Arsenal profited from slip-ups by their nearest rivals to beat a feisty Brighton & Hove Albion 4-2 and go seven points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Bukayo Saka gave Arsenal a dream start, scoring after only 66 seconds. Martin Odegaard doubled the lead before half-time with his seventh goal of the season.
Eddie Nketiah added a third 105 seconds into the second half, but Kaoru Mitoma gave Brighton hope of a comeback with a nicely worked goal.
But, just six minutes later, Gabriel Martinelli restored the three-goal lead after a wonderful through-ball from Odegaard.
Brighton fought back through Evan Ferguson’s first Premier League goal, but, after Mitoma had a second goal overturned by VAR, Arsenal’s three points were secured.
They have 43 points, seven clear of Manchester City. Brighton drop to eighth with 24 points.
Man City dropped two points thanks to a brilliant goal from Demarai Gray that gave Everton a vital 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium.
Erling Haaland put City in front with a 24th-minute effort. It was his 21st goal of the season and is the most a player has scored in a season before the turn of the year in Premier League history.
But Everton disrupted City’s flow and, in the 64th minute, they broke away and levelled the scores through Gray’s superb curling strike. It leaves City in second on 36 points. Everton climb a place to 16th on 15 points.
Newcastle United had their six-match winning run brought to a halt by a resolute Leeds United in a goalless draw at St James’ Park.
The home side had most of the play, but could not find a way past Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier, who made five saves. Newcastle remain third with 34 points. Leeds move to 14th with 16 points.
Late Rashford delivers
Manchester United will start the new year in the top four and two points behind Newcastle after a Marcus Rashford goal earned them a 1-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Rashford had started the match on the bench due to an “internal disciplinary” issue, according to manager Erik ten Hag. The forward, who admitted he had been late for a team meeting because he had overslept, came on at half-time to score a skilful goal in the 76th minute.
Wolves are 18th with 13 points.
Fulham on the up
Fulham moved above west London neighbours Chelsea in the table thanks to a late winner from Joao Palhinha at home to Southampton.
James Ward-Prowse had deflected an Andreas Pereira shot into his own to put Fulham in front, but levelled with a superb free-kick before Palhinha condemned Saints to a fifth straight defeat.
Fulham have 25 points in seventh. Southampton remain bottom on 12 points.
Palace end losing run
Crystal Palace ended a two-match losing run with a 2-0 win at AFC Bournemouth. First-half goals from Jordan Ayew, his first of the season, and Eberechi Eze keep Palace 11th on 22 points.
In front of their new owners, Bill Foley and the actor Michael B. Jordan, AFC Bournemouth’s sixth defeat in seven matches leaves them on 16 points and in 15th.
New Year’s Day action
Matchweek 18 concludes with two fixtures to start the new year.
Tottenham Hotspur will be targeting a return to fourth with a home win over Aston Villa.
Nottingham Forest will hope they can stun Chelsea at the City Ground and move out of the relegation zone.