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Premier League | Man United frustrates Liverpool as Arsenal moves to top of table

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Jonny Evans and Diogo Dalot of Manchester United battle for possession with Mohamed Salah of Liverpool during the Premier League match at Anfield on December 17, 2023 in Liverpool, England.

Jonny Evans and Diogo Dalot of Manchester United battle for possession with Mohamed Salah of Liverpool during the Premier League match at Anfield on December 17, 2023 in Liverpool, England.
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

A 0-0 draw at Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday won’t win any beauty pageants, but a stubborn and battling performance at Anfield suggests Manchester United’s players are up for the fight.

On too many occasions this season, the opposite has looked to be the case.

“You have to fight always for the badge,” United manager Erik Ten Hag said. “The way we defended it was almost perfect. When we made a mistake there was always a teammate to sort it out. I think that is the big win from today. We have to keep this and bring this every game.”

United had folded at the home of its fiercest rival when routed 7-0 on its last visit in March.

With Ten Hag facing speculation over his position and his team eliminated from the Champions League at the earliest stage, he upset the odds to end Liverpool’s 100% 11-game winning run at Anfield this season and also put a dent in Jurgen Klopp’s bid to win the Premier League title.

A draw saw Liverpool knocked off the top of the table and into second place by Arsenal, which beat Brighton 2-0 and travels to Anfield on Saturday.

Ten Hag will be more concerned about United’s fortunes and, while a gutsy display will not totally shut out talk of a crisis at Old Trafford, it gives the Dutch coach something to build on.

“We play in very high highs and also sometimes in very low lows,” he said. “If you want to achieve something in a season you can’t be below certain limits so we have to get the consistency.” It was a frustrating day for Liverpool, which dominated the possession and chances, though Rasmus Hojlund’s second-half effort from close range for United was arguably the best opening created by either team.

“The main thing I don’t like is the result, we should have won the game,” Klopp said. “I can’t remember this kind of dominance against Manchester United as we did today. It was special, the atmosphere was special.” It was United’s first draw in the league this season, having won nine and lost seven of its 16 games going into the match.

The result leaves Ten Hag’s team six points off fourth-place Manchester City. Second-place Liverpool is one point behind Arsenal and above third-place Aston Villa on goal difference.

Arsenal go top

After leading the Premier League for 248 days last season without going on to win the title, Arsenal looks like a serious challenger again.

Mikel Arteta’s team moved back to the top of the table on Sunday after a 2-0 win against Brighton and Liverpool’s draw.

Arsenal had made the most of defending champion Manchester City’s surprise draw against Crystal Palace on Saturday — and the weekend got even better for Arteta as Liverpool dropped points as well.

Gabriel Jesus and Kai Havertz both scored in the second half at Emirates Stadium to extend Arsenal’s advantage over fourth-place City to five points.

Aston Villa fights back

Third-place Aston Villa may well be a surprise challenger if it can continue its outstanding early season form after moving level on points with second-place Liverpool and one behind Arsenal.

Trailing 1-0 at Brentford after Keane Lewis-Potter’s first-half goal, Unai Emery’s team came back to win 2-1, with Ben Mee’s red card in the 71st a turning point.

Alex Moreno evened the score at GTech Community Stadium six minutes later and Ollie Watkins found the winner in the 85th.

Villa had Boubacar Kamara sent off in the seventh minute of stoppage time, but Villa held on to make it five wins out of its last six games in the league.

Later Villa asked for an investigation after Watkins said he had been abused by a Brentford fan.

“Aston Villa FC wants to express its support for Ollie Watkins and, with the utmost respect for the big majority of Brentford fans and for the club, we ask the authorities to investigate this incident to find this individual,” it posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Zero tolerance to abuse in football.”

Watkins referred to the incident after his winning goal.

“It was a feisty game and it spurred from my celebrations after I scored,” he said. “That’s not down to the lack of respect to the Brentford fans, but there was one individual who was abusing me all game so I felt like it was only right to celebrate in front of him.

“It was directed to him and that caused a reaction in the last 15 minutes.”

Kudus on the double for West Ham

Mohammed Kudus is looking like one of the buys of the season after West Ham signed him from Ajax for around $48 million in August.

He struck twice as David Moyes’ team beat Wolves 3-0 at London Stadium.

The attacker had also scored in Thursday’s Europa League win against Freiburg and his double on Sunday made it four goals in his last five games. He has eight goals in all competitions for West Ham.

Jarrod Bowen was also on the scoresheet for his 10th of the season.

Tom Lockyer undergoes scans

Luton captain Tom Lockyer was undergoing tests and scans following his cardiac arrest on Saturday, Luton said.

The defender collapsed on the field during his team’s game against Bournemouth, which was abandoned.

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