Liverpool will end 2020 three points clear at the top of the Premier League but were left frustrated after a goalless draw with Newcastle United on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp's side monopolised possession and carved out the best opportunities at St James' Park, but against a spirited Newcastle side a winner eluded them.

Liverpool's front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all had chances, only to find Karl Darlow in inspired form in the Newcastle goal.

It was the first 0-0 between the sides since 1974 and left Liverpool three points ahead of second-placed Manchester United having played a game more.

Newcastle began brightly as Callum Wilson glanced an early header wide and then outpaced Nathaniel Phillips but saw his goalbound shot from a tight angle blocked by Fabinho.

The Reds slowly found their rhythm and Salah beat the Newcastle offside trap, yet Darlow was sharp off his line to narrow the angle and superbly push the ball wide.

The in-form Darlow produced another brilliant diving save to keep out Firmino's header on the stroke of half-time.

Mane's near-post header clipped the side netting moments after the interval, while Salah shot wide from a good position after he was released by Firmino shortly after the hour.

Klopp introduced fit-again midfielder Thiago Alcantara in the 73rd minute, but Liverpool needed goalkeeper Alisson to make a fine stretching save to claw away Ciaran Clark's header from Matt Ritchie's free-kick.

The Reds looked most likely to fine a winner late on and Fabian Schar hooked the ball off the line with Mane lurking with 10 minutes left.

However, Steve Bruce's side rolled up their sleeves and Darlow made another late stop from Firmino to end a run of five consecutive defeats against Liverpool.
 

What does it mean? Reds face title scrap

Liverpool ended 2019 with a 13-point lead at the top after 19 games, but their advantage this time around - albeit having played four fewer matches - is much more slender.

The Reds ran away with the title last season, yet results such as these emphasise the challenge they face this term.

Newcastle clearly relish playing the champions at St James' Park and are now unbeaten in their past five home Premier League games against reigning title holders (won two, drawn three).

Defiant Darlow denies Reds

Newcastle had failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their past 11 Premier League home games before this encounter. 

That they managed to shut out the Premier League champions owed much to the performance of Darlow, who made four excellent saves and was a calming presence throughout.

Sadio struggles in the Toon

Mane had been directly involved in seven goals in his previous eight away top-flight matches (six goals, one assist) but was below his best here. 

The Senegal forward failed to register a single shot on target and struggled to find his team-mates often enough, with his pass completion of 75.6 per cent the second-worst among all Liverpool players.

What's next?

Liverpool begin 2021 with a trip to Southampton next Monday, while Newcastle play the day before when Leicester City are the visitors to St James' Park.

Liverpool will end 2020 three points clear at the top of the Premier League but were left frustrated after a goalless draw with Newcastle United on Wednesday.

Jurgen Klopp's side monopolised possession and carved out the best opportunities at St James' Park, but against a spirited Newcastle side a winner eluded them.

Liverpool's front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all had chances, only to find Karl Darlow in inspired form in the Newcastle goal.

It was the first 0-0 between the sides since 1974 and left Liverpool three points ahead of second-placed Manchester United having played a game more.

Thiago Alcantara returned to Liverpool's squad for Wednesday's Premier League clash with Newcastle United following more than two months out.

The 29-year-old sustained a knee injury in the champions' 2-2 draw with Everton on October 17 and has not featured since.

He set a Premier League record on his debut in September when completing 75 passes in the 2-0 win over Chelsea - the most by a player to have played a maximum of 45 minutes since Opta started collecting full passing data at the start of 2003-04.

Thiago's average of 98 passes completed per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term is easily the most of any Liverpool player, with skipper Jordan Henderson (86.8) next on the list.

Despite Jurgen Klopp playing down talk of Thiago returning to action at St James' Park on the eve of the game, the midfielder was included as part of the Reds' 20-man squad.

Thiago, who has made just two appearances in all competitions since joining from Bayern Munich for £25million, was among Liverpool's substitutes.

Klopp made two changes from the 1-1 draw with West Brom on Sunday - Nat Phillips replacing the injured Joel Matip and James Milner coming in for the benched Georginio Wijnaldum.

