By Ed Osmond
Leicester City became unlikely bedfellows with Premier League giants Manchester City and Arsenal at the top of the table on Saturday as striker Jamie Vardy maintained his extraordinary scoring sequence.
The England forward hammered home a 65th-minute penalty to score for the ninth consecutive league match and seal Leicester’s 2-1 win over Watford.
The victory put the Midlands side joint top with Manchester City and Arsenal, who both play on Sunday. All three have 25 points, although Leicester are behind on goal difference.
Manchester United kept up the pressure on the pacesetters when a terrific goal from impressive youngster Jesse Lingard helped them on the way to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford and put them within a point of the leaders.
It was Vardy, though, who was again the talk of the League as he became only the second player to score in nine straight Premier League appearances. He needs to score in his next game to equal the record of Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy, who scored in 10 successive matches.
Earlier, Claudio Ranieri’s surprise packages, who spent last season struggling for survival in the top-flight, had gone ahead when midfielder N’Golo Kante was amazed to see his weak 52nd- minute effort roll under accident-prone goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes’ hands.
Troy Deeney’s 75th-minute penalty for Watford proved in vain.
Manchester United’s fans found relief after another largely underwhelming performance from Louis van Gaal’s side was redeemed by the superb goal from Lingard, who was also impressive in the midweek Champions League win over CSKA Moscow, and a late second.
The home fans had earlier been left unimpressed by Van Gaal’s safety-first approach as he played two holding midfielders in Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick and United struggled to overcome a typically well-drilled Tony Pulis side.
Juan Mata sealed the deal with a stoppage-time penalty after Gareth McAuley was sent off for hauling down Anthony Martial.
West Ham United missed the chance to close on the leaders after Romelu Lukaku scored his customary goal against the Hammers at Upton Park to earn Everton a 1-1 draw.
Slaven Bilic’s side looked poised to continue their striking start to the season after a lovely curling 30th-minute effort from on-loan Argentine Manuel Lanzini put them ahead.
But Lukaku, who has now netted in all seven games he has played against the London outfit, equalised before the break to deny Bilic the chance of a victory over his old club.
Sunderland’s struggles at the foot of the table continued as Southampton earned a deserved 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light, Dusan Tadic hammering home the 69th-minute penalty which underlined their superiority.
Newcastle United earned an important and highly improbable Premier League victory at Bournemouth, snatching a 1-0 victory completely against the run of play thanks to a 27th-minute Ayoze Perez goal.
Fans of the struggling home team at Dean Court could hardly believe what they felt was daylight robbery in the pouring rain as Bournemouth dominated proceedings, only to be thwarted by poor finishing and tremendous goalkeeping from Newcastle’s Rob Elliot.
The victory enabled Newcastle to leapfrog Bournemouth near the foot of the table, pushing them out of the relegation zone with 10 points from 12 games and plunging the south coast side into the bottom three on eight points.
Norwich City pulled slightly clear of the danger zone with a 65th-minute Jonny Howson header earning them a 1-0 win at home to Swansea City.
Struggling champions Chelsea visit Stoke City in the late kick-off.