Premier League: Liverpool go top after stalemate at injury-hit Manchester United; Alexandre Lacazette helps Arsenal win

Liverpool moved one point clear at the top of the Premier League after being forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at injury-ravaged Manchester United on Sunday.

Agence France-Presse February 24, 2019 23:32:08 IST
Premier League: Liverpool go top after stalemate at injury-hit Manchester United; Alexandre Lacazette helps Arsenal win
  • Liverpool moved one point clear at the top of the Premier League after being forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at injury-ravaged Manchester United on Sunday.

  • United lost Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard before the interval to injuries.

  • Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot Arsenal into fourth place with two early goals in a straightforward 2-0 victory over Southampton.

Liverpool moved one point clear at the top of the Premier League after being forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at injury-ravaged Manchester United on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp's side climbed above Manchester City into pole position, but left Old Trafford frustrated that they failed to go three points clear after struggling to break down a United team hit by three key injuries.

Premier League Liverpool go top after stalemate at injuryhit Manchester United Alexandre Lacazette helps Arsenal win

Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez reacts the match against Liverpool. AFP

Liverpool, chasing a first English title since 1990, had few chances to beat their bitter rivals despite United losing Juan Mata, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard before the interval.

Elsewhere, Alexandre Lacazette and Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot Arsenal into fourth place in the Premier League on Sunday with two early goals in a straightforward 2-0 victory over Southampton.

The Gunners are a point ahead of Manchester United after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were held by Liverpool at Old Trafford earlier on Sunday, while sixth-placed Chelsea's home clash with Brighton was postponed as they take on Manchester City in the League Cup final.

The Reds, who had just one shot on target, now have 11 league games remaining, the same number as second placed City.

It was a missed opportunity for Liverpool, who used up their game in hand on City and lost Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino to injury.

Liverpool's third draw in four games comes in a period in which they have dropped six points in the battle with Pep Guardiola's champions.

The pre-match build-up, and intense atmosphere certainly did not disappoint.

But, once the action started, it became more about the four substitutions — three for United, one for Liverpool — that were forced on the respective managers over the first 45 minutes.

Indeed, by the interval, there had been twice as many substitutions as shots on target — the game's first such effort being a tame Marcus Rashford attempt which he chipped up for an easy Alisson Becker catch.

United midfielder Herrera was the first to go, having injured himself in the process of fouling Joel Matip on the edge of the home area.

Mohamed Salah succeeded only in lofting that free-kick over the home goal although, by the 20 minute mark, Herrera was unable to continue and replaced by Andreas Pereira.

Mata was next, four minutes later, paying the price for an heroic challenge on Salah on the edge of his own area and limping off to be substituted by Lingard.

And Liverpool were not spared disruption of their own when Firmino twisted his right ankle while making a routine pass and was forced off.

The fitness problems would not end there.

Lingard, who had been nursing an injured hamstring, would only last only 18 minutes before coming off three minutes before the interval with what appeared to be a recurrence of the problem.

To add insult to injury, Lingard was replaced having hurt himself in missing the best chance of the first period following a sublime through ball from Romelu Lukaku that split the Liverpool defence.

Lacazette, Mkhitaryan on the score-sheet

At the Emirates, Lacazette opened the scoring for Unai Emery's side in the sixth minute but then failed to take advantage of shambolic defending by the visitors in the first-half.

With goal difference a possible factor in a tight race for fourth place and a spot in the Champions League next season — only two goals separate Arsenal (+18), Manchester United (+17) and Chelsea (+16) — those failures could yet prove costly.

Southampton, a point adrift of safety, had lost only one of their previous six league matches coming into Sunday's mnatch, a run that included a draw away to Chelsea.

But while they were lively going forward, some of their defenders looked as though they were still on the beach in Tenerife, where they had spent a week of warm-weather training.

The opener was emblematic of their slackness, with Arsenal bursting forward after Arsenal stopper Bernd Leno blocked Nathan Redmond's shot, Mkhitaryan volleying Alex Iwobi's cross back across goal, where it hit Lacazette and bounced past Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn.

Arsenal doubled their lead in the 17th minute with a gift from the visitors’ defence.

Jack Stephens played a difficult backpass to Gunn, whose clearance only reached Iwobi 30 yards out.

Iwobi advanced down the left and crossed again for Lacazette, who swung a leg at the ball but only flicked it on to Mkhitaryan, who hit it first-time between Gunn and his near post.

Southampton had few answers to Arsenal's movement and Lacazette alone had four chances to make it 3-0 before half-time.

First he took a pass from Granit Xhaka and turned inside Stephens only for Bednarek to block his shot.

Then the France forward saw his clever glancing header from Xhaka's corner held at full stretch by Gunn, before Xhaka set him up again — this time for a tap-in from six yards that he somehow managed to blasted over.

Southampton looked more threatening after the interval but Arsenal continued to make and miss chances, with the ball twice rolled across the face of the Southampton goal with no home forward having made a run.

 

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