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A 1-0 victory for Arsenal over Tottenham, so the title race goes on, writes Jonathan Wilson at Highbury. José Mourinho predicted before Christmas that his side would win the title at Bolton, and with a victory on Saturday they will do so. Delaying Chelsea's title celebrations will mean little to Arsenal and you wonder how much asserting their unquestioned north London superiority matters these days after 12 derbies without defeat. But the great plus they will take from Monday night was the glimpse it offered of the future.
Robin van Persie and Philippe Senderos were exceptional and Cesc Fabregas played his part: a new generation is growing and they show signs of being every bit of being as entertaining as the last. Whether José AntonioReyes will be part of it is another matter. The young Spaniard had one of his better games but he continues to frustrate, flickering between the brilliant and the buffoonish. In the first minute, sent through by a superbly weighted ball from Van Persie, Reyes rounded Paul Robinson only to shoot wide of an empty net.
Presented with a similar chance 22 minutes later thanks to Fabregas's jabbed through-ball and Stephen Kelly's ill-conceived attempt to push out for offside, he ran on and ruthlessly drove his shot into the bottom corner. Perhaps that is the difference between his right foot and his left, but it spoke also of a player on a yo-yo of confidence.
Having taken the lead, Arsenal slipped back into the familiar and endearing failing of seeking the perfect goal. Time and again, swirling blizzards of passes carried them upfield only for something to falter in the final execution. Reyes shot into the side-netting after Gilberto had conceived a glorious overlap, and Edu hit a post with a jabbed shot from 20 yards, but the second remained elusive.
That meant a nervous last five minutes as Robbie Keane glanced a header just wide and a stumbling Ashley Cole appeared to handle in his own box. Arsenal held on, and Chelsea will have to wait until Saturday.
* Chelsea's growing power was further reinforced by its announcement of the biggest club sponsorship deal in English football - a five-year contract with Samsung, the Korean electronics company, worth just more than £50m. The agreement eclipses Manchester United's four-year contract with Vodafone, which is worth £36m, as well as Arsenal's new sponsorship from Emirates from next season.
The announcement comes in the week that Chelsea play in the semifinal of the Champions League and hope to seal the Premiership title, having already won the League Cup.
Samsung will take over from Emirates, whose deal with Chelsea is worth £4m a year, on June 1, with the logo "Samsung Mobile" appearing on shirts for the club's centenary season. Peter Kenyon, Chelsea chief executive, said: "We have a 10-year vision for the business, which is based on Chelsea becoming the top football club in Europe and the world." He added: "This announcement is a further step in building a business platform that enables us to be the best on the field and the best off the field."
Kenyon revealed that Chelsea were unlikely to sign more than three players this summer. The club are committed to breaking even within five years, having registered an £80m loss last year, and becoming less reliant on owner Roman Abramovich's millions.
* Birmingham City completed the £3m transfer of on-loan winger Jermaine Pennant from Arsenal on a permanent basis. Birmingham said the former England under-21 international, who has been on loan at St Andrews since January, had signed a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year. Pennant, 22, was released from prison last month after serving 30 days of a three-month sentence for drink-driving offences. This has restricted his appearances for City to nine games.
Steve Bruce, Birmingham's manager, said that the deal represented excellent value. "We're all aware of the ability he's got, he can go past people, has an excellent delivery. Where do you find somebody so young and British with that sort of calibre?" he said, and added: "We've all done stupid things when we were younger, the one thing you have to do is learn from it. Jermaine has served his punishment, the time has come to talk about him as a footballer."
* Scotland has begun the search for the man brave enough to take on probably the most difficult job in international rugby following the sacking on Monday of coach Matt Williams, writes Huw Richards. The Australian's successor must cope with the narrowest playing resources among the four home nations, a dysfunctional union and a disaffected club sector, together with the expectations kindled by Scottish success in the 1980s and 1990s. Williams managed only three wins in 17 matches and was doomed once a player questionnaire issued by the Scottish Rugby Union revealed widespread discontent. Scotland managed only one Six Nations win this season, against Italy.
The SRU said coaching arrangements for next month's match with the Barbarians and then against Romania in June would be announced shortly, but a permanent appointment will presumably have to wait on Scotland filling its other main vacancy, the director of rugby post given up by Ian McGeechan.
Potential local runners for the job of national coach include regional team chiefs Frank Hadden (Edinburgh) and Hugh Campbell (Glasgow), highly rated Glasgow backs specialist Sean Lineen and national under-21 coach Ian Paxton, while former Springbok coach Nick Mallett would be the most compelling international option.
* Amir Khan, Britain's Olympic lightweight silver medallist, will fight his Athens conqueror Mario Kindelan of Cuba next month. And the pair may meet again in the summer, this time in Cuba.
Promoter Frank Warren announced that Khan, 18, would face 33-year-old Kindelan in his home town of Bolton, at the Reebok Stadium on May 14. It had been suggested that the rematch would be Khan's amateur swansong before switching to the professional ranks, but according to his manager Asif Vali, talks have started over a third meeting. An English team is scheduled to travel to Cuba this summer and Khan could be part of the squad with a view to fighting Kindelan again.
Vali said: "There is an opportunity there for Amir to go to Cuba but we haven't confirmed anything as I don't think they have stipulated the dates yet."
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