Ralph Hasenhuttl labelled it a "disaster" and it seemed Southampton would enter a tailspin following their miserable 9-0 home loss to Leicester City in October.

The Saints were a goal behind when Ryan Bertrand was dismissed in the 12th minute, and they shipped eight more in a landslide at St Mary's, suffering the joint-heaviest defeat in Premier League history.

Saturday brings a rematch and Southampton have displayed good humour in the build-up, muting Twitter terms related to the last encounter.

But with a five-game undefeated streak behind them and a European place remarkably not out of reach, a team formerly deemed destined for the drop are on the up.

A review of history with help from Opta data puts the turnaround in clear context, positioning Southampton as potentially the best of the clubs who diced with double-digit defeats.

 

Bouncing back the easy bit

Hasenhuttl expressed bewilderment in the aftermath of the crushing October result, claiming he had "never seen a team act like this" as he criticised the complete lack of fight.

His words drew a reasonable response as Southampton next recorded 2-1 defeats to Manchester City and Everton respectively, before a 2-2 draw at Arsenal that would have been a win if not for Alexandre Lacazette's equaliser deep into stoppage time.

Home wins over Watford and Norwich City followed to provide further proof that psychological scars can be erased in a relatively short period in the Premier League.

In 1999, Sheffield Wednesday sandwiched a single defeat to Sunderland between an 8-0 loss to Newcastle United and a 5-1 win over Wimbledon.

The Black Cats themselves took the same length of time in 2014 to move past an 8-0 mauling at the hands of none other than Southampton, with one game – an away loss at Arsenal – wedged between that and a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.

Lessons can clearly be learned in the short term, but for most these results augur an eventual battle for survival.

Saints sustain top-half tilt

The loss to Leicester left Southampton in the relegation zone, exactly where they began when Hasenhuttl took over in December 2018.

Skip forward 11 top-flight fixtures to the cusp of this weekend's schedule and the Saints are now a mere five points adrift of sixth-placed Tottenham.

That might mean less with the table congested as it is but, sitting 12th after 21 games, Southampton are poised to set a new standard for teams scolded by defeats of eight goals or more.

Two of the five teams previously beaten by such margins limped on to relegation: the Ipswich Town side of 1994-95, who were in a mess by their time of their then outright-record 9-0 loss to Manchester United, and 19th-placed Wednesday in 1999-2000.

Wigan Athletic suffered two eight-goal losses in 2009-10 and still survived after they finished 16th, which is where Sunderland ended in 2014-15.

Aston Villa, 8-0 losers against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December 2012, found their way to 15th that season, a high mark that Southampton have the opportunity to exceed as they look ahead to winnable home meetings with Wolves, Burnley and Villa over their next six fixtures.

Watford help chart way forward

Southampton's game against Leicester occurred less than a month after Manchester City's ruthless 8-0 demolition of Watford, and the Hornets are also a team righting their earlier wrongs.

New boss Nigel Pearson's arrival at Vicarage Road has coincided with an upturn that could conceivably have the Hornets out of the bottom three with a win over Bournemouth this weekend.

Never before have two different teams suffered Premier League losses of an eight-goal magnitude or greater in the same campaign.

Together, however, Southampton and Watford are setting about showing how humiliating results need only be regarded as a footnote to the season.

Everton's 100 per cent record under Carlo Ancelotti came unstuck in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City, but Mikel Arteta and David Moyes got their first victories in charge of West Ham and Arsenal, respectively. 

Arteta, whose Arsenal side put in a much-improved performance, claimed a 2-0 victory over Manchester United, while West Ham crushed Bournemouth 4-0 on the Scot's return to the club.

Danny Ings scored the only goal of the game as Tottenham suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Southampton, while top-four rivals Chelsea were held 1-1 by Brighton and Hove Albion.

There were also wins for Aston Villa, Leicester City and Watford, along with a draw between Norwich City and Crystal Palace, as 2020 got off to an eventful start, with VAR once again proving to be a big talking point.

Jesus at the double while Noble inspires Hammers

Ancelotti delivered back-to-back wins in his opening two games as Everton boss and his Toffees side frustrated City for 51 minutes in a tight game at the Etihad.

The deadlock was broken by Gabriel Jesus, who scored with a scintillating right-footed shot into the top corner from the edge of the box, and he connected with a Riyad Mahrez pass to score with a low shot seven minutes later.

Richarlison turned Theo Walcott's deflected cross into the net at the far post with 19 minutes left to give Everton hope, but they failed to find an equaliser and suffered a first defeat in six league games.

At London Stadium, Moyes produced a markedly improved performance from West Ham as they strolled to a 4-0 victory over Bournemouth, with captain Mark Noble scoring a brace.

Noble scored with a deflected shot with 17 minutes played and Sebastien Haller found the net via a bicycle kick before the Hammers' skipper converted a first-half penalty.

Felipe Anderson netted with a neat finish when Declan Rice found him with a measured pass, West Ham's fourth wrapping up their biggest margin of victory in the Premier League for over a decade.

 

Arteta off the mark at jubilant Emirates

Arsenal's home faithful were treated to a dominant display and a 2-0 victory over Manchester United that harked back to the days when Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp tormented the Red Devils in north London.

Nicolas Pepe opened the scoring in the eighth minute, firing home from 12 yards after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sead Kolasinac combined to great effect down the Arsenal left.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos doubled the hosts' lead shortly before half-time, lashing high into the net from close range after United failed to clear their lines at a corner, but Arsenal had capitulated from a winning position on this ground against Chelsea three days earlier.

There was to be no turnaround this time, however. The win moves Arsenal up to 10th in the Premier League table, while United remain fifth, but the balance of play suggested the two sides could end the season much closer together.

 

Chelsea held by Jahanbakhsh stunner

Cesar Azpilicueta scored the first Premier League goal of the decade with a close-range finish after Tammy Abraham's shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy, but Chelsea could not get the job done against Brighton.

