Double holders Chelsea dropped points yet again in a stunning 1-0 loss away to Wolverhampton Wanderers. José Bosingwa drove a Stephen Hunt shot into his own net for the game’s only goal after just five minutes. From there Wolves were able to hold off an anemic Blues attack to take all three points and move themselves out of the drop zone. Wolves are now clear of Aston Villa and Wigan on goal differential and sitting in seventeenth place. Chelsea are in fifth, a point behind Spurs and nine points behind top of the table Manchester United.
Arsenal kept pace with Manchester City in a strange game at the Emirates that finished nil-nil. The Gunners are two points behind City but have a game in hand. Still, the failure to win for both sides was seen as more of a positive for City given it was an away match. Manchester United continue to move further ahead of both City and Arsenal so the failure of either to pick up all three points could be a significant turning point in the hopes of catching United at the top.
Sunderland moved into sixth place with a 1-0 win away to Aston Villa at Villa Park. Phil Bardsley’s goal in the 80th minute against ten-man Villa was just enough to get the Black Cats all three points and move them to within three points of a Champions League position. Emile Heskey was sent off for the home side just before the 70th minute while Bolo Zenden returned the favor for the visitors in the 85th minute. Villa sink into the relegation zone, clear of the bottom spot by just a single point.
A hat-trick from Leon Best saw Newcastle United blast West Ham United 5-0 at St. James’ Park. Best’s three goals were joined by Kevin Nolan and Peter Løvenkrands before the 65th minute in one of the most comprehensive routs of the season. West Ham are of course bottom but their form had been much improved in recent games. Toon get all the way up to eighth place with their nice run over the holidays and are just two points shy of qualifying for Europe with a game in hand.
Seamus Coleman broke a deadlock at Goodison Park to lead Everton a rare victory, 2-1 over Tottenham Hotspur. Louis Saha scored for the first time in ages but was equalized by Rafael Van der Vaart before the quarter-hour. It took until the 75th minute for Coleman to put the Toffees back clear and all three points against a top four side carries Everton all the way to eleventh place. Those points temporarily end the speculation of relegation but still leave Everton just four points clear of the drop. Spurs lose ground on the top three but were lucky to see Chelsea lose below them.
Two goals from Benjani and Martin Olsson’s opener were more than enough to see Blackburn Rovers ease past pathetic Liverpool 3-1 at Ewood Park. Only a late Steven Gerrard goal kept the Reds from being shut out against a an average Rovers side. Liverpool drop to twelfth place with their ninth loss and manager Roy Hodgson is on the brink of the sack. Meanwhile Rovers are up to ninth, just two points off of a European qualification.
And a Ronnie Stam goal just ten minutes from time got Wigan an equalizer in a 1-1 draw with slipping Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok. Rodrigo had given the home side the lead ten minutes into the second half, but the Trotters were unable to keep the Latics from scoring in the end. Sharing points drops Bolton to seventh place while Wigan go one clear of West Ham for nineteenth with a game in hand.