Pochettino under fire as Chelsea crash, birthday boy Hojlund sparks Man Utd

Pochettino under fire as Chelsea crash, birthday boy Hojlund sparks Man Utd

February 4, 2024 at 4:09 PM
Wolves' Matheus Cunha scores in his side's win at Chelsea
Wolves' Matheus Cunha scores in his side's win at Chelsea. Photo: Ben Stansall / AFP
Source: AFP

Mauricio Pochettino's problems mounted as struggling Chelsea crashed to a dismal 4-2 defeat against Wolves, while Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund celebrated his 21st birthday with a goal in Sunday's 3-0 win against West Ham.

Premier League leaders Liverpool face a crucial clash with title rivals Arsenal later on Sunday, but it was Chelsea's travails that took the spotlight before the showdown at the Emirates Stadium.

Languishing in 11th place, Chelsea were booed off by furious fans after Matheus Cunha's hat-trick condemned them to a second successive defeat.

Chelsea were thrashed by Liverpool 4-1 on Wednesday and their week to forget finished with an even more embarrassing loss as Wolves completed the double over the woeful west Londoners.

Cole Palmer put Chelsea ahead with a composed angled finish from Moises Caicedo's defence-splitting pass in the 19th minute.

But Chelsea's lead lasted just three minutes, with Cunha's shot taking a hefty deflection off Thiago Silva to leave Blues keeper Djordje Petrovic wrong-footed as it whistled into the net.

Pochettino wore an exasperated look in the 43rd minute when Rayan Ait Nouri's shot deflected in for an own goal off Chelsea defender Axel Disasi.

The already fraught atmosphere turned even more toxic in the 63rd minute as Pedro Neto teed up Cunha to drive in Wolves' third goal.

Cunha's 82nd minute penalty, awarded when he was fouled by Malo Gusto, capped a miserable afternoon for Pochettino, who took no consolation from Silva's close-range finish in the 86th minute.

It has been a dispiriting first season in charge for Pochettino and the former Tottenham boss is certain to face calls for his sacking unless results improve quickly.

Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly has already shown his ruthless side by sacking Graham Potter after less than seven months in charge last term.

With trips to Aston Villa and Manchester City among their next three games, Chelsea could be in complete disarray by the time they face Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley on February 25.

Hojlund leads United revival

Inspired by the revitalised Hojlund, Manchester United made it three consecutive wins in all competitions as they climbed above West Ham into sixth place.

Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho (C), Rasmus Hojlund (L) and Kobbie Mainoo (R) celebrate a goal against West Ham
Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho (C), Rasmus Hojlund (L) and Kobbie Mainoo (R) celebrate a goal against West Ham. Photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP
Source: AFP

Finally emerging from a slow start to his first season with United following his move from Atalanta, Hojlund got his birthday party started in the 23rd minute at Old Trafford.

Casemiro's pass reached Hojlund and the Denmark striker cleverly took a touch to find space for a fierce drive that flashed past Alphonse Areola from just inside the area.

After failing to score in the league until December 26, Hojlund now has five goals in his last six games in all competitions.

Alejandro Garnacho was left unmarked in the area for a 49th minute shot that deflected in off West Ham defender Nayef Aguerd.

United manager Erik ten Hag and West Ham boss David Moyes had laid wreaths on the pitch before kick-off to mark the anniversary of the 1958 Munich air crash that killed eight United players on the way back from a European Cup game in Belgrade.

United's current crop cannot be compared to the 'Busby Babes' who perished in Munich, but Ten Hag's team at least marked their memory with the kind of enterprising display that was the hallmark of their predecessors.

Fittingly, it was Garnacho -- United's brightest young star -- who wrapped up the points with a cool finish in the 84th minute.

Nottingham Forest are two points above the relegation zone after a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.

Dutch forward Justin Kluivert gave Bournemouth the perfect start when he poked home in the fifth minute.

But Callum Hudson-Odoi hauled Forest level on the stroke of half-time with a curler from the edge of the area.

Bournemouth had Philip Billing sent off for a foul on Hudson-Odoi in the 84th minute.

AFP photo