LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – Leicester strengthened its position atop the Premier League without even playing on Wednesday, after its three main title rivals all lost to cap another unpredictable round in England’s top division.
Tottenham could have climbed above Leicester into first place — for the first time in the second half of the season in 21 years — with a win at West Ham, but lost 1-0 through Michail Antonio’s early goal.
Third-place Arsenal couldn’t take advantage, losing 2-1 at home to Swansea despite taking the lead against the relegation contenders.
Manchester City completed a miserable evening for the title hopefuls by getting beaten 3-0 at Liverpool, where City has now only won once in 35 years in the league. Liverpool avenged its defeat on a penalty shootout to City in the League Cup final on Sunday with a ruthless display of pressing and clinical finishing.
It left Leicester still with a three-point lead over Tottenham, with Arsenal a further three points back with 10 games left. City is 10 points off the lead and now looking over its shoulder at teams fighting to make it into the top four and qualify for the Champions League.
Manchester United is tied on points with City after beating Watford 1-0 at Old Trafford thanks to Juan Mata’s free kick in the 83rd minute.
West Ham is a point behind the Manchester clubs and even Stoke, which beat Newcastle 1-0 in Wednesday’s other game, isn’t out of the top-four race in seventh place.
“It’s a very, very open season,” said West Ham manager Slaven Bilic — and Leicester being at the summit sums that up perfectly.
Leicester — a relegation contender only last season — drew 2-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, which now looks a decent result given the troubles of its title rivals. Arsenal and City, in particular, are struggling for form just at the wrong time of the season.
“We cannot play in the way we did today,” said City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who blamed his side’s pitiful display on a lack of freshness.
Spurs and Arsenal meet Saturday in arguably the biggest north London derby since their F.A. Cup semifinal match in 1991, and Arsenal is expected to be without two key players — defender Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper Petr Cech — because of injuries sustained against Swansea.
Arsenal looked unlikely to slip to a third loss in eight days in all competitions when Joel Campbell scored in the 15th minute. Wayne Routledge leveled for Swansea against the run of play in the 32nd and Ashley Williams turned in Swansea’s winner in the 74th after a mistake by Cech.
“We need to bounce back very quickly now,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Seeking a first Premier League title since 1961, Tottenham missed out on a seventh straight league win. Antonio’s winner came in the seventh minute, the winger heading in at the near post from a corner.
“I think we made some mistakes that we normally don’t make,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, who couldn’t celebrate his 44th birthday with a win. “It was difficult.”
Three days after collecting the season’s first piece of silverware, City produced one of its worst displays of the season to extend its winless run in league matches at Anfield to 13 years.
Adam Lallana and former City player James Milner scored in a seven-minute span in the first half, before Roberto Firmino added the third goal in the 57th with another clinical finish as a much-changed Liverpool side hounded City into submission.
“The boys did brilliant,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “They were very angry — angry in a positive way. The pressing situation was brilliant.”
Liverpool is in eighth place, six points behind City.
Johnson facing jail time
Bradford England AP
Former England soccer international Adam Johnson could go to jail after being found guilty of sexual activity with a child.
Johnson was fired by Sunderland as the trial started last month when he pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl and another of “grooming” — building an emotional connection with a child to gain trust for sexual motives.