PREMIER LEAGUE WRAP: Chelsea hit eight, Man City bridge gap on Man Utd, Arsenal go fourth

The festive season is upon us and that means a hectic schedule for all Premier League clubs in a period which can make and break some campaigns.

One that appears to be back on track is that of Chelsea who returned to form with an 8-0 victory over Aston Villa following their Club World Cup defeat to Corinthians in Japan last weekend.

Rafael Benitez’s men hammered a young Villa line-up with first-half goals from Fernando Torres, David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic preceding Frank Lampard, Ramires’ double, Oscar and Eden Hazard’s goals in the second term.

The massive victory allowed Chelsea to remain third on the table and they are now 11 points in arrears of league leaders Manchester United who were held to a 1-1 draw by Swansea City on Sunday.

Patrice Evra opened the scoring for United before Michu went clear on the scoring charts with his 13th of the campaign which saw the Swans end the round play sitting 11th on the table.

United’s stronghold on the competition was weakened as reigning champions Manchester City left it late to beat Reading 1-0 courtesy of an injury-time winner from Gareth Barry. City are now just four points behind crosstown rivals United.

Arsenal made it three league wins in a row with a narrow 1-0 triumph over Wigan Athletic thanks to Mikel Arteta’s 60th-minute penalty whilst their North London rivals Tottenham dropped to sixth after being held to a 0-0 draw by Stoke City.

Everton sit fifth after they came from behind to beat West Ham United 2-1 thanks to second-half goals from Victor Anichebe and Steven Pienaar.

The Hammers took the lead through Carlton Cole in the 14th minute before the striker was shown a dubious straight red card for a 67th minute challenge on Leighton Baines whilst Toffees midfielder Darron Gibson was also needlessly sent off in injury-time.

Elsewhere, West Bromwich Albion got the better of Norwich City with a 2-1 come-from-behind result at The Hawthorns which ended the Canaries’ 10-game unbeaten streak, Newcastle United edged QPR 1-0, Sunderland beat Southampton 1-0 away and goals from Martin Skrtel, Steven Gerrard, Stewart Downing and Luis Suarez allowed Liverpool a 4-0 home win over Fulham to lift them to eighth on the table.

The next lot of Premier League fixtures takes place on Boxing Day, December 26 before
2012/13 Barclays Premier League season scores

Wigan Athletic: 0
Arsenal: 1 (Mikel Arteta (p) 60’)
DW Stadium, Wigan – 21,754

Manchester City: 1 (Gareth Barry 90+3’)
Reading: 0
Etihad Stadium, Manchester – 47,007

Newcastle United: 1 (Shola Ameobi 81’)
Queens Park Rangers: 0
Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – 50,180

Southampton: 0
Sunderland: 1 (Steven Fletcher 42’)
St Mary’ Stadium, Southampton – 31,275

Tottenham: 0
Stoke City: 0
White Hart Lane, London – 35,702

West Bromwich Albion: 2 (Zoltan Gera 44’, Romelu Lukaku 82’)
Norwich City: 1 (Robert Snodgrass 23’)
The Hawthorns, West Bromwich – 25,799

West Ham United: 1 (Carlton Cole 14’, red card: Cole 67’)
Everton: 2 (Victor Anichebe 64’, Steven Pienaar 73’, red card: Darron Gibson 90+2’)
Upton Park, London – 35,005

Liverpool: 4 (Martin Skrtel 8’, Steven Gerrard 36’, Stewart Downing 52’, Luis Suarez 90+2’)
Fulham: 0
Anfield, Liverpool – 44,570

Chelsea: 8 (Fernando Torres 3’, David Luiz 29’, Branislav Ivanovic 34’, Frank Lampard 59’, Ramires 75’/90+1’, Oscar (p) 79’, Eden Hazard 83’)
Aston Villa: 0
Stamford Bridge, London – 41,363

Swansea City: 1 (Michu 29’)
Manchester United: 1 (Patrice Evra 16’)
Liberty Stadium, Swansea – 20,650

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