…As report shows Liverpool can claim title, with help from Man City’s opponents***
Manchester City’s Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez scored two goals apiece as the hosts crushed a woeful Burnley 5-0 in the English Premier League (EPL) at The Etihad Stadium on Monday.
Manchester City showed their impressive strength in depth, making eight changes but were still too strong for the visitors.
The win leaves second-placed City 20 points behind runaway league leaders Liverpool with eight games remaining.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche could only name seven of the allowed nine substitutes, two of them goalkeepers, with his inexperienced bench without four regulars who have not signed contract extensions and it was a long night for the Clarets.
Phil Foden opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, drilling a low shot past keeper Nick Pope after a short-corner routine.
Riyad Mahrez made it 2-0 with a superb finish, collecting a long pass from Fernandinho and then jinking past the Burnley defence before firing home.
City made it 3-0 just before the break when a VAR review ruled that Burnley’s Ben Mee had fouled Sergio Aguero inside the box and, while the Argentine striker went off injured, Mahrez converted from the spot.
Burnley’s defending was then sloppy at a corner again, with Foden left free to cleverly pick out Bernardo Silva who put a ball across the face of goal for David Silva to slide home six minutes into the second half.
The outstanding Foden made it 5-0 in the 63rd minute, finishing off a sweeping counter-attack.
Report however indicates that Liverpool can still wrap up the Premier League title this week despite a 0-0 setback against Everton on Sunday, but they need other results to help them.
Juergen Klopp’s red men need just five points to secure their first league title since 1990, having built a 25-point lead ahead of Manchester City before the coronavirus-enforced suspension.
Should City fail to beat Burnley on Monday, a win at their Anfield home against Crystal Palace on Wednesday would confirm Liverpool’s status as England’s new Premier League kings.
Pep Guardiola’s side also travels to fourth-placed Chelsea on Thursday and any dropped points at Stamford Bridge could also hand Liverpool the title.
Defender Trent Alexander-Arnold says the long break has been “frustrating” but he remains upbeat that the reigning European champions will eventually receive their much-anticipated reward.
“If you can imagine your ultimate dream and be so, so close to it – two steps away from it really – and someone saying, ‘you need to wait over 100 days then you might get it’.
“It was quite frustrating,’’ said Alexander-Arnold.
“But the league position hasn’t changed, our mentality hasn’t changed and that is to win every game, push boundaries, break records, win the league and be remembered.’’
At the bottom of the table, it is much tighter with West Ham United sitting equal to 18th-placed Bournemouth’s 27 points on the edge of the relegation zone.
The Hammers were beaten 2-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers in their restart fixture on Saturday and French defender, Issa Diop, says they are feeling pressured ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur.
“We have to find a level and win games quickly,’’ Drop said.
“I think it’s easy to say but it’s hard to do it, but we have to do it and we’re going to give everything to do it.
“I hope we’re going to do it in the next game. We have no choice.’’
Brighton travel to third-placed Leicester in Tuesday’s other game full of confidence after a last gasp 2-1 win over Arsenal helped them earn a five-point gap from the drop zone.
“It feels amazing, a big three points for us,’’ said Brighton boss, Graham Potter.
“We know where we are at, we know the margins are small in the Premier League and you have to turn them in your favour and that’s what we have tried to do.
“Regardless of the table, we have to keep fighting.’’
On Wednesday, Manchester United and Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves are neck and neck in a battle for a Champions League spot, which could be the fifth-place if Manchester City’s two-year UEFA ban is upheld.
United and Wolves both have 46 points in fifth and sixth as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side host Sheffield United while Wolves are visited by Bournemouth.
Solskjaer’s attacking options have been boosted by the return of French midfielder Paul Pogba, who played well alongside Portuguese January signing Bruno Fernandes on Friday against Spurs.
“We’re a club that wants the best players in the world playing together,’’ said Solskjaer after the 1-1 draw.
“I think Paul showed he can play with Bruno.
“Paul got a penalty for us and Bruno scored the goal.’’
In Wednesday’s other matches, Aston Villa travels to Newcastle United and bottom club Norwich City host Everton.
Then, on Thursday before City play Chelsea, Arsenal visit Southampton and Burnley face Watford.
– Reuters with additional reports of dpa