Pep Guardiola was uninterested in Manchester City's ascent to the Premier League summit for the first time this season after they beat West Brom 5-0 at The Hawthorns.

City endured a tough start to the campaign but have since won 11 games in succession in all competitions, most recently blowing the struggling Baggies away with four first-half goals on Tuesday.

That victory was enough to take Guardiola's team to the top of the table, although Manchester United could reclaim first place by beating Sheffield United on Wednesday. City would then have a game in hand.

This back-and-forth does not yet concern Guardiola at the season's midway stage, however.

"The last thing I'm thinking about is the table," said the City manager. "Now I want to come back home safe, have a few days off and then Sheffield United. That's my only concern.

"Today just finished the first leg – we have still 19 games, an incredible marathon. We are going to drop points, we are going to lose games.

"What is important is, whatever happens, be calm – like we were when we were 12th in the table.

"We have to understand why we didn't win a game and immediately win the next one. This is my only concern."

City are the ninth different team to end a day top of the pile this term, a statistic that prompted Guardiola to respond: "This is the Premier League. Welcome, this is the Premier League.

"It's so tough. You see the teams up front, then look at West Ham and the incredible season they're doing, Leicester look unbeatable, and the other teams.

"It's so tough, so tough for everyone, and every game is complicated.

"It's important we have a good run and say, 'Okay, this is the reason why we are here, now the next one'."

City moved ahead of United despite missing Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero at West Brom, with Ilkay Gundogan taking centre stage with a brace before the break.

The midfielder has scored seven league goals since December 15, making this the most productive season of his career.

Guardiola previously described Gundogan as "one of Europe's best players" and insists the Germany international is still performing at the same level, even if his goal rush is garnering greater attention.

"Sometimes you have to score goals to get the recognition as a football player that he was all the time," Guardiola said of his number eight, who also created a single chance, made a tackle and an interception and won all five of his duels.

"He's an exceptional human being, first of all – I know his parents, I understand why – and he's my neighbour, so we have a connection. And he's an outstanding player.

"He's a guy who has played as a holding midfielder – so, so clever – and when he plays close to the box, he has the right tempo to make the run.

"It's not arriving in the box 10 times or 20 times, one metre before or one metre later, you have to arrive at the right tempo and the right time. He's so good.

"And when he arrives, he has the calm to slow down the action to make a decision. I'm happy for him. He deserves the best."

Gundogan has never started more than 23 games in a Premier League campaign but has always retained Guardiola's backing.

"I would say improvement is not the case," he said.

"Always he showed his level, except the first season when he had ACL and we struggled a lot to settle him in the team because he was injured. Every time he played, he played at a high level."

Pep Guardiola could understand West Brom's frustration after Manchester City benefited from a marginal offside call in their 5-0 win at The Hawthorns on Tuesday.

Ilkay Gundogan scored twice in a rampant City display, but it was the second goal from Joao Cancelo that really took the match away from relegation-battling West Brom.

Home defenders appeared to stop playing when official Sian Massey-Ellis prematurely raised her flag while City were still on the attack, believing Bernardo Silva was offside.

Guardiola's side continued and scored in stunning fashion through Cancelo, his first Premier League strike awarded following a VAR review which showed Silva just onside.

It was the second consecutive league game in which City had benefited from such controversy, with Silva's opener against Aston Villa given despite Rodri retreating from an offside position to tackle Tyrone Mings.

Reports this week suggested the rule that allowed that contentious goal to stand would be tweaked, but the Baggies – despite Massey-Ellis' error – could only blame themselves for the slack defending that allowed Cancelo to capitalise.

Guardiola offered his sympathy after the match but explained City always play to the whistle, which did not sound until the ball hit the net.

"I can understand [West Brom being unhappy]," the City manager told BT Sport. "Now with VAR, in these situations, you have to follow the actions until the end.

"You never know what is going to happen. The goal is allowed, disallowed? Nobody knows, so you have to continue.

"Always we speak with the players: until the end of the action, continue because we don't know what happens."

West Brom were outclassed regardless of that call and have now conceded 29 home league goals this season, the most in Europe's top five leagues.

Of those, 22 have come in their past five matches at The Hawthorns, with Aston Villa in December 1935 the last team to ship as many over a five-game home stretch in England's top flight.

This was despite City playing without key men Kevin De Bruyne – out for up to six weeks – and Sergio Aguero, who is recovering from coronavirus.

After Gundogan's brace and Cancelo's controversial strike secured a three-goal lead inside half an hour, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling added to City's advantage either side of half-time.

Gundogan has scored seven league goals since December 15, making this the best scoring season of his career, but Guardiola believes any one of his players can profit when City are in this form.

