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Dhaka Tribune

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Liverpool hint at title challenge, Arsenal stun Utd with late flourish

Szoboszlai, with his 1st goal for Liverpool, and Cash's own goal put the Reds in command before Salah added a 3rd after HT

Update : 04 Sep 2023, 04:06 AM

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said Mohamed Salah wants to remain at Anfield after scoring in a dominant 3-0 win over Aston Villa Sunday.

Dominik Szoboszlai, with his first goal for the club, and Matty Cash's own goal put the Reds in command before Salah added a third after half-time.

Liverpool reportedly turned down an offer worth up to £150m ($189m) from Saudi side Al-Ittihad for Salah this week.

"I never had any doubt about his commitment to this club," said Klopp after Salah scored his 188th goal for the club.

"You can’t imagine how much fuss the world has made but how calm we are with it. He is our player and wants to play here."

Victory takes the Reds to within two points of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

But it was the manner of victory and a return of 10 points from a tricky opening four games of the new season that will have Liverpool fans dreaming of a title challenge once more.

Either side of Liverpool's first title in 30 years in 2020, Klopp's men missed out on the title to City twice by a solitary point in 2019 and 2022.

However, last season they slumped to fifth in the Premier League to miss out on Champions League football for the first time in seven years.

A return to the top four looked like it could be the limit of Liverpool's ambitions for the new campaign after a difficult summer in the transfer market led them to miss out on a number of targets.

Klopp has had to completely rebuild his midfield, but new signings Szoboszlai and Alexis Mac Allister have slotted in with ease.

"Absolutely it was a top game, best for a while," added Klopp.

"I don't know when it was last that convincing."

Salah was a constant threat and there is little doubting Liverpool's firepower up front with Darwin Nunez now finding his feet after a difficult first season.

Nunez was rewarded for his match-winning contribution off the bench with two goals away to Newcastle United last weekend with his first start of the season.

The Uruguayan's pace and power consistently exposed the Villa defence but it was from a set-piece that the home side broke the deadlock after just three minutes.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner came out to the edge of the box where Szoboszlai arrowed a powerful shot into the far corner on his weaker left foot.

Alexander-Arnold controlled the game from his new role at the base of the Liverpool midfield when in possession.

Captain for the day in the absence of the suspended Virgil van Dijk, it was his pass that started the move for the second goal.

Salah squared for Nunez, who should have scored himself, but when his shot came back off the post, the ball ricocheted in off the unfortunate Cash.

Villa had lost just seven Premier League games in 28 under Unai Emery.

But just as in the 5-1 thrashing they suffered at Newcastle on the opening weekend of the season, their high defensive line was easily picked off.

"The first half was key. They were clinical," said Emery.

"Maybe we were a little weak in some actions and that was key in the first half." 

Salah remains indispensable if Liverpool are to hold any hope of reeling in City for a 20th English top-flight title and got the goal his performance deserved on 55 minutes.

Villa failed to deal with another corner and Salah converted Nunez's flick-on at the back post.

Rice on target

Declan Rice scored his first goal for Arsenal and Gabriel Jesus added the icing on the cake as the Gunners scored twice in stoppage time to beat Manchester United 3-1 Sunday.

Marcus Rashford gave the visitors the lead against the run of play at the Emirates but Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard equalized seconds later.

The home side had a second-half penalty award overturned following a Video Assistant Referee check and United were denied what could have been a late winner when substitute Alejandro Garnacho was ruled offside by VAR. 

Last year's Premier League runners-up kept up the pressure in eight minutes of added time.

They were rewarded in the 96th minute when new midfield signing Rice controlled a deep corner at the back post and shot past Andre Onana, with the help of a deflection off substitute Jonny Evans.

There was still time for another goal as substitute Jesus burst forward, beating Onana to leave United shellshocked.

"We work and do everything we do every day for moments like this," Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta told Sky, praising his side for their never-say-die attitude.

"This is sport at the top level, it is about the small margins. It could have gone either way.

"I am really happy, obviously. They are a great team, really well coached and they make life difficult for you. When we gave the goal away that we did you are always up against it."

The result leaves Arsenal fifth in the table after their third win in four games, two points behind leaders Manchester City, while United are 11th.

Arsenal shot out of the blocks, pinning United back in the warm September sunshine, and should have taken the lead in the 13th minute but new signing Kai Havertz miskicked horrendously with the goal at his mercy.

The game exploded into life shortly before the half-hour mark when United took the lead against after a speedy counter-attack.

Christian Eriksen picked up a loose ball in midfield and burst forward, producing a perfectly weighted pass for Rashford, running down the left-hand channel.

The England forward, largely anonymous in the early stages, cut inside and past two defenders before unleashing a shot past the despairing dive of Aaron Ramsdale in the 27th minute.

But the Gunners were level just a minute later when Odegaard, unmarked in the area, blasted home from just inside the box after being found by the impressive Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal were quicker to settle after the break and were awarded a penalty just before the hour mark when Havertz tumbled in the box but referee Anthony Taylor overturned his decision following a VAR check.

United boss Erik ten Hag gave new signing Rasmus Hojlund his debut, bringing on the Denmark forward for the nondescript Anthony Martial in the 67th minute.

Arteta made three changes, including bringing on Jesus for the lively Eddie Nketiah.

Garnacho appeared to have won the game for United in the 88th minute following a swift break but VAR ruled he was marginally off-side to the delight of the Arsenal fans.

That announcement sent the decibel-level soaring but it rose higher as the home supporters celebrated their two dramatic late goals with wild abandon.

United lost all six matches away to other members of the top seven last season, conceding 3.66 goals per away match on average.

They went down 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur last month and Sunday's result spells more away-day misery for the misfiring Reds.

"We deserved to win this game but you don't always get what you deserve," Ten Hag told the BBC.

"I look more at how we step up and if you see from the Wolverhampton Wanderers game to this game there is big progression. Tonight was a team. I am really happy with this performance and the progress of our performance."

RESULTS

Arsenal 3 (Odegaard 28, Rice 90+6, Jesus 90+11) Man Utd 1 (Rashford 27)

Palace 3 (Edouard 56, 84, Eze 78) Wolves 2 (Hwang 65, Cunha 90+6)

Liverpool 3 (Szoboszlai 3, Cash 22-og, Salah 55) Villa 0

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