Liverpool are unbeaten in seven Premier League games against Newcastle, winning each of the last five in a row - never have they won six on the spin in this top-flight fixture.

However, Newcastle are unbeaten in their past four home league meetings against reigning champions, winning two and drawing two.

The hosts showed just one alteration as Callum Wilson returned to the side in place of Miguel Almiron.

 

Thiago Alcantara is unlikely to travel to St James' Park for Liverpool's Premier League clash against Newcastle United as his recovery from a knee injury must not be rushed.

Thiago has made just two Premier League appearances this season, suffering his setback in a 2-2 draw with Everton on October 17, but he returned to first-team training last week.

Jurgen Klopp is not willing to take any risks, however, as Liverpool aim to return to winning ways at Newcastle following a disappointing 1-1 draw with struggling West Brom on Sunday.

"I like watching all my players play," Klopp told reporters.

"With Thiago, he had a few minutes until he got injured, so of course we are looking forward to that but it's not really likely he'll travel."

Liverpool's first game of 2021 sees them take on Southampton at St Mary's on January 4 before visiting Aston Villa in the FA Cup four days later.

Klopp said the severity of Thiago's injury, sustained in a challenge with Richarlison, has enforced a cautious approach to his return to action.

"He needs a few sessions," the manager explained. "He was out a long time after a really harsh challenge.

"There was a proper impact, nothing ruptured, nothing broken, but that still took time. We will not rush it, so I don't know [when he will be back]."

Jurgen Klopp will not let the frustrating draw with West Brom distort his impression of the Liverpool team he still regards as "a top group".

The champions have not had it all their own way this season, but they are top of the Premier League again as others scrabble to stay in touch.

After dominating the first half at Anfield against West Brom on Sunday, Liverpool's levels dipped and they had to settle for a 1-1 draw with their lowly visitors.

Klopp's side have not lost in the English top flight since the freakish 7-2 loss to Aston Villa on October 4, however, and they head to Newcastle United on Wednesday looking to end the year on a high note.

In their game prior to the West Brom clash, Liverpool had torched Crystal Palace 7-0 at Selhurst Park.

"I want to win more than anything else," Klopp said. "But I had to learn so early in life it doesn't happen all the time. That's completely fine.

"I like winning football games, especially when you deserve to win. To deserve to win [against West Brom] I thought we should have done more things. We ran a lot, we fought a lot, that's all okay but to do more of the right stuff. That's what I told the boys already, I'm not angry with them, that can happen.

"The boys are a top group. They were a top group after winning 7-0, they're a top group after drawing with West Brom, so that doesn't change.

"Maybe the perspective from outside changed, I can imagine that's immediately like this. I'm not a young manager anymore; I can judge these things in the right way.

"We're not happy about [the West Brom outcome], it's the opposite, but now it's over we cannot change that anymore, we can just make sure in the exact situation the same doesn't happen again."

Klopp spoke admiringly of Newcastle striker Callum Wilson and said Steve Bruce's side "have a couple of really good players", predicting a "tough challenge" on Tyneside.

Should Liverpool stumble again, the likes of Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City and Tottenham will take heart, but the Reds have a strong recent record against Wednesday's opponents, having won their last five Premier League battles.

Liverpool have never won six consecutive games against Newcastle in the top flight, and they may note the Magpies have developed a habit of raising their level for home games against reigning champions.

Newcastle have taken eight points (W2 D2) from their last four home games against teams in possession of the Premier League trophy, last losing at St James' Park to such a team when they went down 2-0 to Manchester City in August 2014.

Conversely, Liverpool can point to having won their final league game in each of the last six calendar years.

Klopp was waiting to see whether Thiago Alcantara might be pushing to return to the matchday squad for the trip to Tyneside, having been absent since suffering a knee injury in the 2-2 draw against Everton in mid-October.

"On Friday he trained the full session, but the session was a reduced session," Klopp said of the former Bayern Munich midfielder. "He has to be part of team training.

"It's not about doing one day of training with the team and then you can play Premier League football again. So it looks quite promising at the moment but I can't say more."

It appears there is still life in Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta oversaw a potentially season-changing 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day.

The Gunners had been on a dreadful run, but with the odds against them they produced their most complete performance in a while, with some of the youngsters playing important roles.

