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United Throw Away Lead While Chelsea Beats Arsenal

DempseyManchester United’s lead at the top of the Premier League is down to five points after drawing 1-1 at Tottenham Hotspur, while Chelsea heaped more pressure on Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, beating the Gunners 2-1.

Man United had not lost at White Hart Lane since 2001 and that record looked likely to remain intact when Robin van Persie header home Tom Cleverley’s cross in the 25th minute with virtually United’s one attack of the game.

Spurs dominated the midfield and Gareth Bale and Dempsey both forced David de Gea to make fine reflex saves to keep United in the lead.

But then two minutes into added time, De Gea’s weak punch fell to Aaron Lennon and his cross was steered home by Dempsey. The game illustrated the best and worst of De Gea. Terrific shot stopper, but still weak handling crosses.

In the early kick-off, Chelsea finally won a home game at Stamford Bridge, in what was a game of two halves.

Chelsea dominated the first half and went in at half-time two up thanks to goals from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard. It was perhaps the worst 45 minutes I have seen Arsenal play since the 8-2 shellacking they took at Old Trafford 18 months ago.

But in the second half, Arsenal played with a lot more purpose and pulled one back when Theo Walcott scored. But that was as close as Arsenal got, and Chelsea ran out comfortable winners.

The defeat puts a serious dent in Arsenal’s Champions League hopes as they are now seven points behind fourth place Spurs.

“We cannot afford to drop points any more if we want to be in the top four,” commented Wenger, who steered his team to the UEFA Champions League final in 2006. “It’s a concern. The table is the table. We have lost two big games in the last week [against Manchester City and Chelsea] and that’s very damaging for us. It’s very damaging for our position in the league and very difficult to swallow.”

With only 9 wins in their 22 league games this season, it is going to take a remarkable run of form for Arsenal to keep their remarkable record of qualifying every year for the Champions League alive.