Manchester United temporarily moved into fourth place on the Premier League log with a 5-2 routing of struggling Bournemouth on a day that Arsenal continued their resurgence dealing a major blow to Wolves’ Champions League chase by winning 2-0 away at Molineux.
Interestingly, third-placed Leicester also got their game back on track with Jamie Vardy reaching 100 top-flight goals in a comfortable 3-0 win against faltering Crystal Palace.
The drama continued as despite the impressive display by United’s fearsome front four of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood, their new found position lasted just few hours. No thanks to Chelsea who did not leave it too long in retaking their place in the Premier League top four following their late kick off against Watford.
With goals coming from Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley, the Frank Lampard men capped a dominant display to drub Watford 3-0 and leave the Hornets still precariously placed just one point outside the relegation zone.
United’s 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth earlier in the day had seen the Blues slipping outside the top four before kick-off, but they bounced back in excellent form with very little fuss as Watford failed to exploit the defensive frailties of the Stamford Bridge Landlords.
But Manchester United’s commanding performance at Old Trafford and their eyes focused on a champion League spot next season cannot be ignored as all the front men were on the scoresheet to keep Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hope alive for a happy ending this year.
So far, Greenwood, Rashford and Martial have now combined for 55 goals this season.
“Confidence is sky high. You get energy and confidence by performances and results and we are getting that at the minute,” said Solskjaer, who currently feels the benefits of a 16-match unbeaten run.
“I have enjoyed the last few games to be honest and it is healthy. You don’t age as quickly!”, Solskjaer said in his post-match comments.
Sadly, Bournemouth are drifting fast in the opposite direction as they remain second from bottom and the Cherries’ defensive problems were quickly exposed in a game that Junior Stanislas gave them a shocking 16th-minute lead
“Mason is one of the best if not the best finisher I have worked with and seen,” added Solskjaer. “He is so calm. He knows where to finish if it is on the training ground, here or in his garden at home.”
It was 18-year-old Greenwood who smashed home from Fernandes’s pass to get the comeback started at the Theatre of Dreams.
Six minutes later United had turned the game around when Adam Smith was penalised for handball in the area and Rashford converted the spot-kick for his 20th goal of the season.
Martial also then scored his 20th of the campaign in stunning fashion by curling an effort high past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from the edge of the area.
Eric Bailly gave Bournemouth brief hope when he conceded a penalty just four minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute and Josh King scored the spot-kick.
But there was no stopping Solskjaer’s men going forward and Greenwood restored their two-goal cushion five minutes later with another powerful drive, this time on his weaker right foot.
Fernandes then capped another influential display when the Portuguese international bent a powerful free-kick beyond Ramsdale.
For Arsenal, their outstanding showing saw them moving up to seventh and within six points of the top four after ending Wolves’ eight-game unbeaten run in impressive fashion.
Bukayo Saka celebrated signing a new long-term deal this week by hooking in the opener just before half-time while Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to seal all three points for Mikel Arteta’s men four minutes from time.
Defeat leaves Wolves three points adrift of United and Nuno Espirito Santo’s men were left to rue Adama Traore’s chip over the bar with just Emiliano Martinez to beat when they were on top early in the second half.
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard reacted to the bitter disappointment of blowing a lead when losing 3-2 at struggling West Ham on Wednesday. He made four changes with Marcos Alonso and Antonio Rudiger paying the price for their part in the Hammers’ late winner.
Giroud was one of those recalled to the starting line-up and the 33-year-old showed why Lampard extended his contract for another year during the coronavirus shutdown.
The French international was denied by the quick reflexes of Ben Foster with his first big chance, but was not to be stopped when he span onto Barkley’s pass before finding the bottom corner on 28 minutes.
Watford manager Nigel Pearson also made a big call with his team selection as he recalled Nathaniel Chalobah to the starting line-up and Andre Gray to the match day squad after both were dropped for a 3-1 home defeat by Southampton last weekend after flouting government guidelines by attending a party for Gray’s 29th birthday.
However, there was no improvement in their performance as Watford have taken just one point from four games since the EPL Project Restart. – Agency reports