Leicester City and Manchester United began the day's action with an entertaining draw that doubled as a microcosm for the Red Devils' season.

Using Opta data, we have looked at the pick of the action on a busy Saturday.

Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United: Red Devils clicking in attack but let down by defence

Manchester United's unbeaten run away from home continued in Saturday's early kick-off, as their draw at Leicester City saw them go 14 without defeat on the road in the Premier League, their longest such streak since January 2011 (16).

They were all business in attack, with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and substitute Edinson Cavani all effective.

Rashford opened the scoring to become the third-youngest United player to reach 50 Premier League goals (23 years, 56 days) behind only Wayne Rooney (22y, 157d) and Cristiano Ronaldo (22y, 341d).

Fernandes set him up and then got United's second, taking his goal involvement tally to 31 since joining the club – that's more than 50 percent of the club's 60 goals in that time.

Cavani's clever run and throughball released Fernandes, with the Uruguayan reaching five goal involvements from the bench in the league this term, two more than any other player.

But a late Axel Tuanzebe own goal – brought about by Jamie Vardy's shot – saw United pegged back.

It was the 11th successive away league game in which they have conceded at least twice, the worst such run since the Red Devils went 13 matches in 1959.

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea: Young Gunners reinvigorate Mikel Arteta's men

Mikel Arteta was in an unenviable position before kick-off – he had lost three important senior players (Willian, David Luiz and Gabriel) at short notice, while Pablo Mari, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli earned their first starts of the season.

As such, there was an unfamiliar and inexperienced look to the Arsenal starting XI, which for the first time since January 2013 did not include a player over the age of 30.

Nevertheless, two of their more experienced players did find the net – Granit Xhaka's free-kick was the seventh time he has scored from outside the area, amounting to 79 per cent of nine goals. That's the highest ratio of Gunners players to have scored at least five times in the division.

Alexandre Lacazette's penalty was his 39th at the Emirates Stadium, 72 per cent of his club total, while it also made him Arsenal's top scorer this term with six across all competitions.

But it was a day to forget for Chelsea, and particularly Timo Werner. The German was withdrawn at half-time, thus extending his goal drought to 10 matches on all fronts, his worst goalless run since 12 games between March and September 2016.

Aston Villa 3-0 Crystal Palace: Resolute Villans make light of numerical disadvantage

When Tyrone Mings was sent off just before half-time with Villa 1-0 up, one expected the worst for the hosts in the second period.

But if anything, that red – a record-setting fourth for the club on Boxing Day – seemed to spur Villa on, Dean Smith's side going on to score twice more and claim an eighth clean sheet of the season, more than any other side in the league.

Palace could only wish for such defensive solidity – they are without a shutout in their past 14 Premier League matches, their longest such streak since November 2017.

Bertrand Traore got the ball rolling early on, netting in successive matches after only managing two in his previous 19 league outings.

Kortney Hause made it 2-0 before Anwar El Ghazi finished Palace off in style with his fourth goal in as many Premier League appearances – a fine accomplishment for a player who, only a few weeks ago, was being targeted for criticism from some supporters on social media.

Jack Grealish may not have been on the scoresheet, but he was yet again crucial for Villa – Palace's only answer was to foul him. The England international's fouls won per game since the start of last season was boosted to 4.7, which is by far the most of any player to have played more than 100 minutes in that time.

Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United: Defence provides solid platform again for Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has received his fair share of criticism this season, but if there's one area in which City are excelling, it's at the back.

Saturday's routine victory over Steve Bruce's lacklustre Magpies was their 13th clean sheet of the season across all competitions, more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues.

The omens weren't great for Newcastle coming into the game, and this was their 15th Premier League defeat on Boxing Day – a record – and their sixth in succession on this day.

On top of that, it's now 12 straight home wins over Newcastle for City, who've scored 41 times and conceded just seven in that run.

Raheem Sterling reached a milestone when he set up Ilkay Gundogan's opener, as it was his 150th goal involvement (96 goals, 54 assists) in all competitions since Pep Guardiola became coach, more than anyone else. Sergio Aguero has 146 (120 goals, 26 assists).

