Anfield stalemate hands City title initiative as Chelsea win

Monday January 18 2021
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Mount ended Chelsea’s run of one win and four defeats in league games with a half-volleyd. PHOTO/ AFP

By AFP

Liverpool left Anfield stadium biting their lips after squandering several chances to draw 0-0 with Manchester United on Sunday.

Needing a win to return to the top of the Premier League on goal difference, Liverpool put United on the sword for the better part of the opening half but the sword they used for pressing the Red Devils turned out blunt.

Instead, it was United that grew in confidence in the second half, picking glorious opportunity to serve the killer punch but also turning out wasteful.

Alisson Becker might have proved solid between the sticks for the Reds, especially in blocking Bruno Fernandes’ neat turn with 15 minutes left before denying Paul Pogba’s close finish,  but it is Marcus Rashford who will feel guilty of wasting a glorious opportunity as the clock ticked home when he ran through and took too long to release Edison Cavani to his left or shoot.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have been relieved with the point and the way his team defended, keeping a clean sheet away from home for the second successive time after conceding in each of the first seven games on the road.

The draw keeps United top of the log with three points ahead of Liverpool and five clear of Manchester City.

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However, the Red Devils have played two games more than rivals City, the five-point advantage hanging by the clock as Pep Guardiola’s men were due to host Crystal Palace in Sunday’s late game.

Mount lifts Chelsea
Mason Mount put Chelsea back on track with the late winner that sealed a vital 1-0 victory at 10-man Fulham, while Leicester moved up to second in the Premier League thanks to a 2-0 win over Southampton.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was under pressure after just one win and four defeats in their previous six matches that saw the Blues kick-off at Craven Cottage down in 10th.

But Chelsea got the break they needed when Fulham defender Antonee Robinson was sent off just before half-time for a rash challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta.

Lampard’s men laboured to make their numerical advantage count, but England midfielder Mount finally broke the deadlock in the 78th minute when he drilled home from 20 yards.

That was enough to seal Chelsea’s first league victory since they beat West Ham just before Christmas and climb up to seventh.

“Of course it feels good to get a win, it has not been easy with the league form recently and you have to break the duck,” Lampard said.

Fulham remain in the relegation zone after their first defeat in six league games.

Next up for Chelsea is a trip to Leicester on Tuesday with the Foxes enjoying another successful season under Brendan Rodgers.
One moment of magic from Maddison made the difference against Southampton as he smashed high into the roof of the net from a narrow angle on 37 minutes.

The midfielder also remembered to adhere to new Premier League guidelines on goal celebrations as he mimicked handshakes and high-fives at a distance.

“If little things like that are required to keep football going that’s what we need to do,” said Maddison, after criticism from politicians over exuberant celebrations while infection rates of coronavirus in England are soaring.

“Footballers get a lot of stick. It’s nice to turn something like that into a lighter note because the whole country wants football to continue.”

Stuart Armstrong struck the bar for Saints in the second-half, but the visitors badly missed the presence of top scorer Danny Ings up front, who was absent due to a positive Covid-19 test, as they missed the chance to leapfrog Chelsea and Tottenham.
Harvey Barnes then sealed the points for Leicester deep into stoppage time on the counter-attack.

At the bottom of the table, Sam Allardyce got his first victory as West Bromwich Albion boss in a 3-2 Black Country derby win over Wolves at Molineux. Allardyce had failed to win any of his first five matches since replacing the sacked Slaven Bilic.

Matheus Pereira shot Albion ahead from the spot before goals from Fabio Silva and Willy Boly put Wolves in the driving seat at half-time. Semi Ajayi equalised after the interval and Pereira’s second penalty sealed West Brom’s first win in eight league games. 

English Premier League

WEEKEND RESULTS
Wolves        2-3    West Brom
Fulham        0-1    Chelsea
Leeds United        0-1    Brighton
Leicester        2-0    Southampton
Sheffield Utd        1-3    Tottenham
Liverpool        0-0    Man United

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