Three talking points from the Premier League weekend

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The axe finally fell on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time as Manchester United manager following a 4-1 thrashing by lowly Watford, while Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool pulled away in the battle for the Premier League title.

Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday after a run of one win in seven league games left United languishing 12 points off the top of the table and facing a battle just to make it into the top four.

A huge three points for Watford also had an impact at the bottom of the table where Newcastle are in increasing danger of relegation unless the Magpies' new Saudi owners can pull off a successful overhaul in the January transfer window.

AFP Sport looks at three of the major talking points from the Premier League weekend:

Solskjaer's last stand

United's decision makers kept faith with Solskjaer despite humiliating home defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City in the past month.

But the manner of another shambolic display at Vicarage Road broke even their resolve as Solskjaer became the fourth United boss to be sacked in the eight years since Alex Ferguson retired.

United remain well in the fight for a place in next season's Champions League as other results left them still just six points adrift of the top four.

However, the club's hierarchy are facing accusations of already giving up on the season after they announced the plan to hire an interim boss for the rest of the campaign, in the hope of having a better pool of candidates to choose from as Solskjaer's successor in six months' time.

Title contenders a class apart

To compound United's miserable weekend, Chelsea, City and Liverpool laid bare the challenge that faces any new manager at Old Trafford hoping to compete for the title.

The top three blew away three clubs with top four ambitions with ease by a combined score of 10-0.

Chelsea's dominant 3-0 win at Leicester briefly opened up a six-point lead at the top of the table before Liverpool responded with a 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal and City cut the gap back to three points by easing past Everton 3-0.

Newcastle hit rock bottom

Victories for Steven Gerrard in his first game in charge of Aston Villa and former Villa boss Dean Smith on his bow as Norwich manager meant Newcastle were the only side under new management this weekend not to win as their wait for a first victory goes on.

Eddie Howe was unable to take charge in person after a positive test for coronavirus left him following the first match since his appointment from a hotel on Tyneside.

The Magpies twice came from behind to at least take a point from a 3-3 draw with Brentford.

But Villa and Norwich's wins allied to Watford's humbling of United left Howe's men in a far worse position than at the start of the weekend.

Newcastle are now bottom, six points from safety and with Arsenal, Liverpool, City and Manchester United to come before they can turn to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund for reinforcements in the January transfer window.

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