Jahanbakhsh celebrated with tears of joy after scoring his first goal for Brighton in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday and he did not have to wait long for his second goal.

The Iran winger sent an acrobatic attempt past Kepa Arrizabalaga with six minutes of normal time remaining to deny Frank Lampard's side a third away league win on the spin.

So delighted to be able to help the team again today! Happy new year to everyone  #BHAFC pic.twitter.com/nW7p7E8zMY

— Alireza Jahanbakhsh (@Alirezajb7) January 1, 2020

Foxes march on with win at 10-man Newcastle

Despite being without the Premier League's leading scorer Jamie Vardy for a second game, firstly due to the birth of his child and this time due to a minor injury, Leicester were comfortable 3-0 winners at Newcastle.

The Foxes' incredible campaign continued thanks to goals from former Newcastle attacker Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and substitute Hamza Choudhury.

While Leicester's outside title hopes just about remain intact, moving back to within 10 points of Liverpool after playing two games more than the runaway leaders, a third defeat in a row for Newcastle leaves them five points above the relegation zone.

 

Villa pick up much-needed win while Wickham pegs bag Norwich

Villa boss Dean Smith insisted he still had the support of the dressing room in the build-up to the trip to Burnley, and that showed as Villa returned to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph at Turf Moor that saw them climb out of the relegation zone.

Wesley got the first goal after 27 minutes and the Villans added a second on the stroke of half-time when Jack Grealish scored his sixth Premier League goal in his 19th appearance this season.

Chris Wood pulled one back from Burnley's first shot on target in the 80th minute, though it was not enough to prevent a third successive loss for Sean Dyche's out-of-form side.

Meanwhile, Todd Cantwell put Norwich City ahead after just four minutes of their clash with Palace, who battled bravely to stay in the game before substitute Connor Wickham turned Wilfried Zaha's cross into the net five minutes from time to earn his side a share of the points.

Kane limps off for stuttering Spurs, Watford's revival continues

Danny Ings scored the 16th goal Tottenham have conceded in their last 11 matches when he lifted the ball over Toby Alderweireld and fired past Paulo Gazzaniga for what proved to be the only goal of the game after 17 minutes at St. Mary's.

Tottenham have taken only four points from the 12 on offer over the festive period and their misery was compounded by Harry Kane limping off after hurting his hamstring, and Jose Mourinho was shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean late on after being involved in touchline confrontation.

Watford maintained their impressive form with a 2-1 win at home to Wolves after Gerard Deulofeu opened the scoring half an hour in with a curled finish into the bottom corner.

Abdoulaye Doucoure fired in on his 27th birthday to double the home side's tally, but Pedro Neto reduced the deficit with a deflected shot on the hour and Christian Kabasele was sent off with 19 minutes to play.

Wolves could not find a way past Ben Foster again, though, meaning just a third loss in 16 league outings for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

Danny Ings scored the only goal of the game as Tottenham suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Southampton, while top-four rivals Chelsea were held 1-1 by Brighton and Hove Albion.

In-form striker Ings fired home in the first half to make it 13 Premier League goals for the season against a below-par Tottenham, who also lost Harry Kane to a hamstring injury.

Jose Mourinho's side are now six points adrift of Chelsea in the final Champions League qualifying spot following the Blues' draw with Brighton in Wednesday's early kick-off.

Chelsea were heading for back-to-back away wins after Cesar Azpilicueta put them ahead, but Alireza Jahanbakhsh's overhead-kick earned Brighton a share of the spoils.

There were also wins for Aston Villa, Leicester City and Watford as 2020 got off to an eventful start, with VAR once again proving to be a big talking point.

Kane limps off for stuttering Spurs

Tottenham have struggled defensively in the early stages of Mourinho's tenure, conceding for the 16th time in 11 matches in all competitions through Ings' impressive strike.

The England international hopeful lifted the ball over Toby Alderweireld and fired past Paulo Gazzaniga for what proved to be the only goal of the game after 17 minutes.

Tottenham have taken only four points from the 12 on offer over the festive period and their misery was compounded by Kane limping off after hurting his hamstring in the process of scoring a disallowed equaliser.

Mourinho, who had never previously lost in six away league meetings with Southampton, was shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean late on after being involved in touchline confrontation as his side remained sixth in the table.

 

Chelsea held by Jahanbakhsh stunner

Azpilicueta scored the first Premier League goal of the decade with a close-range finish after Tammy Abraham's shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy, but Chelsea could not get the job done against Brighton.

Jahanbakhsh celebrated with tears of joy after scoring his first goal for Brighton in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday and he did not have to wait long for his second goal.

The Iran winger sent an acrobatic attempt past Kepa Arrizabalaga with six minutes of normal time remaining to deny Frank Lampard's side a third away league win on the spin.

Chelsea had looked comfortable until Jahanbakhsh's moment of magic but had to survive a late scare as they opened the door for other members of the chasing pack to close the gap - something Tottenham were unable to achieve.


So delighted to be able to help the team again today! Happy new year to everyone #BHAFC pic.twitter.com/nW7p7E8zMY

— Alireza Jahanbakhsh (@Alirezajb7) January 1, 2020 Foxes march on with win at 10-man Newcastle

Despite being without the Premier League's leading scorer Jamie Vardy for a second game in a row due to the birth of his child, Leicester were comfortable 3-0 winners at Newcastle.

The Foxes' incredible campaign continued thanks to goals from former Newcastle attacker Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and substitute Hamza Choudhury.

Leicester, back to within 10 points of Liverpool after playing two games more than the runaway leaders, played almost all of the second half against 10 men.

That was due to the hosts suffering a string of injuries, Jetro Willems and Javier Manquillo being forced off in the first half and Jonjo Shelvey following them at half-time, with all three subs already made when Fabian Schar pulled up.

While Leicester's outside title hopes just about remain intact, a third defeat in a row for Newcastle leaves them five points above the relegation zone.


