Skip to main content

Manchester United clamp down as EPL goes goal crazy

December 29, 2012 -- Updated 2132 GMT (0532 HKT)
Substitute Robin van Persie (L) celebrates after sealing Manchester United's 2-0 win over with West Brom, scoring his 14th league goal this season. Substitute Robin van Persie (L) celebrates after sealing Manchester United's 2-0 win over with West Brom, scoring his 14th league goal this season.
HIDE CAPTION
Dutch delight
Fergie's roar
Rain rain, go away
Tempers flare
Dzeko denied treble
Bale booked for diving
Gunners blitz Magpies
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manchester United will go into 2013 with a seven-point lead in English Premier League
  • Alex Ferguson's team keep a rare clean sheet in Saturday's 2-0 win at home to West Brom
  • Second-placed Manchester City win 4-3 at Norwich despite having Samir Nasri sent off
  • Spurs go third with 2-1 win at Sunderland, with Arsenal fifth after beating Newcastle 7-3

(CNN) -- Goals rained down in the English Premier League on Saturday, but for once Manchester United played it safe to stay seven points clear at the top of the table.

Alex Ferguson's team kept a clean sheet for the first time in six games, beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at home in a match that had been in danger of succumbing to the UK's recent wet weather.

By contrast, second-placed Manchester City scrambled a 4-3 win at Norwich, Tottenham came from behind to claim third with a 2-1 victory at Sunderland and Arsenal moved fifth after triumphing 7-3 at home to Newcastle.

All eight EPL matches provided goals -- 35 in all -- with Stoke drawing 3-3 with Southampton, Wigan beating Aston Villa 3-0, Swansea winning 2-1 at Fulham and Reading ending a long winless run by defeating West Ham 1-0.

Read: Under-fire Ferguson brings Obama into referee debate

United edged a controversial seven-goal thriller against Newcastle on Wednesday, showing the defensive frailties that have plagued the 19-time English champions this season, but the return of Nemanja Vidic helped steady the side against a West Brom team that has dropped to seventh place.

Patrice Evra gave Manchester United a 16th minute lead at Swansea after heading home Robin van Persie's corner. Patrice Evra gave Manchester United a 16th minute lead at Swansea after heading home Robin van Persie's corner.
Perfect for Patrice
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
Stylish Swans hold United Stylish Swans hold United
This image of a bloodied and defiant Rio Ferdinand has been at the forefront of a perceived return of hooliganism in English football, following crowd trouble at the Manchester derby. This image of a bloodied and defiant Rio Ferdinand has been at the forefront of a perceived return of hooliganism in English football, following crowd trouble at the Manchester derby.
Return of the English hooligan?
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
A new \'dark age\' for English football? A new 'dark age' for English football?
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart of confronts a pitch invader at the end of his side's 3-2 derby defeat by Manchester United, whose defender Rio Ferdinand (at back) was left with a bloody face after being hit by a coin thrown from the crowd. Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart of confronts a pitch invader at the end of his side's 3-2 derby defeat by Manchester United, whose defender Rio Ferdinand (at back) was left with a bloody face after being hit by a coin thrown from the crowd.
Passions run high
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
United edge fiery Manchester derby United edge fiery Manchester derby
Schmeichel's Champions League prediction

The visitors went behind in the ninth minute when Gareth McAuley deflected Ashley Young's cross past his own keeper -- former United player Ben Foster -- and substitute Robin van Persie wrapped it up at the end with a curling shot for his league-leading 14th goal this season.

Ferguson was widely criticized for harassing match officials during the Newcastle match and for claiming that Van Persie "could have been killed" during the 1-1 draw with Swansea, but he kept his comments low-key this time.

Read: Hernandez winner lifts Manchester United

"The pitch was a problem for us with the way we pass the ball -- it slowed our game down a bit," said Ferguson, who turns 71 on Monday.

"We did well in the first half, we dominated at times, but you must give credit to West Brom who had more of the game in the second half and were a threat with their crosses.

