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Arsenal's German midfielder Kai Havertz (centre) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the team's second goal during the English Premier League match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in London on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Liverpool: Liverpool missed a chance to return to the top of the Premier League as troubled Manchester United finally showed some fighting spirit in a gritty 0-0 draw on Sunday. Arsenal defeated Brighton 2-0 to go top of the table.

Aston Villa, fresh from potentially season-defining wins against Manchester City and Arsenal, came from behind to beat Brentford 2-1, while West Ham crushed Wolves 3-0.

United had Diogo Dalot sent off for dissent in the final seconds of stoppage time at Anfield, but Liverpool had long since run out of ideas in the face of the visitors’ defiant display.

Having started the weekend in top spot, Liverpool kicked off in third place after wins for Arsenal and Aston Villa earlier on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated a dour clash against their hated rivals, but lacked the cutting edge required to extend their winning run in the league to four matches.

Liverpool sit in second place, one point behind leaders Arsenal ahead of their summit meeting with the Gunners at Anfield on Saturday.

While Liverpool were left frustrated after failing to win at home for the first time in 12 games in all competitions, for United the result was a step in the right direction after another dismal week.

Ravaged by injuries and missing suspended captain Bruno Fernandes, United showed the kind of tenacity absent for much of a turbulent campaign.

Last weekend’s home humbling by Bournemouth was followed by a 1-0 defeat against Bayern Munich on Tuesday that condemned United to a meek Champions League group stage exit.

Erik ten Hag’s team were back at Anfield for the first time since being hammered there 7-0 in March, an abject surrender that ranked among the most humiliating defeats in the club’s history.

They remain without a win at Anfield since 2016, but after so many chastening visits over the last seven years, the under-fire Ten Hag left grateful for small mercies as United avoid more embarrassment.

In keeping with the toxic nature of English football’s most bitter rivalry, Liverpool were forced to “utterly condemn” the fans who bombarded United’s team bus with missiles before the game, leading to a window being smashed by a glass bottle.

That ugly scene was followed by a scrappy game equally short on appealing qualities.

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Manchester United defender Jonny Evans and midfielder Scott McTominay jump to defend a corner during the English Premier League football match against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Defiant United

Liverpool have held the upper hand over United in recent years, but a combination of sloppy passing and obdurate defending halted their progress.

Without a goal in his last nine games, Darwin Nunez couldn’t convert Mohamed Salah’s lobbed cross as he stretched in vain at the far post.

Salah has enjoyed tormenting United in the past and he nearly bagged another goal at their expense when his close-range effort was deflected wide after Andre Onana failed to hold Nunez’s header.

Liverpool’s territorial dominance produced eight corners in the first 30 minutes, with Virgil van Dijk almost turning one into the opening goal as his header was pushed over by Onana.

Ibrahima Konate headed wastefully over from yet another Liverpool corner, but despite the Reds’ sustained pressure, United were organised enough to keep Klopp’s men at bay.

A frustrating half for Liverpool ended fittingly when Salah’s strike from a good position inside the area was comfortably saved by Onana.

It was a similar patten after the interval as Liverpool controlled possession and United stubbornly refused to crack.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low drive ruffled the side-netting before Onana saved Salah’s curler.

Klopp moved Alexander-Arnold into midfield and the right-back went close with a first-time shot that flashed inches wide from the edge of the area.

United striker Rasmus Hojlund was anonymous for long periods and when he finally did get a sight of goal, the Dane shot straight at Alisson Becker after Scott McTominay’s pass gave him a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock.

Onana made a good stop to deny Salah after the Egyptian advanced menacingly, while Luis Diaz’s effort was turned away by Dalot.

Dalot’s positive contribution was followed by a needless one when he was shown a second yellow card for berating referee Michael Oliver while disputing a throw-in.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, runners-up to City last season, dominated at the Emirates, wasting a succession of openings but they finally broke through in the 53rd minute.

Brighton defender Jan Paul van Hecke jumped to head a corner away but could only flick it into the path of Gabriel Jesus, who headed the ball into an empty net.

Kai Havertz doubled the lead for the Gunners in the closing minutes, slotting past goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen after being found by Eddie Nketiah.

“Incredible performance,” Arteta told the BBC. “A joy to watch from the start to the end. The way we did it against this very good team.

“Even at half-time the scoreline didn’t reflect that. We fully deserved to win the game.”

Across London, Unai Emery’s Villa fell behind to a Keane Lewis-Potter goal on the stroke of half-time.

However, Brentford’s Ben Mee was sent off in the 71st minute and six minutes later Villa were level when Alex Moreno got on the end of a Leon Bailey cross.

Ollie Watkins completed the turnaround against his former club when he headed in a Boubacar Kamara flick-on from a corner with five minutes to go.

Kamara was sent off in the closing minutes for violent conduct.

Villa now have 38 points from 17 games, one behind Arsenal and one ahead of Liverpool, who kick off later in the day.

Paqueta shines

Mohammed Kudus scored twice and Lucas Paqueta provided all three assists at the London Stadium as West Ham put last week’s 5-0 drubbing by Fulham behind them.

The Ghana forward netted midway through the first period following a swift counter-attack, finishing powerfully after he was found by the impressive Paqueta.

West Ham doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute, when Paqueta and Kudus again combined to deadly effect and top-scorer Jarrod Bowen hit the post with goalkeeper Dan Bentley a bystander.

Wolves thought they had pulled a goal back just before the hour mark but Pablo Sarabia’s tap-in was ruled out for a marginal offside.

West Ham put the result beyond doubt when Bowen finished unerringly after receiving the ball from Paqueta.

On Saturday, Manchester City let slip a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace, before jetting off to Saudi Arabia to play in the Club World Cup.

It means Liverpool can go six points clear of the defending champions if they beat struggling United at Anfield in the late afternoon kick-off.

Erik ten Hag’s men who last season suffered a 7-0 drubbing at Anfield, have lost 12 of their 24 games in all competitions this season.

With the exception of last season’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford, United’s recent record against Liverpool is dire — they have lost four of the past five meetings, conceding 21 goals in the process.

United captain Bruno Fernandes is suspended while out-of-form Marcus Rashford was once again left on the bench.

Saturday’s Premier League action was overshadowed by a shocking incident at Bournemouth, where Luton captain Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest, forcing the game to be abandoned.

Luton confirmed Lockyer was responsive before being taken to hospital and was in a “stable” condition. In an update on Sunday the club said he was undergoing tests and scans.