Leicester City took another big step towards an improbable Premier League title as they beat Watford 1-0 while Spurs and Arsenal drew in the North London derby.
Hours after seeing fellow title rivals Tottenham and Arsenal draw 2-2 in the north London derby, Leicester beat Watford 1-0 away to extend its lead to five points with just nine games remaining.
Riyad Mahrez grabbed the winner for Claudio Ranieri’s side, his 15th goal of the season, controlling the ball at the edge of the area, feinting to give himself extra room and curling an exquisite shot into the top corner in the 56th minute. It was the 11th away goal scored by the Algeria winger, who could yet complete a breakthrough season at soccer’s highest level by winning England’s Player of the Year award.
A team that was almost relegated last season is showing no sign of slowing down in its charge to the title. The same cannot be said of the other contenders.
Alexis Sanchez scored a 76th-minute equalizer to earn 10-man Arsenal a point against Spurs, meaning both sides dropped two points on Leicester. Leicester has 60 points, Tottenham has 55 and Arsenal has 52.
Arsenal was leading 1-0 through Aaron Ramsey’s first-half goal when Francis Coquelin was sent off in the 55th for a second booking, sparking an immediate turnaround in arguably the biggest match between the teams since the 1991 FA Cup semifinal.
Within seven minutes, Spurs had gone in front on goals by Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane, but they couldn’t hang on.
All the pundits expected Leicester to fold under the pressure but it Spurs and Arsenal who cannot handle the pressure. Tottenam have picked only one point from the last two games while Arsenal hare winless in their three Premier League games.
West Ham is only three points back of the Gunners after its stunning comeback against Everton, which went into a 2-0 lead through goals by Romelu Lukaku and Aaron Lennon that sandwiched a red card to its winger Kevin Mirallas. Lukaku then had a penalty saved and West Ham fought back through goals by Michael Antonio and Diafro Sakho before Dimitri Payet scored in the 90th minute.
If Manchester United beat West Brom on Sunday they will be only two points behind the fading Gunners.
At the other end of the table Newcastle and Norwich both lost to stay in the relegation zone, with Newcastle manager Steve McClaren’s position likely under severe pressure following the team’s 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth while Southampton scored in the last minute to draw 1-1 against Sunderland, which moved a point clear of the bottom three.
With Aston Villa all but relegated it is looking like two from Newcastle, Norwich and Sunderland will go down as Swansea are now 9 points clear after beating Norwich 1-0.