EPL

Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool: Foxes profit as stumbling champions suffer collapse

By Sports Desk February 13, 2021

Leicester City scored three goals in the space of seven minutes to stun Liverpool as the Premier League champions slipped to a 3-1 defeat in Jurgen Klopp's 300th match in charge. 

Mohamed Salah's carefully placed finish gave the visitors a 67th-minute lead at the King Power Stadium, yet from a position of strength they suffered a dramatic collapse to slip to a third successive loss. 

James Maddison equalised with a free-kick from a tight angle – the strike was initially ruled out for offside prior to a VAR check – before a calamitous moment between Alisson, at fault for two goals in last Sunday's 4-1 loss to Manchester City, and debutant Ozan Kabak gifted Jamie Vardy his first goal of 2021. 

With Liverpool still reeling, Harvey Barnes wrapped up a first win for Brendan Rodgers over his former employers since the end of his Anfield reign – and moved his current club six points clear of them in the table. 

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    Mikel Arteta is not setting a points total he believes will deliver the Premier League title – but the Arsenal boss has warned the rest of the season may have to be perfect if they are to do so.

    The Gunners travel to bottom club Sheffield United on Monday night knowing victory will once again see them close to within two points of Liverpool at the summit.

    Reigning champions Manchester City are also locked in the three-way tussle for the title as Arteta aims to bring the Premier League crown back to Arsenal for the first time in 20 years.

    Asked how many points might be required to win the league this season, the Spaniard replied: “You always ask me this question and I never get it right.

    “The demands, you might have to win every game. I don’t know. I have no clue.

    “There are a lot of games and we are all going to have crazy schedules and this league might be different to last season. Anything under 90 points I think it (winning the league) would be very difficult.

    “We have to improve in every aspect, that is all, all managers try to be better in what we do.”

    Arsenal were top of the table at this stage last season and led the pack for a total of 248 days before ultimately slipping behind City in the run-in.

    “I think we are where we deserve to be,” Arteta said on Arsenal’s current standing.

    “We could probably be a little bit better in terms of the points that we have deserved in the league

    “Being (back) in the Champions League is another step – that makes obviously the challenge more difficult and the amount of injuries that we had I think we are going good but we want to do better.

    “The target is clear. It’s to be better every day so that when it comes to the weekend, earn the right to win and do everything you possibly can to win the game.

    “This is the focus and the way I see them training every day gives me  more confidence and more reasons to believe that we have a good chance because they really want it.”

  • Barcelona lose Frenkie de Jong and Pedri to injury in Athletic Bilbao stalemate Barcelona lose Frenkie de Jong and Pedri to injury in Athletic Bilbao stalemate

    Barcelona suffered a costly evening against Athletic Bilbao as they failed to make ground on leaders Real Madrid after a goalless draw that saw Frenkie de Jong and Pedri pick up injuries.

    Defeat for second-placed Girona and Real’s draw at Valencia opened up an opportunity for Barca but they were held to a stalemate at San Mames and sit eight points off top spot.

    Worse yet, they lost midfielders De Jong and Pedri in the first half, with the latter unable to hold back the tears as he contemplated the latest in a series of fitness setbacks.

    Ernesto Valverde’s side struggled to get time on the ball in the opening stages, with his former club Barcelona enjoying plenty of possession as Joao Cancelo established himself as the liveliest outlet on the park.

    Hanging on to the ball did not translate into obvious openings, though, with a pair of set-pieces the closest they came to an early breakthrough.

    Andreas Christensen headed over Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick and Jules Kounde’s ambitious flick off a corner also cleared the crossbar.

    For their part, Athletic were feeding on scraps and largely unable to make use of the ball when they made it into the final third. Barca’s flow was disrupted when De Jong went over on his ankle in the 26th minute, clearly unable to shake off the pain as Fermin Lopez took his place.