"If you play good and everybody's involved in attack and defence and everybody can arrive and everybody can be in the position, everybody is able to score," he said.

City have now won both of their league games without De Bruyne this season, scoring six and conceding none.

Gundogan added: "We all try our best – it doesn't matter who's playing.

"Obviously we had a few players over the last week in different conditions, struggling from COVID or struggling with injuries. It's like the players get more and more ready to play.

"Obviously Kevin is a big miss for us for the next few games, but we have players who will get more game time over the next couple of games.

"We need them all. We need everyone to be involved, because everyone gives us a different quality, a different boost. We need to keep going."

Ilkay Gundogan scored twice as Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season with an outstanding 5-0 victory at West Brom.

Pep Guardiola's side stretched their winning run to 11 straight matches in all competitions on Tuesday, a sequence that has again seen City emerge at the forefront of the title picture after a rocky start to the campaign.

West Brom, then under Slaven Bilic, had been the last team to stop City winning when these teams met in mid-December, but Sam Allardyce's side were completely outclassed at The Hawthorns despite the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, the injured PFA Players' Player of the Year winner.

Joao Cancelo's first Premier League goal separated a first-half Gundogan double, which Riyad Mahrez and stand-in captain Raheem Sterling added to either side of the break.

West Brom's best spell came in the opening two minutes as City were penned in under an aerial barrage before countering through Phil Foden, whose low deflected shot was touched onto the post by Sam Johnstone.

Johnstone was helpless from City's next attempt, watching the ball nestle in the bottom-left corner after Gundogan controlled Cancelo's long pass and finished expertly.

The goalkeeper was then left awfully exposed for the second as West Brom defenders appeared to stop playing when Bernardo Silva was flagged offside. Cancelo had time and space to pick out the top-left corner with a gorgeous finish and the offside decision was overturned following a VAR review, meaning the goal stood.

Gundogan pinched the ball from Romaine Sawyers and slid a left-footed effort beyond Johnstone before the half-hour mark, and it was 4-0 heading into half-time as Mahrez moved inside from the right and lashed past the keeper.

The same pattern of play continued following the restart and, although Rodri's blast clipped the crossbar, City only had to wait until the 57th minute for Sterling to turn in Mahrez's first-time cross, finally then easing up slightly to spare their struggling hosts further punishment.


What does it mean? City on top in epic title tussle

In leapfrogging rivals Manchester United, who play Sheffield United on Wednesday but will grant City a game in hand, Guardiola's men became the ninth team to lead the table at the end of a day this season.

If City can maintain this high standard, though, the run-in might be a little more predictable. Even without De Bruyne, the four-time Premier League winners look back to their very best.

Ilkay in top form

City will surely miss De Bruyne as he faces up to six weeks out, but they have now won both of their league matches without their talisman this season, scoring six and conceding none.

His absence on Tuesday allowed those stars who have made up the supporting cast in recent weeks to come to the fore, including Gundogan.

The Germany midfielder now has seven league goals this term - the first of which came in the previous West Brom clash, kickstarting a superb spell - to make this his best ever scoring season.

Cancelo capitalises

Neither the officials nor the West Brom defenders came out of City's second goal well.

Sian Massey-Ellis correctly initially kept her flag down despite believing Silva was offside but then inexplicably indicated for the decision when City were still on the attack inside the area.

But the whistle did not blow until the ball hit the net and there was little excuse for West Brom's static defending, their porous back line now having conceded 29 home goals - more than any other team in Europe's 'top five' leagues - after the five here.

What's next?

City will hope to run up another handsome total at home to basement side Sheffield United on Saturday. West Brom have a huge clash with Fulham, where they will aim to end a five-game losing run at home.

Pep Guardiola offered his sympathy to sacked Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard but recognised managers have to win to keep their jobs in the Premier League.

Blues playing great Lampard was dismissed on Monday following a run of just two victories in eight league matches, leaving Chelsea in ninth and 11 points off the top.

A club statement described "a very difficult decision", but owner Roman Abramovich is now set to turn to Thomas Tuchel, who was fired by Paris Saint-Germain last month.

Lampard averaged an underwhelming 1.67 points per game during his tenure and Manchester City counterpart Guardiola knows more is expected.

"Young and old managers, here you have to win," Guardiola said. "When the people talk about projects and ideas, they don't exist. You have to win; if not, you will be sacked.

"Respect for Chelsea, huge hug for Frank. Hopefully I can see him soon; when the lockdown will be over, I can go to a restaurant to see him again."

Asked for his assessment of Lampard's work, Guardiola reiterated: "It depends on the results.

