Wayne Rooney scored twice as Manchester United remained five points clear at the top of the Premier League after a 3-1 win at home to Aston Villa.
For much of last night it looked as if United might extend their lead but second-placed Arsenal came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 at the Emirates and so stay in touch with Sir Alex Ferguson’s unbeaten side.
England striker Rooney’s first minute goal — his first in open play in the Premier League in 11 months — gave the hosts the ideal start at Old Trafford. He doubled United’s lead on the stroke of half-time when he turned in Nani’s cross from close range.
Darren Bent gave Villa hope with a 58th minute goal before United defender Nemanja Vidic blasted an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net five minutes later.
Louis Saha gave Everton a 24th minute lead before Andrey Arshavin equalised in the 70th minute.
Laurent Koscielny headed in the winner for Arsenal five minutes later. Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka responded to the signing of Fernando Torres by scoring one goal and setting another up in the defending champions’ 4-2 Premier League win at Sunderland who had taken an early lead but fortunes swung to allow The Blues their third win in a row.