Manchester City beats Wolves for 21st straight win

Manchester City registers a 4-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers to secure a 15-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester City players celebrate after the win.   -  Reuters

A 15-point lead, 21 victories in a row, a club record-tying 28 games unbeaten.

The extraordinary numbers are stacking up for Manchester City as Pep Guardiola’s winning machine powers to the Premier League title and — whisper it — a potential quadruple. Guardiola particularly liked what he saw in the 4-1 win over Wolverhampton on Tuesday.

MATCH CENTRE

Heading into the final 10 minutes at Etihad Stadium, City’s players were in the unusual position of being held, 1-1, but there was no panic. Instead, they just stepped up a gear, overwhelmed Wolves with their pressing and scored three goals.

“When you have a run of 20 wins, you’re not always going to win 3-0, 4-0, 5-0,” Guardiola said. “So that is why how you recover from difficult situations is what I’m looking for.”

Gabriel Jesus scored in the 80th minute and again from close range with virtually the last kick of the game after Riyad Mahrez had made it 3-1, capping a period of incessant pressure by City after Wolves equalised in the 61st minute through Conor Coady’s header — the visitors’ first touch in City’s box.

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Leander Dendoncker had given City the lead for the first time with an own-goal in the 15th.

Another test passed by City in its march to reclaiming the title from Liverpool, with Wolves having proved a tough opponent for City in recent years — winning their meetings home and away last season, for example.

Unbeaten streak stretches to 28

City’s class of 2020-21 is made of sterner stuff this season, though. The team has won every game it has played in all competitions since December 19 and now has 15 victories in a row in the league. Its unbeaten streak stretched to 28 matches — tying a club record also achieved under Guardiola in 2017.

City hasn’t trailed for a single minute in any of its last 19 league games.

Asked how impressed he was by City’s recent run, Guardiola said: “Man United” — referring to City’s next opponent at the weekend. Pressed to expand, he said: “We talk about records and everything we have done in the league when it is over.”

And it nearly is over. Second-place Manchester United can restore the 12-point gap to City by beating Crystal Palace on Wednesday but doesn’t have the consistency being shown by Guardiola’s side, which also is in the final of the League Cup, the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and leads 2-0 after the first leg of its matchup with Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League's round of 16.

 

City has players in supreme form, too.

Mahrez is one of them, the Algeria winger playing a key part in the opening goal by controlling a searching pass by Rodri and driving over a cross that would have been turned into the net by Raheem Sterling if Dendoncker hadn't done so himself.

Wolves' only good spell of the game came after Coady scored his first Premier League goal, with Adama Traore blazing two shots over the bar.

City regrouped and after Jesus swept in a loose ball from the edge of six-yard box after Kyle Walker's cross was blocked near the goal line, Mahrez placed a shot into the bottom corner in the 90th after Wolves were hounded out of possession. Jesus converted from close in for the fourth goal in stoppage time after goalkeeper Rui Patricio could only parry out a shot from substitute Ilkay Gundogan.

-Bale's Comeback Trail-

Gareth Bale looked like the star player who left Tottenham for Real Madrid in 2013 as he scored twice in the club’s 4-0 win over Burnley.

Gareth Bale opened the scoring after 68 seconds and the Welsh forward added another early in the second half, both off assists from Son Heung-min. Back on loan from Spain, it was his first two-goal game since 2019.

Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring the opening goal.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

Harry Kane and Lucas Moura also scored for the host, and it could have been more if not for some good saves from Nick Pope when Burnley was already four goals down.

-Stamford Bridge Stalemate-

Chelsea's new identity under Tuchel is taking shape. There's intense, German-style pressing, but also a newfound compactness and solidity in the defence at Stamford Bridge, compared to former manager Frank Lampard's open but defensively vulnerable style. Against United's counterattacking specialists, both teams seemed risk-averse, even in the final minutes.

The upshot was a ninth game unbeaten in all competitions for Tuchel at Chelsea, seven of them without conceding a goal, but it also meant that Chelsea missed an opportunity to overtake West Ham for fourth in the table.

-Arsenal beats Leicester-

Arsenal returned to form and the top half of the table with a 3-1 win over Leicester, with Nicolas Pepe scoring one goal and winning a penalty when Wilfred Ndidi blocked his shot with an arm.

However, the game was overshadowed by an injury likely to keep Leicester's in-form midfielder Barnes out until April. He had scored six goals and assisted three more in his team's previous 10 league games. 

-Liverpool Wins-

The first goal against Sheffield United was made in Liverpool's academy as Trent Alexander-Arnold hit a deflected cross for fellow academy graduate Curtis Jones to send past the otherwise impressive Sheffield goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

In the 64th, Roberto Firmino thought he'd ended his run of six games without a goal in all competitions when his deflected shot went in but the Premier League ruled it was an own-goal for Sheffield's Kean Bryan.

-Fulham Falls Short-

Fulham missed a chance for a win in a 0-0 draw with a Crystal Palace team which rarely presented any sort of attacking threat. The draw left Scott Parker's team unbeaten in five league games, with only one goal conceded during that time, but still 18th and three points adrift of safety.