LONDON: Tottenham maintained their five-point lead over Chelsea in the race for the fourth Champions League place with a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.
Blues midfielder Juan Mata came the closest to earning his side a fifth straight home win in all competitions with a free-kick which struck the post but Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor missed fine chances for Spurs and Gareth Bale hit the bar late on for Spurs who showed improved form even though this was a fifth successive game without a win.
Afterwards Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp challenged his men to win six of their last eight games to cement their top-four spot.
He said: “We’ve got decent games to come, I think, not easy games, all hard games and we’ve got to make sure we win six out of the last eight, if we can. You’d like to think we’ve got a chance of that.”
Chelsea are in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification even though they remain England’s last survivors in this season’s competitions. Caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo said: “To make the gap up, we would have to win all of the games we have left – and it’s going to be difficult.”
“The longer the game went, I felt like we were getting at them and I could see us winning it, really. I think they were probably more happy at the end to hear the whistle than we were. We were getting corners, free-kicks in dangerous positions, and the keeper’s made a couple of good saves.”
Ahead of them Manchester City went top of the table on goal difference after a 1-1 draw at Stoke. Yaya Toure’s deflected strike earned City a point at the Britannia after Peter Crouch’s stunning long-range volley had put the Potters ahead, but Manchester United will have the chance to move three points clear at the top when they host Fulham on Monday night.
Behind themArsenal tightened their grip on third place after goals from Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta earned a 3-0 home success against Aston Villa for a seventh straight league win. Gervinho sent in Gibbs for his first league goal after 15 minutes and Walcott added the second by connecting with Alex Song’s through-ball. Arteta’s late third extended their advantage over Tottenham to three points.
Bolton ended an emotional week on a high as they secured a 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Blackburn to edge up out of the relegation zone. Playing their first match since Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest at Tottenham last weekend, Owen Coyle’s men led thanks to two headers from David Wheater.
The former Middlesbrough man steered in the first from a Martin Petrov cross in the 28th minute and then converted Ryo Miyaichi’s corner seven minutes later. Steven Nzonzi pulled one back for Rovers (66) who fell short of an equaliser despite dominating the closing stages.
Muamba, who remains in intensive care in the London Chest Hospital, had sent his team-mates a good luck message through his consultant.
Wigan improved their faint prospects of survival with a surprise 2-1 win at Liverpool who have won only one of their last seven league games. Shaun Maloney put the visitors ahead by converting a halfhour penalty after a clumsy foul by Martin Skrtel on Victor Moses. Liverpool levelled when Luis Suarez fired home Steven Gerrard’s square pass early in the second half but the Uruguayan had a second ‘goal’ disallowed for handball. Wigan regained their lead when Gary Caldwell pounced after a James McCarthy shot ricocheted back to him.
Wolves were left three points adrift at the foot of the table after dropping a 1-0 lead and losing 2-1 at Norwich. Caretaker manager Terry Connor saw his strugglers slip to a fourth defeat in a row as an early Matt Jarvis goal was cancelled out by Grant Holt. Norwich’s top scorer took his league tally to 12 by converting a penalty just before halftime after Wes Hoolahan’s shot hit the arm of Eggert Jonsson but thestriker’s day ended badly after he was sent off for a second bookable offence.
QPR dropped back into the bottom three after a 3-1 defeat at Sunderland which saw France forward Djibril Cisse sent off for the second time in five games. Nicklas Bendtner headed home James McClean’s left-wing cross in the first half and the Republic of Ireland international scored a deflected second with 20 minutes to go. Stephane Sessegnon marked his return from suspension by tapping in a third and Taye Taiwo’s free-kick was mere consolation for Rangers.
Everton ended Swansea’s three-match winning streak with a 2-0 win at the Liberty Stadium. Leighton Baines’ curling left-foot free-kick proved too good for Michel Vorm (59) and Nikica Jelavic added a second from Marouane Fellaini’s cutback.
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