EPL Weekend Round-Up
Arsenal and Liverpool saw their unbeaten records in the English Premier League come to an end following weekend defeats away from home.
The Gunners saw their lead at the top of the EPL cut to one point after Manchester United’s big win over Derby County on Saturday was followed by their 2-1 defeat at Middlesbrough on Sunday.
Chelsea are just three points back of the lead after Saturday’s win over struggling Sunderland, but Liverpool were stunned by an early Saturday evening defeat at Reading.
African strikers made headlines in England this weekend, as Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni struck a hat-trick for Everton, while Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari scored two fine goals for high-flying Portsmouth.
Blackburn Rovers 0-1 West Ham United
Dean Ashton came off the substitutes' bench at halftime to score the only goal of the game at Ewood Park.
In an entertaining second half, Roque Santa Cruz spurned two chances to equalize, while Robert Green was called upon to make a couple of good saves to ensure Alan Curbishley's side headed home with all three points.
Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Wigan Athletic
Gary Megson's superb start at Bolton continued at The Reebok Stadium, with his side thrashing their Lancashire neighbours in Wigan.
Paul Scharner with an own goal, Kevin Nolan, Kevin Davies and Nicolas Anelka hit the net for The Trotters, while Denny Landzaat scored for The Latics.
Middlesbrough 2-1 Arsenal
Middlesbrough ended Arsenal's unbeaten run with a deserved 2-1 victory over Arsene Wenger's side at The Riverside Stadium on Sunday.
A Stewart Downing penalty and Tuncay Sanli strike from a tight angle gave Boro a deserved two-goal lead that was only cut in the last minute of added time through Tomas Rosicky's 20-yard slide-rule finish.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Manchester City
Tottenham edged Manchester City at White Hart Lane thanks to a late strike from substitute Jermain Defoe.
City's own replacement Rolando Bianchi earlier equalized Pascal Chimbonda's hugely controversial opener, which looked both offside and a handball.
Aston Villa 1-3 Portsmouth
Two sumptuous long-range goals from Sulley Muntari helped Portsmouth to a 3-1 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Pompey went in front though an own-goal from Craig Gardner, before Muntari put them three up with terrific 30-yard screamers either side of half time.
Gareth Barry pulled a goal back for Villa with a penalty, but it was Pompey who secured the win, moving up to fifth in the EPL table.
Chelsea 2-0 Sunderland
Third-place Chelsea remain just three points behind London rivals Arsenal -courtesy of a 2-0 win over Sunderland.
Andrei Shevchenko proved an able understudy for Didier Drogba by putting The Blues 1-0 up with a header before Frank Lampard sealed an unconvincing win for the home side with a penalty 15 minutes from the end.
Sunderland battled bravely throughout, frustrating their hosts for long periods, but, ultimately, it was another disappointing away day for Roy Keane, who saw his fellow Irishman Liam Miller sent off for violent conduct in the closing stages.
Everton 3-0 Fulham
Yakabu Aiyegbeni scored a brilliant hat-trick, as Everton racked up an impressive 3-0 win over Fulham at Goodison Park.
The Nigerian opened his account on six minutes when he bundled home and then doubled his tally with a header just after the hour mark.
The former Portsmouth and Middlesbrough striker completed his hat-trick in fine style just before the end, firing home after a brilliant dribble to the heart of the Fulham defence.
Manchester United 4-1 Derby County
United are now just a point off top spot after an easy 4-1 win over Derby County at Old Trafford.
Ryan Giggs opened the scoring with his 100th goal for the club before Carlos Tevez helped himself to a brace.
Derby managed to pull a goal back through Steve Howard, which was a significant strike because it ensured that The Rams did not become the first side to fail to score in any of their opening nine away games in the English Premier League.
Newcastle United 2-1 Birmingham City
Newcastle United made it four points from two games for under-pressure manager Sam Allardyce by defeating Birmingham City 2-1 at St James’ Park.
The game appeared to be heading for a draw after Obafemi Martins' penalty had cancelled out Cameron Jerome's opener, but Habib Baye capped a good comeback for The Magpies with a very late header.
Reading 3-1 Liverpool
Liverpool's unbeaten league run ended abruptly at The Madjeski Stadium on Saturday evening, when they went down 3-1 against a plucky if lucky Reading side.
The home side went ahead thanks to an erroneously-awarded penalty, and Liverpool had two strong claims for spot-kicks ignored by referee Andre Marriner.
Stephen Hunt's opener was cancelled out by a Steven Gerrard reply, but - just when Liverpool were dominating - Reading hit a quick brace through Kevin Doyle and James Harper.