Aubameyang making it a 3-way fight to be EPL's top scorer
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — It appears Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah have some company as they vie for the second straight season to be top scorer in the Premier League.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the Bundesliga's leading marksman in his last full season in German soccer — with 31 goals for Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 campaign — and he is proving just as prolific in England after reaching 14 this season by scoring Arsenal's fourth in a 4-1 win over Fulham on Tuesday.
The Gabon striker moved to Arsenal in January last year as Arsene Wenger's final signing and has been an unqualified success with 23 league goals in barely 11 months.
He might need to keep up that rate of scoring to stay in contention for the Golden Boot.
Kane, the league's leading scorer in 2015-16 and 2016-17, is tied with Aubameyang atop the charts after scoring the goal that set Tottenham on its way to a 3-0 win at Cardiff. All three goals were scored in the opening 26 minutes.
That result moved Tottenham back into second place, one point above Manchester City and six behind Liverpool. City host Liverpool on Thursday in the final match of the 21st round, completing England's busy festive program.
Liverpool's Salah, who scored a league-best 32 goals last season, is currently one behind Kane and Aubameyang with 13.
Arsenal stayed in fifth place after beating Fulham but closed to within two points of Chelsea in the race for the four Champions League qualification positions.
KANE'S CHRISTMAS HAUL
There's something about playing over Christmas that brings the best out of Kane.
With his goal against Cardiff, he has scored in all four games over this festive period — having netted back-to-back hat tricks this time last year. He also scored three times in the two games after Christmas in 2016.
There was a touch of fortune about his third-minute goal at Cardiff City Stadium, with defender Sean Morrison's clearance hitting Kane in the midriff just inside the six-yard box and the ball dribbling over the goal line.
Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min added further goals for Spurs and there was no sign of the fatigue that appeared to mark their display in the 3-1 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
ARSENAL BOUNCES BACK
With another big win over Fulham, Arsenal bounced back from its mauling at Anfield just three days earlier.
This was as convincing and one-sided as Arsenal's 5-1 loss to Liverpool, which underlined the gulf that still exists between Unai Emery's new-look team and the division's genuine title contenders.
Granit Xhaka gave Arsenal a first-half lead that was added to by Alexandre Lacazette's close-range finish 11 minutes after the break. Goals by Aaron Ramsey and Aubameyang wrapped up the win after Fulham substitute Aboubakar Kamara briefly made it 2-1.
It matched Fulham's heaviest loss since Claudio Ranieri took charge in late November and kept the London team in next-to-last place.
Claude Puel was supposedly close to losing his job as Leicester manager heading into the festive period. Coming out of it, his position should be as strong as it has ever been
A 1-0 win over Everton, earned thanks to a 58th-minute goal by Jamie Vardy, sealed a third win in four matches for Leicester either side of Christmas. The other two victories were over Chelsea and Manchester City.
The Foxes are now in seventh place and leading the race to be the best of the rest behind the league's so-called "Big Six" of Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Puel has been ranked among the favorites with bookmakers to be the next manager in the division to leave his post.
"I don't like to make bets," Puel said. "I am not sure how that works, putting a bet on.
"Speculation," he added, "I cannot have an impact about this."
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80