Manchester City scored three and stayed top of the table. Manchester United score five and remained in second position. Tottenham and Chelsea, in third and fourth position respectively, play each other on Thursday night. On the face of it, everything stayed the same. Manchester City first, Manchester United second, Tottenham third and Chelsea fourth. Beneath the surface, however, plenty changed.
The two Manchester clubs are in fine fettle at the moment. Manchester City overcame a slight wobble to defeat Arsenal and then on Wednesday night comprehensively outplay Stoke, a team in good form themselves having won their previous four matches. Manchester City were two goals to the good by half time, thanks to Sergio Aguero and Adam Johnson, and although Sergio Aguero grabbed a second for himself in the second half the reality is that if the need was there Manchester City could have scored several more. They were utterly dominant at the Etihad stadium. Manchester United were in London, playing their second fixture in the capital in the space of four days. On Sunday Sir Alex Ferguson’s team had beaten QPR by two goals to zero and then on Wednesday night they thoroughly outplayed, out-maneuvered and out-thought Fulham. The five goals were shared between Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Nani, Danny Wellbeck and Dimitar Berbatov.
Those two results were expected, even if the score lines were not. More interestingly Arsenal travelled to Villa Park and defeated Aston Villa 2-1, thanks to a Robin Van Persie penalty, his 32nd goal of the calender year, and an 88th minute winner from Yossi Benayoun. The Israeli international, on loan from Chelsea, scored a header, surprisingly enough, from a corner. It was sufficient for Arsenal to take all three points and maintain their chase for a Champions League spot.
Sunderland defeated QPR in London thanks to a last ditch Wes Brown header. Sunderland had found themselves two goals ahead but QPR’s relentless attitude meant that Neil Warnock’s side found a way back into the game and were eventually equal. At 2-2 the game could have swung either way but a last minute corner resulted in a front post flick on from Wes Brown that found it’s way into the far corner of the net, ensuring the three points were returning to Wearside with Martin O’Neill. West Bromwich Albion were ahead at St James Park against Newcastle on three separate occasions but only managed to secure the maximum available points thanks to a late equaliser from Paul Scharner after an effective knock down from Peter Odimwingie . West Bromwich Albion, managed by Roy Hodgson, have now managed to win two away games on the trot and found themselves moving in the right direction.
Everton finally returned to winning ways thanks to a sole Leon Osman strike against Swansea but their city rivals, Liverpool, could only manage a draw at the JJB Stadium against Wigan. Charlie Adam missed a penalty for Liverpool but in the end the result was a fair reflection of the game. Both sides had missed chances and a draw seemed appropriate for two sides without a cutting edge.