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Man City toils but beats Crystal Palace to take Premier League lead

December 28, 2013 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Man City keeper Joe Hart suffered a cut under his eye but stayed in the game and impressed against Crystal Palace.
Man City keeper Joe Hart suffered a cut under his eye but stayed in the game and impressed against Crystal Palace.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manchester City needs 66 minutes to open the scoring against Crystal Palace
  • But City wins 1-0 to extend its home record in the Premier League to 10-0-0
  • Manchester United makes it six victories in a row by blanking Norwich City 1-0
  • Arsenal visits Newcastle and Chelsea hosts Liverpool on Sunday

(CNN) -- Manchester City thumped Arsenal and then downed Liverpool at home this month in the English Premier League so not many expected relegation threatened Crystal Palace to put up a fight at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

But the Eagles, rejuvenated under Tony Pulis, did just that and it took Edin Dzeko's goal midway in the second half to finally put the visitors away.

City won 1-0 to improve to a perfect 10-0-0 in the league at home this season and, without its closest rivals playing until Sunday, overtook Arsenal by two points atop the division.

Defending champion Manchester United also struggled -- though not as much as City -- as it played without the injured Wayne Rooney but edged Norwich City 1-0 to collect a sixth successive victory in all competitions.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini made six changes to the side that doubled Liverpool 2-1 on Boxing Day, naming the likes of Alvaro Negredo, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri to the substitutes' bench.

Even though City bossed possession -- at 77 percent -- Crystal Palace matched the host in shots on target.

And it was the first time City hadn't scored at least twice at home in the top flight this term.

"We didn't have a fresh team," Pellegrini told Sky Sports. "And it's very difficult when you have one team that wants to play and the other wants to defend.

"That was the game we saw today. That's not what we're used to doing at the Etihad."

Although Pellegrini essentially said that Palace parked the bus, recently reinstated City goalkeeper Joe Hart made a string of good saves -- after sustaining a cut under his eye in a collision with Cameron Jerome -- before and after Dzeko broke through in the 66th minute.

Welbeck winner

Rooney, in fine form, missed United's trip to Norwich due to a lingering groin strain but Manchester United said he should be available for Wednesday's clash against Tottenham.

United manager David Moyes didn't start Danny Welbeck, either -- he has enjoyed recent success -- but the striker came off the bench to net the winner in the 57th minute.

The Red Devils, who rallied to beat Hull 3-2 on the road Thursday, remained seven points behind Manchester City but climbed to sixth.

"To win back-to-back games in the Premier League in three days away from home is really difficult," Moyes told Sky. "Some teams don't play until tomorrow.

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"We had two games in three days, and I have to say the squad coped really well.

"I was delighted to get the result. I thought Norwich played really well."

Elsewhere, Cardiff City conceded deep in injury time and had to settle for a 2-2 draw against last-place Sunderland; Hull rebounded from the loss to Manchester United, routing poor traveler Fulham 6-0; and West Ham and West Bromwich Albion produced six goals in a 3-3 draw in London.

Aston Villa snapped a four-match losing streak although didn't beat Swansea at home, drawing 1-1.

Cardiff looked set to claim all three points in its first game since manager Malky Mackay was fired, taking a 2-0 lead. But Steven Fletcher pulled a goal back for Sunderland in the 83rd minute and Jack Colbeck equalized on a deflected effort in the fifth minute of added time.

Arsenal travels to surging Newcastle on Sunday and Chelsea hosts Liverpool in a battle of third versus fourth.

Read: Cardiff fires Mackay

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