April 20 (Bloomberg) -- Reading and Queens Park Rangers moved to the verge of relegation from English soccer’s Premier League today as Arsenal moved back into third place.
Reading lost 2-1 at Norwich and QPR was beaten at home by Stoke 2-0 to leave both teams anchored at the bottom of the standings with 24 points, 10 fewer than Aston Villa just above the three teams that are relegated to the second-tier Championship.
Arsenal beat Fulham 1-0, as both teams finished with 10 men, to move above Chelsea into third place. West Ham beat Wigan 2-0, Sunderland defeated Everton 1-0, West Brom drew 1-1 with Newcastle, while Swansea and Southampton finished 0-0.
Norwich’s second win in 17 games helped improve its chances of remaining in the top division and pushed Reading to the brink of demotion.
Ryan Bennett and Elliott Bennett scored 90 seconds apart early in the second half to give Norwich a 2-0 lead, before Garath McCleary scored a consolation goal for Reading.
Norwich moves to 38 points, seven more than Wigan in the final relegation place, while Reading is winless in 10 matches.
Stoke’s second win in 15 games moved it six points clear of Wigan in the race to avoid relegation. Peter Crouch gave the Potters the lead late in the first half and Jonathan Walters clinched the victory with a penalty kick in the 77th minute.
Both Reading and QPR have four games left and will be relegated if Aston Villa defeats league leader Manchester United in two days.
Arsenal struggled to win at Fulham even though it played almost 78 minutes with a man advantage.
Fulham’s Steve Sidwell was shown a red card in the 12th minute for a lunging tackle on Mikel Arteta. Arsenal then took the lead just before halftime on Per Mertesacker’s header.
Fulham looked to have tied the game with 13 minutes remaining, but Stanislav Manolev was offside when he put in the rebound after goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny knocked away Kieran Richardson’s free kick. Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud was then sent off in the final minute for a challenge on Manolev.
Arsenal is two points ahead of Chelsea and five clear of Tottenham in the race for the final two qualifying places in the Champions League, though it’s played two more games than its challengers.
Wigan’s chance of avoiding the drop were damaged by its loss at West Ham, which got goals from Matt Jarvis and Kevin Nolan. The Latics have 31 points, three fewer than Aston Villa.
Stephane Sessegnon’s goal gave new Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio a victory in his first home game and moved the Black Cats six points clear of relegation. Everton’s Champions League chances took a hit as it fell five points behind fourth-place Chelsea, which has two games in hand.
Newcastle remains in the relegation fight after its 1-1 draw at West Brom. Yoan Gouffran put the Magpies, who have 37 points, in front in the eighth minute before West Brom’s Billy Jones scored in the second half.
Southampton extended its unbeaten run to six games and moved eight points clear of relegation after its goalless draw at Swansea.
Tottenham hosts Manchester City and Chelsea visits Liverpool in tomorrow’s games.
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