Ferran Torres got City's second, as the pre-season signing from Valencia continued his very promising debut campaign, this time leading the line in place of the injured Gabriel Jesus with Aguero only fit enough for a place on the bench.

Torres' goal was his seventh for City, and all seven games in which he has scored for the club have ended in victories, with five of them coming at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola applauded Manchester City's victory over Newcastle United, describing the 2-0 triumph as their "performance of the season".

City eased past Newcastle thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres to move within five points of Premier League leaders Liverpool on Saturday.

Guardiola's City have kept 13 clean sheets in all competitions this season – more than any other team in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.

Speaking afterwards, a happy Guardiola told reporters: "It was the best performance of the season. Our football has to be played in one rhythm so we cannot play in a rhythm that has ups and downs so quickly.

"You have to make a tempo that makes a lot, a thousand-million, passes in the right moment to attack. To do this everyone has to be in his position and everyone has to do his job. Today was a big example, unfortunately, playing a team always with 10 players behind is not easy to attack but the guys were really good.

"I'm so glad about the way we played. That's always a consequence for the points we get. We have another victory, we climb some positions, and now we can't stop in the good or bad moments, we need to be calm because in less than 44 hours we'll have another game and we're going to Goodison Park to try to play well first of all.

"The result is always the consequences of the way you played. This was our success in the past and we're going to continue in the next years."

Gundogan opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Torres doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half at home to visiting Newcastle.

Raheem Sterling's assist for Gundogan was his 150th goal involvement in all competitions since Guardiola joined City in 2016 (96 goals and 54 assists) – more than any other player at the club in that time, per Opta.

City have won all seven games in all competitions in which Torres has scored for the team, with five of his seven strikes coming at the Etihad Stadium.

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker, meanwhile, missed the clash due to coronavirus, after the star City pair and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Asked about Jesus and Walker, City manager Guardiola said: "Listen the last thing I think right now is without Gabriel and Kyle is a problem for the team. What we want, what I want is Gabriel and Kyle being [tested] positive but not getting worse and being asymptomatic and pass these 10 days without any symptoms.

"COVID is here, it's not here in Manchester, it's in many cities all around the world. That's why we have to be careful and what we want is for them to recover in the next days. And we are going to wait for them. We are looking forward to seeing them again. Without them, we're going to move forward. The team, the guys who want to join us and commit to the team, what we want to do all together, they will more be than welcome.

"So the guys who think about what is best for the team, the guys who think I have to give something for the team, even it's worse for me those guys will be part of the team forever. If the guy doesn't want it, they will be the problem."

Ilkay Gundogan claimed Manchester City's rock-solid defending will ensure they remain a force to be reckoned with even when they are without key attacking players.

City clinched a comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday thanks to goals from Gundogan and Ferran Torres to move within five points of leaders Liverpool.

It was their 13th clean sheet of the campaign across all competitions, more than any other team in the top five European leagues this season.

"We have been solid in our defending," Germany midfielder Gundogan told BT Sport.

"If we can keep it solid at the back then we always give ourselves a chance because we know we're going to score goals.

"In the first half especially, I felt like we moved the ball well. The weather conditions were not the best here today, but I think it was a solid performance."

City were missing Gabriel Jesus, laid low with COVID-19, while Sergio Aguero was again used as a substitute as Pep Guardiola eases his workload on return from an injury layoff.

Gundogan said the rest of the players will continue to step up and shoulder some of the goalscoring burden whenever they are without the team's recognised strikers.

"I think we should always share the responsibility of scoring on the pitch," he added

"Obviously we're missing some great players but we have the quality in the team to cope, such as Ferran, to be ruthless and get this done."

City have won their last 12 Premier League home games against Newcastle, scoring 41 goals and conceding just seven.

Guardiola urged his players to continue to keep their composure during a "weird" season of results in the Premier League.

The disciplined and clinical manner of City's display was more akin to what Guardiola's side have produced in recent seasons, albeit without an emphatic scoreline.

"Last week we were 10th in the table, all the season is up and down," Guardiola said.

"There are weird results for everyone, this season you have to be calm in the good and the bad moments.

