European Leagues review
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It was a case of 'as you were' in Europe this weekend as top threes remained unchanged in all but one of the continent’s five leading championships. The sole exception was Italy, where Roma climbed into third at the expense of Napoli. picks out the highlights of the first full programme of European league action following the midwinter break.

Premier League: Leaders show no mercy
Chelsea were at their ruthless best on Saturday as they surged to a 7-2 win over Sunderland. Though not quite as deadly in front of goal, Manchester United kept pace with the Londoners by putting three past Burnley at Old Trafford. Arsenal then completed a perfect weekend for the top three by strolling to a 2-0 win at lowly Bolton.

Goals from Steven Pienaar and Louis Saha secured three points for Everton against Manchester City, while Liverpool’s woes continued when they conceded an injury-time equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City that left them in seventh. UEFA Champions League-chasing Tottenham and struggling Hull City played out a goalless stalemate that did little to aid their respective causes.

Top three: Chelsea (48 points), Manchester United (47), Arsenal (45)
Bottom three: Hull City (19) Bolton Wanderers (18), Portsmouth (14)
Leading scorers: Wayne Rooney (15 goals), Jermain Defoe, Didier Drogba, Darren Bent (14)
Weekend stat: 29 - The number of points Liverpool have already dropped this season, more than in the whole of least season.

La Liga: Barça pull clear
Barcelona exacted immediate revenge for their Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Sevilla by consigning the Andalusians to a 4-0 defeat at the Camp Nou, a result that gave them the honorary title of 'winter champions'. With rivals Real Madrid going down 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao, Los Azulgranas, for whom Lionel Messi scored twice, have now established a five-point lead. Emphatic 4-1 winners at home to Villarreal, Valencia are three points further back in third.

Atletico Madrid continued to climb places after serving up a thrilling 3-2 win at home to Sporting Gijon, while the basement battles between Almeria and Tenerife and Real Zaragoza and Jerez both ended in draws. One side who managed to ease their relegation worries were Malaga, who edged out Getafe 1-0 to collect three much-needed points.

Top three: Barcelona (46 points), Real Madrid (41), Valencia (38)
Bottom three: Tenerife (16), Real Zaragoza (14), Jerez (8)
Leading scorers: Lionel Messi, David Villa (14), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gonzalo Higuain (11)
Weekend stat: 100 – The number of goals that Lionel Messi has now scored in Barcelona colours. El Pulga is the youngest player in the Catalan club’s history to reach the century mark. 

Serie A: Inter held, Milan hit four
Bari’s excellent home form provided an untimely stumbling block for Inter, who were held to a 2-2 draw in the south, while Milan edged ever closer to their city rivals after dismantling Siena at home, Ronaldinho scoring a hat-trick and Marco Borriello netting the other in a 4-0 romp. Third at the start of the day, Napoli slipped down a rung after playing out a goalless draw at home to Palermo.

Occupying their place are Roma, who were indebted to a brace from new boy Luca Toni as they saw off Genoa. A 1-0 defeat for misfiring Juventus at Chievo consigned them to fifth place, while Fiorentina fared no better at home to Bologna, going down 2-1 to drop to eighth.

Top three: Inter Milan (46 points), AC Milan (40), Naples (33)
Bottom three: Atalanta, Catania (16), Siena (12)
Leading scorers: Antonio di Natale, Diego Milito (12 goals), Ronaldinho, Francesco Totti (9)
Weekend stat: 6 - The number of points now separating Inter in first and Milan in second. I Rossoneri have the chance to close the gap in next Sunday’s Milan derby, a genuine 'six-pointer'.

Bundesliga: Bayer hold firm
Bayern Munich started the year in the best possible way when they saw off Hoffenheim 2-0 on Friday evening to move top of the league, albeit for a few hours. Bayer Leverkusen moved back into pole position on Saturday by sweeping Mainz aside 4-2, and Schalke 04 returned to second place after squeezing past Nuremberg 1-0.

A 3-1 win over reigning Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg kept Stuttgart’s renaissance going, while Hertha Berlin put three goals past fellow relegation candidates Hannover without reply. Elsewhere, Freiburg disposed of Hamburg 2-0 and Borussia Dortmund maintained their revived title challenge by prevailing in a five-goal thriller at Cologne.

Top three: Bayer Leverkusen (38 points), Schalke 04 (37), Bayern Munich (36)
Bottom three: Hannover (17), Nuremberg (12), Hertha Berlin (9)
Leading scorers: Stefan Kiessling (12 goals), Lucas Barrios, Edin Dzeko, Kevin Kuranyi (9)
Weekend stat: 16 - Hertha Berlin’s welcome victory over Hannover ended a miserable run of 16 games without a win.

Ligue 1: Marseille keep Bordeaux in check
In the big game on matchday 20 in France pacesetters Bordeaux played out a 1-1 draw with Marseille, a result that allowed the impressive Lille to move two points closer to the leaders following their 3-1 defeat of Paris St Germain. After a midweek mauling in Monaco, Montpellier rediscovered their form with a narrow 1-0 win over Nice, while the men from the principality saw off Sochaux 2-0 to make it five games without defeat, a run that has taken them up to sixth, behind Lyon and l’OM on goal difference.

Les Gones started the new year in better form than they finished the old one, chalking up a 2-0 victory at Nancy. St Etienne clambered out of the relegation zone after winning 2-1 at Grenoble, while Le Mans’ survival hopes were dented when they crashed to a 3-0 home defeat to Lorient. Toulouse also won away, 2-1 at Valenciennes, and now sit in a comfortable 11th place.

Top three: Bordeaux (44 points), Lille (37), Montpellier (36)
Bottom three: Le Mans (16), Boulogne (15), Grenoble (7)
Leading scorers: Nene (12 goals), Gervinho (11), Pierre-Alain Frau (9)
Weekend stat: 7 - The number of consecutive wins that Lille have now strung together, making them the form team of Ligue 1.

In Scotland, Rangers tightened their grip at the top thanks to a 1-0 win at Hamilton and an unexpected 1-1 draw for Celtic at home to bottom club Falkirk. The Ibrox side are now nine points clear of the men in green and white, who have a game in hand.

In the outstanding game of the weekend in Belgium, leaders Anderlecht ran out easy 4-0 winners on their visit to Standard Liege.