LONDON, Oct 6 (Reuters) Champions Manchester United went top of the Premier League for the first time this season when they scored four times in the second half to crush Wigan Athletic 4-0 at Old Trafford today.
Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and one each from Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney secured United's sixth successive league win without conceding a goal and took them above Arsenal into first place.
United have 20 points from nine games but Arsenal, who have 19 points from seven, will go back on top if they beat Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
In the only other Premier League match played today, Aston Villa beat West Ham United 1-0 at Villa Park with a 24th-minute free kick from Craig Gardner.
Villa climb from ninth to fifth in the standings with 14 points from their opening eight games.
The rest of the fixtures will be played on Sunday.
DOMINANT UNITED United, who had been struggling for goals this season, dominated the match against their near neighbours but did not make the breakthrough until the 54th minute when Tevez opened the scoring with a superbly taken effort.
He held off a strong challenge from the Wigan defenders before making space for himself and firing low past Chris Kirkland in the Wigan goal.
Ronaldo added the second five minutes later with a header and he made it 3-0 after 76 minutes when Rooney's perfectly placed low cross allowed him to score from the simplest of chances.
Rooney scored his first league goal of the season with a header to complete the rout eight minutes from time.
United's performance delighted manager Alex Ferguson, especially as they lost French striker Louis Saha, who injured himself in the warm-up, and were then forced into two first half substitutions.
Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic and Irish defender John O'Shea were both injured and substituted within the first half hour.
''It was a our best scoring performance of the season, and I was really pleased with the way we played after all the problems we had. It was a fantastic win,'' Ferguson told reporters afterwards.
Wigan have lost all 18 matches they have played against the big four of United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea since being promoted to the Premier League, and after a bright start to the season they are slipping down the table with four losses in their last five league matches.
REUTERS PY RK2215