Many predictions made for the Manchester City v Liverpool fixture on Saturday hinted that there would be goals aplenty and, with the scoreboard was bothered on five occasions, so it proved. What very few expected that was all five of goals would arrive for the home side as Liverpool slumped to their joint heaviest defeat in Premier League history. With City 1-0 up but the Reds giving a decent account of themselves, the match swung on the red card dispensed to Sadio Mane for a high boot into the head of goalkeeper Ederson. The merits of the sending off have been debated heavily in the last couple of days, but it’s indisputable that Mane’s dismissal changed the course of this match irrevocably. Gabriel Jesus scored twice either side of half-time and it then became a damaged limitation exercise for Jurgen Klopp’s men. Even that didn’t go right, with two late goals from Leroy Sane adding further punishment on a truly wretched day for all associated with Liverpool FC.
Manchester City went top for a few hours on Saturday following that emphatic victory but were bumped back into second that evening after Manchester United’s 2-2 draw at Stoke was enough to restore them to top spot. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting gave the Potters a surprise lead as half-time approached before it was cancelled out almost immediately by Marcus Rashford, who touched in Paul Pogba’s header. Jose Mourinho’s men took the lead early in the second half through the in-form Romelu Lukaku, but this time it was Stoke who restored parity with a Choupo-Moting header from close range on 63 minutes. Mark Hughes’ side continue their satisfactory start to the campaign while despite United dropping points for the first time this season, they continue to set the early pace in the Premier League.
Everton fans who might have enjoyed Liverpool’s collapse at the Etihad didn’t have long to wallow in their schadenfreude as the Toffees fell to a 0-3 home defeat against Tottenham. A howitzer from Harry Kane opened the scoring, sparking debate as to whether his shot from near the touchline was an intentional screamer or an attempted cross with which he got lucky. Christian Eriksen doubled the lead shortly before half-time and many supporters may well have missed Kane’s insurance goal which came within seconds of the restart after the interval. Such was Spurs’ dominance that they could easily have left Everton as the second Merseyside outfit that day to suffer a five-goal drubbing. Still, it was a result that will leave Ronald Koeman very concerned ahead of next week’s trip to Old Trafford.
The agony of Liverpool supporters on Saturday mirrored that felt by the Arsenal faithful after their Anfield mauling two weeks ago, but the Gunners had little difficulty in swatting aside a Bournemouth team still stuck on zero points a month into the season. Danny Welbeck needed just six minutes to appease the home fans at the Emirates and once Alexandre Lacazette made it 2-0 later in the first half, you sensed it was job done already for Arsenal. Welbeck rounded off the scoring shortly after half-time and the second half was a stroll for Arsene Wenger’s side ahead of their Europa League debut on Thursday. For Eddie Howe’s Cherries, it’s back to basics after this no-show.
Remember how Chelsea seemed in crisis after losing to Burnley on the opening day? It seems a long time ago now after the champions saw off Leicester 2-1 at the King Power Stadium to move into the top three in the Premier League. Alvaro Morata continued his good early season form by notching the opening goal and N’Golo Kante doubled Chelsea’s lead early in the second half with a superb strike from distance, a goal he chose not to celebrate discernibly. Leicester dug their way back into the contest, though, when Jamie Vardy converted a penalty midway through the second half and the visitors had to be resolute defensively to hold on for a third league win on the trot. The Foxes might be 17th as it stands, but their performances thus far aren’t that of a team who can expect to be in a relegation battle later in the season.
One team already bracing themselves for a patience-shredding struggle in 2017/18 are Crystal Palace, beaten for the fourth time in four games at Burnley on Sunday. Frank de Boer has come in for heavy criticism from Eagles supporters in the early days of his managerial tenure, but the Dutchman simply cannot be blamed for the ghastly backpass from Lee Chung-yong which gifted Chris Wood with the opening goal after just three minutes. That could have been the precursor for Palace to collapse, but the players fought gallantly to find a way back into the game and Scott Dann twice had goalbound efforts cleared off the line, although his late miss was a shocker. The spirited performance will be of little consolation to Palace fans given their current position and their next three games are against each of the current top three. Who would honestly swap places with de Boer right now?
Another newly-arrived manager to the Premier League who might be facing some early pressure is Mauricio Pellegrino at Southampton, with the Saints being booed off the pitch following their 0-2 home defeat by Watford on Saturday. The game took on an eerily familiar pattern for Southampton, who owned the ball for long periods and seemed the more likely to score but paid for a pitiful lack of cutting edge. Abdoulaye Doucoure showed them how it’s done with a long-range effort to open the scoring, but Fraser Forster will be disgusted with his attempts to save it. Watford again had to defend for prolonged spells in the second half before another long-distance sucker punch from Daryl Janmaat. The three points secured the Hornets’ second successive away win under Marco Silva and moves them into the top four, a position even their most optimistic fans would have thought unattainable after four games.
Brighton are up and running after their first Premier League goals and victory on Saturday, a clinical 3-1 triumph over a West Brom side that had made a fine start to the season. The honour of the Seagulls’ first goal in this division (under its current guise) fell to Pascal Gross, who netted from close range just before half-time. He was on target again after the interval and Tomer Hemed then made it 3-0 as the Baggies’ defence had an uncharacteristic off-day. James Morrison managed to deny Mat Ryan a clean sheet in the final few minutes but it was very much Brighton’s day, much to the delight of manager Chris Hughton.
Newcastle looked set for a long season after losing their opening two games but now the outlook is far brighter after a brace of victories either side of the international break. On Sunday they travelled to Swansea, who also got their first victory of the campaign at the end of August. A dull opening 30 minutes gave way to chances at either end as half-time approached and Newcastle survived a spell of Swansea openings in the second half before landing the killer blow through Jamaal Lascelles’ header from a corner with 15 minutes to go. There was an interesting episode when Matt Ritchie caught Alfie Mawson with a high boot similar to Mane and Ederson the previous day, but this time referee Mike Jones thought a yellow card was sufficient punishment. A penny for Liverpool fans’ thoughts on that.
It was just two weeks ago that Liverpool supporters rejoiced in a stunning dismantling of Arsenal at Anfield, but that seems a distant memory after Saturday’s abject surrender at the Etihad. The pain of defeat is compounded significantly by the absence of Mane for their next two Premier League games (the ban also covers a Carabao Cup visit to Leicester), depriving the Reds of their most in-form player as the big games keep coming thick and fast. At least the Senegal hitman has a chance to set things right in the Champions League against Sevilla on Wednesday night.