Liverpool ‘singing’ sweetly
Beating Brighton like an opera says Klopp as Reds go seven clear as West Ham stun Arsenal
LIVERPOOL went seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and bounced back from two successive defeats in all competitions after a Mohamed Salah penalty gave them a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday.
The result put Liverpool on 57 points from 22 games, seven ahead of closest rivals Manchester City who are at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers tomorrow. Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who have 48 points, host Manchester United today.
Manager Juergen Klopp was pleased with the outcome and the performance which he described as a “really nice song if not an opera of football”.
“We learned from the first half and the second half was better,” Klopp told the BBC.
“It was a mature performance from my side. This season it is quite a new skill and I’d like us to keep that.
“It was very hard but that is how it is. Everyone knows how difficult it is to go to Brighton.”
Liverpool were clinical if unimpressive on the south coast, having lost 2-1 at City in their previous league outing before being beaten by Wolves in the FA Cup third round by the same scoreline.
After a dour first half, Salah produced a moment of trademark individual skill to win the spot kick he converted five minutes into the second half after Pascal Gross had fouled him following the Egyptian’s neat footwork in the penalty area.
Xherdan Shaqiri, who got a rare start on the right flank in a reshuffled 4-2-3-1 formation, missed Liverpool’s best chance in the opening half when he headed just wide after Trent Alexander-arnold’s cross.
As Brighton threw men forward in the closing stages, Liverpool twice came close to scoring again with the home team’s goalkeeper David Button parrying Roberto Firmino’s effort before Salah misfired wide from five metres.
Klopp singled out Alexanderarnold, who picked up an ankle injury in the warm-up but played through the pain for the full 90 minutes.
“It was a shock in that moment,” said the German. “It was the last situation of the warming up. He wants to play so he doesn’t say immediately.
“On the way in we thought he couldn’t play so James Milner did a warm-up but it was a brilliant decision from the medical staff and Trent. He played well.”
. Declan Rice’s first goal for West Ham earned his side a deserved first home victory over Arsenal for 13 years, the youngster’s 48th minute strike securing a 1-0 win at the London Stadium.
Arsenal began brightly and then had a flurry of chances after falling behind but West Ham were good value for the three points as they put a dent in Arsenal’s top-four hopes.
Former Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri, rebuilding his career at West Ham after a doping ban, was behind much of their best work on his Premier League debut for the club.
It was the Frenchman’s neat lay-off that allowed 19-year-old midfielder Rice the space to curl a superb shot past Bernd Leno.
The victory pushed West Ham into eighth place, before the rest of the weekend’s fixtures, and after a difficult start manager Manuel Pellegrini appears to be turning
West Ham into a side capable of challenging for the European places.
The Chilean, who steered Manchester City to the title, was happy with his former player Nasri who was given a resounding ovation when he was substituted midway through the second half.
“It was a good performance by Samir, he kept the pace for 65 minutes,” Pellegrini said. “I’ve spoken to him and told him I’m sure he can be the player he was.”
Rice had already headed wide before halftime but the 19-yearold was lethal the next time an opportunity arrived.
Felipe Anderson’s surge down the right and cross saw the ball land at the feet of Nasri who had the vision to shift it to Rice who finished like a top-class striker – celebrating his big moment wildly with his team-mates.
Striker Alexandre Lacazette had a double chance for the visitors early on, forcing a save from former Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski before firing the rebound over the bar. West Ham then took control with Nasri dragging a shot wide and then setting up influential Brazilian midfielder Anderson to fire a daisycutter just past the post.
At the other end, Matteo Guendouzi’s 25-metre effort flew just wide but Arsenal struggled to exert any sustained pressure.
After Rice’s goal Arsenal did manage to raise the tempo with
Alex Iwobi and Pierre-emerick Aubameyang going close but West Ham weathered the storm and were worthy winners.
AT A GLANCE
Yesterday: West Ham 1, Arsenal 0; Brighton 0, Liverpool 1; Burnley 2, Fulham 1; Cardiff 0, Huddersfield 0; Palace 1, Watford 2; Leicester 1, Southampton 2; Chelsea v Newcastle (late kick-off)
Today: Everton v Bournemouth (4.15pm SA time); Tottenham v Man Utd (6.30pm)
Tomorrow: Man City v Wolves (10pm)