Arsenal regain top spot

Published: Monday | December 30, 2013 Comments 0
Newcastle United's Yoan Gouffran vies for the ball with Arsenal's Bacary Sagna (front) during their English Premier League soccer match at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, yesterday. Arsenal won 1-0.AP
Newcastle United's Yoan Gouffran vies for the ball with Arsenal's Bacary Sagna (front) during their English Premier League soccer match at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, yesterday. Arsenal won 1-0.AP
Chelsea's Willian (right) vies for the ball with Liverpool's Raheem Sterling during the English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London yesterday. Chelsea won 2-1.AP
Chelsea's Willian (right) vies for the ball with Liverpool's Raheem Sterling during the English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London yesterday. Chelsea won 2-1.AP


Arsenal returned to the top of the English Premier League with a scrappy 1-0 win at Newcastle yesterday, while Chelsea kept the pressure on the Gunners with a 2-1 defeat of Liverpool to stay in the hunt for the title.

Olivier Giroud ensured Arsenal will start 2014 on top of the standings after ending a personal drought of seven matches without a goal.

Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto'o meanwhile secured a fourth-consecutive home win for Chelsea after Martin Skrtel had opened the scoring for the Reds at Stamford Bridge.

Elsewhere, Everton recovered from their first home loss in a year to beat Southampton 2-1 and Tottenham trounced Stoke 3-0.

Third-place Chelsea trail Arsenal by two points and Manchester City by one point. Liverpool, who weretopping the standings at Christmas, are six points adrift after a second-consecutive loss.

"We believe in ourselves, and we are determined to give our best absolutely, and to turn back on this season at the end and think we have given our best," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "I hope it will be enough, of course, but it's a long way to go. It's too early to say that."

Giroud boosted Arsenal's hopes of winning the title for the first time since 2004 when he scored midway through the second half with a header from Theo Walcott's free kick.


The bad news for Arsenal is that midfielder Mesut Ozil, who missed yesterday's match, is facing a short spell on the sidelines after injuring his shoulder during the win over West Ham on Thursday.

"It is an inflamed shoulder. It should be maybe one more week, maybe less. I don't know, but not a long time," Wenger said.

Wenger's team enjoyed long periods of possession and created several chances early on. But they were unable to convert them before Newcastle almost went ahead toward the end of the first half, when Moussa Sissoko's shot was tipped over by Wojciech Szczesny. Mathieu Debuchy also headed against the bar.

Giroud had a chance to double the lead when Walcott's lob from close range was cleared by Debuchy, but the Frenchman failed to connect properly with the loose ball. Newcastle pushed forward towards the end, but Alan Pardew's team slipped to just their second home loss in 10 league matches.

Skrtel put the Reds in front from close range at Stamford Bridge after only four minutes, but Hazard hit back in the 17th with a superb strike. Eto'o gave Jose Mourinho's team a decisive lead from Oscar's pass in the 34th.

Hazard was splendid throughout in his playmaker role, while Chelsea's defenders did a good job of containing Luis Suarez, who was reunited with Branislav Ivanovic for the first time since he bit the Serbian defender on the arm last season and was banned for 10 games.

Eto'o was lucky to escape punishment for an early challenge on Jordan Henderson that led to Skrtel's opener. Late in the game, Eto'o appeared to foul Suarez in the box, but Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho defended his striker's physical approach to the game.

"For some weeks I have been criticising him a lot internally for his failure to adapt to what the Premier League is in terms of physicality, so if he had a tackle deserving of a card, it was my fault, because I'm asking him to adapt to this," Mourinho said. "On the other situation with Suarez, I would resolve this differently with a yellow card for Luis Suarez ... . Sometimes he tries too much... Eto'o just put his body in front of him. It looks like somebody shot him."

Chelsea reacted immediately after Skrtel's opener as Hazard saw his effort saved before Gary Cahill headed wide from Frank Lampard's free kick.

Chelsea's penalty appeals were waved away by referee Howard Webb after Hazard appeared to be clipped by Lucas in the box, and Lampard forced keeper Simon Mignolet to tip the ball over with a trademark powerful shot from outside the box.

The home side was rewarded for the pressure soon afterward when Hazard gave Mignolet no chance with a superb curling shot for his eighth league goal of the season. Liverpool then struggled to contain the Blues, and Eto'o converted his team's dominance into a goal when he scored from close range.


