Rosicky double puts pressure on Chelsea and Spurs
Gunners move into fourth spot despite Mertesacker red card
Arsenal's Tomas Rosicky (centre) scores against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. Photographaph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Matthew Lowton of Aston Villa scores his team's second goal in the Premier League clash against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Michu of Swansea City scores against at Norwich City at Carrow Road. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Jay Rodriguez slides in to score the opening goal for Southampton in the Premier League clash against Reading at the Madejski Stadium. Photograph: Ian Walton/Getty Images
Tomas Rosicky’s double earned 10-man Arsenal a 2-1 victory over West Brom at The Hawthorns and earn their sixth win in the past seven Premier League games, increasing the pressure on Chelsea and Tottenham in the battle for a Champions League spot.
Rosicky broke the deadlock with his first league goal of the campaign and then added a second early in the second period.
West Brom midfielder James Morrison reduced the arrears from the penalty spot after Per Mertesacker was red carded for bringing down Shane Long but the Gunners held on to claim the three points.
Victory enabled Arsene Wenger’s side to climb above Chelsea into fourth spot and they are now only a point behind Spurs with their two main rivals both in action on Sunday.
Arsenal were worthy winners despite the continued absence of injured duo Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott and have the momentum — and no European distractions unlike their main competitors — entering the final phase of the season.
Rosicky’s overall contribution was impressive but there were also key performances from Santi Cazorla and skipper Mikel Arteta.
Albion only came to life after the introduction of substitute striker Romelu Lukaku and Mertesacker’s red card but they are comfortably placed in mid-table.
The Potters had looked like slowing their recent slide as Michael Kightly cancelled out an early Gabriel Agbonlahor effort.
But Lowton hit an unstoppable 30-yard volley to restore Villa’s lead after 87 minutes and Benteke made sure of the points in injury time.
The victory will give Villa, having started the game in the bottom three, a huge lift but a crisis is growing for the Potters.
Defeat left Pulis’s men just one point above Villa and with only one win in 13 games.
Any remaining hope Reading had of beating the drop appeared to be extinguished today as Nigel Adkins’s first home match at the helm ended in a 2-0 defeat to former club Southampton .
Another inspired performance from Jay Rodriguez proved the difference at the Madejski Stadium as Saints ran out comfortable winners, condemning the bottom-placed Royals to a seventh successive defeat.
The result leaves Reading seven points adrift of safety with just six matches remaining, making an immediate return to the Championship increasingly likely.
Talk in the build-up was about Adkins exacting revenge on the club that so harshly disposed of his services 78 days ago, despite having led Saints to back-to-back promotions.
However, after weathering the Royals’ early pressure, it was successor Mauricio Pochettino that enjoyed the spoils as Saints won a third successive Premier League match for the first time since 2003.
Rodriguez again proved the difference for Saints, bundling home the opener before rattling the crossbar as half-time approached.
The 23-year-old then turned provider in the second half as he sent a perfectly-weight ball to substitute Adam Lallana, who slotted home to push Adkins closer to the drop.
Norwich failed to distance themselves from the relegation battle after Luke Moore rescued a point for Swansea in a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road.
Awful defending at both ends contributed to an entertaining afternoon that could have seen either team finish winners, with the most frenzied action unfolding during a roller-coaster second half.
Norwich pegged back Michu’s opener with goals from Robert Snodgrass and Michael Turner that appeared to have secured three important points which would have eased their relegation concerns.
But Moore had the final say 15 minutes from time, denying the Canaries only their third league victory since December.