RECAP: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
Tim Howard and Everton clawed back some of their deficit to Arsenal with their fifth consecutive win, while Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City's struggles continued with a loss to Bournemouth.
Manchester United 4 - 1 Aston Villa
Brad Guzan and Aston Villa gave up four unanswered goals over the final 70 minutes in a rout at Manchester United on Saturday.
Guzan manned his usual spot between the sticks and played the entire 90 minutes for the Villans.
Things started off strong for Villa, taking the lead in the 13th minute off an Ashley Westwood free kick. Westwood launched the strike from 23 yards out and curled it over the United wall and beyond the outstretched arms of David De Gea and inside the left post.
That lead was short-lived, as seven minutes later, the Red Devils equalized. Shinji Kagawa dribbled in from the left wing and sent a cross into the middle of the 18-yard box, where Wayne Rooney headed it past Guzan.
Rooney scored once again right before the break, when Kagawa threaded a pass through to Juan Mata and Leandro Bacuna felled the Spaniard in the box. Rooney stepped and converted the penalty.
In the 57th minute, Manchester United doubled its lead after the Marouane Fellini left the ball in the path of Mata in the box, and the Spaniard turned to find the back of the net. The Red Devils added another goal in the first minute of stoppage time, as Adnan Januzai centered a pass to Javier Hernandez, who slotted home the final goal.
With the loss, Aston Villa dropped into 12th place, and the Villans will return to action next Saturday against Fulham.
Stoke City 1 - 0 Hull City
Geoff Cameron and Stoke City remained on course for their best-ever point total in the Premier League with a win over Hull City on Saturday.
Cameron went the distance at right back for the Potters, while fellow American Brek Shea wasn't in the 18 for Stoke.
Not much happened in the first half outside of a missed attempt in the first half by Hull's Liam Rosenior, whose header went well wide. The Tigers had another great chance to start the first half, but Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saved an attempt by David Meyler that was deflected.
In the end, it was Stoke's Peter Odemwingie who managed to find the back of the net and shoot Stoke to victory. In the 62nd minute, Odemwingie intercepted an Ahmed Elmohamady pass and surged toward the Hull goal, where he beat Hull goalkeeper Steve Harper with a low shot.
With the win, Stoke strengthened its hold on 10th place, and the Potters return to action at Chelsea next Saturday.
Fulham FC 1 - 3 FC Everton
Tim Howard and Everton recorded their fifth consecutive win when they beat Fulham on Sunday.
Howard played the entire 90 minutes for the Toffees, who moved to four points behind Arsenal in fourth place with a match in hand.
Everton struggled mightily in the first half and needed Howard to make some crucial saves to keep the match scoreless going into the break. Early in the second half, fortunes changed, starting with the introduction of substitute Steven Naismith at half. In the 50th minute, Fulham failed to completely clear a corner, and Naismith launched a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box that Fulham's William Kvist and David Stockdale deflected before it went into the back of the net.
In the 71st minute, Fulham equalized, however. Ashkan Dejagah tooks a couple of dribbles inside from the left side of the box and snuck his shot from the edge of the box inside the near post.
If the Cottagers thought they could escape with a win after that goal, Everton broke their herts - twice. In the 79th minute, Aiden McGeady put Kevin Mirallas on net, and Mirallas beat Stockdale to his right. Then, in the 87th minute, Naismith struck again, taking advantage of the referee playing an advantage and tapping the ball home from inside the 18-yard box.
Everton hosts Arsenal next Sunday in a crucial match in the race for fourth place.
Birmingham City 2 - 4 Bournemouth
Jonathan Spector and Birmingham dug themselves too deep of a hole against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Spector went the distance for the Blues, while fellow American Will Packwood didn't dress in the loss.
Bournemouth came storming out the gates, scoring three goals within the first 30 minutes. It started in the 13th minute when Matt Ritchie found the back of the net after Lewis Grabban looped a pass inside the box to get Ritchie some space for a volleyed shot.
Then, within a nine-minute span, Grabban scored two goals himself. In the 20th minute, he tapped in a deflected cross from Marc Pugh, and then, in the 28th minute, Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph brought down Grabban in the box, and Grabban gave the Cherries the three-goal lead.
