Liverpool closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to nine points with a 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp's side recorded a remarkable 7-0 victory in this exact fixture last season and were soon in command as Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck in the first half at Selhurst Park.

Palace deservedly pulled one back through Odsonne Edouard just after the break, but Fabinho sealed all three points from the penalty spot in the closing stages.

Victory saw Liverpool reduce City's lead at the summit after they were held by Southampton on Saturday, while the Reds still have a game in hand.

A deflected Jordan Henderson strike forced the first save of the contest from Vicente Guaita, but the Palace goalkeeper had no chance of stopping Van Dijk's thumping header from Andrew Robertson's out-swinging corner a minute later.
 
Liverpool doubled their lead just past the half-hour mark as Oxlade-Chamberlain brought down Robertson's inviting delivery and hammered home.
 
Alisson then denied Michael Olise as Palace looked to respond, while Jean-Phillipe Mateta saw his strike deflected wide after rounding the Brazil international.

Conor Gallagher headed a glorious point-blank chance wide immediately after the interval, before Alisson thwarted an inventive Edouard flick.

Palace eventually breached the Liverpool goal after 55 minutes when Mateta latched on to Jeffrey Schlupp's immense throughball and selflessly squared to Edouard for a tap-in.

Joachim Andersen fired narrowly wide moments after and Alisson had to race back to parry Olise's chip, as Liverpool negotiated a spell of sustained pressure.

Klopp's side secured all three points after a lengthy VAR check adjudged Guaita to have fouled Diogo Jota, with Fabinho converting from 12 yards.

Nick Pope made some superb saves and Alexandre Lacazette missed an open goal as Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw by lowly Burnley at Emirates Stadium.

Playing in the Premier League for the first time since a defeat to Manchester City on January 1, Arsenal would have moved into the top four with a victory over a side that had conceded six goals across their last two away games.

Yet Pope's resistance and Lacazette's profligacy saw Sean Dyche's team come away with a potentially vital point in their bid to stay up.

Mikel Arteta's side, meanwhile, are now without a win in five games in all competitions as they failed to bounce back from their EFL Cup loss to Liverpool.

Aaron Ramsdale was somewhat caught cold for Liverpool's goals in Thursday's defeat, but Arsenal's goalkeeper made a fine stop to keep out Dwight McNeil's cross-shot.

Arsenal had 78 per cent possession in the opening 15 minutes, but it was not until the 20th that they troubled Pope, who made a smart save to deny Martin Odegaard, with follow-ups from Lacazette and Ben White blocked.

Having only just been booked for a foul on Kieran Tierney, Ashley Westwood was fortunate not to receive his marching orders when he flung an arm out at Gabriel Magalhaes.

An Odegaard free-kick landed on the roof of the net as Arsenal upped the pressure after the restart, before Pope pulled off a fantastic save from Emile Smith Rowe's low effort.

Smith Rowe turned provider for Arsenal's best chance, cutting back for the onrushing Lacazette, only for the striker to prod wide of an open goal as Arsenal's winless run rumbled on.


What does it mean? Big point for Burnley, big miss for Arsenal

Arsenal do not have a game for 18 days now and will have to lament an opportunity missed to head into the winter break in the Champions League spots.

Burnley, who were looking to win consecutive away league games against Arsenal for just the third time following a 1-0 victory in last season's corresponding fixture, well deserved their point, however. They remain bottom but have between two and four games in hand on their relegation rivals.  

Pope proves his worth

Arsenal's Ramsdale has been one of the goalkeepers to move ahead of Pope in the England pecking order over the course of the last season, yet Burnley's shot-stopper was at his best to keep the Gunners at bay.

He made five saves in total, including that stunning one-handed stop low to his right from Smith Rowe midway through the second half.

Lacazette shows up Arsenal's striker needs

With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still unavailable for selection due to a heart problem, although he had been ostracised by Arteta anyway prior to his Africa Cup of Nations trip being cut short, Lacazette is leading Arsenal's line. His horrendous miss showed up Arsenal's requirement for a top-quality striker, though.

