Liverpool were the only side in the Premier League‘s established ‘big six’ to win at the weekend, with Wolves taking advantage in the top-four race.
The Reds showed their mettle once again as goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah earned a 2-0 win over Man United, in a game where they could have scored five or six.
Roberto Firmino and Gini Wijnaldum both saw strikes ruled out, Jordan Henderson hit the post and both Salah and Sadio Mane spurned good chances from close range, while at the other end Alisson was at his best once again.
It was a victory that moved Liverpool to 16 points clear at the top of the table, following results elsewhere as both Man City and Leicester slipped up.
City’s disappointment came first, with Sergio Aguero scoring twice as he looked to have done enough after Cenk Tosun’s opener for Crystal Palace, only for Fernandinho to score an own goal at the death to seal a 2-2 draw.
In the hours before United’s visit to Anfield, Leicester made the trip to Burnley, who heading into the weekend had lost more than 17 other sides in the English top flight.
But after Harvey Barnes’ opener, Chris Wood and Ashley Westwood struck to consign Leicester to a 2-1 defeat, with Nick Pope frustrating Fantasy Football managers around the country as he kept out Jamie Vardy’s penalty.
Unlike City, the Foxes are not 16 points behind Liverpool now but 19, though the gap between the champions-elect and United is more severe at 30.
United losing on Merseyside seemed a foregone conclusion, but for Chelsea and Tottenham it was less set in stone, while Arsenal will have hoped to spring something of a surprise over Sheffield United.
As it transpired, Spurs were held to a 0-0 draw by a battling Watford, Arsenal drew 1-1 at the Emirates and Isaac Hayden scored in the fourth minute of injury time to inflict a 1-0 defeat on Frank Lampard’s Blues.
So, in the frantic celebrations of Newcastle's late winner today, Matt Ritchie booted the corner flag straight into a fan's crown jewels.
Pay close attention to the right-hand side of the screen. pic.twitter.com/zgBt3YLzmE
— Reginaldo Rosario ?? (@Regi1700) January 18, 2020
The celebrations that ensued provided one of the most memorable moments of the season, with Matt Ritchie thumping the corner flag in delight—though not so pleasant for one Newcastle fan, as it cannoned into a particularly tender area below the belt…
With Chelsea, Man United, Sheffield United and Tottenham all dropping points, the importance of Wolves‘ 3-2 comeback win at Southampton was magnified.
Jan Bednarek and Shane Long looked to have set the Saints on course for another victory in a surprise upturn in form, but a goal from Pedro Neto and a brace from Raul Jimenez propelled the Adama Traore-inspired side to three points.
Wolves are now sixth in the table, level on points with fifth-placed United and five behind Chelsea in fourth as a topsy-turvy season continues.
Elsewhere, Norwich gained a big advantage as they won 1-0 at home to fellow relegation candidates Bournemouth, while Brighton and Aston Villa shared the points in a 1-1 draw.
Premier League Results, Gameweek 23
Arsenal 1-1 Sheffield United
Brighton 1-1 Aston Villa
Norwich 1-0 Bournemouth
Southampton 2-3 Wolves
Liverpool 2-0 Man United