Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Chelsea, Arsenal lead in standings

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Argentina forward Hernan Crespo netted the only goal at Loftus Road as Claudio Ranieri's team rebounded from two league and cup losses


Chelsea's Glen Johnson, left, goes over the top of Luis Boa Morte of Fulham during their match at Loftus Road, Saturday.


A week after forcing a last minute winner against Chelsea, Bolton's Henrik Pedersen fired a late equalizer against Arsenal yesterday to stop the Gunners moving clear at the top of the Premier League.

The Dane's 83rd minute strike in a 1-1 tie enabled Chelsea to draw level with Arsenal on points and goal difference after a 1-0 victory at neighbor Fulham.

Manchester United can go top and a point clear today by winning at Tottenham.

Arsenal appeared on the way to a two-point lead at the top when Robert Pires fired the Gunners in the 57th minute.

But the Arsene Wenger's team had some close shaves before Pedersen collected a poor header clearance by Pascal Cygan and fired the equalizer from the edge of the area.

Last week, it was Pedersen's shot that took a deflection off Chelsea's John Terry to give Wanderers a surprise 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Four days later the Dane fired the injury time winner as Bolton edged Southampton to reach the semifinal of the League Cup.

Crespo's 62nd minute winner at Fulham means that both Arsenal and Chelsea have 39 points from 17 games with an identical goal difference of plus 19.

Manchester United is third with 37 from 16 and a victory over Spurs at White Hart Lane will take away some of the hurt of Rio Ferdinand's eight-month ban imposed on Friday for failing to take a drug test.

By coincidence, that hearing took place at Bolton's Reebok Stadium where rival Arsenal dropped two points on Saturday.

For the second week in a row, Wayne Rooney came off the bench to score as Everton edged Leicester 3-2 at Goodison Park.

In a seesawing game, an own goal by Leicester defender Steve Howey gave the Toffees the lead only for 37-year-old former England striker Les Ferdinand to level. James Scowcroft put the Foxes ahead but Rooney came off the bench to make it 2-2 and Canadian striker Tomasz Radzinski hit the winner 11 minutes from the end.

Aston Villa's revival continued with a 2-0 victory at Blackburn which was a third win in a row for David O'Leary's team and first away from home in 15 games.

Stefan Moore and Colombian striker Juan Pablo Angel netted the goals which keep Blackburn, which finished sixth last season, just above the relegation zone.

In the only other Premier League game to escape the weather, Charlton and Newcastle played to a disappointing 0-0 tie at The Valley.

The Birmingham-Middlesbrough and Wolves-Liverpool games were called off because the pitches were waterlogged.

At St. Andrews, Blues manager Steve Bruce was upset that the referee decided not to start the game and illustrated his protest by letting his players train on the surface.

Spanish league

Miguel Angel "Mista" Ferrer netted his ninth goal of the season Saturday as Valencia downed Sevilla 1-0 and moved to the top of the Spanish league.

Valencia, which extended its unbeaten run to six matches in its final game of 2003, will only stay leader for 24 hours if Real Madrid beats Mallorca on Sunday.

In Saturday's other games, Valladolid came from behind to defeat struggling Real Sociedad 3-1, while Atletico de Madrid drew 2-2 with Racing de Santander.

Valencia has 37 points from 17 games, while Madrid has 36 points from 16. Deportivo de La Coruna is third with 30 points, followed by Osasuna and Atletico with 27 each.

The rest of today's 17th-round games are: Deportivo vs. Espanyol; FC Barcelona vs. Celta de Vigo; Albacete vs. Athletic de Bilbao; Osasuna vs. Zaragoza; Murcia vs. Malaga; and Real Betis vs. Villarreal.

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