Arse­nal slip on Wenger’s birth­day

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Arse­nal climbed to the top of the English Premier League on its man­ager's 67th birth­day.

Arsene Wenger was in no mood to cel­e­brate, though.

A 0-0 home draw against strug­gling Mid­dles­brough brought an end to Arse­nal's six-game win­ning run in the league, just when Wenger's team was be­ing talked up as the real deal in the ti­tle race.

Many will de­scribe a slip-up of this kind as be­ing typ­i­cal of Arse­nal, which has stum­bled when ex­pec­ta­tions are at their high­est in re­cent years. Its last league ti­tle came in 2004.

It could have been worse, too, with Mid­dles­brough cre­at­ing the bet­ter chances at Emi­rates Sta­dium and draw­ing three ex­cel­lent saves out of Arse­nal goal­keeper Petr Cech in the first half. Wenger said his team was flat be­cause the game came just three days af­ter an "in­tense" Cham­pi­ons League match against Lu­do­gorets, which Arse­nal won 6-0.

"At least you can have a drink on your birth­day," a glum Wenger said. "When you win, you de­serve it. When you don't, you need it."

Arse­nal is in first place on goal dif­fer­ence from Liver­pool, which beat West Bromwich Al­bion 2-1 at An­field for a sixth win in nine league matches. Manch­ester City needs only a point against Southamp­ton on Sun­day to re­claim the lead.

Here's a look at the rest of the ac­tion on a low-scor­ing day in the Premier League:

LIVER­POOL 2, WEST BROMWICH AL­BION 1

Neu­tral­ized by Manch­ester United in a goal­less draw on Mon­day, Liver­pool found things much eas­ier five days later against another op­po­nent that came to An­field to de­fend.

Liver­pool had 21 shots and 68 per­cent pos­ses­sion, scor­ing goals through Sa­dio Mane and Philippe Coutinho from sweep­ing at­tacks in a one-sided first half.

Gareth McAu­ley's close-range goal for West Brom, pre­dictably fol­low­ing a cor­ner kick, en­sured a tense fin­ish and de­nied Liver­pool top spot on goal dif­fer­ence.

BOURNEMOUTH 0, TOT­TEN­HAM 0

Harry Kane can't re­turn quick enough for Tot­ten­ham.

This stale­mate came at the end of a week when Spurs squan­dered many chances in a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Al­bion last week­end in the Premier League, and then drew 0-0 at Bayer Lev­erkusen in the Cham­pi­ons League on Tues­day.

Kane, the Premier League's top scorer last sea­son, has just re­turned to train­ing af­ter five weeks out with an an­kle in­jury.

Spurs re­main the only un­beaten team in the league but missed the chance to go top overnight.

LE­ICES­TER 3, CRYS­TAL PALACE 1

Le­ices­ter fi­nally man­aged to trans­fer its Cham­pi­ons League form to the Premier League.

Ahmed Musa, Shinji Okazaki, and Chris­tian Fuchs scored for Le­ices­ter in only a third win of its dis­ap­point­ing ti­tle de­fense.

It's been a dif­fer­ent story in the team's first-ever Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign: With three straight group-stage vic­to­ries, Le­ices­ter is on the brink of qual­i­fy­ing for the last 16.

Le­ices­ter's un­beaten run at its King Power sta­dium stretched to 20 league games. It's away from home where the cham­pi­ons have strug­gled this sea­son.

ALSO

Things are look­ing bleak for Sun­der­land and its man­ager David Moyes. A 1-0 loss at West Ham, cour­tesy of a goal by Win­sten Reid in the fourth minute of stop­page time, was the lat­est tough blow for a side that is win­less and in last place on just two points from nine games.

Swansea is next to last af­ter draw­ing 0-0 at home to Wat­ford, mean­ing new man­ager Bob Bradley is still await­ing his first win since tak­ing charge. That was one of three goal­less draws on Satur­day, when there were just 13 goals in eight games.

Also, Burn­ley beat Ever­ton 2-1 thanks to Scott Ar­field's 90thminute win­ner, and Xher­dan Shaqiri scored twice for Stoke in a 2-0 win at Hull, which slipped into the bot­tom three.

Arse­nal man­ager Arsene Wenger re­acts dur­ing yes­ter­day’s home draw

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