INDEPENDENT 2024-02-05 04:14:00

Arsenal have transformed the title race with win over jaded Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp had warned before this match that people would say it would be good for Manchester City no matter what happened, but it is obviously great for Arsenal. This was a third huge home win against one of England’s giants this season, but maybe the most stirring of all. There was something much more convincing about it than either the victories over Manchester United and Manchester City, more value to it than the cheap errors that allowed some of the goals.

It was a proper show of substance. The only downside to this 3-1 win was opening goalscorer Bukayo Saka going off injured but Arsenal won’t want to consider that right now. Mikel Arteta certainly wasn’t thinking about it as he careered around the touchline high-fiving anyone in sight in the seconds after Leandro Trossard had put the ball through Alisson’s legs. It was the second successive goal that Liverpool had almost offered up to Arsenal, with that all the more frustrating since they had been undeservedly let back into the game through the type of calamity that might have been expected to bring an Arsenal collapse.

Not this team right now. They have clearly felt the full benefit from that January break. Liverpool instead looked like a team that could do with a rest themselves, and it gave Klopp’s words from Wednesday night a bit more edge. The German had said after the 4-1 win over Chelsea that his players looked jaded and that could be seen here.

That maybe isn’t any greater concern for the season or even their title challenge, given the run of form. There was always going to be some drop-off. They could maybe have done without it coming in this game, with this kind of significance. City can go back on top if they win their two games in hand. Arsenal, however, will maybe feel for the first time in some time they can do something about that.

The first half was almost a vision of what Arteta would want from his team, a restoration of last season’s intensity… until the finishing. You could make a fair case that, in terms of the general pattern of play, it was a 2-0 game up to the break. Arsenal had both been cutting through Liverpool and bluntly hammering them back, the pressing combined with the counters ensuring that most of the proper attacks came around Alisson’s goal.

Liverpool often had more of the ball but were doing much less with it. There was a lethargy to their play, which recalled Klopp’s pointed comments after the Chelsea match. They were delivered with humour at the time but now look like there was a bit more substance to them. Klopp said his players were jaded and that could be seen here, as there were long periods where they couldn’t match Arsenal’s intensity.

There was one moment when Martinelli just seemed to walk around Trent Alexander-Arnold. He had already spent much of the wing-back’s time on the pitch sprinting past him. A pattern had been set when Martinelli raced past Alexander-Arnold in the opening minutes, before crossing for Saka. The English forward might have done better.

They were to make it worse for Liverpool, though. Martinelli was the source of so many problems, and it was little surprise when a particularly fatigued-looking Alexander-Arnold had to go off at half-time.

With Martinelli stretching the pitch, though, holes appeared elsewhere and Martin Odegaard looked back to dangerous form. He clipped a ball through to Kai Havertz, Alisson saved, but there was Saka to get his goal.

It was so different to the Arsenal of a month ago. It was also different to the Liverpool of four days ago and Virgil van Dijk was having one of his poorest games for some time. However, Arsenal undid a superb first half in a way that used to be common around here for a few years, with William Saliba looking so sluggish against Luis Diaz’s energy. The Liverpool forward was by far the most alert among Saliba, David Raya and Gabriel, with the ball eventually being forced in off the Brazilian’s arm.

It was mere seconds before half-time and could have been both a classic case of the worst time to concede a goal and classic old Arsenal. There was the danger they had expended too much energy in the first half. Except, in a more even second half, Liverpool then just offered up something even more calamitous.

With a high ball played up, Alisson came out rather early but it still should have been simple enough to deal with. Martinelli was chasing it down, though, which led to Van Dijk trying to shepherd him out. The Brazilian went right up against him, though, and unexpectedly won the physical battle. That caused Van Dijk to career into Alisson, leaving Martinelli with the simplest of finishes.

Arteta did then show some impressive foresight. With Saka injured, the Basque made the surprising decision to take off Martinelli for Trossard. It more than paid off. With the game stretched, Ibrahima Konata got a second yellow for another foul on Havertz. Trossard exploited the space, not least that between Alisson’s legs.

There is now that bit less between Liverpool and Arsenal. Arteta’s side, very suddenly, look like they have so much more to give. That was the greatest significance of this win, whatever happens with City.

Grandmother, 68, killed in dog attack while visiting grandson

A grandmother has died after being attacked by two dogs described as XL Bullies while visiting her 11-year-old grandson in Jaywick.

