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PL Saturday roundup: Chelsea widens gap; Everton puts six past Cherries

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Antonio Conte may not be ready to say Chelsea are the clear title favorites but after Saturday’s performance, the Blues could be running away with the Premier League.

The Blues certainly had some help though, with Liverpool faltering against Hull and Tottenham struggling with Middlesbrough.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Elsewhere, Everton put on the most impressive show of the day with six goals to push the Toffees past a tricky Bournemouth side.

Here, we take a look back at Saturday’s action from around England’s top flight.

Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal — RECAP

Since the last time these two sides faced off Chelsea has been on an absolute tear, and that continued on Saturday. While controversy surrounded the first goal, Marcos Alonso put the Blues ahead inside of 13 minutes. Second-half tallies from Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas ensured the points would go the way of Conte’s side, while Olivier Giroud netted in stoppage time to give the Gunners a moment of solace. Arsenal now sit 12 points behind leaders Chelsea, with their title hopes all but over.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Chelsea’s win ]

Hull City 2-0 Liverpool — RECAP

It’s February and Liverpool have yet to win in the new calendar year. Jurgen Klopp‘s side remains fourth in the PL but the Reds have certainly fallen from grace as of late, and losses to Hull and Swansea over recent weeks have put a major damper on the club’s title hopes. The Tigers move to 18th in the PL with Saturday’s win, putting the team just one point away from moving itself out of the bottom three. Alfred N'Diaye and Oumar Niasse both found the scoresheet for Hull to give the club its fifth win of the season.

Everton 6-3 Bournemouth — RECAP

You saw that right. Nine goals between them at Goodison Park! While Bournemouth fought admirably to keep the game within sight for much of the day, Romelu Lukaku‘s stardom continues to grow in the PL after his four-goal performance on Saturday. The Belgian striker helped pace the Toffees for their 11th win of the season, while James McCarthy and Ross Barkley also found their way onto the scoresheet.

Meanwhile, Josh King netted a brace for Bournemouth, while Harry Arter grabbed another for the away side, who fall to 14th following the defeat. The Cherries are now winless in their last five PL fixtures.

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Crystal Palace 0-4 Sunderland — RECAP

Palace has fallen and they can’t get up. In a battle of two of the league’s most struggling sides, it was Sunderland that came away with an absolute smashing at Selhurst Park. Jermain Defoe increased his goal total on the season to 10 after scoring a brace, while Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong also netted for the Black Cats. Both sides remain in the relegation zone on 19 points, however, Sunderland has taken points in consecutive matches while Palace has won just once in its last 10 PL matches.

Tottenham 1-0 MiddlesbroughRECAP

Mauricio Pochettino‘s men faced a stiff challenge against the Boro but Spurs made sure they didn’t slip up to keep their falling title hopes in line. Harry Kane converted from the penalty spot just before the hour mark to keep Tottenham within nine points of Chelsea on Saturday, although the club faces a tough test next week against Liverpool.

Southampton 1-3 West Ham — RECAP

The Hammers are back in the top half after a three-goal performance from the visitors at St. Mary’s. Manolo Gabbiadini scored in his Southampton debut, only to be out out shined by the away side. Andy Carroll, Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang all netted for West Ham, who has now won three of its last four PL fixtures.

West Brom 1-0 Stoke City — RECAP

James Morrison scored after six minutes, and that was all the hosts needed to pick up a valuable three points for the eighth-place side. As it stands, West Brom is now just six points out of the top six ahead of Manchester United’s clash on Sunday against Leicester City. Meanwhile, Stoke sits seven points behind the Baggies in 11th place.

Watford 2-1 Burnley — RECAP

Jeff Hendrick‘s early red card put the visitors at a major disadvantage and Watford capitalized to the fullest at Vicarage Road. Jose Holebas was on the receiving end of Hendrick’s nasty challenge less than 10 minutes into the match, allowing the Hornets to go on the offensive. Goals from M’Baye Niang and Troy Deeney helped push Watford into 10th place, leaping over the Clarets.

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.