As we head towards December the Premier League title race appears to be a straight race between the red and blue sides of Manchester after United beat West Ham 1-o while City won 2-0 at Wigan. The gap between second place City and third place Chelsea is now 6 points, after Chelsea drew 0-0 at home to Fulham.
At Old Trafford, Robin van Persie scored the fastest goal of the English Premier League season, needing just 33 seconds to give United the lead. Van Persie took the pass from Michael Carrick, his first touch eluded Winston Reid before his finish deflected off James Collins and looped over Hammers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Van Persie’s goal was all the more extraordinary as, prior to Wednesday’s match, United had conceded the first goal 13 times already this season.
Manchester City remain the only unbeaten side in the top flight, but they made hard work of their 2-0 win. This match looked destined to end 0-9 before Mario Balotelli scored his first league goal of the season in the 69th minute. And three minutes later England midfielder James Milner made it 2-0 with a shot form outside the box.
The Rafa Benitez era at Chelsea has not started well as Chelsea drew 0-0 at home for the second straight match. The champagne football that Chelsea played earlier this season has been replaced by a more pragmatic approach, much to the displeasure of the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Tottenham moved into fifth with a 2-1 win at home to Liverpool. Aaron Lennon put Spurs ahead in the seventh minute at White Hart Lane after good work by Gareth Bale, before the Welshman doubled their advantage in the 22nd minute with a deflected free-kick.
Bale, however, gave Liverpool hope with a 72nd minute own-goal, although there was little he could do when Lennon, trying to clear Steven Gerrard’s goal-bound header, smashed the ball into the winger’s face.
West Brom started the night in third place, but soon found themselves brought back down to earth as they conceded three goals in half an hour during a 3-1 defeat at Swansea. Michu needed just nine minutes to put Swansea in front with his eighth goal of the season, turning in Pablo Hernandez’s centre.
Hernandez also provided both crosses for winger Wayne Routledge’s double before the Baggies pulled a goal back before half-time through Romelu Lukaku.
At the Britannia Stadium, Stoke came from behind to beat Newcastle 2-1. After a goalless first half, Papiss Cisse needed just two minutes of the second period to break the deadlock after Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic spilt Demba Ba’s shot.
But the hosts hit back with two goals inside the final ten minutes from Jonathan Walters and Cameron Jerome as Newcastle suffered their fourth successive league defeat.
Southampton remained in the relegation zone after a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich in referee Mark Clattenburg’s first match in charge since being cleared of racially abusing Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel. Rickie Lambert gave the hosts the lead at St Mary’s before Saints keeper Paulo Gazzaniga somehow allowed Robert Snodgrass’s free-kick to squirm under his body as Norwich levelled.