Manchester City top Premier League thanks to perfect home record

Champions Manchester United also continue their recent good form to creep up on the leading pack

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 1:30am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 1:30am

Manchester City took over at the top of the Premier League on Saturday when, with Arsenal not playing, they took advantage with a 1-0 victory over stubborn strugglers Crystal Palace.

A solitary 66th-minute strike from Bosnian Edin Dzeko earned City all three points to extend their home record to 10 wins out of 10, but their ascent to the summit was achieved with none of their familiar free-scoring swagger.

That was left, instead, to mid-table Hull City, who hammered relegation-threatened Fulham 6-0, while champions Manchester United continued their steady improvement with a 1-0 win at Norwich City, courtesy of England striker Danny Welbeck's fourth goal in four games.

Aston Villa struggled again in a 1-1 draw at home to fellow mid-tablers Swansea City after West Ham United had earlier been held 3-3 by drop-zone rivals West Bromwich Albion in a thriller at Upton Park.

The Hammers took an early lead through former England forward Joe Cole, but were hit by two goals in five minutes by French striker Nicolas Anelka just before the interval.

The half-time introduction of Mali striker Modibo Maiga enlivened West Ham again and, after striking an equaliser in the 65th minute, he helped set up Kevin Nolan two minutes later as the home team went ahead again. But West Ham were unable to hang on to their lead and substitute Saido Berahino equalised after 69 minutes.

The result extended a grim sequence for West Ham, who have won only once in 12 league games since their 3-0 success at Tottenham Hotspur on October 6.

"We are disappointed," Nolan said. "I think we were all over them in the first half and let them back into the game. I played with Nico [Anelka] before, at Bolton, and you just can't give him chances like that."

West Brom's caretaker coach, Keith Downing, was forced to defend Anelka, who was accused of making an anti-Semitic gesture while celebrating one of his goals

Anelka appeared to perform a salute used by French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala that Jewish groups in France have linked to anti-Semitic incidents in the country.

Downing admitted Anelka's celebration was dedicated to Dieudonne but said anything else being read into the gesture "is absolute rubbish". Jewish groups say the "la quenelle" gesture is a Nazi salute in reverse.

Reuters, Associated Press