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Arsenal edges Fulham to climb to third

Arsenal held on to a 1-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday to climb up to third place in the Premier League table.

Per Mertesacker produced the lone goal of the game, striking just before halftime to help the Gunners improve to 63 points on the season. Arsenal can fall back into fourth place should Chelsea claim a victory over Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

A moment of madness in just the 12th minute of Saturday's affair saw the home side fall to 10 men as Steve Sidwell, starting his first match after serving a three-match ban, saw red due to a dangerous two-footed challenge on Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal struggled to make the most of the extra man, failing to put the Cottagers under much pressure until the 43rd minute when the visitors capitalized on a set piece. Laurent Koscielny got on the end of the long delivery into the box and headed the ball back across goal for Mertesacker to nod home from close range.

It looked as if the home side had grabbed an equalizer in the final 15 minutes when Stanislav Manolev turned in a rebound conceded by Wojciech Szczesny, but the Fulham defender was correctly ruled offside when the initial shot came in.

Arsenal was reduced to 10 men in 90th minute when Olivier Giroud, leading with his studs, went over the ball in a challenge for possession.

It ultimately made no difference as the Gunners held on for the narrow victory, strengthening their bid for Champions League football next season.

Fulham, winless in its last four matches, remains on 40 points.

Sunderland 1, Everton 0

Sunderland, England - Sunderland took another step toward safety on Saturday, claiming a 1-0 win over Everton at the Stadium of Light to move six points clear of the relegation zone.

The Black Cats took advantage of a giveaway from Leighton Baines to take the lead in first-half stoppage time.

The home side collected an arrant pass and worked it to Stephane Sessegnon, who advanced the ball before firing a low shot past Tim Howard. The American 'keeper got a hand to the shot but was unable to keep it out.

Sunderland improves to 37 points while Everton remains on 56 points, leaving the club's aspirations of European football next season in serious doubt.

Stoke City 2, QPR 0

London, England - Stoke City snapped a three-game losing skid and moved six points clear of the drop zone on Saturday thanks to its 2-0 defeat of QPR at Loftus Road.

Peter Crouch opened the scoring in the 42nd minute before Jonathan Walters converted a penalty kick 13 minutes from time to seal the victory and guide the Potters to 37 points on the campaign.

QPR remains on 24 points and can be assured of relegation if Aston Villa picks up a win over Manchester United on Monday.

Norwich City 2, Reading 1

Norwich, England - Norwich City strengthened its bid to remain in the Premier League next season by grabbing a 2-1 win over Reading at Carrow Road on Saturday.

The Canaries scored twice in quick succession thanks to goals from Ryan Bennett and Elliott Bennett in the 50th and 52nd minutes, respectively. Reading pulled one back in the 72nd minute through Garath McCleary, but it was not enough to see the Royals mount a comeback.

Norwich improves to 38 points on the season to move seven points clear of the danger area. Reading, like QPR, stays on 24 points and can be relegated from the top flight with an Aston Villa win on Monday.

West Bromwich 1, Newcastle 1

West Bromwich, England - Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion traded goals on opposite sides of halftime to split the points in a 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Yoan Gouffran gave visiting Newcastle the lead in just the eighth minute of play, but Billy Jones managed to draw the Baggies level in the 64th minute with his first goal of the season.

The result sees West Brom climb to 45 points while Newcastle improves to 37 points.

West Ham 2, Wigan 0

London, England -West Ham extended its unbeaten run in Premier League play to five games by earning a 2-0 victory over Wigan at Upton Park on Saturday.

The Hammers opened the scoring in the 21st minute through Matthew Jarvis and never looked back as Kevin Nolan's strike 10 minutes from time ensured another positive result for the London club.

West Ham has taken nine points from its last five games to climb to 42 points. Wigan's two successive losses leave the club occupying the final relegation spot on 31 points.

Swansea City 0, Southampton 0

Swansea, Wales - Swansea City and Southampton played to a 0-0 on Saturday, a result that keeps the two sides separated by three points.

There was not a great deal at stake at the Liberty Stadium as both sides are well-shy of European spots but comfortably above the relegation zone.

Swansea climbs to 42 points while Southampton, now riding a six-game unbeaten streak in league play, improves to 39 points.