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Thursday, 24 August 2017
 

Arsenal Loses again as Arsene Wenger Protests Continue, Chelsea Extends Premier League Lead

(Reuters) - Chelsea has continued its seemingly irresistible surge towards regaining the Premier League title as a late Gary Cahill

goal saw them snatch a 2-1 win at Stoke City on Saturday to move a provisional 13 points clear at the top.
Premier League results
* Bournemouth 2-0 Swansea City
* Crystal Palace 1-0 Watford
* Everton 4-0 Hull City
* Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea
* Sunderland 0-0 Burnley
* West Brom 3-1 Arsenal
* West Ham 2-3 Leicester City
The latest triumph for Antonio Conte's unstoppable charges came after London rivals Arsenal's season continued to unravel with a third straight 3-1 away league defeat, this time at West Bromwich Albion.
The Gunners' fourth loss in five league games raised further questions about the future of under-pressure manager Arsene Wenger, who announced intriguingly afterwards: "I know what I will do. You will soon know".
Conte had been without the in-form Eden Hazard through injury for what always promised to be an awkward fixture for Chelsea at Stoke and, just as they had recently held Manchester City at home, the Potters again made life difficult.
Willian put the leaders ahead after 13 minutes thanks to a blunder by Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant but Jon Walters equalised with a penalty before half-time after being fouled by Cahill.
The England defender made amends in the 87th minute with a deserved winner and, after Phil Bardsley had been sent off for Stoke in added time, Conte celebrated with his staff on the touchline as Chelsea moved on to 69 points, leaving all the pressure on their nearest pursuers who play on Sunday.
Second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, which hosts Southampton, and third-placed Manchester City, which welcomes fourth-placed Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium, now both have to win just to get back within 10 points of the leaders.
Gunners' defeat comes amid more Wenger protests
Arsenal's defeat came amid more protests from some of the more vociferous of the Gunners' faithful about Wenger as the manager acknowledged that his side were in the middle of "a unique bad patch" in his two-decade managerial reign.
After dismal defending saw West Brom's Craig Dawson head home twice from corners in a convincing win for Tony Pulis's men, Wenger told reporters: "We lose game after game at the moment and that for me is much more important than my future."
Yet as the debates about his prospects became ever louder — one airplane trailed a banner over the ground that declared "Wenger Out" while another trumpeted "In Arsene We Trust" — the Frenchman said he would clarify his future soon.
His team, though, now looks in serious jeopardy of not enjoying a 20th successive season of Champions League football in 2017-18 — and if Manchester United wins at Middlesbrough on Sunday, Arsenal, currently fifth on 50 points, will drop to sixth, two points behind Jose Mourinho's men.
Basement club Sunderland was held 0-0 at home to poor travellers Burnley, while third-bottom Hull City was trounced 4-0 by Everton, for whom league-leading scorer Romelu Lukaku scored twice in added time, taking his season's tally to 21.
The Belgian became the first Toffees' striker to hit 20 league goals in a season, since Gary Lineker 31 years ago, though his goals were bitter-sweet for Everton fans who know he could leave after this week rejecting a new contract offer.
Leicester City's remarkable resurgence under new manager Craig Shakespeare continued with a fourth successive win under his stewardship since Claudio Ranieri's sacking.
The champions won 3-2 at West Ham United with first-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy for their first league success away from home all season.
Shakespeare, the first Premier League manager to oversee a side scoring three goals in his first three matches in charge, was "intensely proud" of the results his players had gleaned.
Like Leicester, Crystal Palace eased its worries with a third straight win, 1-0 at home to Watford through Troy Deeney's own goal, suggesting master escapologist Sam Allardyce can maintain his record of never suffering a Premier League relegation.
After Swansea City's recent revival under Paul Clement was checked with a 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth in the late game, the bottom five teams are now Sunderland on 20 points, Middlesbrough 22, Hull 24, Swansea 27 and Crystal Palace 28.