Manchester City back on top of EPL, Huddersfield go down in historic failure

Manchester City has returned with a swagger from the international break, resuming their quest for four trophies with another dominant 2-0 win at Fulham that thrust them back to the top of the English Premier League.

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On the afternoon that Huddersfield Town was relegating and Manchester United celebrated the full-time managerial appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a 2-1 win over Watford, City again demonstrated why they remain the league’s benchmark on Saturday.

Bernardo Silva scored for the third game in a row, and Sergio Aguero extended his league-leading tally to 19 in a dazzling early spell, allowing the champions to ease to a seventh straight league victory while never hitting the heights.
It restored City’s advantage at the top, one point ahead of Liverpool on 77 points with both sides having played 31 games, but Juergen Klopp’s men could return to the summit with a win over third-placed Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Still, City, who have won the League Cup and are in the FA Cup semi-finals and Champions League quarter-finals, moved closer to an unprecedented, if even unlikely, a feat with 14 matches left.

For manager Pep Guardiola, the lunchtime stroll at Craven Cottage, featuring the return of key players like Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho after injury, felt like the perfect return with the pressure immediately back on Liverpool.

“The first 15, 20 minutes was incredible with the way we played,” he told the BBC.

“After the international break, you usually miss a bit with your rhythm. This game was tricky — 12:30 on a Saturday, a sunny day. That is unusual, and that is why I am so satisfied.”

He was again, though, not about to play up the prospects of the quadruple.

“We are going to do everything to win … We don’t overthink about what people say about quadruple, what Liverpool and Manchester City have done in the Premier League both deserve credit. That’s why we are (both) here.”

Manchester United moved into fourth place, level with Tottenham Hotspur on 61 points having played a game more, as Solskjaer got his permanent reign off to a winning start with victory over Watford with goals from Marcus Rashford and Antony Martial before Abdoulaye Doucoure’s late consolation.

The win lifted United above Arsenal, who host Newcastle United on Monday.

Aaron Mooy (L) holds his hand to his face after Huddersfield’s EPL relegation. (PA/AAP)

At the other end of the table, as 19th-placed Fulham’s defeat left them a step closer to what looks certain relegation, Huddersfield’s even more inevitable demotion to the Championship was confirmed with a 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace.

Socceroo Aaron Mooy’s Terriers became only the second team in the Premier League era to be relegated before the end of March as goals from Luka Milivojevic and Patrick van Aanholt, combined with other results, left them 19 points from safety with six games left.

Wins for 17th-placed Burnley, 2-0 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, and 16th-placed Southampton, 1-0 at Brighton & Hove Albion, ensured Huddersfield’s fate was sealed as they matched Derby County’s record, set in 2008, for the earliest relegation from the Premier League after 32 games.

Leicester City marked an emotional day for the club on what would have been the birthday of their late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who died in a helicopter accident in October, by beating Bournemouth 2-0 at the King Power Stadium.

In the day’s late game, West Ham United, after six unbeaten matches at the London Stadium, came unstuck with a lacklustre 2-0 home defeat by Everton.

Goals from Kurt Zouma and Bernard moved Everton above the Hammers into ninth, one point behind Wolves and Leicester.

(This story originally appeared on WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS)



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