Liverpool and Chelsea did little for their chances of climbing into the Premier League’s top four with an uninspiring 0-0 draw as a 2-0 defeat at West Ham pushed Everton closer to relegation on Saturday.
In a repeat of last season’s League and FA Cup finals, which Liverpool won on penalties after goalless draws, neither side could break the deadlock at Anfield to remain rooted in mid-table.
Both sides are nine points off the top four and could slip further behind should Newcastle win at Crystal Palace later.
Chelsea did have the ball in the net early on, but Kai Havertz’s strike was ruled out for offside after a VAR review.
The visitors introduced new 100 million euro ($108 million) signing Mykhailo Mudryk off the bench in the second half and the Ukrainian came as close as anyone to a winner when he fired into the side-netting.
Jurgen Klopp admitted he might not have made it to 1,000 games in his managerial career if there had been too many similar matches in the previous 999.
But he was satisfied with a first Premier League clean sheet since October.
“I’m okay with 0-0 because you have to accept these steps,” said Klopp.
– Everton in danger –
Things look even bleaker across Merseyside as Everton’s 69-year stay in the top flight looks ever more precarious.
Jarrod Bowen struck twice in the first half as West Ham won 2-0 at the London Stadium to move out of the bottom three thanks to their first win in eight league games.
Leicester eased the pressure on Brendan Rodgers with their first point since the World Cup break but were denied a vital win by a late Brighton equaliser in a 2-2 draw at the King Power.
Kaoru Mitoma’s sumptuous strike gave the in-form visitors the lead, but Marc Albrighton quickly levelled and Harvey Barnes put Leicester in front just after the hour mark.
Teenage striker Evan Ferguson came off the bench to head in off the post in the 88th minute and snatch a point that moves Brighton into the top six.
Bournemouth dropped into the bottom three despite ending a run of six consecutive defeats with a 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest.
Jaidon Anthony put the hosts in front, but Sam Surridge came back to haunt his former club seven minutes from time.
Southampton remain rooted to the foot of the table after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa that was disrupted by a drone flying above the stadium.
Play was temporarily halted and players taken off the pitch at St. Mary’s for their own safety towards the end of the first half.
Once the action got back underway, Villa maintained their upward momentum under Unai Emery as Ollie Watkins headed in Douglas Luiz’s free-kick 13 minutes from time.