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City out of top 4 after fifth consecutive draw

BIG-SPENDING Manchester City was held to a fifth consecutive draw in the English Premier League after finishing 3-3 with Burnley, while Arsenal boosted its title hopes by routing Wolverhampton 4-1 yesterday.

City fought back from being two goals down to lead Burnley 3-2, but Kevin McDonald's late strike earned Burnley its first point on the road.

"It is frustrating and disappointing because we got ourselves into a winning position," City manager Mark Hughes said. "We have to learn to see games out because we have drawn two games at home from winning positions.

"We are 11 games into the season and we have done OK, no more, no less. There are times when we look what we are - a team coming together and trying to gel."

City's place in the top four was taken by Tottenham, which beat Sunderland 2-0, slipping to sixth behind Aston Villa, which thrashed Bolton 5-1.

After 11 matches, Arsenal is two points behind leader Chelsea and above defending champion Manchester United on goal difference. Chelsea hosts United today in their 12 match of the campaign.

City has not won since September and the draw with Burnley comes before a visit next week to Abu Dhabi to meet the club's owner Sheikh Mansour, who has lavished around $200 million pounds on the squad since last season.

It was Joleon Lescott, the 24-million pound ($40-million) recruit from Everton, who got City's afternoon off to the worst possible start at Eastlands.

The England center back handled Tyrone Mears' cross to concede a penalty that was dispatched into the bottom right by Graham Alexander in the 19th minute.

City's fortunes took a further turn for the worse when Steven Fletcher tapped home at the far post.

But Shaun Wright-Phillips pulled one back before the break with a 20-meter (yard) shot that deflected off Burnley defender Stephen Jordan and City was quickly on the offensive after the restart.

Lescott helped to atone for the penalty by picking out an unmarked Toure, who slotted in the equalizer at the far post. Inside three minutes Bellamy put City ahead - only for substitute McDonald to stun City by slotting in Burnley's equalizer.

By contrast, Arsenal has won six of its last seven league matches to boost its chances of a first title since 2004.

Wolves gifted the visitors a 2-0 lead inside 31 minutes with Ronald Zubar and Jody Craddock scoring own goals before Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas added a third in first-half stoppage time. Andrey Arshavin completed the emphatic victory in the 66th, although Wolves scored a late consolation with Craddock finding the right net.

Spurs took the lead when Peter Crouch headed through to Keane and the Ireland striker bundled the ball over the line in the 14th minute.

Bent, returning to White Hart Lane for the first time since his offseason departure, was booed after winning a penalty early in the second half when there appeared to be minimal contact from Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes. But Bent's low strike into the bottom right was saved by Gomes, who had only been shown a yellow card much to Sunderland manager Steve Bruce's annoyance.

"Bent was through on goal, it's a goal-scoring opportunity, and by the letter of the law he should be sent off," Bruce said. "He's had the chance to save the penalty, but he shouldn't have been on the pitch. And if we're playing 10 men who knows?"

English midfielder Tom Huddlestone secured Tottenham's win with a lethal strike from the edge of the penalty area that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Villa raced in front against Bolton with Ashley Young scoring after five minutes and Gabriel Agbonlahor adding another just before the break.

Despite Johan Elmander pulling one back for Bolton on the stroke of half time, there was no way back the visitors.

John Carew, James Milner and Carlos Cuellar all scored in the second half to make it a comfortable win for Martin O'Neill's side.

Blackburn moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-1 victory over Portsmouth, hitting back after Jamie O'Hara's early goal for the bottom-place visitors.

Jason Roberts, who had recovered from swine flu, came off the bench to score second-half goals either side of a strike by Ryan Nelsen to clinch Blackburn's 3-1 win.


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