In Focus: The Premier League stars who lit up Matchday 16
It was another thrilling weekend of Premier League action as Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea all needed penalties to come out victorious at the top of the table.
Manchester United also scraped by from the spot, while Leicester and Crystal Palace secured impressive wins in Sunday’s action.
Read on as we pick out five standout stars who lit up Matchday 16 in England’s top flight.
Liverpool put in a dominant display against a resolute Aston Villa side in Steven Gerrard’s return to Anfield — but they needed the cool head of star man Mohamed Salah to seal the three points.
With Villa clinging on in an inspired defensive display, Salah managed to get himself on the wrong side of Tyrone Mings to force a clumsy challenge and earn the spot-kick.
The Egyptian then picked himself up to fire past Emiliano Martinez, who was given no chance with the penalty despite guessing the right way.
It was Salah’s 21st goal this season in all competitions — an extraordinary tally to have before Christmas.
It remains to be seen how much the 29-year-old and forward partner Sadio Mane’s upcoming absence due to the Africa Cup of Nations will hamper the Reds’ title charge in the new year.
David de Gea
A Cristiano Ronaldo penalty ensured Manchester United beat Norwich to make it two wins from two in the Premier League under Ralf Rangnick.
But had it not been for the heroics at the other end from goalkeeper David de Gea, it could have been a very different story.
The Red Devils looked well below their best at Carrow Road but a brilliant De Gea showing ensured they could grab victory when the opportunity eventually arose.
The Spaniard spectacularly tipped Teemu Pukki’s goal-bound effort over the bar with the game still at 0-0 before denying two headers from Ozan Kabak late in the game.
After earning a shutout against Crystal Palace, De Gea has been vital in ensuring Rangnick became only the second United manager to earn clean sheets in his first two league games — and the first since 1903.
Rangnick said of his keeper: "So far, what I've seen from David is fantastic.
"An outstanding performance today and also against Crystal Palace. Today he definitely had three or four brilliant, outstanding saves."
It was undoubtedly a weekend for penalties as Chelsea counted themselves fortunate to come out 3-2 winners over Leeds at Stamford Bridge.
After going ahead with a spot kick of their own, the Whites more than matched the title chasers and seemed deserving of a point when Joe Gelhardt equalised in the 83rd minute.
But the Blues were able to dig deep for the win, largely thanks to an outstanding display by Antonio Rudiger.
The Germany international was his usual dominant self at the back but he also made a telling contribution to the scoreline by winning both of Chelsea’s penalties.
The 28-year-old appears more and more likely to leave when his contract expires next summer and he will take some replacing after becoming a vital part of Thomas Tuchel’s system.
Leicester’s 4-0 victory over Newcastle will have been welcome for several reasons, not least for the clean sheet they finally kept after 14 Premier League games without one.
At the heart of the win was James Maddison, who is beginning to return to his previous heights after an unconvincing spell earlier this season.
The 25-year-old had a part in all four goals after winning the penalty for the opener, playing a glorious through ball in the build up to the second, setting up Youri Tielemans for the third before getting in on the act himself by scoring the Foxes’ fourth.
But despite such an excellent display, Maddison said the most pleasing part of the victory was finally shutting out a side after so long without a clean sheet.
He said: "The most pleasing part of the win, after getting an assist, goal and a penalty is actually the clean sheet.
"To look at the scoreboard in the end and see a nil is a satisfying feeling."
Conor Gallagher has been Crystal Palace’s star man this season and his two-goal display in a 3-1 victory over Everton was arguably his best performance yet.
The Chelsea loanee opened the scoring with a well-taken finish before sealing the points in injury time with a simply breathtaking strike.
Manager Patrick Vieira praised the match-winning midfielder’s attitude, saying: "He wants to improve, he is really humble, is working hard and the challenge for him is to maintain that level to fulfil his expectation."
This being his fourth loan spell in three seasons and the European champions' abundance of young talent means Gallagher forcing his way into Chelsea's team has always seemed a difficult task.
But the 21-year-old is showing more and more each week why Tuchel needs to make room for him next season.
Other standout performers
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Gabriel (Arsenal), Conor Coady (Wolves), Youri Tielemans (Leicester), Bryan Mbeumo (Brentford)