Mike Hewitt

Premier League, Week 22: Manchester City keep pace with United

Arsenal fell a bit further behind in the fourth-place race this weekend, while Manchester City and Manchester United matched each other with big wins.

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21 Total Updates since January 12, 2013
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Spot on, Mike Dean

Mike Dean got two tough decisions spot on, sending off Laurent Koscielny and Vincent Kompany in a 2-0 Manchester City victory.

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10-man Arsenal falling apart

Laurent Koscielny picked up a straight red card in the opening minutes of Sunday's encounter between Manchester City and Arsenal, digging a massive hole for the Gunners early. Wojciech Szczesny came up with a save on a poor penalty by Edin Dzeko to keep Arsenal alive in the short term, but he only delayed the inevitable.

Since that save, Manchester City have scored twice and look like they're having a fun little run-out in a training match. Unsurprisingly, Arsenal don't look good playing from behind with 10 men, and City's 2-0 lead is likely to expand in the second half.

James Milner opened the scoring on 21 minutes, getting in behind a sleepy Arsenal defense on a free kick before hitting a thunderbolt into the side of the net. Dzeko made up for his penalty miss by scoring City's second with an easy finish, tapping in a deflected cross by Pablo Zabaleta.

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Manchester United hang on to beat Liverpool

Manchester United defeated Liverpool in Sunday's early game with goals from Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic. Daniel Sturridge pulled one back for the visitors, but it wasn't enough.

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Daniel Sturridge pulls one back for Liverpool

Daniel Sturridge has pulled one back for Liverpool, quickly cancelling out Patrice Evra's goal and reducing Liverpool's deficit back to one.

Steven Gerrard was given space outside the area to shoot, and his effort was kept out with a sprawling save by David de Gea, but Daniel Sturridge had followed up and had a simple tap-in to make it 2-1, scoring on his Premier League debut. Replacing Lucas Leiva looked like an odd decision but it seems, for now, to have paid off.

It's game on now, and Liverpool should be picked up by that - they hadn't looked like scoring at all until their new signing gave them hope. United haven't dominated the second half as they did the first, although Danny Welbeck is still looking phenomenally dangerous for the hosts. It all looks set to be an absorbing finish to the game, and United could well end up ruing those missed chances in the first half.

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Patrice Evra puts United 2-0 ahead

Manchester United have doubled their lead against Liverpool, with Patrice Evra scoring his fifth of the season to put United in control against their rivals at Old Trafford.

It all started when Danny Welbeck was brought down by Martin Skrtel when through on goal, although Howard Webb decided to only award a yellow - a fair decision given the distance to goal and the proximity of other defenders. From the free-kick, Robin van Persie stepped up to curl the ball in, and Evra met it with a fine header past Pepe Reina to give United some breathing space.

It could go down as Nemanja Vidic's goal, however, as the ball brushed off him on it's way into the net. One for the dubious goals committee to decide, but for now, United are in the driving seat at Old Trafford and things are looking grim for Liverpool. They need something different here, and quickly.

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United and Liverpool make changes at half-time

Manchester United and Liverpool have both made substitutions for the second half, with Manchester United replacing Ashley Young with Antonio Valencia, and Liverpool taking off Lucas Leiva for Daniel Sturridge.

United's change was partly a forced one, with Ashley Young struggling with a knock after colliding with Daniel Agger, but it appears Liverpool will be going 4-4-2. An odd decision to take Lucas Leiva off, because Joe Allen had really been struggling in the first half. For United, they'll be hoping Valencia can put his recent poor form behind him - he's not been enjoying the best of seasons.

Sturridge gives us a glimpse of what he can do straight away though, as he gets into a good shooting position but attempts the pass instead, and the chance disappears. Liverpool need to be braver in this second half, and take advantage of the fact they're only 1-0 down from the first 45 minutes.

