxes all three points, but Bren­dan Rodgers’ men main­tain an eight-point lead over Chelsea in third.

“We should have won hav­ing gone 2-1 up. We gifted them two goals re­ally, which we’re dis­ap­pointed with,” said Rodgers.

Sh­effield United are now Chelsea’s clos­est chal­lengers as Chris Wilder’s men moved into fifth with a 1-0 win at Crys­tal Palace thanks to a calami­tous own goal from Ea­gles' goal­keeper Vi­cente Guaita.

At the bot­tom of the ta­ble, West Ham and Wat­ford blew two-goal leads to slip into the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

A dou­ble for Robert Sn­od­grass af­ter Issa Diop’s opener put West Ham 3-1 up on Brighton at the London Sta­dium, but the Seag­ulls fought back through Pas­cal Gross and Glenn Mur­ray for a point that keeps them two points above the drop zone.

Wat­ford failed to even get a point af­ter go­ing 2-0 up on Ever­ton through Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra.

But they switched off from two set-pieces in first half stop­page time to al­low Yerry Mina’s dou­ble to bring Carlo Ancelotti's men level.

Ever­ton then went down to 10 men when Fabian Delph was sent-off but still snatched all three points through Theo Wal­cott.

As­ton Villa’s cel­e­bra­tions at reach­ing the League Cup fi­nal in mid­week were short-lived as 10-man Bournemout­h held on for a 2-1 win that lifted them up to 16th.

Nor­wich are now seven points adrift of safety at the bot­tom of the ta­ble as they again paid for not tak­ing their chances in a 0-0 draw at New­cas­tle.

Mo­hamed Salah

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