Game On – Sunderland Sack O’Neil – By Tim Magnus

Sunderland have sacked manager Martin O’Neill after a 1-0 defeat to runaway leaders Manchester United at the Stadium of Light.

A Titus Bramble own goal mid-way through the first half proved to be enough to secure all three points for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side and also enough to see the end of O’Neill’s reign as Sunderland manager.

With Sunderland in 16th, and with a difficult run in, they are well in the relegation battle and desperate for a change of fortunes. Conversely, Manchester United are now striding closer to another Premier League title and snatching the trophy back from their local rivals Manchester City.

Southampton pushed themselves further out of the relegation dogfight after they defeated Champions League chasing Chelsea 2-1 at the St Marys Stadium.

With this being Chelsea’s first game out of four in eight days, Rafael Benitez made substantial changes in his team and this proved costly as Jay Rodriguez gave the Saints the lead after a slow Chelsea start to the game.

The Champions of Europe did grab an equaliser through their returning skipper John Terry but a sublime Rickie Lambert free kick gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side a well deserved three points.

Manchester City did all they could to try and put pressure on Manchester United at the top of the Premier League as they beat Newcastle 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Two goals just before half time put City well on their way, with Carlos Tevez and David Silva getting on the scoresheet. There were two more goals in the second half for City a captain Vincent Kompany marked his club return with a goal and Yaya Touré put the finishing touches on an emphatic City win to keep them fifteen points behind neighbours Manchester United.

Gareth Bale assisted one and scored another as he was once again instrumental in another Tottenham win, this time a 2-1 victory over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Tottenham’s first goal was sublimely finished by defener Jan Vertonghen after neat work from Bale gave him the opportunity.

Vertonghen returned the favour to Bale moments later as the defender assisted a goal to one of the most in form players in world football, Gareth Bale.

Swansea made a second half fightback and pulled a goal back courtesy of Michu, but Andre Villas Boas’ side held on for a vital three points which sees them take a giant leap towards Champions League football.

Nigel Adkins first game as a Reading manager ended in a comprehensive 4-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal never looked threatened by bottom club Reading and earned all three points thanks to goals from the exceptional Gervinho, Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and a Mikel Arteta penalty.

Hal Robson Kanu got Reading’s first goal under Nigel Adkins but that was little consolation for a side who now sit bottom of the Premier League, albeit on goal difference, and with an uphill struggle to survive.

Andy Carroll grabbed a brace as he helped West Ham comfortably dispatch an effortless West Bromwich Albion 3-1 at Upton Park. First half goals from on loan Liverpool forward Carroll and then Gary O’Neill gave the Hammers a deserved two goal advantage at the break.

Carroll grabbed his second of the game, and West Ham’s third, late on as he looks to end his season with a flourish of goals to send a message to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

West Brom pulled a goal back from the penalty spot through Graham Dorrans after Romelu Lukaku was fouled but any joy from that goal was shortlived after Youssuf Mulumbu was sent off for picking a ball up and kicking it at O’Neill after his frustration boiled over.

Wigan moved out of the relegation zone thanks to a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Norwich at the DW Stadium. In an uninspiring game of football it took until the 80th minute for the deadlock to be broken and what an important goal it could prove to be.

Arouna Kone’s finish past Lee Camp secured all three points for Roberto Martinez’s side as they begin to believe they can pull of yet another great escape from relegation. Norwich’s loss drags them into the relegation fight as well as the end of the season draws closer.

Stoke continued their woeful run of form as they lost their sixth straight away game with a 1-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.

Kevin Mirallas scored the only goal of the game as his individual brilliance carved open an otherwise solid Stoke defense after 28 minutes. Stoke now sit just four points ahead of Wigan and Aston Villa and have played a game more so are also starting to worry that their stint in the Premier League could be coming to an end.

Everton, on the other hand, are only two points behind Arsenal as David Moyes’ side sit 6th in the Premier League.

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