Chelsea back on track as Arsenal held

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LONDON, December 30- Arsenal missed the chance to go second in the Premier League after failing to protect a lead in a 2-2 draw away to 10-man Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Wednesday.
Meanwhile champions Chelsea, beaten 3-1 by Arsenal on Monday, returned to the top four and ended a six-game winless streak after a 1-0 victory at home to Bolton Wanderers.

At Anfield, Wolves moved off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win away to Liverpool that piled the pressure on Reds manager Roy Hodgson.

Two goals in six minutes near the end of the first half from Arsenal’s Andrey Arshavin and Nicklas Bendtner saw the Gunners recover after Ben Watson had put Wigan ahead from the penalty spot at the DW Stadium.

It seemed as if Wigan had blown their chances of an equaliser when Charles N’Zogbia was sent-off in the 78th minute after recklessly leaning his head into Arsenal substitute Jack Wilshere.

But three minutes later Wigan were level when Arsenal’s Sebastien Squillaci turned a header across goal from Hugo Rodallega into his own net.

The draw left Arsenal third, two points behind leaders Manchester United and second-placed Manchester City, while the result saw Wigan climb out of the relegation zone.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who made eight changes to the team that beat Chelsea, told the BBC: "I felt we produced an outstanding performance and we are frustrated not to have won the game.

"We were very good in the first half and not quite so good in the second, but it’s partly because of the number of games we are playing we made so many changes," the Frenchman said as he defended his selection policy.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez added: "I’m extremely proud of the players, I think they produced a really good performance."

Chelsea were booed off at half-time by their own fans at Stamford Bridge after a dire first half where neither they nor sixth-placed Bolton managed a shot on target.

But the jeers became cheers just after the hour mark when Malouda turned in a Didier Drogba cross at the far post.

Victory left Chelsea four points behind United, who have a game in hand.

"I think it was the most important thing to change the atmosphere, to change the trend, to come back to win," said Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti.

"This was the most important thing," the Italian added.

Liverpool, kings of English football from the mid 1970s through the 1980s, had already lost at Anfield to newly-promoted Blackpool this season.

But this defeat, against a Wolves side that had not previously won away from home this term, was arguably even worse.

Stephen Ward sealed a priceless win for Wolves in the 56th minute when, played onside by Liverpool’s Glen Johnson, he ran through and scored to give the Black Country club their first win over the Merseysiders in 26 years.

"It was a bad day at the office," said Hodgson, who faced mocking taunts from sections of the Anfield crowd during the match.

"The fans have left angry and that’s understandable. However, it would be dangerous to clear a lot of players out on the basis of one game.

"Panic would be the wrong thing to do but I’m not the sole arbiter of that."

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said: "We’ve played well tonight but we were hopeless on Sunday (in a 2-1 defeat by Wigan), so let’s not get too carried away. Stephen Ward is an unsung hero."

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