Liverpool tightened their grip on the Premier League title race thanks to two Mohamed Salah goals in a 2-0 win over Watford which extended their lead at the top to 10 points as second-placed Leicester were held 1-1 at home by Norwich.
Chelsea were also shocked 1-0 at home by Bournemouth to see their lead over the chasing pack in fourth further cut, while Sheffield United moved into fifth with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa.
At Anfield, Liverpool kept their first clean sheet at home this season but only thanks to Watford’s wastefulness in front of goal as the Hornets showed why they are the lowest scoring side in the league.
Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr both failed to make a proper connection with the goal gaping in the first half and the 40-point gap between the sides in the table was shown only in the difference of quality in the finishing.
Salah struck twice as he rounded off a rapid Liverpool counter-attack from a Watford corner eight minutes before half-time.
The Egyptian then settled the home crowd’s nerves a minute from time when he cheekily flicked home Divock Origi’s mishit shot.
“In December and January especially, you need to show resilience – that’s the most important thing and we showed that,” said coach Jurgen Klopp, whose side are seven games into a 15-match stretch across five competitions in 50 days.
“We had to fight, that’s what we did and that’s why we won.”
Leicester will be Liverpool’s next opponents in the Premier League on Boxing Day after the European champions head to Qatar for the Club World Cup.
The Foxes had the chance to cut the gap at the top to just five points ahead of that meeting had they beaten Norwich and Manchester City next weekend.
However, a club record run of eight straight Premier League wins for Brendan Rodgers’s men came to an end against the Canaries.
Teemu Pukki broke clear and finished calmly for his ninth goal of the season to put the visitors in front.
Leicester levelled before the break when Jamie Vardy’s header from James Maddison’s corner was turned into his own net by Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul, but the hosts could not press home their dominance in the second half.
“The players have been brilliant. When you are on that winning run you believe you are going to win every game but of course it does not work like that,” said Rodgers.
“We were not 100 percent on it. We need to set the reset button.”