Arsenal extend their English Premiership lead

Arsenal extended their lead at the top of the English Premier League with a dramatic 2-0 win over Wigan, while Manchester United slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat at Bolton on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger’s side moved three points clear of second-placed United thanks to goals from William Gallas and Tomas Rosicky in the final seven minutes at the Emirates Stadium.

There was more good news for Arsenal from the Reebok Stadium, where Nicolas Anelka, a former Arsenal forward, helped his old club as his first-half winner ended United’s 10-match unbeaten run in the league.

Arsenal, who were without midfield trio Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini, found it hard to break down Wigan but eventually took the lead when captain Gallas headed home in the 83rd minute.

Czech midfielder Rosicky’s goal two minutes later ensured Wigan, watched by their new manager Steve Bruce, slumped to a seventh successive defeat.

Bolton, who won for the first time under Gary Megson, stunned the champions in the 11th minute when Anelka punished sloppy marking to turn in Ivan Campo’s free kick.

It was a miserable day for Alex Ferguson, who was without injured striker Wayne Rooney and surprisingly rested Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo.

The United boss was sent to the stands for repeatedly questioning referee Mark Clattenburg’s decisions and had to watch as his side squandered a host of chances to equalise.

Steven Gerrard’s stunning strike put Liverpool on course for a stylish 3-0 win against Newcastle.

Gerrard broke the deadlock at St James’ Park with a fierce long-range effort in the 28th minute and Dirk Kuyt’s close-range effort a minute after half-time left Rafa Benitez’s side in complete control.

Liverpool added the third when a flowing move in the 66th minute ended with Ryan Babel side-footing home Gerrard’s pass.

Benitez will be relieved to see the Reds extend their unbeaten start to the league campaign after Liverpool’s American owners issued a stinging rebuke to the Spaniard following a disagreement over transfer funds.

Newcastle are without a win in four matches and their angry fans jeered manager Sam Allardyce throughout the second half.

Aston Villa gave Martin O’Neill the perfect gift after he committed his future to the club as they beat Middlesbrough 3-0 at the Riverside Stadium.

O’Neill was one of the favourites for the vacant England job, but he insists he won’t turn his back on Villa. His players responded as Gareth Barry’s 45th-minute cross picked out John Carew and the Norway striker lashed his shot past Mark Schwarzer.

Villa increased their lead when Olof Mellberg drove in his first goal since August 2006 in the 48th minute before Gabriel Agbonlahor put the result beyond doubt in the 58th minute.

Australia midfielder Tim Cahill’s double strike helped Everton claim their biggest win of the season as they demolished Sunderland 7-1 at Goodison Park. Cahill took his tally to five goals in seven games since he returned from a broken foot as Everton extended their unbeaten in run to seven matches.

David Moyes’s side raced into a two-goal lead through Yakubu’s 12th-minute goal and Cahill’s effort five minutes. South African midfielder Steven Pienaar smashed in the third after 43 minutes before Sunderland pulled one back through Dwight Yorke.

Cahill got his second the 62nd minute, Yakubu made it five after 73 minutes and Andy Johnson and Leon Osman completed the rout.

Manchester City extended their 100% home league run as Stephen Ireland’s stoppage-time goal clinched a 2-1 win over Reading. Reading midfielder James Harper cancelled out Martin Petrov’s goal, but Ireland gave City their eighth win at Eastlands in the dying moments.

Portsmouth celebrated manager Harry Redknapp’s 200th Premier League game in charge as they beat managerless Birmingham 2-0 at St Andrews thanks to goals from Sulley Ali Muntari and Niko Kranjcar. Birmingham goalkeeper Richard Kingson gifted Portsmouth the lead when he allowed Muntari’s tame shot to slip under his body after 33 minutes.

Croatia midfielder Kranjcar scored a superb 82nd-minute effort that took Portsmouth’s unbeaten run to seven league games.

Chelsea faced Derby at Pride Park in Saturday’s late match. West Ham and Tottenham meet in a London derby on Sunday, while Fulham host Blackburn. — Sapa-AFP

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Steve Griffiths
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