Wins for Liverpool and Manchester City has set up a mouth-watering clash between the two sides in what could decide the Premier League title, while Manchester United continued their resurgence. Meanwhile, the final round of Serie A before the winter break wasn’t short of drama, as the race for Champions League spots heats up.

 

Premier League

Liverpool’s title charge received another boost with a 5-1 demolition of Arsenal. The Gunners opened the scoring through Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but it was all Liverpool from there. Robert Firmino’s hat-trick was added to by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, in a game that may prove to be the perfect warm-up for the Reds’ clash with Manchester City on Friday morning (AEDT).

As for City, they ended a two-game losing streak, defeating Southampton 3-1 away from home. David Silva and Sergio Agüero found the net for the sky blues, while Pierre-Emile Højbjerg scored and was sent off for The Saints. City now trail Liverpool by seven points and have the chance to make that four on Friday.

Manchester United made it three from three under Ole Gunnar Solskjær with a comfortable 4-1 win over Bournemouth. A rejuvenated Paul Pogba scored twice to add to his brace against Huddersfield just days ago, perhaps suggesting his likely departure isn’t so likely just yet. Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku registered their names on the scoresheet to secure the points for United. The night was slightly soured when Eric Bailly was shown a straight red for a dangerous challenge.

Tottenham’s push for a first title since 1961 may have all but ended as they went down 3-1 to Wolverhampton. Spurs hit the front early through Harry Kane and lead until late in the game, before conceding three times in 15 minutes. A disappointing night for Tottenham, they are however still in a firm position for a Champions League place.

Chelsea took care of Crystal Palace 1-0 on the road. N’Golo Kante got in behind the Palace defence to fire in the only goal of the game, sending Chelsea five points clear inside the top four.

Meanwhile, Leicester failed to back up wins over Chelsea and Manchester City, going down 1-0 at home to Cardiff, Fulham recorded their second win under Claudio Ranieri, defeating Huddersfield 1-0, and Burnley grabbed an all-important three points over West Ham and are now just one point from safety.

 

Serie A 

Juventus returned to winning ways, defeating the in-form Sampdoria 2-1. Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring inside two minutes, before Fabio Quagliarella scored for the ninth game in a row, being the first man to do so since David Trezeguet in 2005. Locked at 1-1, Juventus were awarded a penalty which Ronaldo converted, helping the Bianconeri break the record for the most points in the first half of a Serie A season.

Chievo got their first win of the season, defeating fellow strugglers Frosinone. A late Emanuele Giaccherini strike saw The Flying Donkey’s claim all three points, reducing the gap from safety to eight points.

Keita Balde saved Inter’s blushesthe Nerazzuri defeating Empoli 1-0. The late winner from Keita has put Inter seven points clear in 3rd, making a return to the Champions League imminent. Trailing behind them in 4th are Lazio who failed to defeat Torino at home. Andrea Belotti scored from the spot, before Sergej Milinkovic-Savic rescued a point for the Roman side.

Napoli came out on top in a 3-2 thriller with Bologna to keep their slim Scudetto hopes alive. Bologna came from behind twice, but it was Dries Mertens who saved the day for Napoli in the 88th minute, scoring from long range.

Milan scored for the first time in five games in a match that may have saved Gennaro Gattuso’s job – for now. SPAL broke the deadlock on 13 minutes but Milan responded three minutes later to equalise. Gonzalo Higuaín broke his seven-match goal-drought to win it for the home side, keeping Milan’s Champions League dream alive in the process.

Atalanta put six past Sassuolo to win 6-2 on the road, Roma made it three wins from four as they defeated Parma 2-0, Udinese picked up just their fourth win of the season against Cagliari, while Genoa and Fiorentina played out a 0-0 draw.

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Damon Palmar
damon@footballnationradio.com