London (AFP) – Liverpool crushed Southampton 4-0 to put pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea, while Arsenal got back on track with a 2-0 win over Newcastle as Eddie Howe suffered his first defeat as Magpies manager.
Diogo Jota scored twice for Jurgen Klopp’s side to warm the Anfield faithful on a bitterly cold afternoon.
Liverpool’s third consecutive victory in all competitions since losing at West Ham moved them into second place.
The Reds sit one point behind Chelsea, who host Manchester United on Sunday.
Third-placed Manchester City would go back above Liverpool if they beat West Ham on Sunday.
Liverpool needed just two minutes to take the lead when Sadio Mane played in Andrew Robertson and the Scot’s cross was perfectly weighted for Jota to finish from close range.
Jota netted again in the 32nd minute with a simple finish from Mohamed Salah’s pass for his eighth club goal this term.
Having scored at least two goals in 17 successive matches in all competitions, Liverpool refused to take their foot off the gas.
Thiago Alcantara had ended a lengthy goal drought in the midweek Champions League win over Porto and the Spain midfielder was back on the scoresheet in the 37th minute when his shot deflected in off Lyanco.
Virgil van Dijk bagged Liverpool’s fourth in the 52nd minute, the Dutch defender volleying his first goal in 14 months from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner.
Arsenal saw their 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions come to a painful end in last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool.
But second-half goals from Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli at the Emirates Stadium made it four wins from their last five league games.
Written off after their poor start to the season, Mikel Arteta’s side are fifth, level on points with fourth-placed West Ham, as they chase a berth in next season’s Champions League.
“I’m happy with the points after losing to Liverpool. You have to win straightaway,” Arteta said.
– Gerrard makes his mark –
Howe was in charge in person for the first time after missing last weekend’s 3-3 draw against Brentford due to a positive coronavirus test.
While the Saudi-led consortium that recently bought Newcastle have spoken about emulating the success of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain under Middle Eastern ownership, Howe’s only focus is saving the Magpies from relegation.
Former Bournemouth boss Howe will need to drag much-improved performances from his winless team if they are to avoid a catastrophic slide into the Championship.
Already languishing five points from safety, bottom of the table Newcastle face crucial games against fellow strugglers Norwich and Burnley over the coming week.
“The game was decided in the incident with Callum Wilson and the penalty – a tough call against us – then they scored in the aftermath,” Howe said.
“Momentum in football is so important. We need to get that win as quickly as we can.”
Steven Gerrard earned his second successive win since taking charge of Aston Villa as the former Rangers boss masterminded a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace.
Exposing Palace’s set-piece weakness, Villa went in front after 15 minutes when Matt Targett fired home for his first league goal since 2019 after the hosts failed to clear Ashley Young’s corner.
Villa’s Douglas Luiz escaped a red card in the 72nd minute for a late tackle on Cheikhou Kouyate, the midfielder initially being sent off before the decision was overturned after a VAR check.
John McGinn compounded Palace’s frustration in the 86th minute as he grabbed Villa’s killer second from Anwar El Ghazi’s pass.
Marc Guehi’s 95th-minute goal was little consolation for Palace.
Dean Smith, the man Gerrard replaced at Villa, remains unbeaten as Norwich boss after the second-bottom Canaries drew 0-0 with Wolves at Carrow Road.
Brighton host struggling Leeds in Saturday’s late match.
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