Premier League round-up

Manchester City secured top spot for Christmas, Man Utd eased past Fulham and Arsenal left it late at Aston Villa.

Three and easy for City; United crush Fulham; Albrighton makes history

Manchester City secured top spot for Christmas, Man United eased past Fulham and Arsenal left it late at Aston Villa. Luis Suarez could not help Liverpool to victory at Wigan as the Reds were held to a goalless draw at the DW Stadium, with Charlie Adam's second half penalty miss proving costly. West Brom got the better of Newcastle after a five-goal thriller at St James' Park, while Sunderland's late sucker punch earned them a 3-2 win at Queens Park Rangers. Everton picked up three precious points after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Swansea at Goodison Park. Manchester City cemented their place at the top of the table for the festive period with a comfortable 3-0 win over a lacklustre Stoke at the Etihad Stadium. The home side forged ahead just before the half hour mark and there was a hint of controversy about it, as Sergio Aguero poked the ball home from two yards in a seemingly offside position after Thomas Sorensen could only parry Vincent Kompany's shot. Man City added a second on 36 minutes as Adam Johnson made the most of a rare spot in the starting XI with a stunning shot past Sorensen from 25 yards out. City made the game safe on 54 minutes as Aguero netted his second of the contest when he tapped home Samir Nasri's cross. Manchester United remain on City's tails after a stunning 5-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage. United made a flying start with Danny Welbeck giving them the lead after just five minutes when he converted Nani's pull back. The visitors doubled their advantage just before the half hour mark when Nani glanced in Ryan Giggs' inswinging cross. Nani repaid the compliment two minutes before the break as he crossed for Giggs to score with a deflected shot over David Stockdale. United were hardly out of second gear in the second half, but Wayne Rooney made it 4-0 two minutes from time as he capped his 300th Premier League appearance with a superb goal from fully 30 yards out. Dimitar Berbatov had the final word as he grabbed his 50th goal for United with a sublime backheeled effort.

20,000th goal

Yossi Benayoun's late goal earned Arsenal a 2-1 win at Aston Villa as Marc Albrighton made history with the 20,000th Premier League goal, via an equaliser that ultimately proved in vain. Arsenal made the breakthrough on 17 minutes when Robin van Persie scored his 34th goal of 2011 from the penalty spot after Theo Walcott had been tugged back by Ciaran Clark. Albrighton drew Villa level on 54 minutes and made history in the process as he grabbed the 20,000th Premier League goal when he beat Per Mertersacker to a loose ball to fire into the net. Benayoun came off the bench to grab the winner three minutes from time as he headed home Van Persie's corner to pile the misery on struggling Villa. To compound Villa's misery Alan Hutton was sent off in the closing seconds for a second bookable offence. Liverpool missed the chance to keep pace with the leading pack after being held to a goalless draw at Wigan. All eyes were on Suarez at the DW Stadium but the Uruguayan could not inspire Liverpool to victory as Ali Al Habsi kept the visitors at bay. Adam had Liverpool's best chance to break the deadlock when Gary Caldwell was adjudged to have handled Suarez's attempted bicycle kick inside the box, but Al Habsi produced a superb save to keep out the Scot's penalty.
Paul Scharner's late goal earned West Brom an impressive 3-2 win over Newcastle to give Roy Hodgson some Christmas cheer. West Brom stunned the home side after 20 minutes when Chris Brunt sent Peter Odemwingie clear on goal and the Nigerian clinically finished past Tim Krul. Demba Ba drew Newcastle level on 34 minutes with a sublime free-kick from 25 yards with his 12th goal in 12 games. West Brom restored their lead right on the stroke of half-time as Gareth McAuley headed home his first goal for the club after Shane Long had headed Brunt's cross back across goal. Newcastle drew level for a second time nine minutes from time as Ba smashed home after being teed up Hatem Ben Arfa. However, West Brom refused to lie down and Scharner netted the winner on 85 minutes with a good volley from Odemwingie's header. Wes Brown's first goal for Sunderland earned Martin O'Neill's men a dramatic late 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Sunderland broke the deadlock on 19 minutes as Nicklas Bendtner headed home Kieran Richardson's corner inside the six-yard box. The visitors made it 2-0 after 53 minutes when Stephane Sessegnon raced clear on goal and dummied Paddy Kenny before rolling the ball into the empty net. QPR reduced the arrears on 63 minutes later when Heidar Helguson beat Sunderland keeper Keiren Westwood to the ball to slide home Alejandro Faurlin's cross from the left. The home side drew level four minutes later as Jamie Mackie netted his first goal since he broke his leg last January as he nodded home Helguson's header back across goal. The game looked to be heading for a draw until Brown popped up with an unlikely winner in the closing stages. Everton picked up their third home win of the campaign with a 1-0 success over Swansea at Goodison Park as Leon Osman netted his second goal in two games. After a goalless first half Osman grabbed the all-important winning goal on the hour mark when he headed home from six yards.

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