Thursday, January 14, 2016
PREMIER LEAGUE: Leicester stun Spurs, Arsenal held as Liverpool strike late
LONDON - Leicester City won 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur to rekindle their unlikely Premier League title challenge and draw level at the top with Arsenal who conceded a late goal to draw 3-3 at Liverpool on Wednesday.
Those predicting Leicester would fade into the background of the championship race got a wake-up call when Robert Huth headed an 83rd-minute winner against fourth-placed Spurs at White Hart Lane.
Arsenal had looked like going four points clear at the summit before Huth scored and Joe Allen came off the bench to grab a dramatic late equaliser for Liverpool.
Arsene Wenger's side, who stay top on goal difference with 43 points, had twice trailed to superb goals from Roberto Firmino but battled back to take a 3-2 lead thanks to two Olivier Giroud strikes.
Third-placed Manchester City stayed three points off the top after being held to a 0-0 draw at home by Everton and Champions Chelsea continued to confound as they were twice pegged back in a 2-2 home draw with West Bromwich Albion.
Sunderland's bid to stay up was boosted when Jermain Defoe grabbed a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over relegation rivals Swansea City, but Norwich City were dragged towards the relegation scrap after losing 3-1 at Stoke.
Southampton won their first match in three with a 2-0 home victory over Watford.
The first 25 minutes at Anfield were frenetic as Liverpool tore into the visitors and twice took the lead through excellent goals from Firmino.
The first arrived on 10 minutes when Emre Can's shot was parried into the Brazilian's path and he fired home in the blink of an eye, but the lead lasted only four minutes as Aaron Ramsey beat Simon Mignolet at his near post.
Firmino has blown hot and cold since joining Liverpool in the close season, but he produced a devastating finish to restore the hosts' advantage, curling the ball into the top corner from 25 metres, past the despairing dive of Petr Cech.
Liverpool's season, however, has been characterized by atrocious defending at set-pieces and Arsenal were level again on 25 minutes when a corner from the left arrived unchallenged at the near post for Giroud to poke home.
The Frenchman has divided opinion as to whether he has the pedigree to lead the line in a title-winning side but there would have been few dissenters when he swiveled and stroked the ball into the net to put Arsenal ahead on 55 minutes.
They could not close it out, however, and Allen arrived in the area to volley home from eight meters.
"We come out of the game with a lot of positive but still some regrets," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who added that some of his players were carrying "bad memories" from their 5-1 defeat by Liverpool at the same ground in 2014.
Leicester had failed to win their last three league games, without scoring a goal, prompting predictions that their surprise surge up the table was over and they would slip away in the second half of the campaign.
Yet those may have to be revised after they went to Tottenham, who have their own title hopes, and clinched a superb win after Huth scored a bullet header from a corner.
"Unfortunately, it's January, not May," said Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. "There's so much work to do. We have to remain calm and believe in what we're doing."
There was no goalmouth drama at the Etihad Stadium, although Manchester City's efforts to reduce the gap at the top were hit when they were denied a late penalty for a foul on Raheem Sterling by John Stones.
Chelsea, attempting to win consecutive league matches for the first time this season, twice led, but Cesar Azpilicueta's opener was cancelled out by Craig Gardner and Gareth McAuley's own goal was followed by a second equalizer from James McClean. (Editing by Ed Osmond)