Power Shift at Premier League Summit
Another dramatic weekend in this most open of Premier League seasons saw leaders Manchester United extend their lead at the top of the table to five points after Arsenal were held to a draw at struggling West Brom and Chelsea beat Manchester City.
Ever the model of dependability, the Red Devils managed to defeat a resilient Bolton Wanderers 1-0 thanks to Dimitar Berbatov’s late winner, but the hosts were made to sweat as defender Jonny Evans received a straight red for a lunge on Stuart Holden.
That vital win gave them a sizeable advantage over Arsenal, who were simultaneously drawing 2-2 with West Brom having been 2-0 down after a third minute goal from Steven Reid and a Peter Odemwingie strike following more shaky goalkeeping.
However, West Brom have conceded in each of their last 28 games and duly kept the run going when a moment of brilliance from Andrei Arshavin halved the deficit before striker Robin van Persie bundled home to rescue a point at the Hawthorns.
The following day saw Chelsea record a 2-0 win over Manchester City to close the gap on the third placed team to just two points after a David Luiz header and a brilliant solo strike from Brazilian midfielder Ramires gave them a deserved win.
The visitors to Stamford Bridge had been negative from the first whistle and lacked any cutting edge without captain Carlos Tevez up front, but although Chelsea will rest easy with the points, it was another game in which Fernando Torres failed to score.
Meanwhile, in the day’s other game, Torres’ former employers Liverpool enjoyed a decent away win at the Stadium of Light after Dirk Kuyt’s disputed first half penalty and Luis Suarez’s improvised strike handed them a 2-0 win over Sunderland.