"We cannot think much, the schedule is a game every three days. The players are committed and focused."

Guardiola was also happy with the intensity and awareness shown by his side against Newcastle as they moved up to fifth in the table.

"We played really well, the tempo we have to play football is this tempo," he told BBC Sport.

"A lot of passes and the ball goes to where you are. Imagine the ball will come. Today was the best game of the season for players being in the position they have to be in.

"The way you play shows the results you will get in our team. Today was the day that we have done it best. Build from here, in 45 hours we have another game at Goodison Park.

"Tomorrow the players have to regenerate and prepare in one day. This pandemic puts us in an extreme situation, but that's how England likes it so we accept it."

Manchester City eased to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres to move within five points of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Gundogan gave City the lead in a low-key game on Saturday with a close-range finish following a well-worked move from Pep Guardiola's side.

Torres netted his seventh goal of the season 10 minutes after half-time after some error-strewn defensive play by Newcastle.

Newcastle's chances at the other end were fleeting as they succumbed to their 12th consecutive Etihad defeat.

City quickly found their rhythm and a slick move saw Joao Cancelo find Raheem Sterling with a superb pass, and he skilfully cut the ball back for Gundogan to fire home.

The goal was Gundogan's second in Premier League this season, which is as many as he got in 31 games last season.

Kevin De Bruyne had Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow scrambling back to palm the ball away moments later when a mis-hit cross into the box looked to be dipping under the crossbar.

De Bruyne broke clear of the Newcastle defence just after the half hour but the alert Darlow rushed off his line to narrow the angle and saved well.

Newcastle rarely threatened at the other end and, despite finishing the first half positively, they still failed to register a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

A Jacob Murphy angled shot just after the break forced Ederson to make his first meaningful save before City added a second.

Newcastle twice failed to clear their lines, with Miguel Almiron and Federico Fernandez both guilty of sloppy play, and the ball dropped for Torres to confidently strike it past Darlow.

The brilliant Darlow denied substitute Sergio Aguero the chance to put the gloss on the result with a fine save from close range late on after another sweeping City attacking move.

Christmas Day is a chance to ungracefully stuff our faces with turkey and all the trimmings, but top-flight footballers in England have to show some restraint. 

That is because Boxing Day football is a festive tradition, one where supporters can watch games with tighter-than-normal belt buckles. 

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic means it will be a little different this year, as the majority of supporters will be viewing the action while at home. 

However, one of the historically more exciting dates on the calendar is sure to entertain still. So, ahead of the 2020 games, take look at some of the best Boxing Day Opta facts from previous years.


NO FOWL PLAY FROM ROBBIE

Fowl – whether turkey, duck, pheasant or possibly even partridge – is a fixture for most dinner tables up and down the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, so perhaps it's rather apt that Robbie Fowl-er (we couldn't resist...) has the best record in terms of Premier League goals on December 26. 

The Liverpool legend has netted nine times on Boxing Day, one more than Newcastle United great Alan Shearer, ex-Tottenham striker Robbie Keane and current Spurs star Harry Kane – who is the highest scorer among active Premier League players on this day. 

Thierry Henry (seven) and Jermain Defoe (six) have also produced plenty of festive cheers in the past.


PUT ON YOUR CHRISTMAS HAT…TRICKS

Some players just love producing crackers at Christmas. 

The aforementioned Fowler is among those to have scored a hat-trick on Boxing Day, doing so for Leeds United against Bolton Wanderers back in 2001. 

Henry (2000 for Arsenal), Kevin Phillips (2000 for Sunderland), Dimitar Berbatov (2011 for Manchester United), Gareth Bale (2012 for Spurs) and Harry Kane (2017 for Spurs) have also taken home belated presents in the form of a match ball.


A DEVIL ON TOP OF THE TREE?!

It is custom to place an angel, or perhaps a star, on the Christmas tree. However, in terms of the Premier League Boxing Day table, there is a team of devils - Red Devils no less – in Manchester United (yes, a tenuous joke, but by this stage is there any point in apologising?) who sit firmly on top. 

When looking at teams to have played at least 10 Boxing Day fixtures in the Premier League, United have the highest win rate, a rather impressive 81 per cent (66 points). 

