By Victor Okoye
Liverpool secured a vital advantage over Arsenal in the battle for a place in the English Premier League’s top four with a well-deserved 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gambled by leaving Alexis Sanchez – his leading scorer with 17 Premier League goals – on the bench but the ploy failed miserably as Liverpool took control by the break.
Roberto Firmino’s far-post finish put Liverpool ahead after nine minutes and Sadio Mane confirmed their superiority with an emphatic strike just before half-time.
Sanchez, predictably, emerged as a substitute at the start of the second half and set up a goal for Danny Welbeck that gave Arsenal hope but Georginio Wijnaldum struck on the break deep into injury-time to seal Liverpool’s win.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that Liverpool are now up to third, level with Manchester City on 52 points – but Arsenal are now in fifth trailing that pair by two points.
In the first game of the day, ten-man AFC Bournemouth denied Manchester United all three points as they held the hosts 1-1 in a Matchday 27 encounter of the English Premier League (EPL) at Old Trafford.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the result meant that Manchester United remained sixth in the EPL in a match that had two unpleasant incidents involving Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings.
Both occurred towards the end of the first half after the players had earlier been warned by referee Kevin Friend for an off-the-ball incident.
First, Mings appeared to have landed on the back of the head of the United forward as he laid on the ground, and then from a corner, Ibrahimovic appeared to have elbowed the Cherries defender.
That last incident was witnessed by Mings’ team-mates, including midfielder Andrew Surman who pushed the Swedish striker to the ground.
He was consequently shown a yellow card, which Friend realised was his second after a long delay. The official eventually pulled out his red card.
That followed a period of United domination, and they took the lead when Marcos Rojo diverted Antonio Valencia’s strike past keeper Artur Boruc in the 23rd minute.
The visitors – with only one win in 11 – then grabbed a shock equaliser when Joshua King converted from the spot in the 40th minute after Phil Jones had brought down Marc Pugh.
United then won a penalty in the 71st minute when Adam Smith handled Paul Pogba’s flick. But from the resulting spot-kick Boruc, magnificent during the match, dived to his right to keep out Ibrahimovic’s effort.
Bournemouth hung on to earn their first league point in five games, but it is the incidents involving Ibrahimovic and Mings that will dominate the back pages.