Villa pick up much-needed win at Turf Moor

The pressure had been building on Villa boss Dean Smith following a run of five league defeats in six matches, including a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of fellow strugglers Watford last time out.

Smith insisted he still had the support of the dressing room in the build-up to the trip to Burnley, however, and that showed as Villa returned to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph at Turf Moor that saw them climb out of the relegation zone.

Jack Grealish had a header contentiously ruled out by VAR, with Wesley adjudged to be offside in the build-up, but the two players linked up for the latter's opener 16 minutes later.

The Villans added a second on the stroke of half-time through Grealish, who scored his sixth Premier League goal in his 19th appearance this season - as many as he netted in 31 matches in the Championship last season.

Chris Wood pulled one back from Burnley's first shot on target in the 80th minute, though it was not enough to prevent a third successive loss for Sean Dyche's out-of-form side.

 

Watford's remarkable revival continues

Watford have now taken 10 points from four matches since Nigel Pearson was appointed as Quique Sanchez Flores' successor earlier this month, the Hornets maintaining their impressive form with a 2-1 win at home to Wolves.

Gerard Deulofeu, the hero when Watford edged out Wolves in a dramatic FA Cup semi-final last season, opened the scoring after half an hour with a curled finish into the bottom corner.

Abdoulaye Doucoure fired in on his 27th birthday to double the home side's tally, but Pedro Neto reduced the deficit with a deflected shot on the hour and Christian Kabasele was sent off with 19 minutes to play.

Wolves could not find a way past Ben Foster, though, meaning just a third loss in 16 league outings for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

Some of Europe's top clubs are already making signings ahead of the January transfer window, but Real Madrid's focus, at least for now, looks to be on securing the services of a current player.

Karim Benzema remains one of Madrid's key men, with 12 goals in 17 LaLiga matches this term.

Los Blancos will reportedly reward the striker's fine form with a contract renewal in the coming months, keeping him at the Santiago Bernabeu for another two seasons.

 

TOP STORY – BENZEMA TO STAY UNTIL 2022

Karim Benzema has agreed to sign a new contract with LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Benzema's current deal had been set to expire in 2021, but an extension is imminent. The newspaper reports the Frenchman will be rewarded improved terms on a new contract to run until 2022 due to his outstanding form.

With Madrid enjoying a midseason break, they are said to have agreed a deal with Benzema that will be made formal at the end of the campaign.

Benzema's future is apparently a priority for Madrid, with the report suggesting the deal was only capped at an additional year as the player is determined not to outstay his welcome, leaving before his outstanding career wanes.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United reportedly have an interest in Benfica star Gedson Fernandes. Sky Sports say the 20-year-old midfielder, who has fallen out of favour with his club, could be available for £34million (€39.8m) following a loan, rather than for a loftier release clause of £102m. United are desperate to bolster their midfield, with Nemanja Matic tipped to join Inter, Milan or Atletico Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Suns says United are eyeing £50m-rated Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after Erling Haaland signed for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.

- The Mirror claims Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will leave Emirates Stadium at the end of the season in pursuit of silverware. Aubameyang has 18 months remaining on his contract.

Chelsea have made enquiries about the release clause in RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner's contract, says The Telegraph. Werner has been linked to Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich.

- El Desmarque says Everton are leading the race to sign James Rodriguez from Real Madrid. Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti worked with James during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Serie A champions Juventus lead the race to sign Dejan Kulusevski, according to Sky Sport Italia and La Gazzetta dello Sport. The 19-year-old, on loan at Parma from Atalanta, has been linked to United, Arsenal, Napoli, Inter and Liverpool. But Juve are reportedly poised to pay Atalanta €40-50m, while allowing Kulusevski to remain on loan at Parma until the end of the season.

- Calciomercato.com reports Jean-Clair Todibo has an offer from Milan. A deal is said to be done for the Barcelona defender - an initial loan, followed by a €20m fee with no buyback option - but he has not yet agreed to the transfer.

- Having already signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Milan must move on others in the next month. However, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are only interested in selling Ricardo Rodriguez and Suso, rather than accommodating loan deals that would suit Watford and Sevilla, respectively.

Napoli are set to announce the signing of Stanislav Lobotka for an initial €16m, according to Calciomercato.com. The midfielder will leave Celta Vigo and sign a contract with the Partenopei until 2024.

West Ham sacked Manuel Pellegrini following a 2-1 home defeat to a much-changed Leicester City side before Manchester United won at Burnley on Saturday. 

Pellegrini was relieved of his duties following a loss that leaves the London club just a point above the Premier League relegation zone in 17th.

Leicester were thumped 4-0 by runaway leaders Liverpool on Boxing Day after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, but got back on track in the capital despite Brendan Rodgers making nine changes – leading scorer Jamie Vardy absent after his wife gave birth.

Goals from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford gave United a 2-0 win at Turf Moor, where they kept a first clean sheet in 15 league games.

Jose Mourinho's Spurs needed Harry Kane's 83rd-minute penalty to salvage a point in a 2-2 draw against Norwich at Carrow Road.

In the day's earlier matches, Watford's mini-resurgence under Nigel Pearson continued and Carlo Ancelotti made it two wins from as many matches in charge of Everton.

Brighton and Hove Albion were 2-0 winners over Bournemouth, while Southampton and Crystal Palace drew 1-1.

 

Gray makes amends as Leicester end Pellegrini's reign

Losses to City and Liverpool left doubts over Leicester's ability to challenge near the top of the table for the rest of the season, but they showed their squad depth and resilience at West Ham.

Demarai Gray, given a rare start, was presented with a fine chance to open the scoring when Lukasz Fabianski fouled Kelechi Iheanacho, but the goalkeeper saved the resulting penalty on his return from injury.

Iheanacho opened the scoring just before half-time, heading in from close range after Ayoze Perez knocked a delivery back across goal – but Pablo Fornals restored parity a few minutes later, finishing off a lovely move following great work from Felipe Anderson.

