Premier League: Liverpool bounce back to beat Newcastle, Chelsea held by Everton

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold scored with a spectacular strike as they overcame the loss of three players to suspected positive COVID-19 tests and conceding an early goal to beat Newcastle United 3-1 in the Premier League on Thursday.

Liverpool move onto 40 points from 17 games, one behind leaders Manchester City who beat Leeds United 7-0 on Tuesday.

With Virgil Van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones ruled out for the hosts, Jonjo Shelvey struck the opener for Newcastle against the run of play in the seventh minute, with a swerving, dipping drive past unsighted keeper Allison Becker at Anfield.

The lead lasted 14 minutes before Diogo Jota fired home the rebound after Martin Dubravka saved his initial header to level, with Newcastle’s players complaining the ball should have been put out of play as Isaac Hayden was down injured in his own box.

Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead four minutes later, equalling Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy’s record of 15 consecutive Premier League games with a goal or assist by blasting home the rebound form a Sadio Mane shot.

Dubravka had to get down smartly to save from Mane in the 81st minute and Jota had a close-range shot blocked before the Newcastle keeper pulled off another super stop from Naby Keita.

There was nothing he could do three minutes from the end of normal time though as Alexander-Arnold took a touch on the edge of the box before firing a rocket into the top corner.

“I’ve been waiting for that for five years, waiting to hit it clean like that,” Alexander-Arnold told BT Sport. “I’ve had a few from the edge of the box… I’ve caught that one sweet and it’s just nestled in the top corner.”

The England fullback said he and his teammates had done their best to ignore the possible positive COVID tests at the club as the games come thick and fast over Christmas.

“We’re focused on our football until we’re told otherwise. We’ll be in there every day, recovery again tomorrow and make sure we’re fit for Sunday,” he said.

Chelsea slip up in title race with draw against Everton

Chelsea suffered another setback in their Premier League title challenge when they were held to a 1-1 home draw by an injury-hit Everton on Thursday, leaving the Blues four points adrift of table-toppers Manchester City.

Chelsea, themselves missing their first-choice strikers due to COVID-19, failed to turn early dominance into goals before Mason Mount made the breakthrough in the 70th minute when he took a pass from Reece James and fired past Jordan Pickford.

Mount had missed one of the hosts’ many chances in the opening period when, clean through, he was denied by Pickford’s outstretched foot.

The visitors drew level within four minutes of Chelsea going ahead when Anthony Gordon floated a looping free-kick to the far post and 19-year-old Jarrad Branthwaite stretched out a boot to turn the ball past goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Chelsea struggled to make further inroads without Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who had all tested positive for COVID-19. Kai Havertz was also unwell and awaiting the results of a test.

The draw left Chelsea in third place behind Manchester City who thrashed Leeds United 7-0 on Tuesday, and Liverpool.

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