Each of the three clubs in the top five won their respective matches today, mostly in resounding fashion.
Starting at The Hawthorns, Arsenal put on a surprising three-goal barrage in the first half to blast West Bromich Albion 3-1. Kolo Touré headed in the second goal and was sandwiched by a Nicklas Bendtner brace to send the Gunners not only to an important victory but also back into the scoring column for the first time in five domestic matches. Of course Albion are DFL and no real threat to anyone, though Chris Brunt’s 7th minute free kick did equalize after Bendtner’s 4th minute opener. For the moment, Arsenal slide back within three points of Aston Villa for fourth place.
Out at Fratton Park, Didier Drogba scored the game’s only goal to send Chelsea to an equally important 1-0 away victory over Portsmouth in the pouring rain. While Pompey did manage to hold the Blues down in scoring, Drogba’s finisher keep Chelsea on pace with Liverpool in the race for second place. While tied on 58 points, Chelsea hold a goal differential advantage of considerable size over the Reds. Pompey remain just two points clear of relegation in an log-jam that gets worse each round near the bottom of the table.
And back to Liverpool, where the Reds used second half goals by David N’Gog and Yossi Benayoun to outlast Sunderland at Anfield Road, 2-0. Just as Chelsea needed three points against an inferior opponent, so Liverpool needed these three points to have any chance at all at the title, or more realistically, second place. The Black Cats missed out on a chance to reach the top ten of the table and instead remain in twelfth, at least for the rest of the day.
Seven more matches tomorrow to complete round 28.