Gray made up for his miss from the spot early in the second half, confidently slotting past Fabianski after being released by Perez. West Ham rarely threatened thereafter in what proved to be Pellegrini's last game in charge.

 

United up to fifth

Martial scored his third goal in two Premier League matches as United moved up to fifth.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men broke down Burnley's packed defence with some patient attacking play, forcing the opener just before half-time and doubling their lead in second-half stoppage time through Rashford.

After losing 2-0 at Watford in their previous away game, United delivered the improvements they sorely needed at the back while dominating possession in midfield despite the absence of Paul Pogba, who was rested following his return to fitness, as they built on a 4-1 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day.

Burnley were looking to make it three league wins from four but failed to recover from an error by full-back Charlie Taylor that led to Martial's strike, squandering a flurry of late opportunities before Rashford scored his 12th league goal of the season.

 

VAR to the fore as Spurs make fortunate escape

Norwich might have been two to the good at half-time were it not for the most marginal of offside calls as Spurs were let off the hook.

Teemu Pukki slotted home on the break, only for VAR to rule him offside seemingly by his armpit after Mario Vrancic had capitalised on a series of defensive lapses to open the scoring in the 18th minute.

Spurs levelled with a free-kick effort from Christian Eriksen just after the break, but Norwich were back in front again by the 61st minute – Toby Alderweireld knocking the ball on to Serge Aurier when tackling Pukki and watching on as it found the back of the net.

But Kane rescued Spurs, as he often does. A clumsy sliding tackle from Christoph Zimmermann on the England striker resulted in a penalty and he swept home from 12 yards.

 

New managers having desired effect

A tense first half between Watford and Aston Villa at Vicarage Road remained goalless until just before the interval, when Ezri Konsa's error allowed

Abdoulaye Doucoure to get a shot away and Troy Deeney converted on the rebound.

Villa were given a boost just before the hour when Adrian Mariappa was shown a second yellow card for appearing to catch Henri Lansbury late, though replays suggested contact was minimal.

But Watford got a second goal in the 67th minute – Deeney smashing in a penalty after he had been barged over by Douglas Luiz, and Ismaila Sarr finished Villa off 19 minutes from time.

Ancelotti is overseeing an improvement at Everton, who beat Newcastle United 2-1 at St James' Park.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a brace either side of Fabian Schar's strike, allowing the Toffees to move above their hosts in the table and up to 10th.

 

Seagulls pick off Cherries to arrest slump

Brighton hosted Bournemouth having not won any of their previous four matches in the top flight.

But it did not take them long to establish control against the Cherries – Alireza Jahanbakhsh putting them in front within three minutes by lashing into the bottom-right corner, finally opening his account for the club more than a year after costing a reported £17million.

Brighton thought they had sealed the win just before the hour when Dan Burn slammed home, only for a VAR review to adjudge him to be offside by a shoulder.

But Aaron Mooy did wrap up the victory 12 minutes from time in style, bringing down Leandro Trossard's cross, cleverly beating a defender and coolly slotting home.

Victory moves Brighton above Southampton, who could only salvage a draw at home to Palace, Danny Ings cancelling out James Tomkins' header with 16 minutes to go.

 

Leicester City bounced back from their humbling defeat to Liverpool by claiming a 2-1 win at West Ham despite ringing the changes, while Tottenham rescued a 2-2 at rock-bottom Norwich City with a late equaliser on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers' men were thumped 4-0 by runaway leaders Liverpool on Boxing Day after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.

But the Foxes returned to winning ways to strengthen their position in second even though Rodgers made nine changes – leading scorer Jamie Vardy absent after his wife gave birth.

Jose Mourinho's Spurs needed Harry Kane's 83rd-minute penalty to salvage a point at Carrow Road.

In the day's earlier matches, Watford's mini-resurgence under Nigel Pearson continued and Carlo Ancelotti made it two wins from as many matches in charge of Everton.

Brighton and Hove Albion were 2-0 winners over Bournemouth, while Southampton and Crystal Palace drew 1-1.

 

Gray makes amends as Leicester get back on track

Losses to City and Liverpool left doubts over Leicester's ability to challenge near the top of the table for the rest of the season, but they showed their squad depth and resilience at West Ham.

Demarai Gray, given a rare start, was presented with a fine chance to open the scoring when Lukasz Fabianski fouled Kelechi Iheanacho, but the goalkeeper saved the resulting penalty on his return from injury.

Iheanacho opened the scoring just before half-time, heading in from close range after Ayoze Perez knocked a delivery back across goal – but Pablo Fornals restored parity a few minutes later, finishing off a lovely move following great work from Felipe Anderson.

Gray made up for his miss from the spot early in the second half, confidently slotting past Fabianski after being released by Perez and West Ham rarely threatened thereafter.

 

VAR to the fore as Spurs make fortunate escape

Norwich might have been two to the good at half-time were it not for the most marginal of offside calls as Spurs were let off the hook.

Teemu Pukki slotted home on the break, only for VAR to rule him offside seemingly by his armpit after Mario Vrancic had capitalised on a series of defensive lapses to open the scoring in the 18th minute.

Spurs levelled with a free-kick effort from Christian Eriksen just after the break, but Norwich were back in front again by the 61st minute – Toby Alderweireld knocking the ball on to Serge Aurier when tackling Pukki and watching on as it found the back of the net.

But Kane rescued Spurs, as he often does. A clumsy sliding tackle from Christoph Zimmermann on the England striker resulted in a penalty and he swept home from 12 yards.

Spurs are up to fifth ahead of Wolves, who have a game in hand.

 

 

New managers having desired effect

A tense first half between Watford and Aston Villa at Vicarage Road remained goalless until just before the interval, when Ezri Konsa's error allowed

Abdoulaye Doucoure to get a shot away and Troy Deeney converted on the rebound.

Villa were given a boost just before the hour when Adrian Mariappa was shown a second yellow card for appearing to catch Henri Lansbury late, though replays suggested contact was minimal.

