Arsenal's nightmare season took another dire turn after Brighton & Hove Albion left the Emirates Stadium with a 2-1 win in the Premier League on Thursday night.
Neal Maupay headed in the winner for the Seagulls to condemn a fractious Gunners squad to a ninth game without a win in all competitions. Interim boss Freddie Ljungberg suffered his first defeat in charge, while Arsenal slipped to 10th in the table.
Newcastle United are just one point behind the Gunners thanks to an impressive 2-0 win away to Sheffield United.
The Magpies moved up the table, but Liverpool are still comfortably at the summit of the standings following Wednesday's 5-2 win over Everton in the Merseyside derby. Liverpool's lead is eight points, with Leicester City still second after beating Watford 2-0 on the same night.
Manchester City are third, but the defending champions are not out of the race yet, not after the way they dismantled Burnley 4-1 at Turf Moor on Tuesday. The Citizens now turn their attentions to Saturday's derby at home to Manchester United.
Points are at a premium for the Red Devils in the race for a top-four finish, even after Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford.
Week 15 Results
- Crystal Palace 1-0 Bournemouth
- Burnley 1-4 Manchester City
- Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa
- Leicester City 2-0 Watford
- Manchester United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
- Southampton 2-1 Norwich City
- Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 West Ham United
- Liverpool 5-2 Everton
- Sheffield United 0-2 Newcastle United
- Arsenal 1-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Standings (Played, Won, Goal Difference and Points)
1. Liverpool: 15, 14, +23, 43
2. Leicester City: 15, 11, +26, 35
3. Manchester City: 15, 10, +26, 32
4. Chelsea: 15, 9, +9, 29
5. Wolverhampton Wanderers: 15, 5, +4, 23
6. Manchester United: 15, 5, +5, 21
7. Crystal Palace: 15, 6, -4, 21
8. Tottenham Hotspur: 15, 5, +2, 20
9. Sheffield United: 15, 4, +2, 19
10. Arsenal: 15, 4, -1, 19
11. Newcastle United: 15, 5, -7, 19
12. Burnley: 15, 5, -3, 18
13. Brighton & Hove Albion: 15, 5, -4, 18
14. Bournemouth: 15, 4, -3, 16
15. West Ham United: 15, 4, -8, 16
16. Aston Villa: 15, 4, -2, 15
17. Southampton: 15, 4, -16, 15
18. Everton: 15, 4, -11, 14
19. Norwich City: 15, 3, -16, 11
20. Watford: 15, 1, -21, 8
Week 16 Fixtures
Saturday, December 7
- Everton vs. Chelsea: 12:30 p.m. GMT/7:30 a.m. ET
- Bournemouth vs. Liverpool: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Burnley: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
- Watford vs. Crystal Palace: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
- Manchester City vs. Manchester United: 5:30 p.m. GMT/12:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, December 8
- Aston Villa vs. Leicester City: 2 p.m. GMT/9 a.m. ET
- Newcastle United vs. Southampton: 2 p.m. GMT/9 a.m. ET
- Norwich City vs. Sheffield United: 2 p.m. GMT/9 a.m. ET
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers: 5:30 p.m. GMT/12:30 p.m. ET
Monday, December 9
- West Ham United vs. Arsenal: 8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET
Ljungberg knew Arsenal had things to correct following Sunday's 2-2 draw with Norwich City. He responded by recalling Lucas Torreira to the heart of midfield, while Hector Bellerin and Sokratis Papastathopoulos came into defence.
The changes hardly made a difference, though, with the Gunners still lacking confidence in possession and disjointed in their attempts to press the opposition out of it. Arsenal's malaise meant it was no surprise when a well-organised Brighton side took the lead on 36 minutes.
Adam Webster slammed the ball in amid a melee in the box to give the Seagulls a just reward for their endeavour. The visitors were moving the ball neatly and stretching the Gunners with the pace of 19-year-old Aaron Connolly, whose movement was leaving David Luiz baffled at the heart of the Arsenal defence.
There was also growing discontent among Arsenal's forward players:
The Gunners needed a reshuffle, and Ljungberg acted at the break, swapping Joe Willock for Nicolas Pepe. His introduction meant Mesut Ozil went back into a more familiar central area.
Ozil's corner helped create the equaliser when Lacazette met the delivery with a powerful flick at the near post, narrowly beating Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan. Lacazette has struggled for both consistency and fitness this season, but he remains a force at the Emirates Stadium:
It should have been the confidence boost Arsenal needed to go and win, but instead, Brighton settled things when Maupay converted after fine work from the impressive Aaron Mooy.
Ditching Unai Emery for Ljungberg has so far done little to cheer up the Arsenal squad and improve performances. Monday's game away to West Ham United now looks season-defining for the free-falling Gunners:
Earlier, the Magpies secured a superb win at an intimidating venue by staying compact at the back, while striking smartly and selectively on the break. Allan Saint-Maximin was a key part of the plan, and his pace and power made the Blades nervy from the off.
When it came time to score, though, Saint-Maximin chose to hold his ground and meet Javier Manquillo's deft cross with a precise header. It's taken him a while, but Saint-Maximin's exciting performances have finally been rewarded with a maiden goal in a Newcastle shirt.
Stout defending helped the visitors preserve the lead until Andy Carroll headed down for Jonjo Shelvey to run clear and apply the finish after the hosts' defence had stopped playing with the offside flag up.
VAR eventually confirmed Shelvey's goal would stand:
The win marks a terrific few days for Newcastle boss Steve Bruce following Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Manchester City. He has overseen four points from two difficult fixtures, a haul good enough to send the Magpies up to 11th.
With Southampton set to visit St James' Park on Sunday, Bruce will feel confident about keeping Newcastle's positive form going. However, the Saints moved out of the bottom three with a 2-1 win over Norwich on Wednesday, and Ralph Hasenhuttl's team has been competent away from home so far this season.
The main focus in Week 16 will undoubtedly be on the Manchester derby. City's quality on the ball will prove the difference and keep their title challenge going for another week, even though Liverpool look increasingly destined to take the prize away from Manchester come May.