Both managers of West Ham United and Everton seeing red, Liverpool hit form against Fulham.
Premier League round-up: 'Big win' moves Arsenal into third
Wigan Athletic 0 Arsenal 1 (Arteta 80')
Mikel Arteta scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the second half after Theo Walcott was judged to have been pushed in the area and Oxlade-Chamberlain, one of five players to sign new deals at Arsenal this week, believes Arsene Wenger, his manager, has got the mix right.
"The players that we've got here now, there's some really exciting young players," Oxlade-Chamberlain told Sky Sports after being named man of the match.
"I think it's a good mix of youth and experience. The future does look bright for us."
Oxlade-Chamberlain praised Wigan for their attacking approach despite being in the bottom three in the league.
He said: "They set up with a lot of men in midfield. In the first half it was hard to get to grips with their midfield at times."
Arteta thought there were encouraging signs for Wigan despite the loss. "I think they have been unlucky because the way they play is quite 'offensive'," he said.
The Spaniard was also happy to be able to celebrate three consecutive wins for Arsenal for the first time this season.
"It's a big win for us, that's three in a row now," said the former Everton man. "I am really happy with the points. It's been a tough game, the conditions were really difficult."
Wenger felt it was important to secure a third successive victory.
"It was very important because we beat West Brom at home and now we have two away wins [against Reading and Wigan]," he told Sky Sports.
"It was a difficult game because they stopped us from playing. I believe they are in the wrong position in the table."
Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, believes the referee Jon Moss was wrong not to award his side a late penalty after the ball struck Kieran Gibbs on the arm.
"The [Arsenal] penalty was very very soft, if anything, I think. Theo Walcott is very clever there," Martinez said.
"And then at the other end if you want to give a penalty where the hands are not in the natural position. I'm really disappointed because the players don't deserve the feeling that they've got now.
"We are in the middle of a period where calls are not going our way and we've got a few players missing. I thought we played really, really well. We played with a great mentality. The players displayed a big team mentality and I couldn't be prouder."
Liverpool 4 (Skrtel 08', Gerrard 36', Downing 51', Suarez 90') Fulham 0
Stewart Downing, the Liverpool winger, had a rare day to remember at Anfield as his first Premier League goal for the club wrapped up a comfortable victory.
Only last week the England international had admitted he may leave next month after manager Brendan Rodgers said he could go.
If that was the incentive to put himself in the shop window it worked as he registered his first league assist in setting up Steven Gerrard – after Martin Skrtel’s opener – and capped his performance with a goal of his own before Luis Suarez added an injury-time fourth.
Fulham, who have won just one of their last nine league matches and only one of their last 10 away from home, were very accommodating and festively came bearing gifts aplenty.
Martin Jol’s side left gaping holes all over the pitch and, unlike Aston Villa last week who were rewarded for all their harrying and hustling with a 3-1 win, Liverpool had plenty of time to take advantage.
As a result they moved up to eighth in the table, their highest position of the season, and five points adrift of the top four.
Unlike the previous week when Liverpool dominated the opening half-hour but failed to score and paid the price they got the break they needed early on.
Gerrard’s eighth-minute corner picked out Skrtel, who had barely moved, and with former Reds full-back John Arne Riise slow to close down the Slovakia international he brought the ball down and smashed a volley past Schwarzer.
In the 36th minute came Downing’s first significant intervention, with a brilliantly-disguised reverse pass from the edge of the penalty area deceived everyone except Gerrard.
Gerrard repaid the favour in the second half picking out Downing on the right wing and he cut inside before blasting home a shot. Suarez added a late fourth to take his tally this season to 11.
West Ham United 1 (Cole 14’) Everton 2 (Anichebe 64', Pienaar 73')
Both managers have said they will appeal the red cards handed to their players in which Anthony Taylor, the referee, was the pantomime villain in West Ham United and Everton’s final match before Christmas as two needless dismissals spoilt the visitor’s victory at Upton Park.
“It’s not right. It’s had a massive effect and we lose Carlton Cole but we will appeal immediately and hopefully they will see the sense and knock it down to a yellow,” Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager said.
“I don’t mind losing but not on a refereeing decision.”
David Moyes, his Everton counterpart, said he will appeal against the red card shown to the midfielder Darron Gibson: “I think I will [appeal]. I don’t think you could say it would be frivolous. Most people would say there is a genuine case.”
Everton, without the suspended midfielder Marouane Fellaini, went close early on when a Leighton Baines free kick was headed over by Sylvain Distin in the ninth minute.
Baines produced another fine set-piece three minutes later, his corner headed home by Leon Osman but ruled out seemingly for Victor Anichebe’s block on Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Everton’s players were furious and their anger only increased when Cole fired West Ham in front two minutes later, the striker cutting inside the recalled Johnny Heitinga far too easily before cracking in a low drive from the edge of the box.
Nikica Jelavic got his timing all wrong four minutes after half time when a rare mistake from James Collins saw the ball ricochet to the Everton striker, who could only send it straight at Jaaskelainen in the West Ham United goal.
West Ham’s Modibo Maiga was booked for pushing Steven Pienaar over in the 64th minute and, from the resultant free kick, the ball was worked left to the South African, whose cross was glanced home by Anichebe for his first goal in three months.
Just three minutes later Cole hung his leg out in a bid to control a dropping ball and made contact with Baines, prompting Taylor to show a straight red card.
Everton had the momentum now and in the 73rd minute Osman’s cross was inadvertently played against Pienaar by Kevin Nolan before trickling into the net.
Nolan was unable to prod home a dramatic equaliser from a good position as West Ham tried to salvage a point, then Gibson was sent off for crashing into Mark Noble in stoppage-time in a frantic finale.
Newcastle 1 (Ameobi 81') Queens Park Rangers 0
Local hero Shola Ameobi, right, came off the bench to hand Newcastle a welcome three points, giving his manager Alan Pardew an early Christmas present and ending Harry Redknapp’s undefeated record as manager of the west London side. It was no more than the home side deserved on a day when they dominated throughout, but too often lacked the guile of the injured duo Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Southampton 0 Sunderland 1 (Fletcher 42’)
Steven Fletcher, the Scotland international, scored three minutes from the end of the first half to prove the difference in an even encounter at St Mary’s. Only a point separated 16th-place Sunderland and the hosts coming into the match, with Southampton a place worse off than the north-east side. Southampton had a late penalty appeal waved away and Do Prado saw a stoppage-time shot blocked.
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Stoke City 0
Stoke lived up to their billing as one of the best defensive units around as they put in a stubborn display to deny Tottenham victory at White Hart Lane. Spurs could have gone third in the Premier League with a win, but the visitors proved too hard to break down thanks to a predictably tough display from Tony Pulis’s side. Andre Villas-Boas, the Spurs manager, regularly complained at the physicality of Stoke, who had four players booked.
West Brom 2 (Gera 43’, Lukaku 82’) Norwich 1 (Snodgrass 23’)
Romelu Lukaku, the West Brom forward, ended Norwich’s 10-game unbeaten record in the league. Robert Snodgrass gave the visitors an early lead after fit again Baggies keeper Ben Foster failed to keep out his dipping free kick. But Zoltan Gera ended West Brom’s near six-hour goal drought just before the break and then Lukaku headed the winner with eight minutes remaining.