Liverpool seal Christmas No.1 spot as Tottenham run riot

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their third goal against Bournemouth. (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2019

Liverpool seal Christmas No.1 spot as Tottenham run riot

  • Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their third goal against Bournemouth
  • Son Heung-min scores with amazing solo effort in rout of Burnley

LONDON: Rampant Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-0 to lock down the Christmas number one spot ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby as Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham blitzed Burnley 5-0 to climb to fifth in the table.
Interim boss Duncan Ferguson lifted Everton’s spirits, condemning Chelsea to their third Premier League defeat in four matches while bottom club Watford battled to a goalless draw against Crystal Palace.
Liverpool took advantage of playing before their closest rivals to widen the gulf at the top of the table to 11 points, meaning they cannot be caught by December 25.
Jurgen Klopp, mindful of a fixture pile-up for his side, made seven changes from the 5-2 midweek victory against Everton, with Sadio Mane dropping to the bench and Alisson Becker back in goal following suspension.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring for the European champions in the 35th minute after poking home Jordan Henderson’s long ball, moments after Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake left the pitch injured.
Liverpool made it 2-0 just before the break when Naby Keita played a fine one-two with Mohamed Salah and finished from close range, with Keita turning provider for Salah in the 54th minute.
It was Liverpool’s first clean sheet in any match since late September.
“It is not about being constantly exciting, it is about doing the right stuff,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “There were not a lot of difficult moments to defend and that is good, important. Nearly a perfect day.
“I don’t want to blame or whatever the groups I had before but this is a special group. Without that we have no chance to fulfil the Liverpool dreams. You need a strong character and this team has a strong character.”
Spurs lost their first match under new boss Mourinho at Old Trafford in midweek but flew out of the blocks at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
Harry Kane put them ahead with his 14th goal of the season in the fourth minute and Spurs doubled their lead when Lucas Moura tapped home at the far post following a goalmouth scramble.
Son Heung-min added a third with a brilliant solo effort shortly after the half-hour, running from deep in his own half before slotting past goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Kane made it 4-0 in the 54th minute with his second goal of the game and turned provider for Moussa Sissoko to score Spurs’ fifth.
Spurs are still six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea but will fancy their chances of closing the gap on their London rivals, who are stumbling after a six-game winning run earlier in the season.
“A perfect day,” Mourinho told the BBC. “No injuries, a clean sheet, goals, perfect football, kids coming on for first Premier League football.
“Sean Dyche is always honest and told me after the game we were too good for them. I thank him for that.”
Everton made it a miserable day for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea thanks to an early strike from Brazil forward Richarlison and two goals from England under-21 international Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Mateo Kovacic scored his first Premier League goal to pull the score back to 2-1 but the Toffees wrapped up victory six minutes from time, Calvert-Lewin latching on to a loose ball in the box to finish underneath Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Former Everton player Ferguson, who celebrated the goals wildly, refused to talk up his chances of getting the job full-time despite the win, telling BT Sport: “I’m here for Everton. I’m here for as long as they want me here.
“I’m sure they’re out there looking for other candidates, and rightly so. We want the best guys in the world managing our football club.”
Watford, who appointed former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson as their new manager on Friday, were unable to force their second win of the season, drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, in third place, 14 points behind Liverpool, faced Manchester United at the Etihad in the late kick-off on Saturday.
Second-placed Leicester are in action on Sunday, away to Aston Villa, while struggling Arsenal travel to West Ham the following day.


Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

Updated 18 January 2020

Title, not invincible tag, the most important goal for Salah

LONDON: Mohamed Salah says Liverpool’s focus is solely on ending a 30-year wait to win the Premier League title, rather than doing so by going the whole season unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have dropped just 2 points in 21 games to set a new record for Europe’s top five leagues of 61 points from a possible 63 to start the campaign.

That has propelled the European champions into a 14-point lead over title holders Manchester City with a game in hand, but Salah insists the Reds are still taking their title challenge one game at a time ahead of Manchester United’s visit to Anfield on Sunday.

“We don’t think about being unbeaten until the end of the season. If we do that, it would be great, but at the end of the day we just want to win the Premier League. That’s the most important thing,” Salah told Premier League Productions.

“Unbeaten or not, it’s not necessary — we want to win the Premier League.”

Liverpool could move a massive 30 points clear of United with victory on Sunday, but the Red Devils are the only side to take points off them this season after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.

Salah missed that match through injury and is keen to make up for lost time in the clash between English football’s two most successful sides.

“We need to win, we need to carry on in our way — the way we’ve been doing since the beginning of the season and since last year,” added the Egyptian.

“Of course we know it’s big for the fans, for the city and for us. But at the end of the day, we play the game to win.”