All three of Lacazette's attempts missed the target. The Gunners have been linked with Dusan Vlahovic, who Fiorentina are willing to sell, while they are also reported to have interest in Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Will they make their move before the end of the transfer window?

What's next?

Arsenal return from the winter break with a trip to Wolves on February 10, while Burnley face Watford five days earlier.

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan has been named the men's ICC T20I Cricketer of the Year, while England's Tammy Beaumont has won the women's award.

Rizwan accumulated an impressive 1,326 runs across 29 games in 2021, at an average of 73.66 and a strike-rate of 134.89.

The wicketkeeper-batsman also excelled behind the stumps as Pakistan made it to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.

Rizwan is currently third in the ICC's T20I batting rankings behind England's Dawid Malan and fellow Pakistan opener Babar Azam but was awarded the top men's prize on Sunday following a year in which he scored the maiden T20I century of his career against South Africa in Lahore, as well as a classy innings of 87 against West Indies in Karachi.

His standout performance of 2021 was undoubtedly his partnership of 152 with Babar as Pakistan beat rivals India by 10 wickets at the T20 World Cup in Dubai. Rizwan hit a spectacular 79 not out from 55 deliveries, hitting six fours and three sixes.

Beaumont takes the women's Cricketer of the Year award after scoring 303 runs in nine matches at an average of 33.66.

She was England's highest scorer in T20Is in 2021, and third-highest overall in the world.

She top-scored and was named Player of the Series on the tour of New Zealand, hitting 102 from three innings, including 63 from 53 balls in the second game to help England to victory.

Beaumont performed just as well against the same opposition later in the year, again managing the most runs on home soil in the series with 113, including 97 in the first encounter.

Dele Alli appears to be edging closer to departing Tottenham after being left out of the squad for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Chelsea.

The midfielder has been linked with a move during the January transfer window, with the Spurs reportedly happy for him to leave on loan.

Newcastle United and Everton are among the clubs linked with Alli, who was an unused substitute in Tottenham's last two games and will play no part in the London derby at Stamford Bridge.

The 25-year-old has made 10 Premier League appearances this season – playing 657 minutes – with his only goal from four attempts being a penalty in the win over Wolves, while he is yet to register an assist.

It is a stark contrast to his most productive season with Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino in 2016-17, when he netted 18 times from 94 attempts and an expected goal tally of 13.3 in 3,043 minutes played.

Alli has only started twice for Spurs in the top flight since Antonio Conte replaced Nuno Espirito Santo at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November.

Although, he did appear in all five of their Europa Conference League group games, scoring in the 5-1 rout of Mura in September.

After arriving from MK Dons in 2015, Alli missed just eight Premier League games during his first three seasons with Tottenham. He recorded 421 touches in the opposing penalty box, while his tally of 26 assists was only bettered during that time by Kevin De Bruyne (43), Christian Eriksen (38), Mesut Ozil (36) and David Silva (29).

However, he has been absent from 58 top-flight matches since then.

Tyson Fury urged UFC champion Francis Ngannou to "make some real money" by meeting him in the ring. 

Ngannou on Saturday defeated Ciryl Gane by unanimous decision to unify the UFC heavyweight division, a feat he achieved despite tearing his MCL in the build-up to the fight. 

The UFC 270 loss was the first of Gane's career, while Ngannou improved to 17-3 by extending his victorious streak to six fights. 

The Cameroonian is widely regarded as the hardest puncher in UFC and, with contract negotiations with the organisation dragging on due to a pay dispute, he has been heavily linked with a switch to boxing. 

WBC heavyweight champion Fury would relish the chance to take on Ngannou, suggesting it could put his financial concerns to bed. 

"Congratulations Francis Ngannou but if you want to make some real money, come see the Gypsy King," Fury posted on Twitter. 

Ngannou trained as a boxer in the early stages of his career in combat sports and expressed he remains keen to return to the discipline following his victory over Gane. 

"As I always say, boxing is always in the back of my pocket. It's something that I must do before the end of my career," he said. 

"And right now, I'm really looking towards any opportunity to get that because it's not like I had a lifetime here so I better start thinking about it." 

