Gunners shoot to top of the table

Updated: 2013-09-30 07:07

By Agence France-Presse in London (China Daily)

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Manchester misery lets Arsenal take charge of league

Arsenal inched clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday after Manchester United sensationally crashed at home to West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City lost at Aston Villa.

A week on from its 4-1 derby humiliation at City, United was looking to return to its winning ways in the league but instead slumped to a 2-1 defeat that left the champion in 12th place on the table.

On-loan Marseille winger Morgan Amalfitano put West Brom ahead with an exquisite individual goal in the 54th minute, picking the ball up on halfway and nutmegging Rio Ferdinand before insouciantly dinking the ball over goalkeeper David de Gea.

Wayne Rooney equalized three minutes later, with a free kick from wide on the left that eluded everyone, only for 20-year-old midfielder Saido Berahino to restore West Brom's lead with a fierce left-foot drive.

Steve Clarke's side held on for a victory that means United has now made its worst start to a season since 1989, in Moyes's first campaign since succeeding the legendary Alex Ferguson as manager.

"It was a poor result and a poor performance," said Moyes.

"We never really got going. We had a lot of the ball in the first half and never made many chances from it. They always looked a threat on the break in the first half ... and even more so in the second half.

"We missed that spark and West Brom deserved it, no question. I can't argue with that."

United's fans could nonetheless take a small crumb of consolation from the fact that its conqueror from last weekend fell to a 3-2 defeat at Villa Park.

Yaya Toure gave City the lead on the stroke of halftime, with Edin Dzeko putting the visitors back in front in the 56th minute after Karim El Ahmadi had equalized for Villa early in the second period.

However, a fine free kick from Leandro Bacuna saw Villa equalize again in the 73rd minute before Andreas Weimann ran clear and beat Joe Hart two minutes later to give Paul Lambert's side a stunning win.

"We played very well and deserved to win, but in five minutes we threw away everything good we did in the rest of the match," said City manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side hosts European champion Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday.

"The way we lost this game was incredible. We led twice, and we had control of the game."

Arsenal capitalized on its rival's setbacks by winning 2-1 at Swansea City to move two points clear of second-place Tottenham Hotspur, and eight clear of United.

In-form Aaron Ramsey was once again its match-winner, teeing up a 58th-minute opener for 18-year-old German winger Serge Gnabry before slamming home four minutes later to claim his eighth goal of the season.

Leftback Ben Davies replied for Swansea with eight minutes remaining, but Arsenal survived.

"It's early in the season," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side has now equaled the club record of eight consecutive away wins in the league.

"We had a good opportunity today and I think the quality of a team in a season is also when you have an opportunity, take it, and we took it today."

 Gunners shoot to top of the table

Aston Villa's Nathan Baker (left) is challenged by Manchester City's Edin Dzeko during their English Premier League match at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England, on Saturday. Villa stunned City 3-2. Darren Staples / Reuters

(China Daily 09/30/2013 page23)