But Watford got a second goal in the 67th minute – Deeney smashing in a penalty after he had been barged over by Douglas Luiz, and Ismaila Sarr finished Villa off 19 minutes from time.

Ancelotti is overseeing an improvement at Everton, who beat Newcastle United 2-1 at St James' Park.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed a brace either side of Fabian Schar's strike, allowing the Toffees to move above their hosts in the table and up to 10th.

 

Seagulls pick off Cherries to arrest slump

Brighton hosted Bournemouth having not won any of their previous four matches in the top flight.

But it did not take them long to establish control against the Cherries – Alireza Jahanbakhsh putting them in front within three minutes by lashing into the bottom-right corner, finally opening his account for the club more than a year after costing a reported £17million.

Brighton thought they had sealed the win just before the hour when Dan Burn slammed home, only for a VAR review to adjudge him to be offside by a shoulder.

But Aaron Mooy did wrap up the victory 12 minutes from time in style, bringing down Leandro Trossard's cross, cleverly beating a defender and coolly slotting home.

Victory moves Brighton above Southampton, who could only salvage a draw at home to Palace, Danny Ings cancelling out James Tomkins' header with 16 minutes to go.

 

Watford eased to a 3-0 win over relegation rivals Aston Villa despite having Adrian Mariappa sent off, while Carlo Ancelotti got a second win in succession as Everton boss on Saturday.

Nigel Pearson's impact is becoming impressively clear at Watford, with the new manager guiding them to two wins in a week, having also presided over the 2-0 defeat of Manchester United before Christmas.

Watford are now within two points of 18th-placed Villa and having previously looked doomed for relegation, they have been revived under Pearson.

Everton are also enjoying something of an improvement, as they left St James' Park with a 2-1 win over Newcastle United – Ancelotti's early work seemingly getting a reaction out of the Toffees.

New managers having desired effect

A tense first half at Vicarage Road remained goalless until just before the interval, when Ezri Konsa's error allowed Abdoulaye Doucoure to get a shot away and Troy Deeney converted on the rebound.

Villa were given a boost just before the hour when Mariappa was shown a second yellow card for appearing to catch Henri Lansbury late, though replays suggested contact was minimal.

But Watford got a second goal in the 67th minute – Deeney smashing in a penalty after he had been barged over by Douglas Luiz, and Ismaila Sarr finished Villa off 19 minutes from time.

Ancelotti is overseeing an improvement at Everton, who beat Newcastle to make it two wins from as many matches under the Italian.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin got himself a brace either side of Fabian Schar's strike, allowing the Toffees to move above their hosts in the table and up to 10th.

Seagulls pick off Cherries to arrest slump

Brighton and Hove Albion went into Saturday's clash with Bournemouth having not won any of their previous four matches in the Premier League.

But it did not take them long to establish control against the Cherries – Alireza Jahanbakhsh putting them in front within three minutes by lashing into the bottom-right corner, finally opening his account for the club more than a year after costing a reported £17million.

Brighton thought they had sealed the win just before the hour when Dan Burn slammed home, only for a VAR review to adjudge him to be offside by a shoulder.

But Aaron Mooy did wrap up the victory 12 minutes from time in style, bringing down Leandro Trossard's cross, cleverly beating a defender and coolly slotting home.

Brighton's win moved them above Southampton, who could only salvage a 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace, Danny Ings cancelling out James Tomkins' header with 16 minutes to go.

Liverpool thrashed second-placed Leicester City 4-0 to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to 13 points with a game in hand.

Club World Cup hero Roberto Firmino scored either side of a James Milner penalty and Trent Alexander-Arnold capped a phenomenal display by completing the scoring at the King Power Stadium.

Manchester United were also big winners, coming from behind to beat Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford, while elsewhere in the Premier League two keenly anticipated managerial tenures got under way.

Carlo Ancelotti saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin head Everton to a 1-0 win over Burnley in his first game in charge at Goodison Park, while Mikel Arteta had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to thank for salvaging a 1-1 draw for Arsenal at Bournemouth.

Yet the result of the afternoon came at Chelsea, where superb goals from Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond meant Frank Lampard's men were unable to build upon their impressive triumph at Tottenham last time out.

Spurs moved back to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea after coming from behind to beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1, a result repeated in the south of the capital as Crystal Palace stole the points against West Ham courtesy of a fabulous Jordan Ayew solo effort.

Watford's 1-1 draw at Sheffield United lifted them off the bottom of the table, with Norwich City now propping up the rest after going down 1-0 at Aston Villa.

No sign of home comforts for Lampard, but better news for Solskjaer

Leicester's designs on a title push have been checked by defeats to Manchester City and now Liverpool, who have won 17 of their 18 Premier League games this season.

They last lost in the competition on January 3 and Alexander-Arnold, who set up both of Firmino's goals, gave an awesome demonstration of the quality at their disposal.

By contrast, Chelsea have now lost five of their past seven Premier League games and three out of four at Stamford Bridge after Southampton were able to toast an unlikely hero.

Obafemi got his chance up front as top scorer Danny Ings was rested and he drove at a backpedalling Blues backline to finish emphatically after the half hour. Redmond capped a fine team move 17 minutes from time.

Spurs were facing a fresh setback in their game against Brighton when Adam Webster powered in Pascal Gross' free-kick, but Harry Kane continued his habit of finding the net on Boxing Day and Dele Alli maintained his prolific form under Jose Mourinho with a 72nd-minute winner.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watched his Manchester United turn on the style after going behind to an early Matty Longstaff goal against Newcastle.

As memories of a painful 1-0 defeat to the Magpies in October came flooding back, the hosts found an extra gear at Old Trafford to turn the match around, with Martial, Greenwood and Rashford showing a clinical touch.

Encouraging early signs for Ancelotti and Arteta

Burnley created little at Goodison Park but Everton had to be patient before the breakthrough arrived with 10 minutes to play.

Djibril Sidibe's searching cross found a diving Calvert-Lewin, who headed home via the post.

