In Depth

Premier League highlights: it wasn’t pretty but Jurgen Klopp hails Liverpool’s resilience to build ten-point lead

Mohamed Salah scores twice in Liverpool’s victory over Watford and Man City slaughter sad Arsenal

Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to ten points after they strolled to a 2-0 win against bottom side Watford and Leicester City were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich City.

Mohamed Salah was the architect of the Reds’s victory, scoring shortly before the break and again on the stroke of full-time as their unbeaten league season continued. 

They would have had more had VAR not ruled out Sadio Mane’s header for offside, but the three points kept Liverpool on course for their first title since 1990. 

“It was not the prettiest game but I am more than happy with that,” said manager Jurgen Klopp. “At this stage you have to show resilience and I believe we did that.”

Canaries outfox the Foxes

Leicester had expected to make it nine consecutive league victories at the King Power Stadium on Saturday but second from bottom Norwich proved obdurate opponents as they picked up a precious point. 

Teemu Pukki put the Canaries ahead midway through the first half only for Leicester to level minutes later when an error from Norwich keeper Tim Krul resulted in him putting Jamie Vardy’s header into his own net. 

Nonetheless Leicester’s failure to score a winner has dented their thin hopes of catching Liverpool in the second half of the season. 

“We weren’t quite at our level but we managed to get back and get a point,” reflected Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. 

“It just looked like one of those games. When you are on that winning run you believe you are going to win every game but of course it does not work like that.”

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City slaughter sad Arsenal

Kevin De Bruyne inspired Manchester City to an embarrassingly easy 3-0 win against an all-too-familiarly awful Arsenal. 

The Belgian scored two beautiful goals in the first half, while Raheem Sterling also capitalised on the catastrophic Gunners defence as the Sky Blues established an unassailable 3-0 lead at the break. 

The three-goal cushion allowed City to turn the second half into a training run against a demoralised, disorganised and diabolical Arsenal. 

No one embodied the apathy more than Mesut Ozil, who reacted badly to being substituted after an anonymous performance. 

“How he reacts is up to him and we will deal with it later,” promised caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg.

Defending champions City remain third in the table, four points behind Leicester and six clear of Chelsea, who are fourth. 

As for Arsenal they are ninth on 22 points, the same number as Crystal Palace and Newcastle, who lie just behind them because of their inferior goal difference.

Speaking after the match interim Arsenal boss Ljungberg called on the club’s board to make a quick decision on who will be the next permanent manager at the Emirates. 

Ljungberg said: “I’ve said to them [the board] they need to make a decision. We are all here to help but [interim assistant manager] Per [Mertesacker] is doing another job [managing the Arsenal academy] at the same time and he’s doing great to help. 

“I must say thank you to all the other staff for trying to chip in but a decision has to be made so we can have the same resources as other clubs.”

Chelsea and United slip up

Chelsea’s wretched league form continued at Stamford Bridge as they lost 1-0 to Bournemouth with Dan Gosling scoring the winner for the visitors six minutes from time.

The Blues have now lost four of their last five league matches and as a result the chasing pack are gaining. 

Sheffield United’s 2-0 win against Aston Villa moves the Blades to seventh, four points behind Chelsea. 

Meanwhile, Manchester United blew the chance to close to within two points of Chelsea as they were held 1-1 at home to Everton. 

“We deserved more,” moaned United defender Harry Maguire, whose side now lie sixth on 25 points. “We conceded a goal that was a clear foul. We were disappointed to concede that sort of goal but we bounced back in the second half.”

Wolves sent packing

A late winner from Jan Vertonghen earned Tottenham a 2-1 victory at Wolves, bringing to an end their hosts 11-match unbeaten Premier League run. 

Lucas Moura had scored a superb individual goal to give Spurs an early lead but Adama Traore equalised in emphatic fashion for Wolves. 

The last word went to Vertonghen as Spurs moved into fifth spot, three points shy of Chelsea, who they meet next Sunday. 

“We knew the game was going to be difficult,” said Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho. “We knew if we arrive in the last part we knew we could score. After that we had to close the door for the last five mins, three incredible points.”

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The M23 derby: Crystal Palace vs. Brighton

The remaining game of matchweek 17 will see Crystal Palace and Brighton go head-to-head at Selhurst Park on Monday night (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports). 

Geographically this is not a usual derby match, but ask any Palace or Brighton fan which team they hate the most and the answer is the other.

The English Soccer Guide’s Paul Gerald says: “They’re not too close to each other, but they’ve played a lot, and sometime back in the 70s there was a thing between the Brighton manager and Palace fans, and things were thrown, and in 2013 they played in the play-offs, and somebody took a crap in the Palace locker room. I’m serious.”

Premier League results

  • Liverpool 2 Watford 0  
  • Burnley 1 Newcastle United 0  
  • Chelsea 0 AFC Bournemouth 1  
  • Leicester City 1 Norwich City 1  
  • Sheffield United 2 Aston Villa 0  
  • Southampton 0 West Ham United 1 
  • Manchester United 1 Everton 1  
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2  
  • Arsenal 0 Manchester City 3 

Today’s back pages 

Decision time for Arsenal as Ljungberg urges board to hire new boss quickly

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