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Rediff.com  » Sports » Chelsea blunder lets Arsenal take Premier League top spot

Chelsea blunder lets Arsenal take Premier League top spot

October 18, 2003 22:40 IST

Arsenal went to the top of the Premier League today after a goalkeeping howler by Carlo Cudicini gifted them a 2-1 derby victory over Chelsea at Highbury.

Thierry Henry bundled home the 75th minute winner after Cudicini's nightmare fumble to leave Arsenal on top with 23 points, one point clear of champions Manchester United, who had earlier snatched a 1-0 victory at Leeds United.

Chelsea's expensively assembled side, who had cancelled out Edu's opener for Arsenal with a stunning strike by Argentinian striker Hernan Crespo, are third on 20 points after their first Premier League defeat of the season.

Elsewhere, Manchester City thrashed Bolton Wanderers 6-2, former Liverpool midfielder Patrik Berger scored for Portsmouth against his old club in a 1-0 victory, and Newcastle United beat Middlesbrough with the only goal in the northeastern derby.

Chelsea have never won a Premier League game at Highbury, but looked good for a draw until their Italian 'keeper overran an innocuous cross from Robert Pires and toppled forward as he stooped to collect it, allowing the ball to slip straight through his hands.

Henry had missed two earlier chances against the former league leaders, who were watched by their billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, but the French striker made no mistake with this gift at point-blank range.

Manchester United snatched their win after lowly Leeds raised their game and looked set for a deserved draw when skipper Roy Keane headed home a fine cross by Gary Neville.

United's Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy missed chances in both halves while Paul Scholes should have made it 2-0 in stoppage time, hitting the bar from close range.

"It was a frustrating day for us really and that was down to the way Leeds performed and they were very good tactically," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports later.

"You may look at it and say they deserved more, but we had a major share of the game, we made the chances that mattered, and I don't think we were undeserved winners.

"But it was a very hard game for us."

Leeds boss Peter Reid, whose side harried United in midfield and interrupted their forwards' supply line from playmaker Scholes, said, "The game plan nearly worked. But that's why Manchester United are where they are.

"They're such a good side, with so many good players -- they sniff a chance out and get a goal."

Nicolas Anelka and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who got a red card in the 62nd minute, got two goals apiece for Manchester City as Kevin Keegan's side moved up to fourth on 15 points.

They now lead Fulham, who were held 0-0 at home by the Wolverhampton Wanderers, on goal difference.

Berger's goal for Portsmouth inflicted a third consecutive league defeat on Gerard Houllier's Liverpool side.

Trevor Huggins
Source:
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