Saturday , September 22 2018

Arsenal down Watford 3-0 as Liverpool held by Spurs – Allardyce off to losing start: Vardy double stuns Saints

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (right), grabs a hold of Everton’s John Stones during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England on Oct 17. (AP)
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (right), grabs a hold of Everton’s John Stones during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, England on Oct 17. (AP)

WATFORD, United Kingdom, Oct 17, (AFP): Alexis Sanchez continued his remarkable scoring streak as Arsenal regained second place in the Premier League table with a 3-0 win at Watford on Saturday.

The Chile forward opened the scoring in the 62nd minute to record his seventh goal in his last four Arsenal outings.

The 26-year-old also scored once for his country against Brazil and twice against Peru in 2018 World Cup qualifying, bringing his total since Sept 26 to 10 goals in just six games.

Arsene Wenger’s side have a home date with Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday and will go into that game having been tested in all areas of the pitch by Watford, who are finding goals hard to come by on their return to the Premier League.

Wins earlier in the day for Manchester City, Manchester United — who temporarily moved above Arsenal into second place — and West Ham United had put added pressure on the Gunners to perform at Vicarage Road.

Laurent Koscielny, back from a hamstring injury, ousted Gabriel in central defence in the only change to the side that had beaten United 3-0 directly before the international break.

That meant Theo Walcott continued up front, with Olivier Giroud forced to bide his time on the bench.

Arsenal applied early pressure and Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes made a smart stop low down after Walcott had met Aaron Ramsey’s cross from the right with a cushioned header.

Sanchez, back from a profitable if lengthy trip to South America to represent Chile, was next to have a go, cutting in from the left and unleashing from outside the box, but again Gomes was able to save.

Liverpool 0, Hotspur 0

Jurgen Klopp’s tenure as Liverpool manager began with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.

Greeted by Germany flags in the away end bearing legends like ‘Liverpool Uber Alles’, Klopp handed a league debut to 20-year-old striker Divock Origi, who hit the bar in the early stages at White Hart Lane.

But he was also indebted to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for producing three important saves, which meant that although Liverpool have now won only once inside 90 minutes in their last 10 games, their manager was spared defeat on his first outing.

Klopp will have drawn encouragement from his team’s combativeness, particularly against a team who had crushed Manchester City 4-1 in their previous home game, and will now turn his thoughts to his first home game against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs, meanwhile, are now unbeaten in seven games — the longest run in the division — having ended a run of five straight league defeats against Liverpool.

Klopp made just two changes to the last team selected by his sacked predecessor Brendan Rodgers as Adam Lallana and Origi replaced knee ligament injury victim Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge, who was absent with a knock.

Clad in a black tracksuit, Klopp was quickly out on the touchline to offer encouragement to his new charges, who lined up in a 4-3-2-1 formation with Lallana and Philippe Coutinho supporting lone striker Origi.

Aggressive pressing was the cornerstone of Klopp’s approach at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool made an energetic start that saw Origi head against the crossbar from one of a succession of early corners.

Southampton 2, Leicester 2

Premier League top scorer Jamie Vardy hit two second half goals to help Leicester City steal a 2-2 draw with another dramatic fightback at Southampton on Saturday.

Defensive lynchpins Jose Fonte and Virgil Van Dijk put Southampton ahead at half time. But they could not resist the brilliant Vardy-led fightback which kept Leicester in fifth place.

England international Vardy now leads the Premier League charts with nine goals — eight coming in the last six games.

He could easily have had a hat-trick against a Saints side looking for a third straight league win.

After the goals from Southampton skipper Fonte and £13 million (17.5 million euro) signing Van Dijk, the home side seemed to be cruising.

Dutchman Van Dijk had another header cleared off the line by Danny Drinkwater.

But Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, who revealed this week he had been approached by Southampton before they appointed Ronald Koeman last year, sent on Nathan Dyer and Riyad Mahrez for the second half and the Foxes were a different team.

In the 66th minute, Dyer crossed for Vardy, under little pressure, to head almost casually beyond slow-to-react goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.

Leicester grew in confidence as Southampton lost theirs.

Vardy, looking to seal a place in England manager Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2016, wasted a golden opportunity when he sent Mahrez’s left-wing cross over from close range.

But in the first of five minutes of stoppage time, Leicester threw everything forward.

West Brom 1, Sunderland 0

Sam Allardyce’s first match in charge of Sunderland ended in defeat on Saturday as a second-half goal from Saido Berahino was enough for West Bromwich Albion to claim a deserved 1-0 win.

The former Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United manager took over at Sunderland last week with the club second-bottom of the Premier League with just three points from eight games and desperately in need of a morale-boosting win.

West Brom, also struggling just outside of the relegation zone, were on the back foot in the early exchanges at The Hawthorns, but Sunderland were unable to get a shot on target despite a string of corners.

The hosts gradually worked their way back into the match and Stephane Sessegnon showed why Tony Pulis included him in the West Brom line-up by twisting and turning before sending a left-footed shot just wide of the post from 18 yards.

It was former Sunderland man Sessegnon who again was at the heart of the action two minutes from half-time when his right-wing cross was headed back across goal by James McClean, but Salomon Rondon was unable to get any power or direction on his header.

The Baggies opened the second half strongly and they took the lead after 54 minutes when Berahino pounced on a spill by goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon to poke the ball home from a yard out. It was a third league goal of the season for the Burundi-born striker.

Rondon then almost made it 2-0 on the hour mark but hooked wide of the post.

Allardyce sent on Danny Graham for Steven Fletcher as Sunderland went after an equaliser and they almost got one with 12 minutes to go.

Yann M’Vila tested Boaz Myhill with a 25-yarder which the West Brom goalkeeper spilled only for a defender to come to his rescue with a booted clearance.

But that was as close as the visitors got as Allardyce got a clear view of the task he is faced with to keep Sunderland up.

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