Premier League round-up: Villa slip up as United continue to run away with title
Aston Villa lost vital ground in their attempt to escape the bottom three. The Midlands outfit let slip a 1-0 lead against Liverpool, whilst Manchester United’s narrow win over Sunderland made the title chase look all but over with eight games remaining.
With just one Premier League game on Sunday, Aston Villa had the chance to leap frog Wigan in 17th place after the Latics had beaten Norwich a day earlier. Buoyed from back-to-back victories, Paul Lambert’s side started well – with Gabriel Agbonlahor missing a glorious chance that was well saved by Pepe Reina.
All was forgotten on the 31st minute, as Christian Benteke finished superbly after a good takedown from Gabriel Agbonlahor. Villa were deserving of their lead, despite Liverpool opening the Villa defence seemingly at will.
Liverpool came out in the second half looking to get back on level terms. Within two minutes of the restart, Jordan Henderson fired home in clinical fashion following a superbly weighted pass from wonder kid Philipe Coutinho.
Liverpool began to grow into the game following the equaliser. Luis Suarez was again a menace for the Villa defence to deal with. On the stroke of the hour, a neat turn in the box from Suarez drew a clumsy foul from Nathan Baker, gifting Liverpool a penalty.
Steven Gerrard stepped up to the spot – and in true Gerrard fashion – buried the ball into the far corner with absolute precision.
Aston Villa’s inexperience had told again. Paul Lambert’s side will have to keep hold of a lead if they are to stay up this season. Liverpool ran out 2-1 winners and edged closer to rivals Everton.
Manchester United’s firm grip on the title tightened after victory over Sunderland. In what was a timid affair, the solitary goal of the game came courtesy of a Titus Bramble own goal.
Robin Van Persie’s wickedly deflected cross gifted Manchester United the lead in a contest where Sunderland had the better of possession. Sunderland’s lack of confidence in front of goal showed throughout the game and it resulted in the end of Martin O’Neil’s tenure at the Stadium of Light.
United’s 15-point lead was maintained despite a 4-0 victory for rivals Manchester City over Newcastle at the Etihad. Goals from Carlos Tevez, David Silva, Vincent Kompany and an own goal from James Perch did little to reduce the deficit at the top of the Premier League, but still showed that City can ooze class.
Thomas Bradley, football correspondent
West Ham 3 – 1 WBA
Wigan 1 – 0 Norwich
Everton 1 – 0 Stoke
Arsenal 4 – 1 Reading
Southampton 2 – 1 Chelsea
Swansea 1 – 2 Tottenham Hotspur