Arsenal keep title bid on track
Arsenal maintained their push for the Barclays Premier League title with a 2-0 win away to Bolton Wanderers. Goals from Spanish midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Fran Merida helped leave the third-placed Gunners just three points behind leaders and London rivals Chelsea after Owen Coyle's first match as Bolton manager ended in defeat.
Arsenal took the lead at the Reebok Stadium in typically attractive style in the 28th minute when Fabregas played a rapid one-two with Eduardo on the edge of the box before shooting into the far corner. Matt Taylor had chances to equalise for Bolton, who remain in the relegation zone, and his failure to score was punished when Eduardo's cross was helped on by Bolton's Zat Knight and Merida, following a clever touch, scored with a precise shot from eight yards out.
Villa miss chance
Earlier, Aston Villa failed to make the most of slip-ups by their UEFA Champions League rivals in a goalless draw at home to strugglers West Ham United. League Cup semi-finalists Villa have now not won, and not scored, in the league since beating Stoke 1-0 on 19 December.
"The issue today was we were unable to score a goal, but it was a big effort by my players considering we played in the Carling Cup semi-final only on Thursday," O'Neill said. "It is disappointing the win didn't materialise and when you drop points at home it can be considered a missed opportunity.
"But I think this result and other ones this weekend involving teams near us in the table highlight how difficult this league is."
The draw was a boost for West Ham, lifting the London club out of the relegation zone. "Away from home it's a good result," Hammers captain Matthew Upson said. "We're improving. Hopefully we can maintain that to the end of the season."
Elsewhere, Blackburn Rovers moved up two positions into 12th place with a 2-0 win at home to Fulham, both goals at Ewood Park scored by defenders from set-pieces.
Chris Samba opened the scoring in the 25th minute after Benni McCarthy's corner to the near-post had been cleared off the line by Damien Duff. South Africa's McCarthy was also involved in Rovers' second goal, after half-time, when New Zealand defender and Blackburn captain Ryan Nelsen headed in his free-kick.