Chelsea sole top winners
Arsenal's hope of closing the gap at the top of the Premier League suffered a huge blow as they were held 1-1 at home to Liverpool in the early kick-off on Saturday. Peter Crouch got on the end of a long ball helped on by Benayoun which he controlled and fired into the bottom left corner from just outside the area 3 minutes before the break leaving Arsenal with a single point from the match after Nicklas Bendtner headed in the equaliser in the 54th minute. Chelsea kept up the pressure at the top with a 2-0 win at Manchester City. Richard Dunne intercepted a low cross only to gift Chelsea with an own goal in the 6th minute and Salomon Kalou secured victory for the visitors in the 53rd minute when he walked the ball past Joe Hart in the City goal. Ryan Taylor scored both goals as Wigan defeated 10-man Birmingham 2-0. Taylor ran onto a pass from Valencia and smashed the ball in 15 minutes into the match, and after the visitors had seen Damien Johnson sent off for a lunge in the 37th minute Taylor punished them further when he scrambled the ball over the line 10 minutes into the second half. Newcastle made it 3 wins in a row with a 3-0 win at home to Reading. Obafemi Martins kept his cool in the box and rolled the ball past Hahnemann in the 18th minute, and 2 minutes before the interval Michael Owen hooked the ball past the Reading keeper, with Beye picking out Mark Viduka for the 3rd in the58th minute. Fulham moved closer to relegation with a 3-1 home defeat to Sunderland. Danny Collins nodded the visitors ahead on the stroke of half time and Kenwyne Jones headed a long ball into the path of Michael Chopra who lifted it over the keeper for the 2nd in the 54th minute. David Healy pulled a goal back in the 74th minute when he curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner, but 2 minutes later Murphy squared the ball for Kenwyne Jones who restored Sunderland's 2 goal lead. Bolton also slipped closer to the lower division after losing 4-0 at Aston Villa. Gareth Barry's downward header from 6 yards went in off Al Habsi in the 9th minute for the only goal of the first half. Gabriel Agbonlahor knocked in Barry's cross in the 56th minute before Barry wrong-footed the keeper with a deflected shot 4 minutes later for the 3rd and Marlon Harewood completed Bolton's misery when his unchallenged header found the net in the 85th minute. Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 at Ewood Park with Demitar Berbatov giving the Londoners the lead with a 7th minute tap-in and Morten Gamst Pederson equalising in the 30th minute after a piece of brilliance from David Bentley. On Sunday Manchester United had to work hard to earn a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough. When Cristiano Ronaldo side-footed Michael Carrick's cross into the back of the net after only 10 minutes a familiar pattern seemed to be emerging, but with 10 minutes of the half remaining Afonso Alves picked up a long cross and slotted the ball past van der Sar, and 11 minutes into the 2nd half the same player received the ball and curled it past the United keeper to give Boro the lead in the snow. Rooney came to United's rescue in the 74th minute with a deflected shot after Park had squared the ball to him in the box. Leon Osman received a pass from Manuel Fernandes and whacked the ball past the Derby keeper in the 56th minute for the only goal at Everton after Yakubu had missed a sitter for the Toffees in the first half. On Tuesday evening Niko Kranjcar lashed in the only goal of the match from outside the box in the 61st minute for FA Cup finalists Portsmouth at West Ham.
