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.
Pedro Rodriguez’s early opener was cancelled out by Ciaran Clark’s header for the visitors, but Willian’s fine 57th-minute strike secured all three points for Maurizio Sarri’s men.
Defeat allied to results elsewhere saw Newcastle slip into the bottom three as 10-man Southampton held out to win 2-1 at Leicester.
James Ward-Prowse’s penalty gave the Saints an 11th-minute lead before Yann Valery was sent off.
Southampton still doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time through Shane Long and withstood a second-half fightback from the Foxes when Wilfried Ndidi pulled a goal back.
“I’m unbelievably proud of my players,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“To go 2-0 in the lead at Leicester is not easy and we defended with fantastic commitment.”
Fulham remain in the relegation zone as Burnley won 2-1 at Turf Moor despite not even having a single shot on target.
Andre Schurrle’s stunning effort put Fulham ahead in just the second minute but Burnley equalised in the 20th minute through Joe Bryan’s own goal and were soon in the lead when Denis Odoi also put through his own net.
“It is unbelievable. We scored a great goal and then suddenly two own goals,” said Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri.
Craig Cathcart scored at both ends as Watford beat Crystal Palace 2-1 thanks to Tom Cleverley’s volleyed winner with 16 minutes left at Selhurst Park.
Huddersfield are still rooted to the foot of the table following a goalless draw at Cardiff.
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