Manchester United’s dismal season lurched into crisis on Saturday after a 1-0 loss at home to Newcastle United condemned the champion to its fifth defeat of the campaign.
Yohan Cabaye’s goal just after the hour gave Newcastle its first victory at Old Trafford since 1972 and consigned United to back-to-back home defeats in the league for the first time since May 2002.
United restored Robin van Persie to its starting XI following a four-game absence with a groin strain, but the closest it came to scoring was a Patrice Evra header that hit the post early in the second half.
Newcastle hit the champion with a sucker-punch in the 61st minute, with Moussa Sissoko galloping down the right flank after winning a duel with Evra before cutting the ball back for Cabaye to sweep home.
United’s misery was tempered slightly after both Chelsea and Manchester City dropped points, but it means that Arsenal could stretch its lead to seven points if it wins at home to Everton on Sunday.
Chelsea slipped to third place after on-loan Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi scored a stunning last-minute winner to give Stoke City a 3-2 victory at the Britannia Stadium.
Jose Mourinho’s side was on course for a point after Andre Schurrle claimed a brace either side of goals from Peter Crouch and Stephen Ireland, only for Assaidi to cut in from the left and dispatch a glorious decisive strike at the death.
City fell one place to fourth, five points behind Arsenal, after drawing 1-1 at Southampton.
Sergio Aguero gave City a 10th-minute lead by dispatching a low cross from Aleksandar Kolarov, but Dani Osvaldo produced a stylish equaliser shortly before the interval, slipping past Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta before curling home.
Liverpool capitalised on Chelsea and City’s slip-ups to steal into second place — above Chelsea on goal difference — by winning 4-1 at home to West Ham United in a game that featured three own goals.
A Guy Demel own goal put the host in front in the 42nd minute and it stretched its lead through Mamadou Sakho, before Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel put through his own goal. Luis Suarez headed in his 14th goal of the season in the 81st minute, with a Joey O’Brien own goal completing the scoring after West Ham captain Kevin Nolan had been sent off for an ugly foul.
The result: Manchester United 0 lost to Newcastle 1 (Cabaye 61); Crystal Palace 2 (Jerome 6, Chamakh 58) bt Cardiff 0; Liverpool 4 (Demel 42-og, Sakho 47, Suarez 81, O’Brien 84-og) bt West Ham 1 (Skrtel 66-og); Southampton 1 (Osvaldo 42) drew with Manchester City 1 (Aguero 10); Stoke 3 (Crouch 42, Ireland 50, Assaidi 90) bt Chelsea 2 (Schurrle 9, 53); West Brom 0 lost to Norwich 2 (Hooper 13, Fer 89). — Agencies