Liverpool (63 per cent), Arsenal (59 per cent), Tottenham (58 per cent), Manchester City (53 per cent) and Chelsea (46 per cent) all unsurprisingly feature highly.  

West Brom, at eight per cent, have won just once in 12 Boxing Day fixtures in the Premier League, while Leicester City (14 per cent) and Fulham (15 per cent) have also struggled on the date.


BARRY A FESTIVE FIXTURE

For almost two full decades, Gareth Barry just loved getting his 'clause' into a festive fixture (clause, not claws... get it?) 

The former Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton and West Brom midfielder has played on Boxing Day in the Premier League on a whopping 18 occasions. 

Chelsea boss and Blues legend Frank Lampard is not far behind on 17, with Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard, Aaron Hughes, Sol Campbell, Michael Carrick and James Milner all on 14 - the latter of course still going strong with champions Liverpool.


FIVE GOAL-D RINGS

The pun to headline this section is punishment enough, so we'll spare you a gag straight out of a Christmas cracker this time around. 

There have been seven occasions when a team has won by five goals on Boxing Day, which is the biggest margin of victory on the date. 

Liverpool have done so twice (5-0 versus West Brom in 2004, then again when facing Swansea City in 2017), while Everton, West Ham, Manchester United and Spurs have also triumphed by the same scoreline. 

In 2000, Arsenal actually went one better than scoring five, though they also conceded during a 6-1 rout of Leicester.


NOT THE CARDS YOU WANT TO RECEIVE…

Sending Christmas cards, complete with the sort of witty wisecracks we have provided throughout this Christmas treat, is a long-running staple of the festive period. 

But receiving a card on Boxing Day is not always what you want for your team right? 

Aston Villa, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Stoke City and Wimbledon have all had three players dismissed in games staged on December 26.

Brentford claimed another Premier League scalp in the EFL Cup as Newcastle United's quarter-final misery continued with a 1-0 defeat on Tuesday.

The Bees had never previously reached the last eight of this competition but will now play their first semi-final after Josh Dasilva scored the only goal 24 minutes from time at the Brentford Community Stadium.

It was no less than the Championship side deserved as they again edged top-flight opposition, having already knocked out Southampton, West Brom and Fulham to advance to this stage.

Brentford join Chelsea (twice), Tottenham and Hull City in beating Newcastle in the quarter-finals since the turn of the century, with the Magpies - without a major honour since 1969 - maintaining a woeful EFL Cup last-eight record, having won just one of nine ties.

Sloppy defending on an awful pitch led to first-half chances at both ends, with Brentford going closest as Saman Ghoddos scuffed an untidy finish onto the crossbar.

The home side then controlled the second half and got their reward when the impressive Dasilva steered a first-time volley under Karl Darlow from the middle of the penalty area.

Newcastle - kept busy by their former player Ivan Toney, the Championship's top scorer introduced off the bench - offered little in response, yet again missing out on the last four.

The 2020-21 EFL Cup final has been moved from February to April in order to have "as many supporters in attendance as possible", the EFL has announced.

The first major domestic showpiece of the English season was previously scheduled for February 28, 2021.

However, restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom have limited the attendance of fans this term.

Some stadiums are still allowed to house spectators, but their return in London was brief as the capital was placed under lockdown.

The EFL hopes a new Wembley Stadium date of April 25, 2021 will enable supporters to make the trip.

"The number of fans permitted will be dependent on government guidance in place at the time and it is hoped that moving the date to later in the year will give clubs and their fans the best opportunity to attend in person." a statement read.

The competition is at the quarter-final stage, with last-eight ties to be played this week.

Holders Manchester City face struggling Arsenal on Tuesday after Brentford host Newcastle United, with Tottenham at Stoke City and Manchester United travelling to Everton on Wednesday.

Liverpool registered a historic win in their seven-goal blitz of Crystal Palace and the records of an unwanted kind kept coming for Arsenal in their defeat to Everton.

The reigning Premier League champions opened up a five-point lead at the top, with Merseyside rivals Everton their closest challengers after beating an Arsenal side slipping further into the abyss with each passing game.

