Arsenal ends Wigan streak

Chelsea bounced back from a slump to beat Newcastle 3-0 on Saturday and move nine points clear of its rivals in the title race.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Chelsea bounced back from a slump to beat Newcastle 3-0 on Saturday and move nine points clear of its rivals in the title race. Second-place Wigan's six-game winning streak came to an end with a 3-2 loss at home to Arsenal with Thierry Henry scoring two top quality goals to lift the Gunners to fourth. Manchester United moved up to third with a 3-1 victory at Charlton with Ruud van Nistelrooy netting twice. After three losses in four games in all competitions, there were signs that Jose Mourinho's team had hit major problems. Comfortable win Against a Newcastle team missing top strikers Michael Owen and Alan Shearer because of injuries, the Blues also were held to 0-0 at halftime at Stamford Bridge. But two goals in four minutes by Joe Cole and Hernan Crespo gave Chelsea a comfortable lead early in the second half and Damien Duff added a third in the final minute. "It's nice to win," Mourinho said. "Life is difficult when you lose. When you are used to winning so many times, life is not easy when you lose because you are not happy. "I said in pre-season that we will win the title on the last day of the season and I still think so." Gunners strike Second to Chelsea in the standings, Wigan had hopes of beating an Arsenal side which is struggling for consistency. But early strikes by Robin van Persie and Henry put the Gunners in charge at the JJB Stadium before the home team hit back through Henri Camara. Henry curled a long-range free kick early in the second half, but Wigan replied again through Jimmy Bullard in a thrilling but error-strewn game. "We made one or two mistakes and got punished - we were playing arguably one of the best teams in Europe," Wigan manager Paul Jewell said. "We've come out with no points but we can take positives from it." Alan Smith, set to be Manchester United's long-term replacement for midfield organizer Roy Keane who left the club on Friday, shot his team ahead at Charlton. Although Darren Ambrose leveled for Alan Curbishley's team, Van Nistelrooy, who is captain in Keane's absence, scored twice in the last 20 minutes including a rare strike from outside the area. Nisteelrooy stunned The Netherlands striker said he was stunned by Keane's sudden departure. "It was a big shock. Roy will always be remembered as the greatest player who's played for the club," he said. "His leadership and quality of play and his character will always be within us because I worked with him and trained with him for four and a half years, and he was the best player I ever played with, and it's just a shame it stops now." Chelsea has 34 points from 13 games and Wigan has 25 from 12. United has 24 from 12 and Arsenal is fourth on goal difference from Bolton with 23. Bolton visits struggling Birmingham on Monday. After a slow start to the domestic campaign, Champions League holder Liverpool moved up to eighth with games in hand after a 3-0 beating of Portsmouth. Peter Crouch, who hasn't scored for the club since his move to Anfield in July, had a penalty saved although Boudewijn Zenden shot home the rebound and Djibril Cisse and Fernando Morientes added two more. Everton beaten In Saturday's other games, West Bromwich Albion climbed out of the relegation zone with a 4-0 victory over fellow struggler Everton, its biggest margin of victory in the Premier League. Nathan Ellington scored two of the Baggies' goals and the loss returned the Toffees, who have scored only four times in 12 games, into the bottom three, above only Birmingham and last-place Sunderland. Aston Villa climbed further away from relegation trouble with a 3-1 victory at Sunderland. Kevin Phillips and Gareth Barry put David O'Leary's team in charge and Milan Baros scored his first Premier League goal since August. Manchester City and Blackburn tied 0-0. Sunday's games are Middlesbrough-Fulham and Tottenham-West Ham. League Championship leader Sheffield United needed a late equalizer from substitute Danny Webber to salvage a 2-2 draw with Millwall. Two points dropped at home means that second-place Reading cut the Blades' lead to one point by beating Hull 3-1. Surprise performance of the day was Leeds' 4-3 victory at Southampton after being 3-0 down at halftime. The Saints led 3-0 with 20 minutes to go but surrendered all three points as Liam Miller, on loan to Leeds from Manchester United, netted the winner five minutes from the end. (AP)