Rediff.com  » Sports » EPL PIX: Salah spoils Gerrard's Anfield return, Chelsea win at Leeds

EPL PIX: Salah spoils Gerrard's Anfield return, Chelsea win at Leeds

Last updated on: December 11, 2021 23:56 IST
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IMAGES from the EPL matches played on Saturday.

 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their side's first goal from the penalty spot during the match against Aston Villa at Anfield

IMAGE: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their side's first goal from the penalty spot during the match against Aston Villa at Anfield. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Steven Gerrard's return to Anfield as Aston Villa manager ended in a 1-0 defeat by Liverpool with a 67th minute Mohamed Salah penalty keeping the Merseysiders a point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.

There was little fanfare for Gerrard, the Liverpool-born former captain and Champions League winner, as he took his place in the technical area before the game and stuck with his approach of treating the game like any other.

 

Even at the final whistle, when Liverpool fans finally broke into a chorus of his name, Gerrard, on the pitch shaking hands with players and officials, made no reciprocal gesture, saving his applause for Villa's visiting support.

Asked about the reaction from the Liverpool fans to his return, Gerrard was ice cold.

"For me the priority is the support from the Aston Villa fans," he said.

It was a professional approach from Gerrard, one which showed respect for his new club and their supporters and he will have added to his growing reputation as a manager from the way he set his team up to frustrate Juergen Klopp's side.

It was a conservative approach, with Ollie Watkins playing as a lone striker supported by veteran Ashley Young and a bank of three midfielders sat in front of the back four, but it succeeded in limiting Liverpool's space.

Inevitably though, Liverpool dominated the first half with Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez doing well to keep out a back-post header from Andy Robertson and a close-range shot at the near post from Salah.

After the break, Martinez produced a brilliant reflex stop to keep out a powerful header from Virgil van Dijk but Liverpool's pressure finally paid off when Salah went down in the box under challenge from Tyrone Mings.

The Egyptian fired home an unstoppable spot-kick after protests from Villa. Gerrard felt that the decision was "soft" and was puzzled that referee Stuart Attwell did not go to the pitchside monitor to review the decision.

The Villa manager threw on forward Danny Ings and the attack-minded Emiliano Buendia in a bid to find a late leveller and the way his side put pressure on the Liverpool defence in the latter stages left him wondering what might have been had he taken a more positive approach earlier.

Villa claimed in vain for a late penalty when Ings went down as Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker challenged leaving Gerrard frustrated.

"I thought Liverpool were better in terms of general play. Their style was better than ours, but we’ve done so well to contain them for large periods. Ultimately the game has been decided by a penalty. There were two penalty incidents in the game, Liverpool got theirs," he said.

Klopp conceded his team had lost their way after taking the lead.

"For 75 minutes we were outstanding. Clearly the better side and played in all the areas we needed to play. We created moments," said the German.

"But we go 1-0 up and... Argh. Then the game opens up, let me say it like this... We lost the rhythm. That's a problem in football so you have to hold it from the beginning."

Liverpool are on 37 points with leaders City, who beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 earlier on Saturday, on 38 points and third-placed Chelsea on 36 points.

Chelsea's Mason Mount and Leeds United's Luke Ayling vie for possession  

IMAGE: Chelsea's Mason Mount and Leeds United's Luke Ayling vie for possession. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

Chelsea got their Premier League title challenge back on track with a dramatic 3-2 home win over Leeds United on Saturday, settled by an injury-time penalty converted by Jorginho who had earlier scored another spot kick.

The Blues displayed more of the uncharacteristic fragility in defence that has raised questions about their chances of winning the league under Thomas Tuchel, who made them European champions last season.

But the win kept the Londoners in third place with 36 points, two behind leaders Manchester City, who edged Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0, and one behind Liverpool after they beat Aston Villa 1-0.

Leeds were weakened by a string of injuries but the visitors went ahead in the 28th minute when Daniel James was felled in the box by Marcos Alonso and Brazilian playmaker Raphinha stroked home the penalty.

Chelsea looked stunned as they contemplated the prospect of conceding more ground in the title race, having lost last weekend at West Ham United and dropped more points two weeks ago in a home draw with Manchester United.

But the hosts clawed their way back into the game when Alonso, trying to atone for his earlier error, stole the ball from Stuart Dallas, exchanged passes with Timo Werner and crossed for Mason Mount to score with a first-time angled shot.

Tuchel's men turned the game around when referee Chris Kavanagh, after a VAR check, awarded a penalty for a Raphinha challenge on Antonio Rudiger and Jorginho fired high into the net.

Chelsea failed to extend their advantage and Leeds drew level in the 83rd minute when 19-year-old Joe Gelhardt, barely on the field as a substitute, turned in Tyler Roberts's cross to score his first league goal.