Comoros will take on Africa Cup of Nations hosts Cameroon in the last 16 with an outfield player in goal, it has been confirmed. 

After reaching the knockout stages by shocking Ghana 3-2 in their final group game, tournament debutants Comoros announced on Saturday they had returned 12 positive coronavirus tests in their camp. 

Among them were coach Amir Abdou and their only fit goalkeepers Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada, the latter of whom replaced the injured Salim Ben Boina in the first half against the Black Stars. 

With all three keepers unavailable for Monday's clash with Cameroon, assistant coach Jean-Daniel Padovani confirmed Comoros would have to take on the competition's leading goalscorers with an outfield player between the posts. 

"We've already chosen an outfield player who will start as keeper," said Padovani. "It's a player who in training has shown that he can play as a keeper." 

Comoros only have 12 players available for the game. Competition rules state if a squad is without a goalkeeper but still includes at least 11 fit players, another member of the team must go in goal.

Thomas Pieters held his nerve in the final round to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as overnight leader Scott Jamieson and other contenders fell away on Sunday.

The Belgian secured his sixth DP World Tour title with an even round of 72 to end the tournament on 10-under par, one shot ahead of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Shubhankar Sharma.

Pieters began the day tied for second but showed impressive control to card 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey, though was reliant on Cabrera Bello bogeying the 15th and 16th holes to edge ahead of the Spaniard.

Jamieson took a one-shot lead into the final day but produced seven bogeys in a five-over round of 77 to slip down to a joint-10th finish, while Shane Lowry also had a day to forget as he too hit 77 to drop 10 places to joint-12th.

The best rounds of the final day came from Adri Arnaus and Henrik Stenson who both carded seven-under rounds of 65, but both were already too far off the pace to trouble the leaders.

Tyrell Hatton managed a respectable round of 67 to climb to a final position of joint-sixth, while Rory McIlroy ended tied for 12th as his last round of 69 left him on a final score of five-under.

Pieters - who turns 30 next week - becomes the first Belgian to win a Rolex Series event, and hopes that his performance can inspire young golfers in his home country.

"I was well in control of my ball all day," he said after sealing victory. "The putting wasn't maybe there.

"I just hope all the juniors back at home are watching this. I used to watch as a kid and think it was impossible for me but then Nico [Colsaerts] came on the scene and started winning.

"It's stuff like that that inspires kids and hopefully I can do that back home."

Matteo Berrettini made Italian tennis history on Sunday as he blasted his way past Pablo Carreno Busta and into the Australian Open quarter-finals.

The seventh seed won 7-5 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in a gruelling contest to set up a last-eight clash with Gael Monfils, who earlier beat Miomir Kecmanovic.

Berrettini is the first men's player from his country to reach the quarter-final stage of all four grand slams in the singles draw, and only the 10th active player to achieve the feat.

The 25-year-old only reached this stage of a major for the first time in 2019 and has since gone as far as the final in Wimbledon last year, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

Having withdrawn from his round-of-16 match with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne in 2021 due to an abdominal injury, Berrettini was delighted to have progressed.

"It was really tough last year. I really wanted to play, but I couldn't with the tear in the ab," he said.

"But I believe there is a reason for everything that happens and I've been wishing to come back as soon as possible and the way I won today shows how much I care about this tournament."

Berrettini had luck on his side in the first set as two netcords on Carreno Busta's serve allowed him to break for a 6-5 lead.

Once ahead in the match, his serve and baseline power became too much for the Spaniard: Berrettini rained down 28 aces, winning 87 per cent of points behind his first serve, and hit 57 winners.

"I was really precise with my serving and he wasn't reading my serve, which is why I hit a lot of aces," he said.

Next up is a meeting with Monfils, who has now reached 10 slam quarter-finals in his career and a first in Australia in six years.

These two met at the same stage of the 2019 US Open, Berrettini prevailing in five sets after losing the first two. The winner could face Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

"It's been a long journey for me and I'm quite happy, but it's not finished," said Monfils. "I will try to play this quarter-final not like the last time. I will try to be better.

