Manchester City defeated Reading 1-0 with a late Gareth Barry goal to move within three points of the top of English soccer’s Premier League, while Arsenal climbed into third place with a 1-0 win at Wigan.
Barry muscled past the defenders of last-placed Reading to score in the 92nd minute. City now has 39 points after 18 matches, three behind Manchester United, which plays at Swansea tomorrow.
Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta scored a second-half penalty to get the win at Wigan, while Everton won 2-1 at West Ham in a game with two red cards. Tottenham couldn’t get past Stoke, finishing 0-0 at home, Newcastle beat Queens Park Rangers 1-0, Sunderland won 1-0 at Southampton and West Brom defeated Norwich 2-1. Liverpool beat Fulham 4-0.
Reading held City for most of the game before Barry knocked past Nicky Shorey to head in the ball. It was the midfielder’s first goal since August 2011.
“You have to be patient, but if we had scored one goal in the first half it would have changed the game,” City manager Roberto Mancini said in a broadcast interview. “You need to score quickly in these games and sometimes you take a risk to score. I think we deserved to win.”
Reading has nine points after 18 games, and is six points behind Southampton in 17th place. Manager Brian McDermott said the referee got the call wrong.
“That goal at the end is just wrong,” McDermott said. ‘He is on Nicky Shorey’s back and it is an absolutely certain foul. That decision today has killed us.”
Arsenal got a second half penalty to defeat Wigan. Jean Beausejour brought down Theo Walcott in the Wigan area and Arteta converted the penalty kick in the 60th minute. Wigan appealed for a handball a few minutes from the final whistle at the DW Stadium, but was turned down by referee Jon Moss.
“It was a tough game and Wigan can surprise a lot of teams,” Wenger said. “Once we were 1-0 up it was all Wigan but we were well organized.”
Arsenal’s third victory in a row pushes the Gunners into third place after 18 games with 30 points, one more than Chelsea, which has played two fewer matches, meets Aston Villa tomorrow. Everton, Tottenham and West Brom also have 30 points after 18 matches.
Wigan has lost six of its last eight matches, and are in 18th place, sitting in the relegation zone for the third straight Christmas.
At West Ham, Carlton Cole scored in the 14th minute to put the home side ahead, and was sent off for a high challenge after Victor Anichebe tied the game in the 64th minute. Steven Pienaar scored in the 73rd minute to move Everton into fourth place. Referee Anthony Taylor dismissed Darron Gibson in injury time to leave both sides with 10 men.
West Brom got goals from Zoltan Gera and Romelu Lukaku to end a five-hour period without scoring after trailing 1-0 to Norwich.
Steven Fletcher scored in the first half at Southampton and Sunderland held on to move four points above the relegation zone.
Newcastle got an 81st-minute goal from Shola Ameobi to give Harry Redknapp his first defeat as manager of QPR, which is in 19th place with 10 points.
Liverpool got goals from Martin Skrtel, Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez to beat Fulham at home. The Reds moved up to 8th place, even on points with Stoke and Norwich.