Man City’s winning run ended as Wenger overtakes Ferguson

London (AFP) – Manchester City survived late penalty drama at Crystal Palace on Sunday but saw their 18-match Premier League winning run halted as Arsene Wenger overtook Alex Ferguson’s record for games in charge.

Pep Guardiola’s men travelled to their match in London with a 13-point lead over second-placed Chelsea and strongly fancied to match Bayern Munich’s record for the big five European leagues of 19 straight victories.

But in the end they were grateful to goalkeeper Ederson for keeping out Luka Milivojevic’s spot-kick in injury time after Wilfried Zaha was adjudged to have been brought down by Raheem Sterling.

The dropped points in the 0-0 draw will be less of a concern for Guardiola than injury fears over Gabriel Jesus, who limped off early, and Kevin De Bruyne, who was stretchered off late following an ugly challenge by Palace substitute Jason Puncheon.

Guardiola, whose team easily surpassed Arsenal’s previous Premier League record of 14 straight wins, pleaded with officials to protect players.

“I admire the physicality in the Premier League but the referees have to protect the players,” he said. “Not just the best players. All the players.

“I haven’t spoken to the FA (Football Association) about it. They focus on diving, on these kind of things. I know the contact is allowed here more than any other country but there is a limit. They don’t have to change the way here. That’s why it is so nice.

“There is a line where you go above and it is dangerous.”

Guardiola said Jesus could be out for up to two months but the injury to Belgian playmaker De Bruyne looks less serious than feared even though he may not be ready to face Watford on Tuesday.

Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace frustrated their illustrious visitors in the first half at Selhurst Park and although City began to find their groove after the break, goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey denied Leroy Sane and De Bruyne.

Andros Townsend missed the home side’s best chance of the half with about a quarter of an hour to go before Milivojevic fluffed his last-gasp chance to clinch all three points.

“It was an excellent point and before the game we would have been jumping through hoops with a point, but when you get a penalty late in the game and you miss like we have before there is an element of sadness,” said Hodgson.

– City cushion –

Despite the disappointment of the 0-0 stalemate, City still have an enormous 14-point lead at the top of the Premier League table and the chances of any of their rivals catching them appear remote.

Arsenal — missing Mesut Ozil — played out a frustrating 1-1 draw with West Brom at a wet Hawthorns to climb to fifth in the table, three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool.

The match was Wenger’s 811th in charge — moving him ahead of United legend Ferguson, who was at the helm for 810 matches in the Premier League era.

Arsenal looked to have sealed all three points when an Alexis Sanchez free-kick from the edge of the box found the net via a deflection from James McClean in the 83rd minute. The goal was ruled to be a McClean own goal.

But a last-gasp penalty from Jay Rodriguez levelled the match at 1-1 after Calum Chambers was deemed to have handled the ball, sparking frustration on the Arsenal bench.

A furious Wenger said his team had been denied all three points by referee Mike Dean’s decision to award the controversial spot kick.

“We have a very difficult schedule and I believe we fought hard to win the game but didn’t because of a bad decision,” he said.

“He (Dean) didn’t see it. There was a player in front of him. That’s why I questioned his decision, he didn’t see it.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United have stumbled over the Christmas period, drawing three games against sides they would have expected to beat and slipping behind defending champions Chelsea.

With games coming thick and fast over Christmas and the New Year, United and in-form Liverpool are back in action on Monday, against Everton and Burnley respectively.

City host Watford on Tuesday and Tottenham Hotspur travel to Swansea on the same evening while Arsenal and Chelsea will face off in a blockbuster clash on Wednesday.

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