English Premier League round-up: Matchday 20 of 38
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Liverpool consolidated their place at the top of the Premier League table at the end of calendar year 2018, a clear 7 points ahead of Manchester City after 20 games. Jurgen Klopp's Reds marked the year-end with a 5-1 drubbing of Arsenal at Anfield. The Gunners' weakness at the back was cruelly exposed by Liverpool's three front men Firminio, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane, underlining their defensive frailties against top-class opposition. The equal amount of possession Arsenal shared with their opponents didn't reflect in the actual course of the game. The hosts had as many as 10 shots on target compared to just 2 for the Gunners. Firminio took his tally of goals to 7 for the EPL season with his hat-trick, while Mohammed Salah's count went to 13 with his 47th minute penalty.
Unai Emery's men are lucky to be still on the 5th spot of the table after two defeats and a draw for their last three outings.
Manchester United, meanwhile, moved to within three points of Arsenal in the sixth spot as their fine run under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued with a convincing 4-1 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Sunday. Paul Pogba, whose career under Mourinho looked under a cloud, found fresh form, getting a brace with the brilliant Marcus Rashford and the normally out-of-form Romelu Lukaku chipping in with a goal each. The Red Devils finished with 35 points from their 20 outings.
Tottenham Hotspur missed a great opportunity to move to the 2nd spot of the table when they were stunned at Wembley by a not-so-fancied Wolverhampton 1-3. Just when it looked like Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs would hang on to Harry Kane's 22nd minute strike, the Wolves staged a late and dramatic comeback with goals in the 72nd, 83rd and 87th minute. The London club remain in the 3rd spot with 45 points and 2 behind Manchester City who made good of the former's loss by beating Southampton 1-3 at St. Mary's on Sunday and moving to 2nd place.
Wolverhampton, after their shock win over the Spurs moved to the 7th spot with 29 points, one ahead of Leicester City’s 28 who bungled an excellent opportunity to go a place ahead of their present position of 8th when they were shocked by a lowly Cardiff City 0-1 at home at the King Power stadium.
Chelsea meanwhile managed to hold on to their place in the Top Four with a hard-fought 0-1 away win at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace thanks to N'Golo Kante's 51st minute goal. The Blues look secure in that space for some time thanks to Arsenal's poor form in recent games contributing to a 5-point gap. Coach Maurizio Sarri's side are on 43 points against Arsenal's 38.
Watford remained in the Top half in the 9th spot with 28 points despite being held to a 1-1 draw at home by Newcastle while Everton and West Ham United are fortunate to be in the 10th and 11th places after respective losses of 0-1 and 0-2 to Brighton & Hove and Burnley.
Burnley, despite their win over West Ham, remain in relegation territory on the 18th spot while Fulham and Huddersfield Town languishing in the 19th and 20th places respectively.