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Liverpool secure Christmas number one after thrashing Crystal Palace

The champions set down a marker to their title rivals.

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Roberto Firmino scored twice as Liverpool romped to victory at Selhurst Park (Clive Rose/PA)

Roberto Firmino scored twice as Liverpool romped to victory at Selhurst Park (Clive Rose/PA)

Roberto Firmino scored twice as Liverpool romped to victory at Selhurst Park (Clive Rose/PA)

Liverpool thrashed Crystal Palace 7-0 at Selhurst Park to secure top spot in the Premier League for Christmas.

Takumi Minamino put the Reds in front after three minutes, before Sadio Mane soon added a second and Roberto Firmino finished off a slick counter-attack just ahead of half-time.

Captain Jordan Henderson curled in a fourth for the dominant visitors seven minutes into the second half and Firmino grabbed his second just after the hour.

Mohamed Salah came off the bench to score twice in the last 10 minutes as the champions wrapped up a convincing victory and set down a marker to their title rivals.

Manchester City won 1-0 at Southampton and sit sixth.

Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock after 16 minutes when he converted a low cross from Kevin De Bruyne.

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Raheem Sterling fired Manchester City in front at St Mary’s Stadium (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Raheem Sterling fired Manchester City in front at St Mary’s Stadium (Adrian Dennis/PA)

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Raheem Sterling fired Manchester City in front at St Mary’s Stadium (Adrian Dennis/PA)

The Saints, who had put themselves up to third in the table on the back of just one defeat from 11 games, saw striker Danny Ings, just back from a knee injury, forced off before the break.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men felt they should have been awarded a penalty on the hour when the ball appeared to spin up onto Sterling’s arm, but referee Mike Dean waved away appeals which were also rejected by VAR.

City defender John Stones almost put a cross from Nathan Tella into his own net, while at the other end Saints keeper Alex McCarthy pulled off a finger-tip save to push over Ilkay Gundogan’s rising drive as the visitors closed out a hard-earned win.

Everton later beat Arsenal 2-1 at Goodison Park to climb above Tottenham into second place, five points behind their Merseyside rivals.

The Toffees went ahead after 22 minutes when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header went in off defender Rob Holding.

Arsenal – missing talisman forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang because of a calf problem – were level after 35 minutes when Nicolas Pepe converted a penalty after Yerry Mina had tripped Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

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Everton defender Yerry Mina (right) headed in from a corner just before half-time (Peter Powell/PA)

Everton defender Yerry Mina (right) headed in from a corner just before half-time (Peter Powell/PA)

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Everton defender Yerry Mina (right) headed in from a corner just before half-time (Peter Powell/PA)

Everton, though, got themselves back in front before half-time when defender Mina made amends by heading home a corner.

Arsenal went close to an equaliser early in the second half when David Luiz’s shot deflected against the post after Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had spilled a high cross.

Mikel Arteta’s men, however, could not find a way back into the match, as the club’s worst start to a top-flight season since 1974-75 continued following a fourth defeat in the past five league games.

In Saturday’s evening kick-off, Newcastle drew 1-1 with Fulham, who finished with 10 men at St James’ Park.

The visitors had to make a late change after Ivan Cavaleiro withdrew following the warm-up, so Bobby Decordova-Reid came into the starting XI.

Fulham made a somewhat fortunate breakthrough from a corner just before half-time, when Tosin Adarabioyo’s downward header bounced up off Newcastle midfielder Matt Ritchie’s face and into the net.

Newcastle equalised in the 64th minute through a penalty from Callum Wilson, after Fulham defender Joachim Andersen had been shown a red card following a lengthy VAR review.

Andersen had tugged back Wilson as the forward got into the area, with referee Graham Scott immediately pointing to the spot.

After consultation with Stockley Park, Scott opted to take another look at the incident on the pitchside monitor and eventually dismissed Andersen for a professional foul.

Wilson made no mistake from 12 yards, with Newcastle then pressing for a winning goal, but had to settle for a point – which edges Fulham out of the bottom three above Burnley.

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