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Arsenal and Liverpool secure vital wins

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arsenal beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 at Emirates with Thomas Vermaelen scoring twice
  • Aston Villa up to sixth with convincing 2-0 win over rock bottom Portsmouth
  • Fernando Torres scores twice as Liverpool beat West Ham 3-2 in late game

(CNN) -- Arsenal and Liverpool boosted their English Premier League title challenges with contrasting victories on Saturday.

Defender Thomas Vermaelen scored twice as Arsenal thrashed Wigan 4-0 at the Emirates, while Fernando Torres grabbed a double for Liverpool who were twice pegged back before securing a thrilling 3-2 win at West Ham.

With leaders Chelsea boasting a 100 per cent record after five games, Arsenal knew they could not afford to slip up against Wigan and two goals from Belgian Vermaelen either side of half time set them on their way.

Croatian international striker Eduardo claimed the third with a deflected shot and Cesc Fabregas wrapped up the victory in injury time.

It was Arsenal's second victory since their 4-2 thumping at Manchester City last weekend, having come from two goals down to beat Standard Liege in the Champions League in midweek.

Liverpool have also suffered two defeats in the early skirmishes in the title race, but showed their fighting qualities in the late kickoff.

Torres scored a superb solo opener in the 20th minute only for Alessandro Diamanti to level from the penalty spot for the Hammers.

Dirk Kuyt got the slightest of touches to Steven Gerrard's header to put Liverpool ahead again, but Carlton Cole equalized just before the break with a firm header.

Liverpool, who move up to third with their victory, owed the three points to a Torres header from a Ryan Babel cross on 75 minutes.

In other action, Aston Villa moved up to sixth with a 2-0 home win over Portsmouth, who are rock bottom after six straight defeats.

James Milner and fellow England international Gabriel Agbonlahor scored for Martin O'Neill's men at Villa Park.

Hull's dismal run continued with a 1-0 home defeat to promoted Birmingham with Gary O'Connor scoring the only goal.

Burnley, who went up with Birmingham, beat Sunderland 3-1 in an entertaining early kick off with David Nugent scoring a double, while Bolton and Stoke drew 1-1.

Sunday's key fixtures include the Manchester derby and Chelsea taking on Tottenham Hotspur in a capital derby.