It was a lackluster performance from the league leaders in the late kick-off of the day. In spite of playing a near full strength team, the Red Devils managed just the solitary goal, with Wayne Rooney’s shot taking a deflection en route to goal to secure 3 points for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
Alexander Buttner & Chris Smalling came in for regular full-backs Patrice Evra & Rafael respectively. Michael Carrick & Tom Cleverley were also given a rest as Anderson & Ryan Giggs started in the middle of the park. Robin van Persie, Rooney & Danny Welbeck all started in a full-strength forward line.
It was Rooney who got the goal on 21 minutes, but all credit should go to Rio Ferdinand, who showed just why he has been recalled into the England set up with a brilliant forward run from defence that caught Reading napping. He managed to lay the ball off to his English compatriot, whose scuffed shot into the ground took a deflection and looped over Adam Federici in goal. Otherwise, it was a dull affair in which United’s centre-backs Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic starred repelling every attack from the visitors. Vidic was lucky though not to have conceded a penalty for a push on Adrian Mariappa during a corner in the 2nd half.
City fire blanks in loss to 10-man Everton
Everton rebounded superbly from their humbling exit in the FA Cup last week, to beat champions City 2-0 at home. It was an inspired performance from David Moyes’ side in complete contrast to last week, when they were jeered off the ground by their own fans. Leon Osman’s pile-driver of a shot from 30 yards out gave the Toffees the lead.
Missing the services of captain Vincent Kompany & star striker Sergio Aguero, City were helped in their attempt to recover the situation when Steven Pienaar was sent off for a second bookable offence giving the champions a numerical advantage. However, Everton defended stoutly to snuff out the visitors before Nikica Jelavic put the result to bed late in stoppage time. City had a penalty claim in the 86th minute waived off when the ball struck Marouane Fellaini’s arm inside the penalty box, but the referee deemed that it had occurred outside the D and awarded only a free-kick.
This is the fourth straight defeat for City at Goodison Park in what has become a graveyard fixture for them. It was also David Moyes’ 6th victory over Roberto Mancini, the most by any opposing manager in the Premier League. Sir Alex Ferguson is second on the list with 3 wins.
Saints march towards safety
Southampton completed an impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool at St.Mary’s to further their chances of surviving the drop. Liverpool were undone by a superb performance from Mauricio Pochettino’s side that saw them dominate the first half. Goals from Morgan Schneiderlin and Ricky Lambert gave the hosts a much deserved 2-0 win and Southampton could very well have gone out of sight with better use of the chances that they created with the pairing of Adam Lallana & Gaston Ramirez taking Liverpool apart. Philippe Coutinho grabbed one back for Liverpool on the stroke of half-time to give them hopes of a revival.
The second half was a more even affair and Liverpool had their chances to pull level in the first 15 minutes. Southampton though got back in the game with better possession and when Jay Rodriguez scored the home side’s third, it appeared to knock the stuffing out of the visitors. Southampton with the win go 7 points clear of the drop zone.
Villans emerge victorious in relegation scrap
Aston Villa won their 2nd game on the bounce, a thrilling 3-2 win over fellow relegation contenders QPR. QPR’s heroes from last week, Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend were again on the score-sheet but they were pipped to the post by Paul Lambert’s Villa side.
Harry Redknapp had led QPR to 2 successive wins themselves coming into the game made the early running as Chris Samba went close to giving them the lead off set pieces on numerous occasions Jenas did give them the lead on 23 minutes when he finished off a rebound off of Bobby Zamora’s initial shot. Villa were toothless for much of the first half, but like last week, Gabriel Agbonhalor popped up with a goal in first half injury time to level the game.
Andreas Weimann then gave Villa the lead 14 minutes after the restart before Townsend scored for the 2nd game running to make it 2-2. The game looked to be heading for a draw when Weimann who had an impressive game, cut the ball back from the right to lay it into star striker Christian Benteke’s path who made no mistake with the finish.
Arsenal boost Champions League hopes
An impressive away performance at Swansea saw Arsene Wenger’s side emerge 2-0 victors from the Liberty stadium. They had lost by the exact same scoreline to the Swans in their first meeting at the Emirates. The hosts had the better of the opening exchanges, but Arsenal grew into the game as it progressed and looked much the sharper in the 2nd half. A first goal for Nacho Monreal broke the deadlock in the 75th minute before substitute Gervinho made sure of the points with an 89th minute strike. It was the second impressive away performance in a week that Wenger can take heart from after their 2-0 win at the Allianz Arena in Germany on Wednesday.
Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion played out a 0-0 draw in the other game on Saturday.
Sunderland vs Norwich City
Tottenham Hotspur vs Fulham
Chelsea vs West Ham United
Wigan Athletic vs Newcastle United