London: Skilful finishes from Pedro and Willian earned Chelsea a 2-1 win over battling Newcastle United in the Premier League Saturday, keeping the London side safely in the top four.
Earlier, Liverpool opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion while Arsenal’s poor away form continued with a 0-1 defeat at West Ham United.
At Stamford Bridge, a pinpoint lofted pass from David Luiz in the ninth minute found Pedro and the Spain forward deftly chipped the ball over Martin Dubravka into the net.
Despite Chelsea’s overwhelming possession, Newcastle enjoyed a couple of chances on the counter late in the first half and Ciaran Clark restored parity from a corner in the 40th minute, squeezing his header inside Kepa Arrizabalaga’s right post.
Chelsea, though often frustrated by a mass Newcastle defence, found a way through in the 57th minute when Eden Hazard forced his way down the middle and laid off the ball to Willian who curled an exquisite shot into the top corner of Dubravka’s goal.
Earlier on the day, Liverpool went into their clash at Brighton on the back of two successive defeats in all competitions and were made to work hard for the three points, extending their lead over their nearest challengers Manchester City.
Neither side had a single shot on target in the first half, with the match settled by a Mohamed Salah penalty in the second half. Liverpool’s 50th clean sheet under Juergen Klopp carried them home.
For all their possession, though, Liverpool struggled to create any meaningful chances. Pascal Gross’s clumsy challenge on Salah earned Liverpool the penalty which the Egyptian converted with aplomb.
Once again, Liverpool’s defence stood firm as they saw out the win. Liverpool have conceded just 10 goals in their 22 league matches this season; only Chelsea in 2004-05 had conceded fewer after 22 matches in an English top-flight season.
AT West Ham, Arsenal’s defeat by a solitary goal means they have now won just one of their last seven matches on the road in the Premier League. After their 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end at Southampton in mid-December, Arsenal have struggled to find their form, with their away performances of particular concern.
West Ham comfortably held on after Declan Rice got his first goal for the side — becoming the first teenager to score a Premier League goal for them in almost 10 years.