City held by Hoops, Toon triumph at Villa
Manchester City failed to move within two points of Manchester United as the league's bottom club, Queens Park Rangers, did a defensive number on the champions to secure a 0-0 draw.
Julio Cesar, after an unconvincing start, produced a number of saves to keep City at bay. He produced a stunning save to stop Gareth Barry scoring just before half-time and in the last ten minutes denied David Silva from six yards. City did find the net in the first half but Sergio Aguero's tap-in was ruled out for offside.
City, who also had two late penalty shouts turned away, are now four points behind league leaders while QPR remain bottom but are on 16 points.
Newcastle saw off a spirited Aston Villa comeback in the second half to win 2-1 and ease their own relegation fears while pushing the hosts into the drop zone.
The January transfer window has seen Newcastle's squad undergo a French-flavoured revamp and it took less than 20 minutes for the club's spending to start paying off. Midfielder Moussa Sissoko, signed from Toulouse, played in Papiss Cisse, who took two touches before sliding the ball past Brad Guzan.
It was another Frenchman, Yohan Cabaye, who doubled the visitors' lead with a superb solo strike from distance on the half-hour mark. Ron Vlaar's weak headed clearance fell to Cabaye and, under no pressure, he smashed the ball to the left of Guzan, leaving him no chance of stopping it.
Villa were a different side from the start of the second-half, though, as Paul Lambert introduced Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor and their effect was immediate. Mathieu Debuchy was adjudged to have bundled over Agbonlahor in the box, Mike Dean pointed to the spot and Christian Benteke converted expertly from the spot. But try as they might, the hosts could not find an equaliser and now lie 18th in the table.
Wigan came back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw with Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.
The visitors made a terrible start as they failed to deal with a pedestrian free-kick from Charlie Adam, with Ryan Shawcross eventually volleying home from six yards. Peter Crouch then scored his first goal in 18 games to give Stoke a 2-0 advantage as he tapped in the rebound after Ali Al-Habsi parried Adam's shot.
However, Wigan soon pegged them back through a goal by James McArthur, who arrived late in the box to shoot with the outside of his right foot from Roger Espinoza's pinpoint through ball.
Ten minutes later, the pair combined again to create the equaliser for Franco Di Santo. Espinoza charged down the left and found McArthur, who headed the ball back across and Di Santo volleyed it home to complete the turnaround.
Swansea had the bulk of the chances against Sunderland but played out a largely uneventful 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light.
The Swans were in control for most of the match and had the best at the end of the match as substitute Danny Graham, linked with a move to Sunderland, saw an effort from six yards blocked by Titus Bramble.