If their Premier League title rivals hoped the absence of injured Kevin De Bruyne might slow down Manchester City’s charge they were left disappointed on Tuesday as Pep Guardiola’s side annihilated West Bromwich Albion 5-0 to go top.
The Belgian playmaker faces several weeks out with a muscle injury but City’s 11th successive win in all competitions showed they have the firepower to cope without him.
City scored three times in the opening half hour at The Hawthorns as they moved to 41 points from 19 games, one more than Manchester United and significantly seven more than struggling champions Liverpool.
Two goals form Ilkay Gundogan and one from Joao Cancelo finished the match as a contest and Riyad Mahrez made it 4-0 just before the break. The only surprise was that City only added a Raheem Sterling goal to their tally in the second half.
While City are threatening to take a stranglehold at the summit, the situation below them remains fluid with West Ham United the latest team to break into the top four.
Two goals from Thomas Soucek earned West Ham a 3-2 victory at London rivals Crystal Palace who had taken the lead in the second minute through Wilfried Zaha.
West Ham’s fourth successive league win moved them above Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool who meet on Thursday.
“The players have been exceptional with how they have played, they really have been and they want more,” West Ham manager David Moyes said.
Arsenal avenged Saturday’s FA Cup defeat by Southampton to beat the Saints 3-1 on the south coast — their fifth win in six league games moving them up to eighth.
Stuart Armstrong had put the hosts in front but goals from Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette sealed an impressive win for Mikel Arteta‘s rejuvenated side.
The pressure continues to pile up on Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce after they lost 2-1 at home to Leeds United — a defeat that leaves them in 16th place with 19 points, but having played more games than the two sides immediately below them.
Raphinha put Leeds ahead and although Miguel Almiron levelled, Leeds went ahead again almost instantly through Jack Harrison, leaving Newcastle with only two points from the last 27 available in the league.
“This league is demanding and cruel at times,” Bruce said. “I don’t know if I’ve been on a worse run in 20 years but tonight I’ve seen a little bit of something and we will start again tomorrow.”
In a Premier League season of wild unpredictability, City are beginning to look ominously in the sort of groove that helped them claim back-to-back titles before Liverpool knocked them off their perch last season.
Even without De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero they looked frightening in attack against a West Brom side who have lost all four home league games since Sam Allardyce took charge.
Bottom club Sheffield United are next in City’s firing line.
“The way we play, everyone is involved in the attack and the play and create chances and try to score chances — it doesn’t matter, it is important to arrive in the box and create chances,” Guardiola said.
Manchester United can reclaim top spot if they beat Fulham on Wednesday while on the same night Thomas Tuchel will begin his reign as Chelsea manager against Wolverhampton Wanderers after being named as Frank Lampard’s replacement on Tuesday.