The Clarets are now below 11th-placed Arsenal on goal difference after Arteta got a first-hand look at some of his club's long-standing defensive problems,

Dan Gosling put Bournemouth ahead after the Gunners were carved apart down the right but the Gunners summoned a battling response and Aubameyang turned in his 12th Premier League goal of the season.

Ayew sends Eagles soaring

Palace had a day to remember against West Ham despite falling behind to a Robert Snodgrass goal at Selhurst Park.

Cheikhou Kouyate stole in to equalise against his former club before Ayew danced through a succession of challenges and found a delightful chipped finish in the final minute.

West Ham are a point and a place above the relegation zone after third-bottom Villa saw off fellow strugglers Norwich.

Substitute Conor Hourihane swept in Jack Grealish's pass eight minutes after coming on, while Tom Heaton excelled in the home goal.

Watford made it back-to-back draws under Nigel Pearson, leading briefly at Bramall Lane through Gerard Deulofeu before Oliver Norwood levelled from the penalty spot.

Southampton shocked Chelsea and Manchester United thrashed Newcastle on Boxing Day, while elsewhere in the Premier League two keenly anticipated managerial tenures got under way.

Carlo Ancelotti saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin head Everton to a 1-0 win over Burnley in his first game in charge at Goodison Park, while Mikel Arteta had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to thank for salvaging a 1-1 draw for Arsenal at Bournemouth.

Yet the result of the afternoon came at Chelsea, where superb goals from Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond meant Frank Lampard's men were unable to build upon their impressive triumph at Tottenham last time out.

Manchester United swept aside Newcastle United 4-1 with two goals from Anthony Martial, who also struck the post, and one each from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

Spurs moved back to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea after coming from behind to beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1, a result repeated in the south of the capital as Crystal Palace stole the points against West Ham courtesy of a fabulous Jordan Ayew solo effort.

Watford's 1-1 draw at Sheffield United lifted them off the bottom of the table, with Norwich City now propping up the rest after going down 1-0 at Aston Villa.

No sign of home comforts for Lampard, but better news for Solskjaer

Chelsea have now lost five of their past seven Premier League games and three out of four at Stamford Bridge after Southampton were able to toast an unlikely hero.

Obafemi got his chance up front as top scorer Danny Ings was rested and he drove at a backpedalling Blues backline to finish emphatically after the half hour.

Redmond capped a fine team move 17 minutes from time and Chelsea got what they deserved after bearing no more than a passing resemblance to the side that outplayed Tottenham at the weekend.

Spurs were facing a fresh setback in their game against Brighton when Adam Webster powered in Pascal Gross' free-kick, but Harry Kane continued his habit of finding the net on Boxing Day and Dele Alli maintained his prolific form under Jose Mourinho with a 72nd-minute winner.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watched his Manchester United turn on the style after going behind to an early Matty Longstaff goal against Newcastle. As memories of a painful 1-0 defeat to the Magpies in October came flooding back, the hosts found an extra gear at Old Trafford to turn the match around, with Martial, Greenwood and Rashford showing a clinical touch.

Encouraging early signs for Ancelotti and Arteta

Burnley created little at Goodison Park but Everton had to be patient before the breakthrough arrived with 10 minutes to play.

Djibril Sidibe's searching cross found a diving Calvert-Lewin, who headed home via the post.

Burnley are now below 11th-placed Arsenal on goal difference after Arteta got a first-hand look at some of his club's long-standing defensive problems,

Dan Gosling put Bournemouth ahead after the Gunners were carved apart down the right but the Gunners summoned a battling response and Aubameyang turned in his 12th Premier League goal of the season.

Ayew sends Eagles soaring

Palace had a day to remember against West Ham despite falling behind to a Robert Snodgrass goal at Selhurst Park.

Cheikhou Kouyate stole in to equalise against his former club before Ayew danced through a succession of challenges and found a delightful chipped finish in the final minute.

West Ham are a point and a place above the relegation zone after third-bottom Villa saw off fellow strugglers Norwich.

Substitute Conor Hourihane swept in Jack Grealish's pass eight minutes after coming on, while Tom Heaton excelled in the home goal.

Watford made it back-to-back draws under Nigel Pearson, leading briefly at Bramall Lane through Gerard Deulofeu before Oliver Norwood levelled from the penalty spot.

Southampton shocked Chelsea with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day as two keenly anticipated managerial tenures got under way in the Premier League.

Carlo Ancelotti saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin head Everton to a 1-0 win over Burnley in his first game in charge at Goodison Park, while Mikel Arteta had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to thank for salvaging a 1-1 draw for Arsenal at Bournemouth.

Yet the story of the afternoon came at Chelsea, where superb goals from Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond meant Frank Lampard's men were unable to build upon their impressive triumph at Tottenham last time out.

Spurs are back to within three points of their London rivals and the top four after coming from behind to beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1, a feat repeated in the south of the capital later in the day as Crystal Palace stole the points against West Ham courtesy of a fabulous Jordan Ayew solo effort.

Watford's 1-1 draw at Sheffield United lifted them off the bottom of the table, with Norwich City now propping up the rest after going down 1-0 at Aston Villa.

No sign of home comforts for Lampard

Chelsea have now lost five of their past seven Premier League games and three out of four at Stamford Bridge after Southampton were able to toast an unlikely hero.

Obafemi got his chance up front as top scorer Danny Ings was rested and he drove at a backpedalling Blues backline to finish emphatically after the half hour.

Redmond capped a fine team move 17 minutes from time and Chelsea got what they deserved after bearing no more than a passing resemblance to the side that outplayed Tottenham at the weekend.

Spurs were facing a further setback when Adam Webster powered in Pascal Gross' free-kick but Harry Kane continued his habit of finding the net on Boxing Day and Dele Alli maintained his prolific form under Jose Mourinho with a 72nd-minute winner.

Encouraging early signs for Ancelotti and Arteta

Burnley created little at Goodison Park but Everton had to be patient before the breakthrough arrived with 10 minutes to play.

