Premier League leaders Leicester maintained their three-point advantage over nearest challengers Manchester City with a comfortable 2-0 victory at home to Liverpool on 2 February. Confident striker Jamie Vardy, who is reportedly on the brink of signing a new three-year deal, notched one of the goals of the season so far just past the hour mark as he capitalised on Riyad Mahrez's pass to unleash a sublime half-volley beyond Simon Mignolet from 25 yards.
The England international then added a second 11 minutes later as he reacted quickly to chip home from close range after Shinji Okazaki's shot was inadvertently directed into his path by Alberto Moreno. City, meanwhile, ran out 1-0 winners over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light after Sergio Aguero turned home Jesus Navas' deflected drive at the back post for his 13th goal of the season. Three points were the ideal for tonic for outgoing manager Manuel Pellegrini after yesterday's revelation that he will depart the club this summer in order to make way for the arrival of Pep Guardiola.
Elsewhere, Arsenal lost more ground on their title rivals after being held to a frustrating goalless draw by Southampton in north London. Visiting goalkeeper Fraser Forster was in inspired form to maintain an impressive clean sheet and the Gunners now trail Leicester by five points after slipping beyond rivals Tottenham into fourth courtesy of the latter's 3-0 win at Norwich.
Dele Alli, withdrawn at half-time due to illness, got Mauricio Pochettino's side off to the perfect start inside two minutes and later won a penalty from Sebastien Bassong that was successfully dispatched by Harry Kane. Good persistence from Christian Eriksen to tackle Martin Olsson allowed the striker to complete a brace in second-half stoppage time when he ran clean through on goal before curling the ball beyond Declan Rudd.
At Old Trafford, Manchester United eased the tension among their supporters by scoring in the first half for the first time in 12 home matches. Jesse Lingard pounced to head in Cameron Borthwick-Jackson's terrific cross and that advantage was soon doubled when Anthony Martial capped off an incisive attacking move with a bending shot that gave Jack Butland no chance whatsoever.
Captain Wayne Rooney had a goal disallowed after the break for a push on Glen Johnson but soon notched for the seventh time in as many games when he finished Martial's cross inside the six-yard box.
Crystal Palace's run of consecutive top-flight defeats now stands at five after they were beaten at home by Bournemouth. Scott Dann gave the hosts a first-half lead but his opener was quickly cancelled out by Marc Pugh and Benik Afobe later headed home the winner after Wayne Hennessey had saved from Matt Ritchie. That victory puts the Cherries seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Still rooted to the bottom of the Premier League seemingly without hope are Aston Villa. The relegation favourites, who did not make a single signing in January, lost Jordan Ayew to an early red card against West Ham after the Ghanaian forward was rightfully dismissed for a clear elbow on Aaron Cresswell. Michail Antonio and Cheikhou Kouyate both scored to secure a 2-0 victory for the Hammers that left Remi Garde's future shrouded in further uncertainty.
There are still two more matches to come in the Premier League on Wednesday (3 February), with Chelsea travelling to Watford and Everton hosting Newcastle at Goodison Park.