Jurgen Klopp’s smile was as broad as it has ever been as he headed home after the Boxing Day fixtures with Liverpool sitting six points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
As well as the Reds’ 4-0 win over Newcastle, Tottenham took advantage of Manchester City’s defeat at Leicester to move up to second, while at the bottom Huddersfield and Burnley slipped further into trouble.
Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at what we learned from the latest round of fixtures.
Liverpool won the last of their league titles in 1990, a fact of which they are regularly reminded by opposing fans, and by none more so than those of Manchester United, who have seen their side crowned champions 13 times during the intervening period. However, Klopp’s men will head into the second half of the season six points clear at the summit and, while knowing bigger advantages have been squandered in the past, confident they will be difficult to catch if they continue their blistering run of form.
There is a school of thought which suggests Liverpool and Manchester City will fight out a duel for the Premier League title between them during the second half of the season. Tottenham, however, served a timely reminder of their intention to break the duopoly when, having thrashed Everton 6-2 at Goodison Park on Sunday, they brushed aside Bournemouth 5-0 to replace reigning champions City in the top two.
When the Manchester United hierarchy decided enough was enough with Jose Mourinho, they timed their decision well. They handed interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a run of four inviting games with which to launch his reign -against Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle – and having seen them begin with a 5-1 victory in south Wales, he looked on as the Red Devils followed it up with a 3-1 win over the Terriers to maintain his flying start.
Fulham hauled themselves off the bottom of the table despite being pegged back late on by Wolves as they added a 1-1 draw to the point they collected at Newcastle on Saturday. However, their relegation zone counterparts Huddersfield and Burnley are finding life increasingly difficult. Town have lost six on the trot, while the Clarets, whom they entertain on January 2, have collected only four of the last 36 points they have contested. Burnley were thumped 5-1 at home by Everton on Boxing Day, with the Toffees revealing they had brought up a notable milestone in the process – becoming the first English club to score 7,000 top-flight goals.
‘Consistency’ is a word which haunts football managers, even those who have seen virtually everything the game can throw at them. Roy Hodgson left Selhurst Park on Wednesday evening having seen his side held to a 0-0 draw by Neil Warnock’s relegation-battling Cardiff four days after his players produced a remarkable display to win 3-2 at Manchester City, a salutary lesson to those tempted to rest on their laurels.