"The way we play, the philosophy, the project... you have to get results. If you don't, you will be replaced by another manager."

But the City boss does wish coaches were given more time - from the media as well as clubs.

"All the managers, we need this," he said. "I'm not judging the decision from Chelsea ,I am not there. Respect in every decision, it has to be this way.

"But sometimes the journalists ask the club to be patient when the journalists don't have patience. We drop one game and we should sack all the managers?

"We try to win as much as possible, but it doesn't happen if you don't have the directors, the board, the owners and CEOs in the same line and you know exactly what the target is.

"Every manager needs time to do what you believe or make the players feel that it doesn't matter what happens, we believe in this, in this idea.

"And that is exceptional; it only happens in a few places around the world because the board, owners, CEOs want results immediately, quick, quick, quick.

"Winning the Premier League in November is better than January and winning in January is better than May. But this doesn't happen.

"It's difficult to talk about the projects in years, because in one month you can drop everything you built. The opponents also have good players, managers, too; you are always at risk to be out."

Guardiola finds himself in a relatively comfortable position at City, though, after a run of 10 straight victories in all competitions eased early-season pressure.

West Brom, up next on Tuesday, were the last team to stop City winning, but Guardiola is not interested in reflecting on how they turned their season around following that 1-1 draw.

"It's difficult to say," he said. "We won the next game in Southampton, one of the turning points. In that moment, Southampton were in incredible form.

"The process was we start to play better, more confident. We saw we were far away from the top of the league, then we get closer, the team eats better, trains better, we get results, successive wins.

"I know always you ask me about the past; what happened happened. I'm not a big fan of this. The next one is always important, like we have done in recent weeks."

Indeed, if City win the next one they will top the table for the first time this season - the ninth different team to reach the summit this term - with rivals Manchester United not in action until Wednesday.

"The leader is United - they are top of the league," Guardiola said. "We'll have all the games, the same games all together, we will see.

"But now we aren't top of the league. The distance is so narrow, but I don't see the table much; I didn't watch it when we were 12th, now it's the same. My focus after Cheltenham is West Bromwich."

David Moyes has led West Ham to their highest ever points total at the halfway stage of a Premier League season.

The Hammers moved up to seventh in the table after Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio were on target in a 2-1 win over relegation-threatened West Brom at London Stadium.

The result moved Moyes' side to 32 points (W9 D5 L5) and they have never had more after 19 games in the competition.

West Ham's previous best came midway through 2014-15 when they had 31 points under the leadership of Sam Allardyce, who was the defeated Baggies boss on Tuesday.

Moyes' second spell in charge of the east London club is proving to be his most impressive spell in the dugout since an ill-fated stint at Manchester United as Alex Ferguson's successor.

Indeed, in 2013-14 season, the Scot had only managed two more points by the same stage with the then-defending Premier League champions.

United were sixth after 19 games, with 10 wins, four draws and five defeats.

Willy Boly had an eventful derby and there was a penalty double for Matheus Pereira as West Brom boss Sam Allardyce maintained his unbeaten record against the team he used to support as a boy.

Albion claimed a huge victory in their bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League at Molineux on Saturday, beating bitter rivals Wolves 3-2.

There was no such entertainment at Anfield on Sunday, with a hugely hyped clash between Liverpool and leaders Manchester United ending goalless, while Antonee Robinson's red card was costly as Fulham were beaten by Chelsea.

Ilkay Gundogan matched his best Manchester City goal tally for a season in a 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace, while Tottenham captain Harry Kane made his mark in Yorkshire yet again 

With the help of Opta data, we take a look at some of the quirkiest stats from the top-flight action over the weekend.

 

Boly in thick of the action as Wolves pay the penalty 

West Brom ended an eight-match winless run to claim three precious points against their big rivals Wolves.

Defender Boly became the first Wolves player to concede a penalty, provide an assist and score in a Premier League game since Adlene Guedioura in May 2011 - which was also against West Brom at Molineux.

Baggies midfielder Pereira was on target with two spot-kicks, becoming the fifth player to score a brace of penalties in a top-flight game this season. The last time there were so many penalty doubles was back in the 2010-11 campaign.

Allardyce was a Wolves fan as a youngster, but his allegiances have long gone out of the window, as the Albion head coach has not lost in 12 Premier League games against Wanderers - his longest unbeaten streak against any side.

 

Gun firing on all cylinders

Kevin De Bruyne sparkled once again as in-form City hammered Palace to go second in the table.

The midfield maestro laid on one of two goals for John Stones, taking his tally of assists for City to a landmark 100.

Gundogan is another midfielder who has caught the eye this season and the Germany international was on target with a sublime long-range finish at the Etihad Stadium.

