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‘Nervous’ Arsenal held as Liverpool close on top spot

By AFP February 13th, 2014 3 min read


Arsenal missed the chance to go top of the Premier League as Liverpool moved to within four points of the summit on Wednesday ahead of their FA Cup clash with the Gunners.

Arsene Wenger’s men were held to a goalless draw at home to champions Manchester United while Liverpool had to twice come from behind before Steven Gerrard’s stoppage-time penalty sealed a 3-2 win away at bottom-of-the table Fulham.

Arsenal were left a point behind leaders Chelsea on a night when title rivals Manchester City saw their match at home to Sunderland postponed because of severe weather battering the north-west of England that also meant Everton’s game against Crystal Palace was called off as well.

“In the end either side could have won 1-0,” said Wenger after a match where both Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny and United counterpart David de Gea both made excellent saves.

“The title race is absolutely open for many teams.”

The draw did little for United’s fading hopes of claiming a Champions League place, with David Moyes’s side now 11 points adrift of the top four.

“I am pleased, but I wanted all three points,” said Moyes.

“We have a lot of catching up to do. We have to win games and keep plugging away.”

Liverpool, fresh from their stunning 5-1 win over Arsenal at Anfield, found themselves behind in just eight minutes at Craven Cottage when Kolo Toure sliced Kieran Richardson’s cross over the head of Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and into the net.

But four minutes before the break, Daniel Sturridge drew Liverpool level.

Gerrard’s superb pass over the top of the Fulham defence released his fellow England international and the striker steered the ball past keeper Maarten Stekelenburg as he scored for the eighth successive match.

Fulham went 2-1 in front when Martin Skrtel made a mess of clearing a cross into the box and Richardson scored from just a few yards out.

However, Liverpool hit back in the 72nd minute when Philippe Coutinho curled a shot past Stekelenburg with the aid of a deflection off John Heitinga.

And just when Fulham were about to collect a precious point, the fifth minute of injury time saw Sascha Riether bring down Sturridge in the box and Gerrard score from the ensuing penalty.

“Steven Gerrard is peerless in situations like that,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

“He showed brilliant composure. It was a great result. We’ve had to show character to come from behind twice.”

Rodgers, however, remained coy about Liverpool’s chances of winning a first English title since 1990 despite recently rubbishing the possibility saying it was too soon for his side.

“We’re going to keep pushing,” he said. “We’re chasing, other teams are still ahead of us. We need some of them to drop points.”

He added: “We know we still have Man City and Chelsea to play at home. We’ll take it game by game.”

Tottenham Hotspur, who looked as if they would move to within a point of fourth-placed Liverpool, remained three behind the Merseysiders despite Emmanuel Adebayor scoring twice in a crushing 4-0 win away to Newcastle.

Adebayor put Spurs 1-0 up in the 19th minute at St James’ Park after Newcastle keeper Tim Krul pushed Nabil Bentaleb’s cross straight into his path.

Adebayor was involved again when Spurs doubled their lead in the 53rd minute, Krul palming the Togo striker’s shot to Paulinho, who scored from close range.

Krul’s night got worse eight minutes from time when he could only parry Andros Townsend’s shot from the edge of the area and Adebayor slammed the rebound into the turf and over the keeper to make it 3-0 to Spurs.

And before the final whistle, Nacer Chadli added a fourth goal with a stunning 25-yard strike.

“We’ve got to keep on the tail of Liverpool,” said Spurs manager Tim Sherwood. “They are relentless. I hope they keep on checking over their shoulders and see Spurs are still there.”

Elsewhere, Stoke and Swansea shared the points in a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium after Peter Crouch’s early goal for the hosts was cancelled out by Chico Flores’s equaliser for the Swans.