Essex Police were called to Hillman Avenue shortly after 4pm on Saturday where they found the victim, named by her family as Esther Martin, seriously injured.

The 68-year-old, from Woodford Green, London, was pronounced dead at the scene. The attack is thought to have involved two XL bully-type dogs.

Neighbours have described hearing “horrific” screaming from the property lasting 10 minutes.

A 39-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous dog offences and is being questioned by detectives.

The dogs had to be destroyed and police said that experts would confirm their breed later.

The victim’s daughter, Sonia Martin, from Chesterfield, told Mail Online: “They were XL bullies. There were eight of them in the house, six puppies and two adults.

“Her grandson was in the house. He came running out shouting for help. We would like to thank all the neighbours who tried to help our mum.”

Chief Superintendent Glen Pavelin added: “I would also like to thank local people who tried to get into the house to help Esther Martin. You should be proud.”

A police spokesperson said: “We have been carrying out inquiries to establish the circumstances which led up to the incident and we believe she had been assaulted by two dogs.”

The scene is now safe for members of the public, he added.

Chief Superintendent Glen Pavelin said: “My thoughts, and those of our officers and staff, are with the family of the woman who died yesterday.

“This incident will be a huge shock to the community and I understand their concerns.

“We’ll have officers in the area throughout today so please come and speak to them if you have any information or are worried.

“Experienced detectives are leading the investigation to identify exactly what has happened.”

Ms Martin, of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, said that her mother had previously expressed concerns about the “dangerous and aggressive dogs”.

She told the BBC: “There were adult XL bully dogs in the property, and my mum had raised concerns to the owners about them being dangerous and quite aggressive. There were also six puppies.”

She said she had been informed that the puppies had started fighting and her mother had been told by the dogs’ owner to “put a broom in among them, to distract them”.

She said: “That’s when she was attacked.”

Ms Martin said that her mother, who was retired but had worked at a Tesco store, had been “getting her life back together” following the death of another daughter two years ago.

She added: ”It’s killed our mum and it’s killed our children’s grandmother. I’m getting married in a couple of years and my mum won’t be at that.”

Paying tribute to officers and local residents, Mr Pavelin said: “When six police officers entered the house, their priority was, as always, to keep their community safe.

“Their unflinching bravery and professionalism ensured that there is no ongoing threat to the people of Essex, both dogs were destroyed inside the house.

“I would also like to thank local people who tried to get into the house to help Esther Martin, you should be proud.”

Mr Pavelin declined to comment on the breed of the dogs which had been destroyed by officers.

He said: “I know there is speculation about the breed of the dogs involved and we are working with experts to establish this.

“I would ask you not to speculate, we will establish the facts and we will keep the community of Jaywick updated.”

He added he had not been informed of any information about previous complaints made about the dogs involved in the incident.

Mr Pavelin said the suspect, who is from Jaywick, remained in custody for questioning.

People can contact the force online quoting reference 723 of Saturday, or information can be provided to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Police draft in NCA amid ‘fears gang could be helping Clapham fugitive evade capture’

The National Crime Agency is racing to establish whether the suspect in the Clapham chemical attack could be receiving help from an organised crime group to evade capture, after being drafted in to help with the policemanhunt, it has been reported.

The development was reported in The Times as the hunt for Abdul Ezedi approached its fifth day, with the fresh involvement of the Border Force also suggesting that police fear the fugitive could attempt to flee the country. The convicted sex offender was last seen exiting Tower Hill Station at 9.33pm on Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Police is offering a £20,000 reward for information which leads to Ezedi’s capture. He is the lone suspect in the akaline attack on a mother and her two children in Lessar Avenue on Wednesday evening, which left 12 people with injuries.

The woman remains in a critical condition and is facing life-changing injuries. One witness told The Times on Sunday that they believed the woman’s three-year-old daughter would have died if his partner had not “lunged in and tackled” the attacker.

I would meet the mother of my daughter’s killer, Brianna Ghey’s mum says in tearful interview

The mother of murdered teenager Brianna Ghey has said she does not blame the parents of her daughter’s killers and that she would be open to meeting them.

In a tearful interview, Esther Ghey said she would like to understand what the life of 16-year-old murderer Scarlett Jenkinson was like and that she appreciated how difficult it was being a parent.

It comes after Jenkinson and 16-year-old Eddie Ratcliffe were both sentenced to 22 and 20 years respectively for the “ferocious” murder of Brianna, who was stabbed 28 times with a hunting knife in a Warrington park last year.

