Chelsea 8 Aston Villa 0 - United drop points in draw with Swansea
English Premier League leaders Manchester United dropped points in the title race with a 1-1 draw at Swansea yesterday, while Chelsea routed Aston Villa 8-0 with a devastating attacking master class.
United's run of five consecutive league wins was brought to a halt in south Wales when Michu cancelled out Patrice Evra's opener for the visitors.
The game ended in acrimony, with United manager Alex Ferguson saying Swansea captain Ashley Williams "could have killed" striker Robin van Persie with a clearance.
United are four points ahead of Manchester City, while Chelsea returned to third place as seven different players scored for the rampant London team against Villa.
After Fernando Torres' header in the third minute, David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic, Frank Lampard, Ramires (twice), Oscar and Eden Hazard also scored.
The victory matched Chelsea's record rout of Wigan in May 2010 and maintained the team's revival since Rafa Benitez took charge last month.
"We are enjoying playing again and we needed that attitude to get us out of the sticky patch we were in," Lampard said.
But Chelsea are seven points behind City and 11 adrift of United in their search for a first Premier League title since 2010.
United, though, could have been further ahead entering the packed fixture programme over Christmas and New Year.
Evra put United ahead after 16 minutes in south Wales, glancing a header past Michel Vorm after latching on to Van Persie's cross.
Although Jonathan de Guzman had an equaliser ruled out, Michu's goal was given in the 29th, tapping into the net after David de Gea parried an initial attempt from De Guzman.
Tempers flared late in the game after Williams cleared the ball directly on to Van Persie's head while the striker was on the ground. Van Persie squared up to Williams and both players were booked.
"The Van Persie situation you can clearly see that he could have been killed," Ferguson said.
"He (Williams) should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I've seen on a football field for many years. It was absolutely deliberate," Ferguson added. "The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in front of the referee."
The day's other match was so one-sided that even with two penalties being awarded to Chelsea there was no hint of acrimony, with no one booked.
Chelsea were rampant from the start, with Torres taking just three minutes to meet fellow Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta's precise cross from the right flank with a header that beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
The striker has netted seven goals in his last six games, having netted only seven in the opening four months of the season.
Chelsea went further ahead on the half-hour when Luiz curled a free kick into the top corner and Ivanovic headed home four minutes later after Guzan parried Gary Cahill's shot.
Chelsea's fourth was a landmark goal for Lampard, who stabbed the ball into the net from distance to net his 130th topflight goal for the club, surpassing Bobby Tambling's record set between 1959 and 1970.
"I'm very proud of that goals record, to beat a great man such as Bobby who is an absolute legend and a lovely bloke, it means everything," said Lampard, who joined Chelsea from West Ham in 2001.
"Coming across London is not always easy, but (the fans) have supported me."
Lampard's future, though, remains in doubt with the 34-year-old midfielder's contract expiring at the end of the season. He has been linked with a move to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"I love playing here," he said. "I'm pleased to be fit and I will keep trying to enjoy my football. I believe I have a lot in me to go. I don't want to get too deep. The club's position is their position. I'm here to play football to show people what I can do."
There were more goals to come.
Ramires scored his first in the 75th, putting the ball through Guzan's legs after latching onto a cross from Lucas Piazon, who had just come on to make his league debut.
Oscar hit Chelsea's sixth from the penalty spot four minutes later after being fouled by Chris Herd.
The seventh came in the 83rd when Hazard weaved through the hapless Villa defence and sent the ball into the top corner.
Although Piazon had a spot kick after being brought down, Ramires found time to net his second in stoppage time after being set up by Oscar.
LIVERPOOL 4 FULHAM 0
GOALS:- LIVERPOOL: SKRTEL 8th; GERRARD 36th; DOWNING 51st; SUAREZ 90th.
Liverpool set up their Christmas programme when they overwhelmed a tame Fulham to move up to eighth in the Barclays Premier League. Martin Skrtel controlled a Steven Gerrard corner and powered in a shot to put the home side in front. Stewart Downing's piercing ball then set up Gerrard to drive in Liverpool's second. Winger Downing cut inside and rifled in a shot for his first Premier League goal for the Reds, before Luis Suarez side-footed in to seal an emphatic win.
MANCHESTER CITY 1 READING 0
CITY:- BARRY 90+2.
Gareth Barry scored a 92nd-minute winner as Manchester City stunned Reading keep up the pressure on leaders Manchester United to three points. Barclays Premier League champions City looked set to be held by the bottom-placed club before Barry rose above Nicky Shorey to head in David Silva's cross. Barry and Carlos Tevez went close in a one-sided first half, while substitute Edin Dzeko had chances in the second.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0
NEWCASTLE:- SHOLA AMEOBI 81st.
Shola Ameobi scored his third goal of the season as Newcastle handed Harry Redknapp his first defeat as Queens Park Rangers manager. It looked like being a frustrating day for the Magpies, who had lost six of their previous seven games, as Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse missed good chances. But substitute Ameobi rifled in a shot with nine minutes remaining for his first league goal in nine months.
SOUTHAMPTON 0 SUNDERLAND 1
SUNDERLAND:- FLETCHER 42nd.
Steven Fletcher's eighth Barclays Premier League goal of the season proved enough to beat Southampton and lift Sunderland four points clear of the drop zone. The Saints began well, but a Rickie Lambert set-piece was as close as they got before Fletcher steered in a mishit effort from Stephane Sessegnon.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 STOKE CITY 0
Tottenham missed the chance to go third in the Premier League as they were held to a goalless draw by stubborn Stoke at White Hart Lane. Stoke, now unbeaten in eight matches, almost went ahead after 45 seconds when Kenwyne Jones shot over from 20 yards following Kyle Walker's sloppy pass.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 2 NORWICH CITY 1
WBA:- GERA 43rd; LUKAKU 82nd. NORWICH: SNODGRASS 23rd.
West Brom ended Norwich's unbeaten run with a hard-fought win, which ended six hours of football without a goal for the home side. Robert Snodgrass gave Norwich the lead with a free kick, but Zoltan Gera equalised before the break. Albion had the better of the second half before Romelu Lukaku headed home a Goran Popov cross for the winner.
WEST HAM UNITED 1 EVERTON 2
WEST HAM:- COLE.14th. EVERTON: ANICHEBE 64th; PIENAAR 73rd.
Everton came from behind to move back into fourth place as both sides ended with 10 men at Upton Park. Carlton Cole gave West Ham an early lead, but was then shown a hotly contested red card for a high challenge on Leighton Baines after the interval. Victor Anichebe had already headed Everton level after 64 minutes and they cashed in on West Ham's numerical disadvantage when Steven Pienaar scrambled in what proved to be the winner shortly after Cole was sent off. Everton's Darron Gibson was dismissed late on.
WIGAN ATHLETIC 0 ARSENAL 1
ARSENAL:- ARTETA PEN 60th.
Mikel Arteta's penalty secured a third consecutive Barclays Premier League victory for Arsenal for the first time since March. Arouna Kone wasted Wigan's best chance when he broke clear in the first half and failed to hit the target. Arteta scored from the spot just before the hour after Jean Beausejour was penalised for a challenge on Theo Walcott, who again played as a striker.