Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil (left) is locked in a tussle for the ball with Norwich’s Gary O’Neil during their Premiership clash yesterday. (Action Images via Reuters)
Arsenal lost Alexis Sanchez and Laurent Koscielny to injury in a 1-1 draw at Norwich City yesterday that prevented them drawing level with Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Sanchez set up Mesut Ozil for Arsenal’s 30th-minute opener at Carrow Road, but after Lewis Grabban had equalised just before half-time, the influential Chilean left the fray clutching his right hamstring.
Centre-back Koscielny had already departed by that stage, having been replaced by Gabriel in the 11th minute, leaving Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with seven senior players on the sidelines.
Arsenal finished the weekend two points below City in fourth place, with Leicester City and Manchester United between them, having squandered an opportunity to move level on points with Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Liverpool had much happier injury news to report in their 1-0 home win over Swansea City as they welcomed back England internationals Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturrige from injury.
James Milner’s 62nd-minute penalty, awarded for a handball by Neil Taylor, lifted Jurgen Klopp’s side up to sixth place and increased the pressure on Swansea manager Garry Monk, who has overseen one win in 10 league games.
Henderson, Liverpool’s captain, made his return after three months out with a heel problem and a broken foot, as a replacement for Roberto Firmino, while Sturridge made his first appearance under Klopp in place of Christian Benteke.
Liverpool have lost only once in 10 games since Klopp succeeded the sacked Brendan Rodgers and finished the weekend four points below fourth-place Arsenal, who occupy the last of the Champions League places.
Earlier, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho declared that the champions had produced their best performance of the campaign after they drew 0-0 at in-form Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea have had little to shout about of late and although the result served only to move them up to 14th place in the standings, Mourinho, who dropped misfiring striker Diego Costa, was encouraged by what he saw.
“It was the best Chelsea performance of the season, against a dangerous team,” said the Portuguese, who saw Eden Hazard impress in an unfamiliar role as a lone striker.
“My players did everything to try and interpret my defensive ideas with the ball. I am more than happy with the performance. I am happy with the team collectively.”
With Hazard leading the line, Costa was left to stew on the bench and the Brazil-born Spain international made his annoyance clear towards the end of the game when he tore off his bib and tossed it towards Mourinho.
But Mourinho played down the incident, saying: “If he wants to hurt me, it’s not with a bib. I have a good relationship with him, no problems.”
Spurs went closest in the first half, Son Heung-Min forcing Asmir Begovic into action with a firm header, while Hazard drew a fine stop from Hugo Lloris in the second period with a thunderous left-foot volley.
The result extended Spurs’ unbeaten run to 13 Premier League games, but they squandered an opportunity to break into the top four.
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