London – Theo Walcott scored the quickest Premier League goal of the season after 20 seconds on Saturday to give Arsenal a 1-0 win at relegated Queens Park Rangers and keep them a step ahead of rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the race for the Champions League.
Walcott pounced in the late kickoff at Loftus Road in west London just moments after Gareth Bale, newly crowned English player of the year, had celebrated a spectacular winner as Spurs beat Southampton 1-0 in north London.
Bale cut inside from the right and held off a defender before firing home from 25 yards in the 86th minute against his former club.
At the bottom of the table, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa also celebrated late victories to improve their chances of avoiding relegation to the Championship.
Callum McManaman scored in the 80th minute at the Hawthorns to give Wigan a 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion after Roberto Martinez's team had twice fallen behind.
Villa left Carrow Road with a 2-1 triumph over Norwich City courtesy of Gabriel Agbonlahor's double, including the 89th-minute winner.
Arsenal reclaimed third place on 67 points, two ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea, who visit champions Manchester United on Sunday. Spurs are fifth, also on 65 points, but have a game in hand on Arsene Wenger's side.
Second-placed Manchester City drew 0-0 at Swansea City On Saturday.
With Newcastle United drawing 0-0 at West Ham United, and Sunderland not playing - against Stoke City - until Monday, the relegation picture is also tight and unpredictable.
Just five points separate eight clubs between Wigan, in 18th place and the third relegation spot, and the Potters, who are 11th.
QPR and Reading, who beat Fulham 4-2 at Craven Cottage on Saturday, are already down. – Reuters