In the final gameweek before Christmas, it was Liverpool who were the real winners despite being off in Doha playing in the Club World Cup as Leicester City’s slight title chances were dealt a huge blow by the champions Manchester City.
Elsewhere, Everton and Arsenal both had their new bosses in attendance for the game at Goodison Park but neither would have particularly impressed with what they saw.
Here’s all the action from the Premier League’s overnight games…
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EVERTON 0-0 ARSENAL
New Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti and Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta looked on from the stands at Goodison Park as their respective new sides played out a dour goalless draw on Saturday lunchtime.
Ancelotti was confirmed as Marco Silva’s replacement just before kick-off, meaning Duncan Ferguson and Freddie Ljungberg remained in caretaker charge of Everton and Arsenal for the last time.
However, there was little for the new men to get excited about, with Jordan Pickford’s smart reflex stop from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s close-range shot six minutes after half-time the closest either side came to scoring.
As a result, Everton move up to 15th in the Premier League ahead of the afternoon fixtures, while Arsenal – on the back of a first clean sheet in 15 matches – are up to ninth.
MANCHESTER CITY 3-1 LEICESTER CITY
Manchester City came from behind to end Leicester’s nine-game unbeaten run in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday Night Football.
The champions looked set to lose more ground in the title race when Jamie Vardy continued his red-hot form with a stunning lofted finish on the breakaway – his 16th goal of the season – midway through the first half.
But City produced the response of champions as former Leicester forward Riyad Mahrez’s deflected strike and an Ilkay Gundogan penalty saw them rally to claim the lead before the break.
The inspired Kevin De Bruyne crossed for Gabriel Jesus as he scored his first Etihad goal since January and put the seal on a fourth consecutive victory for Pep Guardiola’s side, as they moved to within a point of second-placed Leicester and 11 behind leaders Liverpool.
ASTON VILLA 1-3 SOUTHAMPTON
Danny Ings scored twice to help Southampton climb out of the relegation places and send Aston Villa into the bottom three with a convincing 3-1 win at Villa Park.
Villa lost their talismanic midfielder John McGinn after just five minutes, when he appeared to twist his ankle after a meaty block on Cedric, but things turned from bad to worse for Dean Smith’s side.
Southampton began to assert dominance after a scrappy opening period and broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when Nathan Redmond hit a looping pass for Shane Long to shoot, with Tom Heaton’s block landing for Danny Ings to finish.
The Saints soon doubled their lead after the increasingly influential James Ward-Prowse fired a corner into Jack Stephens, who exposed defensive frailties to head home between two static markers.
Boos rang round Villa Park at the half-time whistle and those disgruntled fans saw their side concede a third goal within six minutes of the restart, with Marvelous Nakamba gifting Ings his second of the game.
Jack Grealish was the only shining light for the hosts and scored a sumptuous consolation in the closing minutes, allowing the ball to drop from a corner and firing with curling precision past Alex McCarthy’s glove.
But Smith’s men were outclassed and outsmarted by a rejuvenated Southampton side who looked lethal with their wide delivery and an in-form Ings up top.
BOURNEMOUTH 0-1 BURNLEY
Jay Rodriguez’s 89th-minute goal handed Burnley a scrappy 1-0 win against Bournemouth in torrential conditions at the Vitality Stadium.
The rain and wind created difficult conditions on the south coast, but the game was littered with fouls, free-kicks and bookings. The pick of the first-half action was Simon Francis and Ryan Fraser giving Bournemouth some injury scares, but the hosts escaped any more casualties in their treatment room.
Bournemouth improved in attack after the break but there were no shots on target until Rodriguez bundled the ball into the back of the net with one minute of normal time to play. VAR checked the goal for handball, but it was quickly given in another blow for Bournemouth.
The Cherries could not capitalise on their late win against Chelsea last weekend and remain in 14th with 19 points, while Burnley edge into 10th having picked up their second away Premier League win of the season.
BRIGHTON 0-1 SHEFFIELD UNITED
Sheffield United overcame having two goals ruled out by VAR to beat Brighton 1-0 as they moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.
Oli McBurnie’s strike (24) for the Blades was sandwiched in between overturned goals by John Egan, for handball, and Jack O’Connell, for a clear offside.
David McGoldrick, who is without a Premier League goal in over 1,000 minutes, also missed an open goal but his embarrassing moment did not cost Chris Wilder’s team, who were excellently organised against a flat Brighton attacking outfit.
The victory maintains United’s unbeaten run away from home this season, meaning they are the first newly-promoted top-flight team since 1947 to remain unbeaten in their first nine away matches of a season. They are also just one point off the Champions League places.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1-0 CRYSTAL PALACE
Miguel Almiron ended a run of 26 games without a goal to finally break his Newcastle United goal drought and hand Steve Bruce’s side a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at St James’ Park.
With the game appearing to be heading for a stalemate, Almiron (83) picked an ideal time to open his account and score his first Premier League goal for the club, driving the ball past Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita after latching on to Andy Carroll’s knockdown.
The goal lifted the roof off St James’ Park and ended a run of 2,191 minutes without a goal for the Paraguay international, who joined Newcastle for a then-club-record £21m from MLS side Atlanta United in January.
The victory sees Newcastle extend their unbeaten run at home to eight games and move above Palace up to ninth in the Premier League table, while Roy Hodgson’s side drop to 12th after suffering their first defeat in four Premier League games.
NORWICH 1-2 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS
Raul Jimenez took advantage of Norwich’s profligacy to score a late winner for Wolves in a 2-1 victory at Carrow Road.
Todd Cantwell gave Norwich a half-time lead with a powerful strike following Jonny’s mistake, but the Canaries should have led by more with Wolves significantly below-par.
The second half proved a more balanced affair and Wolves pulled themselves level on the hour mark when Joao Moutinho’s corner was headed in by Romain Saiss.
Norwich’s hopes of moving closer to survival were then dealt a further blow in the final 10 minutes when Jimenez fired in the rebound from Matt Doherty’s effort as the Canaries threw away a home lead for the second game in a row.
This article was originally published by Sky Sports and reproduced with permission.