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United on top

London: Manchester United went top of the Premier League after a 4-0 romp at Sunderland on Wednesday with Arsenal and Chelsea dropping points.

Arsenal, who began the day in first place, were held 0-0 in a late kickoff at Portsmouth while third-placed Chelsea were involved in an astonishing 4-4 battle with Aston Villa.

Champions United were a class above hapless Sunderland, two goals from Louis Saha and one each by Wayne Rooney and the League’s leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo allowing them to go above Arsenal with 45 points at the season’s halfway stage.

Chelsea have 38 points, two more than Liverpool who went fourth after a late goal from captain Steven Gerrard earned a 2-1 victory at bottom club Derby County.

Everton stayed in touch with the top four by beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0 at Goodison Park.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard will miss the next few weeks of the season after tearing a muscle in his right thigh, the club said on Thursday.

Lampard went off injured after 26 minutes of Wednesday’s 4-4 Premier League draw with Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge and joins a long Chelsea injury list which includes captain John Terry, striker Didier Drogba and midfielder Florent Malouda. In a statement on their website, Chelsea said: “Scans...revealed a tear in Frank Lampard’s right thigh. He will begin rehabilitation immediately and we hope to have him back playing within a few weeks.”

The tear is not in the same thigh he injured earlier in the season, the club said.

Earlier in the day, Chelsea and Villa both appealed to the FA against red cards shown to Ashley Cole and Zat Knight in Wednesday’s eventful match.

Referee Phil Dowd also sent off Chelsea’s Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho for a two-footed lunge on Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor but the club are not appealing against that decision.

The appeals will be heard by the FA on Friday before Saturday’s matches when Chelsea are at home to Newcastle United and Villa travel to Wigan Athletic.

Chelsea defender Cole was sent off for a deliberate handball on the goalline deep in stoppage time at the end of the match which resulted in a penalty for Villa that Gareth Barry converted to leave the teams level at the finish.

Knight received a straight red for a foul on Michael Ballack, who came on for Lampard, giving Chelsea a penalty which Andriy Shevchenko converted just before halftime. (Reuters)

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