“I would like to understand how their life was and what they went through. I would also want her to know that I do not blame her for what her child has done,” Ms Ghey told BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

“I understand how difficult it is being a parent in this current day and age. If she ever wants to speak to me, I’m here.”

Ms Ghey also said she did not “carry any hate” for the killers, telling Kuenssberg: “I don’t carry any hate for either of them because hate is such a harmful emotion to the person that’s holding that. With regards to forgiving them, I think that no, not really.”

Ms Ghey is launching a campaign calling for social media apps to be banned on smartphones for children and is also campaigning for searches for inappropriate material to be flagged to parents following the sentencing on Friday.

She said: “We’d like a law introduced so that there are mobile phones that are only suitable for under-16s.

“So if you’re over 16, you can have an adult phone, but then under the age of 16, you can have a children’s phone, which will not have all of the social media apps that are out there now.

“Also to have software that is automatically downloaded on the parent’s phone, which links to the children’s phone, that can highlight keywords.”

In the pair’s sentencing, the judge ruled the “exceptionally brutal” murder had elements of both sadism by Jenkinson and transphobic hate on the part of Ratcliffe.

Mrs Justice Yip concluded Jenkinson “enjoyed” the killing and that her “deep desire to kill” was the driving force behind the murder, while the judge also highlighted Ratcliffe’s “dehumanising language” when she passed sentence.

Jenkinson, while aged 14, downloaded a TOR internet browser app, to watch videos of the torture and murder of real people, in “red rooms” on the “dark web”.

She grew an interest in serial killers, making notes on their methods and admitted enjoying “dark fantasies” about killing and torture, the pair living in a secret world of warped interests in murder and cruelty, the trial heard.

Brianna had thousands of followers on TikTok, but in reality was a withdrawn, shy and anxious teenager who struggled with depression and rarely left her home.

Jenkinson told Ratcliffe she wanted to stab Brianna “jus coz its fun lol… I want to see the pure horror on her face and hear her scream”.

US refuses to rule out Iran strikes after joint campaign with UK

The United States has refused to rule out airstrikes inside Iran, saying the US is determined to respond forcefully to attacks on troops.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that he wouldn’t get into what’s “on and off the table” when it came to striking inside Iran but that President Joe Biden “is determined to respond forcefully to attacks on our people.”

However, the administration official played down fears that the situation is escalating. Iraqi officials warned this weekend that the region was on the “brink of the abyss” after the airstrikes.

“The president also is not looking for a wider war in the Middle East,” Mr Sullivan added.

His words come after the US and UK, supported by six allied countries, struck at least 36 Houthi targets in Yemen just hours after the US conducted retaliatory airstrikes on more than 85 sites in Iraq and Syria due to the killing of three American soldiers in Jordan.

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It is time to fix the UK’s broken defence infrastructure

It was Admiral Beatty, commander at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, who uttered the famous complaint: “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today.” His understandable frustration at the Royal Navy’s failure to destroy the German High Seas fleet was exacerbated by the fact that two of his ships exploded primarily due to poor design and with minimal firepower expended by the enemy.

Perhaps similar epithets could be heard in recent days around the Ministry of Defence when the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier broke down before it could leave Portsmouth harbour en route to lead the maritime arm of Steadfast Defender, a transatlantic exercise that is the biggest in decades and involves some 40 Nato allies.

The idea was that the Queen Elizabeth, built at a cost of some £3bn, would make a major contribution to a show of collective security and British maritime power in the face of Russian aggression. Sadly, that grand scheme was scuppered thanks to an “issue” with a propeller shaft. It should not have come as a great surprise to Beatty’s successors at the Admiralty, however, because Queen Elizabeth’s sister ship, Prince of Wales, suffered a similar fault 18 months ago. The development also calls into question whether a British carrier will be available to relieve the USS Dwight D Eisenhower in the Red Sea.

Has Keir Starmer scored own goal over Labour’s £28bn green spending?

On the same day thousands of Port Talbot steelworkers were told they would be losing their jobs, with the plant’s two blast furnaces closing down, Labour’s £28bn Green Prosperity Plan hit the headlines again.

The latest iteration of a story that has been doing the rounds for months popped up, with reports suggesting Sir Keir Starmer would ditch the hefty spending commitment.

The Port Talbot job losses, which will devastate the South Wales community, offered a visceral warning of the risk of failing to invest in future-proofing British industry.