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Torres at the double as Chelsea, Arsenal bite back

AFP
ANALYST
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1.26K   //    08 Dec 2012, 23:26 IST

LONDON (AFP) –

Chelsea's forward Fernando Torres celebrates

Chelsea‘s forward Fernando Torres celebrates after scoring a penalty for his second goal against Sunderland during their English Premier League football match at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, north-east England. Torres repaid Rafael Benitez’s faith as the much-maligned Spain striker fired Chelsea to a crucial 3-1 win at Sunderland

Fernando Torres claimed a brace as Chelsea ended a run of seven Premier League games without victory by prevailing 3-1 at Sunderland on Saturday in their last game before the Club World Cup.

The Spaniard had not scored in the league since October 6 but he found the net twice in the mid-week thrashing of FC Nordsjaelland in the Champions League and was in unforgiving mood once again at the Stadium of Light.

He opened his account in the 11th minute, guiding Eden Hazard’s cross into the top-left corner with a fine volley to end a 770-minute goal drought in the league.

Torres had been overlooked for penalty-taking duties in the 6-1 win against Nordsjaelland, but he notched his second goal from the spot on the stroke of half-time after Sebastian Larsson slid in on Ramires.

Arsenal's midfielder Mikel Arteta celebrates scoring his second penalty

Arsenal‘s midfielder Mikel Arteta celebrates scoring his second penalty during their English Premier League football match against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium in north London. Arsenal ended a run of four games without victory after Arteta’s controversial opening penalty helped them defeat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

Juan Mata made it 3-0 early in the second half, side-footing home after a Torres shot came back off the crossbar, before a fine effort from Adam Johnson gave Sunderland a consolation.

“It was a long time not to score in the Premier League, but I have scored a few this week, and I was very happy to see the team winning,” Torres told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We are playing a bit different now. We do not pass the ball as much as we did in the final third and we play a bit more direct. We are attacking more and creating more.”

It was a first win in four league games for interim manager Rafael Benitez and saw Chelsea close to within four points of second-place Manchester City, who trail leaders Manchester United by three points ahead of Sunday’s derby.

Arsenal also returned to winning ways after three games without victory, beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium through a pair of Mikel Arteta penalties to climb to sixth.

Wigan Athletic's James McCarthy (C) fights for the ball against Queens Park Rangers' Armand Traore (R)

Wigan Athletic’s midfielder James McCarthy (C) fights for the ball against Queens Park Rangers‘ defender Armand Traore (R) during their English Premier League football match at The DW Stadium in Wigan, north-west England. QPR manager Harry Redknapp was left looking for his first win since he took over at the Premier League bottom side after a double by McCarthy gave Wigan a deserved 2-2 draw.

Both penalties carried an air of controversy.

Prior to Arteta’s 26th-minute opener, Steven Reid was penalised for a foul on Santi Cazorla despite failing to make any contact with the Spanish midfielder, who collapsed theatrically.

Arteta’s second arrived in the 64th minute and although there was no doubt about Chris Brunt’s foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, West Brom felt the England winger had committed an offence of his own in the build-up.

“I spoke to Cazorla and he said that he (Reid) tapped him,” said Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger.

“Overall, we played well, created chances, and kept a clean sheet. There was no room for dropping any points and I feel it is a positive day.”

It was a third straight defeat for fifth-place West Brom, whose lead over Arsenal has been cut to two points.

Southampton's midfielder Jason Puncheon (L) clashes with Reading's defender Adrian Mariappa

Southampton’s midfielder Jason Puncheon (L) clashes with Reading’s defender Adrian Mariappa during their English Premier League football match at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England. A second-half goal from Puncheon gave Southampton a 1-0 win at home to Reading that took the Saints out of the relegation zone for the first time this term.

Bottom club Queens Park Rangers remain without a win in 16 games — a new Premier League record — after being held to a 2-2 draw at Wigan Athletic.

QPR captain Ryan Nelsen cancelled out James McCarthy’s 19th-minute opener for the hosts before substitute Djibril Cisse gave the visitors the lead from Shaun Wright-Phillips’ pass in the 71st minute.

Harry Redknapp was less than 20 minutes away from a first win as QPR manager, only for McCarthy to strike again in the 74th minute, controlling Jean Beausejour’s left-wing cross and then coolly prodding the ball home.

“It’s astonishing, to tell you the truth,” said Nelsen of QPR’s unwanted record. “There’s not been that many games where we have been out of it.

“There’s no excuses. We’re confident we can get out of it.”

Norwich City's striker Grant Holt (C) celebrates after scoring their third goal

Norwich City’s striker Grant Holt (C) celebrates after scoring their third goal in their English Premier League football match against Swansea City at Liberty Stadium in Swansea, South Wales. Norwich City claimed their first away win of the Premier League campaign and brought Swansea City’s six-game unbeaten run to an end with a 4-3 win in a spectacular match.

Southampton clambered out of the relegation zone and up to 15th place after a 61st-minute strike from Jason Puncheon secured a 1-0 win at home to second-bottom Reading.

The Saints’ win saw Sunderland slip into the bottom three, while Aston Villa fell one place to 16th after drawing 0-0 at home to Stoke City.

The clash at Liberty Stadium between Swansea City and Norwich City was a pulsating affair, the visitors winning 4-3 to end the Swans’ six-game unbeaten run and prolong their own run of games without defeat to nine matches.

Goals from Steven Whittaker, Sebastien Bassong and Grant Holt put Norwich 3-0 up at the break but Swansea came back into the game through Michu and Jonathan De Guzman before Robert Snodgrass’ 77th-minute free-kick made it 4-2.

Michu found the net again in injury time — his 12th goal of the season — but it was too late to prevent Norwich moving up to 11th.

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