LONDON (AP):Rarely has a north London derby had such implications for the destination of the English Premier League trophy.When Tottenham host Arsenal tomorrow it will be a meeting of second and third with only three points separating.After both lost Wednesday, a draw between the neighbours could allow Leicester to move further in front in their improbable title challenge when they travel to Watford tomorrow.Leicester were held by West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday but were celebrating the following night when the three teams below them Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City all lost.Arsenal’s 2-1 home defeat to Swansea has left Arsene Wenger’s side on a three-game losing streak in all competitions for the first time in six years. That first Premier League title since 2004 is looking increasingly hard to secure for Arsene Wenger, even in this most unpredictable season.”We have to focus on our job and come back reminding ourselves that we have some quality as well,” the Arsenal manager said.Tottenham’s 1-0 loss at West Ham on Wednesday punctured the optimism gathering around White Hart Lane that the 55-year wait for the title could be ending. Instead of going top in March for the first time since 1964, Tottenham remain second.Top-scorer Harry Kane is on a four-game barren run in front of goal but Arsenal will be without injured Petr Cech tomorrow as the goalkeeper recovers from a calf injury.”One year ago we always spoke about reducing the gap with the top four and now we are second in the table,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said Thursday. “Who knows what will happen in the future? Now we need to be focused on the present.”The future for Tottenham should be a return to the Champions League, having only competed once in Europe’s top competition in 2010-11.UNITED RESURGENCESuddenly Manchester United’s prospects of returning to the top four are looking far healthier. Buoyed by four successive wins in all competitions, United are now only fifth due to neighbours City having a superior goal difference.”We are showing passion,” United midfielder Ander Herrera said ahead of Sunday’s game at West Brom. “We fight to the end. We show when we don’t play good we can win. I think that the attitude is very good.”I am optimistic because we can still fight for everything. We want to be in the top four. We know it’s not easy because our opponents are tough, but we are Man United: we have to win.”SWANSEA HEALTH SCARESwansea head coach Francesco Guidolin remained hospitalised yesterday after missing his side’s victory over Arsenal with a chest infection.The 60-year-old Italian was referred to a respiratory specialist in London.”Francesco remains comfortable in hospital and is receiving excellent care and treatment,” Swansea said in a statement. “He is making good progress and is in good spirits … no release date from hospital has been confirmed at present.”The victory at Arsenal, with first-team coach Alan Curtis in charge, moved Swansea six points clear of tomorrow’s opponents Norwich, who are in the relegation zone.Chelsea remain unbeaten in the league since Guus Hiddink took charge in December, with the ailing champions rising from the relegation zone to 10th place. Chelsea host Stoke tomorrow.
Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet Dietmar Hamann has come to the defence of under-fire Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, but has admitted the Reds may look to replace him if they begin challenging for top honours again.The Belgian stopper was handed a new five-year deal at the Merseyside club on Monday, much to the dismay and surprise of the Anfield faithful.Despite facing criticism from fans following a run of errors and unconvincing displays, manager Jurgen Klopp has maintained faith in the glovesman and now former midfielder Hamann has also given his backing, insisting his recent critics have been too harsh.Yet the German also believes the Belgian may not be good enough for the top level, and that Liverpool may seek to sign a world class keeper to replace Mignolet between the sticks if the team start competing for regular silverware in the near future.“I think Mignolet is a good goalkeeper,” the Champions League-winning star told the Colin Murray show. “Yes he has made a couple of mistakes but he’s been under pressure and I think people are being a little too harsh on him.“I still think he’s a very good ‘keeper. He’s not the problem Liverpool have at the moment, I think they have far deeper problems. It can’t be the easiest job playing behind their current defence.“Jurgen Klopp seems to believe in him, and I wouldn’t question his judgement if he wants Mignolet as his goalkeeper for the next five years. But you need a top class goalkeeper to win trophies.“I don’t think Liverpool are in a position to challenge for the Premier League, the Champions League or any trophy at the moment, even though they have a chance to go to the League Cup final.“Now, they need to focus at getting into the top four, and then I think Mignolet has done his job.“At the moment, however, they are far away from getting there.” 1