The former Borussia Dortmund playmaker has scored four goals in his past six Premier League games, as many as he could muster in his previous 55 matches in the top flight. His tally of six for the season is the joint-most he has scored for City.

 

Kane comes up smelling of White Roses again

Prolific Spurs skipper Kane led by example yet again in a 3-1 win at bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United.

Kane scored his 19th goal of what is proving to be another outstanding season in Tottenham's first league win at Bramall Lane since 1975, having failed to secure maximum points in their previous seven visits.

England captain Kane has scored in each of his past six Premier League games in Yorkshire, a run that former Leeds United striker Mark Viduka was the last to achieve in 2003.

Leeds will have to be wary of the talismanic striker when Jose Mourinho's men return to the White Rose county for a clash at Elland Road on May 8.

 

Dire States: Rash Robinson costs Fulham

Fulham full-back Robinson was sent off late in the first half of the London derby at Craven Cottage for a rash lunge on Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea had to be patient as they pushed for a winner, but Mason Mount struck to consign Scott Parker's relegation-threatened side to a 1-0 defeat.

Robinson was the eighth player from the United States to be given his marching orders in the Premier League.

The former Wigan Athletic left-back's dismissal also made Fulham the first club to have two players from the USA see red, Carlos Bocanegra being the other.

Chelsea needed a late intervention from Mason Mount to overcome Fulham 1-0 on Saturday, relieving the pressure on boss Frank Lampard. 

Brendan Rodgers - a man tipped to take over at Stamford Bridge if Lampard is removed as boss - saw his Leicester City side climb up to second in the table with a 2-0 win over Southampton. 

There were also wins for Brighton and Hove Albion, West Ham and struggling West Brom. 

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

 

Fulham 0-1 Chelsea: Mount settles west London derby

Chelsea left it late to overcome Fulham at Craven Cottage, Mason Mount scoring with 12 minutes remaining to end the Blues' run of three straight away Premier League defeats. 

The scoreline perhaps should not come as a surprise, given Chelsea have won 131 Premier League games by that margin - the most common winning score for a single team in the competition's history. 

The result also marked Chelsea's fourth away clean sheet of the season - a feat they managed just once last season. 

It could have been a different outcome had Antonee Robinson not seen red shortly before half-time for a wild lunge on Cesar Azpilicueta. That dismissal was Fulham's third in the Premier League this season - no side has had more so far this term. 

Defeat for Scott Parker's side means they are winless in their last 19 top-flight London derby matches since a 2-1 win over West Ham in January 2014.

Leicester City 2-0 Southampton: Maddison and Barnes on target for flying Foxes

Leicester moved up to second in the Premier League after earning their first home league win against Southampton since April 2016, ending a run of four without a win against the Saints at the King Power Stadium. 

They were set on their way by James Maddison, who has now scored in consecutive top-flight games for the Foxes for the first time since October 2019, matching his goal tally at the King Power Stadium from each of the previous two campaigns.

Harvey Barnes' 10th goal of the season sealed all three points, the winger equalling his best ever goals return in a single campaign. 

Southampton, meanwhile, have now failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 34 in the competition.

The Saints' first 12 Premier League games this season saw 41 goals scored (F24 A17), at an average of 3.4 per game, while their last six games have seen just six goals scored (F2 A4).

Wolves 2-3 West Brom: Pereira brace gives Allardyce lift off

Sam Allardyce got off the mark with his first win as West Brom boss to revive his side's survival hopes against out-of-form Wolves.

The veteran manager, previously without a win in five matches in all competitions since taking over, is now without defeat in six Premier League games against Wolves - his best unbeaten return against any side in the division.

Matheus Pereira gave West Brom the lead from the penalty spot early on - the ninth league game in a row Wolves have conceded first - before Fabio Silva and Willy Boly turned the game in the home side's favour.

In doing so, Boly became the first Wolves player to concede a penalty, assist and score a goal in the same Premier League game since Adlene Guedioura in May 2011 - also against West Brom at Molineux.

Semi Ajayi levelled the game up with his ninth headed goal since the start of 2018-19 - no defender in England's top four tiers has scored more, level with Virgil van Dijk and Aaron Pierre - and Pereira scored the winner with another spot-kick.

Wolves, who last lost successive home league games against West Brom between 1929 and 1931, are without a clean sheet in 12 Premier League matches - the longest ongoing run among sides in the division.

Leeds 0-1 Brighton: Maupay haunts Bielsa's men again

Brighton ended a nine-game winless run in the Premier League with a narrow victory at Leeds thanks to Neal Maupay's close-range finish after 17 minutes.

