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Feb, 1, 2012

Gunners fail to fire at Bolton

Arsenal's top-four aspirations hit another setback as they were held to a goalless draw at Bolton, while Newcastle took full advantage as they leapfrogged the Gunners into fifth after victory at Blackburn. Elsewhere, Fulham were held at home by West Brom, and Sunderland cruised past Norwich.

• Jolly: Stalemate has silver lining
• Premier League Gallery Photo Gallery

Arsene Wenger's Arsenal remain without a Premier League win in 2012 after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Bolton. In a match pitching the Trotters - statistically the worst home defence in the Premier League - against the worst defence away from home, the match surprisingly ended goalless.

The Gunners, flying high from their comeback win against Aston Villa in Sunday's FA Cup clash, dominated the early possession, and Bolton were grateful to David Wheater, who cleared Robin van Persie's header off the line before Aaron Ramsey could only fire his effort at Adam Bogdan.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked lively for Arsenal, but lacked composure in front of goal, while Theo Walcott also squandered numerous chances to break the deadlock. With Arsenal desperately searching for a winner, Arsene Wenger brought on record goalscorer Thierry Henry, and though Van Persie hit the crossbar in the closing stages, the Gunners were left to rue an inability to convert their chances.

Newcastle moved up to fifth as they held off a determined Blackburn to claim a 2-0 victory at Ewood Park. Gabriel Obertan added gloss to the scoreline in the final minute after David Dunn had a penalty saved for Blackburn, who had 25 attempts at goal to the Magpies' nine.

Newcastle found the net with their first attempt, Dann deflecting Ryan Taylor's effort into his own net, his speculative 25-yard effort ricocheting off Dann and past a stranded Paul Robinson.

Blackburn had the chance to level from the spot when Danny Simpson brought down Anthony Modeste, but Dunn's attempt was easily saved by Tim Krul before substitute Obertan sealed the win in the dying minutes.

Darren Bent scored his 100th Premier League goal to inspire Aston Villa as they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Queens Park Rangers. Djibril Cisse made the perfect start to life at QPR, the former Liverpool striker taking just 12 minutes to open his account to give the visitors the lead at Villa Park. Latching onto a loose ball, Cisse pounced to fire a fierce strike past Shay Given.

Not to be outdone by his fellow debutant, Taye Taiwo, one of three new signings on the pitch, provided the assist for QPR's second, swinging a deep cross from the left, only for Stephen Warnock, on his 200th Premier League appearance, to head the ball into his own net at the far post.

But Villa looked hungry, and just moments after they had hit the woodwork through Robbie Keane, Bent pulled one back for Alex McLeish's side on the stroke of half-time, Bent's former Tottenham team-mates Alan Hutton and Keane combining for Bent to fire home on the stroke of half-time.

Villa were rewarded for their dominance in the second half, and Charles N'Zgobia clawed them back on level terms with 15 minutes remaining - volleying Stiliyan Petrov's cross past Paddy Kenny.

The hosts looked the side most likely of nicking a win, and the home side felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty after Keane's rebounded shot caught the arm of Jamie Mackie after Bent's initial effort was cleared off the line by Tommy Smith, but Villa were forced to settle for their tenth draw of the season.

Sunderland's superb form under Martin O'Neill continued as they leapfrogged Norwich after a resounding 3-0 win at the Stadium of Light.

With new loan signing Wayne Bridge on bench, Fraizer Campbell opened the scoring with a stunning volley. The former Manchester United striker netted his first Premier League goal in nearly two years, teeing himself up before sending a superb strike past John Ruddy.

Campbell turned provider as the Wearsiders doubled their lead just six minutes later, turning in an inch-perfect cross for Stephane Sessegnon to nod home. Daniel Ayala completed the misery for the Canaries, diverting the ball into his own net from Phil Bardsley's cross.

Meanwhile, Somen Tchoyi came off the bench to salvage a point for West Bromwich Albion as they held Fulham to a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage. Tchoyi ran onto a James Morrison flick on to fire past David Stockdale to cancel out Clint Dempsey's opener.

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