Crisis-hit Arsenal's woes worsened Saturday as a 3-0 defeat at Manchester City blew their chance to close the gap on the goal-starved English Premier League leaders Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.
The imploding Gunners suffered their worst result of the season, as the top three were all held to goalless draws: top club Chelsea at home to Newcastle, second-placed Liverpool at home against Fulham, and United away to Aston Villa. Elsewhere, Portsmouth drew 2-2 with visitors Hull, and Bolton grabbed a 3-1 win at Middlesbrough.
Arsenal are now in serious trouble with dressing-room strife matched by dismal results on the pitch. William Gallas, stripped of the Gunners captaincy having blasted his team-mates in midweek for their lack of passion, was not even in the squad for the trip to Eastlands.
And the damage worsened as Arsenal collapsed to their third defeat in four league games, leaving them ten points off the pace in fifth place. "There's nothing to clarify," Gunners boss Arsene Wenger told reporters when asked about Gallas's position, saying "of course" he had a future at the north London club.
"It's disrespectful to speak about the players who have not played today and worked for the team. The players who are not here cannot do anything for the club. and keep our belief, and be united and work together."
City's in-form midfielder Stephen Ireland took advantage of a dreadful Gael Clichy clearance to score in the 45th minute. Brazil star Robinho scored a cheeky second in the 56th minute, chipping the ball over goalkeeper and captain Manuel Almunia. Two minutes after coming on as a substitute, Daniel Sturridge earned and scored a 90th-minute penalty to complete Arsenal's misery.
Chelsea had 25 shots at Stamford Bridge but failed to score as their once imperious home form took another knock with a 0-0 draw against strugglers Newcastle. Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole missed the best chances for the hosts as Newcastle failed to get a shot on target.
Meanwhile, Spain striker Fernando Torres returned to the Liverpool starting line-up, but took his failure to score at Anfield this season to a seventh straight game as his fledgling partnership with Robbie Keane once again failed to click.
"We had a situation when maybe five players were well below their best. The players who had been away with their countries looked tired," said Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez. Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said: "We have eventually seen through a decent away performance. So often this season we have been 0-0 with ten minutes to go and conceded a goal."
Manchester United remain third, eight points behind Chelsea and Liverpool, after their goalless draw with Villa, a point behind them in fourth place. The visitors' Wayne Rooney missed the best chance of the game, firing over the crossbar from close range.
Hull grabbed a last-gasp point to deny Portsmouth victory in a 2-2 draw at Fratton Park. Peter Crouch gave Pompey the lead in the 20th minute; Hull defender Michael Turner equalised in the 54th minute with a header before Pompey's England right-back Glen Johnson scored a splendid goal nine minutes from time. However, there was a dramatic finish as Portsmouth defender Noe Pamarot scored an own goal in the 89th minute.
Bolton pulled themselves four points clear of the relegation zone with a 3-1 away win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside. The Trotters' Iceland defender Gretar Rafn Steinsson headed in Matthew Taylor's free kick in the eighth minute and then set up Taylor to score the second two minutes later.
Emanuel Pogatetz gave Boro a lifeline with a goal in the 77th minute, but Swedish striker Johan Elmander sealed the points for Bolton just one minute later.
In a drab game at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke City beat rock-bottom visitors West Bromwich Albion 1-0 thanks to Mamady Sidibe's header six minutes from time.
In Sunday's matches, Sunderland host West Ham and Blackburn travel to Tottenham.