Maupay rounded off a slick team move for his 10th away goal for Albion in the competition, making him just the second player to reach that tally for the Seagulls after Glenn Murray (11).

It was the striker's fourth goal in five league appearances against Leeds and ensured a first ever away top-flight victory in this fixture for his side at the fourth attempt.

Leeds, whose two shots on target was their second fewest in a home match under Marcelo Bielsa, have lost their first three games in a calendar year for the first time since 2014.

West Ham 1-0 Burnley: Antonio hits milestone goal in narrow win

Michail Antonio made the difference as Burnley fired another blank, the versatile forward becoming the fourth West Ham player to reach the 40-goal mark for the club after Paolo Di Canio (47), Mark Noble (46) and Carlton Cole (41).

All 40 of those goals have been scored inside the penalty area - only Tim Cahill (56), Javier Hernandez (53), Gabriel Jesus (43) and John Terry (41) have netted more with 100 per cent coming inside the box.

No team has failed to score in more different Premier League games than Burnley this season (10), while no team has netted in more different games than West Ham (15).

It was also a third successive clean sheet in the league for David Moyes' men for the first time since September 2019 as they picked up an eighth win of the campaign in their 18th game, a tally it took them 32 games to reach last time around.

Tottenham got their title push back on track with a first win in five outings and Arsenal maintained their recent revival with a third win on the bounce in Saturday's Premier League action.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were again among the scorers for Spurs in their victory over Leeds United, while Alexandre Lacazette helped himself to a double in the Gunners' even more straightforward success at West Brom.

Crystal Palace also picked up three valuable points with what is a now-customary victory over doomed Sheffield United, who set an unwanted record with their latest setback, but there was nothing to separate Brighton and Hove Albion and Wolves in the day's other game.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's Premier League fixtures.

Tottenham 3-0 Leeds: Son and Kane combine again in convincing victory

Son scored his 100th goal for Tottenham in all competitions to help his side on their way to a routine victory over Leeds in the early kick-off.

The South Korea international swept in Kane's pass to become the 18th Spurs player to reach the milestone figure on what was his 253rd appearance.

Kane has now assisted 17 goals for Son in all competitions, while the pair have combined 13 times in the Premier League alone in 2020-21 - no two players have linked up more in a single season in the competition.

Prolific striker Kane had earlier given Tottenham the lead and in doing so he became the first player to reach double figures for both goals (10) and assists (11) in Europe's top five leagues this season.

Kane has also now scored against all 30 opponents he has faced in the Premier League - the best 100 per cent record in the competition among players to have faced more than one team.

Toby Alderweireld added a third goal early in the second half and Leeds were unable to respond - the first time they have failed to score in an away league game this term, leaving Aston Villa and Manchester United as the only perfect sides in that regard.

The only blemish for Spurs was the stoppage-time dismissal of Matt Doherty for a second yellow card, meaning they have already had more top-flight red cards in 2021 than they had in the whole of 2020.

Palace 2-0 Sheffield United: Eze does it for Eagles as visitors lose again

Bottom club United have now officially set the record for the longest ever winless run from the start of a Premier League campaign after going down 2-0 to Palace.

The Blades' 17-match winless run to begin a season is the worst in the English top flight since Bolton Wanderers' run of 22 without a victory in 1902-03.

Stretching back into 2019-20, Chris Wilder's men are winless in 20 Premier League games - failing to keep a clean sheet in any of those - making them the fifth side to reach that figure and the first since West Brom between August 2017-January 2018.

Jeffrey Schlupp opened the scoring at Selhurst Park with just 188 seconds on the clock, which was Palace's earliest goal in the division since James McArthur's strike against Everton after 51 seconds in November 2017. 

The versatile wideman hobbled off injured and it was his replacement, Eberechi Eze, who added a second goal with a wonderful solo effort as he became the fourth Palace player to score his first two goals for the club from outside the box - the others being Ricky Newman, Gareth Southgate and Simon Rodger.

United, who saw 16-year-old Antwoine Hackford become their youngest ever Premier League player in the second half, could not find a response as the Eagles kept a first clean sheet in the competition in 16 matches since September.

Brighton 3-3 Wolves: Seagulls battle back after Burn horror shown

Dan Burn endured a first half to forget but Brighton recovered from two goals down to claim a point against Wolves at the Amex Stadium.

The centre-back put into his own net and brought down Adama Traore for a penalty that Ruben Neves converted, having earlier conceded a corner in the build-up to Romain Saiss' opener - the Wolves defender's second goal in three league games, which is as many as he managed in his previous 40.

In doing so, Burn became the first player to score an own goal and give away a penalty in the same Premier League game since Eliaquim Mangala for Man City against Hull City in September 2014.

