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Chelsea sink Saints, Ozil cracker downs Newcastle

London, United Kingdom | AFP | Chelsea kept their faint Premier League title hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Southampton, while Mesut Ozil’s stunning strike fired Arsenal to a 1-0 victory against Newcastle United on Saturday.

With runaway leaders Manchester City in action against Tottenham Hotspur later on Saturday, the focus turned to the clubs desperately trying to hang onto their coat-tails.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea sealed their second successive win to move within 11 points of City and draw level on points with second-placed Manchester United, who face West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

After a tame opening from the champions, who started with star striker Alvaro Morata on the bench following a back injury, Antonio Conte’s side finally opened the scoring in first-half stoppage-time.

Marcos Alonso provided the breakthrough, the Spanish wing-back curling a free-kick past flat-footed Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster from 35 yards.

Chelsea have won eight of their last 10 league matches, but City remain out of reach for now.

“When you do not score the second goal, you have to suffer. You are afraid at every corner and free-kick,” Conte said.

“We dominated the game, shooting 24 times, but we needed to score the second to be relaxed.”

At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal won for the first time in four league games to boost their bid to qualify for the Champions League via a top-four finish.

Heavily linked with a move to Manchester United when his contract expires at the end of the season, Ozil showcased his talents for any interested clubs when he put Arsenal ahead in the 23rd minute.

After an Alexis Sanchez shot deflected into Ozil’s path, the German midfielder smashed a superb volley past Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot from the edge of the area for his third goal of the season.

Newcastle’s eighth defeat in their last nine league games leaves Rafael Benitez’s side mired in relegation trouble.

“Ozil’s goal was a gem. It’s good that he scores important goals,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

– Pressure on Hughes –

West Ham piled pressure on Stoke boss Mark Hughes with a 3-0 win in a match delayed by an hour after a power outage plunged parts of the bet365 Stadium into darkness before kick-off.

West Ham’s Mark Noble converted an 19th minute penalty after Erik Pieters fouled Manuel Lanzini and former Stoke striker Marko Arnautovic added a second in the 75th minute.

Diafra Sakho hit the third with four minutes left as West Ham climbed above struggling Stoke into 15th place.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Glenn Murray missed a penalty in his team’s 0-0 draw against high-flying Burnley at the Amex Stadium.

Murray won a first-half penalty when he was fouled by James Tarkowski, but the Brighton forward couldn’t take advantage as he blazed the spot-kick high over the crossbar.

Huddersfield Town thrashed Watford 4-1 to record their first away win since the opening day of the season.

Elias Kachunga scored Huddersfield’s first away goal since August, poking home after Watford failed to clear a sixth-minute corner, and the Terriers doubled their lead through Aaron Mooy in the 23rd minute.

A bad afternoon for Watford got even worse when Troy Deeney was sent off by referee Michael Oliver for a lunge on Collin Quaner in the 33rd minute, making it three red cards in their last three games.

Laurent Depoitre bagged Huddersfield’s third in the 50th minute before the visitors had Jonathan Hogg sent off for a second booking.

Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure got one back with a powerful 68th-minute strike, but Mooy’s 89th-minute penalty wrapped up the points.

Christian Benteke put his penalty misery behind him to inspire Crystal Palace to their first away win of the season as 10-man Leicester City were beaten 3-0 at the King Power Stadium.

Benteke scored his first goal since May in a victory that came a week after he defied team orders by taking and missing a crucial penalty against Bournemouth.

After the Belgian striker’s 19th-minute opener, he set up Wilfred Zaha for a 40th-minute goal, with Bakary Sako adding the third in the final moments as Palace moved up to 14th place.

Dismal Leicester had birthday boy Wilfred Ndidi sent off for diving in the second half.

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