Djibril Sidibe's searching cross found a diving Calvert-Lewin, who headed home via the post.

Burnley are now below 11th-placed Arsenal on goal difference after Arteta got a first-hand look at some of his club's long-standing defensive problems,

Dan Gosling put Bournemouth ahead after the Gunners were carved apart down the right but the Gunners summoned a battling response and Aubameyang turned in his 12th Premier League goal of the season.

Ayew sends Eagles soaring

Ahead of Manchester United's later kick-off at home to Newcastle United, Palace moved up to eighth despite falling behind to a Robert Snodgrass goal at Selhurst Park.

Cheikhou Kouyate stole in to equalise against his former club before Ayew danced through a succession of challenges and found a delightful chipped finish in the final minute.

West Ham are a point and a place above the relegation zone after third-bottom Villa saw off fellow strugglers Norwich.

Substitute Conor Hourihane swept in Jack Grealish's pass eight minutes after coming on, while Tom Heaton excelled in the home goal.

Watford made it back-to-back draws under Nigel Pearson, leading briefly at Bramall Lane through Gerard Deulofeu before Oliver Norwood levelled from the penalty spot.

Jose Mourinho's impressive run at home to his former clubs was ended as Tottenham lost 2-0 against Chelsea on Sunday.

The final Premier League game before Christmas was a cracker, with Willian in dazzling form and scoring twice, while Son Heung-min was sent off.

A big win for Chelsea came at the end of a weekend in which Manchester City toppled top-four rivals Leicester City.

There were two key victories at the bottom of the table, too, with Southampton triumphant at Aston Villa and Watford upsetting Manchester United.

Read about the weekend's biggest games with our Opta-powered review.
 

SAINTS AND INGS PROFIT AS VILLA SLUMP CONTINUES

Aston Villa's solid start to the season has been forgotten as they spend Christmas in the relegation zone, having been handed another convincing home defeat on Saturday, going down 3-1 to Southampton.

The promoted side lost their previous league game at Villa Park 4-1 against Leicester, meaning they have conceded as many goals (seven) across their past two such matches as they had in their first seven this term.

Southampton took advantage and scored three goals in an away league game for the first time in 364 days, going back to last December's victory by the same scoreline at Huddersfield Town.

Danny Ings' brace took his 2019-20 tally to 11 – the joint-best pre-Christmas Premier League haul from a Saints player, along with James Beattie in 2002-03 – and Jack Stephens also netted, with Southampton's past 16 Premier League goals scored by English players.

MAHREZ HAUNTS FOXES AS JESUS ENDS DROUGHT

It appeared for a time as though the latest chapter of Leicester's sublime season would see an away victory at the champions, as the counter-attacking Jamie Vardy netted against Manchester City for the fifth time in the Premier League – the joint-most, along with Sadio Mane, since his 2014 bow.

But the scoreline had been turned on its head by half-time after Riyad Mahrez rewarded the hosts' dominance by becoming the fifth man to play for and later net against Leicester in the Premier League, before Ilkay Gundogan scored a penalty won by Raheem Sterling – the 17th such award in favour of the winger, a league-high since his debut.

Gabriel Jesus then secured the points, ending a home drought that went back to March, with his 14 goals in the interim scored away from the Etihad Stadium.

It gave Man City their 250th Premier League win of the 2010s, making them just the second team to hit that milestone in a single decade – along with rivals Manchester United in the 2000s.

DE GEA GIFTS BASEMENT SIDE MUCH-NEEDED BOOST

Watford ended a 12-game winless run at home in the Premier League with an unlikely 2-0 victory against Manchester United on Sunday following a David de Gea error.

De Gea failed to make a routine save from Ismaila Sarr, before conceding a Troy Deeney penalty as United lost by more than a single goal to a team starting the day bottom of the table for the first time since April 2005 – also 2-0 against Norwich City.

If the nature of the first goal was surprising, the same could not be said of the second. De Gea has failed to save the past 15 spot-kicks he has faced in the league.

And Deeney netted from 12 yards against United at Vicarage Road again, now having done so in four of the past five seasons.

MOURINHO RUN ENDS IN CONCERNING SPURS SHOW

Mourinho had not lost in 13 previous home matches against former clubs, winning all but one, but Chelsea got the better of Spurs at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Willian's second goal – from the penalty spot – was the 100th Chelsea have scored against Tottenham in the Premier League, while they have now won three consecutive games against their London rivals in all competitions for the first time since January 2008.

There are concerns at both ends of the pitch for Mourinho. Spurs mustered just five shots in total – their third lowest haul at home in the league since Opta records began in 2003-04 – while they have conceded the joint-most goals (14, along with Arsenal) in all competitions of all Premier League clubs since the Portuguese took charge.

They will have to do without Son for the next three matches after his dismissal, too. He is the first player to be shown three red cards in a calendar year in the Premier League since Lee Cattermole in 2010.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gave a scathing assessment of Manchester United's first-half display in Sunday's 2-0 loss to Watford, likening the performance to a testimonial.

United went into the match aiming to keep the pressure on the Premier League's top four and bounce back from an underwhelming draw with Everton.

But at Vicarage Road they produced an insipid display, with two goals early in the second half doing the damage – David de Gea fumbling an Ismaila Sarr volley into the net, before Troy Deeney converted a penalty.

Paul Pogba at least provided some impetus for the Red Devils after his 64th-minute introduction, but it was too little, too late, with Watford holding on to a first win under Nigel Pearson.

Solskjaer was particularly unimpressed with United's display before 

He said: "In the first half, it could have easily been my testimonial, maybe it would have been a better atmosphere in my testimonial, to be fair.

"It was very subdued, slow, no tempo, no urgency, any bit of encouragement their crowd got was when we gave them some set-plays and we gifted them two goals.

"I'm very disappointed and [before the match] we spoke about this and looking to be more positive, that we know we've started up something with the rebuild.

