Game On – By Tim Magnus

Manchester City suffered a crushing blow to their hopes of retaining their Premier League title as they lost 3-1 to Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.

The loss was due to three comical pieces of defending, which gifted Mauricio Pochettino his first league win as Saints manager. The comedy of errors began with Gareth Barry as he lost possession in his own half to allow Jason Puncheon to open the scoring.

This was followed by an uncharacteristic mishap by England’s number one Joe Hart as he made a hash of a Rickie Lambert strike which gave Steven Davis an easy tap in to double the Saints advantage.

Manchester City pulled one back through their in-form forward Edin Dzeko, as the Bosnian scored his eleventh goal of this year’s campaign to give City a goal they probably didn’t deserve.

The Saints re-established their two goal advantage in the second half when Gareth Barry compounded an awful performance with one of the most bizarre own goals of the season as he passed a seemingly unthreatening cross into the bottom corner of his own net.

Southampton held on to move six points clear of the relegation zone and leave City with a mountain to climb if they are to reclaim their Premier League trophy.

Frank Lampard scored his 198th goal for Chelsea, moving him fourth within Bobby Tambling’s club record, as Chelsea won only their third game in ten as they beat Wigan 4-1 at Stamford Bridge.

Under fire Rafael Benitez decided to start Fernando Torres over Demba Ba and that decision looked to have been a good one when Torres set up Ramires for the opening goal. Chelsea doubled their lead in the second half as Eden Hazard scored on his return after kicking a ball boy in the League Cup semi final.

Wigan pulled a goal back through their best attacking threat Shaun Maloney and it seemed that Chelsea’s poor form would be coming back to pile more pressure on Benitez.

However, Frank Lampard secured the victory with a trademark finish from outside of the penalty area, before Marko Marin headed in a fourth in injury time. The win sees Chelsea move to within four points of the Premier League Champions whilst Wigan are two points from safety in eighteenth.

Swansea City outplayed and outclassed Harry Redknapp’s QPR at the Liberty Stadium as a Michu brace steered them to a 4-1 victory.

League Cup finalists Swansea scored two early goals, through Michu and Angel Rangel, as they delivered a footballing masterclass to bottom club Rangers. A half time substitution from Redknapp made momentary difference as Bobby Zamora pulled a goal back, but Swansea quickly regrouped and netted two more, this time through Pablo Hernandez and finally through Michu.

This was QPR’s first loss in six and cements them to the bottom of the Premier League with only seventeen points whilst Swansea continue to propel themselves higher and higher in the footballing ladder as they move to seventh.

Gareth Bale proved why he is one of the hottest properties in football this season as his sensational brace gave Tottenham a vital 2-1 win over Alan Pardew’s rejuvenated Newcastle at White Hart Lane. The first of Bale’s two goals came early on with a free kick which managed to squeeze over the wall and out of the clutches of Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal.

With Pardew selecting ten French players in his sixteen it wasn’t a surprise when one of them got on the score sheet. Yoan Gouffran netted the equaliser but his joy was short lived as he was later carried off with a suspected broken leg. With the second half not creating many chances it was going to take a mistake or a moment of brilliance to win the game, and Bale’s second goal provided both.

First a mistake from the Newcastle defense allowed Bale in, but his pace, composure and assured finish highlighted just how important Gareth Bale is to Andre Villas Boas and his Champions League seeking side.

Ten-man Arsenal edged a physical encounter at the Stadium of Light as a first half strike from Santi Cazorla earned them a 1-0 win over Sunderland. In an Arsenal dominated first half, Cazorla scored the game’s only goal after being set up by the influential Theo Walcott.

Carl Jenkinson was sent off mid way through the second half by referee Anthony Taylor for two bookable offenses but the Gunners held on for an important three points in their quest to catch rivals Tottenham for that coveted Champions League place.

Stoke ended Reading’s impressive run of form with a spirited 2-1 win at the Britannia Stadium. Despite first half pressure from Tony Pulis’ men the game was goalless at the break, largely because of Adam Federici’s brilliance in the Reading goal.

The second half saw Federici beaten twice as Robert Huth headed home from a corner and Cameron Jerome outmuscled the Reading defense before firing into the corner. Reading produced a typical late surge as Adrian Mariappa pulled one back but they couldn’t find an equaliser so they stay just two points above the relegation zone.

Norwich and Fulham played out a goalless draw at Carrow Road as both defences came out on top in a game in which chances were few and far between.

Despite Fulham just edging the play it was Norwich who created the better chances as Luciano Becchio, Bradley Johnson and Russell Martin all missed half chances but with no player managing to find a decisive touch it was a point apiece for Martin Jol and Chris Hughton as both sides stay on 29 points, eight points clear of the relegation zone.

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