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EPL: Advantage Leicester as Spurs, Arsenal, City lose; United win

Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City remain sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League after their closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester City remarkably all contrived to lose on Wednesday.

football Updated: Mar 03, 2016 08:48 IST
Premier League,Manchester United vs Watford,Arsenal vs Swansea
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane looks dejected after losing the EPL game to West Ham United at Upton Park on March 2, 2016.(Reuters Photo)

Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City remain sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League after their closest rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester City remarkably all contrived to lose on Wednesday.

Leicester had dropped points in a 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, but they remain in pole position after Spurs lost 1-0 at West Ham United, Arsenal crashed 2-1 at home to Swansea City and Liverpool claimed revenge for their League Cup final defeat by crushing City 3-0.

Manchester United, meanwhile, are now level on points with City in fifth place, having played a game more, after Juan Mata’s 83rd-minute free-kick secured a 1-0 home win over Watford.

Juan Mata, second from right, gave United their fourth successive win in all competitions with his free kick winner. (AP Photo)

The results kept Leicester three points clear of second place Tottenham, with Arsenal -- booed off at the Emirates Stadium -- three points further back and City now 10 points off the pace, albeit with a game in hand.

“We made some mistakes and the team didn’t feel free to play the way they play,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose side host Arsenal on Saturday, told the BBC.

“We need to be positive and it is important to be ready for Saturday. When you lose you can blame that the players are tired or whatever, but the reality is that it was just a bad night for us to play the way we play tonight.”

West Ham’s win over Tottenham, courtesy of Michail Antonio’s seventh-minute header, left them a point off the Champions League places in sixth place.

Spurs, for whom Dele Alli started on the bench due to a foot injury, would have gone top on goal difference if they had won at Upton Park.

But Pochettino’s side never recovered from going behind early on, Antonio meeting Dimitri Payet’s corner with a header that visiting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris could not keep out.

Spurs’ best chance of an equaliser fell to Harry Kane in the second half, but the England striker could not find the target after Toby Alderweireld’s shot was parried by Adrian.

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal completed a night to forget for the north London clubs by blowing a 1-0 lead in a home defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened Swansea.

It was Arsenal’s third defeat in succession in all competitions and their seventh of the league campaign, prompting a wave of angry boos to roll around the ground at the final whistle.

After earlier hitting the post, Alexis Sanchez neatly teed up Joel Campbell to put Arsenal ahead with a scooped finish in the 15th minute.

But Wayne Routledge equalised from Jack Cork’s pass just after the half hour and although Olivier Giroud and Sanchez both hit the bar for Arsenal, Swansea won it when captain Ashley Williams headed in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 74th-minute free-kick.

Swansea captain Ashley Williams scores the winner past Petr Cech. (Reuters Photo)

“I believe we were really unlucky with our finishing and some decisions today,” said Wenger, who said goalkeeper Petr Cech and centre-back Laurent Koscielny would miss the trip to Spurs through injury.

“We need to bounce back very quickly now.”

Victory took Swansea, whose head coach Francesco Guidolin was absent with a chest infection, six points clear of the relegation zone.

Manchester City’s title hopes were left in a sorry state after they slumped to defeat at Anfield, three days on from their 3-1 win on penalties over Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley.

Two goals in seven first-half minutes put Liverpool in control, Adam Lallana beating England colleague Joe Hart from 25 yards with a tame left-footer before James Milner stabbed in from Roberto Firmino’s pass.

James Milner scores Liverpool’s second goal past Joe Hart. (Reuters Photo)

Firmino completed victory for Liverpool in the 57th minute, curling home from Lallana’s pass, as Jurgen Klopp’s men climbed to eighth.

Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United seized their opportunity to make ground on the top four as Mata’s late strike gave them a fourth successive win in all competitions.

Van Gaal paired fit-again Anthony Martial with teenage sensation Marcus Rashford up front, but Watford created the better chances before Mata curled in the winner.

The day’s other game saw Stoke City beat Newcastle United 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium courtesy of a late 25-yard screamer by Xherdan Shaqiri, which kept Steve McClaren’s men rooted in the bottom three.

First Published: Mar 03, 2016 08:47 IST