Aston Villa hit relegated Derby for 6 at Pride Park. The visitors took the lead in the 25th minute when an Ashley Young free-kick from the left floated past Roy Carroll, and went further ahead 2 minutes later after a cross was only cleared as far as John Carew who drilled the ball home from just outside the box. Stilian Petrov punished Carroll's miskick in the 36th minute with an audacious shot from 45 yards into the top corner, and the goals continued in the 2nd half when Carroll's save from Agbonlahor fell to Gareth Barry for a 58th minute tap-in. Gabrieal Agbonlahor rolled the ball accurately past Carroll in the 76th minute and Marlon Harewood made it 6 with a similar shot 5 minutes from time. Fulham earned 3 vital points in their fight against relagation with 2-0 win at Reading. Brian McBride slid in to convert a cross in the 24th minute and with Fulham hitting the woodwork 3 times during the course of the match, it was Erik Nevland who sealed victory in the last minute driving the ball across the keeper into the bottom corner. Three late goals at Sunderland saw Manchester City come away with a 2-1 victory. Elano converted a 79th minute penalty, but Sunderland levelled the score 3 minutes later Dean Whitehead met a cross on the run and side-footed the ball into the net. Darius Vassell's scuffed shot trickled past Gordon to give City a last minute win. Middlesbrough drew 1-1 at Tottenham with Stewart Downing's 30-yard strike taking a deflection into the corner of the net in the 69th minute to wipe out the lead Tottenham had taken in the 27th minute when Aaron Lennon had squeezed the ball in off a defender. Birmingham took the lead at home to Everton in the 78th minute when Lee Carsley lifted the ball onto the head of Yakubu who's header was helped in by the head of Joleon Lescott, but 5 minutes later Mauro Zarate curled in a stunning free kick to earn Everton a point. Bolton beat West Ham 1-0 at the Reebok when a cross in the 47th minute fell to Kevin Davies who side footed the ball high into the net. In the late match Newcastle played out a goalless draw at Portsmouth. On Sunday Liverpool defeated Blackburn 3-1 at Anfield. Steven Gerrard found the net on the hour-mark after playing a one-two with Lucas, and delivered a long cross for Torres to head past Friedel in the 82nd minute. Riise set Voronin up to stretch out a leg and force the ball over the line for the 3rd in the 90th minute leaving only enough time for Santa Cruz to pull a goal back for Blackburn with a volley in stoppage time. Arsenal are virtually out of the race for the Premier League title after losing 2-1 at Old Trafford. Emmanuel Adebayor put the Gunners ahead with a close-range header 3 minutes into the 2nd half, but 5 minutes later Ronaldo equalised with an accurately retaken penalty and Owen Hargreaves scored the winner in the 72nd minute bending an exquisite free-kick over the wall with Lehmann rooted to the spot. On Monday Chelsea took the lead at home to Wigan when Mikael Essien swept the ball home from just outside the box 10 minutes into the 2nd half, but Koumas crossed the ball for Emile Heskey to powerfully side-foot the equaliser in stoppage time.
United drop points
On Thursday Chelsea kept up the pressure on Manchester United with a vital away win against Everton when Mikael Essien chested the ball forward and lifted it past Tim Howard from just outside the 6 yard box for the only goal of the match 4 minutes before the interval. On Saturday Arsenal defeated Reading 2-0 in the early kick-off. Emmanuel Adebayor brought the ball under control and put the home side ahead with a cool finish on the half-hour mark and Gilberto added another with a deflected shot 8 minutes later. Tottenham drew 1-1 at Wigan with Berbatov steering in Lennon's cross in the 6th minute and Emile Heskey equalizing for Wigan with a low shot 6 minutes later. Derby scored an away goal but lost 2-1 at West Ham. Bobby Zamora headed in from a free-kick in the 20th minute and after Tyrone Mears had run onto a pass to level matters with a strong finish in the 65th minute Carlton Cole grabbed a 77th minute winner for the Hammers hoisting the ball in from close range. Gavin McCann tapped in an off the line clearance from a Gary Cahill header for the only goal of the match in the 61st minute as Bolton won at Middlesbrough, and Fulham moved a step closer the relegation with a 2-0 home defeat to Liverpool. Jermaine Pennant beat Keller at the near post with a powerful shot in the 17th minute and Peter Crouch turned in the box to fire the ball in under Keller in the 70th minute. In the late match Blackburn took a 21st minute lead at home to Manchester United when the ball fell to Santa Cruz who side-footed it high into the corner of the net, but Carlos Tevez headed the ball into the roof of the net with 2 minutes of the match remaining. On Sunday Aston Villa humiliated Birmingham 5-1 with Ashley Young and John Carew scoring 2 apiece. Young struck the ball in on the volley from just inside the area in the 26th minute and Carew headed in Young's free kick 3 minutes before the break. Carew added another in the 53rd minute with a tap in, and 10 minutes later Young proved unstoppable as he ran into the box and forced the ball in after his initial shot had been blocked by the keeper. Forssell pulled a goal back for the visitors 4 minutes later, but Gabrieal Agbonlahor created himself space to fire in the 5th in the 78th minute to cap an impressive victory for Villa. Michael Owen scored both goals of the match at Newcastle as they defeated Sunderland. His first came in the 4th minute when he beat his marker to head the ball past Gordon and he stepped up on the stroke of half time to force the ball home from the penalty spot. Portsmouth pushed the self-destruct button at Manchester City and went out 3-1 losers. A mix up between Sol Campbell and David James in the 10th minute resulted in Darius Vassell tapping the ball into the unguarded goal, and 3 minutes later Martin Petrov stabbed the ball past James with the help of a deflection. John Utaka pulled a goal back for Portsmouth in the 24th minute but they were reduced to 10 men in the 41st minute when Hermann Hreidarsson illegally denied Vassell a goal scoring opportunity. Benjani beat James at the near post to ensure victory in the 74th minute.
