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The championship race was thrown wide open this weekend with Manchester United and Newcastle taking advantage of Arsenal’s shock 2-0 defeat at Blackburn.

Damien Duff and Tugay condemned the Gunners to their first defeat in 2003 to take all three points.

Meanwhile, Manchester United ground out a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, with David Beckham getting the only goal of the game.

Newcastle United carried on their impressive run with a 2-0 win at the Valley against Charlton. Alan Shearer scored the first goal from the penalty spot after the impressive Craig Bellamy was brought down and Nolberto Solano secured the points after converting a low cross from Bellamy.

Bobby Robson was delighted with the win and said afterwards: “It was a big win for us today with Arsenal losing. I wasmore hopeful that Manchester United would give up something at Villa but whatever way it is an excellent day for us.”

At the other end of the table, Mick McCarthy’s first game in charge of Sunderland ended in a disappointing 2-0 defeat against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers. Jay Jay Okocha and Henrik Pedersen scored the goals to leave Sunderland favourites for the drop.

West Bromwich Albion’s future in the Premiership also looks bleak as they slumped to defeat at high-flying Chelsea. Gary Megson’s side could do nothing as Mario Stanic and then Gianfranco Zola kept Chelsea on course for a Champions League place.

West Ham picked up a useful point in their fight for survival with a 0-0 draw at Everton.

Southampton came from behind at Loftus Road to draw 2-2 with Fulham. Fulham had raced into a 2-0 lead through Louis Saha and a Michael Svensson own goal. But Gordon Strachan’s side fought back with goals from James Beattie and Michael Svensson atoning for his earlier error.

Robbie Fowler scored his first goal for Manchester City as they beat Birmingham 1-0.

Middlesbrough’s Juninho continued his comeback from injury with one of the goals in a 3-2 win over Leeds.

England trio Michael Owen, Emile Heskey and Steven Gerrard all scored in Liverpool’s 3-2 win at Tottenham to keep the pressure up on the top teams.

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