Chelsea ended their dire run with a 1-0 home Premier League win over Bolton Wanderers, but Arsenal, seeking to go joint-top with a win, conceded a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw at 10-man Wigan Athletic on Wednesday.
It was a miserable night for Liverpool as they were booed off after being outplayed and outfought by Wolverhampton Wanderers, who moved up from the bottom of the standings after securing their first away win of the season with a goal by Stephen Ward.
Arsenal’s draw took them to 36 points, two behind Manchester City and Manchester United, who lead on goal difference. Chelsea move back to fourth place on 34, one ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, with Bolton sixth on 29. Having been beaten by Arsenal on Monday to make it just six points from 24, Chelsea were desperate to give fans something to shout about.
However, there was little sign of last-season’s double-winning pedigree in the first hour, while Bolton, who would have leapfrogged the Londoners with a win, worked tirelessly.
Neither side had managed a shot on target — though Didier Drogba did hit a post — until Chelsea finally found some energy after 61 minutes when Drogba charged down the right and crossed for Florent Malouda to sidefoot in.
Bolton had several decent chances to equalize, but Chelsea nervously held on to record their first league victory since Nov. 10.
“The first half was very difficult, we didn’t play so well and there was a lot of weight on our shoulders,” Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti said. “In the second half we were much better and played with more confidence, and after two games in two days we must say that the players did very well.”
The proverbial wet Wednesday in Wigan became harsh reality for Arsenal as, two days after outplaying the champions, they made eight changes and paid the price against a team who came back from 2-0 down to beat them 3-2 last season.
A Ben Watson penalty after 17 minutes had Wigan ahead, but Andrei Arshavin equalized after 39 with an acrobatic volley and Nicklas Bendtner forced his way through to put them ahead just before halftime.
Wigan’s hopes seemed to have disappeared when Charles N’Zogbia was sent off for butting Jack Wilshere after 78 minutes, but three minutes later they were level after Sebastien Squillaci headed into his own net.
In Liverpool, home supporters turned on manager Roy Hodgson as Liverpool’s season hit rock-bottom with the 1-0 defeat to the relegation-threatened Wanderers.
Ward’s 56th minute goal earned Wolves, who climbed off the bottom of the table, their first win at the famous venue in 26 years as Liverpool ended a miserable year on the back of three defeats in four games.
Angry fans taunted Hodgson, who only took over from Rafa Benitez in pre-season, with mocking taunts of “Hodgson for England” after the former Fulham boss replaced David Ngog with Ryan Babel as the game slipped away.
A home match against the league’s basement club was -supposed to present Liverpool with an ideal opportunity to sign off the calendar year with a victory that would offer their followers a glimmer of hope to take into the new year.
They had not won away from home in nine months, yet Mick McCarthy’s men deserved the three points.
Richard Stearman was in the right place to make a vital eighth minute clearance and deny Raul Meireles, after the Portuguese midfielder had seen his initial attempt saved by Wolves ’keeper Wayne Hennessey.