Monday, October 7, 2013

Arsenal return to EPL summit Saints blank Swansea

Arsenal return to EPL summit Saints blank Swansea
WEST BROMWICH, UK, Oct 6, (AFP): Jack Wilshere’s second-half strike rescued a point for Arsenal as they reclaimed top spot in the Premier League on Sunday with a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion. The hosts had taken the lead shortly before half-time courtesy of Claudio Yacob and saw ex-Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka spurn two good opportunities to double their advantage before Wilshere equalised with a deflected shot. The goal represented a positive end to a week in which Wilshere had been pictured with a cigarette in his mouth on a night out, for which he was rebuked by manager Arsene Wenger. It was also enough to lift Arsenal back to the summit by virtue of having scored more goals than Liverpool. Although the result brought to an end the Gunners’ 10-game winning streak, manager Wenger will be satisfied with a point after a searching examination at The Hawthorns.
West Brom had defeated Manchester United only last weekend and the draw represented the first points the Gunners have dropped since their defeat at home to Aston Villa on the season’s opening day. West Brom, meanwhile, can take heart from an excellent fortnight in which they have turned around what was a disappointing start by taking seven points from three games. West Brom’s anchoring midfield pairing of Youssouf Mulumbu and Yacob succeeded in denying the Gunners’ creative trio of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Wilshere the chance to settle into their rhythm. It was, in fact, Wojciech Szczesny who was the first goalkeeper extended when, two minutes later, Saido Berahino’s strike took a wicked deflection off Mathieu Flamini, forcing the Arsenal custodian into a fine fingertip save.
Wenger’s team had to work to create openings and on the rare occasions they did, they were guilty of profligacy, with Kieran Gibbs and Wilshere both shooting off target. The significance of those misses became apparent three minutes before half-time when Albion concluded a period of dominance with the opening goal.
Saints 2, Swansea 0
Southampton maintained their fine early-season form by beating Swansea City 2-0 at St Mary’s on Sunday to climb to fourth place in the Premier League table. Goals in each half from Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side a third consecutive win. The hosts were also indebted to a fine performance by goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who produced a string of eye-catching saves to safeguard a fourth successive clean sheet. Michael Laudrup’s Swansea remain 14th, two points above the relegation places. Danny Fox deputised at left back for Southampton due to Luke Shaw’s absence through illness, while Swansea forward Michu played in a scrum cap after injuring his head in Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League win at home to St Gallen.
Jonjo Shelvey was one of five players drafted into the visiting line-up and he almost gifted Southampton an early lead by giving the ball away in a dangerous position, only for Dani Osvaldo to shoot over. The home side had started intently and they took a 19th-minute lead when Lallana lashed the ball home from Steven Davis’s incisive pass. Swansea began to push for an equaliser, however, and the Southampton goal came under increasing threat. Boruc clawed away a Michu header and saved a low shot from Shelvey, before former Southampton winger Nathan Dyer gathered a back-heel from Wilfried Bony and slammed a shot against the inside of the post.
Lallana teed up Rickie Lambert for a header that missed the target at the other end, but Swansea were soon back on the attack. Boruc plunged to his left to parry a header from Bony and stood up well to deny Michu, while Bony headed over and Shelvey shot wide in the early stages of the second half. Shelvey then whipped a free-kick over the bar after Jose Fonte felled Bony right on the edge of the Southampton 18-yard box. Southampton survived, however, and after Victor Wanyama had seen a goal ruled out for a foul, Rodriguez sealed victory in the 83rd minute after outmuscling Chico Flores

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