"It's an achievement but we're not quite finished yet."

Lionel Messi has found an unlikely ally in Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who believes those criticising the Argentinian's form at Paris Saint-Germain know nothing about football.

Messi joined PSG on a shock free transfer from Barcelona in August after the Blaugrana came to the realisation they simply could not afford to pay his wages in line with their reduced salary cap.

The move was seen as another big step for PSG in their quest to finally win the Champions League, as he was joining a team that already boasted Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in attack.

But Messi is yet to truly take off in Paris. While his haul of five goals in as many Champions League games is a good return, in Ligue 1 it has been a different story, netting just once in 11 appearances.

Unless he has an incredible second half to the season, Messi will fall well short of the 38 goals he scored across all competitions for Barca last term.

As for his creativity, Messi ranks third in the PSG squad for chances created (32) and his assists total of four is rather less than many would expect of him, particularly when Mbappe has 12 to his name.

But there have been extenuating circumstances given he did not have much of a pre-season, he has suffered with injuries and illness, and he is settling into new surroundings for the first time in his senior career.

As such, Benzema feels criticism of Messi – who could make his first appearance of 2022 on Sunday after a bout of coronavirus – is unfair.

Asked if Messi will be a success at PSG, Benzema told TF1: "How won't he succeed?

"It is just a period of adaptation, because he is not scoring a lot of goals. But watch what he does on the pitch.

"In any case you can't criticise a player like that. In fact, he who criticises Messi, knows nothing about football."

Messi claimed his record-extending seventh Ballon d'Or last year, an award that many had tipped Benzema to win over the course of the year.

Ultimately the Frenchman finished fourth in the running, also behind Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho, which was seemingly a source of frustration for him.

Winning the prize remains a goal of Benzema's, though he does not think he could have done any more than he did over 2021.

"Fourth, third or second is the same as 30th," he said. "The main thing is to win it.

"I was told that I hadn't won enough trophies, but I couldn't do more. It remains a goal and each season I will try to do better than what I did last season."

Everything points to the 34-year-old being in contention again at the end of 2022 as he sits atop LaLiga's goalscoring chart with 17, five more than anyone else in the division.

That haul has helped him to 303 goals for Madrid, which leaves Benzema just five behind club great Alfredo Di Stefano in third, while Raul (323) is not much further ahead in second – Cristiano Ronaldo (450) is way out in front.

Benzema never expected to get anywhere near Di Stefano's haul, which makes the achievement even more satisfying.

"It's a source of pride but I want to continue," Benzema added. "When I arrived, I saw [Di Stefano's record] so far away.

"I did not see these records as an objective, but today to be close to these legends is exceptional.

"When we arrive at Madrid, we don't tell ourselves that we will stay 10 or 15 years, we just want to win titles."

Fiorentina have demanded clarity from Dusan Vlahovic amid ongoing transfer speculation but Viola director Joe Barone reiterated that no offers have been made for the striker.

Several of Europe's biggest clubs, including Juventus, Manchester City and Arsenal, are said to be interested in the Serbia international.

Reports in Italy suggest Juve are the 21-year-old's preferred destination.

Vlahovic has scored 17 times in 21 Serie A appearances this season, finding the net every 109.5 minutes on average and outperforming his expected goals tally of 12.2.

He also ended 2021 in impressive fashion, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's 21st-century record for the most goals in the Italian top flight in a calendar year (33), set in 2020 – only Gunnar Nordahl in 1950 (36) has ever scored more across the same period.

But Fiorentina, who have already confirmed they are open to selling their star forward, want Vlahovic to provide them with some clarity on his future.

 

Barone told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Sunday's clash with Cagliari: "I want to talk about Fiorentina, who are playing today [Sunday] and deserve all the focus of the club and fans.

"We talk every day about this, we said a lot recently, Fiorentina have not received any offers. We have been very clear, we are open to anything, but we want clarity.

"We want clarity from the player and his entourage. Fiorentina have a future, which isn't just today's game, but also the future of a group, a fanbase, a city. We need to concentrate on that too."

