Liver­pool ‘singing’ sweetly

Beat­ing Brighton like an opera says Klopp as Reds go seven clear as West Ham stun Arse­nal

Sunday Tribune - - SPORT - REUTERS

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)

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