Liverpool 1-1 Blackburn: Maxi Rodriguez equaliser cancels out Charlie Adam own goal as Steven Gerrard returns from injury
The Scottish midfielder was unfortunate to see his attempted clearance go in but the Reds lacked cutting-edge yet again and were made to pay by Steve Kean's side
Liverpool dropped yet more points at home as they were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Blackburn Rovers.
A Charlie Adam own-goal had given Steve Kean's side an unlikely lead before Maxi Rodriguez saved a point with a second-half header.
Given Blackburn’s low confidence, it was no surprise when the hosts were the first to register a threat on goal. Luis Suarez was hauled down outside the box after a typically busy run and sent the resultant free kick just over the bar, much to the relief of Bunn.
Charlie Adam then tested the reserve keeper as his low drive from the edge of the box had him diving to his right to collect cleanly.
Suarez then served to emphasise the hosts’ domination despite that chance. A clever Maxi ball wide found Adam Johnson, whose first-time pass released the Uruguayan only for him to hit the side-netting. Just moments later he worked more space but shot wide on his left after jinking cleverly between two defenders.
For all the Reds’ domination it remained 0-0, and Andy Carroll underlined his side’s profligacy with half an hour gone as a cross bounced kindly for him a matter of yards out. He delayed to allow Bunn to make a reaction save which denied a sure goal.
The striker almost atoned moments later as he put the ball in the back of the net from a Suarez slide across goal but his celebration was cut short as the linesman flagged to signal that the Reds’ no. 7 had been offside before supplying the assist.
Against the run of play, Blackburn took the lead with 45 minutes on the clock. Hoilett harried Daniel Agger on the byline to win a well-earned corner, and after Pedersen delivered dangerously, Adam could do little more than shin into his own net.
The Reds had clearly seen heard some stern words at half-time and came out with increased purpose. Stewart Downing was key to this new attitude and did well to win a corner from Grant Hanley on the right-hand side. Whilst the set-piece was initially repelled, Martin Skrtel cleverly helped it back in towards Maxi, who was unmarked and headed home from close range.
The Reds sensed blood up against the frail confidence of a side bottom of the league, and it didn’t take long before they went close again with Andy Carroll heading just over.
As it happened, it took until the 65th minute and the introduction of captain Gerrard for Adam to really spark the Liverpool attack into life as the England midfielder provided much-needed urgency.
They were given a real scare, however, late on as David Dunn jinked from midfield but could not do more than poke wide under heavy pressure.
Poor finishing was ultimately to prove costly as the Reds stuttered to their sixth draw at Anfield of the season and Blackburn earned a much-needed point.
Chelsea 1-1 Fulham: Clint Dempsey cancels out Juan Mata’s opener to leave Blues’ fading title hopes in the balance
David Stockdale impresses for Martin Jol's side to as Andre Villas-Boas' winless run in London derbies continued after Stamford Bridge's Boxing Day stalemate
Clint Dempsey tapped home a well-crafted Fulham move as Martin Jol's side dented Chelsea's Premier League title aspirations.
Following a tepid first half, Andre Villas-Boas' side took the lead through Juan Mata's curling effort before their visitors struck back in a frustrating afternoon at Stamford Bridge.
The first effort of significance would come from the visitors, as Petr Cech needed to tip Dempsey's dipping effort wide.
Jol's side would then test their hosts again, as Orlando Sa managed to make space for a shot despite being outnumbered by John Terry and David Luiz. The Portuguese striker then spurned a glorious chance to put his side ahead, before some sublime combination play between Chelsea's Spanish contingent.
Juan Mata collected the ball on the right, roughly 30 yards from goal, and cut inside before lifting a weighted pass to Torres. The former Liverpool man took the ball obligingly - controlling it on chest - before volleying at goal only to be denied by Stockdale from close-range.
Torres tester | Spaniard went close with a well-taken effort on the volley
Despite the tepid nature to the match, neither manager looked to change things during the break, and considering the start his Chelsea made to the second half, Villas-Boas will have been delighted.
After making space in the middle of the park, Mata, played to ball to Romeu who then found Ashley Cole on the left. The England left back whipped in a ball which Torres struggled to tame, but the striker pushed the ball on to Mata who curled an effort past Stockdale to put Chelsea ahead.
Fulham's first half display was far from outstanding, although Jol would have been pleased with proceedings. But Mata's strike changed the match, and the visitors looked to hit back quickly.
And that's exactly what they did. Bryan Ruiz sold Cole a dummy on the right side of the box, jinking past the full-back before hitting a low delivery across the face for Dempsey to tap home, as once again Cech looked uncomfortable with players around him.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Sturridge was replaced by Didier Drogba, who is one short of equalling Chelsea's all-time goals record held by Peter Osgood.
With the game approaching the final 10 minutes, groans of anxiety seemed to echo around Stamford Bridge, as Fulham looked to claim what would have been only their fourth point in this fixture in the Premier League.
As the hosts clocked up their eighth corner of the game, Stockdale continued to stand strong, first denying Meireles before thwarting Drogba.
Chelsea were awarded a free kick in stoppage time, and again Fulham's keeper was on hand to rescue his side. Drogba unleashed a dipping thunderbolt which Stockdale did well to tip over the bar, as Jol's side held on to claim an important point.
Man Utd 5 - 0 Wigan
Berbatov was the Premier League's top goalscorer last season
Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick as Manchester United thrashed 10-man Wigan to move level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Park Ji-sung coolly slotted the hosts into an early lead before Wigan striker Conor Sammon was harshly sent off for catching Michael Carrick in the face.
