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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 March 2019

Liverpool's win at Brighton music to Jurgen Klopp's ears, Unai Emery defends Mesut Ozil absence after Arsenal lose to West Ham: Premier League round-up

There were also wins for Burnley, Watford and Southampton

Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring a penalty for Liverpool against Brighton. Getty Images
Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring a penalty for Liverpool against Brighton. Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp compared Liverpool's narrow win over Brighton & Hove Albion to a "really nice song" after Mohamed Salah's second-half penalty saw the Premier League leaders extend their lead to seven points.

With second-placed Manchester City not in action until Monday night against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool took their chance to apply pressure to the champions with a hard-fought win at the American Express Stadium.

"It was very hard but that is how it is. It was a massive game today. Everyone knows how difficult it is to go to Brighton," Klopp told Sky Sports.

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"You have to be creative against a really good, organised side. It was a mature performance from my side. I really like that as this season it is quite a new skill and I'd like us to keep that.

"We learned from the first half and the second half was better. I liked the performance. It wasn't an opera of football but it was a really nice song."

Brighton manager Chris Hughton was gracious in defeat, and believes his side will continue to have a successful season if they produce similarly committed performances.

"I am incredibly proud, particularly today.," Hughton said. "They worked hard to stay in the game, get chances and make it a game.

"We go into another huge challenge in a week's time at Manchester United. If I get the same next week I will be absolutely delighted."

Match-winner Declan Rice celebrates with Pedro Obiang after West Ham beat Arsenal at London Stadium. Reuters
Match-winner Declan Rice celebrates with Pedro Obiang after West Ham beat Arsenal at London Stadium. Reuters

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has defended his decision to leave midfielder Mesut Ozil out his squad after his side fell to a 1-0 defeat at London rivals West Ham United.

Teenage midfielder Declan Rice scored the only goal of the game at the start of the second half as West Ham claimed their first home win over Arsenal in 13 years. The result means Arsenal have only won two of their past six matches, and are in danger of dropping to sixth in the table.

Despite their struggles at the London Stadium, Emery has stood by his reasons for leaving Ozil out of the team, insisting other players were more deserving of a place in the squad over the club's highest-paid player.

"I decided the idea of the players that I think are the best for this match," he said. "We win with him, we lose with him. I think it is not one player [which means] we can't win or lose.

"Today the players who were here are the players who deserved to be in this match. We could've won or lost. We continue working with every player because they are all important, but today the decision was to come with these players."

Southampton continued their upward trajectory under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl by defeating Leicester City 2-1 at the King Power Stadium, despite being reduced to 10 men just before half-time.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl with James Ward-Prowse after the win over Leicester City. Reuters
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl with James Ward-Prowse after the win over Leicester City. Reuters

James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring from the penalty spot after 11 minutes, before Shane Long struck moments before the interval. Wilfred Ndidi pulled one back for the hosts, but Southampton held on for a valuable three points.

"I'm unbelievably proud of my players," Hasenhuttl told the BBC. "To be manager of this team, it's a fantastic job. Today they showed their quality. To go 2-0 in the lead at Leicester is not easy and we defended with fantastic commitment."

Watford produced a second-half fightback to defeat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park, with Tom Cleverley scoring a fine winning goal. Craig Cathcart scored a first-half own goal to give Palace the lead, before making amends in the 67th minute by grabbing the equaliser for Watford.

Cleverley then scored the winner with 16 minutes remaining, and the midfielder believes Watford's battling qualities allowed them to grind their way to victory.

"When you come to Selhurst Park you know you will have to battle, the games are nearly always decided by one goal or draws," he said. "Luckily I had enough quality to get the goal that won it.

"It is the squad we have got that helps us come back into games, people on the bench are ready to come on and help the team and we don’t let our heads drop. We can play good football or we can battle."

In Saturday's other game, Cardiff City and Hudderfield Town shared a goalless draw, which keeps David Wagner's side stuck at the bottom of the table. Neil Warnock's Cardiff hover perilously above the relegation zone in 17th place.

Updated: January 12, 2019 10:00 PM

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