Yesterday’s Premier League results could have major significant come the end of the season.
At Old Trafford Manchester United defeated Everton 2-0 to move one step closer to top flight title number 20.
Earlier in the day Aston Villa moved out of the bottom three with a nervy 2-1 victory over West Ham at Villa Park.
Manchester United are now 12 points clear of Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.
Yesterday the Red Devils produced a disciplined performance, as they defeated a very resilient Everton team.
The first goal arrived on 13 minutes. Robin Van Persie outmuscled compatriot Johnny Heitinga, before laying the ball off to Ryan Giggs who fired home off the side of the post. Incredibly the goal meant that Ryan Giggs has now scored a goal in every Premier League season in the last 23 years.
Van Persie looked a threat to the Everton goal for most of the first half and got on the scoresheet on the stroke of half-time.
Full-back Rafael played a ball through the centre of the Everton defence and Van Persie broke the offside trap, rounded Tim Howard before seeing his low effort turned into his own net by Heitinga.
United had control of the second half and snuffed out any opportunities that Everton created. Everton’s only effort on target came from substitute Nikica Jelavic, whose low effort was well saved by David de Gea.
Howard denied Tom Cleverley a third goal for United, after the England midfielder hit a powerful effort on goal.
In the end United claimed a comfortable victory to move one step closer to wrestling the Premier League crown off bitter-rivals Manchester City.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admitted after the game that he changed his team because of City’s defeat at Southampton yesterday. He knew that a win would put his side into an almost unassailable lead at the top of the table. The decision to play his strongest line-up certainly paid dividends.
Earlier in the day there was massive relief for Aston Villa’s players, fans and management as the Villans defeated West Ham 2-1 at Villa Park. The first half was a dour affair with very little action.
The only real chance of the first period fell to Austrian striker Andreas Weimann, who managed to fire wide with the goal gapping. The second minute miss seemed to destroy the youngster’s confidence, as he had very little effect on the game after that.
Weimann was replaced on 63 minutes by record signing Darren Bent. The England striker is not noted for his defensive abilities, but managed to clear an Andy Carroll effort off his own line.
The clearance was crucial as Villa took the lead on 74 minutes. French winger Charles N’Zogbia was brought down in the penalty area by Irons midfielder Mark Noble and in-form Christian Benteke produced the coolest of penalties to give Villa the lead.
N’Zogbia doubled the Villans lead on 78 minutes. The mercurial winger struck a superb curling free-kick which flew past Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Hammers goal.
Despite the two goal lead, Villa fans so use to their side letting leads slip were understandably nervous. Those nerves were only increased on 87th minute, as midfielder Ashley Westwood unluckily headed a Joe Cole centre pass his own keeper Brad Guzan
The visitors kept coming at Villa in the remaining minutes looking for the equaliser, but the likes of Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark stood strong to earn Villa a vital victory.
Yesterday’s clash was a must win game for Aston Villa. Paul Lambert’s side face a difficult away game at Arsenal next and then a home clash with reigning champions Manchester City the following weekend.
Villa will be hoping that they can pick up something from the next two games, but will also hope that their rivals don’t pick up maximum points in the meantime. Villa are very much in the dogfight, but at least in the last few weeks the players performances have improved.
Villa have now given themselves a fighting chance of staying in the top flight. Whether they will remains to be seen, but I’m sure that everybody connected with Villa are breathing a sigh of relief after collecting maximum points from yesterday’s clash.
Can Aston Villa beat the drop this season?
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