Weekend review

Sadly Man Utd's eagerly-awaited clash with Liverpool will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

City, United, Spurs and Arsenal win, Blues and Magpies stumble

All the talk before the Premier League's weekend fixtures was about Manchester United's eagerly-awaited clash with Liverpool, however, the match will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The Red Devils maintained the pressure on Manchester City courtesy of Wayne Rooney's second-half double at Old Trafford, although Luis Suarez set up a grandstand finish by stabbing home from close range late on. The tone was set even before a ball was kicked when Suarez refused to shake Patrice Evra's hand pre-match, actions that then saw Rio Ferdinand opt out of shaking the Uruguay international striker's hand. The refusal sparked uproar with Evra jubilant following the full-time whistle while Liverpool and Suarez moved to quell the negativity on Sunday by issuing apologies - something United have accepted. Either way, hopefully lessons have been learned and back on the pitch 24 hours later Manchester City needed a gritty 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park to return to the summit of the table. Roberto Mancini's men bossed the game in the Midlands, but had to wait until just over the hour mark to make the breakthrough courtesy of defender Joleon Lescott's finish. The three points should have been a comfortable exercise for City and they nearly paid for their inability to convert possession and pressure into more goals in injury-time. England international Joe Hart, who had largely been a spectator throughout, pulled off a fine close-range save from Darren Bent in what would have been an undeserved leveller for Alex McLeish's men. Tottenham consolidated third place in the table following an emphatic 5-0 thumping of Newcastle United in Saturday's evening kick-off. Alan Pardew's attacking line-up were put to the sword at White Hart Lane with early goals from Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Louis Saha putting Harry Redknapp's side in firm control. The Magpies had no answer to Spurs' rampant attack with Saha grabbing his second before Niko Kranjcar effectively sealing the victory before half-time by slotting home their fourth. Emmanuel Adebayor had set up all four of Tottenham's first-half goals and he added the icing on the cake after the interval by scoring Spurs' fifth. Arsenal, whose woeful first half of the season is now a distant memory, have climbed into fourth spot after a late 2-1 success over in-form Sunderland. It looked like it might be a bad day at the office for the Gunners in the North East when James McClean gave the Black Cats a 70th-minute lead, but Arsene Wenger's men refused to throw in the towel. Aaron Ramsey levelled matters five minutes later and who else but Arsenal legend Thierry Henry popped up in injury-time to convert Andrey Arshavin's cross to give the visitors all three points at the Stadium of Light. Chelsea lost ground in the race for a top-four finish after being defeated yet again at Everton, their third consecutive league failure at Goodison Park. Manager Andre Villas-Boas shouldered the majority of the blame for the club's defeat on Merseyside, which came about following goals in either half by on-loan duo Steven Pienaar and Denis Stracqualursi. The managerial merry-go-round continued on Monday after Wolves sacked manager Mick McCarthy in the wake of their 5-1 defeat by West Brom in the Black County derby. Peter Odemwingie helped himself to a hat-trick at Molineux and the heavy loss proved the final straw for the club's board of directors, who acted with the club third from bottom in the table. Blackburn moved out of the drop zone with a 3-2 victory over promoted QPR at Ewood Park. Steve Kean's men raced into a 3-0 lead thanks to efforts from Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Steven Nzonzi and an own goal from Rs new-boy Nedum Onuoha. Mark Hughes' side refused to go down without a fight and pulled to within a goal thanks to Jamie Mackie's second-half brace, but the West Londoners were unable to find that all-important second-half leveller. Wigan's 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Bolton at the Reebok means the bottom five clubs are separated by two points. Mark Davies cancelled out Gary Caldwell's first-half opener for the visitors, but James McArthur's 76th-minute winner gave Roberto Martinez's men a priceless three points. Norwich City are undoubtedly this season's surprise package and not enough praise can be given to manager Paul Lambert and his squad as they climbed into eighth after a 3-2 win over Swansea City on Saturday. Few gave the Canaries hope of staying up in the wake of back-to-back promotions, but now the Norfolk club have to be considered an outside bet to qualify for the Europa League. Talisman Grant Holt bagged a brace at the Liberty Stadium and, while Danny Graham set up a nervy finish by converting a late penalty, Brendan Rodgers' side were unable to get back on level terms. The final Premier League match of the weekend saw Fulham run out 2-1 winners over Stoke City at Craven Cottage. January signing Pavel Pogrebnyak scored on his debut for the Cottagers while an unfortunate own goal from Thomas Sorensen after Clint Dempsey's shot hit the crossbar doubled their lead. Ryan Shawcross pulled a goal back for Tony Pulis' side in the 78th minute, but that was the end of the scoring, meaning a third straight top-flight defeat for the Potters.

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