Wednesday 01 January 2014
Arsenal returned to the top of the Barclays Premier League thanks to a home win over Cardiff City but the leaders left it late return to the summit.
The Gunners had begun New Year's Day at the top of the table but by 3pm knew that only a victory over the Bluebirds would suffice to return to first place due to Manchester City's 3-2 victory over Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
And it appeared as though Arsene Wenger's charges, for whom Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Kieran Gibbs were all absent through injury, would be unable to break down a resolute Cardiff side as they failed to find the breakthrough until the 88th minute. But Nicklas Bendtner came to the rescue for Arsenal, injuring himself in the process of scoring, before Theo Walcott added an even later second.
The north Londoners lie a point ahead of Man City, who overcame Swansea 3-2 thanks to goals by Fernandinho, Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov, despite two strikes for the hosts by Wilfried Bony.
Chelsea remain a point further back in third after an impressive 3-0 success at Southampton. Jose Mourinho's side looked set to leapfrog Arsenal into second place on goal difference after a victory achieved thanks to second-half strikes by Fernando Torres, Willian and Oscar, until their rivals' late rally kept the Blues at bay.
Liverpool are four behind Chelsea after a 2-0 success against Hull City that took them above Everton into fourth place. A header by Daniel Agger broke the deadlock for the Reds before Luis Suarez curled in a 50th-minute free-kick to seal the win and take his personal tally for the season to 20 Barclays Premier League goals.
Everton found themselves overtaken by their Merseyside neighbours but it could have been worse for Roberto Martinez's side, who avoided defeat to Stoke City thanks to Leighton Baines' added-time penalty. Liverpool loanee Oussama Assaidi had given the Potters the lead four minutes after the interval.
In the late fixture Manchester United were leapfrogged into sixth place by Tottenham Hotspur, who won at Old Trafford for the second season running. Goals in either half by Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen gave Spurs a two-goal cushion that was halved by Danny Welbeck's 67th-minute reply, and the visitors held on for their third victory in four Barclays Premier League matches under Tim Sherwood. For United, now in seventh and 11 points off the pace, this was a sixth defeat of the campaign.
Elsewhere, Fulham strengthened their prospects of avoiding relegation with a 2-1 home win against fellow strugglers West Ham United, who had taken the lead at Craven Cottage through Mohamed Diame's early opener, but ended the match with 10 men following the dismissal of Kevin Nolan. After Steve Sidwell headed the hosts level, Dimitar Berbatov marked his return to action with the winning goal midway through the second half, after Nolan had been sent off for kicking out at Fernando Amorebieta.
Like Fulham, West Bromwich Albion also moved clear of the relegation zone, by four points, courtesy of a narrow win over 10-man Newcastle United, for whom Mathieu Debuchy was shown the red card for a foul on Claudio Yacob midway through the second period. Saido Berahino scored a late penalty as West Brom ended their nine-match winless run in the Barclays Premier League.
Jason Puncheon also scored from a spot-kick to earn Crystal Palace a 1-1 draw with Norwich City, who were also reduced to 10 men at Selhurst Park. Puncheon's first-half strike cancelled out Bradley Johnson's 39th-minute opener, and although Leroy Fer was given his marching orders for a foul on Mile Jedinak, the Canaries held on for a point.
Sunderland missed out on the chance to move off the foot of the table as they succumbed to a 1-0 home defeat by Aston Villa. Despite going four Barclays Premier League matches unbeaten leading into this encounter, Gabriel Agbonlahor's solitary strike proved the difference between the two sides.
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FT Swansea City 2-3 Manchester City | #SWAMCI | Matchday Live >>
FT Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff City | #ARSCAR | Matchday Live >>
FT Crystal Palace 1-1 Norwich City | #CRYNOR | Matchday Live >>
FT Fulham 2-1 West Ham United | #FULWHU | Matchday Live >>
FT Liverpool 2-0 Hull City | #LIVHUL | Matchday Live >>
FT Southampton 0-3 Chelsea | #SOUCHE | Matchday Live >>
FT Stoke City 1-1 Everton | #STKEVE | Matchday Live >>
FT Sunderland 0-1 Aston Villa | #SUNAVL | Matchday Live >>
FT West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Newcastle United | #WBANEW | Matchday Live >>
FT Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur | #MUNTOT | Matchday Live >>