Chelsea keep pressure on Gunners

30 December 2013 | Sports

Arsenal returned to the top of the English Premier League with a scrappy 1-0 win at Newcastle on Sunday while Chelsea kept the pressure on the Gunners with a 2-1 defeat of Liverpool to stay in the hunt for the title. Olivier Giroud ensured Arsenal will start 2014 on top of the standings after ending a personal drought of seven matches without a goal. Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o, meanwhile, secured a fourth consecutive home win for Chelsea after Martin Skrtel had opened the scoring for the Reds at Stamford Bridge. Skrtel put the Reds in front from close range at Stamford Bridge after only four minutes, but Hazard hit back in the 17th with a superb strike. Eto’o gave Jose Mourinho’s team a decisive lead from Oscar’s back pass in the 34th. Hazard was splendid throughout in his playmaker role, while Chelsea’s defenders did a good job of containing Luis Suarez, who was reunited with Branislav Ivanovic for the first time since he bit the Serbian defender on the arm last season and was banned for 10 games. Elsewhere, Everton recovered from their first home loss in a year to beat Southampton 2-1 and Tottenham trounced Stoke 3-0. Third-place Chelsea trail Arsenal by two points and Manchester City by one point. Liverpool, who were topping the standings at Christmas, are six points adrift after a second consecutive loss. “We believe in ourselves and we are determined to give our best absolutely, and to turn back on this season at the end and think we have given our best,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “I hope it will be enough, of course, but it’s a long way to go. It’s too early to say that.” Giroud boosted Arsenal’s hopes of winning the title for the first time since 2004 when he scored midway through the second half with a header from Theo Walcott’s free kick. The bad news for Arsenal is that midfielder Mesut Ozil, who missed Sunday’s match, is facing a short spell on the sidelines after injuring his shoulder during the win over West Ham on Thursday. “It is an inflamed shoulder. It should be maybe one more week, maybe less,” Wenger said. New Spurs manager Tim Sherwood earned his first win at White Hart Lane as Tottenham easily beat Stoke 3-0. Roberto Soldado converted his fifth penalty of the season in the first half while Aaron Lennon and Mousa Dembele added goals in the second. It was Tottenham’s first clean sheet in the league since November 3 and the win puts Spurs level on 34 points with Manchester United at the halfway point of the season. Three days after its first home loss in a year, Everton bounced back to beat Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park. The home side took the lead through Seamus Coleman in the ninth minute when the defender slotted into the net from close range. Southampton battled back and equalised through Gaston Ramirez, who met Adam Lallana’s pass with a left-foot shot from outside the box in the 71st minute. But Romelu Lukaku, who came into the game without a goal in five matches, scored the winner three minutes later.

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