Liverpool seal Christmas No.1 spot as Tottenham run riot

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their third goal against Bournemouth. (Reuters)
Updated 07 December 2019

Liverpool seal Christmas No.1 spot as Tottenham run riot

  • Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their third goal against Bournemouth
  • Son Heung-min scores with amazing solo effort in rout of Burnley

LONDON: Rampant Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-0 to lock down the Christmas number one spot ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby as Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham blitzed Burnley 5-0 to climb to fifth in the table.
Interim boss Duncan Ferguson lifted Everton’s spirits, condemning Chelsea to their third Premier League defeat in four matches while bottom club Watford battled to a goalless draw against Crystal Palace.
Liverpool took advantage of playing before their closest rivals to widen the gulf at the top of the table to 11 points, meaning they cannot be caught by December 25.
Jurgen Klopp, mindful of a fixture pile-up for his side, made seven changes from the 5-2 midweek victory against Everton, with Sadio Mane dropping to the bench and Alisson Becker back in goal following suspension.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring for the European champions in the 35th minute after poking home Jordan Henderson’s long ball, moments after Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake left the pitch injured.
Liverpool made it 2-0 just before the break when Naby Keita played a fine one-two with Mohamed Salah and finished from close range, with Keita turning provider for Salah in the 54th minute.
It was Liverpool’s first clean sheet in any match since late September.
“It is not about being constantly exciting, it is about doing the right stuff,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “There were not a lot of difficult moments to defend and that is good, important. Nearly a perfect day.
“I don’t want to blame or whatever the groups I had before but this is a special group. Without that we have no chance to fulfil the Liverpool dreams. You need a strong character and this team has a strong character.”
Spurs lost their first match under new boss Mourinho at Old Trafford in midweek but flew out of the blocks at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
Harry Kane put them ahead with his 14th goal of the season in the fourth minute and Spurs doubled their lead when Lucas Moura tapped home at the far post following a goalmouth scramble.
Son Heung-min added a third with a brilliant solo effort shortly after the half-hour, running from deep in his own half before slotting past goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Kane made it 4-0 in the 54th minute with his second goal of the game and turned provider for Moussa Sissoko to score Spurs’ fifth.
Spurs are still six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea but will fancy their chances of closing the gap on their London rivals, who are stumbling after a six-game winning run earlier in the season.
“A perfect day,” Mourinho told the BBC. “No injuries, a clean sheet, goals, perfect football, kids coming on for first Premier League football.
“Sean Dyche is always honest and told me after the game we were too good for them. I thank him for that.”
Everton made it a miserable day for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea thanks to an early strike from Brazil forward Richarlison and two goals from England under-21 international Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Mateo Kovacic scored his first Premier League goal to pull the score back to 2-1 but the Toffees wrapped up victory six minutes from time, Calvert-Lewin latching on to a loose ball in the box to finish underneath Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Former Everton player Ferguson, who celebrated the goals wildly, refused to talk up his chances of getting the job full-time despite the win, telling BT Sport: “I’m here for Everton. I’m here for as long as they want me here.
“I’m sure they’re out there looking for other candidates, and rightly so. We want the best guys in the world managing our football club.”
Watford, who appointed former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson as their new manager on Friday, were unable to force their second win of the season, drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, in third place, 14 points behind Liverpool, faced Manchester United at the Etihad in the late kick-off on Saturday.
Second-placed Leicester are in action on Sunday, away to Aston Villa, while struggling Arsenal travel to West Ham the following day.


Dustin Johnson back to full fitness ahead of Saudi International title defense

Updated 5 min 39 sec ago

Dustin Johnson back to full fitness ahead of Saudi International title defense

  • World number 5, Johnson, counts last year’s 61 at the Royal Greens & Country Club as one of his ‘best rounds’
  • Johnson is joined by leading US pros such as world number 1 Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed

RIYADH: The Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers returns to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) from January 30 — February 2. Arab News caught up with the big-hitting Dustin Johnson ahead of the European Tour event at Royal Greens & Country Club.

How are you feeling going into the Saudi International after a short spell out with injury?
I’m feeling very good. My knee has recovered well during the off season and I am anxious to get out on the course again. I have been working hard on my game over the last month or so and I am ready to get back to competition. It was a fun event last year and somewhat close over those final few holes, which made it exciting.

You must be excited to return to Saudi after winning the competition last year — what stood out for you from the victory?
Yes, of course. It’s always nice to go back to return to a tournament where you have good memories and my 61 in the second round was one of the best rounds of my year. I was surprised at how good the course was in the first year of playing the event and the hospitality in the country was second to none.

What surprised you about the competition in Saudi Arabia last year and how would you sum up the experience in the country?
Nothing really surprised me about the competition because we all know that it was a world-class field. I loved playing here last year and the field is looking even stronger this year. It’s is great to see a few more Americans making the trip over, which just shows how the tournament is gaining momentum and acceptance.

Last year was the first time the competition was held in Saudi Arabia, do you expect bigger crowds this year and what part can fans play in a Championship?
It was great to see so many people coming to watch us play last year and I hope the turnout will be even bigger this year. The crowds were fantastic and with all of the music concerts also lined up for this year, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

There are more top players competing in the Championship this year – are you confident of recording another victory in Saudi?
I don’t worry about the competition and about defending the trophy and just try to focus on my own preparation. If I play my best golf, I know I’ll have a chance to defend. I have managed to defend a title once before in my career, which is always challenging, so I don’t put any extra emphasis on it and just approach it like any other week.

How important is it for golf to be coming to Saudi Arabia and bring the game into new markets?
It is always good to introduce the game in new markets and although I play the majority of my golf in the US, it is nice come across to the Middle East to compete against such a strong field. Golf Saudi has a really cool vision for the sport in the next ten years and, it will be great to come back to this event in years to come.

Many people in Saudi Arabia will not have attended a golf championship. What can they expect, and what do fans get from watching the golf live and up close that is just impossible to experience through the TV?
It will be great to see more fans coming out to watch again this year. They are able to see what we go through on the course, how we decide which club to hit and experience the excitement of the competition, which is something you can’t really replicate on TV. It is always nice to interact with the fans, sign some autographs and hopefully improve the fans’ experience at the tournament.

More young people in Saudi Arabia are watching sport or taking up sport. What would you say to encourage them to take up golf and what can they learn from the sport?
Just get out there and play and have fun. It’s a great sport that anyone can enjoy for a lifetime. There is more than one way to swing the club and if you watch a few different golfers this week at the Saudi International you will see this for your own eyes.