- Man City Hammers Arsenal to close gap with Liverpool
By Femi Solaja with Agency reports
Manchester’s two top clubs secured vital wins yesterday to consolidate their positions on the English Premier League log.
Manchester United extended their unbeaten run under interim boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to 10 games with a narrow 1-0 victory against Leicester at the King Power Stadium.
The away win no doubt, lifted the club from sixth to fifth position since the interim manager took charge. Significantly too, it was the fifth consecutive victory for the club for the first time since 2012 under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Marcus Rashford, whose appearance in the game was his 100th cap in Premier league scored his 26th goal against the Foxes. He continued his goalscoring form with the winner in the ninth minute – his 10th goal of the season.
Ricardo Pereira’s poor clearance went straight into the path of Paul Pogba, who lofted the ball towards Rashford, the England striker allowing it to come over his shoulder before taking a neat touch and drilling a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel.
Inconsistency has been the story of Leicester’s season and this defeat came on the back of a well-earned point at Liverpool on Wednesday, but they did have their chances.
Jamie Vardy connected with a bicycle kick after James Maddison’s free-kick bounced off the wall, but fired straight at David de Gea.
De Gea also made a diving one-handed save to prevent Rachid Ghezzal’s free-kick from hitting the top corner of his goal.
United dropped their first points under Solskjaer in a 2-2 draw with Burnley on Tuesday, but boosted their hopes of a top-four spot and Champions League football next season with Sunday’s win.
They move up to fifth, two points behind Chelsea in fourth. Leicester, meanwhile, stays in 11th.
Later yesterday evening, Sergio Aguero’s 14th hat-trick for Manchester City closed the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to only two points after victory over Arsenal at Etihad Stadium.
Aguero – as he did in last week Monday’s shock defeat at Newcastle United – put the reigning champions ahead inside the first minute, but Arsenal swiftly restored equality as Laurent Koscielny escaped poor marking to head home from a corner.
City’s nerves were eased by a magnificent second from Aguero just before the break, rounding off a perfectly constructed move between Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling with a simple finish at the far post.
Aguero secured City’s win when he bundled in Sterling’s cross after 61 minutes as attention now switches to Liverpool’s visit to West Ham United tonight.
Aguero may be 30 but he shows no signs of losing any of the natural marksmanship that marks him down as world-class and one of the greatest strikers of the Premier League era.
The Argentine has now scored 157 goals in 227 appearances and he was the man Pep Guardiola was able to count on once more as Manchester City maintained the pressure on Liverpool in the title race.
Aguero’s goals were all close range finishes but City could have no-one better at the sharp end of all their brilliant passing and movement and he could easily have had more.
What is often overlooked is Aguero’s tireless work ethic, constantly defending from the front – one burst of energy to close down Arsenal keeper Bernd Leno and the Gunners’ defence drawing warm applause from both his manager and the City supporters.
City needed to get the show back on the road after that slip on Tyneside and it was Aguero who gave them the perfect start then lifted them again after Arsenal worked their way back into the game.
The standing ovation Aguero received when he was replaced by Gabriel Jesus with 10 minutes left was richly deserved.