Arsenal, Tottenham stay in touch in title race

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Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur stayed in touch in the title race as they claimed convincing wins on New Year’s Day.

Tottenham cruised to a 4-1 win at Watford in the day’s early match to go third, but their joy lasted only a couple of hours as Arsenal saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 to leapfrog them in the table.

Arsenal are now three points behind second-placed Liverpool while Tottenham are a point behind in fourth, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference.

Olivier Giroud – with a spectacular “scorpion” kick, flicking the ball over his head with his outstretched foot – and a header by Alex Iowbi sealed victory for Arsenal.

Tottenham had put the pressure on their north London rivals with an impressive performance at Watford, where Harry Kane and Dele Alli each scored twice for the visitors.

Tottenham play leaders Chelsea on Wednesday and manager Mauricio Pochettino was delighted with the manner of his side’s victory.

“We played very good, to a very high standard,” he said. “The first half was one of the best we’ve played this season. I’m very happy because it was a difficult game, and the team responded.

“In three days we have a very important game, so if we can rest people and have the opportunity to play different players it is very important to be fresh and competitive,” he said.

“We know that Chelsea’s performance is very high. They are a very good team with high confidence, but we will try to challenge them to take the three points.”

The game was competitive until Tottenham took the lead through Kane on 27 minutes, after Dele Alli had already hit the bar.

And it was over 14 minutes later as Kane grabbed his second and Alli made it 3-0 with the third just before half-time.

The midfielder added a second goal in the first minute of the second half.

And though Younes Kaboul, against his former side, pulled one back in injury time, it didn’t take any gloss off the Tottenham performance as Watford dropped to 13th.

Watford manager Walter Mazzari was left to rue his side’s mounting injury crisis.

“(Juan) Zuniga was the 10th player to get injured (and) five or six (of them) are starting 11,” Mazzari said.

“We had four under-23s in the 18 players that we brought today. Unfortunately this is the situation.”