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Liverpool stay clear after draw with Arsenal
December 22, 2008 08:48 IST
Leaders Liverpool stayed eight points clear of Arsenal [Images] in the race for the Premier League title after the two sides fought out an epic 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Arsenal, reduced to 10 men after 62 minutes when Emmanuel Adebayor was sent off for a second yellow card after raising an elbow to Alvaro Arbeloa, continued to cause Liverpool problems throughout. But in the end the league leaders were well worth the point that keeps them ahead of Chelsea at the top of the table.
Robin Van Persie put Arsenal ahead with an excellently taken goal after 24 minutes before Robbie Keane, who has struggled to find his form for Liverpool since his move from Arsenal's arch-rivals Tottenham in the off-season, equalised three minutes before halftime.
Although Adebayor's controversial red card gave Liverpool the numerical superiority, they were forced to defend resolutely to thwart Arsenal in the second half.
The result left Liverpool top with 39 points from 18 matches, two more than Chelsea who play Everton on Monday.
Aston Villa are third with 34 points from 18 games, followed by Manchester United [Images] (32 from 16). Arsenal remain fifth with 31 points from 18 games.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez was forced to stay at home and watch the match on television following surgery for kidney stones, leaving his assistant Sammy Lee in charge of the side.
However, he would have been pleased with the way his men started the match -- despite the absences of striker Fernando Torres (hamstring) and Javier Mascherano (flu).
Liverpool, with skipper Steven Gerrard driving them on in midfield, had the best early chance. Keane evaded the offside trap to turn the ball back to Gerrard, but his shot was easily saved by Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia.
Keane was then roundly jeered by the home fans after a booking for a clumsy tackle on Gael Clichy. Their jeers turned to cheers minutes later when Arsenal took the lead after 24 minutes.
Van Persie, who scored both Arsenal's goals when they beat Chelsea 2-1 on November 30, scored his first goal since then with an outstanding strike after 24 minutes.
He chested down a long ball from Samir Nasri, and although Liverpool defenders Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher appeared to be well placed, van Persie turned away from them to smash home an unstoppable right-foot drive which Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina had no chance of saving.
Keane then had a chance to silence the Arsenal fans who had booed his every touch when he ran on to a long through ball from Alvaro Arbeloa and crashed a fierce half-volley into the roof of Almunia's net to leave the teams equal at the break.
"It was a very good point for us, it is never easy coming to Arsenal and getting anything," Keane told reporters.
"As for my own situation, I have no intention of leaving the club, and am totally committed to a long career here, as I have said before."
Although Arsenal's playmaker Cesc Fabregas hobbled off at halftime with a knee injury, the Gunners still came searching for the goal that would have revived their title challenge, but in the end, both sides were forced to settle for a point.
In the day's other games, Newcastle United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 with a last-minute winner from Damien Duff while bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich Albion beat out-of-form Manchester City 2-1 with a last-minute header from Roman Bednar.
The win lifted Newcastle up to 12th in the table, while Spurs are in 16th place. West Brom remain bottom.
Chelsea will replace Liverpool in first place if they win their ninth successive away league game of the season at Goodison on Monday.
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