Manchester City also got back to winning ways thanks to a Raheem Sterling-inspired success at Southampton, while Newcastle United and Fulham played out a draw at St James' Park in the late kick-off.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool: Reds run riot as Klopp overtakes Rafa

Jurgen Klopp registered a landmark victory in a historic win for Liverpool at Selhurst Park as the Reds won an away top-flight match by a margin of seven goals for the first time in their history.

German coach Klopp overtook Rafael Benitez (126) for the most triumphs as a Liverpool boss in the Premier League with his 127th success.

It was the first time the Merseyside outfit scored seven goals in a league game - each assisted by a different player - since a 9-0 triumph over Palace in September 1989, with the Eagles conceding seven in a home match for the first time.

Substitute Mohamed Salah netted a brace and laid on an assist for fellow two-goal forward Roberto Firmino - the 17th time the pair have combined for a Premier League goal for Liverpool, placing them behind only Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman (24).

Takumi Minamino, Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane were also on the scoresheet, the latter becoming only the fourth player in Premier League history to score in seven successive appearances against an opponent.

Southampton 0-1 Manchester City: Sterling sinks Saints again

Sterling's sweeping finish proved enough for City to return to winning ways at St Mary's Stadium as they became the first team to stop Southampton from scoring in the Premier League since the opening weekend of the season.

Match-winner Sterling has been directly involved in 11 goals in 16 Premier League meetings with Southampton – only against West Ham (14) has he had a hand in more.

Kevin De Bruyne set up that goal and now has 15 Premier League assists in 2020, which is three more than anyone else. The only time the Belgium playmaker set up more goals in a single calendar year in the competition was in 2017 (18).

City kept their opponents at bay from that point on and now boast the best defensive record in the division, conceding the fewest goals (12) and keeping more clean sheets (six) than any other team.

Everton 2-1 Arsenal: Arteta Holding on after latest defeat

Two days ahead of the one-year anniversary of his Everton appointment, Carlo Ancelotti celebrated victory over Arsenal to guarantee the Toffees a place in the top four at Christmas for the first time since 2004-05.

Rob Holding's own goal - the third by an Arsenal player in the Premier League this season - gave Everton the lead before Nicolas Pepe converted from the penalty spot for a team-high eighth goal involvement this term.

But Yerry Mina scored what proved to be the winning goal just before half-time to inflict an eighth defeat of the campaign on Arsenal, whose return of 14 points from 14 games is their fewest since 1974-75 (12 points when converted to three for a win).

Each of Mina's past four goals have come in the 45th minute - only Chris Eagles has scored as many consecutive goals in the same minute before, notching four times in the 90th between 2007 and 2011.

Goals are something Arsenal are still struggling for, meanwhile, having now failed to score from open play in their past five Premier League away matches, their only two goals in that run coming from the penalty spot.

Newcastle United 1-1 Fulham: Visitors pay the penalty in St James' stalemate

Newcastle benefited from another penalty - their third in six Premier League home games - as they recovered to earn a point against an improving Fulham side at St James' Park.

Callum Wilson made no mistake from 12 yards as he took his tally for the campaign to eight in 12 top-flight appearances, matching his return from 35 games with Bournemouth last term.

Fulham have conceded a league-high five penalties this season, including three in their past four outings, and had Joachim Andersen dismissed for the incident leading to the spot-kick - the third Danish player to see red for Fulham in the competition after Leon Andreasen and Claus Jensen.

However, Scott Parker's men - who led through Matt Ritchie's first-half own goal - held on to pick up at least a point when finishing a Premier League game with 10 men for the first time since they beat QPR 3-2 in April 2013, having lost on each of the five subsequent occasions.

Newcastle have failed to keep a clean sheet in their 11 most recent Premier League games on home soil, their longest run since February 2005 (also 11 games), but they still climbed two places into 12th.

Liverpool claimed a big win in the Premier League title race on Wednesday, as the champions saw off Tottenham to take a three-point lead at the top.

The Reds will look to extend their unbeaten run in the top flight to 10 matches when they face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah is likely to play a key role for Liverpool, while Raheem Sterling is aiming to set a record at Manchester City and the duo headline our Opta-powered Premier League fantasy picks for matchweek 14.

