Liverpool passed up the chance to go five points clear at the top of the Premier League as lowly West Brom claimed a morale-boosting point at Anfield.
Nevertheless, they and derby rivals Everton are leading the way with Leicester, Manchester duo United and City, Tottenham and surprise package Aston Villa in hot pursuit, while Sheffield United remain rooted to the foot of the table and 11 points from safety.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what we learned from the latest round of top-flight fixtures.
Big Sam is going to do it his way
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) December 27, 2020
Few at Anfield on Sunday would have anticipated anything different from Sam Allardyce, the last visiting manager to win a Premier League game there, but there was little reigning champions Liverpool could do about it. It was far from pretty at times as Allardyce’s West Brom got 10 and at times 11 men behind the ball, but with only Sadio Mane’s early goal separating the sides as the game entered the closing stages, there was always a chance of redemption and it eventually arrived in the shape of Semi Ajayi’s 82nd-minute equaliser, which clinched a 1-1 draw.
Three-sy does it for resurgent Gunners
Without a league win in seven attempts and having collected just two of the 21 points on offer in the process, Arsenal could have been forgiven for approaching their derby clash with Chelsea with some trepidation. However, Alexandre Lacazette’s first-half penalty, a sumptuous Granit Xhaka free-kick and a somewhat fortuitous third from Bukayo Saka had the win sewn up long before the final whistle and Tammy Abraham’s late strike provided little consolation for the lacklustre visitors as Mikel Arteta’s men suggested they have what it will take to climb the table.
More to come from Marcus
🎥 The key action from a tightly contested game at the King Power Stadium.
Posted by Manchester United on Saturday, December 26, 2020
Marcus Rashford has spent almost as much time on the front pages as he has on the back in 2020, and he reached a significant landmark on the pitch on Saturday when he scored his 50th Premier League goal in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw at Leicester. Only Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo have achieved that feat in fewer games and Rashford, who celebrated his 23rd birthday in October, is still learning his trade and will be aware that he might have claimed a hat-trick on the day after missing with a first-half header and later being denied one-on-one by keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Aston Villa are no one-man team
"I said at half-time, there is nobody in the Premier League that I would want to go and lead the line when we're down to ten men, more than Ollie Watkins."
𝗕𝗜𝗚 praise from the boss. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/S2ISAJi0mw
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) December 26, 2020
Jack Grealish may be Villa’s stand-out player, but they are far from reliant on the England international alone. On Saturday, Dean Smith’s 10 men cruised to a 3-0 home win over Crystal Palace on an afternoon when it was striker Ollie Watkins who stole the show. Watkins, who played as a lone frontman after defender Tyrone Mings’ first-half dismissal, did not get his name on the scoresheet, but had a hand in all three goals, helping to set up the equally impressive Bertrand Traore, Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi.
Goodwill to all men (except referees)
There appears to be no respite in sight for referees as the new year approaches with both Sean Dyche and David Moyes finding reason not to extend the compliments of the season to the men charged with enforcing the rules. Burnley boss Dyche could not understand why defender Ben Mee had been penalised for a foul on Leeds keeper Illan Meslier when he believed his side should have been awarded a penalty for the challenge, while West Ham counterpart Moyes signalled his intention to seek further clarification over VAR after Lewis Dunk’s goal for Brighton was allowed to stand despite replays suggesting the ball had hit his arm during the build-up.