Manchester City bounced back from two consecutive defeats to beat Southampton 3-1 and cut the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to seven points before the top two meet on Friday.
Pep Guardiola’s champions needed to regain their footing after stumbling against Crystal Palace and Leicester, and did so with strikes from David Silva, Sergio Aguero and James Ward-Prowse’s own goal at St. Mary’s.
Charlie Austin should have put Southampton ahead but miscontrolled the ball after being played in on goal and City immediately took advantage, with Bernardo Silva teeing up David Silva to slot home unmarked in the 10th minute.
Alex McCarthy made a good save to keep out Aguero from point-blank range after good work by Sterling and City were made to pay for their profligacy when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg slammed home after robbing Oleksandr Zinchenko.
City regained the lead when Sterling’s cut-back deflected against Ward-Prowse and in after 45 minutes and Aguero headed home another from Zinchenko’s cross in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.
McCarthy made good saves to deny Sterling and Mahrez afetr the break, while Aguero hit the crossbar and Hojbjerg was sent off for a rash tackle on Fernandinho.
Defeat left Southampton 17th in the table on 15 points, the same as 18th placed Burnley, who beat West Ham United 2-0 earlier today.
Meanwhile goals from All White Chris Wood and teenager Dwight McNeil gave struggling Burnley a much-needed 2-0 win over West Ham United at Turf Moor, ending a run of three straight defeats for Sean Dyche’s team.
Victory lifted Burnley above Fulham into 18th place, and although they remain in the relegation zone on 15 points — the same as 17th-placed Southampton — it was a performance to offer the whiff of a refreshing New Year for Dyche.