Mon, Nov 01, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Chelsea joins Arsenal at top of league

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Chelsea joined Arsenal with 26 points after the Blues' William Gallas, Damien Duff, Frank Lampard and Eidur Gudjohnsen scored at The Hawthorns

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Celtic's Juninho, left, challenges Motherwell's Stephen Craigan during their Scottish Premier League match at Fir Park in Motherwell, Scotland on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Chelsea took advantage of a rare Arsenal stumble to join the Gunners at the top of the Premier League on Saturday with a 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

But Arsenal still stays top on goal difference after salvaging a last-minute 2-2 draw with Southampton at Highbury. The team didn't play with its usual attacking flair -- a hangover from losing its first league match in 17 months last Sunday.

Thierry Henry missed a first half penalty but scored in the 67th minute. Rory Delap leveled in the 80th minute and put Saints ahead five minutes later. Robin van Persie saved a point for Arsenal in the 90th minute.

"When you play 49 games unbeaten and you lose a game, it is a mental shock and it takes some time to digest that," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

"We did not find our fluency. I would say that had we lost today it would have put us in a confidence crisis.

"Southampton were well disciplined in defense but what I was worried about before the game was a hangover from last week.

"The defeat was a big shock to us and you could see it wasn't out of their system today. Therefore our passing was more labored, it was not sharp and didn't have the same quick vision. It was less spontaneous."

The team that ended Arsenal's streak, Manchester United, couldn't maintain that form. It lost 2-0 at Portsmouth to a David Unsworth penalty and a Aiyegbeni Yakubu strike.

"We have to reflect on our own missed chances, because you can't afford to do that," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. "It's a kick in the teeth after last Sunday's performance."

Portsmouth also won the last time the two met at Fratton Park in April.

In the late match, Blackburn Rovers drew 2-2 with Liverpool to rise off the bottom of the standings. Liverpool's Djibril Cisse sustained a suspected broken leg.

Blackburn's Jay Bothroyd had already leveled John Arne Riise's early opener when Cisse suffered his injury, after a tangle with Nils-Eric Johansson. Brett Emerton put Blackburn ahead only for Milan Baros to level for Liverpool.

Chelsea woke from a first half slumber at the Hawthorns to go ahead just before the interval. Gallas volleyed Chelsea ahead in first half injury time before Gudjohnsen added a second six minutes into the second half from a Duff cross.

Although Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera replied for the Baggies, an unmarked Duff scored the third and Frank Lampard's 81st minute strike comfortably beat 'keeper Russell Hoult.

West Brom went into the game managerless after Gary Megson was sacked on Tuesday after 4 1/2 years at the club.

In the Football League Championship, Wigan stayed top despite not playing. It has a three point lead over Ipswich, which won 3-0 over Preston, and Reading, which lost 3-2 at Coventry. Queens Park Rangers moved to within four points of the lead with a 3-0 win over Burnley.

Craig Beattie scored the winner as Celtic beat Motherwell 3-2 in the Scottish Premier League Saturday after throwing away a 2-0 lead.

Celtic was leading with goals from Aidan McGeady and Alan Thompson but Martyn Corrigan and a Richie Foran penalty leveled the match for Motherwell. They were the ninth and tenth goals conceded by Celtic in four games.

Beattie came off the bench to score the 77th minute winner.

"The way we play at the minute we need to score four to get a result which all leads to exciting stuff. We're flying forward at this minute and trying to score goals," said Celtic manager Martin O'Neill, whose side suffered a shock 3-2 midweek defeat to Aberdeen.

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