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Salah scores in Reds return, Arsenal cruise, City held by Chelsea

football17 February 2024 20:25| ยฉ AFP
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Mohamed Salah returned with a goal as Premier League leaders Liverpool routed Brentford 4-1 despite a rash of injuries, while Manchester City's title defence was damaged by a 1-1 draw against Chelsea on Saturday.

Arsenal demolished Burnley 5-0 to keep the pressure on Liverpool, who are two points above the second-placed Gunners and four-ahead of third placed City.

Salah came off the bench to replace the injured Diogo Jota in his first Liverpool appearance since their win over Newcastle on New Year's Day.

Having returned from the hamstring injury he sustained on Egypt duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, Salah made up for lost time with his first goal for the Reds since the Newcastle game.

The 31-year-old's 19th goal in all competitions this term put Liverpool on course for a sixth win in their last seven league games.

The much-maligned Darwin Nunez had given Jurgen Klopp's side the lead with a sublime chip late in the first half at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Alexis Mac Allister doubled Liverpool's advantage after the interval with just his second goal this season.

Ivan Toney got one back for Brentford, but Cody Gakpo netted in the closing stages.

While the victory was valuable for Klopp, it came with a downside as first half injuries to Nunez, Jota and Curtis Jones added to Liverpool's increasingly packed treatment room.

"Mo played the first game for weeks. He could have had a hat-trick. The goal he scored was absolutely outstanding," Klopp said.

"It would be helpful if we had a bit more than one player for each position. But that's the situation and we cannot change it."

Manchester City's attempt to win an unprecedented fourth successive title is under threat after a disappointing result at the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea took the lead in the 41st minute as former City winger Raheem Sterling took Nicolas Jackson's pass and curled his shot into the far corner from 12 yards.

City laid siege to the Chelsea goal and finally drew level in the 83rd minute when Rodri's shot deflected in off Trevoh Chalobah.

Pep Guardiola's men, who have a game in hand on Liverpool, preserved their long unbeaten home league run, but failing to win for the first time in 12 games in all competitions was a significant setback.

Frustrated by Erling Haaland's miscues, Guardiola said: "I played 11 years and scored 11 goals so I can't give too much advice to Erling. The next one he will score.

"In the first half we didn't perform well and that's what we have to improve."

RAMPANT ARSENAL

At Turf Moor, second placed Arsenal made it five consecutive wins to move within two points of Liverpool.

Mikel Arteta's side have beaten Liverpool and won 6-0 at West Ham in their most notable results since a revitalising warm-weather training camp in Dubai.

And they were too hot for second bottom Burnley to handle from the fourth minute when Martin Odegaard drilled home from Gabriel Martinelli's pass.

Bukayo Saka netted with a 41st minute penalty awarded for Lorenz Assignon's foul on Leandro Trossard.

Saka struck again two minutes after halftime, rifling into the top corner from Odegaard's pass as the England winger made it six goals in his last four games.

Trossard got the fourth from close-range in the 66th minute and Kai Havertz converted Jakub Kiwior's pass with 12 minutes left.

Third placed Manchester City, who have two games in hand on Liverpool, will move level on points with Arsenal if they beat Chelsea in Saturday's late game.

"We are generating competition within the squad. They are a joy to work with. They want more, that's the good thing," Arteta said.

Tottenham's top four bid suffered a blow as Joao Gomes struck twice in Wolves' surprise 2-1 win in north London.

Ange Postecoglou's team were beaten in the league for the first time in 2024, with Gomes heading in the opener after 42 minutes.

Dejan Kulusevski equalised immediately after the interval, but Brazilian midfielder Gomes won it for Wolves with a 63rd minute blast after an incisive break from the visitors.

Aston Villa took advantage of Tottenham's stumble to climb back into fourth place with a 2-1 win at Fulham.

Ollie Watkins scored either side of the break for Unai Emery's side and although Fulham got one back through Rodrigo Muniz, they were unable to force an equaliser.

Nottingham Forest beat 10-man West Ham 2-0 at the City Ground in a major boost to their survival hopes.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side moved five points clear of the relegation zone thanks to Taiwo Awoniyi's goal five minutes into first half stoppage-time and Callum Hudson-Odoi's strike just before the final whistle.

West Ham midfielder Kalvin Phillips, on loan from Manchester City, was sent off in the 71st minute for two bookings in the space of four minutes.

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe avoided defeat against his former club Bournemouth in a 2-2 draw at St James' Park.

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