Arsenal blew the title race open as they edged out 10-man leaders Leicester 2-1 yesterday, cutting the gap at the top of the Premier League to just two points.
Substitute Danny Welbeck, who came on in the 83rd minute for his first appearance in 10 months because of injury, headed the winner to deny Leicester a point.
The win pushed Arsenal up to second for a few hours but Tottenham overtook them after a 2-1 win at fourth-placed Manchester City in the day’s late match.
Leicester took the lead just before half-time through a Jamie Vardy penalty, his 19th league goal of the season.
But the sending off of Danny Simpson early in the second half for a second yellow card gave Arsenal hope and they equalised through Theo Walcott on 70 minutes to set up the big finale.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who said the team chanted Welbeck’s name when he returned to the dressing room, said the win was crucial to their title hopes.
“It was a pivotal moment today because the mathematics meant it could be eight points or it could be two points,” he told the BBC. “That is a great change.
“There’s a long way to go, we play a lot of big teams. But we had a bad spell where we couldn’t win for four games and have now won two on the bounce. We have come out of that bad spell and still have a good chance.”
Leicester were good value for their lead at half-time, though Wenger was annoyed at what he felt was a foul on Mesut Ozil in the build-up to the foul on Vardy by Nacho Monreal.
Vardy slammed in the penalty but after Simpson was sent off, Leicester were under the cosh and Arsenal equalised on 70 minutes when Walcott volleyed the ball home after a perfect cushioned header by Olivier Giroud.
Kasper Schmeichel made a string of outstanding saves but Welbeck then flicked home a header from Ozil’s free-kick to win it for Arsenal.
“This man hasn’t played for nine months and to get into the mix like that, special players come into into big games. That could be massive,” Walcott told Sky Sports.
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri questioned the red card but said they were still in a strong position.
“We are still top of the table, got two points more - we must carry on and smile,” he said. “We lost to our opponents - we must say well done.”
Tottenham took the lead early in the second half through a contentious Harry Kane penalty, awarded for handball against Raheem Sterling.
Kelechi Iheanacho equalized 16 minutes from time with a powerful finish but Christian Eriksen won it for Spurs in the 83rd minute as City lost at home again a week after a 3-1 humbling by Leichester.
Bottom side Aston Villa are looking more and more helpless after they were humbled 6-0 at home by Liverpool.
Daniel Sturridge, starting his first game under Juergen Klopp because of injury, opened the scoring with a header after 16 minutes.
James Milner, Emre Can, Divock Origi, Nathaniel Clyne and Kolo Toure scored the others to give Villa their worst home defeat in 81 years.
Liverpool climbed to eighth, three points behind the top five, while Villa are still eight points short of safety.
“I feel humiliated,” Villa manager Remi Garde said. “I am sorry for the fans who came to Villa Park.
“I was not expecting this kind of match and we have to go for the next win now. Until we have little hope, we will still believe. After a game like today, it is difficult but we won’t play Liverpool every day.”
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