Chelsea slumped to a surprising 4-2 loss at Charlton on Friday to fall four points behind in the championship race.
On the day Manchester United beat Everton 3-2 and Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 victory over last place Wolves, Claudio Ranieri's expensively assembled team trailed the Addicks 4-1 just eight minutes into the second half and failed to win for the third time in four league games.
The results mean that Manchester United has 43 points from 18 games, Arsenal has 42 and Chelsea 39 going into another round of games today and tomorrow.
Fulham scored a 2-0 victory over Southampton to regain fourth place with Louis Saha, tipped as a transfer target for Manchester United, collected two more goals.
Friday's other results were Birmingham 2, Manchester City 1; Blackburn 2, Middlesbrough 2; Leeds 0, Aston Villa 0; Leicester 1, Newcastle 1; Liverpool 3, Bolton 1 and Portsmouth 2, Tottenham 0.
With another game to follow at Middlesbrough today, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson rested Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes on the bench at Old Trafford, but still had too much quality for Everton.
Recalled to the starting lineup, Nicky Butt scored his first goal for a year before Brazilian World Cup star Kleberson and David Bellion netted their first for the club since arriving in the summer. Gary Neville's own goal when he headed in a free kick from Thomas Gravesen have Everton an equalizer for 1-1 but a late second by Duncan Ferguson was little more than consolation for the Toffees.
Paolo Di Canio played a part in Charlton's first three goals at The Valley where Hermann Hreidarsson gave the Addicks the lead after only 49 seconds. England defender John Terry leveled in the 10th Matt Holland regained the lead before half time and, before Chelsea had chance to hit back again, Charlton raced into a 4-1 lead with goals in the 48th and 53rd minutes by Jonathan Johansson and Jason Euell.
Eidur Gudjohnsen cut the lead to 4-2 in the 73rd minute but Chelsea, with Roman Abramovich watching from the stands, was unable to add any more.
"At the beginning of the second half we switched off," Ranieri said. "At 4-1 it was very very difficult to draw the match. We left them too many chances to score a goal.
"At the same time last season, Sir Alex Ferguson said to his players `no more then five defeats in the league.' I said the same. We have only another two."
At Highbury, Patrick Vieira gave the Gunners a 13th minute lead when he connected with a Thierry Henry corner and his shot deflected off Jody Craddock and flew into the net for an own goal. Seven minutes later, Vieira dispossessed Craddock and provided the pass for Henry to fire the second from 12m.
Henry added the third with a minute to go when he took a pass from Edu, rounded for teammate Oleg Luzhny and fired into the far corner.
"If a player is only a goalscorer, you start to worry if he isn't scoring. Thierry's different," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
"I never worry about Thierry because, even if he isn't scoring, he helps other players score. They were Thierry's first goals for five or six games. And he knew that for him, goals are like a bank balance. He knows where he stands."
The loss means Wolves is now six points adrift in last place.
At Loftus Road, Saha gave Fulham a 19th minute when countryman Steed Malbranque swapped passes with Lee Clark and the Frenchman collected the through ball to fire home left footed.
Saha added the second with a 63rd-minute penalty which went in off the legs of goalkeeper Antti Niemi after Luis Boa Morte had been tripped by Chris Marsden.
The result meant Fulham replaced Saints in fourth place and manager Chris Coleman said there was question Manchester United would be allowed to take Saha away when the transfer window opened in a week's time.
no saha sale
"He's not for sale and that's the end of it," Coleman said. "It may be a dream to play for them but not in January.
"He's flattered because of Manchester United's interest in him but he's got two and a half years left on his contract and that's that. He will be staying here at least until the end of the season."
Liverpool returned to form with a 3-1 victory over Bolton but stayed in ninth place. Goals by Sami Hyypia, Florent Sinama Pongole and Vladimir Smicer by the 54th minute took some of the pressure off manager Gerard Houllier before Henrik Pedersen, who also scored at Arsenal last weekend, replied for Wanderers.
After falling behind to an early Robbie Fowler goal, Birmingham City hit back for a 2-1 victory thanks to strikes by Jeff Kenna and Mikael Forssel.
The Blackburn-Middlesbrough tie wound up Markus Babbel 2, Juninho 2. German international Babbel scored with headers from Brett Emerton corners at the start and finish with Brazilian star Juninho getting two in between for Boro.
Sixth place Newcastle appeared to be headed for defeat at Leicester when it trailed to a Paul Dickov strike with time running out. But veteran manager Bobby Robson sent on Darren Ambrose and he headed the equalizer in the final minute.
Tottenham's crisis continued with a 2-0 loss at Portsmouth where Czech midfielder Patrik Berger fired home two free kicks.
The result lifted Pompey out of the relegation zone and up to 15th while Spurs, still with David Pleat in temporary charge since Glenn Hoddle was fired three months ago, is one place above the relegation zone with just one point more than Leicester and Leeds.
Leeds United was held to a 0-0 tie by Aston Villa where David O'Leary returned to Elland Road for the first time since he was fired last season.
Division One leader Norwich edged Nottingham Forest 1-0 to open up a three-point lead over West Bromwich Albion which was held 1-1 at home by lowly Derby.
Chinese pair Liang Wenbo and Li Hang on Tuesday received lifetime bans from snooker for match-fixing after a “heart-breaking” corruption scandal rocked the sport. In total, 10 Chinese players were handed bans of varying lengths by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA). Lu Ning, Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao, Chen Zifan, Zhang Jiankang, Bai Langning, Zhao Jianbo and Chang Bingyu were the other players suspended. Yan, the 2021 Masters champion, has been banned until December 2027 after his initial seven-and-a-half-year suspension was reduced following his early admissions and guilty plea. Former UK Championship winner Zhao Xintong is to serve a 20-month suspension, reduced
Iga Swiatek on Saturday said it would be “disrespectful” to her vanquished opponents to talk about her propensity for winning bagel sets after thrashing Wang Xinyu without losing a game at the French Open. The world No. 1 won 6-0, 6-0 in just 51 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the last 16. Across 57 matches in 17 Grand Slam appearances in her young career, Swiatek has already won 19 sets to love. Yet she knows how it feels to be on the wrong end of a bagel, having lost three sets at majors 6-0 herself, although all of those came across
SEMI-FINAL SHOWDOWN: Djokovic said that he is looking forward to facing off against Alcaraz after the Spaniard beat Tsitsipas, saying it should be his biggest challenge so far Beatriz Haddad Maia yesterday became the first Brazilian woman to make a Grand Slam semi-final in 55 years after beating Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur at Roland Garros. World No. 14 Haddad Maia came through against seventh-ranked Jabeur 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1. The 27-year-old left-hander follows in the footsteps of seven-time major winner Maria Bueno who was the last Brazilian woman in the semi-finals of a major at the US Open 55 years ago. Bueno, who passed away in 2018, made the last four in Paris in 1966 before the advent of the Open era. “Ons is not easy to play against, you have to be
Some time during a 322km race, maybe when she has been awake all night, ultra runner Courtney Dauwalter is likely to start hallucinating. It could be a leopard in a hammock, a cowboy twirling a lasso, or hundreds of white kittens on the trail. “I’ll make some friends out there,” she said, laughing. Dauwalter sits at the apex of an elite group of ultra runners — people who run 80.5km, 161km or 322km in one go. Wearing oversized shorts and a huge smile, she burst onto the scene about a decade ago, and was soon leaving competitors — including men — in her dust,