"They had quite a bit of possession into the second period so we decided to bring Robin and Paul Scholes on just to settle us down a bit and they did that well.

"It's a good result considering how heavy the pitch was -- that's two games in four days on it and it's not easy. The slowness of it killed our speed."

Blog: Has Ferguson gone too far?

West Brom boss Steve Clarke agreed with the officials' decision to go ahead with the match after a late inspection of the waterlogged pitch.

"We used to play on pitches like that all the time. You don't look for games to be called off for no reason and there was no reason today," he said.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was not so happy after his defending champions bounced back from the 1-0 defeat by Sunderland.

Recalled striker Edin Dzeko scored twice inside four minutes, but Norwich got back into the game after Samir Nasri was sent off just before halftime following an altercation with Sebastien Bassong.

"Both players came forward with their heads, so if you are going to send off one, then you have to send off both, not only Samir," Mancini said.

"I am disappointed with Samir, and he will pay his fine, but the decision was not correct."

The Italian will go into the New Year trying to retrieve a sizable deficit, though City overhauled United's eighth-point lead last season to win the club's first title since 1968.

"It's not important to look at the table because it's not final but we need only to work, to win and then maybe we'll look again at the table in February," he said.

Dzeko almost had a hat-trick, but his 67th-minute shot hit the post and went into the net off Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn for 4-2, which was ruled to be an own goal.

Russell Martin netted his second on 75, but Norwich stayed 11th after a third successive defeat.

Tottenham moved a point above London rivals Chelsea, who travel to sixth-placed Everton on Sunday.

Sunderland went ahead against the run of play as skipper John O'Shea scored his first goal for the club five minutes before halftime, but Carlos Cuellar headed into his own net after the break and Aaron Lennon's 51st-minute winner left Spurs six points behind City.

However, Tottenham star Gareth Bale -- a reported target for Real Madrid in the January transfer window -- was frustrated after being booked for diving for the third time this season.

"That's three times now I've been clipped and booked for no reason," said the Wales winger, who will miss Tuesday's clash with Reading following his fifth yellow card this season.

"People keep saying I'm diving, but if there's contact it's not diving. Referees need to look more closely."

Theo Walcott bolstered his claims for a regular starting place as a central striker with his second-hat-trick this season in Arsenal's topsy-turvy win over 15th-placed Newcastle, which put the London side two points behind Chelsea.

The visitors leveled three times as Demba Ba netted twice to take his league tally to 13, but Walcott's treble was complemented by a late double from substitute forward Olivier Giroud after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski also scored.

Walcott has yet to agree a new contract, and the England international will have no lack of interest from other clubs after taking his tally to 14 goals in all competitions this season -- only Van Persie has more with 17.

Stoke stayed eighth after coming from 3-1 down against third-bottom Southampton, extending the club's unbeaten home record to nine matches thanks to substitute striker Cameron Jerome's spectacular late equalizer.

Defender Matthew Upson had reduced the deficit to 3-2 before teammate Steven Nzonzi was sent off for a challenge on Jack Cork.

Swansea moved up to ninth as Fulham's stand-in keeper David Stockdale gifted the visitors two goals -- the first to striker Danny Graham, playing in place of the Welsh club's top scorer Michu, and the second to Canadian midfielder Jonathan de Guzman.

Bryan Ruiz pulled one back after Dimitar Berbatov hit the crossbar, and the Bulgarian had a late effort ruled out for offside as the London side ended the year just four points above the relegation zone in 14th place.

Wigan moved out of the bottom three after handing fellow strugglers Aston Villa a third successive defeat that will increase the pressure on manager Paul Lambert after the 8-0 demolition by Chelsea and a 4-0 home loss to Spurs.

Reading stayed second from bottom despite the promoted club winning for only the second time this season, thanks to a fifth-minute goal from Russia striker Pavel Pogrebnyak that extended 12th-placed West Ham's winless run to four matches.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT