Premier League Report: Sergio Agüero closes in on record as Manchester City hit Chelsea for six

Supporters of the three teams involved in the Premier League title race might not appreciate it, but there is a real battle to be crowned 2018/19 champions with Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur fighting tooth and nail. 

Holders City started the weekend top of the pile but were immediately knocked off as Liverpool brushed AFC Bournemouth aside at Anfield to reclaim top spot.

On Sunday the Citizens knew they would have to win as Jürgen Klopp's side have a game in hand. They duly did just that, crushing Chelsea 6-0 to retake the lead on goal difference. 

Earlier in the day, Tottenham picked up a routine 3-1 home win over Leicester City. Mauricio Pochettino's side are five points back in third but also have the benefit of a game in hand over Manchester City.

Here are the major storylines from another weekend of scintillating Premier League action. 

Chelsea hit for six as Agüero equals record

When Agüero scored a hat-trick to down Arsenal last weekend Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer would have known his status as the player with the most Premier League hat-tricks (11) was under serious threat.

However, the former England captain would not have expected to have company at the top of that list so soon. A week after netting his tenth top-flight treble the Argentine marksman recorded his 11th as City ruthlessly dispatched Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Raheem Sterling started the rout after just four minutes and the Premier League holders were 4-0 up after just 25 minutes with İlkay Gündoğan and Agüero (2) on target. Agüero completed his hat-trick after the break with Sterling bagging the sixth late on.

Speaking afterwards, Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri apologised to the club's fans. "In the last three matches away we've played very badly so we need to say sorry," he told BBC Sport.

He was joined by captain César Azpilicueta, who added: "It is one of the worst nights in my career. It is difficult to explain what happened.

"We are conceding a lot of goals and we cannot accept that. All I can do is apologise to the fans because it is not acceptable."

Liverpool return to winning ways 

There has been plenty of talk about the Reds seeing their title bid come off the rails in recent weeks after draws against Leicester and West Ham United. But that talk looks misinformed after Klopp's men breezed past Bournemouth 3-0 on Saturday at Anfield. 

Sadio Mané opened the scoring after 24 minutes before Gini Wijnaldum doubled up ten minutes later with a strike made all the more impressive by the fact he had been ill in the build-up to the game.

"He had diarrhoea and vomiting two nights earlier so couldn't come to the team hotel," said Klopp.

"He had pretty much everything you don't want to have two nights before a game. Then he said, after a couple of hours sleep, 'I feel good, I can play'.

"The character and mentality of these boys is the only reason we are where we are. We can use always the character and attitude of the boys. We can win football games and we will win. How many? We will see."

Mohamed Salah completed the scoring early in the second half with his 17th of the season, leaving him level with City slicker Agüero in the race for the Golden Boot.

Ole steers Manchester United into top four

At the start of December José Mourinho predicted Manchester United would 'need a miracle' to make the Premier League's top four. Little more than eight weeks later and the Red Devils have done it after winning eight of their nine league fixtures under the Portuguese's successor: Ole Gunnar Solskjær. 

Paul Pogba is just one of the players who has been rejuvenated by the Norwegian and the World Cup winner scored either side of an Anthony Martial strike as the Red Devils leapfrogged Arsenal into fourth. 

The French maverick now has eight goals and five assists in ten league and cup fixtures since Solskjær took charge for the first time on December 22.

In that time he's become the Premier League's form midfielder. No-one has more goals (0.9) or takes more shots (4.42) per 90. He is third for assists in that timeframe (0.56) and ranks 13th for Big Chances created (0.45) too. 

Tottenham stay in the conversation

Plenty has been written and said about Tottenham's Premier League title credentials but while they continue to win games – losing just three times in the league since December 2 – Pochettino's side have to be considered serious challengers for Manchester City and Liverpool.

The North Londoners' latest win, 3-1 at home to Leicester, was their third in a row at Wembley Stadium and with Arsenal and Chelsea to come in the next month, as well as their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie against Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, Spurs' momentum counts for plenty.

Davinson Sánchez and Christian Eriksen scored in each half before substitute Jamie Vardy pulled one back for the Foxes. Heung-min Son killed the tie off late on with his third goal in successive games since returning from the Asian Cup last month – all of which have come after the 89th minute. 

Arsenal pick up rare away win

Memories of their 22-game unbeaten run have long been forgotten. Arsenal hadn't won away from home in the Premier League since beating Bournemouth on November 25.

So a trip to bottom side Huddersfield Town, themselves searching for a first win of any kind since the same date, was the ideal fixture for Unai Emery's men to get back on track.

Alex Iwobi put the Gunners ahead inside a quarter of an hour before Alexandre Lacazette doubled up just before half time. Terence Kongolo pulled one back in stoppage time for the Terriers but it proved to be a consolation effort.

Asked if his side could still make the top four afterwards, Arsenal coach Emery said: "We have played 26 games and there is one point between Manchester United and us.

"If we ask 'is it easy or difficult for us?' then yes, I think it's difficult, but we can. We are on our way."

Premier League results, matchday 26:

Fulham 0-3 Manchester United

Crystal Palace 1-1 West Ham United

Watford 1-0 Everton

Huddersfield Town 1-2 Arsenal

Liverpool 3-0 AFC Bournemouth

Southampton 1-2 Cardiff City

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-3 Burnley

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Leicester City

Manchester City 6-0 Arsenal


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