(Reuters) – West Bromwich Albion showed they are a legitimate force in the Premier League by beating European champions Chelsea 2-1 on Saturday while Manchester City crushed Aston Villa 5-0 to go top of the table for the first time this season.
Nigerian winger Peter Odemwingie scored West Brom’s winner after 50 minutes at the Hawthorns, sending the home side into fourth place and ruining the return of former Baggies manager Roberto Di Matteo.
It left third-placed Chelsea off the pace after two goals apiece from Argentine duo Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez gave Premier League champions City a comfortable day at the Etihad Stadium.
City have 28 points from 12 matches, with second-placed Manchester United (27 points) hoping to reclaim the lead when they face Norwich City at Carrow Road later on Saturday (1730GMT).
Chelsea have 24 points from 12 games with Albion a point further back.
Southampton increased the pressure on QPR manager Mark Hughes by winning their basement battle 3-1 at Loftus Road, and Reading, who also started the day in the bottom three, surprised Everton with a 2-1 win at the Madejski Stadium, Adam Le Fondre’s double leading them to their first league win this season.
Hughes vowed to carry on. "I can imagine there are a lot of frustrated people connected with QPR, and I can understand that," he told the BBC. "But it’s not a case of hiding. You have to front up, puff your chest out, and change things around."
Luis Suarez scored twice to help Liverpool to a 3-0 win at home to Wigan Athletic, who lost midfielder Ben Watson to a broken leg, and Swansea City enjoyed a 2-1 victory at a struggling Newcastle United.
Arsenal had kickstarted their season in the early Saturday kickoff by beating north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 after Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor was sent off for a reckless first-half challenge on Santi Cazorla.
West Brom fans gave Chelsea manager Di Matteo a warm welcome on the Italian’s return to the Hawthorns, and then their team showed him how far they had come since he was sacked in 2011.
The home side were ahead after 10 minutes, when Shane Long shrugged off Chelsea defender David Luiz in the area to head home a cross from James Morrison.
Belgian Eden Hazard equalised with a header six minutes before the break, and it was another header that gave West Brom the edge, Long this time the provider and Odemwingie nodding the cross through Petr Cech’s legs.
Di Matteo brought on substitutes Oscar and Mata, and withdrew Fernando Torres, but Daniel Sturridge missed two late chances and West Brom held on.
The result was a personal triumph for Steve Clarke, the West Brom manager and former Chelsea player.
Clarke said: "There is a feel-good factor here. Our job is to keep our feet on the ground but if the supporters want to dream they can."
City appeared vulnerable early on against Villa, with keeper Joe Hart – who was criticised after England lost to Sweden in a midweek friendly – doing well to keep out a cross that took a deflection off Vincent Kompany.
Yet once David Silva gave City the lead with a toe-poke seconds before halftime, Villa had little response.
The visitors, though, would have been angry at the way City doubled their lead, as City were awarded a harsh penalty for what appeared to be a handball against Andreas Weimann.
Aguero converted the 54th-minute spot-kick, and 11 minutes later they had another penalty – this time Tevez taking the responsibility after Barry Bannan was penalised for handball by the same linesman.
Aguero made it four with a deflected right-foot shot that beat Villa’s keeper, Brad Guzan, at his near post, and Tevez kept pace with his Argentine compatriot with his second of the game on 74 minutes.
At the north London derby in the early kickoff, Adebayor gave Spurs the lead after 10 minutes, but seven minutes later the Togolese dived into a tackle on Cazorla and was shown a straight red card by referee Howard Webb.
Germany defender Per Mertesacker equalised for Arsenal with a powerful header after 24 minutes, and Arsene Wenger’s side scored twice in the last three minutes of the first half – through Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud – to take control.
Spaniard Cazorla made it four from Podolski’s cross on the hour, and although Gareth Bale’s right-foot shot from the edge of the area gave Spurs some hope, Theo Walcott completed the scoring from close range in injury time – the 39th goal in the last eight matches between the teams.
Speculation about Hughes’s position as QPR manager will increase following Southampton’s victory.
The south-coast club, who started the day one point ahead of bottom-placed QPR, took a two-goal lead through Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon, and although Junior Hoilett pulled one back in the 49th minute, Anton Ferdinand’s own goal seven minutes from time completed a miserable day for QPR.
Hughes said: "From my point of view, we didn’t see that performance coming, as last week we did fine. We needed a big performance today, and did not get one."
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