LONDON – The expectation is the rails will come off Leicester’s title challenge and Manchester United will get back on track.
But Manchester United’s problems with scoring at home won’t go away, with boos again ringing out at Old Trafford on Saturday after the hosts were stunned 1-0 by Southampton.
Leicester went three points clear at the top — for 24 hours at least before Arsenal was scheduled to host Chelsea — by beating Stoke 3-0. And Manchester City slipped further behind the pacesetters by drawing 2-2 at West Ham.
Jamie Vardy, having set the record for scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games earlier in the season, ended a goal drought exceeding 10 hours for Leicester. Danny Drinkwater and Leonardo Ulloa scored either side of Vardy’s 66th-minute goal, and a first-ever Champions League qualification for the central England club seems less fanciful by the week.
United might not return to the European elite if Louis van Gaal’s side continues to produce such dismal performances. The record 20-time English champions went an 11th home game in a row without scoring in the first half and then conceded after the break when Charlie Austin netted on his Southampton debut.
“It was a poor performance, of course, because … football is not only defending but also creating chances, and we didn’t create,” Van Gaal said. “Our opponent neither, I think. So it was a poor game for the fans.”
United remains fifth but is now five points behind Tottenham, which came from behind to win 3-1 at Crystal Palace. A moment of individual brilliance saw Tottenham go in front with 10 minutes to go. Dele Alli, one of the breakthrough stars of the season, flicked the ball up and back over his own head before volleying into the bottom corner.
After Norwich threw away a 3-1 lead in the second half against Liverpool, Sebastian Bassong thought he had secured a 4-4 draw. But in the fourth minute of injury time, Adam Lallana scored his first goal of the season to clinch a 5-4 victory for 7th-place Liverpool.
West Ham is sandwiched between United and Liverpool after holding Manchester City.
“This league is impossible to predict, especially this season,” West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said. “It’s so demanding, so every team can beat you.”
At Vicarage Road, Watford ended a four-game losing streak by beating Newcastle 2-1. Newcastle remains in the relegation zone along with Sunderland, which was held 1-1 by Bournemouth. Bottom-place Aston Villa endured a goal-less stalemate with local rival West Bromwich Albion and is nine points from safety.