LONDON (AFP) – Manchester City went top in the Premier League by crushing Aston Villa 5-0 on Saturday, but third-placed Chelsea have now gone four games without a win after losing 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion.
David Silva’s scrappy 43rd-minute goal put City ahead at the Etihad Stadium, before penalties from Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez — awarded for handballs by Andreas Weimann and Barry Bannan — made it 3-0.
Aguero beat Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan at his near post to claim his second goal in the 67th minute and Tevez then tapped home the fifth, as City warmed up for Wednesday’s vital Champions League encounter with Real Madrid in style.
The result dropped Villa into the bottom three and took champions City a point clear of former leaders Manchester United, who will return to the summit if they win at Norwich City later on Saturday.
Chelsea’s early-season momentum appears to have fizzled out completely, after their defeat at coach Roberto Di Matteo’s former club left them four points off the pace.
Shane Long put West Brom ahead at the Hawthorns with a 10th-minute header but Eden Hazard drew the visitors level when he nodded in Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross six minutes before half-time.
Peter Odemwingie’s near-post header from Long’s centre saw the home side reclaim the initiative five minutes into the second half and the introductions of Juan Mata and Oscar could not turn the match in Chelsea’s favour.
West Brom’s victory allowed them to climb to within a point of Chelsea and they clambered over Everton into fourth place after David Moyes’ side were beaten 2-1 at relegation-threatened Reading.
Steven Naismith punished sloppy defending to give Everton a 10th-minute lead but a second-half Adam Le Fondre double — a header followed by a penalty — saw the Royals belatedly register their first win of the campaign.
In the battle of the basement clubs, Southampton won 3-1 at Queens Park Rangers to leave the London club four points adrift at the foot of the table and increase the pressure on coach Mark Hughes.
David Hoilett gave QPR hope when he pulled a goal back after Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon had put the Saints 2-0 up, but a late Anton Ferdinand own goal confirmed a win that took Nigel Adkins’ men to within a point of safety.
Earlier, Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor scored but was then sent off as his former club Arsenal stormed back from behind to win 5-2 in the north London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
The Togolese forward tapped in a 10th-minute opener after Wojciech Szczesny saved from Jermain Defoe but was sent off eight minutes later for an uncontrolled lunge at Santi Cazorla.
Per Mertesacker’s 24th-minute header drew Arsenal level and quick-fire goals from Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud put the hosts 3-1 up at half-time.
Cazorla’s tap-in extended Arsenal’s lead, with Gareth Bale reducing the arrears in the 71st minute before Theo Walcott struck in injury time to produce a repeat of the scoreline from last season’s equivalent fixture in February.
“We showed people how good we are today,” Walcott told Sky Sports television.
“It’ll give us tremendous spirit, and we’ve got a lot of players back to fitness and everybody’s very confident.”
Elsewhere, in-form Luis Suarez took his tally for the season to 10 league goals with a brace as Liverpool beat Wigan Athletic 3-0.
Goals from Michu and Jonathan de Guzman saw Swansea City win 2-1 at Newcastle United, who replied in injury time through Demba Ba.