Arsenal squander four-goal lead

Newcastle stage one of the greatest fight-backs in English Premier League history as leaders United suffer first loss.

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger can't hide his frustration as his team fail to hold the Newcastle comeback [AFP]

    Newcastle United staged one of the English Premier League's most sensational comebacks to draw 4-4 at home to second-placed Arsenal, after trailing 4-0 at half time on Saturday.

    The Gunners were 3-0 ahead inside 10 minutes thanks to goals from Theo Walcott, Johan Djourou and Robin van Persie. Van Persie headed in the fourth before half time and the game looked all but over.

    But after Abou Diaby was sent off in the 50th minute for a push on Joey Barton, the home side struck four times to grab an unlikely point.

    Leaders Manchester United suffered their first defeat of the season as they went down 2-1 at bottom club Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    In a record-breaking day of goals, Carlos Tevez scored a hat-trick before half time for third-placed Manchester City in a 3-0 win against West Bromwich Albion, twice converting from the penalty spot, as City closed the gap on United.

    Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur moved level on points with Chelsea after substitute Niko Kranjcar's last-gasp winner in a 2-1 home victory over Bolton Wanderers while sixth-placed Sunderland suffered a 3-2 defeat at Stoke City after twice leading.

    Big blow

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger watched on in disbelief as his side blew a chance to keep the pressure on United when a fourth consecutive Premier League victory appeared to be in the bag.

    The Gunners were at their fluent best in the first half against a Newcastle side still reeling from the transfer deadline day departure of star striker Andy Carroll.

    Andrey Arshavin's flick released Walcott, who slotted past Steve Harper in less than a minute, and with three minutes gone, Djourou headed in his first goal for Arsenal to make it 2-0 before Van Persie converted Walcott's cross for the third goal after 10 minutes.

    When Van Persie headed in for 4-0 from Bacary Sagna's cross, some Newcastle fans began to head for the exit.

    The turning point came when Diaby reacted to Barton's firm challenge by pushing the midfielder over, earning himself a straight red card.

    Barton began the comeback from the penalty spot after Laurent Koscielny brought down Best, who then scored a close-range effort to make it 4-2 with 15 minutes remaining.

    Barton stepped up to the spot again after Koscielny was adjudged to have fouled Mike Williamson before Tiote's first goal for Newcastle - a left-footed volley - earned the Magpies a point.


    EPL results & fixtures

    Saturday February 5

     Stoke 3-2 Sunderland
     Aston Villa 2-2 Fulham
     Everton 5-3 Blackpool
     Man City 3-0 West Brom
     Newcastle 4-4 Arsenal
     Tottenham 2-1 Bolton
     Wigan 4-3 Blackburn
     Wolves 2-1 Man Utd

    Sunday February 6

    West Ham v Birmingham
     Chelsea v Liverpool

    "At 4-1 we panicked a bit," Wenger told Sky Sports News after the game, saying the match careered out of his side's control after Diaby's sending off.

    "I think Diaby was too nervous in his reaction but Barton should have been sent off too for the tackle.

    "They got the penalty to make it 4-1 and we were under pressure then and it was hard to play at the pace we did in the first half especially when down to 10 men."

    Nani gave Manchester United an early lead but George Elokobi and Kevin Doyle replied before half time to earn Wolves victory.

    United had not lost in the league since a home defeat by Chelsea last April and were one match away from beating the club record 29-game unbeaten league sequence set by their 1999 treble-winning team.

    The defeat also ended United's hopes of equalling Arsenal's 2003-04 feat of going through an entire Premier League season unbeaten. United's lead at the top is now four points over Arsenal.

    Tevez firing

    Man City avoided any dramas as Tevez celebrated his 27th birthday with an inspirational display against West Brom to take his tally for the season to 20.

    The Argentine had already rattled the woodwork when he fired City ahead from the spot after 17 minutes.

    He made it 2-0 five minutes later after a silky one-two with David Silva and completed his hat-trick from the spot in the 39th minute after a handball by West Brom's Jerome Thomas.

    Louis Saha scored four times in Everton's 5-3 home win against Blackpool, Wigan Athletic beat Blackburn Rovers 4-3 to edge out of the bottom three and Aston Villa and Fulham shared four goals at Villa Park. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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