Arsenal, Hull, Coventry and Bristol Rovers
Premier League ~ Baggies pay the penalty at Arsenal
Arsenal got their first win in four games with a 2-0 home victory over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. The Gunners had slipped to tenth in the table following their defeat to Swansea at the start of December. However two penalties from Mikel Arteta, the first awarded controversially after Steven Reid was adjudged to have fouled Santi Cazorla, gained Arsenal the three points. They are now just one place and two points behind fifth-placed West Brom, who have lost three games in a row.
Wenger said: "I feel overall we played well. We were a bit lucky maybe on the first penalty because he could have given it or not given it. For the rest we created many chances, kept a clean sheet and have shown a great spirit, which many people questioned after our last game. That's all we could do, we did our job very well. They tried to stop us playing, they are physically strong and they played deep. Their keeper started very early in the game to gain time, and we were a bit nervous. I think that showed in the way we took our chances. But you could feel that we were ready for a fight and we knew we absolutely had to win this game. We did it and somewhere, with top-level sportsmen, when you have to win, you win. To deal with the nerves and be serious and resolute, that is what we have shown today."
Championship ~ Tigers tame Hornets
Hull City beat Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road to earn their third straight away victory and move up to fourth in the Championship table. David Meyler, on loan from Sunderland, headed in to put the visitors ahead just before half time then Robbie Brady scored from a free kick to make it 2-0 on 73 minutes. Watford had not lost for seven games but a late consolation from Troy Deeney was not enough to stop that run ending. Hull have the best away record in the division so far and Steve Bruce's team are aiming for automatic promotion.
Brady said: "I'm not sure what's different but there's a better feel to it this year, there's a lot of belief. Not that there wasn't last season but we're more set this year and everyone knows what we're striving for. We're all together and there's great depth in the squad too. That's what gives us the extra edge. These are a great bunch of lads who have been playing well and it's not lucky to be where we are."
League One ~ Coventry cruise past Walsall
Coventry City scored five goals for the second time in four league games as they continued to ease their relegation worries. The Sky Blues did not win in their opening eight league games but are now on a run of just one defeat in seven. Things weren't looking good for the home side, who it was revealed last week are facing a £1.1 million rent demand on the Ricoh Arena, when a Blair Adams own goal put Walsall ahead after 16 minutes. By half time it had turned around though, Carl Baker levelling before David McGoldrick – the league's top scorer – scored twice to make it 3-1. Cyrus Christie and another from Baker completed the rout in the second half. It leaves Coventry in 15th place, with Walsall 19th.
Speaking about the off-field problems of the club, McGoldrick said: We've had reassurances from the gaffer who has made it clear that it won't affect things on the field. In respect of the boys' wages being paid I don't think that will be a problem so it's between the owner and the company who run the Ricoh and I don't see it having a bearing on my decision. Coventry are talking to me and Forest and there are things going on." He went on: "There have been a couple of clubs I was going to go to at the start of the season suddenly turning up at games. It's funny that they didn't want me and now they are sniffing about, but I have had no other offers from anyone else."
League Two ~ Pirates put to sword by Daggers
Bristol Rovers lost for the fourth time in five games, going down 1-0 a home to Dagenham and Redbridge. The only goal of the game came from Sam Williams on 19 minutes, when he met a Matt Saunders cross on the volley from 12 yards out. Although Daggers keeper Chris Lewington made some good saves to keep his side ahead, the Rovers fans jeered on the final whistle and some stayed behind to make their displeasure known to the boardroom. Their side have slipped to second-bottom of League Two and bottom of the form table, having gained four points from a possible 27 over the last nine games.
After the game Rovers chairman Nick Higgs said: "I see no evidence of the team not trying. We are simply not taking our chances when on top and have been guilty of some kamikaze defending. Mark [McGhee] was brought to the club because we felt he was the right man to do a long-term job and that remains the case. Plans are already in place to strengthen the squad after Christmas. We have a list of targets and have been meeting up with agents over the past ten days. There is no problem between Mark and the players already here. We just can't seem to get it right on the pitch at the moment and no one is more frustrated about that than I am. The supporters pay their money and are entitled to criticise at times like this." Tom Hocking