Arsenal came from a goal down to beat West Ham United 3-1 and extend their Premier League lead to seven points as the top-flight season resumed on Monday.
Earlier in the Boxing Day programme Newcastle United stormed into second place by outclassing Leicester City 3-0 away for their sixth successive Premier League win.
Harry Kane overcame his World Cup penalty pain by helping Tottenham Hotspur recover to draw 2-2 at Brentford while Liverpool got back up and running with a 3-1 victory at Aston Villa with teenager Stefan Bajcetic joining Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk on the scoresheet.
Former Real Madrid and Spain coach Julen Lopetegui got off to a strong start in charge of Wolverhampton Wanderers after his side came from behind to sink Everton 2-1 with a last-gasp goal from Rayan Ait-Nouri and increase the pressure on Frank Lampard.
After a 44-day interruption caused by the World Cup, the Premier League resumed with many players back from international duty and Arsenal continued exactly where they had left off.
Former manager Arsene Wenger watched from the stands at The Emirates Stadium as Arsenal, top at Christmas for the first time since the 2007-08 season, responded emphatically to an early penalty by West Ham’s Said Benrahma.
Bukayo Saka equalised from close range in the 53rd minute and Gabriel Martinelli smashed home a shot six minutes later to put Arsenal in front.
Eddie Nketiah scored Arsenal’s third to complete the victory and ensure they maintained their 100% home record. They have 40 points from 15 games, seven clear of Newcastle who have played a game more. Arsenal are eight ahead of third-placed Manchester City, who have played 14.
“We showed a lot of composure and quality,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. “We didn’t start to play the game they wanted to play, we kept pushing, believing and deserved the win.”
NEWCASTLE CONTINUE RUTHLESS STREAK
Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Chris Wood were all on target as a ruthless Newcastle struck three times in the first half against Leicester to fuel their fans’ dreams of qualifying for the Champions League, or perhaps more.
“The season is still young enough for all possibilities to exist for us,” said Eddie Howe, who has transformed Newcastle since he took over last November after they were taken over by a consortium backed by investment from Saudi Arabia.
Fourth-placed Tottenham got off to a nightmare start at Brentford but yet again staged a comeback, Kane and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scoring in the space of six minutes in the second half to cancel out earlier strikes from Vitaly Janelt and Ivan Toney.
It was Kane’s first match since missing a penalty in England’s quarter-final defeat to France in the World Cup and he showed he had overcome that setback by netting a thumping header.
Free-flowing Liverpool eased past Aston Villa to go sixth in the table.
Striker Salah tapped in the visitors’ opener in the fifth minute after a sublime passing move from marauding wing-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson.
Defender van Dijk bagged Liverpool’s second in the 37th minute with a superb left-footed shot after being set up by Salah. Ollie Watkins replied for Villa but 18-year-old Spanish midfielder Bajcetic squeezed in Liverpool’s third.
Fulham eased to a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace, who had two players sent off, while Brighton & Hove Albion earned a comfortable 3-1 win at Southampton who sank to the bottom.
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