Three more interesting Premier League clashes came our way on Tuesday.
All eyes were on Robin van Persie to see if the flying Dutchman would continue his goal scoring form against Wolves, it was the battle of the new boys down at the Liberty Stadium in Wales while Spurs’ title hopes were always going to be tested by their trip to Norwich.
Arsenal 1-1 Wolves
Arsenal stay fifth after failing to overcome a dogged Wolves side at the Emirates.
Mick McCarthy’s men started brightly but it was the Gunners who took the lead on eight minutes. Tomas Rosicky fed Yossi Benayoun and the latter’s pass was good enough to see Gervinho beat the offside trap and cut back around Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey, before rolling the ball between the visitors’ posts.
Van Persie fired an early effort wide of the post, having been put clear by Gervinho, and then saw a second effort header over by Stephen Ward. The Republic of Ireland full-back then blocked an opportunity from Mikel Arteta before Hennessey tipped a low strike from van Persie away from danger.
For all their desperate defending, Wolves were back on level terms shortly before the break – the hosts failing to clear the danger from a corner and when Stephen Hunt lobbed the ball back in, Steven Fletcher was waiting to pounce.
Van Persie came closest to breaking the deadlock in the second half. He saw his superbly-struck free-kick tipped away by Hennessey as it dipped under the crossbar and the latter then made a second excellent save in as many minutes with a point-blank block from Per Mertesacker’s header.
The Gunners continued to pour forward in search of a winner but Wolves remained resolute, despite being reduced to ten men when Nenad Milijas was shown a straight red card for a high tackle of Arteta, to pick up a very valuable league point on the road.
One other point of interest was a first Premier League start for 18-year-old Limerick man Anthony Forde, who was selected on the wing for Wolves.
What it means: Arsenal are now a point behind Chelsea, who are fourth, while Wolves inch a little further away from the Premier League’s bottom four teams.
Swansea City 1-1 QPR
A goal in either half saw Swansea City and QPR share the spoils at the Liberty Stadium. Danny Graham put the home side ahead with a fine finish on 14 minutes before Jamie Mackie drew Rangers level shortly before the hour mark. For more, see our As It Happened: Swansea City v QPR liveblog.
What it means: Swansea are up to 14th courtesy of their point while QPR remain 16th.
Norwich 0-2 Tottenham
A brace of goals from Gareth Bale has seen Tottenham maintain their pressure on the clubs from Manchester – they are now just seven points behind City and United with a game in hand.
Early play involving Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor had Norwich under pressure but they gradually worked their way into the contest before creating a couple of openings, particularly through the hard work of Grant Holt and Steve Morison.
Bale might have put Tottenham in front on the half-hour mark when he robbed possession from Russell Martin. His final effort was nowhere near John Ruddy’s net though, and the keeper was at his very best minutes later as he parried away another fine effort from the midfielder.
Andrew Surman sent a free-kick curling around the post of Brad Friedel’s goal early in the second half – after he was brought down at the edge of the area by William Gallas – but, as football is cruel at times, Spurs not only survived the scare but went in front moments later.
Good play from van der Vaart and Adebayor allowed Bale tee up a shot from the penalty spot and the 22-year-old got his shot away and beyond the reach of Ruddy just as several Norwich defenders closed him down.
Stunned, the hosts did little to suggest that they would conjure up a response and when Bale charged through the middle of the park – Adebayor proving to be the ultimate decoy runner – his flicked finish settled the match in sublime fashion.
Ruddy had time for another save though – this time from Luka Modric – but from start to finish this game was almost all about Tottenham proving their title credentials and they look to be in fine fettle, especially with Bale in flying form.
What it means: Tottenham are four points clear of Chelsea in third (five clear of Arsenal) with a game in hand over both clubs. Norwich, meanwhile, remain 11th and top of the bottom half of the table.
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