Leicester lose ground on leaders Arsenal

By Ryan Moran

  • Riyad Mahrez’s saved penalty denied the Foxes victory over Bournemouth.
  • West Ham United complete the double over Liverpool.
  • Manchester City come from behind to beat Watford.

London, UK – The Foxes were held 0-0 at home as Arsenal moved three points clear at the top with victory over Newcastle.

Leicester City 0-0 AFC Bournemouth

Ten man Bournemouth held on for the draw as Artur Boruc kept out Riyad Mahrez’s penalty at the King Power Stadium, allowing Arsenal the chance to go two points clear at the top of the Premier League with victory over Newcastle.

On the day news emerged the home side were in talks to sign Birmingham’s Demarai Gray, Leicester failed to score and settled for a point. Jamie Vardy struck the post in the first half before being brought down by Simon Francis mid-way through the second half.

Francis saw red for denying Vardy a goal scoring opportunity and Mahrez took responsibility from the spot, only for Boruc to get two hands on the shot to keep the scores level. The Polish international thwarted the midfielder again late on as the home side shared the spoils with a battling Cherries side.

With other results falling out of Bournemouth’s favour, victories for Chelsea and Norwich meant Eddie Howe’s side slip to 16th, still four points clear of the drop zone.

Arsenal 1-0 Newcastle United

Victory over Newcastle confirmed Arsenal moved two points clear at the top with Leicester stuttering at home to Bournemouth. A rain affected game at the Emirates was settled by a second half goal, stabbed home by Laurent Koscielny.

The Gunners were up against it in a second half with Newcastle the more likely to score, but close fought games are the ones that win you the league. Ayoze Perez tested Petr Cech but couldn’t beat the Arsenal shot stopper as the Spaniard played a deeper role to cut out the threat of Mesut Ozil especially, outnumbering the home side in the middle.

A bemused Steve Mclaren attended press duties wondering how his side left North London with nothing to show for a spirited performance. The Magpies are two points from safety with Manchester United their next opponents.

Watford 1-2 Manchester City

Manchester City closed the gap on Leicester, coming from behind to claim victory over Watford at Vicarage Road. Two late goals from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero turned the Citizens into a winning position after Aleksandar Kolarov headed into his own net.

The away side ended a six game winless run in away fixtures with early signs suggesting that run would continue with Kolarov heading Ben Watson’s corner past his own goalkeeper 10 minutes into the second half.

A late comeback denied the Hornets a famous win as Kolarov assisted Toure’s side-foot volley from a corner to pull the sides level. Aguero stole all three points two minutes later heading home a Bacary Sagna cross.

City are now a point behind Leicester and still three behind Arsenal while Watford are four points away from Manchester United in the guaranteed Europa League place.

Crystal Palace 0-3 Chelsea

Guus Hiddink watched his Chelsea side take all three points from Selhurst Park for the first time since taking charge for the second time. The defeat for Crystal Palace prevented the Eagles from moving above both West Ham and United into fifth place.

Oscar combined with Diego Costa 30 minutes in to finish from close range with the home side on top at that point in the game. Willian doubled the lead on the hour mark, striking from outside of the box into the top corner for his eighth goal of the season. Costa made it three soon after, steering home after Willian’s shot was saved confirming that Chelsea would move six points clear of the relegation zone.

Eden Hazard was relieved shortly after the start of the game, being replaced by Pedro because of suspected hip injury, troubling him since the Blues played Leicester City.

Palace missed the likes of Connor Wickham and Yannick Bolasie as the home side struggled in front of goal. The loss of Yohan Cabaye to suspension was a blow for this game and it showed with Wilfried Zaha the only player coming close, lacking the quality in the shots to beat Thibaut Courtois, shooting wide in the first half with the match goalless.

West Ham United 2-0 Liverpool

West Ham completed the double over Liverpool and moved into sixth place ahead of their opponents. As for Liverpool, the Reds lost ground on the Champion’s League places, six points off fourth placed Tottenham.

Michail Antonio gave the Hammers the lead, beating Nathaniel Clyne in the air from Enner Valencia’s cross. Andy Carroll doubled the lead, heading in Mark Noble’s cross with a run towards the front post.

Liverpool had chances with Emre Can striking the crossbar but the home side stood firm to deny the Reds any clear cut chances. Christian Benteke was limited to few chances and failed to make anything of the few crosses sent his way, failing to hit the target after good work from Brad Smith down the left wing.

Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City

Manchester United beat Swansea for the first time in four attempts, also their first win at the seventh attempt in the league. As for Swansea, defeat leaves them two points clear of the drop zone.

Anthony Martial built on an impressive display against Chelsea by heading in the opening goal at Old Trafford but Gylfi Sigurdsson left the game in the balance with 20 minutes left.

The game was perfectly set up for a hero on either side, Wayne Rooney converted Martial’s cross, his first goal in 11 and his 188th in the Premier League. Two goals would have been welcomed by Louis Van Gaal with his side having failed to score in 18 games under the Dutchman. The victory moved United into fifth with Palace failing to beat Chelsea.

Everton 1-1 Tottenham

Nothing could separate Everton and Tottenham at Goodison Park with both sides taking a point from the game. The draw meant Everton failed to climb into the top ten while Tottenham lost ground on the teams above them.

The home side took the lead 20 minutes in with ex-Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon half-volleyed past Hugo Lloris. Spurs levelled before half time, Toby Alderweireld picking out the run of Dele Alli, chesting the ball and volleying past Tim Howard before Seamus Coleman could make a challenge.

An end to end second half stoppage time saw both sides looking to claim all three points, Everton the more likely as the Toffees defended in numbers and counter attacked through Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku failing to test Lloris late on.

Sunderland 3-1 Aston Villa

Sunderland defeated Aston Villa to leave the away side seven points adrift at the bottom of the league. The Black Cats moved within four points of safety with victory over the Villains, ending a run of five consecutive defeats.

Patrick Van Aanholt gave the home side the lead, driving a shot low towards goal luckily taking a deflection off of Micah Richards to beat Brad Guzan. Carles Gil pulled Villa level, volleying past Vito Mannone in the Sunderland goal. Jermaine Defoe put his side back in front before adding his second to confirm a much needed victory for Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland.

Of the weekend’s other results:

West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Stoke City

Norwich 1-0 Southampton

A round of evening fixtures take place with a week’s break because of cup action. Newcastle taking on Manchester United is one of three fixtures on 12th January, the other seven being played a day later on 13th January.

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