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United And City Begin 2013 With Wins

HernandezManchester United ended a very successful holiday season, thrashing Wigan Athletic 4-0. The win allowed United to maintain their seven-point lead over champions Manchester City, after City beat Stoke 3-0.

Robin Van Persie began 2013 much like he ended 2012, with a pair of goals, taking his league-high tally to 16 goals. Javier Hernandez also scored twice but Van Persie stood out again, scoring a sublime strike with his weaker right foot for the pick of the goals.

City dominated the early stages at home to Stoke, and Pablo Zabeleta broke the deadlock two minutes before half-time.

Sergio Aguero was the creator of City’s second in the 56th minute, with a low drive that was parried by Begovic, only for Edin Dzeko to knock in the rebound. It has been a good week for Dzeko, who has scored three goals this week.

Aguero wrapped up all the points in the 74th-minute with penalty after Steven Nzonzi brought down David Silva.

Tottenham are up to third after beating Reading 3-1. Spurs were dealt a shock when Pavel Pogrebnyak headed the visitors in front, but Michael Dawson’s header put Spurs level within five minutes. Spurs were dominant from then on, Emmanuel Adebayor putting them in front with a powerful 51st-minute header before Clint Dempsey’s fortuitous deflected strike made it 3-1.

Arsenal lost a chance to keep track with their North London rivals, as they were lucky to escape Southampton with a 1-1 draw.

Arsene Wenger’s side rarely threatened on the south coast in a game that the relegation-threatened hosts looked more likely to win. It was no surprise when Gaston Ramirez put the Saints ahead in the 34th minute.

The lead lasted seven minutes, though, as Theo Walcott, making his first appearance at St Mary’s since leaving in 2006, whipped in a free-kick that Do Prado could only prod into his own goal. It proved the evening’s decisive moment as, try as they might, Southampton were unable to find a winner in a second half they dominated.

Aston Villa put an end to a run of three straight defeats, with an important 2-2 draw at Swansea. Villa thought they had sealed an unlikely victory but Danny Graham broke Villa heats with an injury time goal.

West Ham United were also on the up, beating Norwich City 2-1 through goals from Mark Noble and Joey O’Brien to climb to 11th.

Earlier, Fulham had maybe the biggest surprise result of the day as they won 2-1 at West Brom. Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov had the honour of scoring the first goal of 2013 at the Hawthorns, with Alex Kacaniklic netting a 58th-minute winner after Romelu Lukaku equalised early in the second half.