London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah’s second-half penalty moved Liverpool seven points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to a 1-0 win away to Brighton, while Arsenal’s hopes of a top-four finish suffered another body blow in defeat by West Ham on Saturday.
Chelsea now lead the Gunners by six points in the race for Champions League qualification after beating Newcastle 2-1.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted it had been “no opera” watching his side struggle to create chances on the south coast in a game of little goalmouth incident other than Salah’s 17th goal of the season after the Egyptian had been hauled down by Pascal Gross five minutes into the second half.
“We are not the Harlem Globetrotters, we have to deliver results,” said Klopp, as his side got back to winning ways after a first Premier League defeat of the season by Manchester City and an FA Cup exit to Wolves.
“For that, we need to perform. The performance was good. It was not the best performance of the season in a few departments but I would say it was the most mature performance of the season.”
City can close the gap to four points with victory over Wolves on Monday, while Tottenham can close to within six should they move above the champions with victory over Manchester United on Sunday.
However, if United continue Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s perfect record as caretaker boss, the Red Devils will have eroded an eight-point gap to Arsenal in the month since Jose Mourinho was sacked.
– Rice sinks Arsenal –
Teenager Declan Rice scored his first West Ham goal as Unai Emery’s men suffered on the road once more in a 1-0 loss at the London Stadium.
Mesut Ozil was again not selected even in Emery’s squad as Arsenal’s winless run away from home in the league extended to five games.
“We decided that the players here were the best for this match,” said Emery of the German’s absence.
“We’ve won with him, we’ve lost with him. No one player makes the difference between winning and losing the game.”
However, it was not a perfect afternoon for the Hammers either as Marko Arnautovic appeared to wave goodbye to the home fans when substituted with the Austrian strongly linked with a move to the Chinese Super League.
Chelsea took advantage of Arsenal’s defeat despite making heavy work of seeing off Newcastle.