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United lead at half-time due to Robin van Persie

The first half ends with Liverpool almost going further behind again - first Danny Welbeck's charge into the Liverpool area was met with a strong tackle from Daniel Agger, before an attempted Liverpool counter-attack was stopped short by Rafael. The Brazilian then made a great run into the area, collecting a long Michael Carrick pass and cutting the ball back to Van Persie, whose attempted backheel was just kept out by Reina, with Shinji Kagawa failing to make contact on the follow-up. That couldn't have been closer.

Shortly before, a Martin Skrtel header came back out to Tom Cleverley on the edge of the area, who met it with a sweet left-footed volley which just dropped wide of the far post with Pepe Reina beaten. United will come to rue these chances if they don't end up winning this.

Ashley Young appears to have picked up a knock after he collided with Daniel Agger, the Dane landing on Young's knee awkwardly. He's been limping slightly, and Antonio Valencia is warming up on the touchline, so that's a change that could happen when the teams come back out for the second half.

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RVP's goal as GIF, and United almost make it 2-0

Van Persie's goal looks even better the second time, a wonderfully instinctive finish from the top scorer in the league so far.

Vanpersiegoalliverpool_medium

(GIF courtesy of @brocadfael)

And Liverpool were almost even further behind - a terrible mistake from Joe Allen allowed Danny Welbeck to race through, but he was stopped by a fine recovering tackle from Daniel Agger. Liverpool's failure to play out from the back is costing them here, but they're continuing to do it regardless - their midfielders have been particularly lead-footed in touch, and they're gifting possession to United every time.

The Red Devils aren't exactly tearing Liverpool apart every time they go forward, but Welbeck is definitely looking like a real danger with his pace and energy. Luis Suarez has seen very little of the ball - you can tell by the lack of the chorus of boos that greets his every touch. As for Liverpool's attacking play when they do get forward - well, a huge cheer has just greeted Steven Gerrard clipping a through-ball out of play from the edge of the area.

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Robin van Persie scores to put United 1-0 up

Robin van Persie has given Manchester United the lead against Liverpool in the first half.

Some fine work from Tom Cleverley, Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck released Patrice Evra down the left flank, and his cross was steered home by Robin van Persie, who met it with a fine sidefooted finish across Pepe Reina and into the far post.

It's just reward for United's start, as the Red Devils have so far been the better team with Liverpool looking slightly sluggish, partiularly given United's pressing. The visitors almost surrendered the lead earlier when some sloppy play at the back allowed Van Persie in, but his shot deflected wide.

United probably won't be able to keep up this level of pressing for 90 minutes, but at the moment Liverpool need to think about other options, as they have created very little so far - it's the home side who look more likely to score the second.

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City spend and Arsenal don't, if you hadn't heard

City like to spend and Arsenal are "reasonable." Oh, the outrage!

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Reds go to Old Trafford looking for breakthrough

Liverpool are still searching for their first win over a top half team as they head to Old Trafford.

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Two great goals liven up Fulham-Wigan stalemate

Fulham were fortunate to get a point against Wigan Athletic at Craven Cottage as Giorgios Karagounis and Franco di Santo both got on the scoresheet.

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Swansea defend their way to 0-0 draw with Everton

Everton dominated possession and all the other pertinient statistics but failed to break down Swansea's defense, settling for a scoreless draw at Goodison Park

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Reading stuns West Brom with a massive comeback

With eight minutes left West Brom were cruising up 2-0...then the wheels fell off. Reading scored three times in final minutes of the match to steal an incredible comeback victory

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Villa go down in flames

We're sorry, Paul Lambert. You probably don't deserve this. But someone is to blame for this team in shambles.

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Walters and Hazard help Chelsea thrash Stoke

Stoke City succumbed to a heavy defeat at the hands of Chelsea thanks to two own goals from Jonathan Walters, a Frank Lampard penalty and a world-class goal by Eden Hazard.

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QPR and Tottenham draw blanks in awful game

Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur played out an awful 0-0 draw at Loftus Road in a game of few chances.

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Queens Park Rangers vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Lineups

Tottenham continue with a 4-4-2 formation as they face Queens Park Rangers, who once again leave Alejandro Faurlin and Esteban Granero out of the starting lineup.

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