Liverpool continues surge, while Arsenal slides

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Liverpool continues surge, while Arsenal slides

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Steven Gerrard, center, celebrates after scoring the winning goal for Liverpool from the penalty spot against Fulham on Wednesday at Craven Cottage in London. [REUTERS/NEWS1]

Liverpool’s surge toward its first league title since 1990 continued on Wednesday when it beat Fulham, 3-2, with a last-minute penalty while Arsenal’s challenge took a knock after a 0-0 home draw against Manchester United.

The most open Premier League championship race for years continued on a wild and windy night across Britain, leaving Chelsea atop the table, just seven points ahead of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, which chalked up a superb 4-0 win at Newcastle United.

The other match that survived the weather ended in a 1-1 draw between Stoke City and Swansea City at the Britannia Stadium, a result that left both sides mired in the equally tight battle to avoid the drop that has 11 teams in its grip.

The storms caused Manchester City’s game against Sunderland at Etihad Stadium and Everton’s match at Goodison Park against Crystal Palace to be postponed due to high winds.

After drawing 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, Chelsea led the way with 57 points, one in front of Arsenal with 12 matches to play.

Manchester City is third on 54 with a game in hand on the top two, followed by Liverpool on 53 and Spurs on 50.

Everton, which also has a game in hand, are sixth on 45 points, three clear of United, who have won just two of their last seven league matches.

The most dramatic game of the night was played at Craven Cottage, where bottom-of-the-table Fulham, which forced a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday, twice led against Liverpool, which was heavily favored to win after its 5-1 demolition of Arsenal on Saturday.

It was Fulham that took the lead when defender Kolo Toure, guilty of a terrible error that cost Liverpool a victory at West Brom earlier this month, sliced the ball into his own net after eight minutes.

Daniel Sturridge equalized, scoring for the eighth successive match, four minutes before the break before Fulham stunned the visitors by going ahead again through Kieran Richardson.

Brendan Rodgers’s side equalized for the second time when Philippe Coutinho found the net from 20 meters in the 72nd minute.

Sascha Riether then brought down Sturridge in stoppage time and skipper Steven Gerrard scored from the penalty spot.

“Gerrard’s peerless in situations like that,” Rodgers said. “He showed brilliant composure.

“We had to show the character on our team tonight coming from behind twice. This team has not just grown technically in the way of our work but we’re showing great characteristics mentally.”

Arsenal and United needed victories after their setbacks on the weekend, but despite chances at both ends, neither could find a goal.

United should have taken the lead in the second minute when former Gunner Robin van Persie, booed by the home fans every time he touched the ball, fired straight at goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny after Mikel Arteta gave the ball away.

Reuters
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