- Liverpool extends lead to six points at the top
Manchester City’s bid to retain the Premier League title suffered a major blow as the champions crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat at Leicester on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side took the lead through Bernardo Silva’s early goal.
But Marc Albrighton equalised for Leicester and Ricardo Pereira’s 81st-minute rocket handed City a third loss in their last four league games.
City are now seven points behind leaders Liverpool and drop to third place below Tottenham.
At Anfield, Liverpool showed the form of champions as they increased their lead at the top of the Premier League to six points by hammering an abject Newcastle United 4-0.
Goals from Dejan Lovren, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho did the damage as Liverpool’s chances of a first English top-flight title since the 1989-90 season were boosted by Manchester City’s 2-1 defeat at Leicester.
Tottenham are now Liverpool’s closest challengers with City dropping seven points off the pace in third.
Even with Liverpool visiting the Etihad on January 3, their form as they extended an unbeaten home run in the Premier League that stretches back to April 2017 is beginning to make that lead in the standings look decisive.
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez – an Anfield idol himself after delivering the Champions League trophy in 2005 – has claimed that Newcastle surviving relegation this term would be “a miracle”.
And the gulf in quality on Wednesday was brutally apparent from the start.
Klopp made three changes to his starting XI whereas Benitez made an eye-catching six from Newcastle’s previous result – a goalless draw against Fulham that featured zero shots on target.
Yet if Benitez was banking on the new personnel to deliver a more clinical edge, he was to be disappointed.
Joselu missed a glorious opportunity after eight minutes, heading wide of Alisson Becker’s goal following a wonderful cross from Matt Ritchie.
Liverpool punished Newcastle’s lack of ruthlessness as three minutes later.
A deep ball into the area was woefully dealt with by Newcastle skipper Jamaal Lascelles who headed it back into Lovren’s path and the Croatian defender fired an unstoppable shot past Martin Dubravka.
Liverpool remained the dominant side as Sadio Mane, Shaqiri and Roberto Firmino ran through on goal at will. The pace with which Liverpool raced forward represented an increasingly ominous challenge for Newcastle.
Yet it is to the visitors’ credit that they kept the scoreline to a single goal as the game flattened out towards halftime.
The closest Liverpool came to extending their lead arrived after 44 minutes when Dubravka did wonderfully well to tip over a rasping Shaqiri free-kick.
Not long after the interval Liverpool found a second as Salah doubled the lead from the penalty spot after Paul Dummett clumsily grabbed the Egyptian’s arm.
Elsewhere in the Boxing Day clashes, Tottenham Hotspur dealt a 5-0 defeat on Bournemouth to move up to second in the standings.
Having thrashed Everton 6-2 in their last match, it took only 16 minutes before Spurs were scoring again at Wembley. Christian Eriksen was played in by Kyle Walker-Peters and his shot from 25 yards took a big deflection off Bournemouth defender Jefferson Lerma to beat Asmir Begovic in goal.
The home side were celebrating again less than 10 minutes later when Son Heung-min scored his sixth goal of the month with a cool low finish from the edge of the area.
Walker-Peters had done well before giving the ball to Son for the second and the young full back got his third assist of the afternoon 10 minutes before halftime. This time, the English defender ran in behind the visiting defence and pulled the ball back for Lucas Moura to make it 3-0.
Harry Kane compounded Bournemouth’s misery after the break with his 12th league goal of the season. The England captain perfectly meeting an Eriksen ball over the top on the volley, before Son poked in his second and Spurs’ fifth with 20 minutes still to play.