Van Persie and Hernandez scored once in each half yesterday as United improved to 52 points through 21 games. Defending champion City defeated Stoke 3-0, ending the Potters’ 10-match unbeaten run.
“There’s 17 games left and we have a seven-point lead,” United manager Alex Ferguson said on his club’s website. “It’s not what I would say is a healthy lead, but it is a lead and it gives us something to kick on with.”
Tottenham rallied to beat Reading 3-1 and move into third place, West Ham defeated Norwich 2-1, Fulham won 2-1 at West Brom, Swansea drew 2-2 with Aston Villa, while Southampton moved out of the three relegation spots at the bottom of the standings by drawing 1-1 with Arsenal.
Chelsea hosts last-place Queens Park Rangers in one of three matches today, when Everton travels to Newcastle and Liverpool faces Sunderland.
At DW Stadium in Wigan, Manchester United continued its domination of the Latics by winning for the 15th time in 16 Premier League meetings between the teams.
Hernandez opened the scoring in the 35th minute by putting in the rebound after Patrice Evra’s shot was knocked away by goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Van Persie doubled the lead eight minutes later by curling a right-foot shot into the top corner.
United went 3-0 up in the 63rd minute when van Persie’s free kick hit the wall and bounced to Hernandez, who shot past Al Habsi from inside the area. Van Persie closed the scoring in the 88th minute with his league-best 16th goal of the season.
‘Game by Game’
“We have to look at it game by game but everybody wants to be champions,” Van Persie said on United’s website. “I feel that I’m surrounded by champions. They know how to win and that makes it easy for me.”
Manchester City kept pace with United by beating Stoke at home for the fifth straight time. Pablo Zabaleta gave City the lead just before halftime, with Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero scoring after the break.
Goals from Alex Kacaniklic and Dimitar Berbatov gave Fulham its second win in 13 league games, while Mark Noble and Joey O’Brien scored in West Ham’s home victory over Norwich.
Danny Graham’s goal in second-half stoppage time earned Swansea the home draw with Aston Villa, which had taken the lead on Christian Benteke’s 84th-minute penalty kick.
Southampton’s home draw lifted it above Wigan in the standings on goal difference. Gaston Ramirez put the Saints in front in the 34th minute before an own goal from teammate Guly Do Prado tied the score seven minutes later.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.