Christmas is traditionally a busy time in the Premier League with fixtures coming thick and fast and this year was no different with all the teams in action on Boxing Day save for Southampton and West Ham who played on Wednesday.
In the early Boxing Day kick-off Fulham could only draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 -1 although the point was enough to lift them off the foot of the table. Fulham wasted good chances in the first half but finally took the lead when Ryan Sessegnon off as second half substitute, scored with a scuffed shot. However, they could not hang on to the lead, and a left-wing cross from Ivan Cavaleiro fell to Romain Saiss to score his first goal for Wolves.
The afternoon fixtures saw plenty of goals and more dramatic changes in the title race.
League leaders Liverpool comfortably beat Newcastle United 4 – 0 at Anfield. Liverpool took the lead when centre-back Dejan Lovren lashed home a shot after Newcastle failed to clear a corner. Early in the second-half Mo Salah won and then converted a penalty, although replays suggested contact with the Egyptian was minimal. In total control, the Reds then added two more goals, Xherdan Shaqiri sweeping home a cross by Trent Arnold-Alexander, and then Fabinho scoring his first goal for the club, a header from a Salah corner.
Meanwhile, Manchester City lost for the second successive game, going down 2 – 1 at Leicester City. The Champions took the lead through Bernardo Silva, only for Marc Albrighton to equalise five minutes later. Then, with 10 minutes left, Leicester full-back Ricardo lashed home an unstoppable shot from 20 yards to complete the turnaround. And Manchester City’s day went from bad to worse as full-back Fabian Delph was shown a straight red card for a robust tackle in the 89th minute.
City’s loss enabled Tottenham Hotspur to climb above them to second in the table by thrashing Bournemouth 5 – 0 at Wembley, hot on the heels of the six that they put past Everton on the weekend. Spurs took the lead when Kyle Walker-Peters set-up Christian Eriksen, and then Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura added further strikes before half-time. Eriksen then set-up Harry Kane for the fourth, before Son claimed his second, and his side’s fifth, for a rampant Spurs.
Another match to see lots of goals was Turf Moor, with Everton beating the home side Burnley 5 – 1. Everton took an early lead when Yerry Mina powered home a header, then Lucas Digne added a free-kick and Gylfi Siggurdsson scored a penalty. Ben Gibson pulled a goal back before half-time, but then Digne scored his second of the game with a long-range shot, and Richarlison added a fifth in injury time.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it two wins out of two as Manchester United interim boss, beating Huddersfield Town 3 -1 at Old Trafford. Nemanja Matic gave the home side the lead, stabbing home from close range, before two goals from Paul Pogba made the points safe, the second a long range rocket from 25 yards. Mathias Jorgensen scored a late consolation, but the Yorkshire side have slid to the foot of the table.
The only game without a goal came at Selhurst Park where Crystal Palace and Cardiff City finished nil-nil. Palace had most of the play and the shots, but the closest that either side came to a goal was when Luka Milivojevic hit the angle of bar and post for the home side.
In the tea-time match Arsenal could only draw 1 -1 away at Brighton. Arsenal dominated the early stages and took the lead when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang curled home an effort after good work by Alexander Lacazette, but then lost their way and gifted the hosts an equaliser when a hopeful clearance from a corner was headed by defender Stephan Lichtsteiner straight into the path of Brighton striker Jurgen Locadia who rounded the keeper to score. It was Brighton who had the best chances to win it in the second half but were wasteful in front of goal.
The evening game saw Chelsea get back to winning ways with a 2 -1 victory away at Watford. Chelsea took the lead on the stroke of half-time when Eden Hazard scored for the, his 100th goal in a Chelsea shirt. But in first-half stoppage time Roberto Peyrera volleyed Watford level. However, in the second half Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster hauled down Hazard and he stepped up to score his second of the game from the penalty spot.
On Thursday West Ham United came from behind to beat Southampton 2 – 1. After a dull first half Southampton took the lead when a goalmouth scramble saw the ball deflect into the net off West ham defender Angelo Ogbonna. Two minutes later though the visitors were level when Felipe Anderson, the best player on the pitch, equalised with a low drive. And then he was set free on the counter-attack to calmly slot home and seal all three points for his side.