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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Big wins for Manchester City and Liverpool as Manchester United stumble once more

Fulham win Ranieri's first game in charge while Leicester battle back to earn a point at Brighton

Raheem Sterling scored twice in Manchester City's 4-0 win at West Ham. Reuters
Raheem Sterling scored twice in Manchester City's 4-0 win at West Ham. Reuters

Manchester City and Liverpool maintained their unbeaten starts to the Premier League season, while a listless Manchester United fell even further behind in their bid for a top-four finish.

City stretched a relentless winning run to eight games by thrashing West Ham 4-0 but remain just two points clear at the top of the table as Liverpool were also 3-0 victors at Watford.

United are now 14 points off the leaders as Paul Pogba was hauled off by Jose Mourinho as they failed to break down Crystal Palace in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.

City have now won 12 of their last 13 games with the only dropped points coming in a creditable 0-0 draw at Liverpool last month.

Pep Guardiola's men had scored 13 goals in their three previous visits to the London Stadium and had another three before half time in another dominant display.

David Silva scored for the fourth straight game when he flicked home Raheem Sterling's cross on 11 minutes.

Sterling's own stunning form in front of goal continued when he tapped home Leroy Sane's cross for his eighth goal of the season.

The roles were reversed from City's flying wingers 11 minutes before half-time when this time Sane showed great composure to turn home the England international's pass and Sane completed the rout in stoppage time.

"If you see the result, which was 0-4, especially after the international break, it is good. You see Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United they struggle," Guardiola told BBC's Match Of The Day.

"We are a humble team and today we weren't at our best, too many touches, our passing was not good enough but our running was fantastic.

In keeping with recent weeks, Liverpool were far less impressive but remain on City's coat-tails as Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino all struck in the final quarter at Vicarage Road.

Jurgen Klopp's men rode their luck as Watford had an early goal disallowed and saw strong claims for a penalty just after the break waived away.

However, the visitors front three finally clicked 23 minutes from time when Firmino fed Sadio Mane and his cut-back was prodded home by Salah for his ninth goal of the season.

Alexander-Arnold then bagged his first for the campaign at club level with a sumptuous free kick after opening his account for England in the international break.

And despite having captain Jordan Henderson sent-off, Liverpool added a third through Firmino a minute from time to the delight of their manager.

"How we closed down the game was just brilliant especially the third goal," Klopp told BBC Sport. "The first goal was brilliant football and the free kick from Trent was a dream. It was a good game against a good side."

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Read more:

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Richard Jolly: Mourinho offers scathing analysis after Manchester United held by Crystal Palace

N'Golo Kante signs new five-year Chelsea contract after 'two beautiful years'

Sergio Aguero able to deliver 'consistently' for Manchester City after knee surgery

Predictions: Manchester City and Liverpool keep winning, Chelsea lose to Tottenham

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A tepid Manchester United dented their hopes of catching up with the Premier League's top four after failing to spark in a dour stalemate with 15th-placed Crystal Palace.

After a bright start they again faded and Palace held out for just a second point in seven Premier League games.

"Frustrating. The objective was to start well this period of eight matches until December. We did not win one point, we lost two," Mourinho told BBC Sport.

United were even fortunate that Marouane Fellaini wasn't shown a red card for a horrendous challenge on Palace captain Luka Milivojevic that went unpunished.

Everton leapfrogged United to move up to sixth with a 1-0 victory over Cardiff City, while Claudio Ranieri won his first match in charge of Fulham in a 3-2 thriller over fellow strugglers Southampton.

"I am very pleased. First match and first victory. It is a little step but an important step for everybody," Ranieri told Sky Sports.

The Italian couldn't stop Fulham leaking goals in his first match in charge at Craven Cottage, but did secure a first win in 10 league games as Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice to edge a five-goal thriller.

Stuart Armstrong also scored a double for Southampton and opened the scoring before Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle turned the game around before half time.

Another great strike from Armstrong levelled before Mitrovic volleyed home to spark wild scenes of celebration from Ranieri.

Leicester City showed great resilience after a difficult few weeks off the field to fight back from a goal and a man down for a 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Glenn Murray opened the scoring and the visitors had James Maddison sent off for two yellow cards in the opening 28 minutes, but Jamie Vardy's penalty eight minutes from time secured a point.