The Star Late Edition
Blues back in top four as Gunners slip into fifth
LONDON: Chelsea and Arsenal experienced contrasting late drama in the Premier League yesterday. Frank Lampard’s 89 minute strike gave Chelsea a 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Bobby Zamora’s lastgasp strike handed Fulham a 2-1 win over Arsenal.
Chelsea are fourth on 37 points from 20 matches, one clear of Arsenal who slipped to fifth after having Johan Djourou sent off 12 minutes from time before Zamora’s goal in the third minute of stoppage time sent them crashing to defeat.
In yesterday’s other matches all the away teams won, with Swansea City earning a 2-0 victory at Aston Villa, Stoke City beating Blackburn Rovers 2-1 and Norwich City winning 2-1 at Queens Park Rangers, who had Joey Barton sent off after he had earlier scored the game’s opening goal.
Arsenal slipped one place to fifth after Chelsea’s earlier win, but seemed set to reclaim a top four spot having taken a 1-0 lead at Craven Cottage with the game moving towards its finale.
Laurent Koscielny put Arsenal ahead with a 21st minute header but Fulham came back strongly in the second half.
It took some time, but Steve Sidwell, who won the FA Youth Cup at Arsenal but never made the first team, finally headed Fulham level after 85 minutes before Zamora smashed in the winner with a slightly mis-hit left-foot volley with seconds remaining.
Fulham manager Martin Jol, who enjoyed his first Premier League victory over Arsène Wenger’s side in nine attempts, said: “It was amazing. It’s a big compliment to all the players because in the second half they were on the front foot and to get the equaliser was a big boost.
“We played very well in the second half after they outplayed us for the first 20 or 25 minutes.”
However, Jol’s adversary from the Dutchman’s days of managing Arsenal’s arch-rivals Spurs was far from happy.
Wenger claimed Djourou should not have been sent off and that Arsenal should have had a penalty in the first half when Gervinho was tripped in the box.
“We went down to 10-men but in my opinion it was a foul for us on the second yellow for Djourou,” Wenger said.
“We should have had a penalty in the first half, but it was difficult after we went down to 10-men. I also thought the referee got it wrong on the first yellow card for Djourou. He got it all wrong.”
While Arsenal’s three-match unbeaten league run came to an end, Chelsea ended a four-match winless streak when Lampard struck late to secure victory at Wolves.
Chelsea, who drew three straight matches before losing 3-1 at home to Aston Villa on Saturday, went ahead through Ramires from a corner in the 54th minute.
Stephen Ward equalised in the 84th before Lampard struck the winner a minute from time.
“It’s a massive win,” Lampard said. “Everyone knows we are having a tough time but the determination shone through and I think we deserved it.”
Swansea’s victory at Villa was their first on the road since promotion, with goals from Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge, who scored his first Premier League goal since he first played in the top division eight years ago.
Blackburn failed to capitalise on their stunning 3-2 win at Manchester United on Saturday when they lost at home to Stoke with Peter Crouch scoring the 100th and 101st league goals of his career.
Blackburn remain deep in trouble in 19th with 14 points from 20 matches, one point above Bolton and one point below Wigan who are also in the drop zone. – Reuters