LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Theo Walcott of Arsenal and Davide Santon of Newcastle battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on March 12, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Premier League, Week 28: Thomas Vermaelen Wins It For Arsenal

Newcastle appeared to be on their way to a miracle draw, but Thomas Vermaelen snatched the late winner for the Gunners.

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Manchester United Vs. WBA, 2012 Premier League: United Win 2-0, Go Top

Wayne Rooney fired Manchester United to the top of the Premier League table with a brace against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. The 2-0 win, combined with Manchester City's loss at Swansea City, sees United leapfrog their crosstown rivals into first place, and the result will rather overshadow what was actually some fairly disappointing play from the defending champions.

West Brom were actually very good for most of the match, and had given United more than a few scares before Rooney opened the scoring with what amounted to a tip-in from Javier Hernandez's curling effort. David de Gea was forced into action several times as the visitors, who were in the middle of a great run of form, looked to spring a surprise, but eventually United wrested control back began to turn the screws. Paul Scholes and Ashley Young were key to the turnaround, with the former solidifying their control of the midfield while the later caused havoc with his darting runs.

Even after the hosts took the lead, WBA looked like they'd have some say in the match, and they were rather unfortunate to be denied a penalty after Patrice Evra hacked down Peter Odemwingie in the box only for Lee Probert to completely ignore the foul. Karma seemed to reassert itself in the following few minutes, with Hernandez hitting the post and Danny Welbeck missing an open goal on the volley, but then the visitors' luck took another turn for the worse with Jonas Olsson picked up a second yellow in the 66th minute.

United soon reaped the rewards of their numerical advantage, with Rooney slotting home a penalty following Keith Andrews' foul on Young, and the hosts then saw out the rest of the match with minimal difficulty. With news of Swansea's winner against City hitting the stands as the board went up to show the three minutes of stoppage time, the mood around Old Trafford at full time was something approaching ecstatic. The title is now United's for the losing.


Swansea City 1-0 Manchester City, 2012 Premier League: Citizens Title Challenge Slips Up At Swansea

Swansea City 1-0 Manchester City, 2012 Premier League: Citizens Title Challenge Slips Up At Swansea


Everton Vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 2012 Premier League: Another Loss For Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur continued their run of terrible form with a 1-0 loss to Everton at Goodison Park. Spurs, who just a few weeks ago were looking like possible title contenders, have lost three Premier League matches in a row for the first time in the Harry Redknapp era and now find themselves in a real battle with Arsenal and Chelsea for the last two Champions League spots.

It wasn't just a case of Spurs playing poorly (although they did). Everton were excellent throughout the opening period and well worth their goal, which came after fine work from Leon Osman let the midfielder square for Nikica Jelavic, who opened up his body and sent a lovely first-time shot past Brad Friedel from 12 yards. The American goalkeeper was kept busy for most of the first half, putting in some excellent stops to keep the score manageable as the hosts ran rampant, but thanks to him Tottenham remained in touching distance and nearly managed to fight back.

The second half saw the visitors regroup and hammer Everton's defence. Spurs were pressing hard and it seemed like a matter of time before the home team cracked. Jermain Defoe did manage to get the ball in the back of the net only to see his strike ruled out (correctly) for offside, and the pressure only increased. Everton's failure to make the most out of their rare chances to break out meant a very tense ending to the match, and the hosts were very lucky to see former Toffee Louis Saha's close-range strike rebound off the post and to safety rather than level the score as the game moved into injury time.

Ultimately, however, Everton saw off the threat and earned another impressive scalp at Goodison Park. David Moyes' men rise to ninth in the table, just two behind arch-rivals Liverpool. Meanwhile, Spurs see their margin over their London rivals drop to just four points.


Wolverhampton Vs. Blackburn, 2012 Premier League: Huge Win For Blackburn

Wolverhampton Wanderers suffered a major blow in their battle to avoid relegation with a home loss against fellow strugglers Blackburn Rovers. Wolves would have viewed this match as a major part of their campaign to avoid the drop - matches against Rovers are eminently winnable this season - but instead put in a miserable performance to increase their woes.

The match started out fairly open, with good chances at both ends of the pitch, but the hosts' day took a turn for the worse when David Davis defelected a throw in straight into Junior Hoillet's path, allowing the strike to fire past Wayne Hennessey to make it 1-0 just before halftime. Blackburn kept up the pressure after the interval and were rewarded shortly following the hour mark when Hoillet struck again with a neat long-range effort. Wolves were a spent force by this point, and a late attempt to push for the equaliser was more depressing than truly threatening. As Chris Foy blew for full time, the boos rang out at Molineux, as well they might. Wolves look like they're going down, and after the Mick McCarthy fiasco, they look like they're going to do so in fairly embarrassing fashion.

