Manchester United powered into fourth place in the Premier League with a 5-2 rout of struggling Bournemouth, while Arsenal dealt a major blow to Wolves’ Champions League chase by winning 2-0 at Molineux on Saturday.
Third-placed Leicester also got back on track with Jamie Vardy reaching 100 top-flight goals in a comfortable 3-0 win against Crystal Palace.
United’s fearsome front four of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood were all on the scoresheet to lift Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men one point above fifth-placed Chelsea, who host Watford later on Saturday.
“Confidence is sky high. You get energy and confidence by performances and results and we are getting that at the minute,” said Solskjaer, who is feeling 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!”
Bournemouth are moving fast in the other direction as they remain second bottom and the Cherries’ defensive problems were quickly exposed after they took a shock 16th-minute lead through Junior Stanislas.
Greenwood, Rashford and Martial have now combined for 55 goals this season and it was 18-year-old Greenwood who smashed home from Fernandes’s pass to get the comeback started.
“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.”
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.
Arsenal moved up to seventh and are 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 and 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.
– 100 up for Vardy –
The Gunners face Leicester next on Tuesday, but the Foxes go into that game with a much-needed confidence boost after a first win in five games since English football’s restart.
Leicester have struggled to score goals of late, but were helped back to winning ways by some calamitous Palace defending in a 3-0 victory.
Kelechi Iheanacho poked home after goalkeeper Vicente Guaita failed to collect Youri Tielemans’s cross.
Vardy was then gifted his 100th Premier League goal 13 minutes from time when he tapped in after Mamadou Sakho was dispossessed by Harvey Barnes.
Barnes was the provider again as Vardy struck in characteristic fashion in stoppage time, sprinting in behind before dinking the ball over the advancing Guaita.
“To get the two goals and the three points is all you can ask for,” said Vardy. “We know it’s down to us. We are in this position on merit and we have to keep going. If we play like that between now and the end of the season, we will pick up a quite a few points.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke conceded his side are heading for relegation after Leandro Trossard fired Brighton nine points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at Carrow Road.
The Canaries are seven points from safety with five games remaining after losing all five games following the coronavirus hiatus.
“It was more or less our last chance to get back in the mix and we are disappointed,” he said.
“After a few losses, we don’t have the right to make any fighting messages or to make any unrealistic claims.”