Manchester United are in the unusual situation of hoping that Liverpool win their weekend game after dropping two valuable points in the Premier League title chase.
A contentious penalty decision allowed Demba Ba to equalise and earn Newcastle a 1-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday, leaving the defending champions hoping for a huge favour from its traditional rival when they host leaders Manchester City on Sunday.
Ba’s ninth league goal of the season came after an assistant referee said Rio Ferdinand fouled Hatem Ben Arfa with what looked to be a legal challenge. The result left United four points behind City and allowed third-place Tottenham to close to within two points with a 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice in Tottenham’s club-record fifth straight Premier League win, while Chelsea scored three times in the first half for a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers and just a second victory in five league games.
Arsenal slipped two points behind Chelsea after defender Thomas Vermaelen scored a goal at either end in a 1-1 draw against Fulham.
Also on Saturday, Wigan beat Sunderland 2-1 and was replaced at the bottom of the standings by Blackburn, which lost 3-1 at Stoke.
Ferdinand got the ball as he slid in on Ben Arfa inside the area but the linesman advised the referee that the challenge had been a foul, and Ba scored the resulting penalty after 61 minutes.
“Everyone else including the referee was astounded,” Ferguson said. “That was one of the worst decisions I have ever seen. It was an absolutely shocking decision and it costs you … two years ago when the linesman gave an offside goal for Chelsea it cost us the league.”
Newcastle lost Jonas Gutierrez to a 78th-minute red card but goalkeeper Tim Krul made a string of saves to keep out United. Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, who had put United ahead in the 49th minute, had an effort cleared off the line and an injury-time goal ruled out because of offside.
United has 30 points from 13 games, with Tottenham having played one game fewer and unbeaten in 10 league matches since August 28.
West Brom led early at the Hawthorns through Youssouf Mulumbu’s header but Tottenham levelled through a rebound from Adebayor after his initial penalty kick had been parried by goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Jermain Defoe, in the team because of the hamstring injury affecting Rafael van der Vaart, scored with nine minutes remaining and Adebayor, on target twice against Aston Villa on Monday, scored his fourth goal in six days in stoppage time.
Having lost to Bayer Leverkusen in midweek and facing the possibility of missing out on the Champions League knockout stages for the first time since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, Chelsea eased the pressure on manager André Villas-Boas.
Captain John Terry settled the home team’s nerves by heading home Juan Mata’s corner in the sixth minute, Daniel Sturridge slipped his marker to tap in Mata’s cross just before the half hour and the Spaniard added the hosts’ third himself in the last minute of the first half.
Villas-Boas said his team can still regain the title.
“We have the talent and belief will be the last thing to die with us,” Villas-Boas said. “Man City play tomorrow in a difficult game. In the past, we have seen examples of us shortening distances but for that example to serve as inspiration we need to get the winning streak back.”
Vermaelen’s own goal gifted the visitors, who had not won at Arsenal in 25 attempts, the lead in the 66th minute. The Belgium international redeemed himself with seven minutes left by nodding in from close range, but the Gunners could not grab a winner.
Everton rose to eighth place as Marouane Fellaini and Apostolos Vellios scored second-half goals for a 2-0 win at Bolton, while Norwich trailed the Toffees only on goal difference after a 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers. Russell Martin and Grant Holt scored for Norwich.
At the other end of the table, Franco Di Santo scored in injury time to give Wigan its first away win — and only its second overall — at Sunderland. Defender Wes Brown was caught in possession by James McArthur, who squared for Di Santo to shoot into an empty net.
Wigan moved up to 19th place and joined Bolton on nine points, with Blackburn slipping to last place.
Rory Delap put Stoke ahead in the 28th minute with a header to the far post from Jermaine Pennant’s flat free kick, and Glenn Whelan made it 2-0 with a low shot that took two deflections on its way into the net.
Peter Crouch further extended Stoke’s lead 14 minutes later following some poor defending by the visitors, who still have not won in the league since their single victory over Arsenal more than two months ago.
Ruben Rochina got a goal back for Blackburn with four minutes remaining.
Southampton kept the lead of the second-tier League Championship despite losing 2-0 at improving Bristol City, while third-place Cardiff beat Nottingham Forest 1-0. West Ham can move to within a point of Southampton if it beats Derby in the league’s late game. — Sapa-AP