Liverpool seal Christmas No.1 spot as Tottenham run riot
Rampant Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-0 to lock down the Christmas number one spot ahead of Saturday’s Manchester derby as Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham blitzed Burnley 5-0 to climb to fifth in the table.
Interim boss Duncan Ferguson lifted Everton’s spirits, condemning Chelsea to their third Premier League defeat in four matches while bottom club Watford battled to a goalless draw against Crystal Palace.
Liverpool took advantage of playing before their closest rivals to widen the gulf at the top of the table to 11 points, meaning they cannot be caught by December 25.
Jurgen Klopp, mindful of a fixture pile-up for his side, made seven changes from the 5-2 midweek victory against Everton, with Sadio Mane dropping to the bench and Alisson Becker back in goal following suspension.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring for the European champions in the 35th minute after poking home Jordan Henderson’s long ball, moments after Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake left the pitch injured.
Liverpool made it 2-0 just before the break when Naby Keita played a fine one-two with Mohamed Salah and finished from close range, with Keita turning provider for Salah in the 54th minute.
It was Liverpool’s first clean sheet in any match since late September.
“It is not about being constantly exciting, it is about doing the right stuff,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “There were not a lot of difficult moments to defend and that is good, important. Nearly a perfect day.
“I don’t want to blame or whatever the groups I had before but this is a special group. Without that, we have no chance to fulfil the Liverpool dreams. You need a strong character and this team has a strong character.”
– Son stunner –
Spurs lost their first match under new boss Mourinho at Old Trafford in midweek but flew out of the blocks at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
Harry Kane put them ahead with his 14th goal of the season in the fourth minute and Spurs doubled their lead when Lucas Moura tapped home at the far post following a goalmouth scramble.
Son Heung-min added a third with a brilliant solo effort shortly after the half-hour, running from deep in his own half before slotting past goalkeeper Nick Pope.
Kane made it 4-0 in the 54th minute with his second goal of the game and turned provider for Moussa Sissoko to score Spurs’ fifth.
Spurs are still six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea but will fancy their chances of closing the gap on their London rivals, who are stumbling after a six-game winning run earlier in the season.
“A perfect day,” Mourinho told the BBC. “No injuries, a clean sheet, goals, perfect football, kids coming on for first Premier League football.
“Sean Dyche is always honest and told me after the game we were too good for them. I thank him for that.”
Everton made it a miserable day for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea thanks to an early strike from Brazil forward Richarlison and two goals from England under-21 international Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Mateo Kovacic scored his first Premier League goal to pull the score back to 2-1 but the Toffees wrapped up victory six minutes from time, Calvert-Lewin latching on to a loose ball in the box to finish underneath Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Former Everton player Ferguson, who celebrated the goals wildly, refused to talk up his chances of getting the job full-time despite the win, telling BT Sport: “I’m here for Everton. I’m here for as long as they want me here.
“I’m sure they’re out there looking for other candidates, and rightly so. We want the best guys in the world managing our football club.”
Watford, who appointed former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson as their new manager on Friday, were unable to force their second win of the season, drawing 0-0 with Crystal Palace.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, in third place, 14 points behind Liverpool, faced Manchester United at the Etihad in the late kick-off on Saturday.
Second-placed Leicester is in action on Sunday, away to Aston Villa, while struggling Arsenal travel to West Ham the following day.