Chelsea ease Benitez worries
Rafael Benitez (Gallo Images)
London - Chelsea eased the pressure on boss Rafael Benitez with a 4-1 win over Wigan, while England star Jack Wilshere suffered a worrying thigh injury in 10-man Arsenal's 1-0 victory at Sunderland on Saturday.
Benitez admitted this week that he hasn't spoken to notoriously demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich for three weeks, sparking suggestions the Spaniard could be in danger of losing his job after Chelsea's recent poor run.
But the third placed Blues were too strong for struggling Wigan at Stamford Bridge and cruised to their first win in five matches in all competitions.
Chelsea produced a sweeping move to open the scoring as Fernando Torres played a fine first-time pass towards Ramires and the Brazil midfielder fired home in the 23rd minute.
Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard doubled Chelsea's lead with a cool finish from Cesar Azpilicueta's cross in the 56th minute.
Wigan replied through Shaun Maloney two minutes later, but in-form England midfielder Frank Lampard and Marko Marin notched late goals to seal the hosts' victory.
There was less good news for Wilshere, who starred in England's midweek win over Brazil, as the Arsenal midfielder sustained an injury that forced him off early in the second half at the Stadium of Light.
Arsene Wenger's team went ahead in the 35th minute when Theo Walcott set up Santi Cazorla and the Spanish midfielder fired home.
Wilshere hobbled off following a strong challenge from Alfred N'Diaye and Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when right-back Carl Jenkinson was dismissed for a second booking after fouling Stephane Sessegnon in the 62nd minute.
Wenger was furious with Sunderland's physical approach, but despite those setbacks Arsenal held on for their third win in four league matches and climbed above Everton into fifth place.
Gareth Bale maintained his sublime form with a brilliant brace to inspire Tottenham's 2-1 victory over Newcastle at White Hart Lane.
Bale added to the growing belief that he is currently the best player in the Premier League with a superb free-kick to open the scoring early in the first half.
The Wales winger then bagged the late winner after Yoan Gouffran had equalised with his first Premier League goal for Newcastle.
Bale now has nine goals in his last 12 league appearances and his heroics extended fourth placed Tottenham's unbeaten run to 10 league games.
Reading's hopes of avoiding relegation suffered a setback with a 2-1 defeat at Stoke.
Brian McDermott's team, two points above third bottom Aston Villa, fell behind when German defender Robert Huth headed in from Glenn Whelan's 67th minute corner.
Cameron Jerome got the hosts' second in the 81st minute and Adrian Mariappa's 83rd minute reply wasn't enough to spark a Reading revival.
Michu scored twice to leave QPR rooted to the bottom of the table after a 4-1 defeat at Swansea.
The Spanish forward slotted in his 14th league goal of the season after Julio Cesar fumbled Nathan Dyer's cross in the eighth minute.
Swansea doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Angel Rangel converted at the second attempt.
Bobby Zamora gave QPR hope three minutes after half-time, but Pablo Hernandez struck two minutes later and Michu then netted his second to leave Harry Redknapp's side six points from safety.
In the day's other early fixture, Norwich shared a dour 0-0 draw with Fulham at Carrow Road.
With leaders Manchester United not in action until Sunday's clash with Everton, second placed Manchester City have a chance to close the gap on their title rivals to six points with a win at Southampton later on Saturday.