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Dec 8, 2012

Chelsea and Arsenal back on track

Chelsea and Arsenal turned around their recent poor form with wins over Sunderland and West Brom respectively, while Norwich held off a Swansea comeback to seal a 4-3 victory and QPR almost broke their winless run as they came from behind but drew with Wigan 2-2.

• Watch every goal from every Premier League game with ESPN Goals (UK only)
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• Brewin: Win masks Arsenal's bigger problems

Fernando Torres scored twice and was heavily involved in another for Juan Mata as Chelsea picked up a confidence-boosting 3-1 win against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

It took barely 10 minutes for Chelsea to take the lead, after dominating the early passages of play. Victor Moses played in Eden Hazard down the left, and the Belgian cut back inside before firing a cross into the near post that Torres redirected perfectly into the top corner.

Sunderland eventually got back into matters, however, with Stephane Sessegnon forcing a smart save from Petr Cech on the half-hour mark and Adam Johnson causing some consternation in the defence with a penetrating low cross.

The game had evened out in the minutes before half-time, but the Blues were handed a gilt-edged chance to double their advantage after a wild, and unnecessary, tackle inside the box from Sebastian Larsson brought down Ramires. Torres shrugged off David Luiz's advances and stepped up take the spot-kick - sending Simon Mignolet the wrong way to put Chelsea into the break 2-0 ahead.

Just a few minutes after the restart, it was 3-0. Torres was again at the centre of things but this time it was Mata with the goal - the Spaniard volleying in the rebound after his compatriot's first-time effort had clattered away off the woodwork.

Rafa Benitez - once again barracked by the travelling Blues fans - will not be particular pleased with how his side switched off after that third goal, however, and they were eventually punished by Adam Johnson, who scored with a wonderful strike from an acute angle that Cech seemed too stunned by to even try and save.

Cech made amends of sorts minutes later by tipping Johnson's curling free-kick wide of the post, as Chelsea took the sting out of the contest and sealed all three points.

Mikel Arteta struck twice from the penalty spot - the first after a dive by fellow Spaniard Santi Cazorla - as Arsenal returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over West Brom at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners had started brightly but took the lead through controversial fashion, after Cazorla flung himself to the floor following a challenge by Steven Reid when replays showed there was no contact.

The Baggies, who lost twice last week to halt their fine start to the season, never really recovered from the sense of injustice and there was no way back once Arteta converted from the penalty spot again on 64 minutes after Chris Brunt had tripped Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

QPR set an unwanted Premier League record as they had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Wigan that made it 16 games without a victory for Harry Redknapp's side. Not since Sheffield United in the 1990/91 season had a team gone so many games into a campaign without breaking their duck.

James McCarthy gave Wigan the lead in the 19th minute with his first goal for almost two years before Ryan Nelsen levelled seven minutes later.

Substitute Djibril Cisse looked like he might have won it for Rangers when he put them ahead against the run of play with 19 minutes remaining but McCarthy netted again three minutes later.

Norwich survived an almighty second half scare to beat Swansea 4-3 and extend their unbeaten run to nine games.

The visitors took the lead early, Steven Whittaker slotting home after just 16 minutes following a smart one-two with the energetic Snodgrass.

Twenty-five minutes later the Canaries doubled their advantage - Sebastien Bassong scoring his third goal in four games with a header from Grant Holt's cross that Swans keeper Gerhard Tremmel should perhaps have done better with. Then just minutes later it was 3-0, Holt himself getting on the scoresheet after he was left utterly unmarked at Snodgrass's free-kick.

A clinical finish five minutes after the restart from - who else? - Michu gave the Welsh side hope of a comeback, and Danny Graham even had a chance to miss a great opening before it became 3-2 moments later; Jonathan de Guzman arriving late to thump home a volley.

Substitute Itay Shechter then thought he had grabbed a surprise equaliser with 15 minutes remaining, but it was disallowed for a foul from Michu in the build-up. And Norwich used that reprieve to kill off the game, Snodgrass scoring directly from a free-kick to end the panic and re-secure the points.

Michu then grabbed another at the death to briefly raise heartrates once again, but Norwich held on as the final whistle prevented any further drama.

Sunderland dropped into the bottom three as a replacement for Southampton, who won a fraught battle with former Championship foes Reading 1-0, with Jason Puncheon scoring the only goal of the game.

The first half of the game was goalless, but matters quickly sparked into life in the second 45 - with Southampton enjoying the majority of the possession and chances. And the home side soon made that count, Jason Puncheon taking Nathaniel Clyne's pass in his stride before slotting the ball beyond Adam Federici - just minutes after he was denied by the Australian.

Finally, at Villa Park, Aston Villa and Stoke City played out a 0-0 draw, in a game that was perhaps most notable for Darren Bent's return to action as a second half substitute.

The home side dominated possession and chances but just could not find a breakthrough, with powerhouse Christian Benteke denied on numerous occasions and Brett Holman also unable to beat Asmir Begovic.

• Watch every goal from every Premier League game with ESPN Goals (UK only)

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