Jota milestone keeps pressure on Man City, Gunners hold on despite bizarre ‘never seen before’ red card

Liverpool welcomed back Mohamed Salah and avenged a painful defeat to Leicester City as Diogo Jota’s double clinched a 2-0 win at Anfield, while Arsenal overcame a bizarre red card to keep their top-four campaign on track.

Jurgen Klopp’s men lost to the Foxes during a tough three-game run in the Premier League from December 19 to January 2, when Liverpool took just two points and Manchester City pulled away at the top.

This time it was the Reds who prevailed, Jota making the difference on a night when the hosts could have filled their boots.

Former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers, enduring a tough campaign, was thankful for goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel keeping the visitors in the game with a string of saves.

Liverpool’s newest recruit Luis Diaz made his Premier League debut and looked at home on the left of the front three, before substitute Salah, back from the Africa Cup of Nations, added pep to the hosts’ attack late on.

Liverpool edged ahead in the 34th minute when a powerful Virgil van Dijk header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner was blocked by Schmeichel before Jota blasted in the loose ball from five yards.

Jota scooped over from close range just before the hour mark after Van Dijk won another header from a corner, with Liverpool looking to lock up the points.

Klopp sent on Salah, fresh from Egypt duty, as Roberto Firmino made way on the hour mark.

Diaz rattled a shot into the Kop after running at the Leicester defence before Salah had a strike charged down by Schmeichel. Salah then looked sure to score as he raced through, only for Schmeichel to palm away his dinked shot on goal.

Salah hit the angle of left post and crossbar with a 20-yard attempt before Diaz had a scorcher repelled by the busy Schmeichel.

Jota tied up the win in the 87th minute though, beating Schmeichel with a strike into the left corner after a nudge through from Joel Matip.

Jota was delighted to take his goals tally for the season to 17 after Liverpool reduced the gap on leaders Manchester City to nine points with a game in hand.

Jota told BT Sport: “It’s my best so far and I want to keep helping the team.

“It’s always important to score first. Never easy, but we killed the game right at the end.”

At Molineux, Gabriel Magalhaes ended Arsenal’s five-game winless run but they were forced to cling on for a 1-0 Premier League victory over Wolves after Gabriel Martinelli saw red.

A disappointing start to 2022 saw Arsenal eliminated from the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest and miss out on a place in the EFL Cup final at the hands of Liverpool, but they got back to winning ways on Thursday.

Gabriel punished Wolves’ inability to turn their superiority into chances with an opportunistic finish as claims for a foul on goalkeeper Jose Sa were ignored by referee Michael Oliver.

Martinelli receiving two yellow cards in the space of five seconds gave Wolves hope late in the second half, but they were unable to avoid slipping five points behind Arsenal in a blow to their top-four chances.

“We made it even more difficult, playing again with 10 men,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, after the 15th red card of his tenure, and fourth in six matches.

Of the Martinelli double booking he said: “I’ve never seen something like it. The rules can say that probably it’s possible but you have to be very, very willing to do that.

“We have seen something today that I had never seen happen before in my career.”

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