Premier League round-up
In the battle for Premier League survival Wigan and Bolton were the day's big winners as they earned maximum spoils
Last Updated: 27/03/12 12:23pm
In the battle for Premier League survival Wigan and Bolton were the day's big winners as they earned maximum spoils courtesy of timely victories over Liverpool and Blackburn respectively as Manchester City stuttered at Stoke City.
Things get no better for Terry Connor as his Wolves side surrendered a lead at Carrow Road to fall to a 2-1 defeat, while QPR never looked like taking anything from the Stadium of Light as they slumped to a 3-1 loss at in-form Sunderland.
For the most part a capital derby played out in the midday sun had all the urgency of a holidaymaker on a lounger as Chelsea and Tottenham failed to conjure a goal between them at Stamford Bridge.
There were no such goalscoring problems for Arsenal as they sauntered to a 3-0 victory over a hapless Aston Villa at the Emirates, while Everton will be delighted with a fine win at Swansea.
Manchester City returned to the top of the table, but only on goal difference, after being held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at Stoke.
The Britannia Stadium erupted just before the hour mark when a stunning volley from Peter Crouch gave the Potters the lead.
Yaya Toure responded for City with a thumping long-range drive on 76 minutes, which deflected off Ryan Shawcross on its way past Asmir Begovic, to ensure Roberto Mancini's side at least returned to the summit.
However, with reigning champions Manchester United in action at home to Fulham on Monday night, City could well rue Saturday's result as two vital points dropped.
Wigan gave their survival hopes a huge shot in the arm as they left Anfield with a 2-1 victory over a badly under par Liverpool.
The home side fell behind on half an hour when Shaun Maloney kept his nerve from the penalty spot. When Jamie Carragher failed to deal with a routine ball into the box Wigan's Victor Moses tempted Martin Skrtel into a rash chest high challenge that culminated in the forward being withdrawn before the break.
Whatever Kenny Dalglish said at the interval initially had the desired effect as Luis Suarez restored parity with just two minutes of the second half played, as his sweeping finish from Steven Gerrard's right-wing delivery marked his 12th goal of the season.
The Uruguayan then appeared to have bagged his second from close range only for a sharp-sighted official to correctly spot he had deliberately bundled the ball over the line with his hand.
It was to get worse for Liverpool. Few would back Gary Caldwell to net in a Premier League game, let alone with a composed finish more befitting of a striker, but that's exactly what he did on 63 minutes when after a loose ball fell into his path he rounded Andy Carroll before calmly beating Jose Reina.
Tottenham made the short trip from North to West London out of sorts and without a win at their hosts in 22 years, but will feel they just about edged a contest that only really got going in its dying embers.
The first half was privy to just a solitary chance as Rafael van der Vaart fired straight at Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech when free from no more than ten yards, before in the intervening scramble Emmanuel Adebayor saw his close range header tipped over by the Czech custodian.
It livened up a little thereafter as Juan Mata beat an unsighted Brad Friedel but not the width of the post with a smart free-kick, before Adebayor rounded Cech easily enough after being played through by Luka Modric only to see his poke for goal thwarted by Gary Cahill's timely block.
From the ensuing corner Gareth Bale crashed the crossbar with a powerful header and then saw his frustrations further exacerbated in stoppage-time when his jackhammer of a free-kick forced Cech to scramble across his goal to parry wide.
Arsenal needed just a quarter of an hour to break through an Aston Villa rearguard that elected against parking the bus in favour of leaving holes you could drive one through. Kieran Gibbs' first Premier League goal from Gervinho's pass owed much to a combination of dire defending and suspect goalkeeping on the behalf of Shay Given, as the young full-back angled a low drive under the Irishman.
Alex Song's ability to pick a pass from deep came to the fore next as his dinked ball dissected Villa's static back four to allow Theo Walcott to take it down adroitly with his first touch and slot confidently home with his second.
As Arsenal cruised through the second period gloss was put on a polished enough performance in the final minute when Mikael Arteta scored a stunning free-kick from fully 35 yards.
In the basement battle at the Reebok referee Andre Marriner enraged Blackburn's bench early on when Junior Hoilett's burst through Bolton's defence failed to yield a penalty, despite the fact it looked as though both Mark Davies and Gretar Steinsson had upended him.
It got no better for Blackburn thereafter as David Wheater emerged as the unlikeliest of heroes. Just shy of the half-hour mark his instinctive header from Martin Petrov's whipped delivery gave Bolton the lead before minutes later he replicated the feat in a near identical fashion. Rovers' Achilles heel of being incapable of defending set-pieces flared again as the big centre-half was left free to nod in Ryo Miyaichi's corner.
Blackburn rallied after the break and deservedly reduced the arrears when Bolton failed to defend Morten Gamst Pedersen's long throw, to allow Steven N'Zonzi to sneak in and head home on 56 minutes.
Despite having the best part of a whole half to find a leveller Blackburn's best efforts were repelled by a Bolton backline that defended valiantly to the end.
Wolves got off to a flyer on their trip to Norwich as Matt Jarvis found a bracing finish after Michael Kightly's run and cross had been diverted into his path by Kevin Doyle's touch.
It was to be a false dawn as the second top scoring Englishman in the Premier League took over the remainder of an entertaining contest. First Grant Holt demonstrated a fine touch that belies his cumbersome reputation in delicately dinking the ball over Wayne Hennessey before nodding into the empty goal.
His second came from the penalty spot after Eggert Jonsson had blocked Wes Hoolahan's goalbound rising drive with an arm on the stroke of half-time.
It wasn't quite from hero to zero when with ten minutes left Grant was shown a second yellow card for a lunging tackle on Knightly but it blotted his copybook nonetheless.
Nicklas Bendtner continues to win over the Stadium of Light faithful as his third goal in four Premier League appearances gave Sunderland the lead over struggling QPR.
The Dane's contribution proved to be a beauty too as the man in the mask rose majestically to bullet home James McClean's pinpoint delivery on 41 minutes.
Djibril Cisse was a goalscoring hero against Liverpool in midweek but his return to Sunderland proved to be less joyful, as he was shown a straight red card for the second time since January when a rush of blood to the head saw him poleaxe Fraizer Campbell with a two-footed lunge after the break.
McClean then went from provider to goalscorer when his deflected effort just about beat Paddy Kenny before David Vaughan's devilish delivery from the left flank was gleefully dispatched by Stephane Sessegnon.
Taye Taiwo's sweetly struck free-kick gave QPR a glimmer of hope with ten minutes left but there was to be no grand comeback this time as the Hoops slipped back into the drop zone.
Everton executed the perfect away performance at Swansea as they left the Liberty Stadium with all three points thanks to an impressive 2-0 victory.
An easy on the eye first half lacked genuine chances but after half-time Everton proved worthy winners. Leighton Baines showed why he's one of the best set-piece specialists in the top flight when he opened the scoring with the most sumptuous of free-kicks that dipped perfectly to give Michel Vorm not a prayer.
Nikica Jelavic missed a gilt-edged chance to ease any lingering nerves when shooting wide from close range, but made up for his profligacy 15 minutes from time when he tapped home after bright flank work by Marouane Fellaini.