Monday, April 22, 2013

Arsenal beat Fulham to strengthen Champions League chances

Arsenal strengthened their chances of a third place-finish and a spot in the Champions League next season when they beat Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage in the Premier League on Saturday.

German Per Mertesacker headed the only goal two minutes before halftime against a Fulham side reduced to 10 men after 12 minutes when Steve Sidwell, returning from suspension, was sent off again.

Arsenal also finished with 10 men after Olivier Giroud was sent off just before the final whistle.

With runaway leaders Manchester United (81 points) second-placed Manchester City (68), fourth-placed Chelsea (61) and fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur (58) not playing, Arsenal took advantage to move above Chelsea on 63 points.

The only other match to impact at the top was Sunderland's 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light over sixth-placed Everton whose slim hopes of finishing in the top four look over.

They remain on 56 points. Sunderland's second win under new boss Paolo Di Canio took them six points clear of the relegation zone.

It was a bad day for the bottom three who all lost to move a step nearer the relegation trapdoor.

Bottom-club Reading (24) lost 2-1 at Norwich City, while Queens Park Rangers (24) were beaten 2-0 at Loftus Road by Stoke City (37) who moved six points clear of danger.

QPR and Reading will be relegated on Monday if Aston Villa (34) score an unlikely win at Manchester United.

Wigan Athletic, who reached the FA Cup final for the first time last weekend, lost 2-0 at West Ham United and are deep in trouble in 18th place on 31 points, three behind Villa.

In the day's other games, Swansea and Southampton drew 0-0 and West Bromwich Albion drew 1-1 with Newcastle United, who also moved on to 37 points