EPL wrap: Forster heroics frustrate title hopefuls Arsenal


Arsenal lost further ground in the Premier League title race as Fraser Forster produced a stunning display to earn Southampton a goalless draw at Emirates Stadium.

The Southampton goalkeeper made a string of fine saves to ensure Arsene Wenger's side failed to score at home in the league for the fourth time this season and are now four games without a win in the top flight.

Mesut Ozil had three clear chances to break the deadlock in the first half as Arsenal struggled to break down a resolute Southampton defence.

Ozil was unable to find a way past Forster, though, and the England international was on hand again after the break to deny Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez.

Southampton could have inflicted even more misery on the Gunners had Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic done better with chances of their own.

The draw – combined with Tottenham Hotspur's win over Norwich City – sees Arsenal slip to fourth, five points adrift of leaders Leicester City, while Saints climb to seventh.

A sublime piece of skill from Ozil in the 12th minute nearly lit the blue touch paper after a tight start, as the Germany international plucked a Sanchez pass out of the air only to see Forster save with his feet.

Southampton – who were without January signing Charlie Austin through injury – quickly registered their first chance less than a minute later, Mane unable to beat Petr Cech at his near post from Shane Long's flick.

Ozil was presented with another opportunity midway through the half after Giroud had met a Hector Bellerin cross, the forward diverted the ball towards goal, but was again denied by Forster.

The visitors finished the half strongly and saw Mane, Tadic and Oriol Romeu all fail to test Cech from promising positions.

With half-time approaching, a mazy run from Joel Campbell almost lifted the frustration inside Emirates Stadium, but Ozil was again unable to turn the ball home.

Forster was again on hand three minutes after the break to keep the hosts at bay, comfortably pawing away a curling effort from Giroud.

Despite the growing anxiety coming from the home fans, Arsenal continued to create chances, but lacked quality in front of goal with Sanchez and Giroud wasteful.

Substitute Theo Walcott was next to have a sight of goal after 67 minutes. However, Forster made an impressive double save to deny the former Saints winger.

When Arsenal were finally able to get the ball past the 27-year-old keeper, James Ward-Prowse rescued Forster, the midfielder clearing off the line to deny Sanchez.

The hosts still needed to be alert at the back as the pace of Mane caused problems, but Southampton were equally as profligate in front of goal, Ronald Koeman's side grateful to one final save from Forster to leave Arsenal with one point from the sides' two league meetings this season.

Tottenham Hotspur moved above Arsenal into third place as a brace from Harry Kane and one from Dele Alli clinched a 3-0 victory away at struggling Norwich City.

As his fine breakthrough season continued, Alli opened the scoring after just two minutes at Carrow Road when he converted a rebound, while he also played a part in his side's second goal.

The midfielder was fouled in the area by former Tottenham defender Sebastien Bassong, offering the chance for Kane to double the advantage from the penalty spot on the half-hour mark.

Kane struck the woodwork in either half, but he was not to be denied a second as he swept home a confident finish in the final minute as Spurs went above their north-London rivals.

Norwich, who had a goal disallowed in the second half, have now recorded just one win in all competitions in 2016 so far. They will drop into the bottom three if Newcastle United record a win at Everton on Thursday morning (AEDT).

Tottenham, in contrast, are only looking up. They have still not lost away from home in the league since the opening day of a season that sees them still fighting for honours on three fronts at the start of February.

West Ham United ended a three-game winless run by seeing off 10-man Aston Villa 2-0 at Upton Park.

Michael Antonio netted his third goal in Hammers colours shortly after half-time, as rock-bottom Villa were unable to stand up to the challenge of playing most of the match without Jordan Ayew, who was dismissed for violent conduct inside 15 minutes.

Villa had not managed an away victory in the Premier League since the opening day of the season and, after Ayew's red card, never looked like recovering.

Remi Garde's team managed just one shot on target across the 90 minutes and could well have been on the wrong end of a thrashing but for a handful of saves from goalkeeper Mark Bunn.

As it was, West Ham had to make do with Cheikhou Kouyate's 85th-minute effort at the end of a lightning-quick counter-attack to register a first victory in four games in all competitions and maintain their push for European qualification.

Salomon Rondon rescued a late point for West Bromwich Albion to earn a 1-1 draw with Swansea City at The Hawthorns.

The Venezuela international scored his first Premier League goal since the end of October in the 92nd minute after a rousing finish from the hosts ensured they picked up a share of the spoils to boost their survival hopes.

Swansea blocked several efforts off the line during a frantic goalmouth scramble, but Rondon was in the right place at the right time to prod home.

Rondon cancelled out Gylfi Sigurdsson's 64th-minute effort, leaving Swansea to rue what could have been as they chased a third win on the spin and second since Francesco Guidolin formally took charge. The result edges both sides further clear of the drop zone.

Benik Afobe scored his third goal in as many Premier League games to earn AFC Bournemouth a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Bournemouth’s $20.47 million signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers netted from a second-half header to aid his side's fight against relegation and condemn Palace to a fifth straight Premier League defeat.

Palace had taken the lead in the first half when Scott Dann converted Wilfried Zaha's cross but Bournemouth equalised seven minutes later through Marc Pugh.

Afobe's winner in the 57th minute put paid to Emmanuel Adebayor's hopes of a dream Palace debut – the Togo striker had scored in all of his previous Premier League debuts but this time it was not to be.

The defeat leaves Palace stuck on 31 points and in the middle of their worst run under Alan Pardew, while Bournemouth's hopes of staying in the division are being strengthened by their continued success away from home.

Source Omnisport