Vardy fires Leicester to 2nd in EPL, Chelsea extends run

Sports

Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic, right, challenges Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew during their English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Could Leicester do it again?

Even if another shock Premier League title isn’t on the cards, the outsider which won in 2016 is firmly a part of English soccer’s top four this season.

Beating Arsenal 2-0 on Saturday leaves Leicester second, five points off leader Liverpool, and with a nine-point cushion to the fifth spot.

It also deepens the gloom at Arsenal, where Unai Emery is dealing with a five-game winless run as well as the now former captain Granit Xhaka’s rift with fans.

Chelsea is third, level on points with Leicester, after winning its sixth league game in a row — a 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace. Tottenham drew 1-1 with Sheffield United in a game full of video-review controversy and hasn’t won consecutive games since April.

Liverpool and fourth-place Manchester City play Sunday.

VARDY’S PARTY

Jamie Vardy remains the Premier League’s top scorer after another dominant game against Arsenal.

Vardy opened the scoring in the 68th minute with his 11th league goal of the season off a square ball from Youri Tielemans, finishing off a slick team move.

Vardy set up the second for James Maddison in the 75th, holding up the ball in the penalty area before feeding it for the onrushing Maddison to hit a powerful low shot from outside the penalty area.

Arsenal had chances to score in the first half, with Alexandre Lacazette in particular wasting good opportunities. After scoring two, Leicester came close to a third.

Arsenal sits sixth and is dropping away from the race for Champions League spots. Xhaka was out of the squad again for the Leicester game as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remained captain.

PULISIC SCORES

Abraham has been on strong scoring form all season, and now American midfielder Christian Pulisic has joined him.

After Palace kept the game goalless in the first half with solid defending and more than a little luck, Chelsea did its job in the second to win 2-0.

Abraham scored his 10th Premier League goal of the season in the 52nd off a neat backheel pass from Willian, and Pulisic made sure of the win in the 79th, heading in a looping, deflected shot from Michy Batshuayi.

Pulisic scored his fifth goal in three league games

“In the first half we started well, then allowed our tempo to drop, but when we came out in the second half with the intent that we did, we won the game relatively comfortably – a nice, solid win with a clean sheet,” Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said.

Man City is the next opponent for Lampard’s Chelsea on Nov. 23.

SON BOUNCES BACK

Son Heung-min scored for Spurs, but he wasn’t originally meant to be playing at all.

Son was due to be suspended after a red card in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Everton for a challenge which led to Andre Gomes suffering a broken and dislocated ankle.

Son left the field in tears after that incident, but his red card was overturned a day later on appeal. He followed up by scoring twice in the 4-0 win over Red Star.

Sheffield was frustrated when John Lundstram hit the post and the video assistant referee ruled out a goal for David McGoldrick because of an offside in the build-up.

VAR was kinder to Sheffield when George Baldock’s cross ended up in the net at the far post in the 78th. A video review found Chris Basham hadn’t been offside as the ball flew past his head.

Spurs’ inconsistent form is one reason for the pressure on manager Mauricio Pochettino, but the league table is damning for last season’s Champions League finalist. Tottenham is 17 points off leader Liverpool, but just seven ahead of last-place Norwich.

SAINTS IN TROUBLE

Everton traveled to struggling Southampton on the verge of the relegation zone but eased the pressure with a 2-1 win.

Everton now enjoys a six-point cushion over 18th-place Watford, while Southampton is 19th and winless in its last seven league games.

Newcastle beat Bournemouth 2-1, while Burnley turned around a run of three defeats with a 3-0 win at home to West Ham.

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