Brighton refused to roll over and had a lifeline when Neal Maupay converted from the spot 50 seconds after the restart - the earliest penalty scored in the second half of a Premier League game since Opta records began in 2006-07.

Lewis Dunk then nodded in to snatch a draw - the fourth occasion Albion have rescued a point in a Premier League game in which they have been two goals behind.

West Brom 0-4 Arsenal: Lacazette at the double for revived Gunners

Arsenal turned on the style with a runaway victory over a struggling West Brom side as they made it three wins in a row in the Premier League, following a previous run of two victories in 12.

Kieran Tierney scored a sublime opener for the visitors, becoming the first Scottish player to score an away goal for the north London side in the competition since Charlie Nicholas against Ipswich Town in March 1986.

The strike itself was impressive and it came at the end of a 20-pass move that pulled West Brom apart. Indeed, since Mikel Arteta's first game in charge on Boxing Day 2019, the Gunners have scored more goals following a sequence of 20 or more passes (three) than any other Premier League side.

The impressive Bukayo Saka scored the second at the end of another flowing team move - the 22nd league goal he has been involved in since the start of last season (seven goals, 15 assists), which is the second most by a teenager currently playing in the division after Manchester United's Mason Greenwood (25).

West Brom had a goal ruled out for offside and their heads dropped from that point on as Lacazette netted a quickfire brace, taking his tally for the season to five away goals in the Premier League - already his best seasonal tally since joining Arsenal.

It was another damaging defeat for West Brom, who are the first side to lose consecutive Premier League home games by at least four goals since Wigan Athletic in August 2010.

The size of the task at hand for Sam Allardyce has now become even clearer, meanwhile - at no club has he won fewer points (one, level with Crystal Palace) or conceded more goals (13) after his first four Premier League games in charge of a club.

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal can play with freedom now they have turned the corner on their dismal run of form.

The Gunners made it three Premier League wins in the space of eight days with a 4-0 triumph against struggling West Bromwich Albion at a snow-covered Hawthorns.

Alexandre Lacazette hit a second-half double in the space of four minutes to send Arsenal 11th in the table, after Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka had opened up a half-time lead.

The three-win streak puts an end to a run of seven matches without a victory and Arteta hopes he has seen the back of his team's miserable stretch of results.

"I hope so, at least the energy and the convincing momentum that you get from everybody that is involved, it's much more positive," Arteta said.

"At the end of the day, I wasn't that concerned with the performances.

"I think we lost games when we were really unlucky and most of them it was our own fault because we made some errors and we lack some discipline in certain moments.

"But you need to win football matches and now this brings a different momentum, a different energy, and now the players get the handbrake off and you can see that they are more free to play."

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal can play with freedom now they have turned the corner on their dismal run of form.

The Gunners made it three Premier League wins in the space of eight days with a 4-0 triumph against struggling West Bromwich Albion at a snow-covered Hawthorns.

Alexandre Lacazette hit a second-half double in the space of four minutes to send Arsenal 11th in the table, after Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka had opened up a half-time lead.

The three-win streak puts an end to a run of seven matches without a victory and Arteta hopes he has seen the back of his team's miserable stretch of results.

"I hope so, at least the energy and the convincing momentum that you get from everybody that is involved, it's much more positive," Arteta said.

"At the end of the day, I wasn't that concerned with the performances.

"I think we lost games when we were really unlucky and most of them it was our own fault because we made some errors and we lack some discipline in certain moments.

"But you need to win football matches and now this brings a different momentum, a different energy, and now the players get the handbrake off and you can see that they are more free to play."

Mikel Arteta gave a more positive outlook on Arsenal's season after victory over West Brom secured a third straight win and moved his side to within six points of the top four.

Just 10 days after West Brom coach Sam Allardyce claimed Arsenal were "absolutely" in a relegation battle, the Gunners swept the former England manager's struggling outfit aside to climb 12 points clear of the drop zone.

The Baggies were no match for the team Allardyce had considered their rivals to beat the drop, conceding sublime first-half strikes to Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka and then a clumsy second-half brace to Alexandre Lacazette.

While West Brom became the first team to lose consecutive Premier League home games by at least four goals since Wigan Athletic in 2010, Arsenal claimed a third straight victory, having won just two of their prior 12 matches.

Wins over Chelsea, Brighton and Hove Albion and now West Brom have come in quick succession over the festive period, lifting spirits at Emirates Stadium.

"I'm so happy that we were able to achieve the target that we had," Arteta told BT Sport.

"The table looks completely different, the energy around the place is much better, and wins bring a lot of confidence. You can see that today in the performance and the way the team played."

