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Man Utd slip to third after goalless draw with Saints

Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku heads the ball during the English Premier League soccer match Manchester United versus Southampton at Old Trafford, Manchester, England on Dec 30. (AFP)

LONDON, Dec 30, (AFP): Romelu Lukaku was stretchered off after a clash of heads as Manchester United drew 0-0 with Southampton, while Mohamed Salah fired Liverpool to a 2-1 win over Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday. Lukaku crashed into Southampton’s Wesley Hoedt as the pair contested an aerial challenge early in the first half at Old Trafford. The Belgium striker lay prone on the pitch barely moving while he was treated by medical staff for five minutes. Lukaku remained conscious and was eventually carried off wearing an oxygen mask.

The injury continued a diffi- cult period for Lukaku, who has scored just four times in his last 19 appearances for Jose Mourinho’s side. In the absence of Lukaku, Mourinho’s men were unable to break down Southampton and had to settle for their third successive league draw. United end a frustrating December trailing 14 points behind leaders Manchester City, who face Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Jack Wilshere believes he is nearing a return to his best form as he prepares to make a fifth successive Premier League start when Arsenal visit West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. The game will see manager Arsene Wenger in charge for a record 811th Premier League game, passing the mark previously set by Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and give the Gunners an opportunity to strengthen their push for a topfour spot.

For Wilshere, it will also offer the chance to reinforce the view he has re-established himself after breaking a leg towards the end of his loan spell at Bournemouth last season. Since being promoted into Wenger’s first choice line-up, Wilshere has excelled, prompting talk of an international recall ahead of next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.

The 25-year-old’s most recent display in Thursday’s 3-2 win at Crystal Palace — a win that moved the Gunners to within a point of the top four ahead of the latest round of matches — drew praise, in particular for the pass that set up Alexis Sanchez’s second goal. After several injuryscarred seasons, Wilshere insists he is feeling as good as he has done for some time. “I was happy with my form last year and I’m probably better now,” he told arsenal.com. “I feel better, I feel fitter and I’m getting better with each game. I’m enjoying my football.” Wilshere is out of contract at the end of the season but expects to open talks about a new deal soon. “I spoke to the boss and he says he’s going to speak to me, so we’ll see when he speaks to me and I’m sure it will be done,” he said.

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