Manchester United striker Robin van Persie bagged a contrasting brace in a 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday to hand Roberto Mancini another painful reminder of why he looks the difference in the Premier League title race.
Mancini's Manchester City did their job by winning 3-0 at home to Stoke City but the defending champions remain seven points behind their rivals with Tottenham Hotspur up to third following a 3-1 win over Reading.
Van Persie was pinpointed by Mancini in the pre-match buildup as the reason why United may snatch back their title and the former Arsenal hotshot continued 2013 where he left off in 2012, curling in a beauty just before the break.
Lowly Wigan also conceded a Javier Hernandez double and a late Van Persie tap-in as the leaders marched on to 52 points from 21 games.
Aston Villa stopped the rot with a 2-2 draw at Swansea City.