Chelsea catch up
Mikael Ballack scored twice to give Chelsea a 2-1 win against Man United in the early kick-off at Stamford Bridge and leave the 2 teams equal on points at the top of the table with 2 matches remaining. Ballack found the corner of the net with a powerful header just before the break, and after Carvalho had gifted Rooney with the opportunity to break free and score off the post in the 56th minute, the German sent van der Sar the wrong way with an emphatically taken penalty with 4 minutes to go. Fulham fought back to win 3-2 at Man City and keep their survival hopes alive. Stephen Ireland lobbed the ball into the top corner to put City ahead after only 10 minutes and Vassell picked out Benjani who doubled the lead after 21 minutes. Diomansy Kamara turned and drove the ball trough the lgs of Hart in the 70th minute and 7 minutes later Danny Murphy had his spot-kick saved but scored the follow up. Kamara smashed the ball into the back of the net for a 90th minute winner for Fulham. Newcastle came back with 2 late goals in the first half to draw 2-2 at West Ham. Mark Noble swung the ball in on the volley to give the Hammers a 10th minute lead and Dean Ashton made it 2 in the 23rd minute, but Martins got on the end of a long ball to lift it past the keeper in the 42nd minute and Geremi deflected a shot from Martins in for the leveller on the stroke of half time. Stelios Giannakopoulos came on for Bolton at the start of the 2nd half at Tottenham to make immediate impact with a scrambled goal, but Malbranque poked the ball past Al Habsi for a share of the points 7 minutes later. A last minute goal gave Sunderland a 3-2 victory at home to Middlesbrough. The Visitors took an early lead when Tuncay got behind the defence to open the scoring in the 4th minute, but 2 minutes later Danny Higginbotham equalized with a header. Chopra smashed the ball in off the bar in 1st half stoppage time for Sunderland, but Afonso Alves rolled the ball past Gordon and over the line to restore parity in the 73rd minute. Murphy met a corner-kick to head the ball in off the bar to ensure victory and Premier League survival for Sunderland. Liverpool scored twice in the 2nd half to deny troubled Birmingham a home win. A cross fell to Forssell who buried it past Reina in the 34th minute, and Birmingham went further ahead in the 55th minute with a stupendous free-kick from Sebastian Larsson, but Crouch drove the ball in for Liverpool in the 63rd minute and a header from Yossi Benayoun took a wicked deflection for the 76th minute equalizer. In the only other match of the day Reading drew 0-0 at Wigan. On Sunday Roque Santa Cruz scored the only goal of the match in the 74th minute for a 1-0 Blackburn win at Portsmouth, while Aston Villa drew 2-2 at Everton. Philip Neville scored with a 55th minute deflected shot for Everton, but Gabrieal Agbonlahor turned in a corner-kick for Villa with 10 minutes remaining. Everton regained the lead in the 84th minute when Joseph Yobo side-footed the ball into the roof of the net, but a minute later Villa drew level with a header from Carew. On Monday Emmanuel Adebayor registered a hat-trick in Arsenal's 6-2 win at Derby. Nicklas Bendtner slid the ball past the keeper to open the scoring for the Gunners in the 25th minute, but James McEveley stuck out a foot to knock in the equalizer 5 minutes later. Robin van Persie controlled the ball on his chest and lifted it in to give the visitors the lead in the 40th minute and Adebayor slid in to knock the ball over the line and put Arsenal further ahead in the 59th minute, but Robert Earnshaw broke through in the 77th minute to slip the ball past the visiting keeper and reduce the deficit. A minute later Theo Walcott placed the ball in the corner of the net and in the 80th minute Adebayor ran into the box to made connection with a pass and put the result beyond any doubt. Adebayor rounded the keeper in stoppage time to complete his hat-trick and a 6-2 win for Arsenal.
April comes to an end with Manchester United and Chelsea equal on points followed by Arsenal.