Arsenal back to top, Newcastle shock Tottenham
Liverpool force West Brom to draw
Arsenal have moved to the top of the English Premier League – for a day at least – with a 2-0 win over an Aston Villa side that is six points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Olivier Giroud was first on the score sheet when he converted what appeared to be a harshly awarded penalty at Villa Park in the eighth minute for his 50th league goal for the north London side.
Aaron Ramsey made it 2-0 for the visitors after overwhelming Villa with a fast breakaway attack from its own half. Ozil generously set up Ramsey who swept the ball into the net in the 38th.
Arsenal has 33 points, one more than Manchester City and Leicester, which can reclaim the lead by beating Chelsea today.
Villa is eight points from safety having not won for a club-record 15 games since the opening day of the season.
Villa, one of just seven ever-present teams in the post-1992 English Premier League era, looks all but down even with half the season remaining.
The club had not beaten Arsenal at home for exactly 17 years, when the team came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 on December 13, 1998.
A repeat didn’t seem likely after conceding so early.
The returning Theo Walcott, in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, outpaced Alan Hutton on the right and tangled with the Scotland international in the area. There was a delay before referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot setting the stage for Giroud to send Brad Guzan the wrong way.
It seemed almost like a training game for the Gunners as they passed in front of Villa and took their time to strike again before half time.
Ramsey’s strong challenge on Idrissa Gana set the visitors up on the counter attack and Walcott fed Ozil to dummy and race clean through. He then squared to Ramsey, who had made up the ground, to tap past the helpless Guzan.
At the White Hart Lane, Newcastle United came from behind to claim a crucial 2-1 win, which took them off the drop zone.
Eric Dier headed home from a corner to give Spurs the lead and Danny Rose might have extended their lead before half-time, but he fired across the face of goal and none of his teammates were able to get a touch to divert it home.
Newcastle hit back on 74 minutes when substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic was able to knock the ball over the line from close range, with Spurs having been unable to clear following Fabriccio Coloccini’s header across the face of goal.
Perez then did superbly well to control the ball from Mitrovic and send a shot past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris to secure victory.
The result lifts Newcastle up to 15th — a point ahead of Chelsea prior to the champions’ meeting with Leicester today
— while Spurs remain three points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool escaped defeat thanks to a dramatic Divock Origi goal, which saw them draw 2-2 with West Brom at Anfield.
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