 

MOHAMED SALAH

Salah has scored in all three of Liverpool's games in December so far, and is averaging a goal or assist every 66 minutes in the month across his Premier League career.

It is the best ratio in any month in which he has played more than one match.

Salah already has 11 league goals to his name this term, sitting top of the charts along with Son Heung-min and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

RAHEEM STERLING

Sterling created City's goal on Tuesday, with a neat cross for Ilkay Gundogan to sweep home his first Premier League goal in nearly a year, but Pep Guardiola's team could only draw 1-1.

It left them eight points adrift of pace-setters Liverpool, though Sterling is well in the hunt for a club record.

The England forward has been directly involved in 148 goals under Guardiola in all competitions, and is looking to become the first player to reach 150 during the Spaniard's time at City.

 

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG

Arsenal are in dismal form heading into Saturday's contest with Everton, who have won their last two outings – against Chelsea and Leicester City respectively.

Mikel Arteta's team ended a three-game losing streak when they drew at home to Southampton, though it is now six matches without a top-flight win for the Gunners.

One positive is that Aubameyang netted the equaliser against the Saints – just his third league goal of the season. He has scored four times in as many starts against Everton – he only has more goals against Burnley (seven) and Watford (six) in the Premier League than the Toffees.

 

CALLUM WILSON

An alternative to Aubameyang could be Wilson, who has been directly involved in 10 Premier League goals in 11 appearances for Newcastle United.

His seven goals and three assists mean he has contributed to seven more goals than any other Magpies player so far.

Newcastle take on Fulham on Saturday, with Scott Parker's team having drawn their last two games - versus Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion.

 

HARRY KANE

Before bursting onto the Premier League scene with Tottenham, Kane spent time on loan with Leicester, and against no club has he scored more in all competitions.

Kane has netted 16 times against the Foxes – five more than against any other team.

With Spurs having failed to win their last two games, their talisman will be determined to continue that form and get Mourinho's men back on track, though Leicester will be no pushovers.

PATRICK BAMFORD

Leeds United forward Bamford moved onto nine league goals for the season when he drew Marcelo Bielsa's team level with Newcastle on Wednesday.

The Whites went onto win 5-2 and, since Bielsa took charge of Leeds in 2018, no player has scored more goals for the club than Bamford.

In 85 appearances across all competitions, the former Chelsea forward has 35 goals.

 

PEDRO NETO

Diogo Jota's departure to Liverpool and Raul Jimenez's head injury means there is extra onus on Wolves' remaining attackers, and Neto delivered the goods with a last-gasp winner against Chelsea last time out.

Neto has been directly involved in as many goals in 13 Premier League appearances this season – three goals, three assists– as he was in 29 games last season, when he scored four times and set up another two goals.

Manchester United are reportedly ready to challenge Chelsea for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

Rice, 21, has been linked heavily with a move to Stamford Bridge, but no deal came to fruition during the close season.

United are apparently ready to join the race for the England international.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO CHALLENGE CHELSEA FOR RICE

Manchester United could make a move for West Ham midfielder and Chelsea target Rice at season's end, according to the Daily Express.

The report says United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is said to be a fan of Rice, who spent some of his childhood in Chelsea's academy.

Rice has played every minute of the Premier League campaign for West Ham so far.

ROUND-UP

- Struggling for game time at Liverpool, Divock Origi may be set for a January move. The Athletic reports the Premier League leaders are prepared to listen to offers for the forward at the beginning of 2021, with Wolves reportedly interested.

- Staying at Anfield, Asromalive.it reports Liverpool are interested in Roma defender Roger Ibanez, who is also linked to Paris Saint-Germain. Ibanez is on loan at the Giallorossi from Atalanta.

- Yet to play for Napoli this season, Arkadiusz Milik is expected to make an exit. Goal reports the Serie A side want €15million if the striker is to leave in January amid interest from rivals Juventus and LaLiga title hopefuls Atletico Madrid, with Milik coming out of contract at season's end.

- Manchester United are expected to see some exits in January. The Athletic reports Newcastle United are interested in a loan move for Marcos Rojo, while goalkeeper Sergio Romero is set for a departure to Spain.

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