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Published: 17:25 | 9/4/16

PL: Saints and Swansea win

Villa and Newcastle edge closer to the drop

There was plenty of drama in an exciting day of action in the Barclays Premier League as Newcastle and Aston Villa edged closer to the drop, while Swansea ensured their top flight survival with a win over Chelsea.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace secured their first league win of 2016 with a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers Norwich, while Watford and Everton drew 1-1.

Swansea climbed to 13th and inflicted a first league defeat on Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink with a 1-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

The home side dominated the first half and were deservedly ahead on 25 minutes through Gylfi Sigurdsson's low volley from the edge of the penalty area.

Chelsea had a goal ruled out for handball early in the second half while, at the other end, Swansea spurned several chances to extend their lead, but they had done enough and must surely be safe now on 40 points.

Southampton maintained their push for European football next season while edging Newcastle closer to the relegation trap door as they eased to a 3-1 victory over Rafa Bentitez's side at St Mary's.

Shane Long capitalised on some indifferent defending to fire the Saints ahead on four minutes before Graziano Pelle doubled the advantage with a simple side-foot finish seven minutes before the break as the Magpies defence were again marked absent.

The points were sealed ten minutes into the second half as Victor Wanyama pounced on the rebound after Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow had saved from Pelle.

Andros Townsend pulled one back for the visitors on 65 minutes, but they never looked likely to take anything from the contest and don't look to have enough to save themselves from the drop.

Crystal Palace moved closer to Premier League safety after beating fellow strugglers Norwich 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Chances were at a premium for both sides throughout, but Jason Puncheon finally broke the deadlock with a fine turn and shot from the edge of the penalty area on 68 minutes.

Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey saved superbly from Ryan Bennett shortly afterwards but Alan Pardew's side held on for a crucial victory which puts them on the brink of safety.

Watford and Everton played out a 1-1 draw at Vicarage Road, a result which keeps both sides in the lower mid-table doldrums.

James McCarthy capitalised on a mistake in the home defence to race through and score for Everton in the first minute of first half stoppage time, but Jose Holebas headed Watford level two minutes later.

Romelu Lukakau rattled the crossbar midway through the second half, but that was the closest either side came to breaking the dealock as the points were shared.

Aston Villa are all but relegated from the Premier League for the first time in their history after going down 2-1 to Bournemouth at Villa Park who now look set for a second season in the top flight.

Steve Cook opened the scoring in first half stoppage time with a neat finish from Simon Francis's low cross before Josh King sealed victory with a clever dink over Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan 16 minutes from time.

Jordan Ayew gave the home fans a glimmer of hope five minutes from the end, but they couldn't find a leveller and only a bizarre series of results can now see them catch 17th place Norwich who have a vastly superior goal difference.

In the early kick-off, Andy Carroll scored a hat-trick in eight minutes either side of half-time for West Ham before a late Laurent Koscielny goal ensured a share of the spoils for Arsenal after a thrilling 3-3 draw at Upton Park.

Goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez provided the perfect start for Arsene Wenger's side as they looked to keep their faint title hopes alive, but man-of-the-match Carroll struck twice in two minutes just before the break to level matters before shooting the Hammers ahead seven minutes after the restart.

Arsenal hit back through Koscielny's close-range effort after the West Ham failed to clear a corner, but there were boos at the final whistle from the visiting fans with the realisation that yet another season is set to end in disappointment.

The result also does few favours for Slaven Bilic's outfit, who remain in sixth place one point behind Manchester United.

By: Kieran O'Daly

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