Newcastle climb with Arsenal held
Newcastle United moved up into fifth place in the English Premier League with a 2-0 win away to strugglers Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday as Arsenal lost ground in their bid for a top-four finish after a 0-0 draw with Bolton Wanderers.
Victory at Ewood Park saw the Magpies leapfrog both Liverpool and Arsenal, as they were held to a goalless draw away to strugglers Bolton Wanderers.
Newcastle took a 12th-minute lead when Blackburn's Scott Dann deflected a 25-yard shot from Ryan Taylor past stranded Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson. Blackburn, who remain in the bottom three, had a gilt-edged chance to equalise before the break, but David Dunn's penalty was saved by Tim Krul and the Newcastle keeper blocked Gael Givet's follow-up.
Rovers' failure to convert several second-half chances was compounded when Gabriel Obertan made it 2-0 to Newcastle in the closing seconds.
At the Reebok Stadium, visitors Arsenal dominated possession, but with star striker Robin van Persie off-target, dropped down into seventh place.
"When you create six or seven clear-cut chances, it is difficult not to win and we do have regrets but the positives have to be that we didn't concede," said Arsene Wenger after Arsenal were left with just one point from their last four league games, having lost all their three previous encounters.
And the Frenchman said there was still time for the Gunners to secure a place in the lucrative UEFA Champions League. "The belief is there, the desire is there and the confidence is there. We have come through a difficult period and we have of course a fight in front of us but we are ready for it."
Sunderland's revival under Martin O'Neill continued as they beat promoted Norwich City 3-0 with a convincing victory at the Stadium of Light that took the north-east side into eighth spot.
Frazier Campbell smashed home a 21st minute opener and seven minutes later he provided the cross for Stephane Sessegnon to head in the home side's second. Sunderland's sixth win in nine league matches under O'Neill was completed when Norwich defender Daniel Ayala deflected in a Phil Bardsley cross in the 54th minute.
Cisse opens QPR account
Elsewhere, Djibril Cisse marked his return to English football by scoring on his Queens Park Rangers debut in a 2-2 draw away at Aston Villa. The 30-year-old French striker, thrust into the side a day after completing a transfer deadline day move from Italian side Lazio yesterday, took just 12 minutes to open his QPR account.
Cisse, who had previous spells in England with Liverpool and Sunderland, struck a fierce shot past Shay Given before celebrating with a somersault. And, QPR went 2-0 up when Aston Villa defender Stephen Warnock headed a cross from Taye Taiwo into his own net in the 29th minute when under no pressure at all.
However, Villa pulled one back on half-time when striker Darren Bent turned in an Alan Hutton cross for his 100th Premier League goal. The resurgent hosts equalised 11 minutes from time when Charles N'Zogbia volleyed in a Stiliyan Petrov cross. The draw saw QPR inch further away from the relegation zone, with Rangers now three points above the bottom three.
In London, West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson saw his side come from behind to draw 1-1 with one of his former clubs Fulham.
Hodgson's side fell behind to a 69th minute goal from Fulham's United States striker Clint Dempsey, but West Brom equalised eight minutes from time through substitute Somen Tchoyi.