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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Manchester City held by Liverpool, Ollie Watkins brace helps Villa beat Arsenal

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was the happier with the result, given his side had lost their last three visits to the Etihad Stadium in the league and they retain a five-point advantage over City.

By: Reuters | Updated: November 9, 2020 8:00:12 am
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah vies for the ball with Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte and Ilkay Gundogan, right, during the English Premier League match. (AP)

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne missed a potentially match-winning penalty as Pep Guardiola’s side were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.

Both goals, a Mohamed Salah spot-kick for Liverpool and a fine turn and finish from Gabriel Jesus for City, and the missed penalty came in a pulsating opening 45 minutes in which the last two league champions produced some exciting football.

Yet the quality and entertainment faded badly after the break and the game finished in a draw that left Liverpool third on 17 points after eight games with 11th-placed City on 12, having played a game fewer.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was the happier with the result, given his side had lost their last three visits to the Etihad Stadium in the league and they retain a five-point advantage over City.

“The plan is always to start fast, stay fast and finish fast but that is not always possible. City is a top team,” said Klopp.

“It was an interesting game, a lot of tactical stuff on the pitch. Both teams played on an incredible energy level to close the other team down and use the few opportunities. I thought it was a top, top, top game.”

Klopp answered the question of whether to replace Roberto Firmino with the in-form Diogo Jota by picking both players in a very attacking lineup and unsurprisingly his side began positively.

The visitors took the lead in the 13th minute when Sadio Mane turned sharply in the box and went down after contact from Kyle Walker and Salah converted the spot-kick.

An even better turn produced City’s equaliser in the 31st minute when De Bruyne found Jesus in the box and the Brazilian’s superb twist set him free of Trent Alexander-Arnold and earned him just enough space to poke past Alisson.

City then wasted an opportunity to take the lead, three minutes before the interval, when De Bruyne missed a penalty — awarded after his cross struck the arm of Joe Gomez and referee Craig Pawson gave the spot-kick after checking the pitchside monitor.

The Belgian placed his kick well wide of the post to ensure the sides entered halftime still on level-terms.

Yet the excitement of the opening 45 minutes was not replicated after the break as City gained greater control but struggled to create real openings.

Ederson did well to save from Jota at the near post and at the other end Jesus was off-target after being found unmarked in the box by Joao Cancelo.

“When you cannot win in 80-85 minutes, you cannot lose it. When you play against a contender like Liverpool, you have to try and win but you cannot lose. We know each other quite well,” said Guardiola.

Watkins scores twice as vibrant Villa stun Arsenal

Aston Villa returned to winning ways in stunning fashion as Ollie Watkins scored twice in a 3-0 away thumping of an abject Arsenal in drizzly north London on Sunday.

The visitors had already seen a John McGinn goal ruled out for a harsh offside decision when Bukayo Saka, under pressure from Trezeguet, put into his own goal after 25 minutes.

Villa went up a gear in the second half with Jack Grealish pulling the strings in midfield and it was no surprise when Arsenal-fan Watkins headed home in the 72nd minute.

Watkins struck again three minutes later after a rapid counter-attack to seal the points.

Consecutive defeats to Leeds United and Southampton had halted Villa’s early-season charge but they moved back up to sixth with 15 points from seven games.

Remarkably Villa have already won more away games this season than they managed in the whole of the last campaign.

Inconsistent Arsenal are down in 11th with 12 points after four wins and four defeats so far.

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