Premier League football has resumed with a feast of Boxing Day matches, 40 days after the top flight split for the World Cup in Qatar.
Monday’s seven matches produced an outstanding 25 goals, with top Arsenal showing no signs of letting up as they cruised to a 3-1 win over West Ham.
Southampton now find themselves bottom of the league after a home defeat and Everton are desperate after conceding late at Goodison Park.
BBC Sport takes a look at the main headlines from the Premier League’s spectacular comeback.
No hangover for the Gunners
Any suggestion that the World Cup break could dampen Arsenal’s momentum was quashed in Monday’s final game.
Mikel Arteta’s men extended their lead to seven points after coming from behind to defeat the Hammers thanks to goals from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah.
“Once we had one, we could all feel the stadium atmosphere,” Nketiah said. “There’s this real unity and connection with the fans.”
Arsenal are seventh with second-placed Newcastle but third-placed Pep Guardiola City can cut the deficit to five points with victory at Leeds on Wednesday (kick-off 20:00 GMT).
“We are here to stay,” Gunners legend Thierry Henry said on Amazon Prime.
Newcastle remain the real deal
With City only playing on Wednesday, Newcastle moved a point above the Premier League champions into second place with an impressive win at Leicester.
The Magpies dominated and went 3-0 with only 32 minutes on the clock. A penalty from Chris Wood, along with goals from Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, made it a Boxing Day to savor for traveling fans.
Newcastle supporters have been heard chanting ‘we’re going to win the league’, but does manager Eddie Howe think the same?
“We can do anything,” Howe said. “The season is still young enough that all possibilities exist for us.”
Mixed start for new bosses
There are managers who are still trying to find their feet with their new clubs in the Premier League and the Boxing Day fixtures yielded different results for Julen Lopetegui, Nathan Jones and Unai Emery.
Lopetegui got off to a dream start after Rayan Ait-Nouri scored a spectacular stoppage-time winner as Wolves came from behind to beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park.
The Spanish boss’ victory lifted his side from the bottom of the table and into 18th place, a point behind Frank Lampard’s Toffees.
As Lopetegui soaked up the adulation of away supporters, Southampton boss Nathan Jones – taking charge of St Mary’s Stadium for the first time in the Premier League – had to endure boos from home fans after his saints were comfortably beaten 3-1 by Brighton.
The relegation slump has become even more difficult for Jones as his side now sustain the standings following Wolves’ victory.
Aston Villa failed to bring Christmas cheer to Villa Park as Emery suffered his first league defeat as Villa manager after Liverpool won a 3-1 away win.
The pressure is mounting on Lampard
Lampard said Everton “deserved” to win against Wolves but the fact remains the Toffees are once again firmly in the relegation fight after their disappointing loss.
Former West Ham striker Carton Cole said on Final Score: “I feel a bit sorry for [Lampard] because he knows what he expects from his team.
“But he needs to improve and get a bit more stability in midfield – then they can start scoring more goals. Once they create – which is once in a blue moon – they don’t put it on. in goal. That’s where you need a ruthless striker.”
Meanwhile, former England striker Dion Dublin has told BBC Radio 5 Live that while he is not yet worried about Lampard, “another couple of defeats” and his time at Everton could be up.
A cracker to start
Brentford and Tottenham set the tone for the day with a four goal thriller at the start of the kickoff.
Vitaly Janelt and Ivan Toney put the Bees on course for a first win over Spurs since 1948 before Harry Kane launched the fightback in his first game since missing a penalty in the 2-1 loss of England against France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg made it 2-2 with a curling finish – and neither team was able to find a winner, with Kane having a chance against the crossbar.
“What a game to reopen the Premier League,” said Brentford boss Thomas Frank, while Spurs boss Antonio Conte added: “It was an exciting game.”
How did the VAR perform?
Premier League’s new chief referee, Howard Webb told BBC Sport last week he wants to demystify the refereeing process and improve the current VAR system.
So how was the use of technology on Monday?
In the late-night match between leaders Arsenal and wrestlers West Ham, referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty for William Saliba’s foul on Jarrod Bowen, with Said Benrahma converting on the spot.
At the end of the first half, Oliver awarded another penalty for a ‘handball’ from Aaron Cresswell, but after consulting with VAR and watching a replay on the pitchside monitor, he rightly called off the initial decision as the ball had clearly touched West Ham. full back to face.