From the Back Pages, December 27: Manchester City sound title charge with pulsating win over Liverpool

From the back pages
From the back pages

This was the perfect advertisement for Boxing Day football. It was thrilling, compelling, high-quality stuff, with a little controversy thrown in for good measure, but the most important detail was that Manchester City moved ominously into second place in the Barclays Premier League after passing their sternest examination so far at the Etihad Stadium. (The Times)

A fifth win in a row – their best sequence so far under David Moyes – maintained the possibility that relinquishing the Premier League title might not necessarily be the consequence of transition for Manchester United. Yet it was a performance yesterday that reinforced doubts as much as encouraged optimism. (The Independent)

Arsenal are back on track. There was a period early in the second half, after Carlton Cole had put West Ham United in front and the home team suddenly tore into their opponents, when it was possible to fear the worst for Arsène Wenger and his players. The demons of those dropped points against Everton, Manchester City and then Chelsea, not to mention the Champions League defeat at Napoli, had begun to circle in London’s East End. (The Guardian)

In Tim Sherwood’s first game in charge as Spurs’ permanent head coach, his side already looked more capable going forward than in their previous incarnation under Andre Villas-Boas. (The Mirror)

Jose Mourinho feels exhausted watching his Chelsea side struggle to finish off opponents, but for once was left lauding the heroics of Swansea’s goalkeeper, rather than his forwards’ failings in front of goal. Eden Hazard’s first-half goal gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Swansea in a match which saw goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel deny Samuel Eto’o either side of half-time as the Blues exhibited familiar failings in front of goal. (Daily Mail)

STOKE boss Mark Hughes launched a withering attack on Martin Atkinson after he was sent to the stands as his nine men were thrashed 5-1 by Newcastle. (The Express)

England 226-6: After being put into bat the tourists put in a tentative display, with the exception of Kevin Pietersen, who is 67 not out. (The Telegraph)