Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Premier League: Arsenal held at home by Southampton as Gabriel sees red

Premier League Arsenal
Arsenal's Rob Holding hits the crossbar.

LONDON, December 17: Arsenal had centre back Gabriel sent off in a 1-1 home draw with Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday, stretching their winless run to six games and piling more pressure on their manager Mikel Arteta.
Although defender Rob Holding nearly snatched a stoppage- time winner for Arsenal when he headed against the crossbar, it was another tepid performance by the Gunners who were on the back foot throughout.
The result left Arsenal, who had lost their previous four home games, in 15th place on 14 points from 13 games while Southampton moved up one place to third on 24 points.
Southampton took the initiative from the off and Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno was forced to make a save in the 15th minute when he parried a swerving James Ward-Prowse free kick.
He was powerless three minutes later, however, as Theo Walcott scored against his former club to put the Saints ahead with a dinked finish after Che Adams released him through the middle with a defence-splitting pass.
Nicolas Pepe and Bukhayo Saka went close for Arsenal before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang levelled in the 52nd minute with a clinical finish into the bottom left corner after good work by Saka and Eddie Nketiah.
It seemed Arsenal had gained some momentum but they were pegged back again after Gabriel was sent off for a second bookable foul when he hauled down Walcott in the 62nd minute.
Substitute Nathan Redmond hit the woodwork from close range for Southampton and Arsenal were forced to defend desperately in the closing stages as the visitors pressed forward.
Holding then nearly stunned the Saints as he met an inviting cross from the left with a header that left keeper Alex McCarthy rooted to the line as it rattled the crossbar.
Liverpool leave it late to end Tottenham’s unbeaten run

Premier League Liverpool
Roberto Firmino: Liverpool forward celebrates his strike at Tottenham

Roberto Firmino’s 90th minute winner took Liverpool top of the Premier League as a 2-1 win at Anfield on Wednesday ended Tottenham’s 11-game unbeaten league run.
Spurs looked set to hold onto top spot and further strengthen their case to be considered contenders for a first league title in 60 years when Son Heung-min’s strike on the counter-attack cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s deflected opener for the hosts.
Tottenham even had the chances in the second-half to end Liverpool’s now 66-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League as Steven Bergwijn hit the post and Harry Kane uncharacteristically headed a huge opportunity over.
However, Jose Mourinho’s men were undone at the death when Firmino rose highest to power home Andy Robertson’s corner before running the full length of the field to celebrate in front of 2,000 fans at the Kop end.
Before kick-off, the Liverpool support, players and officials paid their respects to former manager Gerard Houllier, who died earlier this week at 73.
Late goals were a trait of some of Houllier’s greatest successes when he guided the Reds to a hat-trick of cup competitions 20 years ago.

And Jurgen Klopp’s men demonstrated why they remain the favourites in a wide-open title race with their ability to consistently win tight games late on.
Unusually kicking towards the Kop in the first-half, Liverpool had also made a storming start as they swarmed over Spurs and could count themselves unfortunate not to have been out of sight by half-time.
Firmino’s downward header produced Hugo Lloris’s first save of a busy night for the French goalkeeper before Salah stung his palms again with a shot from the edge of the area.
Liverpool earned their luck for the opening goal when Salah’s shot took a huge deflection off Toby Alderweireld and looped beyond the helpless Lloris in off the far post.
Curtis Jones should have done better with a big chance to double the home side’s advantage moments later as Lloris was again well-positioned to make a comfortable save.
But the moment Tottenham had been waiting for to launch the counterattack that has thrust them into title contention, beating Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal in recent weeks arrived on 33 minutes.
Giovani Lo Celso’s brilliant pass opened up a makeshift Liverpool backline with 19-year-old Rhys Williams partnering midfielder Fabinho in central defence.
Son timed his run to perfection to stay onside and coolly slotted past Alisson Becker for his 14th goal of the season.
Having weathered the storm, Spurs went on to enjoy the far better chances early in the second-half.
Bergwijn prodded wide from a narrow angle after Williams showed his inexperience by getting caught under a simple ball down the middle.
The Dutch international had an even better sight of goal just after the hour mark when he hit the base of the post when clean through and from the resulting corner, Kane headed a glorious chance over.
Liverpool continued to enjoy more possession and nearly unpicked the lock of the Tottenham defence when Sadio Mane spun Serge Aurier and crashed a rising shot off the bar.
But Mourinho will be bitterly disappointed that his side were eventually undone by a set-piece as from Robertson’s corner, Firmino rose highest to silence the critics of his goal record with what could be one of the most important all season. (Reuters/AFP)