The Sports Matrix: Wednesday 28 December 2011


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The Independent Online

Arsenal further off the pace after frustrating 1-1 draw

Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw with 10-men Wolves at the Emirates Stadium yesterday, meaning Arsène Wenger's side failed to take the chance to leapfrog Chelsea into fourth place. Gervinho put the hosts ahead in the eighth minute, Yossi Benayoun slicing open the Wolves defence with an inch-perfect pass to the forward, who rounded goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and found an empty net. But Wolves levelled before the interval. A corner was cleared only as far as Stephen Hunt, whose deflected effort found its way past Wojciech Szczesny via Steven Fletcher's head in the 38th minute. The visitors, though, had Nenad Milijas dismissed for a challenge on Mikel Arteta. But Robin van Persie, chasing the record for the most Premier League goals in one calendar year, and his Arsenal side could not take advantage and failed to score the winner after being denied by several superb saves from Hennessey. MORE

Evra: Team spirit will win us the title

Patrice Evra believes the "United spirit" will help Manchester United win the league title this season. "We're going to win because it's the team effort and team spirit," said the defender, whose side are second in the division but level on the points with leaders City. MORE

I want to join PSG, says Malouda

Florent Malouda has signalled that he is dissatisfied with life under Andre Villas-Boas, announcing that he favours a move next month to Paris St-Germain. He said: "I'm not getting enough playing time. If it is necessary, I will leave." MORE

Bale's brace closes gap on the leaders

Gareth Bale struck two second-half goals to help Tottenham beat Norwich 2-0 at Carrow Road and cut the gap at the top of the table to just seven points. Bale drove home in the 55th minute before speeding clear to find the net again 12 minutes later. MORE

Mackie puts end to Rangers' losing run

Jamie Mackie scored for the second game running to earn QPR a 1-1 draw at Swansea and end Rangers' run of three straight defeats. Mackie slotted home a 58th-minute equaliser after Swansea had led through Danny Graham's first-half goal. MORE

Celtic and Rangers now 'feeder clubs'

Mark Hateley, the former Rangers striker, feels Celtic and Rangers have had their status reduced to "feeder clubs" ahead of the game between the two sides at Celtic Park tonight. He said: "[They] are like feeder clubs now for the big clubs down south." MORE

Farrell ends Quins' unbeaten run

Leaders Harlequins suffered their first Premiership defeat of the season, falling 19-11 to defending champions Saracens. Owen Farrell helped Saracens win, converting David Strettle's try and booting four penalties, to close the gap at the top to five points. MORE

Booth plays down Armitage clash

London Irish head coach Toby Booth defended a first-half incident in his side's 29-22 Premiership victory over Exeter which involved Delon Armitage, the full-back clattering into Exeter's fly-half Ignacio Mieres. "It is a penalty at most," Booth said. MORE

Coyle: Wolves is 'our biggest game'

Bolton manager Owen Coyle is determined to see his side beat fellow strugglers Wolves at home on Saturday after they lost to Newcastle on Boxing Day. Coyle said: "[Saturday's] our biggest game of the season absolutely and we have to make sure we're ready."

Interview: George North

"At the end [of Wales' World Cup semi-final defeat to France], I was so tired I could barely walk. I lay down on the floor of the changing room and stayed there for half an hour, silent. It was the worst I had ever felt about rugby." MORE