    They almost grabbed an opener out of nowhere shortly after the half-hour when Cancelo tried his luck from long-range after Unai Simon’s punt up-field and caught the keeper out of position. Simon managed to back-track and get a hand on it but still needed Yeray Alvarez to clear up on the line.

    With time running down on the first half Pedri went down with nobody else involved, forced out of the match and letting his emotion get the better of him as he returned to the dugout.

    Athletic came alive at the start of the second period, captain Inaki Williams twice finding space in behind and twice missing the target as he let loose. Barca defenders Ronald Araujo and Pau Cubarsi were also forced into shutting down promising moves as the tide threatened to turn.

    Alex Berenguer had a couple of promising breaks but floundered when it came to an end product while 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, Pedri’s replacement, saw a penalty shout waved away at the other end.

    The hosts almost made Barca’s night even worse in added time when Dani Garcia arrived unmarked at the far post from a corner but failed to direct his header on target.

  • Napoli strike late to edge narrow Serie A victory over Juventus Napoli strike late to edge narrow Serie A victory over Juventus

    Giacomo Raspadori’s late goal earned a Napoli a second-straight Serie A win for the first time since September as they recorded a 2-1 victory over Juventus, who lost further ground on the league leaders as a result.

    A frantic first-half was on show for supporters inside the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium but Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s strike three minutes before the break put Napoli a goal up at half-time.

    Excitement levels in the second period did not drop and Juventus thought they would take a share of the spoils when Federico Chiesa’s beauty levelled things up.

    However, Giacomo Raspadori’s rebound from Victor Osimhen’s missed penalty gave Napoli a second win on the bounce, while – as a result – Juventus dropped further behind leaders Inter Milan.

    The visitors were first to test the waters and Dusan Vlahovic aimed and fired just wide of the far post in the 11th minute.

    Napoli came closest to opening the scoring when Frank Anguissa was denied by Wojciech Szczesny from six yards and Matteo Politano’s follow up was also kept out by the Poland goalkeeper.

    The game was already teeing up to be an end-to-end thriller, this time Chiesa picked out Samuel Iling-Junior but his first-time effort went marginally wide.

    Juventus came within inches of breaking the deadlock in the 34th minute when Vlahovic latched onto Chiesa’s through ball, he dinked it over the onrushing Alex Meret and onto the post.

    Back came Napoli and Mathias Olivera’s goalbound header was cleared off the line by Alex Sandro with the score somehow still at 0-0.

    Three minutes before the break, Napoli had a breakthrough. Moments after Anguissa had a shot blocked, a defensive header fell into the path of Kvaratskhelia, who proved too powerful for Szczesny and volleyed the ball into the bottom corner.

    Juventus could have had an equaliser almost straight away after Daniele Rugani capitalised on some loose possession in the home defence, the ball fell kindly to Vlahovic but he could not take advantage and skied his effort over the crossbar.

    Chances continued to come for Serbia international Vlahovic but he failed to find the back of the net, this time he broke the line but tamely hit his shot into the firm grasp of Meret.

    Juventus went in search of an equaliser, Southampton loanee Carlos Alcaraz decided to have a crack this time but his shot deflected kindly for Meret.

    The visitors found an equaliser in the 82nd minute when Chiesa found space just inside the box and cracked a daisycutter into the bottom-left corner to level things up at one apiece.

    Napoli were given the chance to retake the lead after Osimhen was brought down inside the box by Joseph Nonge, with referee Maurizio Mariani awarding a penalty following a VAR check.

    From the resulting spot-kick, Osimhen saw his strike saved by Szczesny but Raspadori was on hand to smash home his rebound via the post to save the blushes of the Nigeria striker.

    Juventus missed a golden opportunity to snatch an equaliser at the death when Chiesa’s driven cross was diverted over the crossbar by Rugani with the goal at his mercy.

    Napoli held on for maximum points to move up to seventh and leave their second-placed opponents 12 points off the lead.

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