LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 10 – Manchester City destroyed Chelsea 6-0 to return to the top of the Premier League after Liverpool’s convincing win against Bournemouth.
Tottenham stayed on the fringes of the title race by riding their luck to beat Leicester 3-1 while Manchester United clambered into the top four for the first time since August.
Here are five things we learned from the Premier League this weekend:
City a class apart
The past two champions of England met in Manchester on Sunday and it was not even a contest as Chelsea trailed 4-0 midway through the first half against a rampant City.
A huge week for Pep Guardiola’s men that saw Arsenal and the Blues visit the Etihad either side of a trip to Everton has ended with maximum points and City back on top of the table on goal difference ahead of Liverpool, albeit having played a game more.
On this form City do not need any encouragement and Chelsea provided plenty.
The visitors went to sleep from a quickly taken free-kick for Raheem Sterling’s opener in the fourth minute and Ross Barkley even teed up Sergio Aguero’s second goal with a careless header back towards his own goal.
The Argentine went on to complete his 11th Premier League hat-trick, equalling Alan Shearer’s record.
Wijnaldum an unsung hero
Often overshadowed by the firepower of Liverpool’s front three and the defensive stability brought by the signings of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, Georginio Wijnaldum has quietly knitted the midfield together all season.
The Dutch midfielder was badly missed in a 1-1 draw at West Ham that saw Jurgen Klopp’s men hand City the chance to take top spot in midweek.
Wijnaldum returned in style, scoring with a delicate lobbed finish in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Bournemouth.
The goal capped an outstanding all-round display from Wijnaldum which only served to highlight the importance of keeping him fit for the title run-in.
Kids are all right for Spurs
With Dele Alli still recovering from his hamstring injury and Eric Dier sidelined by a virus, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was rewarded for trusting his emerging youngsters.
Pochettino fielded a central midfield of Oliver Skipp, 18, and Harry Winks, 23, for Sunday’s 3-1 win against Leicester.
While Winks has been in and around the team for the past 18 months, he is still a relative novice when the stakes are at their highest.
This was just Skipp’s 10th appearance, and only his fourth start, yet he and fellow Englishman Winks kept Tottenham in the title race with composed displays that belied their tender years.
Tottenham’s failure to sign a single player for the past two transfer windows could prove a long-term bonus if Winks and Skipp make the most of their opportunities.
Formidable Pogba fuels United charge
Fouled in a potential flashpoint during Manchester United’s 3-0 win at Fulham, Paul Pogba’s immaculate response to the incident showcased the maturity and class that is driving his side’s revival.
Pogba had already put United ahead with a blistering strike at Craven Cottage when he was clipped by Fulham’s Maxime Le Marchand and responded by briefly squaring up to his fellow Frenchman.
But rather than get distracted by a needless squabble, Pogba quickly shrugged off the incident and unfurled a sublime pass that launched another United attack seconds later.
Freed of the constant feuding with former United boss Jose Mourinho, Pogba is thriving under interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who deploys him in a free-roaming role that suits his flamboyant style.
Fittingly, it was Pogba’s calmly taken second-half penalty that wrapped up the points on Saturday.
Lack of clean sheets could cost Arsenal
Arsenal beat bottom side Huddersfield 2-1 on Saturday to stay in the hunt for Champions League places with Chelsea and a resurgent Manchester United.
Their failure to record their first away clean sheet in the league under Unai Emery after a late own goal did not worry the Spaniard unduly but their defensive vulnerabilities could ultimately prove decisive in the race for the top four.
Emery played down the issue, saying: “The clean sheet is important but our goal is to win. Maybe we can take a clean sheet and only draw.”