Liverpool beat Leicester City

 

Liverpool closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to nine points as Diogo Jota’s doubled earned Juergen Klopp’s side a 2-0 victory over Leicester City on Thursday.

After City’s 2-0 win over Brentford on Wednesday extended their advantage at the top, second-placed Liverpool needed to issue a response, edging in front in the first half at Anfield thanks to Jota’s close-range finish.

Mohamed Salah came off the bench to rapturous applause to make his first appearance since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, with the Egyptian striker curling a sumptuous effort against the post as Liverpool pressed for a second.

That second did not look like it was going to come as chances continued to come and go, but Jota remained ruthless in the penalty area, drilling home the game-clinching goal three minutes from time.

The win moved Liverpool onto 51 points from 23 games, with leaders City having played one game more, while Leicester’s poor season continued as they remain languishing down in 12th in the standings.

“I always like to get into those spaces,” Jota told BT Sport. “I was lucky enough to be in the right place and to score.

“There was obviously an established front three [at Liverpool before he joined] but we have more options now and that is good for the team.”

Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers believed his side had improved markedly from their FA Cup humbling at the hands of second-tier Nottingham Forest at the weekend.

“We’ve restored the pride in our performance,” Rodgers said. The weekend was nowhere near the level we need to be, so it was a tough couple of days.”

Another of Liverpool’s attacking options is Luis Diaz, who was handed his Premier League debut by Klopp after signing for Liverpool during the January transfer window, with the Colombian showing off his skills to get fans off their seats early on.

Trent Alexander-Arnold forced Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel into a fine save, before Andrew Robertson almost got on the end of a low cross at the back post.

When Liverpool finally made their pressure pay, the goal came via a familiar source, with Jota reacting quickest to Schmeichel’s save to keep out Virgil van Dijk’s header from a corner.

Leicester beat Liverpool in the reverse fixture between these teams earlier in the season, but they never looked like getting back into the game at Anfield.

Salah’s introduction re-energised the hosts, with Liverpool’s top goalscorer twice denied by Schmeichel, before then hitting the woodwork.

The dazzling Diaz was then next to be denied by Schmeichel, before Jota made one count, squeezing his 12th league goal of the season home to put the game to bed.

“When we saw him playing for Porto, we thought yes, that’s exactly what we want him to do as well,” Klopp said. “On top of that, he seems to be a really smart footballer and has obviously watched Liverpool quite a lot.

“We don’t overload new players with information in the first week and tell them everything what we want them to do, we just have a look and when we looked at him in training, he already looked like a Liverpool player.”

Liverpool, the only remaining Premier League side yet to lose on home soil this season, have now won 11 of their last 15 league games at Anfield.

Arsenal beat wolves

Arsenal beat Wolves at Molineux 1-0 on Thursday night in the Premier League thanks to a first-half Gabriel Magalhaes goal despite playing much of the second half down a man.

Arsenal took the lead in the 25th minute when Gabriel poked home from close range after a goalmouth scramble following a corner kick by the visitors. It was Arsenal’s first goal in all competitions since Bukayo Saka scored in a 2-1 loss to Manchester City on New Year’s Day.

Saka nearly teed Alexandre Lacazette up for Arsenal’s second just before half-time after a nice team move, but the France forward’s first-time shot was right at Wolves keeper Jose Sa and the Gunners settled for a 1-0 lead at the break.

A frantic second half saw Mikel Arteta’s side left to finish with 10 players after Gabriel Martinelli was shown two yellow cards in succession and was sent off in the 69th minute.

It was Arsenal’s 12th red card since Arteta’s first match in charge in December of 2019, by far the most in the Premier League in that span with Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton a distant second with seven each.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen a red card like this in 18 years that I’ve been in this league,” Arteta said.

Asked about his side’s poor disciplinary record, Arteta said they cannot afford to keep ending games with 10 men.

“We know that playing with 10 men in this league you’re not gonna get points, enough points, the points that we want and we have to stop it,” the Spaniard said.

“But to be fair it’s difficult to find more arguments and more ways to transmit that to the players. Everybody says it’s the most disciplined group they’ve seen in the last 15 years, but still we are getting red card for other things.”

Despite going down a man, Lacazette found himself in on goal seconds later with only Sa to beat, but his curling effort on Wolves goal flew just outside of the far post.

The hosts took advantage of the extra man and piled on the pressure to the Gunners defence in the final 10 minutes with Aaron Ramsdale making a nice reflex save and Rob Holding clearing a goalbound effort off the line.

Victory lifted Arsenal into fifth place with 39 points from 22 games while Wolves, who could have gone above the Gunners, remain in eighth position.

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Courtesy: Reuters and ESPN

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