Vlahovic was left out of the squad for the trip to Cagliari with Fiorentina announcing, but not naming, that two members of their matchday squad had tested positive for COVID-19. Riccardo Saponara was also absent.

World number one Ash Barty promised to carry on playing her own game after booking her spot in the last eight of the Australian Open.

Barty, the top seed, defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-3 on Sunday to progress to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for a fourth successive time.

Anisimova defeated last year's champion Naomi Osaka in the last round, but she proved no match for Barty, who sealed the win in 74 minutes.

Barty did see her run of holding serve ended, however, after 63 games without being broken, though it was a minor blip in another convincing win. 

Indeed, the 25-year-old has now won all four of her Australian Open ties without dropping a set.

Asked what was key to her dominant form, Barty said: "I think the most important thing is I just try to be me, continue to be me, that's all I can do.

"That's what I’m good at, that's who I and who I want to be."

Her comments were well received by the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, and Barty is delighted to be playing in front of spectators once again.

"The last two years have been extraordinarily tough for a lot of people around the world," she said.

"To have the crowd here, it brings a lot more to the tennis. It makes it a lot more enjoyable for me to play at home."

Barty struck seven aces and registered a first-serve percentage of 78, while also hitting 23 winners and making exactly half the amount of unforced errors as Anisimova (17 to 34).

"Amanda is an incredible athlete and incredible competitor. It's nice to see her back playing her best tennis," Barty continued.

"I enjoyed sharing the court with her and testing myself against her. It was nice to be able to hold firm tonight."

Asked in a post-match news conference about dropping serve for the first time in eight matches, Barty replied: "It didn't bother me too much.

"Honestly, I'm not counting how many games I hold in a row or not. The fact I was able to reset, break straight back, was really important, just to be able to reset myself, go again and continue to do the right things."

Next up for Barty, a two-time major winner who is yet to taste victory in her home grand slam, is another American in the form of Jessica Pegula, who upset fifth seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-0) 6-3.

"It's going to be a challenge for me to try and push her off that baseline and make her uncomfortable and feel like she has to create," Barty told reporters.

"But I know that she's also going to be doing the exact same thing to me and trying to make me uncomfortable.

"That's the chess game that we play. You go out there and have fun with it, see who can execute better on the day, and that's about all there is to it."

Pep Guardiola declared James Ward-Prowse as the best free-kick taker in the world, but he added Kevin De Bruyne to second after his assist against Southampton.

Ward-Prowse was lauded by the Manchester City manager ahead of Saturday's clash, which ended in a 1-1 draw as an Aymeric Laporte's header cancelled out Kyle Walker-Peters' opener.

Southampton captain Ward-Prowse has scored 12 times from free-kicks in his Premier League career, with only David Beckham (18) managing more in the history of the competition.

But De Bruyne staked his claim for a place on Guardiola's list at St Mary's when he perfectly whipped his free-kick onto Laporte's head for City's equaliser.

That assist led to follow-up questions to Guardiola on his Ward-Prowse comments, which he firmly stood by after the game with Ralph Hasenhuttl's side.

When asked if De Bruyne had knocked Ward-Prowse off the top of the free-kick taking perch, Guardiola responded: "Absolutely not. He [De Bruyne] is the second one!"

The Belgium midfielder's expert delivery was his 80th assist in the Premier League, as many as Beckham has, but the 30-year-old has achieved the feat in 68 fewer outings than the former England international.

However, how does De Bruyne match up against other top-flight set-piece specialists this term?

Ward-Prowse sits top of the direct free-kick goals chart in the Premier League, with two to his name in the 2021-22 campaign. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Maxwel Cornet, Michael Olise, Ruben Neves, Jonjo Shelvey, Marcos Alonso, Martin Odegaard, Raphinha, Son Heung-min and Matt Ritchie are all tied for second as the other players to score from a dead-ball opportunity this season.

Liverpool's Alexander-Arnold also excels in terms of chances created from set-plays (26), with a league-leading three assists from dead-ball situations.

Ward-Prowse (22), perhaps unsurprisingly, ranks second to Alexander-Arnold under that metric, while Raphinha, Son and Ritchie (all 16) make up the top five in the league.