Blackburn, meanwhile, go to 16th place and are now two points clear of the relegation zone. It's a big day for Steve Kean. If he keeps this up, do you think he'll still need bodyguards?


Sunderland Vs. Liverpool, 2012 Premier League: Strange Goal Propels Hosts To 1-0 Win

Sunderland managed to snap their winless streak with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at the Stadium of Light, hauling themselves back into the race for the Europa League places in the process. It was hardly inspiring stuff from the Black Cats, who were slightly outplayed by their opponents, although Liverpool, as ever, had trouble creating clear cut chances, but Martin O'Neill will be more than happy with the three points regardless of not playing the visitors off the pitch.

There was more than a hint of bad luck behind Sunderland's goal - Frazier Cambell's initial effort was fantastic, but the way it hit the post, then Pepe Reina and then the post again before ending up on a platter for Nickles Bendtner to crash how from close range was fairly odd. Karma turned on the Danish striker before the end of the match, and the sight of him stretchered off after sustaining what looked like a knee injury during the late stages of the match will take some of the shine off Sunderland's victory.


Aston Villa Vs. Fulham, 2012 Premier League: Andreas Weimann Seals Late Villa Win

A very late goal by Andreas Weimann saw Aston Villa victorious against Fulham at Villa Park. It's been a difficult year for Alex McLeish's side, who've recently been rocked by several season-ending injuries to their starters, but most of the time they haven't really helped their cause, playing tremendously boring football throughout the campaign.

Fortunately for the hosts, the dire play that's characterised them recently was put on the back burner as they went after Fulham. Villa were the better side for most of the match and were creating some good chances, but the absence of Darren Bent was keenly felt as nobody was able to provide the killing blow that they needed. Marc Albrighton nearly managed it with a lovely long-range shot that caroomed off the bar, but Fulham replied with a woodwork hit of their own when Damian Duff rattled the post ten minutes later.

That Duff shot inspired a change from McLeish, who brought off Charles N'Zogbia for Weimann, a move that was greeting by boos from the home fans. The manager had the last laugh when the young striker was the first to pounce on a rebound to make it 1-0 in stoppage time, wrapping up a win that sees Villa move nine points clear of the relegation zone.


Bolton Vs. QPR, 2012 Premier League: Vital Win For Bolton

Talk about a timely win for Bolton Wanderers. Owen Coyle's men earned only their third home win of the season against fellow relegation strugglers Queens Park Rangers to claw their way free of the relegation zone and move into 16th place.

It was by no means a straightforward victory, though - although the hosts went 1-0 up before halftime, it was QPR who provided the bulk of the threat in the first half and the visitors were desperately unlucky not to have opened the scoring. First, Bobby Zamora rattled the crossbar with a brilliant hit from a tight angle, and then centre back Clint Hill actually did score from a corner only for Adam Bogdan to claw the ball away from inside the goal, with the linesman totally oblivious.

Bolton, who were riding their luck against a team that looked capable of doing immense damage on the counterattack, then had a goal handed to them on a plate. A busted free kick routine suddenly transformed into a potent attack, with Tim Ream crossing into a muddled QPR defence and Darren Pratley heading home for a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after the break, Djibril Cisse leveled from a suspiciously offside position - it wasn't exactly the finest day from the officials at the Reebok - and the rest of the game turned into a frenetic back and forth which involved several episodes of pinball in each box. Eventually, however, the home side came through, and substitute Ivan Klasnic sealed the win in the closing stages after excellent work from Ryo Miyaichi, slipping past Paddy Kenny in the 86th minute to earn the Trotters a huge 2-1 win.

With Blackburn Rovers playing Wolverhampton Wanderers in one of the 3:00 PM matches, Bolton aren't guaranteed to end the week outside the relegation zone, since a scoring draw in that game would see them drop into 18th. But even if they still are in the bottom three come Monday, they've given themselves a huge boost here, and QPR are now in some real trouble.

I wonder what Mark Hughes is going to say about the refereeing...


Bolton Vs. QPR, 2012 Premier League: Linesman Screws QPR Out Of Goal

Queens Park Rangers are not in good shape right now, and are in vital need of points in order to secure a place in the Premier League next season. That goes double for matches against their fellow strugglers, and they're playing today against 19th place Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium. Where they have been completely screwed out of a goal:

This was taken just before Adam Bogdan clawed the ball off the crossbar and out, and it's pretty clear that it should have been given as a goal. Clint Hill's header was a full yard over the line, and although Ryo Miyaichi was on the line it shouldn't have been enough to impede the linesman's view. If QPR go on to lose this match - and at the time of writing, they were 1-0 down after a Darren Pratley goal, expect this to cause something of an uproar. Who's up for a goalline technology debate?

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