EPL Review: Leicester bounce back, Spurs rescue late point at Norwich
Leicester's Demarai Gray, right, celebrates teammate Kelechi Iheanacho after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League football match against West Ham United at the London Stadium in London, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019. (AP Photos/Petros Karadjias).
Leicester City bounced back from their humbling defeat to Liverpool by claiming a 2-1 win at West Ham despite ringing the changes, while Tottenham rescued a 2-2 at rock-bottom Norwich City with a late equaliser on Saturday.
Brendan Rodgers' men were thumped 4-0 by runaway leaders Liverpool on Boxing Day after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.
But the Foxes returned to winning ways to strengthen their position in second even though Rodgers made nine changes – leading scorer Jamie Vardy absent after his wife gave birth.
Jose Mourinho's Spurs needed Harry Kane's 83rd-minute penalty to salvage a point at Carrow Road.
In the day's earlier matches, Watford's mini-resurgence under Nigel Pearson continued and Carlo Ancelotti made it two wins from as many matches in charge of Everton.
Brighton and Hove Albion were 2-0 winners over Bournemouth, while Southampton and Crystal Palace drew 1-1.
Gray makes amends as Leicester get back on track
Losses to City and Liverpool left doubts over Leicester's ability to challenge near the top of the table for the rest of the season, but they showed their squad depth and resilience at West Ham.
West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini gestures on the touchline.
Demarai Gray, given a rare start, was presented with a fine chance to open the scoring when Lukasz Fabianski fouled Kelechi Iheanacho, but the goalkeeper saved the resulting penalty on his return from injury.
Iheanacho opened the scoring just before half-time, heading in from close range after Ayoze Perez knocked a delivery back across goal – but Pablo Fornals restored parity a few minutes later, finishing off a lovely move following great work from Felipe Anderson.
Gray made up for his miss from the spot early in the second half, confidently slotting past Fabianski after being released by Perez and West Ham rarely threatened thereafter.
VAR to the fore as Spurs make fortunate escape
Norwich might have been two to the good at half-time were it not for the most marginal of offside calls as Spurs were let off the hook.
Teemu Pukki slotted home on the break, only for VAR to rule him offside seemingly by his armpit after Mario Vrancic had capitalised on a series of defensive lapses to open the scoring in the 18th minute.
Spurs levelled with a free-kick effort from Christian Eriksen just after the break, but Norwich were back in front again by the 61st minute – Toby Alderweireld knocking the ball on to Serge Aurier when tackling Pukki and watching on as it found the back of the net.
But Kane rescued Spurs, as he often does. A clumsy sliding tackle from Christoph Zimmermann on the England striker resulted in a penalty and he swept home from 12 yards.
Spurs are up to fifth ahead of Wolves, who have a game in hand.
New managers having desired effect
A tense first half between Watford and Aston Villa at Vicarage Road remained goalless until just before the interval, when Ezri Konsa's error allowed
Abdoulaye Doucoure to get a shot away and Troy Deeney converted on the rebound.
Villa were given a boost just before the hour when Adrian Mariappa was shown a second yellow card for appearing to catch Henri Lansbury late, though replays suggested contact was minimal.
But Watford got a second goal in the 67th minute – Deeney smashing in a penalty after he had been barged over by Douglas Luiz, and Ismaila Sarr finished Villa off 19 minutes from time.
Ancelotti is overseeing an improvement at Everton, who beat Newcastle United 2-1 at St James' Park.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a brace either side of Fabian Schar's strike, allowing the Toffees to move above their hosts in the table and up to 10th.
Seagulls pick off Cherries to arrest slump
Brighton hosted Bournemouth having not won any of their previous four matches in the top flight.
But it did not take them long to establish control against the Cherries – Alireza Jahanbakhsh putting them in front within three minutes by lashing into the bottom-right corner, finally opening his account for the club more than a year after costing a reported £17million.
Brighton thought they had sealed the win just before the hour when Dan Burn slammed home, only for a VAR review to adjudge him to be offside by a shoulder.
But Aaron Mooy did wrap up the victory 12 minutes from time in style, bringing down Leandro Trossard's cross, cleverly beating a defender and coolly slotting home.
Victory moves Brighton above Southampton, who could only salvage a draw at home to Palace, Danny Ings cancelling out James Tomkins' header with 16 minutes to go.