Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all won in their Premier League 3pm kick-offs, but it wasn’t all plain sailing as far as the Blues and the Reds were concerned.
Arsenal 3-0 Southampton
Martin Odegaard scored for a third successive game as Arsenal eased their way to a 3-0 victory over Southampton.
Gunners skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was dropped from the matchday squad for disciplinary reasons.
Odegaard added the second in the 27th minute shortly after Alexandre Lacazette had put Mikel Arteta’s side ahead with his first goal since mid-October with Gabriel wrapping up the win midway through the second half.
Chelsea 3-2 Leeds
A patched-up Jorginho fired two nerveless penalties to sink Leeds 3-2 at Stamford Bridge and set Chelsea’s Premier League title chase back on track.
The Italy midfielder played through the pain of a continued back issue to ease the Blues’ midfield injury problems, with N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic sidelined.
Jorginho duly buried his 14th and 15th Premier League spot-kicks for Chelsea, to steer his side two points behind leaders Manchester City.
Liverpool 1-0 Aston Villa
Steven Gerrard’s Anfield homecoming ended in disappointment and a 1-0 defeat at the boot of Mohamed Salah as Aston Villa’s resilient display could not eke out a point against Liverpool.
The former Reds captain was back at his boyhood club in a professional capacity for the first time since leaving in 2015 and while the locals were pleased to see him again, they were happier he left empty-handed.
Liverpool had their chances but it was not until Tyrone Mings pulled down Salah in the 67th minute that their resistance was broken by the Egyptian’s 15th consecutive successful penalty – his 21st of the season.
That ensured they kept pace a point behind leaders Manchester City and a point ahead of Chelsea in the three-way title race.