Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool in fierce battle at top of EPL
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Bournemouth, Liverpool, Chelsea, West Ham United, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, and West Brom all won their Round 16 fixtures. Going into EPL Round 17, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea remain in first place on the EPL Table with 40 points; Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool is in second place tied with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in third place, both with 34 points apiece; Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is in fourth with 33 points; Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur is in fifth with 30 points; and Jose Mourniho’s Manchester United is in sixth with 27 points in a fierce ongoing battle for a top spot finish, the league trophy, and qualification for the Champions League next season. Swansea, Hull, and Sunderland are at the bottom of the table.
EPL Match Week 16 Results, Scores
Chelsea went 6 points clear at the top of the Premier League table with their win away against Sunderland thanks to Cesc Fabregas’ first half goal. Liverpool climbed up to second place past Arsenal after an easy 0-3 win away against Boro. Everton, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur won at home. Salomon Rondon scored a hat-trick of headers. Manchester United won away at Crystal Palace in a hard-fought battle due to a brilliant late goal by Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic and an earlier goal by Paul Pogba.
Everton 2-1 Arsenal
Middlesborough 0-3 Liverpool
Sunderland 0-1 Chelsea
West Ham United 1-0 Burnley
Crystal Palace 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester City 2-0 Watford
Stoke City 0-0 Southampton
Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Hull City
West Bromwich Albion 3-1 Swansea City
Middlesborough 0-3 Liverpool
Liverpool goals: Adam Lallana 29, Divock Origi 60, Adam Lallana 68
Adam Lallana was hero of the match as he scored two goals for Liverpool combined with a goal by Divock Origi to defeat Middlesborough 3-0 away. Credit for Liverpool’s clean sheet goes to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet who replaced Loris Karius. Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side’s victory took precedence over negative reports by the media against Loris Karius prior to the scintillating match. Goalie Mignolet replaced Karius after his recent errors. Liverpool began with confidence and composure after dropping points in their last two games and proved they were the smarter stronger team against Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough. Lallana opened the scoring with a brilliant header, set up Divock Origi for the second, and scored another insurance goal to boot, putting Liverpool past Arsenal in the Premier League to second place on the EPL Table.
Karius watched his competition for the #1 spot Mignolet’s fantastic performance from the bench as Liverpool controlled the match throughout. After the win, Jurgen Klopp said that the German goalie would not be restored to the starting XI immediately, and that Mignolet would keep the #1 place for the near future. “I’m not interested in public pressure, I’m interested in the boy and there’s no reason to push him through this situation,” said Klopp of his decision. “At the end there were little mistakes and they can happen. There is no reason to push Karius through this situation, especially when you have a goalkeeper like Simon Mignolet.”
Liverpool boss Klopp was asked by the press how Karius took the news, that he was dropped from the starting XI. “How you can imagine. It was not that he immediately wanted a hug, but it’s normal. It’s football,” said Klopp. “It’s all OK but of course for the player it was not the best moment in life. Now it’s Simon’s chance.” Belgium Simon Mignolet started a Premier League match for the first time since mid-September. After a tight opening 20 minutes when the only effort on goal was a 25-yard strike from Middlesbrough’s left-back, Fábio, Liverpool took control of the rest of the match. In the 29th minute Georginio Wijnaldum passed to Nathaniel Clyne. Lallana was on time in the penalty area, and rose superbly to score on Clyne’s nod past Víctor Valdés at the far post giving Liverpool the lead. Middlesbrough almost scored immediately afterwards as Viktor Fischer forced a fast accurate stop from Mignolet at the near post. Then Liverpool came close to scoring another before half-time through Sadio Mané, who struck a post.
After the victory, Klopp was pleased as he praised his side’s teamwork, confidence and accuracy.“It’s not the first time this season. The boys are capable of doing things like this, it is really good,” said Klopp. The third goal, it’s perfect. It looks simple but it isn’t. It was a good game tonight. I wouldn’t have expected it but the reaction was great.” In the 55th minute the away fans pushed for handball against Calum Chambers after Mané’s shot from Roberto Firmino’s low cross, but to no avail. Before the clash, Klopp said that it was an "easy decision" to drop Karius to the bench after the storm surrounding his recent errors. Mignolet who started his first Premier League Liverpool game since September 16, was mostly untroubled. Mignolet barely had a save to make in the second half.
In a previous match, twenty-three-year-old Liverpool #1 goalkeeper Lorius Karius made a late mistake which saw Liverpool lose 4-3 to Bournemouth. The mistake Karius made was spilling a low shot to hand Bournemouth the win. “It was my mistake, no doubt about it,’ said Karius. “I wanted to catch the ball and didn’t. I think it looked a bit easier on TV than it was. The ball was flying weird and went by the side of Nathaniel Clyne so I didn’t have much time. So it wasn’t easy but I should have caught it and I don’t need anybody to tell me it was bad, because I know. I am sorry that it cost us a point.”
After the defeat, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp took his side to Barcelona for two days. The negative media blitz followed Karius to Spain, with toxic coverage by Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville. Carragher remarked that the young German “does not look like a Liverpool goalkeeper”, and Neville said Karius “transmitted anxiety to his defenders”. “Carragher was here at Liverpool for a long time so maybe after the game he was a bit frustrated,” added Karius. “He is probably still a supporter. I have to accept it. What critics say right after the game, I don’t know what I think? If you asked them again would they say it now? And I don’t care what Gary Neville said. He was a top player, then he was a manager for a short bit, and now he is back to being an expert again. But he is always very critical. I think he does it to everyone. I just hope that when I do well he will comment on that. We will see in the future.”
Dutchman Ronald Koeman's first Merseyside Derby as Everton manager will be at Goodison Park on December 19. Koeman was confirmed as Roberto Martinez's successor and will hope to improve his side's poor record against neighbor-rivals Liverpool. Everton were thumped in the fixture at Anfield last season in one of Martinez's final games as manager, and Jurgen Klopp's first Merseyside Derby. The reverse fixture at Anfield is set for April 1. Buy Liverpool football tickets and Everton football tickets for the 2016 Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park in Liverpool between Everton v Liverpool FC next Monday, December 19!