The past weekend in the Premier League may be the significant one where we finally learned the destination of the title. It is still early, as there is still half a season to play, but Liverpool are running rampant.
The only leading contenders, Leicester City, slipped up finally and the Reds have now a 10 point lead to the second placed. Meanwhile, Arsenal got crushed by Manchester City and Chelsea can’t get back on track.
Liverpool 2 X 0 Watford
Liverpool kicked off the weekend with an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League. However, they extended that to ten before a ball was even kicked by the team placed directly below them.
Make no mistake about it, this was a big win for Jurgen Klopp’s side, and it came just a day after the German committed his long-term future to the club.
Mohamed Salah scored both of the Liverpool goals, but they weren’t convincing in defense. They handed Watford a handful of glorious chances before Salah opened the scoring after 39 minutes. Ismaila Sarr with a clumsy attempt, ruined the chances of the Hornets to cause a surprise.
Meanwhile, Salah showed that you can’t afford to miss chances against the Reds to effectively end any chances of Watford of taking a point away from Anfield. Salah would score again in the final minutes of the game, but by that time the Reds were already on course for all three points.
Liverpool aren’t in Premier League action again until Boxing Day now, as they head to the FIFA Club World Cup. They will play Monterrey this Wednesday and if they win the game against the Mexican side, they will play Libertadores’ winner Flamengo in Saturday’s final.
Watford is still bottom of the league, with Nigel Pearson unable to get a victory to rescue the team in his two games in charge.
Arsenal 0 X 3 Manchester City
Pep Guardiola’s side showed on Sunday that they haven’t given up hope of retaining their league title with a superb display at the Emirates. Arsenal, who are under the guidance of Freddie Ljungberg, after failing so far to get a replacement for Unai Emery, showed their last weekend victory was just a glimpse of hope.
The Gunners had no answer for a mesmeric attacking display in the first half from the Citizens as they raced into a 3-0 lead. There was no doubting about who was the star of the show: Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgium midfielder produced one of the best individual performances of the season, scoring a brace. His first was a well-controlled effort into the roof of the net before he fired a left-footed effort into the opposite corner for his second.
In between these, he also set up Raheem Sterling for his goal, which takes his tally of assists to ten this season. De Bruyne was unfortunate not to have gotten his hat-trick in the first half when only a stunning save from Bernd Leno stopped him.
City remain 14 points behind the league leaders, but they haven’t conceded defeat just yet. However, they might be shifting their focus to the Champions League, where they will have a difficult fixture against Real Madrid in February.
Leicester City 1 X 1 Norwich City
Liverpool’s weekend got even better on Saturday as Leicester were held to a draw by relegation-threatened Norwich City at the King Power Stadium.
Teemu Pukki fired the Canaries ahead after 26 minutes. An own goal from Tim Krul 12 minutes later saw the Foxes respond quickly.
Jamie Vardy was unable to score for the ninth game in a row, and the draw ends Leicester’s nine-match winning run. They now trail Liverpool by ten points, while Norwich remain three points away from safety.
Even worse is that their next two games are against the current champions, Manchester City, and the leaders, Liverpool. Will the Foxes lose their runner up place?
Manchester United 1 X 1 Everton
United’s recent upturn in form was brought to an end at Old Trafford on Sunday as they were held by Duncan Ferguson’s Everton.
The Toffees went 1-0 ahead after an own goal from Victor Lindelof. David De Gea flapped at the corner before the ball hit the Swede from a couple of yards out and went into the back of the net.
The Red Devils did get themselves back into the game through Mason Greenwood’s 77th-minute equalizer.
It makes 4 points in 2 games for Duncan Ferguson as interim manager, although the Everton coach position might soon be taken by Carlo Ancelotti.
Wolverhampton 1 X 2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham moved to within three points of the top-four on Sunday afternoon as they struck late to claim the win in the West Midlands.
Lucas Moura put Spurs ahead after just eight minutes. Adama Traore equalized for the hosts with just over 20 minutes remaining.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw. However, Spurs had other ideas. Jan Vertonghen scored in the 91st minute to move Spurs up to fifth.
Wolves end up a 9 streak of unbeaten games and concede their second home defeat (before it was against Chelsea). Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho in less than a month in charge of Spurs took the team from 14th to top 4 contenders.
A victory against Chelsea on Sunday will put the Special One above the Blues.
Chelsea 0 X 1 Bournemouth
Frank Lampard’s miserable couple of weeks continued as Chelsea were handed another defeat against Bournemouth.
Dan Gosling scored the only goal of the game with five minutes remaining.
The Blues recent form has opened the door for their top-four rivals, and they will look to get back to winning ways next weekend when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur.
Lampard’s men, who were on a win streak a couple of weeks ago have lost 4 of their last 5 games. They are now on risk of losing the 4th place to Spurs.
Sheffield United 2 X 0 Aston Villa
Chris Wilder has done a magnificent job at Bramall Lane, and they remain in seventh after picking up another win on Saturday.
They welcomed fellow newcomers Aston Villa, but a brace from John Fleck ensured that Villa ended the day just outside the relegation places on goal difference.
The visitors had a golden chance to get into the game from the penalty spot, but Jack Grealish’s effort smashed the bar.
Sheffield has the 3rd best defense in the league, just after the current top 2, and might actually compete for an European place.
Southampton 0 X 1 West Ham United
Southampton weren’t able to take advantage of Villa’s slip-up as they were handed a home defeat by the visiting Hammers.
The only goal of the game was scored by Sebastien Haller eight minutes before the break. The victory would have eased the pressure of Manuel Pellegrini, while the Saints are now in the relegation places.
Burnley 1 X 0 Newcastle United
The Clarets got back to winning ways on Saturday to end their run of three straight defeats.
Chris Wood scored the only goal of the game ten minutes into the second half. The Magpies had a lot of the ball but didn’t end the game with a shot on target.
The win lifts Burnley up to 12th, while Newcastle are just a point and a place above them.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle has been getting praise, but they ended they were unable to get 3 wins on the bounce.
Crystal Palace 1 x 1 Brighton
The last match of the weekend happened on Monday, when Crystal Palace hosted Brighton, two mid table teams.
Benteke had a clear chance in the early minutes, as his shot hit the woodwork.
Brighton found the breakthrough first, though, as Neal Maupay finished it up in the second half.
The leveler would come up through the feet of Wilfred Zaha. In a moment of brilliance, the Ivorian international dribbled past Montoya and shot it into the top left corner.
Roy Hodgson’s Palace is 9th placed, while Brighton is 13th.