Spurs stun United; Arsenal cling to top spot
By Tom Williams ,AFP
January 3, 2014, 12:02 am TWN
LONDON -- Tottenham Hotspur hammered another nail into Manchester United's creaking Premier League title defense with a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford on New Year's Day.
Having won their previous six games in all competitions, United were hoping to match wins by their fellow title rivals, but instead they slumped to a sixth defeat of the season that left them 11 points off the pace.
Tottenham, unbeaten in the league under new manager Tim Sherwood, took a 34th-minute lead when Emmanuel Adebayor outjumped Chris Smalling to head home Christian Eriksen's right-wing center.
Eriksen added a second in the 66th minute, smuggling a header past David de Gea from Aaron Lennon's cross.
Danny Welbeck reduced the arrears immediately from Adnan Januzaj's incisive pass, but Spurs withstood United's late onslaught, with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saving from Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic.
Victory took Spurs above United into sixth place, two points outside the top four, with the defending champions three points further back in seventh.
“All you can do is play well and hopefully you take your opportunities when they come and you don't make some small mistakes,” United manager David Moyes told BT Sport.
“But overall the players played really well and their effort to try and get back in the game after going 2-0 down was terrific.
“We'll keep trying to win the next game. That's all you can do. We're not necessarily looking at the league table.”
Earlier, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott scored last-gasp goals as Arsenal edged Cardiff City 2-0 to preserve their place at the top of the table.
With former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in attendance, amid reports he is due to succeed the sacked Malky Mackay as Cardiff manager, Arsenal dominated but had to wait until the 88th minute for Bendtner to break the deadlock.
Walcott added a second goal in injury time to rubber-stamp Arsenal's return to first place, after Manchester City had taken temporary possession of top spot by winning 3-2 at Swansea City.
“We needed to be patient against a very good Cardiff side,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“We know we have to play 10 home games and we want to make this place a fortress and take the points no matter what the others do. If we can manage to do that, we will be in a very strong position.”