London – Manchester United were left frustrated by a VAR penalty controversy in their 0-0 draw at Chelsea, while the revitalised Gareth Bale struck twice in Tottenham’s 4-0 rout of Burnley on Sunday.
Liverpool took advantage of dropped points for Chelsea to move within two points of the top four by ending a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win at Sheffield United.
Second-placed United had hoped to close the gap on Manchester City with a victory at Stamford Bridge.
But instead they now sit 12 points behind the Premier League leaders as their title hopes fade following a run of one win from four games.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard, but the stalemate also did little for the Blues top four challenge.
The biggest talking point of a dour clash came in the first-half when United’s appeal for a penalty was rejected by referee Stuart Attwell after he consulted the pitchside monitor when Callum Hudson-Odoi appeared to handle in a challenge with Mason Greenwood.
“It was a penalty, 100 per cent nailed on. If that’s a natural position for a hand to be in when the ball comes in then I must be blind,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.
Tuchel disagreed, saying: “How can this be a VAR intervention? I don’t understand why the referee has to check it but I’m glad it was no penalty.”
Bale shines for Spurs
After five defeats in their previous six league games, Tottenham eased the pressure on Jose Mourinho with a significant contribution from Bale, who made just his third league start of the season.
The Wales forward’s most impressive display since his season-long loan move from Real Madrid gave him four goals in his last four appearances.
Bale took just 68 seconds to score with a clinical close-range finish from Son Heung-min’s cross.
The four-time Champions League winner then picked out Harry Kane’s run and the England captain’s shot deflected off James Tarkowski for his 22nd goal of the season.
Lucas Moura netted with a predatory finish before Bale, who had scored just once in the league all season before Sunday, grabbed his second with a cool strike from Son’s 55th-minute pass.
Tottenham are up to eighth, six points behind the top four with a game in hand.
“There is not one single manager in the world that doesn’t play Gareth Bale if Gareth Bale is in very good condition,” Mourinho said.
“There is not one, but now he is better than ever. It’s not just about the two goals he scored, it’s fundamentally about his physical performance.”
Arsenal down Leicester
Arsenal delivered a hammer blow to Leicester’s faint hopes of winning the title with an impressive 3-1 win.
Mikel Arteta’s side fell behind to Youri Tielemans’ early goal at the King Power Stadium, but David Luiz equalised and Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty gave Arsenal the lead.
Nicolas Pepe’s second-half goal sealed the Gunners’ second win in their last six league games and their first success at a team in the Premier League’s top three since 2015.
Leicester remain in third place and trail City by 13 points with 12 games remaining.
Liverpool cut their gap to Leicester to six points thanks to a much-needed win against the league’s bottom side.
The visitors had to wait until the second-half to make the breakthrough as Aaron Ramsdale’s inspired performance kept the Blades in the game.
But there was little doubt over the outcome once Curtis Jones opened the scoring before Roberto Fimino’s shot deflected in off Kean Bryan for Liverpool’s second.
“It was very important (to win) because you can imagine plenty of people have written us off. It is about us to show we are still there,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“With all the problems we had, we are still around the exciting places and that’s where we want to be.”
Third-bottom Fulham are three points from safety after a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. — AFP