MANCHESTER United maintained their seven-point advantage over rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez scored a brace each to thrash Wigan 4-0.
Leaders United’s early dominance finally told when Hernandez tapped in from Ali Al-Habsi’s spill. Van Persie’s superb turn and whipped right-footed shot doubled their lead just before half-time.
Hernandez then lashed in Van Persie’s deflected free-kick before the prolific Dutchman confirmed the win with his 19th goal of the season from Danny Welbeck’s pullback.
Stoke tested Manchester City’s title credentials but they managed to keep pace with their neighbours with a 3-0 home victory.
The Potters were looking to extend a 10-match unbeaten run but Pablo Zabaleta fired City’s opening goal after sustained pressure.
Edin Dzeko tapped in a rebound to double the lead before Sergio Aguero struck a 74th-minute penalty to confirm victory after Steven Nzonzi had fouled David Silva.
However the Argentine, who is City’s joint top scorer this season, limped off with a hamstring injury late on and is a major doubt for the champions’ trip to London to face Arsenal on 13 January.
Meanwhile Aston Villa had victory snatched away by Swansea when Danny Graham hit a late equaliser to earn a 2-2 draw.
Wayne Routledge surged past a static Villa defence to hit Swansea ahead but the home side were guilty of wasting a host of chances.
A determined Villa looked set for victory after Andreas Weimann’s fine angled finish and Christian Benteke’s late penalty but Paul Lambert’s side could not hold on.