Premier League round-up

by Kieran O'Daly , 29 December 2012

Manchester United maintained their seven point lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 victory over West Brom at Old Trafford. It was a scrappy encounter in sodden conditions, with the league leaders well below their best.

A Gareth McAuley own goal on ten minutes set them on their way when he deflected Ashley Young’s cross into his own net. Robin Van Persie then secured the points with a curling finish in the final minute.  

 Two goals in the opening four minutes from Edin Dzeko provided the perfect start for Manchester City as they beat Norwich City 4-3 in a thrilling encounter at Carrow Road.

After Dzeko’s opening salvo, Anthony Pilkington pulled one back for the hosts on the quarter-hour and, when Samir Nasri saw red just before the break, it looked like City might lose more ground on their rivals.

But a superb Sergio Aguero strike restored their two goal advantage on 50 minutes and although, Russell Martin reduced the arrears yet again on 63 minutes, a Mike Bunn own goal put them 4-2 up moments later. Martin struck again with a quarter of an hour to go but Roberto Mancini’s men held on for a vital victory despite intense Norwich pressure.

Danny Graham (19) and Jonathan De Guzman (52) netted as Swansea beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage to record their first win in five Premier League games. Bryan Ruiz pulled one back for the home side on 56 minutes but Martin Jol’s side squandered a number of decent chances to draw level and have now only won once in their last 12 league games.  

Aston Villa’s dismal form continued as they were drawn back towards the relegation mire following a 3-0 defeat to Wigan at Villa Park, making it 15 goals conceded and none scored in their last three Premier League matches.

Ivan Ramis set the visitors on their way with an early strike and, although Villa threatened briefly before the break, goals from Emerson Boyce and Arouna Kone early in the second half put the result beyond doubt and increased the pressure on beleaguered Villa boss Paul Lambert.     

Reading recorded only their second Premier League win of the season and moved to within five points of safety after beating West Ham 1-0 in a scrappy game at the Madjeski Stadium. The decisive goal came courtesy of a Pavel Pobrebnyak strike just five minutes in when he latched onto a poor backpass from Hammers' defender James Collins before slotting past Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Stoke and Southampton shared the points after a six-goal thriller at the Britannia Stadium. The visitors lead 3-1 at the break following strikes from Ricky Lambert and Jay Rodriguez and an own goal from Andy Wilkinson. Kenwynne Jones’s classy backheel had levelled matters briefly, but the home side secured a deserved point after goals from Matthew Upson and a last minute screamer from Cameron Jerome completed a thrilling comeback.  

In the early kick-off Tottenham came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 at the Stadium of Light. John O’Shea gave the home side the lead in the first half, but a Carlos Cuellar own goal three minutes after the restart brought the visitors level .

Aaron Lennon hit the winner  on 51 minutes when he broke free to slot past Simon Mignolet. The visitors dominated thereafter and both Jermaine Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor went close to increasing the lead as the Londoners deservedly took the points.   

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