By Mike Collett
LONDON (Reuters) – Jamie Vardy equalled the Premier League record by scoring for a 10th successive match as his Leicester City side went top after winning 3-0 at Newcastle United while champions Chelsea ended their slump with a 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday.
Leicester became the third team to top the table on Saturday after Manchester City started it in first place and Manchester United briefly led after they won 2-1 at Watford in the early kickoff.
City will go back to the top if they beat Liverpool in the evening kickoff while Arsenal missed their chance to hit the summit when they lost 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion.
Frenchman Olivier Giroud put Arsenal ahead before West Brom struck back with a goal from James Morrison and an own goal from Mikel Arteta, while Santi Cazorla missed a late penalty for the visitors.
Leicester going top was the highlight of a memorable afternoon when ‘La Marseillaise’, the French national anthem, was played at grounds throughout England as a mark of solidarity with France following last week’s Paris attacks.
Chelsea’s French defender Kurt Zouma led a rendition of the anthem at Stamford Bridge where a huge French flag was also displayed before the champions ended a run of three successive league defeats with victory over Norwich thanks to a second-half goal from Diego Costa.
That lifted Chelsea up one place to 15th on 14 points, but still a long way behind the leaders.
While Vardy equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 12-year-old record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games, Leonardo Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki also scored for Leicester.
Van Nistelrooy had set the record in the last eight matches of the 2002-03 season and the first two games of 2003-04.
The top-flight record was set by Stan Mortensen, who scored in 11 successive matches for Blackpool in Division One in 1950-51 and Vardy will equal that if he scores against Manchester United next week.
Van Nistelrooy had tweeted a good luck message to Vardy prior to the game.
“I’m pinching myself every day,” Vardy told Sky Sports.
“I’ve matched his (Van Nistelrooy’s) record and we have got the three points and a clean sheet.
“People kept sending his tweet to me, fair play to him for doing that. We’ll see what happens next week now against Manchester United.”
Asked if Leicester could maintain a serious title challenge for the rest of the season, he said: “We have a never-say-die attitude and will fight for each other until the end.”
Claudio Ranieri’s side stayed above United, who won 2-1 at Watford and were briefly top after a dramatic finale at Vicarage Road.
United led 1-0 following an 11th-minute volley from Memphis Depay before Troy Deeney equalised with an 87th-minute penalty but then scored an own goal in stoppage time to give United victory.
United, who are suffering an injury crisis, conceded their first goal in six matches in all competitions.
Their manager Louis van Gaal took heart from their overall performance and the fact they went top even though it was only to be for a short time.
“It is the second time this season we have been top and proves we are in the title race,” he told BT Sport.
“But it is a lousy period for us because we have so many injuries. I hope Wayne Rooney, who is ill and maybe Anthony Martial can come back and play against PSV Eindhoven next week,” he added.
Depay broke the deadlock when he connected perfectly with an Ander Herrera cross from the right and volleyed past Heurelho Gomes with his left foot.
Everton were the highest scorers of the day, crushing bottom-placed Aston Villa 4-0 with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku both scoring twice to leave Villa with only five points from 13 games.
Swansea City and Bournemouth shared four goals in a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium. Bournemouth led 2-0 but have now gone seven league matches without a win and are 18th.
(Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Toby Davis)