Mon, Jan 03, 2005 - Page 19 News List

Blues, Gunners and Red Devils all win

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Chelsea continues to lead the league with 52 points, followed by Arsenal with 47, Manchester United with 43, Everton with 40 and Middlesbrough at 35

AP , LONDONAP, GLASGOW

Chelsea beat Liverpool 1-0 to maintain its five-point lead in the Premier League on Saturday, while Arsenal and Manchester United stayed in touch with victories as the top three sides all won away from home.

Chelsea substitute Joe Cole scored with 10 minutes left, while Freddie Ljungberg scored twice and Robin van Persie added the other in Arsenal's 3-1 defeat of Charlton.

Manchester United defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 in the late match with goals from Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs.

The Red Devils were also given a boost when Everton, which started the day below Manchester United on goal difference, was hammered 5-2 by Tottenham.

West Bromwich Albion remains at the bottom of the standings, with Southampton and Crystal Palace also in the relegation zone.

feeling defensive

"I think we won because of a fantastic defensive performance and because we were a bit lucky," said Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, whose club is chasing its second-ever league title -- and its first in 50 years.

"A draw would have been a fair result. But at the right moments, we had a bit of luck that normally champions need to have in crucial moments."

Liverpool was angry referee Mike Riley turned down two first half penalties, one when Claude Makelele fouled Florent Sinama-Pongolle and the second when Tiago appeared to handle the ball.

Liverpool, already without injured strikers Milan Baros and Harry Kewell, also lost Xabi Alonso to a broken right ankle midway through the first half after a challenge by Frank Lampard.

At the Riverside, Fletcher scored his first goal for Manchester United in the ninth minute by tapping in a rebound after Giggs' shot was parried by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. Giggs scored for the third game in succession in the 79th as United won a fourth consecutive match.

"We're in a great vein of form at the moment," Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said. "If we get the results, things can change. We're patient, we can wait. We just have to keep playing the way we are."

consistant play

At the Valley, Ljungberg's two goals were sandwiched by an impressive free kick from Charlton's Talal El Karkouri. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said consistency was the key to overtaking Chelsea.

"The spirit and unity are great, the belief is high," Wenger said.

"We had some average performances last season but now we've come back down to earth, every display is under even more scrutiny. But I feel we are getting better and better in every match, and we are winning some very difficult games."

Tottenham midfielder Dean Marney made his White Hart Lane debut one to remember with two goals and two assists in the 5-2 win over Everton. The 20-year-old was only playing because of injury to Michael Brown.

"It's his first home game for the club and scoring two goals and make another one is amazing, it's a real achievement for a young boy," Tottenham coach Martin Jol said.

Reto Ziegler, Robbie Keane and Pedro Mendes also scored for Spurs, while Tim Cahill netted just before halftime and James McFadden added another near the end for the Toffees.

"We're sore and we know we haven't done as well as we should have done, but we're still lying healthy and we'll plough on and try to get some more points," Everton manager David Moyes said.

Clubs have already played three matches in seven days and are in action again on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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