Huge results in the battles at either end of the Premier League table
Last Updated: April 30, 2012 3:17pm
In-form Wigan boosted their Premier League survival fight with a thumping win which also intensified the race for Champions League qualification.
The Latics climbed three points clear of the danger zone after a shock 4-0 home victory over Newcastle on Saturday.
Bolton came away from Sunderland with a hard-fought 2-2 draw and the point could prove vital as relegation rivals QPR and Blackburn slumped to morale-sapping defeats.
Tottenham beat Blackburn on Sunday to take advantage of the Magpies' slip and move back into the top four.
Champions League finalists Chelsea kept the heat on the pair as they battered West London neighbours QPR in a comprehensive 6-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
With all eyes focused on Monday's title clash between Manchester City and Manchester United, attention switched to the clubs aiming to make a great escape. Wigan, who survived the drop on the final day of last season, have again found form at the right time with five wins in their last seven matches. Roberto Martinez's side produced a blistering first-half display at the DW Stadium to leave Newcastle stunned. The Latics raced into a 4-0 half-time lead with Victor Moses nodding in the opener before firing in his second moments later. Shaun Maloney slid in the third before Franco di Santo's magnificent 25-yard lob gave Newcastle an uphill task which they could not recover from.
Victory moved Wigan further away from the bottom three, where Bolton occupy the final spot after their exciting draw at the Stadium of Light. Trotters skipper Kevin Davies volleyed the away team ahead before Sunderland netted their first goal in four games through Nicklas Bendtner to head into the break on level terms. James McClean's sublime free-kick put the Black Cats ahead before they were pegged back by Davies' 70th minute header. It put Bolton, who face Tottenham on Wednesday in a game in hand on their rivals, level on points with QPR.
Aston Villa also earned a valuable point with a goalless stalemate at Black Country rivals West Brom after being dragged into the relegation scrap in recent weeks. But the scrappy draw means they have failed to win for eight successive matches. Villa skipper Gabriel Agbonlahor provided the biggest away threat and was twice denied by Baggies keeper Ben Foster. And the hosts were denied a penalty when Alan Hutton appeared to stop Liam Ridgewell's header with his arm.
Wolves were already resigned to life in the Championship next season after losing their Premier League status last weekend, but Terry Connor's team finally showed their battling qualities in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Swansea. They looked dead and buried as rampant Swansea raced into a 3-0 lead within 15 minutes through Andrea Orlandi, Joe Allen and Nathan Dyer. Steven Fletcher and Matt Jarvis each reduced Wolves' deficit, either side of Danny Graham's goal, in a remarkable first half. And the visitors completed a scintillating fightback after the break through Jarvis and Dave Edwards.
At the other end of the table, third-placed Arsenal failed to fully take advantage of Newcastle's dismal day as they could only muster a 1-1 draw at Stoke. Peter Crouch headed the mid-table Potters into an early lead before Robin van Persie's 28th league goal of the season hauled the Gunners level. Arsenal felt aggrieved when they were not awarded a penalty for Glenn Whelan's apparent push on Yossi Benayoun, but the point was still enough to edge them towards third place.
A stunning hat-trick from Luis Suarez gave eighth-placed Liverpool a deserved 3-0 win over hosts Norwich. The Uruguayan netted two first-half goals to put the visitors firmly in command, but it was his third, a 50-yard lob over stranded Norwich keeper John Ruddy, which has rightly taken all the plaudits. It was the perfect tonic for the Reds ahead of next Saturday's meeting with Chelsea in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
Liverpool's win was not enough to overhaul Mersey rivals Everton though, as the Toffees retained seventh place with a comfortable 4-0 home win against Fulham. Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic scored twice, taking his tally to 10 goals in 13 matches, while Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill also netted. Fulham never looked like threatening their hosts and stretched their miserable run without a win at Goodison Park to 19 games.
Chelsea knew they could cap a marvellous week following their remarkable Champions League semi-final win against Barcelona by moving within a point of the top four. And the Blues did that in style as they breezed past a hapless QPR, who did nothing to help their hopes of avoiding relegation. Spanish striker Fernando Torres netted a wonderful hat-trick to finally show the form which made Chelsea pay £50m for his services. The home team were already 2-0 ahead through Daniel Sturridge, who scored inside the opening 60 seconds, and skipper John Terry before Torres' treble. And substitute Florent Malouda added the gloss with a late sixth before Djibril Cisse's late consolation.
Tottenham began Sunday afternoon's home clash with relegation-threatened Blackburn in sixth place following Chelsea's win, but rose back above Newcastle and their London rivals with a one-sided 2-0 win. Nineteenth-placed Blackburn failed to muster a single effort at goal and sunk closer to the drop in a disappointing away display. Rafael van der Vaart fired in the 22nd minute opener from close range but Spurs could not make their dominance count until Kyle Walker curled a wonderful free-kick past a stranded Rovers keeper Paul Robinson.