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Nov 10, 2012

Arsenal held in thriller, Hernandez hat-trick

Javier Hernandez had a hand in all three goals to help Manchester United come from 2-0 down against Aston Villa to win 3-2 and extend their lead at the top of the table.

• Premier League Gallery Photo Gallery
• Delaney: Arsenal collapse again
• Jolly: Everton battle back
• Payne: Busby's ethos alive and well
• Tactics Board: The rise of the 4-2-4

The league leaders were trailing at the interval, which prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to haul off Villa old boy Ashley Young and replace him with Hernandez. It proved a tactical masterstroke as the Mexican struck three times to send United four points clear.

It did not like being a positive day for United as Andreas Weimann had Villa two goals to the good, his first a crisp strike from 18 yards and the second a simple tap-in.

Shortly before the hour, Hernandez galloped onto a brilliant pass from Paul Scholes to fire past Brad Guzan. United were on level terms on 63 minutes, with Hernandez volleying home from a tight angle - albeit with the aid of a deflection from Ron Vlaar that will go down as an own goal.

Robin van Persie struck the bar twice in the space of a minute to suggest Villa would hold on for a point, but with three minutes left on the clock, Hernandez met a cross to head home and seal the win.

Earlier, Arsenal's woes continued as they surrendered a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw with Fulham. Oliver Giroud was on target twice for the Gunners, with their other coming from Lukas Podolski, but they were found out defensively by Dimitar Berbatov (2) and Alex Kacaniklic.

Giroud has been called a few rude names since his move to Arsenal, but he grabbed his second headed goal in the week - his first coming against Schalke - when meeting a Theo Walcott corner to open the scoring against Fulham on 11 minutes.

Arsenal were in cruise control on 23 minutes as Arteta drove into the box before picking out Podolski to stab home. But just as against Schalke in midweek, the Gunners failed to kill off the game and from a corner Berbatov headed home unmarked.

Martin Jol has built steel into the Fulham play and the resilience came to the fore five minutes before the interval when Kacaniklic powered a header towards goal from 14 yards and it proved too hot for Vito Mannone to handle as he could only push it into the corner of his net.

The Emirates natives have been getting restless in recent weeks and they were extremely uncomfortable in their seats on 66 minutes when Arteta was caught in possession by Bryan Ruiz. He compounded the error by pulling Ruiz down in the box and Berbatov tucked home the penalty.

Theo Walcott was one of Arsenal's brighter players and he fashioned a leveller for Giroud, working hard to retrieve the ball after a shot from Giroud had hit the post. He whipped the ball in and the striker nodded home unmarked to level.

Arsenal had the chance to win the match, but Arteta saw a penalty saved - with many feeling justice was done as the award for handball looked extremely harsh.

Everton cemented their position in fourth when coming from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1.

Sunderland passed up a couple of decent chances before Adam Johnson put them ahead on the stroke of half-time as he executed a neat half-volley after Everton failed to clear their lines at a corner.

Everton have played some impressive football this season, with Marouane Fellaini at the heart of their good work. And it was the Belgian who hauled them back in the match by drilling home from the edge of the box 15 minutes from time.

This was David Moyes' 400th Premier League match as a manager and he was given cause to celebrate as Nikica Jelavic latched on to a pass from Fellaini to beat Simon Mignolet.

West Brom kept pace with Everton thanks to a 2-1 win at Wigan. James Morrison headed the Baggies in front on 31 minutes from a fine cross from Chris Brunt.

An own goal from Gary Caldwell doubled the lead and although Arouna Kone turned home Jean Beausejour's cross to give Wigan hope - the visitors held on for the win.

Southampton surrendered a lead to draw 1-1 with Swansea, but it was enough to take them off the foot of the table.

Morgan Schneiderlin put Saints in front on 64 minutes, but keeper Paulo Gazzaniga and defender Maya Yoshida failed to clear their lines on 73 minutes and this allowed Nathan Dyer to earn Swansea a point.

The pressure continues to mount on Mark Hughes and a first goal of his Stoke career from Charlie Adam condemned QPR to a 1-0 defeat - a result that sends them to the foot of the table.

Norwich kept a clean sheet for the first time in 39 Premier League matches as they drew 0-0 at Reading who remain in the relegation zone.

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