Robin van Persie set Arsenal’s record for most Premier League goals in a calendar year with his winner on the hour mark. Andrey Arshavin grabbed a loose ball in the midfield before slipping through van Persie, who slotted it home past Radek Cerny. Until then, Arsenal had been frustrated, with van Persie missing a chance after he weaved his way through the QPR defence, and Theo Walcott missed a glorious chance when he was one on one with the keeper. van Persie, though, saved his teammate’s blushes as his goal sends Arsenal into 4th place. They still need a full back, and quite possibly a winger/striker, but given the state they were in at the beginning of the season, to be in 4th is a real achievement.
Swansea 1 Spurs 1
Tottenham missed the chance to gain on Manchester United, as they dropped points to Swansea City. Rafael van der Vaart had given Tottenham the lead on the stroke of halftime, who chested down Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s cross after the Cameroonian had blown past Ashley Richards on Spurs left. The goal, however, was slightly against the run of play, and Swansea leveled after 84 minutes. Angel Rangel had come on for Richards at half time, and his cross wasn’t cleared by Friedel or Gallas, and Scott Sinclair finished from 2 yards, giving Swansea a well-deserved point, and making Spurs 6 points behind Manchester City, and only 3 points ahead of Arsenal.
Wigan Athletic responded to their 5-0 defeat at Old Trafford to earn a point at the Britannia. The Latics took the lead on the stroke of halftime, with Victor Moses scoring his 2nd Premier League goal of the season. Ronnie Stam and Hugo Rodallega combined on the right, before the Colombian crossed for Moses to slot home. It was the first clear chance of the match, after both keepers had been tested by long-range efforts.
Stoke leveled in the 76th minute; Gary Caldwell handled Cameron Jerome’s header as it was going in, and was subsequently sent off. From the spot, Jonathan Walters scored, and Stoke looked to have all 3 points when Jerome finished cooly after flicks from Crouch and Walters put him in behind Wigan’s defence. Wigan, though, showed great character and spirit to level the scores again, with Ryan Shotton pulling down Hugo Rodallego to give the visitors a penalty. Ben Watson came on specifically for the spot kick, and sent Thomas Sorensen the wrong way. A point a piece, then, and for Wigan, it marks 3 points from 4 extremely difficult games.
Bolton failed to move off the foot of the table after a disappointing home draw with fellow struggling side Wolves. In an ugly game, the returning Sam Ricketts fired a long range effort past Wayne Hennesey (maybe Arsenal should’ve tried that last Tuesday). Wolves, though, responded through Steven Fletcher, who scored from Matt Jarvis’ free kick with a free header. Both sides had chances later on, especially Bolton, but were unable to take advantage. Bolton are bottom; Wolves are 2 points off the relegation zone.
Norwich 1 Fulham 1
Simeon Jackson’s late late goal for Norwich rescued a point, after Fulham striker Orlando Sa scored his first goal to give the visitors a lead to cling onto. Sa’s goal came after poor defensive play from the Canaries, with Bradley Johnson culpable for Moussa Dembele’s easy run and pass for Sa, who beat Zak Whitbread with ease before firing past John Ruddy from the edge of the area. Norwich, though, have a spirit and resolve that has seen them climb two divisions in two years, and it is these kind of performances that will see them stay in the Premier League. Norwich pushed Fulham back, but couldn’t finish their chances until Jackson’s header in the 94th minute from a superb cross gave the Canaries a deserved point. Norwich end the year in the top half, while Fulham are 2 points behind in 13th.