Chelsea, Arsenal win tough, Man United freak goal

Chelsea and Arsenal eked out gritty victories and Manchester United beat Tottenham Hotspur as usual with the help of a controversial goal in the Premier League on Saturday.

By Reuters

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Published: Sun 31 Oct 2010, 11:34 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:40 AM

Leaders Chelsea snatched a 2-1 win at Blackburn Rovers through a late Branislav Ivanovic strike and Alex Song’s 88th-minute header secured a 1-0 win for Arsenal over West Ham United.

Manchester United, who have not lost at home to Tottenham for 21 years, sunk their London rivals again as a Nemanja Vidic header and a bizarre late goal by Nani secured a 2-0 victory but big-spending Manchester City suffered a second successive loss, going down 2-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Chelsea lead the table with 25 points from 10 games, five ahead of Arsenal and United and eight clear of City.

Spurs finished fourth last season but their hopes of taking the next step have long faltered on their away record against the big teams as they have not won at United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool for 17 years.

As usual, they played their part in a lively, entertaining game that looked to be drifting towards a regulation 1-0 win for the hosts thanks to Vidic’s 31st-minute header.

However, in an incident that will be replayed and discussed relentlessly, Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes thought a free kick had been awarded against Nani after the winger handled the ball while appealing for a penalty six minutes from time.

Gomes placed the ball on the ground and retreated, only for Nani, aware that the referee had actually ruled “play on,” to nip in and tuck the ball into the unguarded net.

“Nani went back, looked at the referee, he said play on, so what can he do but put the ball in the net?,” United manager Alex Ferguson told ESPN.

“You can look at the referee and the linesman and blame them but the goalkeeper should know better. He is an experienced goalkeeper and he made a mess of it.”

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp took a different view.

“He (Nani) should have been booked for a deliberate handball,” he said. “The referee has not seen it. The linesman has seen it that is why he has flagged. He has gone over there and told him what he did and he should have disallowed the goal. Gomes put the ball down for a free kick.”

Blackburn were well on top of a lacklustre Chelsea in the early stages and took a deserved lead through Benjani Mwaruwari after 21 minutes before the visitors hit back through Nicolas Anelka six minutes before halftime.

Chelsea, held 1-1 by Blackburn last season, eventually awoke from their torpor and even though they struggled to create chances they found a way through when Yuri Zhirkov’s cross was headed home by Ivanovic after 84 minutes.

Dominated possession

Arsenal dominated possession at the Emirates, hitting the woodwork twice, but had to wait until the 88th minute to find a way past obdurate West Ham as Gael Clichy crossed for Song to nod in his third goal in a week.

“Song is amazing, he has added something to his game. He came as a centre back, becomes a defensive midfielder and now he’s playing like a striker,” said Arsene Wenger.

Manchester City were all over Wolves initially but after a 23rd-minute Emmanuel Adebayor penalty they sat back and paid a heavy price when Nenad Milijas equalised and David Edwards scrambled in a winner after 57 minutes.

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