By Ryan Moran
- A Jamie Vardy double steered Leicester to victory over Liverpool.
- Southampton hold Arsenal at the Emirates as the Gunners drop to fourth.
- Tottenham beat Norwich to leapfrog Arsenal into third.
Liverpool failed to complete the double over leaders Leicester. Arsenal slipped up again against Southampton with their North London rivals taking full advantage.
Leicester City 2-0 Liverpool
Leicester stay three points clear at the top as Jamie Vardy twice found the net at the King Power Stadium. The Reds failed in their attempt to complete the double over the leaders with the loss opening the deficit on fifth placed Manchester United to six points.
After a goalless first half Vardy opened the scoring in spectacular fashion, a first time half volley from Riyad Mahrez’s long ball looped over Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.
The striker made it 2-0 when he fired into the roof of the net. Shinji Okazaki’s initial shot was deflected into the past of the England international who made no mistake from close range.
The Reds slipped one place into eighth because of the defeat. Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester are now unbeaten in six, three wins and three draws, and five points clear of third placed Tottenham. The leaders travel to second placed Manchester City in their next league fixture, with three points currently separating the sides.
Arsenal 0-0 Southampton
Southampton couldn’t replicate their Boxing Day heroics but denied the hosts all three points at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal were the stronger side in North London but failed to ripple the net guarded by Fraser Forster as the Saints have now gone four games without conceding.
A host of chances fell the way of the Gunners’ attack but not one attempt found its way past Forster. Mesut Ozil was twice denied by the ex-Celtic goalkeeper with Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez also unable to find a way past the shot stopper.
The stalemate gave North London rivals Tottenham a chance to climb into as high as second place with victory over Norwich. That was dependant on the result at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland 0-1 Manchester City
Sergio Aguero’s neat finish earned Manuel Pellegrini three points on the week it was announced the Chilean will depart in the summer. Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland had their own chances to take something from the game, Billy Jones twice testing the Citizens’ resolve, hitting the post and forcing a save from Joe Hart.
The only goal of the game came as the Aguero controlled a deflected cross before using the outside of his boot to beat Vito Mannone. The Black Cats could have been level when new signing Lamine Kone headed wide while unmarked.
A seven game unbeaten run has seen City move into second, the only team within touching distance of leaders Leicester. The Foxes meet the Citizens at the Etihad in the next round of fixtures. New signings led to a Sunderland side proving tough to beat, Liverpool are their next opponents on Saturday.
Norwich City 0-3 Tottenham
Tottenham’s English contingent produced the goals once again as Tottenham move up to third in the table. Dele Alli opened the scoring within two minutes before a brace from Harry Kane gave Spurs a comfortable margin of victory. Tottenham’s three goals meant Norwich have conceded eight goals in their last two home games, Liverpool scoring five in the previous round of fixtures.
The hosts found themselves behind with little more than a minute on the clock as Alli finished after Christian Eriksen’s initial shot was blocked. The midfielder was influential in the first half, before going off due to illness at half time, winning a penalty with half an hour gone. Sebastien Bassong brought down the England international as he tried to follow up Kane’s saved effort on goal. Alli’s compatriot made no mistake, beating John Ruddy from the spot.
The ex-Norwich loanee added his second and his side’s third after Eriksen had won possession back from Martin Olsson. With a superior goal difference over their North London rivals Tottenham are up to third in the table. The Canaries are on the verge of dropping into the relegation places with Newcastle only two points adrift in 18th.
Manchester United 3-0 Stoke City
Manchester United continued on their road to recovery with three goals over Stoke, who failed in an attempt to complete the double at Old Trafford. After shipping three goals against a Championship side, United put three past a usually resolute Potters side who have now conceded six in their last two league games.
United took the lead early on when Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s pinpoint cross was met by Jesse Lingard to open the scoring for the home side. The inspired Anthony Martial continued return to form, doubling his side’s lead as he curled the ball past Jack Butland. The Frenchman then set up captain Wayne Rooney to add a third from close range to confirm the victory.
A five-point gap still separates the Red Devils from the Champion’s League places. Stoke have won only one of their last five games in the league but remain in a tight middle order with Liverpool and Crystal Palace also succumbing to defeat on Tuesday evening.
West Ham United 2-0 Aston Villa
If FA Cup elimination wasn’t bad, a 15th league defeat of the season will take the wind out of Aston Villa’s sails again. An early Jordan Ayew red card meant the league’s bottom club had to play the majority of the game with 10 men. The striker was sent off for elbowing Aaron Cresswell.
West Ham took full advantage of the extra man with Michail Antonio and Cheikhou Kouyate finding the net. A goalless first half ensued but not without chances for the Hammers. Antonio’s second half opener was West Ham’s 12th effort on goal, heading past Mark Bunn in the Villa goal. Kouyate doubled the lead late on, finishing off a counter attacking move to keep in touching distance with United, one point ahead in fifth.
The victory meant a five-point deficit opening up between West Ham and seventh placed Southampton. 10 points is the difference between Aston Villa and safety with 42 points still available from their remaining 14 games.
Watford 0-0 Chelsea
After scoring five goals in the FA Cup, Chelsea drew a blank in a goalless draw at Vicarage Road. The point meant the Blues have now gone seven games unbeaten, all seven of which have been under Gus Hiddink.
The visitors were the stronger side, Heurelho Gomes tipping Diego Costa’s late header clear of danger. The Spaniard also walked on the tight rope at times, making his presence known to the Watford defence. A shove on Sebastian Prodl received no punishment but an exchange between the striker and Juan Carlos Paredes received a yellow card.
Chelsea’s steady climb up the table continues as they move above West Brom on goal difference. Watford moved up to ninth with the point as the Hornets stand in good stead to finish in the top 10 on their return to the top flight.
Completing the round of fixtures:
Everton 3-0 Newcastle United
Crystal Palace 1-2 AFC Bournemouth
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Swansea City
The Etihad Stadium hosts first versus second as Leicester City are the Manchester City’s opponents on Saturday 6th February in the 12:45GMT kick off.
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