London - Arsenal missed a great chance to move within touching distance of the
top four in the Premier League on Wednesday, drawing 0-0 at
relegation-threatened Bolton to slip back to seventh place in the
Instead, it was Newcastle which breathed new life into
its Champions League hopes by winning 2-0 at Blackburn to climb above
Arsenal into fifth position - three points behind fourth-place Chelsea.
van Persie struck the goal frame twice in the second half for Arsenal,
which is in danger of missing out on next season's European competitions
entirely if the team can't turn around a run that has failed to yield a
victory in four matches.
"The belief is there, the desire is
there and the confidence is there," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
"We have come through a difficult period and we have, of course, a fight
in front of us - but we are ready for it."
Sunderland kept up its
revival under Martin O'Neill by easing past Norwich 3-0 to jump to
eighth, West Bromwich Albion grabbed a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at
Fulham, and Aston Villa rallied from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home
to Queens Park Rangers.
Chelsea's 1-1 draw at Swansea on Tuesday
left the door ajar for Arsenal and Newcastle to make inroads, but only
Alan Pardew's men took full advantage.
An unfortunate own goal by
Scott Dann gifted Newcastle the lead in the 12th minute at Ewood Park
and French winger Gabriel Obertan made the game safe in second-half
injury time, compounding the relegation worries of third-to-last
Arsenal was also visiting a northwest team struggling
at the wrong end of the standings but failed to find a cutting edge at
"For us, every game in the championship is a cup final for us now," Wenger said.
Persie, the league's leading scorer with 19 goals, usually provides
that attacking threat. But he had an early header cleared off the line
before shooting against the post, then the bar, in a one-sided second
Arsenal's three-match losing run came to an end but that
will be of little relief to manager Arsene Wenger, whose team's only
wins in 2012 have come in the FA Cup.
"When you create six or
seven clear-cut chances, it is difficult not to win and we do have
regrets, but the positives have to be that we didn't concede," Wenger
Newcastle was missing Senegal strikers Demba Ba and Papiss
Demba Cisse, who only recently returned to the club from African Cup of
Nations duty, and relied on a Blackburn player to open the scoring.
A shot by Ryan Taylor took a heavy deflection off Dann to leave goalkeeper Paul Robinson stranded.
Dunn missed a penalty for Blackburn a minute before halftime and
Obertan made him pay in the second minute of injury time, finishing off a
quick break and leaving the hosts two points adrift of safety.
League teams were able to try out their deadline-day signings for the
first time on Wednesday, and one recruit made a particularly impressive
Djibril Cisse, the former Liverpool and Sunderland
striker who moved to QPR for a reported 4 million pounds ($6.3 million)
from Lazio, took just 12 minutes to mark his return to English football
with a goal by latching onto a loose ball and arrowing a shot into the
An own goal by Stephen Warnock in the 29th minute left QPR 2-0 ahead, but Villa recovered to force a draw.
Bent became the 21st player to score 100 Premier League goals, reaching
the landmark with a near-post finish from Alan Hutton's cross, before
Charles N'Zogbia equalized with 11 minutes remaining.
goals by Frazier Campbell and Stephane Sessegnon, plus an own goal by
Daniel Ayala after the break, secured buoyant Sunderland a sixth win in
nine games since O'Neill took over in December.
Irishman arrived with the team in the relegation zone, but Sunderland is
now seven points behind Arsenal and in much healthier form than
"I'm delighted with the team, obviously. Wow. Just
delighted with them," said O'Neill, who has compiled the best start by a
Sunderland manager in 100 years.
United States attacking
midfielder Clint Dempsey gave Fulham the lead at Craven Cottage with his
10th goal of the season, but Somen Tchoyi equalised in the 82nd - five
minutes after coming off the bench - to lift West Brom eight points
clear of the bottom three.