Michail Antonio led the charge for the Hammers as he scored all four goals in the 4-0 rout. Antonio secured his first hat-trick in professional football by the 54th minute and, such was the ease in which timid Norwich surrendered, he then decided to add one more to his tally before being substitued ten minutes before the end.
The writing has been on the wall for a while for Norwich and, despite a few glimpses here and there, they have largely flattered to deceive. They have lost all six of their games since the restart, form which in anyone’s book spells relegation.
West Ham now seem safe from any relegation trouble and can look towards planning for next season and trying to get a squad packed with talent playing in a more consistent manner.
Fortess Anfield breached
Elsewhere, Liverpool failed to win a Premier League game at Anfield for this first time since January 2018 after a 1-1 draw with dogged Burnley.
The stalemate was largely due to an inspired performance from England goalkepper Nick Pope who made a series of fine stops; the ones he made from Sadio Mane and Mohamad Salah in the first half in particular were truly world class.
Pope was beaten in the 34th minute by a fine header from Andrew Robertson who connected with Gini Wijnaldum’s measured cross. Jay Rodriguez equalised with a fine finish from the edge of the area in the second half and moments later Burnley could have snatched all three points when subsitute Matias Vydra crashed his strike against the Liverpool crossbar.
“We left the door open, we didn’t close it. We should have scored two, three, four goals at least,” said a disapponited Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
If Klopp’s men wish to surpass the record total of 100 points in a Premier League season set by Manchester City two years ago then they need to win their remaining three games.
City with a point to prove
Manchester City seemingly have a big point to prove after conceeding their league title to rivals Liverpool and have wracked up a series of fine performances and results since the restart. They have won five of their seven games since play resumed, scoring 23 goals and conceeding only three in the process.
Brighton were the latest recipients of the City sting in the tail as they were hammered 0-5 at their home ground, the Amex stadium.
Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick, taking his season total to a best ever 27, with Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva also on the score sheet.
Brighton lie in 15th place in the table and, whereas they are not mathematically safe from relegation, should have enough in the tank to see them across the line. They can also take solace from the fact this was City’s third 5-0 triumph in the last six games, a run that also includes a 4-0 thumping of champions Liverpool.
City no doubt have the bit between their teeth and will be looking to sustain their fine form post lockdown into their upcoming Champions League’s clash against Real Madrid.
Deeney double hits the spot
In the day’s other games, Sheffield United breezed past a lacklustre Chelsea, emerging 3-0 winners at Brammal Lane thanks to goals from Oli McBurnie and a brace from David McGoldrick. The latter had been waiting to get on the score sheet all season long then decided to help himself to a double against a slack Chelsea back line.
The result undermines Chelsea’s bid to secure a top four place and thus Champions League football next season. They remain in third place, but could end the weekend down in fifth if Leicester and Manchester United beat Bournemouth and Southampton respectively later today.
Watford captain Troy Deeney held his nerve by scoring two decisive penalties as his team came from behind to defeat Newcastle 2-1 at Vicarage Road. It was a huge victory for the Hornets who now move level with West Ham in the table on 34 points and have given themselves a great chance of survival.
Today’s games include:
Wolves vs Everton (6pm)
Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace (8.15pm)
Tottenham vs Arsenal (10.30pm)
Bournemouth vs Leicester (2am Monday July 13)
(NB: kick-off times are Phuket time)