City romp again as United, Chelsea win
Manchester City remained five points clear at the top of the Premier League after the leaders thrashed Norwich City 5-1, while Manchester United kept in touch with their title rivals thanks to a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.
Roberto Mancini's side took the lead in the 32nd minute at Eastlands when Argentinian forward Sergio Aguero wriggled free of several Norwich defenders before flicking a clever finish into the far corner for his 13th goal of the season.
Samir Nasri got the second when his floated free-kick caught Norwich goalkeeeper John Ruddy flat-footed and crept into the net in the 51st minute. Yaya Toure scored in the 68th minute and, although Welsh striker Steve Morison got one back for Norwich in the 81st minute, substitutes Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson struck late on to secure a 12th successive home league win.
"It was not easy in the first half because Norwich defended with all their players behind the ball but Aguero scored a fantastic goal," Mancini said.
Sir Alex Ferguson's United kicked off the late game at Villa Park eight points behind City and suffered an early blow when Mexican striker Javier Hernandez was stretchered off with ankle ligament damage that could keep him out for four weeks.
However, the champions sealed the points in the 20th minute when English international Phil Jones scored the first senior goal of his career, volleying Nani's cross past Shay Given.
"We deserved the victory, we had great possession at times," Ferguson said. "It was a lovely move for the goal. Nani put in a great cross and it was a lovely finish from Phil. It was a great time to score."
Chelsea get back on track
At St James' Park, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas was able to silence the critics as goals from Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge secured a 3-0 win over Newcastle United.
Villas-Boas got an early break as Chelsea were fortunate not to be reduced to ten men in the fourth minute when David Luiz hauled down Demba Ba.
Chelsea were then given a penalty in the 14th minute for Yohan Cabaye's trip on Sturridge. However, Frank Lampard's low spot-kick was weakly struck and Tim Krul pushed it onto a post.
Chelsea took the lead when Drogba struck with a bullet header in the 38th minute. Kalou's 88th minute strike and a Sturridge goal in stoppage time secured Chelsea's second win in their last five matches in all competitions and ended Newcastle's unbeaten home run. "It was a win that nobody was expecting," said Villas-Boas.
Tottenham are third, seven points off the lead, after an emphatic 3-0 victory over ten-man Bolton Wanderers at White Hart Lane.
Gareth Bale prodded Spurs into a seventh minute lead and moments later referee Stuart Attwell sent off Gary Cahill when he fouled Scott Parker. Aaron Lennon got Tottenham's second goal in the 50th minute and Jermain Defoe sealed their sixth successive league victory ten minutes later.
Arsenal hit Wigan for four
Resurgent Arsenal, meanwhile, moved into fifth place with a 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic that pushed the Latics to the bottom of the table.
Mikel Arteta opened the floodgates at the DW Stadium in the 28th minute when his long-range effort squeezed past Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Thomas Vermaelen headed the second a minute later, Gervinho netted the third goal in the 61st minute and Robin van Persie made it four in the 78th minute with his 18th goal of the season.
"It was a great team performance, we controlled the game and could have scored more. There is a difference between the team at the start of the season and now," Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said.
Blackburn Rovers striker Ayegbeni Yakubu gave much-criticised manager Steve Kean some breathing room as his four-goal haul inspired a 4-2 win over Swansea City at Ewood Park, lifting his side off the bottom. Leroy Lita and Luke Moore netted for Swansea, who had Joe Allen sent off for a foul on Yakubu just before Rovers' fourth goal.
Finally, Heidar Helguson headed Queens Park Rangers into the lead in the 20th minute against West Bromwich Albion, but Shane Long rescued a 1-1 draw with an 81st-minute equaliser at Loftus Road.