New Spurs manager Tim Sherwood earned his first win at White Hart Lane as Tottenham easily beat Stoke 3-0. Roberto Soldado converted his fifth penalty of the season in the first half, while Aaron Lennon and Mousa Dembele added goals in the second.

It was Tottenham's first clean sheet in the league since November 3, and the win puts Spurs level on 34 points with Manchester United at the halfway point of the season.

Three days after their first home loss in a year, Everton bounced back to beat Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park. The home side took the lead through Seamus Coleman in the ninth minute when the defender slotted into the net from close range.

Southampton battled back and equalised through Gaston Ramirez, who met Adam Lallana's pass with a left-footed shot from outside the box in the 71st minute. But Romelu Lukaku, who came into the game without a goal in five matches, scored the winner three minutes later.




Aston Villa's four-match losing run in the Barclays Premier League came to an end as they battled to a draw against a Swansea side which failed to make the most of their dominance at Villa Park. Villa went ahead through a well-taken Gabriel Agbonlahor strike. But Swansea monopolised possession and deservedly equalised when Roland Lamah headed home a Pablo Hernandez cross.




Sunderland scored two late goals to rescue a Barclays Premier League point against Cardiff City in the first match since the Welsh club sacked manager Malky Mackay.The hosts dominated and were in control after Jordon Mutch's shot was deflected in off Modibo Diakite, and Fraizer Campbell fired home from 12 yards out. But substitute Steven Fletcher set up a tense finale with a goal from close range. And in the last minute of injury time, Jack Colback's shot deflected off Steven Caulker and into the net.


GOALS:- HULL: ELMOHAMADY 49th; KOREN 60th, 84th; BOYD 63rd; HUDDLESTONE 67th; FRYATT 74th.

Hull scored six second-half goals to thrash Fulham and go seven points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone. It was the Tigers' biggest-ever victory in the Premier League. Ahmed Elmohamady started the rout with a 15-yard shot, before Robert Koren swept in from Yannick Sagbo's cross and George Boyd drove in a third. Tom Huddlestone thumped in his first goal since April 2011, Matty Fryatt tapped in a fifth and Koren prodded in the sixth from close range.




Manchester City temporarily moved to the top of the Barclays Premier League table

after Edin Dzeko's 50th goal for the club defeated Crystal Palace at Etihad Stadium. City dominated a first half which saw their England keeper Joe Hart play on after suffering a badly cut eye. Palace threatened via Jason Puncheon and Mile Jedinak, but Dzeko turned in a Jesus Navas cross to put City ahead.




Substitute Danny Welbeck scored the winner as Manchester United beat a determined Norwich City to secure a fourth-consecutive Barclays Premier League win. The Canaries had shots from Russell Martin and Gary Hooper saved prior to the visitors - who were without the injured Wayne Rooney - taking the lead. A series of ricochets put Welbeck through on goal, and he rounded keeper John Ruddy before slotting in.



GOALS:- WEST HAM: J COLE 4th; MAIGA 65th; NOLAN 67th. WBA: ANELKA 40th, 45th; BERAHINO 69th.

West Ham remain in the Barclays Premier League's bottom three after an entertaining draw with fellow strugglers West Brom. Joe Cole put the Hammers ahead with a low shot, but Nicolas Anelka equalised before poking in two minutes later to give the Baggies a 2-1 half-time lead. West Ham levelled through Modibo Maiga's 20-yard shot, and Kevin Nolan prodded home from close range to put the home side back in front. But Saido Berahino equalised again for West Brom with a fine low strike.


CLUBP W D L GF GA GD PTSArsenal19 13 3 3 37 18 19 42Man City19 13 2 4 54 21 33 41Chelsea19 12 4 3 35 19 16 40Everton19 10 7 2 31 18 13 37Liverpool19 11 3 5 44 23 21 36Man United19 10 4 5 32 22 10 34Tottenham19 10 4 5 22 24 -2 34Newcastle19 10 3 6 29 24 5 33Southampton 19 7 6 6 26 20 6 27Hull City19 6 5 8 22 23 -1 23Swansea City 19 5 6 8 24 25 -1 21Stoke City19 5 6 8 18 29 -11 21Aston Villa19 5 5 9 18 25 -7 20Norwich City19 5 4 10 16 32 -16 19West Brom19 3 9 7 22 27 -5 18Cardiff City19 4 6 9 15 30 -15 18Crystal Palace 19 5 1 13 12 28 -16 16Fulham19 5 1 13 19 41 -22 16West Ham19 3 6 10 18 28 -10 15Sunderland19 3 5 11 15 32 -17 14

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