The game was played on a snow-covered pitch at The Hawthorns, which Arteta felt caused Arsenal problems even as they monopolised 61.6 per cent of the possession and had 21 attempts to West Brom's seven.

Arteta said: "It was a very convincing win. To win the last three games in the Christmas period in the Premier League is not easy.

"I think today, in phases when the weather was better and the conditions to play were better, we played some great football.

"At the end, we had to manage in certain moments as well the conditions and the way we played because the pitch was really difficult."

Tierney was a standout performer from left-back, covering 10.56 kilometres, and had no such concerns about the conditions.

"It is what it is," he said. "Playing in Scotland my full career, I'm kind of used to that. It's a bit of cold weather, so it hurts nobody."

Of the former Celtic defender, who finished with an assist to go with his goal, creating a game-high four chances, Arteta added: "He's been fantastic since I've been here.

"From the moment he got back from his shoulder injury, he's been terrific. He's a lad that gives you absolutely everything.

"He's improving, he's willing to get better and better, and he brings a great energy and quality to the team."

Arsenal claimed a stylish 4-0 win over West Brom at a snow-covered Hawthorns to continue their Premier League resurgence on Saturday.

After a seven-match winless run in the top flight prior to Christmas, the Gunners defeated Chelsea at home and Brighton and Hove Albion away and were full of confidence against Sam Allardyce's struggling side.

Fine first-half goals five minutes apart from Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka - the first a sublime solo strike, the second a flowing team move - made a mockery of tricky conditions and moved Arsenal out of sight.

Alexandre Lacazette added a comical clincher and later doubled his tally as a third straight victory boosted Mikel Arteta's men up to 11th, now suddenly looking up the table rather than back towards the relegation scrap in which West Brom remain mired.

Arsenal had quickly assumed control in the falling snow, although Matt Phillips might have done better than shoot straight at Bernd Leno from a rare West Brom opening.

The visitors heeded that warning and soon led when Tierney pushed the ball past Darnell Furlong on the left flank, then checked back inside to beat his opponent again and finally beat Sam Johnstone with a curling right-footed effort.

The swift second was equally impressive, albeit an entirely different kind of goal as Emile Smith Rowe moved the ball on to Saka and continued his run while Alexandre Lacazette took possession and fed a pass back into his path. Through on goal, Smith Rowe unselfishly squared to find Saka once more for a simple finish.

A flag denied West Brom an early second-half response as Matheus Pereira ran offside before his drive against the post landed back at the feet of Callum Robinson with the goal gaping.

Instead, a bizarre third went Arsenal's way when Semi Ajayi awkwardly volleyed against his own post and recovered to block Smith Rowe's follow-up but watched Lacazette lash in the rebound - the Frenchman netting in a fourth consecutive match in all competitions.

He had another four minutes later, kneeing in Tierney's drilled cross, with West Brom ultimately fortunate to escape further punishment.


 

Manchester City are reportedly planning a bid for Harry Kane, while United are still interested in Jack Grealish.

City have been linked with numerous forwards amid uncertainty over Sergio Aguero's future.

And it seems the Tottenham star is among their targets.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PLANNING £88.7M BID FOR KANE

Manchester City are planning an £88.7million offer for Tottenham star Kane ahead of next season, according to Bild.

Kane, 27, is contracted at Spurs, where he continues to star, until 2024.

The England international has scored nine goals in 15 Premier League games this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United remain interested in signing Aston Villa star Grealish, according to the Daily Mail. The midfielder was heavily linked with a move to United in the close season, but ended up staying at Villa, who are in action at Old Trafford on Friday.

- Eric Garcia has seemingly made a decision on his future. The Guardian reports the Manchester City defender has agreed personal terms on a five-year deal with Barcelona. Garcia is contracted at City until the end of the season.

- With Mauricio Pochettino reportedly set to take over at Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham apparently have worries over Hugo Lloris. The Sun reports Spurs fear the goalkeeper could join former boss Pochettino in Paris and they are eyeing West Brom's Sam Johnstone and Manchester United's Dean Henderson as potential targets.

- Yet to play for Arsenal this season, Mesut Ozil's future remains a talking point. Bild reports the playmaker wants to see out his contract, which runs until season's end, with the Premier League outfit.

- Also coming out of contract, Sami Khedira looks set for a Juventus exit. The Daily Mail reports the midfielder is set to hold talks with Everton over a potential move.

- Struggling for game time at Manchester United, Jesse Lingard has had the one-year option on his contract at the club triggered, according to Sky Sports. Lingard's deal now runs until 2022.

Mikel Arteta has made trimming Arsenal's squad his priority for the January transfer window, admitting the club "cannot sustain" the number of players currently on their books.

