Arsenal’s European hopes dim; Chelsea climb to 3rd

Sports Desk, Jul 7 (efe-epa).- Arsenal conceded to Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy with five minutes left in regulation on Tuesday to draw 1-1 with the Foxes, a result that leaves the Gunners 9 points out of fourth place with four matches left in the Premier League season.

Chelsea, meanwhile, posted their fifth triumph in six outings since the league resumed action last month following the 100-day interruption due to Covid-19, nipping feisty Crystal Palace 3-2 to move ahead of Leicester into third place.

Arsenal rode a four-match winning streak into Tuesday’s contest at the Emirates in North London, while Leicester were coming off their first victory of the re-start.

The Gunners shined in the opening 45 minutes and took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room at half-time on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal in the 21st minute, his 20th of the Premier League campaign.

Leicester improved in the second half, more solid at the back and more threatening going forward, yet Arsenal might have been able to see out the match but for a reckless challenge by Eddie Nketiah in the 75th minute.

The referee initially pulled out a yellow card after Nketiah’s collision with James Justin, but a VAR review turned the yellow to red and the Arsenal man was sent off just four minutes after entering the game as a sub.

Vardy scored off a fine cross from Demarai Gray in the 85th minute and the match ended 1-1. With 22 goals for the season, the Leicester City striker is leading in the race for the golden boot.

Arsenal are seventh with 50 points, 2 less than Wolverhampton, who have a game in hand. Leicester, pushed down to fourth by the Chelsea result, are on 59 points, 4 more than fifth-place Manchester United.

Earlier Tuesday in South London, Chelsea edged Crystal Palace 3-2 to go to 60 points from 34 matches.

The Blues led Palace 2-0 less than half an hour into the contest at Selhurst Park thanks to goals by Olivier Giroud in the 6th minute and Christian Pulisic, who scored in the 27th minute.

Willian assisted on both goals against a Palace side with nothing at stake but their pride. Fifteen points above the drop zone, the South London club are also far from contention for a European spot.

Even so, the hosts put up a fight and Wilfried Zaha cut the deficit to one in the 34th minute with his first goal since Dec. 16. Tammy Abraham appeared to seal the victory for the cross-town visitors when he made it 3-1 in the 71st minute, only to see Christian Benteke score a minute later to bring Palace back to within a goal.

But the Belgian’s goal turned out to be a last gasp for Palace, rather than the start of a comeback, and Chelsea took all 3 points to overtake Leicester in third and go 5 points ahead of fifth-place Manchester United.

Just outside London, Watford downed visiting Norwich City 2-1, a result that may have been the death knell for the Canaries’ hopes of avoiding relegation.

Emi Buendia put last-place Norwich ahead 1-0 in the sixth minute with a slashing left-footed shot. The advantage only until the 10th minute, when Craig Dawson equalized for the Hornets.

Ten minutes into the second half, Danny Welbeck scored what turned out to be the game-winner on a spectacular sideways bicycle kick that was also his inaugural goal of the campaign.

Watford remain 17th, but their first victory since the re-start gives them some breathing room in the form of a 4-point advantage over Aston Villa and Bournemouth, who each a game in hand.

Norwich, with 21 points, are 10 points from safety with just four matches left to play.


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