Tottenham and Villa miss chances to close on top

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The Independent Football

Tottenham, Aston Villa and Sunderland all missed good chances to close on the leading teams at the top of the Premier League today.

Tottenham could have gone level on points with leader Manchester United with victory but stayed in third place after a 1-0 loss to visiting Stoke, while Aston Villa drew 1-1 at lowly Wolves.

Sunderland was hoping to move into the top four but lost 2-1 at Birmingham.

With Manchester United at fierce rival Liverpool in one of Sunday's four matches, Chelsea can overtake the defending champions if it beat visiting Blackburn later Saturday.

Spurs dominated visiting Stoke at White Hart Lane but played the last 13 minutes with 10 men after an injury to winger Aaron Lennon and conceded a goal with four minutes left.

Ricardo Fuller burst down the right and cut a pass back to substitute Glenn Whelan, who smashed a shot past goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Lennon limped off following a challenge from behind that went unpunished by the referee and Spurs had already introduced Michael Dawson, Pavlyuchenko and Jermaine Jenas as its three substitutes.

The latter were tactical, but Woodgate had to be replaced 14 minutes into his first appearance of the season after a blow to the head.

Tottenham's third loss of the season left it on 19 points and likely to be overtaken by Arsenal and Manchester City on Sunday.

The fourth-place Gunners are at West Ham, while fifth-place Manchester City hosts Fulham. Bolton hosts Everton in Sunday's other match.

Villa is two points behind Tottenham in sixth place.

It took the lead in the 79th at Wolves through Gabriel Agbonlahor's sixth goal of the season but Sylvan Ebanks-Blake equalized four minutes later with a penalty awarded for a foul by Steve Sidwell.

Liam Ridgewell and James McFadden gave Birmingham victory over Sunderland, which scored only in the 82nd through an own goal.

Hugo Rodallega scored twice to lead Wigan to a 3-1 win at Burnley, while Portsmouth and Hull stayed in the bottom three after a 0-0 draw at KC Stadium.