The Gunners brought in five new first-team players during the close season but only made one sale, with back-up goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez heading to Aston Villa.

A number of big names, such as Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, have subsequently struggled for minutes this term or been frozen out.

And while Arsenal continue to be linked with the likes of Isco and Joan Jordan, Arteta is keen to offload before bringing in any more new faces.

"We have a large squad. We knew that and a lot of things we wanted to do in the summer we couldn't accomplish for different reasons," Arteta said.

"There are some players that are going to go on loan, they are going to leave, and that's the priority at the moment. We cannot sustain the numbers that we have in terms of substitutions.

"We are looking to do that and then we will see if we have the right opportunities in the positions that we need some more help. We are working with the club to find that."

Kolasinac has been linked with a return to Schalke, with reports suggesting personal terms have already been agreed over an initial loan deal next month.

"I cannot confirm anything yet," Arteta said at a pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday's Premier League trip to West Brom.

"We are working on a couple of things and obviously the window is going to bring a lot of news. Some are true, some are not.

"Whenever we have something to say, we will announce it. We've had some conversations around a few players and whether we can find some loans.

"The numbers we have in the squad at the moment are really big."

Arteta has not been afraid to use younger players in his first full campaign in charge of Arsenal, something versatile teenager Bukayo Saka has made the most of.

Saka set up Alexandre Lacazette in Tuesday's 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion and ended the match with the most key passes (three) of any Arsenal player.

The 19-year-old academy product is a fitness doubt for the West Brom match but Arteta is hopeful he will push on in the second half of the campaign.

"That should be a given by any player, that they are always trying to learn and get better," Arteta said.

"For me, the biggest thing he has done in the last few months is the personality he plays with and the responsibility he takes in the decision he is willing to take when things are not going well, and the impact he has had for the team to get results.

"At that age, it is not common at all. But that is his nature, and he wants to evolve that - you could see that his team-mates trust him and want to give him that responsibility.

"That's great because then you don't have one or two players, you have more players.

"He is a great example as well, for any young player to play with that commitment, that passion, and that courage, when you play for a big team."

With the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles also catching the eye at times, Arteta is wary of stifling their development at the expense of bringing in players on loan next month.

However, the Spaniard - who has eased some of the growing pressure on his shoulders thanks to back-to-back victories - is not completely against the idea of making new signings.

"We need to be careful with that," Arteta said. "We will decide whether it's a loan or buying players in relation to the opportunity that we have in the market.

"We know that our club has a history of bringing players through the academy and it's in our DNA. We want to keep doing it and I think I've done it since the day I came through that door. 

"But they need the right process, they need the right players around them and you have to respect the timing of their development. There is nothing worse than rushing those players when they are not ready."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta does not believe a temporary suspension of Premier League action is needed to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the Premier League confirmed 18 new positive COVID-19 tests in the week commencing December 21 – the highest number of positive results in a single round of tests this season.

Manchester City's game at Everton was postponed at four hours' notice due to a coronavirus outbreak at the Etihad Stadium on Monday, while Fulham's match against Tottenham on Wednesday was also called off.

Eighteen positive cases surpasses the previous high of 16 recorded in the week commencing November 9, and mirrors the wider situation in England, with more people now in hospital due to the virus than at the peak of the first wave in April.

There have been growing calls for a circuit break – a tight set of restrictions, likely including the suspension of games, designed to reverse the tide of the pandemic – but Arteta, who contracted COVID-19 in March, believes the Premier League's current system is working well.

"We are all concerned with our own health and what is going on around us," he told a news conference ahead of the Gunners' clash with West Brom on Saturday.

"But at the same time, with all the protocols we have in place, everything we do around the training ground, around football matches, the fact that we play our sport outdoors, it minimises the risks a lot.

"If you see the records since we began to test, it is incredibly positive and I think as long as we can, we have to keep on doing that.

"Obviously we can't put anybody at risk but I think we have shown that the system is working.

"Okay, in the last week or so something has happened and I think we will have more restrictions and more tests to try to be as efficient as we were before, but I think it can work and I think we can carry on doing it."

Arteta is well aware that football is providing people with much-needed entertainment and escapism as restrictions tighten across the country.

Given the comforting role it is playing for so many, Arteta believes it is important the sport continues in its current guise for as long as it is safe.

"Well, the importance of football in this society is massive I think," Arteta said.

"When you ask and you talk to people and discuss what it means to have football games in this difficult period for everybody where there is not so much to do, I think it's really, really important and what we have to do is just try to do it in a safe way, as we have been doing recently.

"I think there are many, many positives."

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