The Cherries weren't done, adding a fourth early in the second half. Ian Harte cutback from the right corner and curled a beautiful shot into the upper left corner of the net.
Birmingham managed to score two consolation goals, both by Federico Macheda. In the 57th minute, Macheda's left-footed shot found the back of the net after being set up by Jordon Ibe, and in the 73rd minute, Macheda volleyed a 20-yard shot into the net.
With the loss, Birmingham is now in 20th place, just five points above the relegation zone having played one more match than Barnsley in the last relegation spot. The Blues will head to Doncaster next Saturday.
Bolton Wanderers 1 - 1 Wigan Athletic
Tim Ream and Bolton couldn't hold on to a lead, giving up a late goal in a tie with Wigan on Saturday.
Ream played the entire match for Bolton, which moved to 10 points above the drop zone.
After the two teams went back and forth, Bolton managed to take the lead in the 31st minute. Robert Hall curled in a free kick to a dangerous spot, and Lukas Jutkiewicz redirected it to beat Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi.
That scoreline held until the 88th minute, when Wigan equalized to get a point. Martyn Waghorn cut the ball back to Nick Powell, who fired home. The Latics had a chance in injury to steal all three points when they were awarded a penalty, but Trotter goalkeeper Adam Bogdan managed to block Jordi Gomez's attempt.
Despite the tie, Bolton continues to occupy 17th place, and the Trotters square off with Huddersfield Town next Saturday.
Reading FC 1 - 1 Huddersfield Town
Danny Williams held on to the last promotion playoff spot with a tie against Huddersfield on Saturday.
Williams played 81 minutes for the Royals, while American teenager Duane Holmes dressed but didn't come off the bench for Huddersfield Town.
All of the fireworks came early in this match, as both goals were scored in the first seven matches. Huddersfield took the lead in the fourth minute when Tommy Smith sent in a long pass to Nahki Wells. The pass evaded Reading defender Sean Morrison, and it left Wells one-on-one with Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, whom Wells beat for the gaol.
The Terriers led for less than four minutes, as reading equalized in the seventh minute. Huddersfield's Oliver Norwood tugged on Jobi Mcanuff's jersey inside the box, and the referee called for a penalty. Pavel Pogrebnyak stepped up and converted the penalty.
Both teams had multiple chances to find a winner, and the Terriers having the better ones in the second half, including one shot that had to be cleared off the line late. The match ended in a tie, however, and Reading stays in sixth place. The Royals return to action next Saturday at Charlton.
Sheffield Wednesday 1 - 4 Watford
Oguchi Onyewu and Sheffield Wednesday couldn't recover from a four-goal deficit in a loss to Watford on Saturday.
Onyewu went the distance in defense for the Owls, who were without head coach Stuart Gray because he was at his son's wedding.
Watford went ahead in the fifth minute off a Lewis McGugan free kick. Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland saved McGugan's attempt, but the rebound fell to Gabriele Angella, who tapped it in from close range. Then, in the 23rd minute, McGugan doubled the Hornets' lead in the 23rd minute, heading Daniel Pudil's cross into the back of the net.
To start off the second half, Watford's Troy Deeney scored two goals in a two-minute span to put the match out of reach. In the 49th minute, Deeney got behind the Wednesday defense and slotted a shot under a charging Kirkland to score his first. Then, in the 51st minute, Mathias Ranegie shot ricocheted off the left post, and Deeney picked up the rebound inside the six-yard box before sliding it into the back of the net.
In the 54th minute, Benik Afobe headed in a goal off a Liam Palmer cross for the Owls, who also had an Oneywu header clank off the crossbar later in the match, but that was all Wednesday could muster.
With the loss, Wednesday dropped into 14th place, and the Owls travel to Leicester City next Friday.
Brad Friedel made the bench but didn't play in Tottenham's 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Liverpool on Sunday.
Zak Whitbread was an unused substitute in Derby County's 3-0 win over Charlton on Saturday.
Eric Lichaj missed another match for Nottingham Forrest because of injury, this time a 1-1 tie with Ipswich Town on Saturday.