"But at this moment, I'm very disappointed, because we have to come to these stadiums to get more points.

"I'm sure they [Watford] are low on confidence, because they must be when you're bottom of the table. We were high on confidence because we've been doing well lately.

"But it just wasn't there, there was no intent or urgency to make us deserve to win the game."

Up next for Solskjaer's side is the visit of Newcastle United on December 26.

Paul Pogba's return and subsequent performance off the bench was the only "plus" in Manchester United's 2-0 defeat to Watford, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United once again produced a disappointing display against an opponent they would be expected to beat, as rock-bottom Watford gave their survival hopes a boost.

Ismaila Sarr opened the scoring just after half-time when David de Gea allowed his tame volley to squirm into the top corner, before Troy Deeney made it 2-0 from the spot following Aaron Wan-Bissaka's clumsy tackle on Watford's first goal-scorer.

Pogba was introduced from the bench for his first appearance in nearly three months and looked comfortably United's best player.

Although he was unable to inspire a turnaround, Solskjaer considered his performance the only positive from United's overall display.

"The big plus is Paul coming on, and that's the one plus," Solskjaer told BBC Sport. "He added urgency, quality, some great passes.

"The boy has been working hard. He's fit and leaner. He'll bring us a lot. He is important for us. He makes us create more chances."

De Gea's error proved costly and he also had a lucky escape in the first half when Watford were denied a goal because Craig Cathcart was adjudged to have fouled the goalkeeper, though replays suggested it was harsh on the defender.

Solskjaer insisted De Gea is not suffering from a lack of confidence, however.

"It's one of those things. He's been so good in training and focused," Solskjaer said of the Spain international.

"One goal is a mistake and the second is penalty. David's been very confident lately and I don't look at it any other way."

Harry Maguire was at a loss to explain Manchester United's struggles against opposition in the bottom half of the table and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was similarly nonplussed after Sunday's 2-0 defeat at Watford.

United produced another insipid performance at Vicarage Road, as they struggled to create chances before Paul Pogba's 64th-minute introduction, but by that point they were already two down.

A David de Gea howler allowed Ismaila Sarr to open the scoring early in the second half and Troy Deeney made it 2-0 from the spot after Aaron Wan-Bissaka tripped the Watford winger.

United have made a habit of dropping points against teams in the Premier League's lower reaches, with the Red Devils winning 73 per cent of league matches under Solskjaer in which they have had less possession than their opponents, compared to just 36 per cent when they have had more of the ball.

But when asked about such struggles after the match, neither Maguire nor Solskjaer seemed to have any idea what the reason might be.

"It's something we can't really put our finger on," Maguire told Sky Sports. "We're working hard in training and that's all we can do, coming into these games prepared as well as we do for the likes of Manchester City away.

"It's disappointing. I always think when you play these games against the so-called lower opposition in the table that the first goal is crucial, so big, and we had chances to get it."

Solskjaer was similarly uncertain, instead focusing on the specific issues he identified in Sunday's defeat.

When asked about the discrepancy in United's form, Solskjaer said: "Well, you've got to earn every single point, every inch on the pitch, and we didn't deserve that.

"We were too slow, too many touches in the first half, too many passes that went astray and we didn't create enough chances.

"Obviously, we could have had one or two goals ourselves, it's about taking them when we get them. We could've scored the first.

"I can talk about it all day long – we didn't [take our chances] and now we have to face the fact that we've got two games against Newcastle [United] and Burnley coming up that we've got to improve on."

United are next in action against Steve Bruce's Newcastle at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Manchester United's erratic form continued with another insipid display against opposition they would be expected to beat, as rock-bottom Watford claimed a 2-0 win at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was able to call upon the services of Paul Pogba again from the bench for the first time since September, but by the time he was introduced the game was already beyond United, who have made a habit of dropping points against teams in the bottom half.

A complete lack of cohesion plagued the Red Devils in the first half, with Jesse Lingard wasting their only genuine opportunity as their front four made a minimal impact.

Helped by a shambolic error from David de Gea, Watford got the lead in the 50th minute through Ismaila Sarr and soon made it 2-0 thanks to a Troy Deeney penalty, giving Nigel Pearson a first win as Watford boss.

A first half sorely lacking in quality failed to produce many clear-cut opportunities, but Watford thought they opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Abdoulaye Doucoure smashed home, only for referee Lee Mason to somewhat harshly deem Craig Cathcart fouled De Gea.

Lingard was then guilty of a woeful miss just past the half-hour mark, electing to chip Ben Foster when through on goal and his effort landed on the roof of the net.

United found themselves trailing just after the restart, though Watford needed a De Gea howler to score – Sarr's tame volley bouncing up at the Spaniard and he failed to stop it squirming into the top corner.

Another lapse – this time from Aaron Wan-Bissaka – allowed Watford to extend their lead four minutes later, as the right-back clumsily tripped Sarr and Deeney smashed his spot-kick down the middle.

Pogba was introduced for Lingard just past the hour mark and showed touches of class, but he was unable to inspire a turnaround.

What does it mean? The same old problems for United

The inconsistent nature of United's form continues to baffle. Although often effective against the best teams in the division, Solskjaer still has not worked out how to break down many of the Premier League's so-called lesser sides.

An ordinary Watford team that is deservedly bottom of the table should have been straightforward opposition for United, yet at no point did they look even remotely capable of getting a win on Sunday.

A Sarr is born

Perhaps Sarr was more functional than barnstorming, but it was undoubtedly an encouraging display from the young winger. It was his shot that brought about De Gea's error and then he won the penalty from which Deeney scored. You cannot expect much more than that from him.

De Gea becoming a target

De Gea's form has underwhelmed of late and this was almost certainly the worst performance of the lot. He was extremely fortunate to win a free-kick in the first half when Watford thought they had scored, and his error for Sarr's goal was inexcusable.

What's next?

United return to Old Trafford on Boxing Day as they host Newcastle United. Watford go to Sheffield United the same day.

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