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Top 5: First XI costs in Premier League

Transfers 9 hours ago
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Oct 7, 2012

Defence inspires United, Stoke stifle Reds

Manchester United had their defenders to thank at both ends of the pitch for their victory over Newcastle, while Liverpool's dire start to the season continued as they were held by Stoke and Tottenham's improvement under Andre Villas-Boas gathered pace with a win over Aston Villa.

• Premier League gallery Photo Gallery
• Delaney: Spurs click into gear
• Jolly: Reds frustrated
• AVB allays Friedel fears
• Premier League: Saturday review

Sir Alex Ferguson was a happy man as he watched Manchester United take full advantage of Newcastle's generosity to win 3-0 at St James' Park and climb into second place in the Premier League.

United were handed a flying start as the Magpies' makeshift defence crumbled horrifically on two occasions inside the opening 16 minutes to allow first Jonny Evans and then Patrice Evra to head home.

Alan Pardew's men rallied in determined fashion and might have been back in the game five minutes into the second half, but Demba Ba's header came back off the bar and Papiss Cisse's follow-up was clawed on to the post by keeper David de Gea with the home contingent claiming the ball had crossed the line.

But Tom Cleverley's 71st-minute strike from long range ensured the visitors avenged their 3-0 defeat at St James' Park last season in fine style. The bulk of a crowd of 52,203 trudged away knowing their team had contributed to its own downfall with the kind of calamitous defending which has plagued them for years, but had, until today, become less common since their return to the top flight.

Brendan Rodgers is still searching for his first league victory at Anfield after Liverpool were frustrated in a 0-0 draw with Stoke City.

Rodgers, who left £20 million winger Stewart Downing out of the squad having questioned his commitment last week, saw a physical Stoke outfit stifle his side's intricate approach work.

The Liverpool boss has now only managed one Premier League win - the 5-2 success at Norwich - since taking over at the Reds over the summer. The resul also means that Liverpool have still only won two league games at Anfield in 2012.

Tottenham Hotspur built on their triumph over Manchester United by dismissing Aston Villa 2-0 at White Hart Lane. The victory meant that Spurs' France international goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, in for Brad Friedel, kept a clean sheet on his Premier League debut.

Defender Steven Caulker broke the deadlock early in the second period, ghosting in to convert Gareth Bale's cross, and Aaron Lennon made it two shortly afterwards, cutting inside and driving a shot into the corner.

Aston Villa defender Joe Bennett was stretchered off late on with a serious-looking leg injury, having made an awkward landing.

Jose Fonte's last-gasp header secured a 2-2 draw for Southampton and spared defensive partner Jos Hooiveld's blushes against Fulham.

Fonte nodded home a 90th-minute leveller in a game in which he had broken the deadlock after four minutes. Hooiveld scored an own goal in Southampton's 6-1 humbling at Arsenal and did so again on the south coast when he directed home a speculative John Arne Riise drive in the second half.

He then saw Kieran Richardson's close-range strike brush off him on its way in two minutes from time, although the goal was credited to the Fulham man. However, Fonte saved the Dutchman and his side late on to earn Southampton a fourth point of the campaign.

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