United go top as Chelsea stumble
Robin van Persie piled on the misery on former club Arsenal as Manchester United went top of the Premier League with a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford yesterday.
Victory in this early kick-off match saw United supplant Chelsea in first place and that is where they stayed after the European champions were held to a 1-1 draw at Swansea.
Premier League title holders Manchester City could have drawn level at the summit with United but instead were left two points adrift of their local rivals following a goalless draw away to West Ham in the day’s late kick-off.
In Manchester, Van Persie needed fewer than three minutes to put United in front before Patrice Evra doubled their lead in the 67th minute.
Arsenal’s day got worse when midfielder Jack Wilshere, in only his second game back following a long injury lay-off, was sent off for a second bookable offence after he caught Evra on the ankle.
“It was a special day, in the end it was about the game and I think we played well,” Van Persie told Sky Sports.
United manager Alex Ferguson praised Van Persie’s goal and his all-round performance by saying: “It was an ideal start for the Manchester United cause and it was good for Robin. I thought he was fantastic today. His movement, his penetration was fantastic.”
Van Persie, playing against Arsenal for the first time since his £24 million pre-season move from the Gunners, wasted little time in giving United the lead.
He struck in the third minute when, after Thomas Vermaelen failed to clear a Rafael cross, he shot into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.
It was the 29-year-old van Persie’s 10th goal in 13 United appearances.
United should have doubled their lead shortly before half-time when they were awarded a penalty after Santi Cazorla blocked Ashley Young’s cross with his arm.
But England striker Wayne Rooney drilled his spot-kick wide of the left post.
However, Evra did make it 2-0 when he headed in a Rooney cross following a short corner.
Cazorla pulled a goal back for Arsenal with virtually the last kick of the match, but by then the damage had been done and Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said afterwards: “It was important not to put ourselves in trouble, which is what we did.”
Nigeria winger Victor Moses gave Chelsea a 61st minute lead at the Liberty Stadium with a flick-on after Gary Cahill’s header from an Eden Hazard corner.
But Pablo Hernandez’s equaliser two minutes from time saw the points shared.
“It is a disappointment we weren’t able to finish the game off,” said Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo.
At Upton Park, Manchester City were fortunate to remain the only unbeaten side in English football’s top flight this term following a fourth draw in 10 league games.
They nearly fell behind early on when West Ham midfielder Kevin Nolan lashed a volley into the net only for his effort to be unluckily ruled out for offside.
And the Londoners suffered more bad luck when another volley, this time from Israel’s Yossi Benayoun, hit the post before England striker Andy Carroll added to their frustrations by shooting wide.
Still in the first half, City’s Mario Balotelli then wasted a chance to open the scoring by volleying over from eight yards out.
This was the first goalless draw involving City in 42 matches.
Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini scored twice as Everton replaced Tottenham Hotspur in fourth place on goal difference with a 2-2 draw at Fulham.
Spurs dropped out of the Champions League positions after Wigan’s Ben Watson scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the visitors at White Hart Lane.
Elsewhere, Gabriel Agbonlahor scored for the first time in 29 league games as Aston Villa pulled clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win against a Sunderland side managed by former boss Martin O’Neill.
Meanwhile, Bradley Johnson headed in the only goal of the game a minute before half-time as strugglers Norwich beat Stoke 1-0 at Carrow Road.
Results and standings
Howard 7 og; Sidwell 90;
Fellaini 55, 72;
HT: 1-0. Att: 25,699.
Man. United 2
Van Persie 3; Evra 67;
HT: 1-0. Att: 75,492.
Missed penalty: Rooney (MU) 45.
Red card: Wilshere (A) 69.
Stoke City 0
HT: 1-0. Att: 26,000.
Aston Villa 1
HT: 0-0. Att: 40,000.
HT: 0-0. Att: 20,000.
HT: 0-0. Att: 36,000.
West Ham 0
Man. City 0
Liverpool vs Newcastle - 17:00
QPR vs Reading - 14:30
WBA vs Southampton - 21:00
8 goals: Van Persie (Man. United).
7 goals: Ba (Newcastle).
6 goals: Michu (Swansea), Suarez (Liverpool).
5 goals: Fletcher (Sunderland), Defoe (Tottenham), Dzeko (Man. City), Fellaini (Everton).
Saturday: 16.00 Arsenal vs Fulham; Everton vs Sunderland; Reading vs Norwich; Southampton vs Swansea; Stoke vs QPR; Wigan vs West Brom. 18.30 Aston Villa vs Manchester United.
Sunday: 14.30 Man. City vs Tottenham; 16.00 Newcastle vs West Ham; 17.00 Chelsea vs Liverpool.
Birmingham 0 - Ipswich 1
Bolton 2 - Cardiff 1
Burnley 2 - Wolves 0
Charlton 1 - M’boro 4
C. Palace 2 - Blackburn 0
Derby 4 - Blackpool 1
Huddersfield 1 - Bristol City 0
Hull City 1 - Barnsley 0
Nottm Forest 1 - Millwall 4
Sheff. Wed. 2 - Peterborough 1
Watford 2 - Leicester 1
Standings: Cardiff, M’boro 28; C. Palace 27; Leicester, Hull 25; Blackburn, Huddersfield 23; N. Forest, Wolves 21; Brighton, Derby, Leeds, Burnley 20; Millwall, Watford 19; Blackpool, Bolton 18; Birmingham 16; Sheffield Wed., Barnsley 15; Charlton 14; Peterborough 12; Bristol City 11; Ipswich 10.
FA Cup first round
AFC Fylde 1 - Accrington 4
Aldershot 2 - Hendon 1
Barnet 0 - Oxford United2
Bishop’s Stortford 1 - Hastings 2
Boreham Wood 0 - Brentford 2
Bournemouth 4 - Dagenham 0
Bristol Rovers 1 - Sheff. Utd 2
Bury 1 - Exeter City 0
Carlisle 4 - Ebbsfleet 2
Chelmsford 3 - Colchester 1
Cheltenham 3 - Yate 0
Chesterfield 6 - Hartlepool 1
Coventry 3 - Arlesey 0
Crewe 4 - Wycombe 1
Doncaster 3 - Bradford Park 1
Fleetwood 3 - Bromley 0
Forest Green 2 - Port Vale 3
Gillingham 4 - Scunthorpe 0
Guiseley 2 - Barrow 2
Hereford 3 - Shrewsbury 1
Kidderminster 0 - Oldham 2
Lincoln 1 - Walsall 1
Luton 1 - Nuneaton 1
Mansfield 0 - Slough 0
Metro Police 1 - Crawley 2
Morecambe 1 - Rochdale 1
Northampton 1 - Bradford City 1
Portsmouth 0 - Notts County 2
Preston 3 - Yeovil 0
Rotherham 3 - Stevenage 2
Southend 3 - Stockport 0
Swindon 0 - Macclesfield 2
Torquay 0 - Harrogate1
Wrexham 2 - Alfreton 4
York 1 - AFC Wimbledon 1
Braintree vs Tranmere - 13:30
Burton vs Altrincham - 16:00
Dorchester vs Plymouth - 17:30
Gloucester vs L. Orient - 16:00