Just when the Blues looked like they had slipped up again, Rudiger went down in the box under a challenge by Mateusz Klich and Jorginho rolled home the ball, choosing the other side of the goal to his first penalty strike.

"I think we deserved to win but of course it's lucky when you have a late goal in extra time," a relieved-sounding Tuchel told Sky Sports.

"But coming back twice is very impressive and I'm very happy we turned things around. It was tough work but we didn't expect anything else."

Arsenal's Gabriel celebrates with teammates on scoring their third goal against Southampton 

IMAGE: Arsenal's Gabriel celebrates with teammates on scoring their third goal against Southampton. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

Arsenal weathered storms on and off the pitch before coasting to a 3-0 Premier League win over Southampton on Saturday as boss Mikel Arteta dropped captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from the match-day squad for disciplinary reasons.

Before kickoff, Arteta was tight-lipped as he explained that Aubameyang's absence was due to a "disciplinary breach", with Alexandre Lacazette starting on his own up front.

Southampton had the better of the opening exchanges on a rainy afternoon with Adam Armstrong forcing an early corner and a fine save from Aaron Ramsdale as the Gunners struggled to deal with the visitors' high press.

They managed to break thorough it in the 21st minute with a sweeping move, attacking down the left where Bukayo Saka squared to Lacazette, who fired home.

"It was a brilliant goal, played out from the back, we've been practising this movement; it's good to see that it played out well. We practise these things every day in training," playmaker Martin Odegaard told the BBC.

The Gunners went two up six minutes later when Southampton's slack defending was punished by Odegaard as Kieran Tierney's attempted cross bounced back to him and he headed the ball back across the goal for the Norwegian to nod it home.

The goal was Odegaard's third in three Premier League games, and his angled passes tormented the Southampton defence all afternoon.

The second goal seemed to take the wind from Southampton's sails as their defensive intensity faded and Arsenal defender Gabriel thought he had scored a third goal on the hour mark, only to see it chalked off for offside.

He popped up again a few minutes later and this time he made no mistake, heading home a corner to make it 3-0.

Southampton's task was not helped by the withdrawal of Armstrong and strike partner Armando Broja due to injury, and they struggled to create decent attacking opportunities in the second half.

The victory leaves Arsenal fifth on 26 points, while Southampton are 16th on 16 points, and Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuettl will not have much time to rally his injury-hit squad.

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates with teammates after scoring from the penalty spot against Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match at Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Saturday

IMAGE: Manchester City's Raheem Sterling celebrates with teammates after scoring from the penalty spot against Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match at Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Saturday. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

England forward Raheem Sterling's 100th Premier League goal was enough to earn leaders Manchester City a 1-0 win over 10-man Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Wolves were doing a fine job of frustrating City in the opening period before striker Raul Jimenez's dismissal for two yellow cards in quick succession in first-half stoppage time changed the complexion of the game.

City dominated the second half as a result, edging in front through Sterling's penalty -- a decision that required a lengthy VAR check -- in the 66th minute.

The home side had plenty of chances to make the result more comfortable, with Jack Grealish's struggles since becoming the British record transfer in the close season continuing as he missed from close range.

However, one goal proved enough for City who picked up their sixth successive league win to move four points clear of Liverpool, who host Aston Villa later on Saturday, at the top of the standings.

Wolves, who battled hard as decisions went against them at the Etihad Stadium, stay eighth on 21 from 16 games.

The game hinged on one moment of madness. Wolves looked comfortable going into the interval before Jimenez's needless dismissal gave City the lift they needed.

The Mexico international received his first yellow card for a foul on midfielder Rodri and 31 seconds later got another for blocking Rodri’s free-kick having not retreated enough.

Manchester City's Joao Cancelo battles for possession with Wolverhampton Wanderers' Rayan Ait-Nouri 

IMAGE: Manchester City's Joao Cancelo battles for possession with Wolverhampton Wanderers' Rayan Ait-Nouri. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

After the break, it was all-out attack from City, with Conor Coady clearing off the line to deny Ilkay Gundogan.

Referee Jon Moss then further ensured he won't be welcome in Wolverhampton anytime soon after awarding City a penalty for handball against Joao Moutinho.

The Portugal midfielder was adamant the ball hit his ribs but, following a long delay while the video assistant referee checked the incident, Moss’s decision stood.

Sterling slotted the penalty down the middle, becoming the 32nd player to reach 100 Premier League goals.

"(It) is a lovely achievement," Sterling told BT Sport.

"There are some fantastic players in that list. I'm really honoured to be in it now.

"We knew we (City) had to keep patient. They kept it really tight, but we knew if we kept playing we’d get an opportunity -and we did."

The hosts should have made the win more comfortable. Bernardo Silva was denied by a smart save from Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa, while several other last-ditch blocks kept them at bay.

The visitors piled forward late on and had one last-gasp opportunity to snatch a point, but Ederson tipped Max Kilman's header over the bar.

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Source: REUTERS
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