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Arsenal Fail To Close Gap On Man United

Arsenal blew a great opportunity to put pressure on Manchester United ahead of their game at Liverpool tomorrow, buy being unable to beat Sunderland at home.

For the second time in less than a week, a referee has had a major impact on the title race.

In midweek it was Martin Atkinson failure to send-off David Ruiz and subsequent decision to give Chelsea a penalty less than 10 minutes from time that decided that game.

Today it was referee Anthony Taylor’s turn, as he missed two crucial decisions which would have given Arsenal all three points.

First, Andrei Arshavin was pushed off balance by Titus Bramble in the box as he struck the ball from a few yards out. The push was enough to see his shot go wide and a penalty should have been awarded. Then, Arshavin beat the offside trap but was wrongly flagged for offside.

Sunderland, who had lost their last four, left the Emirates with a share of the spoils despite Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh striking the woodwork late on. The result means United can extend their advantage to six points if they win tomorrow.

West Ham climbed out of the bottom three courtesy of a 3-0 home win against Stoke City. Dember Ba, who Stoke decided not to sign in the January transfer window, scored his fourth in three matches for the Hammers.

Dropping into the drop zone are League Cup winners Birmingham City, who lost 3-1 to fellow strugglers West Brom. Birmingham’s saving grace could be that they have games in hand over the teams around them.

Another team heading the wrong way is Blackburn Rovers who lost 3-2 to Fulham today. Since firing Sam Allardyce before Christmas, Rovers have slowly drifted down the table and are starting to find themselves involved in the relegation battle.

Elsewhere, Newcastle United lost 2-1 to visitors Everton despite taking the lead through Leon Best. Ivan Klasnić 86th minute goal was enough to help Bolton beat Aston Villa, while in the late game, David Silva’s goal earned third-placed Manchester City a 1-0 win against Wigan Athletic.