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    Chelsea set for 2nd place, West Ham relegated

    London: Chelsea gained a sliver of compensation for a trophyless season by effectively securing the Premier League runners-up spot behind Manchester United despite being held to a 2-2 draw by Newcastle United on Sunday.

    Inconsistent Arsenal lost 2-1 to Aston Villa and they cannot now catch their fellow Londoners, although Arsene Wenger's side could still be pipped for third and the final automatic Champions League place by FA Cup winners Manchester City.

    West Ham United became the first team to be relegated after losing 3-2 at fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic, who seized a lifeline going into the finale of the season next weekend thanks to Charles N'Zogbia's stoppage-time winner in a frantic game.

    Just one point separates second bottom Wigan (39 points), Blackpool (39), Birmingham City (39), who lost 2-0 at home to Fulham, Wolverhampton Wanderers (40) and Blackburn Rovers (40). West Ham are marooned on 33.

    "Everyone at Wigan can be very proud... I hope everyone can be proud of these players next week," Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said looking ahead to next week's clash at Stoke City.

    Liverpool missed the chance to secure fifth spot and a Europa League place at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur after a 2-0 home defeat to the London side who leapfrogged them into the European position.

    Manchester United (77 points) were crowned English champions for a record 19th time on Saturday.

    Chelsea, who have 71 points and are unlikely to be denied second unless they lose next weekend and Manchester City win their final two games by a huge margin, twice threw away the lead against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.

    Branislav Ivanovic fired Chelsea into a second-minute lead but his strike was quickly cancelled out when Ryan Taylor blasted in a free kick that ricocheted off the shoulder of Jonas Gutierrez and wrongfooted Petr Cech.

    Brazilian defender Alex headed home to put Chelsea 2-1 up but Steven Taylor earned Newcastle a point in stoppage time.


    Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, who steered the Blues to the title in his first season in charge last term, again faced questions over his Stamford Bridge future.

    "I don't know what happens, we have to wait and after that I can explain," the Italian told Chelsea's website (www.chelseafac.com).

    "Everyone can give their opinion about my job here but it is the club that has to take a decision and judge my job.

    "If my job is good I will stay. If they think my job was not good I have to go. In my opinion sometimes I did a good job, sometimes I could do better."

    Two goals from Darren Bent inflicted a fourth home league defeat of the season on Arsenal, who could only reply a minute from time through Robin van Persie.

    Liverpool's first game since Kenny Dalglish was appointed permanent manager on Thursday ended in bitter disappointment at Anfield.

    Dalglish has dragged Liverpool from the threat of relegation to contention for European qualification but a superb strike from Rafael van der Vaart and a Luca Modric penalty put Spurs in pole position for Europa League football next season.

    West Ham will start next season in the Championship (second division) after their already slim hopes of staying up were quashed by a Wigan revival.

    Two goals from Demba Ba had West Ham 2-0 up in the first 26 minutes but N'Zogbia started the comeback with a ferocious free kick 12 minutes after the restart.

    Substitute Conor Sammon made it 2-2 on 68 before N'Zogbia sent the Wigan fans into a frenzy when he won it at the death.