Premier League round-up
Villa drop points; Trotters hammer Latics; Wolves defeat Clarets
Last Updated: 13/03/10 8:32pm
Alex: Set Chelsea on their way
Chelsea returned to the top of the Premier League table as they defeated relegation-threatened West Ham at Stamford Bridge, while Arsenal left it late to beat ten-man Hull at the KC Stadium.
Aston Villa dropped points as they were held to a dire stalemate at Stoke, Bolton boosted their survival hopes with a demolition of Wigan, Wolves won their basement battle against Burnley and Birmingham fought back for a draw with Everton.
Chelsea knew that three points were vital ahead of Arsenal's evening kick-off and Manchester United's match on Sunday, and Carlo Ancelotti was not disappointed as his side returned to the top with a 4-1 win over London rivals West Ham.
Alex made no mistake in giving Chelsea the lead on 16 minutes when, shortly after West Ham's Ilan had missed a glorious chance, the Brazilian met a Florent Malouda cross following a corner to powerfully head into the back of the net when unmarked.
Former Chelsea player Scott Parker, though, fired a sensational, long-range equaliser for West Ham after half-an-hour, blasting a half-volley past deputy goalkeeper Ross Turnbull from 25 yards after John Obi Mikel failed to cut out a throw-in.
Turnbull, starting in the wake of Chelsea's goalkeeping crisis, was helpless with Parker's goal, but he will still have been relieved when star team-mate Didier Drogba regained the lead in the 56th minute with a header from a Malouda cross.
In the 77th minute French winger Malouda scored the goal his Man of the Match performance warranted before Drogba pounced on a fumble from Robert Green for his second of the afternoon in the dying minutes.
Nicklas Bendtner's last-gap winner moved Arsenal level on points with Chelsea after a 2-1 victory over ten-man Hull.
Andrey Arshavin gave Arsenal the lead on 14 minutes, but Jimmy Bullard put a difficult week behind him to equalise from the penalty spot just before the half hour mark after Sol Campbell was adjudged to have fouled Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
Hull were reduced to ten men just before the break when George Boateng was dismissed for a second yellow card for a foul on Bacary Sagna.
Arsenal looked set to be frustrated by the ten men until a minute into stoppage time when Boaz Myhill pushed out Denilson's shot straight into the path of Bendtner who slammed the ball into the net to send the visiting fans into raptures.
Tottenham strengthened their hold on fourth place with a 3-1 win over Blackburn in the lunchtime kick-off at White Hart Lane as Harry Redknapp's side made an ideal start to meeting their target of 19 additional points before the end of the season.
Jermain Defoe put Spurs on their way on the stroke of half-time before the in-form Roman Pavlyuchenko scored twice, either side of a reply from Christopher Samba, to reinforce UEFA Champions League aspirations in North London.
Aston Villa remain in the fight for the fourth Champions League place, but Martin O'Neill's side missed the chance to move above Liverpool as they drew 0-0 at Stoke.
The first half had been a war of attrition and ended goalless, with only a speculative 25-yard effort from Villa's Stiliyan Petrov remaining in the memory from a forgettable 45 minutes.
Things did not improve after the interval and FA Cup semi-finalists Villa were ultimately forced to hang on for a grateful point after some late Stoke pressure.
Wigan failed to build on their victory over Liverpool as they were thrashed 4-0 by fellow strugglers Bolton at the Reebok Stadium as the battle to avoid relegation appears set to go to the wire.
Johan Elmander opened the scoring after 10 minutes as Bolton's £10million striker took advantage of some horribly indecisive defending to calmly finish past Chris Kirkland.
Wigan were again ruing defensive clumsiness three minutes after half-time as Gary Caldwell left a leg dangling and tripped Tamir Cohen inside the 18-yard area to leave Kevin Davies with the task of sending Kirkland the wrong way with the penalty.
There was, however, nothing the Latics could do with Bolton's third in the 53rd minute when Fabrice Muamba hit an excellent shot across the helpless Kirkland.
Caldwell, though, had another horror moment in the 69th minute as he failed to clear a flick-on from Elmander to leave Matt Taylor with a simple finish.
Wolves grabbed what could prove a vital three points in the fight for top-flight survival as they earned a 2-1 win over Burnley at Turf Moor.
Tyrone Mears will not want to see Wolves' opener again after the Burnley defender made a hash of a back-header on 26 minutes to allow Matthew Jarvis to jink past Brian Jensen and tap into an unguarded net.
Burnley would have known that defensive frailties are a hallmark of sides doomed for relegation and nerves will therefore have increased after Clarke Carlisle unfortunately deflected an optimistic Adlene Guedioura shot past Jensen.
Brian Laws' Clarets set up a tense last 17 minutes when Steven Thompson applied a finishing touch to a bouncing Graham Alexander volley.
Birmingham came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Everton in their scrap for a place in the Europa League at St Andrews
David Moyes' side dominated the opening 19 minutes and were deservedly rewarded with the opener when Victor Anichebe turned and shot an excellent left-footed effort beyond the reach of Joe Hart from 16 yards.
The Toffees were on song and did not have to wait long for their second goal as on 22 minutes Yakubu Aiyegbeni rose to head at the back post after Steven Pienaar had dug out a cross from the byline.
Everton had been hugely impressive, but Birmingham grabbed a 26th minute lifeline in fortunate circumstances when Cameron Jerome swung a leg, with what appeared to be an attempted pass, at a Keith Fahey cross and a mishit left Tim Howard flatfooted.
Alex McLeish's side were lifted by the goal and regained a footing in the match and seven minutes after the half-time winter signing Craig Gardner hit an equaliser after a Jerome had flicked on a long ball from Hart.