LONDON (AFP) – Furious Jose Mourinho had a heated exchange with Jurgen Klopp after Roberto Firmino’s last-gasp header sent Liverpool to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win against title rivals Tottenham, while troubled Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on Wednesday.
Tottenham boss Mourinho was incensed with the antics of Liverpool manager Klopp and his coaching staff, claiming they set out to influence the decisions of the officials with constant complaints on the touchline.
After Klopp’s wild celebrations of Firmino’s 90th minute goal, Mourinho exchanged angry words with the German coach on the pitch at full-time.
It was an incendiary end to an explosive clash that saw Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead, only for Son Heung-min to equalise before the interval.
Asked about his animated conversation with Klopp, Mourinho said, “I told him the best team lost and he disagreed, but that’s his opinion.
“If I behave the same way he does on the touchline, I do not stay there. That’s animated? For some reason I am different.”
Claiming he took off Giovani Lo Celso because he feared the midfielder would be sent off due to Liverpool’s pressure from the bench, Mourinho said, “With Gio’s yellow card and the incredible pressure these guys on the touchline put on the officials, I was afraid of another yellow card and I had to take him off.
“Everything is fine between us. The referees let him behave the way he does. It’s not my problem. I feel sad for it because I can not do it but it’s just the way it is.”
Klopp tried to play down the row, saying, “Nothing serious, he said it himself so I don’t have to repeat it. No argument.”
Injury-ravaged Liverpool are now three points clear of Tottenham after extending their unbeaten run to nine league matches with a result that showed they will not surrender the title without a fight.
“A good game against a counter-attacking monster, the possession we had we did incredibly well,” Klopp said.
“Yes they have scored a goal, had two chances, apart from that we controlled the game and it is a massively deserved three points.”
Tottenham were defeated for the first time since the opening weekend of the league season, ending their 11-game unbeaten run.
Glaring misses from Tottenham forwards Steven Bergwijn and Harry Kane proved costly in the second half.
“A very unfair result. We played against the champions in their stadium and we had the best chances to win,” Mourinho said.
“A draw would be a bad result, so you can imagine how we feel with a defeat.”
At the Emirates Stadium, defeat would have seen Arsenal lose five consecutive home league games for the first time in the club’s history as the pressure mounts on manager Mikel Arteta.
The Gunners could not have got off to a worse start as Theo Walcott opened the scoring on his return to the Emirates with a fine chipped finish over Bernd Leno from Che Adams’ pass.
Third-placed Southampton failed to build on their lead and were made to pay soon after the break as Arsenal scored just a third goal in their last nine league games and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s first from open play since the first day of the season.
Bukayo Saka’s burst opened up the Saints defence and when Eddie Nketiah freed Aubameyang inside the area, the Arsenal captain curling an excellent finish into the far corner.
Arsenal’s joy was short-lived as they again found themselves a man down as Gabriel picked up two quick bookings.
“It’s very difficult to compete in this league when you play for so long with 10 men,” Arteta said.
“It makes it more complicated, but the boys stood up to it, they showed their character and resilience and they never gave up.”
Fifth-placed Everton won 2-0 at fourth-placed Leicester thanks to goals from Richarlison and Mason Holgate.
Leeds won a seven-goal thriller against Newcastle 5-2 to move level on points with the Magpies, eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Fulham moved out of the relegation zone after a 0-0 draw with Brighton at Craven Cottage.
West Ham’s Sebastien Haller equalised with a superb overhead kick in a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace, whose goalscorer Christian Benteke was sent off in the second half.