Villa Make Big Gains

agbonlahorWith a 70th minute own-goal and Gabriel Agbonlahor’s 80th minute strike, Aston Villa cleared a major hurdle in reach the top spots on the table with a 2-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Villa now draw even with Arsenal on 23 points (though the Gunners do still have a differential advantage).

Villa’s important three points do nothing to slow the methodical advances of Liverpool who beat Bolton at the Reebok, 2-0. Dirk Kuyt scored in the 28th minute and Steven Gerrard added a tally of his own in the 73rd for the Reds’ victory. Bolton’s gain on the top half of the table is halted while Liverpool remain atop the table on 32 points (with Chelsea).

Speaking of Chelsea, their three-goal romp at the Hawthorns kept them on 32 points as well in defeating West Bromich Albion. Bosingwa scored in the 34th minute, followed two more Nicolas Anelka goals in the 38th and 45th minutes. The Blues coasted through the second half against the worst club in England. While Chelsea do remain tied with Liverpool on 32 points, they do have a fifteen goal advantage in differential, keeping the Blues on sole possession of the top spot.

Manchester United, the third-place club, used five goals from four players to earn a 5-0 victory against Stoke City at Old Trafford. Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, bookending the offensive explosion, while Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Wellbeck tallied their goals in between. United sneak past Arsenal into third position despite being a game behind.

At St. James’ Park, Newcastle and Wigan drew 2-2 in a strange match. Ryan Taylor scored first for Wigan in the 3rd minute. The next 77 minutes were scoreless before Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins scored in the 80th and 87th minutes respectively. But Wigan, a man down after Emmerson Boyce’s second yellow in the 54th minute, managed to pull one back thanks to Titus Bramble’s effort in the 89th minute to earn the draw. Both clubs desperately needed the three points to get far away from the relegation zone but instead, both remain just a spot or two above water.

The most unenthusiastic match of the day took place at Upton Park as West Ham United drew Portsmouth 0-0. With the draw, Pompey miss a chance to inch ever closer to European qualification.

Djibril Cisse earned Sunderland a bit of revenge against Blackburn Rovers, the club who knocked them out of the Carling Cup at the Stadium of Light, mid-week. Cisse’s 71st minute winner sent the Black Cats to a 2-1 victory at Ewood Park and pushed Rovers into the relegation zone. Meanwhile, Sunderland move up to 11th position.

Finally, after an amazing run, Spurs finally crashed back to the ranks of the beaten falling 2-1 to Fulham at Craven Cottage. For once this season, an own-goal went against Tottenham as Jonathan Woodgate knocked one in for Fulham in the first half. Andrew Johnson added a second Fulham goal in the 70th minute for the decisive advantage. Fraizer Campbell did pull one back for Spurs but it was too little too late. Tottenham slip back into the dreaded relegation zone, though again they are just one victory from reaching 11th place. Fulham escape the dregs of the bottom by reaching ninth place with their three home points.

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