There was plenty of excitement in Wednesday’s Premier League matches but little to change the outlook of the season.
Manchester City remain rampant, Chelsea are just a little more secure in the Champions League places and opponents Leeds United look increasingly doomed.
Norwich City are already down, of course, and again came away empty handed against Leicester City.
Watford – Norwich’s Championship rivals next term – at least stopped the rot in perhaps the least interesting of four fixtures broken down here in Opta data.
Wolves 1-5 Manchester City: Four for De Bruyne, history for leaders
Only a City slip-up can breathe new life into the title race. That does not look likely right now, though, given Pep Guardiola’s men have now won five consecutive league games by three or more goals; they are the first team to achieve that feat in English top-flight history.
Kevin De Bruyne alone secured a three-goal margin over Wolves, scoring four himself.
Gabriel Jesus also scored four in a game for City this season (against Watford), with Tottenham in 2009-10 (Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe) and Manchester United in 1999-2000 (Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer) the only previous teams to have two players deliver such performances in the same campaign.
De Bruyne’s first three goals came inside 24 minutes, with just two players – Sadio Mane against Aston Villa in May 2015 (16) and Dwight Yorke against Arsenal in February 2001 (22) – netting faster Premier League hat-tricks from kick-off.
The midfielder’s 14 league goals this season represent a career high – as do his 19 in all competitions – and contribute to 57 in his Premier League career, the most of any player to never score a header.
Leeds United 0-3 Chelsea: Whites rue another early red card
Jesse Marsch acknowledged he had a feeling of “deja vu” as Leeds followed their early collapse at Arsenal by again conceding first and then seeing a player sent off.
After Luke Ayling, Dan James saw red this time, with Leeds the eighth Premier League team to have a player dismissed in the first half of consecutive matches.
That allowed Champions League-chasing Chelsea to capitalise, scoring through Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku. Mount now has 11 goals and 10 assists this term – his 21 goal involvements tied with Harry Kane for the most by an English player.
Leeds have nine home defeats – their most in the top flight since 10 in 1946-47 – and have conceded 37 home goals – their most in the top flight since 46 in 1959-60. Perhaps it is no surprise then that Chelsea completed a top-flight double over the Whites for the first time since 1936-37.
Leicester City 3-0 Norwich City: Smith sick of facing Foxes
While relegation hurts, Dean Smith will be relieved to get away from Leicester, having lost by three or more goals to the Foxes for a third time (also twice at Aston Villa, 4-1 in December 2019 and 4-0 in March 2020). The Norwich boss has also been beaten in four of his five meetings with Brendan Rodgers.
Angus Gunn will similarly hope to find more joy in the Championship, conceding 64 goals through his first 30 Premier League appearances; only David Watson (66) had shipped more at this stage of a career.
Jamie Vardy was Gunn’s foe, netting twice. He has 34 goal involvements (24 goals, 10 assists) against promoted teams since his Premier League bow, second to Harry Kane (40) over that period.
Norwich slipped to a 25th defeat of the season, joining Sunderland – 2002-03 (27), 2005-06 (29) and 2016-17 (26) – as the only teams to suffer as many losses in multiple Premier League campaigns (also 27 in 2019-20).
Watford 0-0 Everton: Hornets stop the rot too late
Since beating Manchester United 4-1 in November, Watford had lost 11 consecutive home league games before this match. In their first fixture after relegation was confirmed, they ended that run with a draw.
This was Watford’s first home league clean sheet of the season, with outgoing boss Roy Hodgson rewarded for making seven changes – the Hornets’ joint-most ever for a Premier League match (also versus West Ham in April 2016 and Manchester City in March 2019).
But there was also evidence of the team’s failings as they were held scoreless for an 18th time this season, second only to Norwich. This was the 12th time Everton have failed to find the net, tying a club Premier League record.
Things are looking up for Frank Lampard’s men, though, having earned 11 points in their past six games – as many as in their previous 22 outings.
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