LONDON (AP) — Arsenal stayed top of the Premier League after scoring two late goals in a 2-0 win over Cardiff while fellow title rivals Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool also started the year with victories on Wednesday.
However, the league trophy looks more out of reach than ever for Manchester United after the reigning champions lost 2-1 at home to Tottenham and fell 11 points behind Arsenal.
Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott scored Arsenal's goals at Emirates Stadium to beat a resilient Cardiff team which played in front of expected new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and frustrated the hosts for 88 minutes in the driving rain.
"We have a special spirit in the side and you know we'll fight until the last minute in the game," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
City remained a point behind in second after a 3-2 win at Swansea, while Chelsea's 3-0 victory at Southampton in awful weather conditions ensured Jose Mourinho's team stayed in third place, two points behind the leaders.
After two consecutive losses, Liverpool climbed back into the top four after Luis Suarez scored his 20th goal of the season in a 2-0 win over Hull.
Spurs climbed above United into sixth place — two points behind Liverpool — after goals by Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen earned them a second straight league win at Old Trafford. United has now lost four times at home this season.
"The margin of error has been slim for a long time," United manager David Moyes said of his team's title hopes.
Arsenal had to wait until two minutes from time before Bendtner gave the Gunners reasons to celebrate the start of a new year when he pounced from a rebound. The striker picked up an ankle injury while scoring and was substituted before Walcott chipped the ball over goalkeeper David Marshall.
"He was a bit unlucky, he said he landed on the foot of a Cardiff player and sprained his ankle," Wenger said. "It looks like it is not a question of days, but weeks."
In other games, Everton fell to fifth by being held 1-1 draw by Stoke, Aston Villa beat last-place Sunderland 1-0, Fulham earned a comeback 2-1 win over West Ham to climb out of the relegation zone, Crystal Palace drew 1-1 with Norwich and West Bromwich Albion beat Newcastle 1-0.
Man City carried its recent form into 2014 and recorded the first goal of the year after 14 minutes when Fernandinho gave Manuel Pellegrini's team the lead at Liberty Stadium. Wilfried Bony put the hosts back in the game with a header but City was more clinical after the interval and pulled away with goals from Yaya Toure and Aleksandar Kolarov before Bony pulled another one back.