Struggling QPR hold Tottenham
LONDON (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur failed to tighten their grip on third place in the Premier League on Saturday after being held to a 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers, who moved off the foot of the table.
The game at Loftus Road marked Emmanuel Adebayor’s last game for Spurs before he joins up with the Togo squad at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Ryan Nelsen played for the hosts despite having this week agreed to become player-coach of Major League Soccer club FC Toronto.
Spurs striker Jermain Defoe came closest to opening the scoring in the first half with a dipping 20-yard strike that crashed back off the post, with QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar reacting brilliantly to save Adebayor’s follow-up.
The hosts’ best chances both fell to Shaun Wright-Phillips, but he could not find the target on either occasion.
Julio Cesar also thwarted Defoe in the second period, while Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker whipped a free-kick inches over the crossbar.
Following the shock 1-0 win at Chelsea in their previous outing, QPR have clawed themselves above Reading and are now four points from safety with 16 games to play.
Chelsea will hope to capitalise on the points dropped by Spurs later on Saturday when they visit Stoke City, where victory will take them above Andre Villas-Boas’ side into third place.
Everton, meanwhile, can close to within a point of Tottenham if they win at home to Swansea City, who stunned Chelsea 2-0 in the away leg of their League Cup semi-final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
The top two are both in action on Sunday, with leaders Manchester United hosting Liverpool and second-place Manchester City visiting Arsenal.
Meanwhile, Roberto Mancini has challenged his Manchester City stars to end the club’s woeful run at Arsenal as the Premier League champions fight to hold onto their title.
Mancini’s side head to north London knowing they will be 10 points behind leaders Manchester United by the time they kick-off at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday if their bitter rivals defeat Liverpool in the day’s early match.
That would be an almost insurmountable gap even for a team of City’s class but, if history is anything to go by, there is every chance Mancini’s men will be in exactly that position by full-time. City have not won at Arsenal in the league for 37 years and were beaten 1-0 there in their last visit in April.
But Mancini is convinced City, who have looked some way short of their best for much of the season, can rewrite the history books with a rare victory on Arsenal turf.
“To play against Arsenal in London is very difficult because they play very, very well,” Mancini said.
“There have been a lot of years we didn’t win there. But we changed many things last year and it is a time now to change this situation.”
City’s spluttering performances this term have raised questions about Mancini’s future and the Italian is certain to face more criticism if his team flop this weekend.