Stylish Spurs dent Arse­nal’s Cham­pi­ons League chances

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT -

ARSE­NAL man­ager Arsene Wenger said qual­i­fy­ing for next sea­son’s Cham­pi­ons League via a Pre­mier League top-four fin­ish re­mained his pri­or­ity af­ter Arse­nal slipped to a third league de­feat in five games at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur yes­ter­day.

Harry Kane’s sec­ond-half header gave Tot­ten­ham a 1-0 vic­tory over their neigh­bours that left Arse­nal five points be­hind fourth-placed Chelsea hav­ing played a game more.

Manch­ester United se­cured a re­turn to the Cham­pi­ons League by win­ning last year’s Europa League and Arse­nal are through to the last 32 of Europe’s sec­ond-tier club com­pe­ti­tion.

“The pri­or­ity re­mains be­ing in the Cham­pi­ons League (qual­i­fi­ca­tion places) through the Pre­mier League,” Wenger said. “I am not a great fan of the Europa League win­ner qual­i­fy­ing for the Cham­pi­ons League – I think it is not right. If it is an op­por­tu­nity we have to try to take it as well, but the pri­or­ity re­mains the Pre­mier League.”

Arse­nal strug­gled to cre­ate real open­ings against Spurs at Wem­b­ley, mus­ter­ing one shot on tar­get all match, and Wenger pointed to their poor record of 15 goals on the road this sea­son as an area of con­cern.

“To­day was a game we couldn’t af­ford to lose,” Wenger added. “It makes it much more dif­fi­cult now (fin­ish­ing in top four), but we have to fight. There was more at stake in this game than just the derby, that’s why it is so dis­ap­point­ing.

“(Our away record) is very poor. Foot­ball is about scor­ing goals, and if you look at the num­bers, com­pared to the top six, we do not score enough goals away from home.”

Gylfi Sig­urds­son, Ou­mar Ni­asse and Tom Davies were on tar­get as Ever­ton eased past Crys­tal Palace 3-1 to climb to ninth on the ta­ble.

Af­ter a com­mit­ted but low-qual­ity first half ended goal­less, Ever­ton struck twice within six min­utes af­ter the break as Sig­urds­son beat Wayne Hen­nessey with a de­flected shot be­fore Ni­asse’s header dou­bled the ad­van­tage.

Mid­fielder Davies all but sealed the vic­tory with a low fin­ish in the 75th minute against a Palace side who showed lit­tle threat un­til Luka Milivo­je­vic con­verted a late penalty af­ter Ash­ley Wil­liams han­dled the ball.

Ever­ton leapfrogged Bournemouth to climb to ninth on 34 points from 27 games. Palace are 14th with 27 points.

Char­lie Adam’s missed penalty in stop­page time means Stoke City re­main in the bot­tom three with hopes of Pre­mier League sur­vival look­ing bleak.

The Scot­tish mid­fielder had a chance to give the Pot­ters all three points but couldn’t make it count.

Brighton had the bet­ter of the chances in the game at the Bet365 Sta­dium, and made their op­po­nents pay with a great move to open the scor­ing.

Jose Izquierdo picked up the ball from deep and af­ter ex­chang­ing passes in a slick rhythm with two team mates put it past Jack But­land.

Then the drama be­gan as Xher­dan Shaqiri’s goal made it 1-1, the Swiss mid­fielder picked up the ball on the edge of the box and curl­ing a de­light­ful low strike into the far corner.

In the fi­nal min­utes Stoke were awarded a penalty for a foul on Jese, sub­sti­tute Adam stepped up and his ef­fort was saved by Mat Ryan and then cleared by Lewis Dunk.

West Ham over­came Wat­ford 2-0 in a game with plenty of chances at the Lon­don Sta­dium, put­ting the Ham­mers level on points with their op­po­nents in the mid­dle of the Pre­mier League ta­ble.

The home side’s Mex­i­can striker Javier Her­nan­dez broke the dead­lock in the 38th minute, head­ing in at the far post af­ter winger Michail An­to­nio wove through the Wat­ford de­fence to send in a long cross from the left.

West Ham’s Aus­trian mid­fielder Marko Ar­nau­tovic, back in the side af­ter a ham­string in­jury, scored from close range in the 78th minute to make it 2-0.

The win leaves the two sides level on 30 points apiece in the mid­dle of the ta­ble, though still just six points above the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Swansea City edged fur­ther away from the rel­e­ga­tion zone as Ki Sung-yueng scored a late goal to beat Burn­ley 1-0 at the Lib­erty Sta­dium.

Swansea en­joyed more than two-thirds of pos­ses­sion but both teams strug­gled to cre­ate clear-cut op­por­tu­ni­ties in the first half.

It changed af­ter the in­ter­val when visi­tors Burn­ley threat­ened to score with a sting­ing half-vol­ley from winger Jo­hann Berg Gud­munds­son but he was de­nied with a stun­ning fin­ger­tip save by Swansea goal­keeper Lukasz Fabi­an­ski.

Swansea boss Car­los Carvalhal in­tro­duced Jan­u­ary sign­ing An­dre Ayew to boost to the at­tack­ing line and was re­warded with a string of chances be­fore Ki’s drilled ef­fort from the edge of the area clinched vic­tory with less than 10 min­utes left.

The vic­tory moved Swansea up to 15th in the ta­ble, two points clear of the bot­tom three, and ex­tended their un­beaten run to five matches. – Reuters


COM­ING OUT ON TOP: Harry Kane (cen­tre), who scored for Tot­ten­ham yes­ter­day, lends a hand in a de­fen­sive wall.

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