LONDON – Olivier Giroud had a brace and Mesut Özil contributed a goal and two assists on Wednesday as Arsenal overwhelmed Huddersfield Town 5-0 to hang on to fourth place in the Premier League.
Their third consecutive league win brings the Gunners to 28 points, just four behind their next opponents, second-place Manchester United, who will visit London’s Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Newly promoted Huddersfield conceded inside the first three minutes, as Arsenal’s Alexander Lacazette scored on a beautiful backheel shot.
The visitors remained in the contest until Özil caught fire in the final quarter, assisting on two goals and scoring himself in an interval of just under four minutes.
The German international set up substitute Giroud in the 68th minute and contributed to Alexis Sanchez’s goal a minute later before making it 4-0 in the 72nd minute to cap his best-ever performance in a Premier League match.
Giroud added a fifth goal in the 87th.
Ten kilometers (6 miles) away at Stamford Bridge, third-place Chelsea eked out a 1-0 win over Swansea, currently in the drop zone.
The defending champion Blues were actually better than the score would indicate and the Swans owed the respectable score line to the heroics of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, who made outstanding stops against Willian, Alvaro Morata and Pedro.
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte was sent to the stands a few minutes before half-time after protesting the official’s decision to award Swansea goal kick when he thought his side had won a corner.
The winning goal came in the 55th minute, when Antonio Rüdiger headed the ball past Fabianski after Swansea’s Wilfrid Bony blocked the initial shot by N’Golo Kante.
The victory leaves Chelsea with 29 points, within striking range of Man United.
Leaders Manchester City needed a goal in the 96th minute to prevail 2-1 over visiting Southampton and extend their winning streak to 12 matches, one short of the English topflight record of 13.
As he did against Bournemouth, Feyenoord (in Champions League) and Tottenham, Raheem Sterling came to City’s rescue with a goal in the dying seconds.
The club from the South Coast came prepared with a strategy to contain the explosive City attack and the first half ended 0-0.
Two minutes after the re-start, Kevin de Bruyne’s free kick bounced off Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk and into the goal to put the hosts up 1-0.
But Southampton pulled level in the 75th minute with a goal from Oriol Romeu.
City, now with 40 points, lead cross-town rivals United by 11 points.
In Wednesday’s other matches, league scoring leader Mo Salah scored twice as Liverpool climbed to fifth place with a 3-0 victory away to Stoke City, while Wayne Rooney posted his first hat trick with Everton as the Toffies dominated visiting West Ham United 4-0.
The man just named as Everton’s new coach, Sam Allardyce, was in the stands at Goodison Park to see the Merseyside squad vault out of the drop zone up to the 13th spot.