De Bruyne is tied for 15th on the list for chances created from set-pieces, with 10 to his name from 17 appearances in the league this term. That is as many as Chelsea's Mason Mount and Aston Villa's John McGinn.

The City star has created 41 chances in total in this year's Premier League, however, with only Bruno Fernandes (57) and Alexander-Arnold (58) able to better that tally, as the reigning champions prepare for their next league clash at home to Brentford on February 9.

Khris Middleton said the Milwaukee Bucks are having to learn how to win in different ways after impressing in the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo against the Sacramento Kings.

Having needed to rely on an impressive defensive showing against the Chicago Bulls, it was the turn of the offense to turn it on in a 133-127 triumph against the Kings.

Middleton had 34 points, while Jrue Holiday put up 26 as the Bucks chalked up another tick in the win column despite Antetokounmpo missing out with soreness in his right knee.

"We just need to be able to win different type of ballgames," Middleton said after the defending champions moved to 29-19 on the season. 

''Every game is not going to be perfect, every game is not going to be pretty. To get defensive stops, to get 50-50 balls like we did [against the Bulls], it helps. 

"When you hit shots like we did tonight, it also helps."

Middleton made a key three-pointer with one minute and nine seconds remaining on the clock, with the Kings having fought back to within three points.

Holiday felt Middleton's effort was key in helping the Bucks get over the line.

"I feel like this is what he has been doing," Holiday said. ''He makes timely threes. He makes big shots, especially in that moment when they had momentum. He just came down and laced them, took advantage."

Donte DiVincenzo (20 points), George Hill (17) and Pat Connaughton (15) all made valuable contributions for Milwaukee to earn praise from Middleton.

"I think they were great," he added. 

"Pat got hot for us. George did a great job at the point guard position, just controlling the team. Defensively he was all over the place, coming down for rebounds and helping box out. 

"Pat has played so many different positions. It's weird to see him playing the center. He's a selfless guy doing anything that can help."

Denis Shapovalov said it is a privilege to be facing Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarter-finals after his win over Alexander Zverev, who conceded "everything" went wrong.

Zverev had been looking sharp in Melbourne over the last week, with the world number three not dropping a single set en route to the last 16.

Yet the Olympic gold medallist was on the end of a straight-sets loss on Sunday as he went down 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to Shapovalov.

Zverev made 32 unforced errors, five fewer than Shapovalov, and managed to convert only two of five break points, with the German winning 46/67 first-serve points.

Asked what went wrong, Zverev bluntly told reporters: "Everything.

"It's no one else's fault. It's not the coach's fault, it's not my team's fault, it's no one else's fault. It's purely me.

"As world number three, I have to take responsibility for the things I do and don't do.

"I give credit to Denis. It's incredible that he's in the quarters, I think he deserves it. He's done a lot of work, improved his game.

"But I've got to look at myself. Today was just, in my opinion, awful from my side."

Shapovalov had lost to Zverev in the ATP Cup earlier this month, but after Sunday's win the duo's head-to-head record stands at 4-3 in the latter's favour.

The 22-year-old Canadian will now face Nadal, with the 20-time grand slam winner having progressed to his 14th Australian Open final by defeating Adrian Mannarino.

Nadal holds a 3-1 head-to-head record against Shapovalov, though this will be the first time the pair have met in a major.

"It's always an honour to go up against a guy like Rafa," said Shapovalov after reaching his first Australian Open quarter-final.

"It's always going to be a battle against him. It's going to be a tough one and I'm definitely going to enjoy it."

Reflecting on just his second career win over a player in the top five, Shapovalov said: "I think off the ground I was playing really well, really feeling my shots off both wings.

"I played pretty smart, it felt like things were going my way early on. I lost a little bit of momentum midway in the second set but fought well to come back and just kind of rolled with it after."

It was also the first time in the tournament that Shapovalov had not had to go to at least four sets.

"It's probably the one I least expected to finish in three. I'm very happy with my performance, definitely happy with where my game is at," he added.

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