Rooney strikes and Man Utd look certain to take league title
Weekend talking points: City fail against Everton while battle for third and fourth places hots up
MANCHESTER UNITED stretched their lead to 15 points with a win over Reading while City slipped up against Everton to leave them little hope of catching their rivals with just nine matches left in the season. The race for third and fourth took further twists while at the foot of the table defeat for QPR and Reading leaves them seven points adrift of safety as Wigan grabbed a priceless win over Newcastle. Here are the main talking points this morning:
CAN MANCHESTER UTD FAIL NOW?
In a drab encounter against manager-less Reading, Wayne Rooney's strike on 21 minutes was enough for Manchester United to extend their unbeaten league run to 17 games. Alex Ferguson's side now need just 13 points from their remaining nine matches to secure their 13th Premier League crown. Reading, who have now lost their last five league matches, are level on points at the bottom of the table with QPR and whoever replaces Brian McDermott as manager – sacked last week – will have an almighty job on his hands to keep the Royals in the top flight.
CITY COME UNSTUCK AGAINST TOFFEES
Manchester City assistant coach David Platt admitted Manchester United have a "significant advantage" following the Sky Blues' 2-0 defeat away at Everton. It was a dismal performance from City, particularly given that the Toffees played 30 minutes with only ten men after the dismissal of Steven Pienaar. Goals from Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic moved Everton into sixth spot, two points behind Arsenal in fifth.
GUNNERS' CAMPAIGN NOT OVER YET
Fresh from their brave but ultimately futile defeat of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Arsenal continued their winning ways with a crucial defeat of Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. In the corresponding fixture at the Emirates earlier in the season, it was the Swans who went home boasting a 2-0 victory. But goals from Nacho Monreal and Gervinho kept Arsenal in contention for the all-important fourth spot. "We will know at the end of the season how important this win is," said Arsene Wenger. "We have shown we are up for the fight and we will do so until the end of the season."
SPURS SUNK BY OLD BOY BERBATOV
Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov scored the only goal of the game to inflict on Tottenham their first defeat at home since 3 November. Berbatov, who played for Spurs between 2006 and 2008, converted Sascha Riether's cross seven minutes into the second half as the Lilywhites suffered their second consecutive Premier League reverse. The defeat means Spurs drop to fourth, a point behind Chelsea, and just four ahead of Arsenal who have a game in hand on their north London rivals. "It was one of those defeats we have to reflect on," said Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas, who refused to accept his side's gruelling Europa League clash with Inter Milan three days ago was a contributory factor in the result. "The desire and effort was there, but things just didn't go our way in terms of football."
FRANK ON FIRE FOR CHELSEA
Frank Lampard's 200th goal for Chelsea helped the Blues to a 2-0 win over West Ham and moved them back into third above Tottenham. "It is one of my best days," exclaimed Lampard, who is now just two short of Bobby Tambling's club record. "Everyone keeps talking about the goalscoring record, I would rather people kept quiet. The important thing is trying to score goals to win games." Lampard's first-half strike and a goal five minutes after the break from Eden Hazard gave Chelsea a comfortable victory and they are now just four points behind Manchester City.
WIGAN LEAVE IT LATE TO START WINNING
A goal on the stroke of full-time from Arouna Kone gave Wigan a vital three points against Newcastle. The Lactics' 2-1 victory means they remain in the relegation zone but are now just three points behind 17th placed Aston Villa with a game in hand. Villa, who beat bottom club QPR 3-2 on Saturday, are on 30 points with Wigan now on 27 while Rangers and Reading are beginning to lose ground on 24 points. ·