LONDON: Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were again Tottenham’s talismen in a 3-0 win over Leeds to revitalize their English Premier League (EPL) title challenge as Arsenal maintained their return to form with a 4-0 thrashing of West Brom. However, it was another difficult day for the Premier League’s battle against coronavirus as a third game this week was postponed due to outbreaks, while Tottenham and West Ham players were caught breaking restrictions by attending a Christmas party.
Burnley’s clash with Fulham, scheduled yesterday, was called off due to a number of positive cases among the Fulham squad. Fulham’s trip to Tottenham was also postponed just hours before kick-off on Wednesday, to the frustration of Spurs boss Jose Mourinho. But even as his side ended a four-game winless run against Leeds, Mourinho also lambasted three of his players for breaking coronavirus rules.
Giovani Lo Celso, Erik Lamela and Sergio Reguilon were pictured attending a large party with family and friends over Christmas along with West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini. “We are extremely disappointed and strongly condemn this image showing some of our players with family and friends together at Christmas, particularly as we know the sacrifices everybody around the country made to stay safe over the festive period,” a Tottenham statement said. “The matter will be dealt with internally.”
The latest breach by players will do little to ease the pressure on the Premier League to halt the season as a “circuit-breaking” measure to cope with the soaring infection rates across England. Despite the latest postponement, the Premier League again insisted there were no plans for a pause. “With low numbers of positive tests across the overwhelming majority of clubs, the League continues to have confidence in its COVID-19 protocols, fully backed by the Government, to enable fixtures to be played as scheduled,” the league said in a statement.
‘Telepathic’ Tottenham duo
On the field, Kane and Son ended two games without a goal to move Tottenham up to third and within four points of leaders Liverpool and Manchester United. Kane opened the scoring from the penalty spot before turning provider for Son to slot home his 100th goal for the club. It was the 13th time Kane and Son had combined for a goal this term, equaling the Premier League record set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton for Blackburn in 1994-95. “He knew I was there. Sometimes it is telepathic,” said Son “To score 100 goals with one team is a big thing. I’m very proud. It’s a good way to start the new year.” The South Korean then also got an assist early in the second-half when his corner was headed home by Toby Alderweireld.
Rejuvenated Arsenal rampant
Arsenal’s disastrous start to the season has been turned around in a week as they won for the third time in eight days and in some style at Sam Allardyce’s hapless West Brom. Kieran Tierney’s stunning solo effort and a brilliant team goal rounded off by Bukayo Saka put the visitors into a comfortable half-time lead at a snow covered Hawthorns. Alexandre Lacazette’s quickfire double in the second-half completed the scoring as the Gunners rose to 11th, within three points of the European places.
West Brom on the other hand remain second from bottom and six points adrift of safety after conceding nine goals in their last two games. Sheffield United look destined for a return to the Championship as they remain without a win this season after a 2-0 defeat at Crystal Palace. Jeffrey Schlupp and Eberechi Eze’s brilliant run and finish secured the Eagles’ first win in six games. Brighton edged two points clear of the relegation zone by coming from 3-1 down to salvage a 3-3 draw at home to Wolves.
Wolves have struggled to score goals since losing Raul Jimenez to a fractured skull in November, but bounced back with three in 25 minutes after Aaron Connelly’s early opener for the Seagulls. Romain Saiss headed home Nelson Semedo’s cross before Dan Burn’s own goal and Ruben Neves’s penalty gave the visitors a commanding half-time lead. However, Brighton were given a lifeline from the spot themselves a minute into the second-half as Neal Maupay converted before captain Lewis Dunk’s towering header earned a point. – AFP