Steven Gerrard performed another rescue act for Liverpool by twice equalising for the Premier League leaders against surprise package Hull City in a 2-2 draw at Anfield on Saturday. Liverpool were left two points clear of Chelsea but the Londoners will go top by a point if they beat a West Ham side managed by former Blues hero Gianfranco Zola in Sunday's capital derby at Stamford Bridge. "If we want to stay top we have to take three points from these kinds of games," Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez told Sky Sports.
Aston Villa leapfrogged Arsenal into fourth place by coming from behind to beat Bolton Wanderers, 4-2, after the Gunners lost ground with a 1-1 draw away to Middlesbrough, a result that left them eight points off top spot. Under-pressure Blackburn Rovers manager Paul Ince saw the second-bottom side lose their sixth straight league match in a 3-0 defeat away to Wigan.
Sunderland climbed out of the bottom three with a 4-0 thrashing of basement club West Bromwich Albion. Australia midfielder Tim Cahill headed home in the 90th minute as Everton left it late to beat Manchester City, 1-0, while Stoke and Fulham played out a goalless draw.
Tottenham Hotspur face Manchester United later Saturday in the champions' final league match before they go to Japan for the Club World Cup. Newcastle will try to pull away from danger when they travel to Portsmouth, unbeaten in five league games, in Sunday's other match.
Hull, who already had won away to Arsenal, Newcastle and Tottenham in their first top-flight season, stunned Liverpool when Paul McShane headed the Tigers into a 12th minute lead at Anfield. They were 2-0 in front thanks to an own-goal from Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher. However, barely two minutes later, Reds captain Gerrard scored from close-range following a pass from Albert Riera. Gerrard continued to drag Liverpool back into the game with his second goal in the 32nd minute after Dirk Kuyt's cross fell into his path.
"We are really disappointed because these are the kinds of games we have to win," Benitez said. "We started the game really well but then we conceded two goals with two big mistakes."
Villa were a goal behind against Bolton when Johan Elmander scored in the 17th minute. But Martin O'Neill's men equalised eight minutes later when Gabriel Agbonlahor shot home. Villa went ahead when Kevin Davies put Gareth Barry's cross through his own net five minutes before half-time under pressure from Martin Laursen. The Villa Park faithful celebrated a third goal in the 67th minute when Agbonlahor scored his second after turning in Ashley Young's cross. Roles were reversed 12 minutes from time as Young scored before Davies pulled a goal back for Bolton.
At the Riverside, former Arsenal striker Jeremie Aliadiere secured a point for Boro after Emmanuel Adebayor had given the Gunners the lead. However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted: "We believe that champions are people who go on when everybody else stops. That's the way we can show it. Nobody believes in us but we can show we still believe and keep going."
Sunderland, without a manager scored their first goals since Roy Keane quit with Kenwyne Jones netting twice in two minutes to the delight of home fans at the Stadium of Light. Jones was on target when he headed in Djibril Cisse's cross in the 22nd minute before following-up after Scott Carson blocked Cisse's shot. It was 3-0 before the break when Andy Reid headed in Steed Malbranque's cross and 4-0 soon afterwards when Cisse scored with a penalty.
Wigan, managed by Paul Ince's former Manchester United team-mate Steve Bruce, were 2-0 up in 12 minutes as Blackburn's porous defence again leaked goals. England striker Emile Heskey opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a neat finish from Antonio Valencia's cross. Ywo minutes later it was 2-0. Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson's clearance went straight to Mario Melchiot, who headed the ball into Valencia's path and the unchallenged Ecuadorian struck a powerful shot into the bottom right corner. Lee Cattermole wrapped up the points in the 77th minute.
"To concede two goals in about 10 minutes, you don't give yourselves a chance," Ince said. "We've brought a lot of supporters here and we've let them down."