LONDON: The relegation issue in the Premier League became ever more firmly defined after all clubs at the foot of the table lost.

FA Cup finalists Wigan lost 2-0 at West Ham while Queens Park Rangers lost by the same margin against Stoke and Reading went down 2-1 at Norwich.

Wigan’s defeat at West Ham left them three points adrift of safety and Aston Villa, who play Manchester United on Monday night.

Hammers winger Matt Jarvis did the early damage with a left-wing cross-shot which eluded defenders Kevin Nolan and Mohamed Diame and keeper Joel Robles.

Nolan followed up with his 100th career goal after Andy Carroll helped on a long free-kick early in the second half.

Queens Park Rangers’ manager Harry Redknapp conceded that staying up would be hard work after the bottom club lost 2-0 to Stoke.

Peter Crouch fired the opening goal against his former club from close range just before half-time then won a penalty after the break when pulled back by Clint Hill and Jonathan Walters shot home.

A relieved Stoke thus moved six points clear of third-bottom Wigan with four games remaining.

Norwich claimed a vital three points against struggling Reading to ease their own relegation worries after they scored two goals in two minutes to seal a 2-1 win at Carrow Road.

Ryan Bennett scored the opener in the 50th minute after keeper Alex McCarthy could not hold a volley from Grant Holt. Elliott Bennett added the second within 90 seconds, leaving Reading to claim a consolation only through Garath McCleary.

Newcastle drew 1-1 with West Bromwich at The Hawthorns. Yoan Gouffran converted Papiss Cisse’s cross in the first half with Billy Jones equalising on an assist from Romelu Lukaku.

Everton upset

In the European places race Everton’s hopes of reaching the Champions League were effectively ended by a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland who thus recorded a second win in three games under Paolo Di Canio.

Stephane Sessegnon, one of the heroes in the previous weekend’s win at Newcastle, scored the only goal.

Arsenal tightened their grip on third place by winning 1-0 at Fulham in a game of two red cards.

Fulham had midfielder Steve Sidwell was sent off in the 12th minute in only his first game back from suspension after he had been sent off against QPR. This time he earned a straight red card for recjless challenge on Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal also finished the game with 10 men after striker Olivier Giroud was sent off in the 90th minute but by then they were assured on all three points by a goal just on half-time from Germany defender Per Mertesacker.

The day’s remaining game saw Swansea and Southampton drew 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium.


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