BRILLIANT: Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky (left) scores against Sunderland in the English Premier League. Arsenal won 4-1. AFPpic
ARSENAL and Manchester City replied in kind after John Terry scored an injury-time winner against Everton to preserve Chelsea’s position as Premier League leaders.
Chelsea’s victory momentarily gave them a four-point lead at the summit, but Arsenal closed the gap to a point by overwhelming Sunderland 4-1 and City are three points back with a game in hand after edging Stoke City 1-0.
Arsenal had been dealt a dispiriting 2-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday and they reacted in style by outclassing third-bottom Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium.
Left on the bench against Bayern, Olivier Giroud was restored to the starting line-up to face Sunderland and the Frenchman responded with a brace of goals in the first 31 minutes.
The former Montpellier man also played a role in the glorious move that led to Tomas Rosicky chipping in Arsenal’s third goal before halftime, with Laurent Koscielny heading home a fourth in the 57th minute.
Emanuele Giaccherini claimed a late consolation for Gus Poyet’s side, who face City in next weekend’s League Cup final.
“After playing for so long with 10 men in a difficult game in mid-week against Bayern Munich, it was good to win today,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
“We are still there in the table. It is down to consistency and our performances.”
DISAPPOINTED: Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic reacts after conceding the only goal of the English Premier League match against Manchester City. AFPpic
City also tasted Champions League disappointment in midweek, losing 2-0 at home to Barcelona, and their return to winning ways was not quite as straightforward as Arsenal’s.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side toiled in front of goal against Stoke at the Etihad Stadium and there was a sense of relief when Yaya Toure broke the deadlock from Aleksandar Kolarov’s cut-back in the 70th minute.
“They were defending with 10 players in their box,” said City manager Pellegrini.
“I thought we controlled the game and it was a matter of time before we scored.”
Manchester United capitalised by stealing into sixth place – ahead of Everton on goal difference, albeit having played a game more – with a 2-0 success at Crystal Palace.
Robin van Persie opened the scoring at Selhurst Park with a 62nd minute penalty after Marouane Chamakh tripped Patrice Evra just inside the Palace area.
Wayne Rooney doubled United’s lead six minutes later, celebrating his new five-year contract and marking his 300th league appearance for the club by slamming a half-volley into the top-right corner.
Meanwhile, Felix Magath saw victory snatched from his grasp in his first game as Fulham manager after a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
Fulham were on course to climb off the foot of the table thanks to Ashkan Dejagah’s 28th minute goal, only for Matej Vydra to plunder an 86th minute equaliser with a shot that squirmed past Maarten Stekelenburg.
Vydra’s goal meant that Cardiff City remained second from bottom after they were crushed 4-0 at home by Hull City, who prevailed through a Nikica Jelavic brace and strikes from Tom Huddlestone and Nikica Jelavic.
Hull are now six points above the relegation zone and West Ham United are a point better off in 10th place after goals from Matt Jarvis, Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan set up a 3-1 win at home to Southampton.
Arsenal 4 Sunderland 1
Cardiff 0 Hull 4
Chelsea 1 Everton 0
Crystal Palace 0 Manchester United 2
Manchester City 1 Stoke 0
West Brom 1 Fulham 1
West Ham 3 Southampton 1