Van Persie keeps United on course as City see red

Jan 14, 2013

Premier League talking points from Man United's victory to Aston Villa's slump

IT WAS another week of drama in the Premier League, as Manchester United and City both registered wins to maintain their battle at the top of the table. At the bottom Aston Villa slipped into the relegations zone after defeat to Southampton and Reading recorded a remarkable win over West Brom.

Robin van Persie notched up his 21st goal of the season as Manchester United overcame their bitter rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday. It was a relatively quiet afternoon for the Dutch striker, with Danny Welbeck earning the plaudits for his energetic display. However, United's victory was down to the former Arsenal man, who scored the opener and then delivered the cross that ended up in the back of the Liverpool net thanks to a touch from Nemanja Vidic. United look to be cruising towards the title and they have Van Persie and his extraordinary scoring record to thank for that.

Manchester City kept up the pressure on Manchester United with a 2-0 win over Arsenal, whose chances of European football next season look slimmer by the week. The game was notable for two red cards, the first after just ten minutes when Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny was given his marching orders for hauling down Edin Dzeko in the box. That was debatable, but did not cause as much consternation as the red card for Vincent Kompany after 75 minutes. The City captain was sent off after what looked like a fair tackle on Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere. Old pros have been bemoaning the death of the tackle in the modern game, but with City set to appeal, Kompany should be given a reprieve from the three-match ban.

Chelsea thrashed Stoke 4-0 at the Britannia to maintain their faint hopes of challenging the two Manchester clubs for the title. But despite the scoreline Rafa Benitez will have much to ponder. Two of the goals came from unfortunate Stoke midfielder Jonathan Walters, who twice beat his own keeper. A third came from Frank Lampard, who will be leaving the club in the summer. Demba Ba failed to shine in front of goal and was replaced by Fernando Torres after 71 minutes, who also produced little. John Terry made a welcome return but in the 12 minutes he was on the pitch managed to concede a penalty, which was missed by the hapless Walters.

Harry Redknapp failed to secure a vital win over his old club, Spurs, but the QPR boss declared himself satisfied with his side's performance after the goalless draw at Loftus Road. He had goalkeeper Julio Cesar to thank for that, however, after the Brazilian international made a fine double save to deny Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Reading looked dead and buried with eight minutes to go against West Brom, but three goals in the closing stages gave the Royals a win that could galvanise their efforts to avoid the drop. West Brom were leading 2-0 thanks to two goals from Romelu Lukaku when Jimmy Kebe got the comeback going. The Reading striker then won a penalty which was converted by Adam le Fondre to send the Madejski Stadium into a frenzy, and things got even more exciting when Pavel Pogrebnyak wriggled free in the box to score a winner in the 90th minute. Could Reading's great escape be on?

Diving was back on the agenda as Aston Villa slipped into the Premier League relegation zone. The Villans, who have now gone five Premier League games without a win, were beaten by fellow strugglers Southampton thanks to a dubious penalty won by Jay Rodriguez. The Southampton man went down in the box under a challenge from Enda Stevens, but replays showed there had been no contact. Rickie Lambert stepped up to convert the spot kick and pile more misery on Paul Lambert's men who are now in real danger of going down.

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