Soccer-City march on as Spurs and Hammers keep in up chase for fourth


Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Manchester City - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - January 1, 2022 Manchester City's Ruben Dias in action with Arsenal's Aaron Ramsdale REUTERS/Ian Walton

(Reuters) - Manchester City moved 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League after a last-gasp goal from Rodri gave them a 2-1 victory at fourth-placed Arsenal on Saturday in a controversy packed game at the Emirates stadium.

The battle for the top four places looks set to be a close one with Tottenham Hotspur also leaving it very late for a 1-0 win at Watford and West Ham United enjoying a 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace.

City's title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool meet on Sunday with both sides knowing defeat would leave them with huge ground to make up on Pep Guardiola's side, who are targeting back-to-back titles.

No team has failed to win the Premier League after beginning January with a lead as big as City's.

The defending champions are on 53 points from 21 games, Chelsea are second on 42 points from 20 matches and Liverpool are third on 41 from 19.

Arsenal will feel hard-done by after a good performance despite playing the last half hour with 10 men following the sending-off of defender Gabriel.

The Gunners, whose manager Mikel Arteta missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19, took the lead when Bukayo Saka finished a sweeping move by driving home Kieran Tierney's pass.

City levelled from the spot through Riyad Mahrez early in the second half when Granit Xhaka was adjudged, after a VAR review to have fouled Bernardo Silva in the box before Arsenal had Gabriel sent off for his second yellow card two minutes later.

Rodri then struck from close range deep into stoppage time, as City extended their winning streak to 11 games.

Arsenal were upset that their appeal for a first half penalty when Ederson challenged Martin Odegaard was not reviewed by VAR.

"We have VAR in place so why not check yourself as a referee? That did not happen so it is disappointing," said Arsenal assistant manager Albert Stuivenberg.

Davinson Sanchez struck at the death to earn Spurs three points at struggling Watford after they had found chances hard to create.

Defender Sanchez to break the deadlock in the sixth minute of stoppage time, flicking in a header from a whipped delivery by Son Heung-min.

It was cruel on Watford who have now lost six consecutive league games and sit one place and two points above the bottom three, having played two more games than 18th-placed Burnley.

West Ham led 3-0 at the break against Palace, a scoreline which didn't reflect the home side's level of performance but although Patrick Vieira's side got two late goals, the Hammers move within a point of fourth-placed Arsenal.

West Ham took the lead in the 22nd minute with Michail Antonio sliding in to poke home a wonderful cross from Said Benrahma.

Three minutes later, Manuel Lanzini scored with a clever finish, flicking the ball to his left foot and volleying home after good work from Declan Rice.

Lanzini made it three just before the break, drilling home a penalty after a VAR review found that Luka Milivojevic had handled in the box.

Palace got a goal back in the 83rd minute when Odsonne Edouard stretched to turn in a fine cross from substitute Michael Olise who then scored himself in the 90th minute with a freekick.

West Ham are on 34 points, one more than Spurs and three ahead of Manchester United although both those teams have two games in hand.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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