City cruise as Arsenal thrash Rovers
Manchester City moved clear at the top of the Premier League as they secured a 3-0 victory over Fulham.
Roberto Mancini: 'My players were fantastic'
Defeat to Everton in midweek allowed Manchester United to move level on points at the top of the table but, until their arch-rivals travel to Chelsea on Sunday at least, City are once more three points clear.
On a snowy evening at Eastlands, City took the lead after only ten minutes when Chris Baird was adjudged to have brought down Adam Johnson and Sergio Aguero hammered home from the penalty spot. Things got worse for Baird after half an hour when the defender diverted a Johnson cross into his own net.
With City dominant, they extended their advantage on 72 minutes when Aguero went on a mazy run before teeing up Edin Dzeko to slot home.
Arsenal turned up the heat on Chelsea ahead of the Blues' forthcoming encounter with Manchester United, moving within two points of their London rivals with a thumping 7-1 victory over Blackburn on Saturday.
The Gunners had not won a league game in 2012, taking one point from a possible 12, but they corrected that sequence in emphatic fashion at the Emirates.
Blackburn, who had taken points from away trips to Old Trafford and Anfield this season, sparked their own downfall at the Emirates, committing defensive suicide after only two minutes. A poor clearance allowed Theo Walcott a free run to the byline, where he simply squared for Robin van Persie to tap home for 1-0.
Rovers, without Christopher Samba, looked rudderless, yet the Gunners' first foul of the match led to a Blackburn equaliser. Laurent Koscielny got too tight to Anthony Modeste, and Morten Gamst Pedersen fired the resulting free-kick over the wall into the top corner, with Wojciech Szczesny slow to react.
Arsenal hit back with a rapid two-goal salvo to lead 3-1 at half-time, the Gunners' second goal almost a carbon copy of the first, with Walcott squaring for Van Persie's 21st league goal of the season. Then, two minutes later, Van Persie turned provider with an exquisite eye-of-the-needle pass for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who rounded Paul Robinson for his first Premier League goal.
Givet then got his marching orders for a two-footed lunge on Van Persie and, six minutes into the second period, they had their fourth when Arteta slammed home from the edge of the penalty area. A glorious run by Walcott then set up their fifth, slaloming around three defenders to roll in Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Arsenal's sixth and Van Persie's third arrived just after the hour, more dire Blackburn defending allowing the Dutchman to turn home Francis Coquelin's cross, and the cherry was applied to the cake by Henry, whose shot deflected home from Van Persie's unselfish pass in injury-time. Defeat leaves Blackburn firmly in the bottom three.
Wolves moved out of the bottom three after they came from behind to win 2-1 against ten-man QPR at Loftus Road. Mick McCarthy has come under increasing pressure and his plight was not helped by an early goal from Bobby Zamora, but Matthew Jarvis and Kevin Doyle turned the game on its head for Wolves to earn three points after Djibril Cisse was sent off.
QPR had the luxury of spending big on a new strike partnership during the January window, and after Cisse opened his account at Aston Villa, Zamora did likewise early against Wolves. An attempted back-heel inadvertently fell for the England forward, who drove home the loose ball with Wolves defenders static.
Zamora's home debut went rather better than that of Cisse, who did not even last until half-time after he saw red for grabbing Roger Johnson by the throat following a dangerous challenge by the Wolves man. Reduced to ten men, QPR promptly conceded one minute into the second half, Jarvis bending the ball past Paddy Kenny, and then forgotten man Doyle came off the bench for a 71st-minute winner.
Victory for Wolves means Bolton are now in the relegation places after they came away from Norwich with a 2-0 defeat at Carrow Road. Owen Coyle's men have enjoyed an upturn in form in recent weeks, but Andrew Surman struck with 20 minutes remaining before Anthony Pilkington added a second on a day when Norwich wasted a plethora of chances.
Wigan complete the relegation spots after they failed to capitalise on a woeful Tim Howard error to draw 1-1 with Everton at the DW Stadium. The Latics have only won one home game in the league all season, but they threatened to alter that record when Howard spilled a deflected cross into his own net for a Phil Neville own goal.
Everton handed a debut to Nikica Jelavic as a second-half substitute, but it was another replacement - Victor Anichebe - who earned a late point with a header to deny Wigan the victory.
In a battle of two sides holding an outside hope of European football next season, Sunderland came out on top of a controversial clash with Stoke, winning 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium. The home side were reduced to ten men on the stroke of half-time when referee Martin Atkinson dismissed Robert Huth, much to the disgust of Tony Pulis, and Sunderland took advantage through James McClean.
In a match of little incident, it was the sending off of Huth that raised temperatures directly before half-time after his tackle on Craig Gardner was deemed dangerous.
It took until after the hour mark for Sunderland to make their numerical advantage pay, with fans' favourite McClean finding a way past Thomas Sorensen. The former Derry City man played a one-two with Stephane Sessegnon to power into the area before keeping his cool to slot into the corner.
And in the day's other game, Swansea stayed above West Brom in the table with a 2-1 victory at the Hawthorns. The Baggies had a strong penalty appeal for handball rejected in the first half, but they took the lead when Marc-Antoine Fortune found the net nine minutes into the second period.
The lead lasted less than two minutes, though, as Swansea found an instant response, Gylfi Sigurdsson opening his body to slide the ball wide of Ben Foster. Siguardsson then turned provider for Swansea's second, laying the ball on for Danny Graham on the hour, although West Brom should have equalised late on when Peter Odemwingie missed the target from six yards.
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