Berbatov fired United 2-0 ahead and netted the third after the break with a neat turn and powerful finish.
Antonio Valencia rifled into the corner before Berbatov scored from the spot.
Wigan were enraged by referee Phil Dowd's decision to award the penalty for an Antolin Alcaraz challenge on Park which took place just outside the box.
But the scoreline did not flatter United, who have now hit 16 goals in four successive league victories to reignite their title challenge.
City's 0-0 draw at West Brom means both teams have 45 points, with City's lead on goal difference now cut to only five.
And United's victory was all the more impressive given the makeshift nature of a team depleted by illness and injuries.
Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia lined up in defence, Darron Gibson in midfield and Berbatov was handed a rare opportunity alongside Javier Hernandez up front.
For their part, Wigan came into the game off the back of impressive draws with Chelsea and Liverpool but, after conceding an early goal, their chances of getting anything out of the game were effectively ended by the dismissal of Sammon.
The striker's flailing arm caught Carrick in the face, but there appeared to be little aggressive intent in the incident.
The red card ended any chance of a contest, but in truth United had shown plenty of menace even before Park's early strike.
The goal was brilliantly created by Patrice Evra on the left, who skipped past two Wigan players and cut the ball back for Park to side-foot precisely into the net.
It was 15 minutes before Wigan enjoyed any sort of sustained possession, but when they did it prompted a great chance for Sammon.
Ronnie Stam's cross from the right was inviting for the lone striker but he inexplicably failed to get any sort of header on the ball.
United were soon back on the offensive with a Nani cross sparking mayhem in the Wigan box and Gibson, Ryan Giggs and Berbatov trying their luck from long range.
Stam remained Wigan's brightest spark, getting in behind Evra on the right and delivering a succession of crosses which Wigan's forwards were unable to make the most of.
The momentum swung back United's way as Sammon's controversial red card was swiftly followed by Berbatov's second goal in as many games.
A Gibson cross was flicked on by Hernandez to the Bulgarian, who held off Alcaraz and lashed home with his left foot.
United almost extended their advantage at the start of the second half, but Park's free header was directed straight at Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi.
Hernandez then had a penalty appeal turned down despite being wrestled to the ground by Maynor Figueroa.
United's sense of grievance was short-lived as Berbatov collected a pass from Valencia and fired past Al Habsi.
Valencia then made it 4-0 with a rasping drive across Al Habsi after a corner was cleared straight to Carrick.
Then came the penalty incident which presented Berbatov with the chance for his hat-trick, an invitation the Bulgarian gratefully accepted by passing the ball into the corner of the net.
Wigan never gave up but could not create a clear opportunity as United keeper Anders Lindegaard maintained his 100% Premier League clean sheet record.
Source: bbc sport
West Bromwich Albion 0 - 0 Manchester City
Baggies blow the title race wide open after holding City
Manchester City saw their two-point advantage at the top of the Barclays Premier League wiped out as they were frustrated at West Brom.
Mario Balotelli hit the bar and had a goal disallowed but City lacked their usual bite at The Hawthorns and were forced to settle for a goalless draw.
It could even have been worse for Roberto Mancini's men as Albion rose to the challenge and were unlucky when Jerome Thomas hit the post and Shane Long headed wide.
West Brom continued to pose a threat and Paul Scharner tried his luck with a low shot from 25 yards which, after a slight deflection, was turned behind by Joe Hart.
City should have taken the lead after 24 minutes when Sergio Aguero laid off for David Silva from a fine cross-field Nasri pass but the Spaniard side-footed over.
Balotelli got involved in the game when he won a free-kick outside the area and, much to his frustration, then stepped up to have a low shot deflected narrowly wide.
City then had two corners in quick succession and could have scored from the second of them when Yaya Toure put a free header wide.
City tried to pick up the tempo and Balotelli was unlucky when a Silva shot was deflected into his path and he volleyed in, only to see an offside flag raised.
West Brom threatened again on the counter-attack when Brunt found space on the left to curl in a dangerous cross for Long but Vincent Kompany slid in to make a vital interception.
Balotelli went down with a head injury after a clash with Peter Odemwingie just before the break but the Italian recovered and was soon back in the action.
Balotelli drew a foul from Olsson in a dangerous position early in the second half.
City made little from the free-kick but had a good spell of possession and Balotelli struck the top of the bar with a superb effort from 30 yards wide on the left.
West Brom may have been starved of the ball at times but looked comfortable when they had it and Kompany again got his body in the way as Odemwingie shot from 35 yards.
Long spurned a glorious chance just before the hour when City failed to clear and the ball was drilled to the back post but the Baggies striker headed wide from six yards.
City tried to show some urgency in response but Silva was unable to capitalise on some neat interplay and shot straight at Foster.
Aguero, perhaps surprised to be given onside from a Milner header, then miskicked attempting to toe-poke past Foster and Gareth McAuley cleared.
Albion had another chance from a free-kick but Brunt fired wide.
City appeared to be getting frustrated as Kolo Toure shot over and substitute Gareth Barry screwed another effort well wide.
West Brom were again unfortunate when Odemwingie teed up Thomas just outside the area and the midfielder struck a sweet shot against the foot of the post.
City changed their attack by sending on Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko and were denied with five minutes remaining when Olsson blocked from Silva.
Dzeko found space in injury time but shot well over the bar and West Brom claimed a deserved point.