Goals rained in for Manchester City and Manchester United but Juergen Klopp’s first game as Liverpool manager was solid rather than spectacular as they drew 0-0 at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.
Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick and a Wilfried Bony double helped leaders City to a 5-1 home win against Bournemouth while a few miles down the motorway United thumped Everton 3-0 with Wayne Rooney scoring his first away league goal for 11 months.
City have a two-point lead over United and Arsenal, who moved up to second with a 3-0 win at Watford. West Ham United, who won 3-1 at Crystal Palace, are a further two points adrift.
Liverpool’s sixth draw in seven matches in all competitions left them down in 10th place but there was reason for optimism for Klopp who replaced the sacked Brendan Rodgers this month.
It was Liverpool’s first clean sheet for nine matches in all competitions.
“0-0 is not my dream result but it is okay,” former Borussia Dortmund coach Klopp said after an entertaining encounter at White Hart Lane. “Of course, our target is to have the nil on the right side and on the other side another number!”
England winger Sterling, signed by City for about 45 million pounds ($69.48 million) from Liverpool, lit up the Etihad Stadium with all three of his goals coming before halftime.
With Sergio Aguero facing an injury lay-off, Sterling, criticised for his lack of finishing prowess since his move, seized the spotlight, poking in the opener after seven minutes, dribbling through for his second after half an hour and completing his hat-trick in first-half stoppage time.
Bony, given his chance because of Aguero’s misfortune, also got in on the scoring act — linking well with Sterling.
“We are on fire, now we just need to continue. It is a very important week for us — Sevilla on Wednesday in the Champions League and then the Manchester derby at the weekend,” he said.
United will relish next weekend’s Manchester derby too after demolishing Everton at a sombre Goodison Park where fans took part in a minute’s applause for Howard Kendall, the club’s twice league-winning manager, who died on Saturday, aged 69.
Goals by Morgan Schneiderlin and Ander Herrera put United in control and Rooney completed the win at his former club with only second league goal of the season.
“It was a very good performance. We were disappointed about the Arsenal game (losing 3-0), and we know coming here is difficult, but it’s a well-deserved victory and we’re delighted,” said Rooney, who now has 187 Premier League goals, second only to Alan Shearer with 260.
Arsenal, playing in the late kickoff, carried on where they left off against United before the international break, although they did not hit their stride until the second half.
Their Chile winger Alexis Sanchez put them ahead after 62 minutes and further goals followed in quick succession from Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey as Watford crumbled.
Jose Mourinho’s troubled start to the season took an upturn as Chelsea steadied the ship with a 2-0 home win against struggling Aston Villa, although they were helped by a goalkeeping error from Brad Guzan and Alan Hutton’s own goal.
High-flying West Ham notched a fourth away win this season, Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet scoring late in a 3-1 victory at London rivals Crystal Palace, who played half the match with 10 men after Dwight Gayle was red-carded just before the break.
West Ham’s former manager Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland ended in a 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion, leaving them second from bottom.
Mid-table Southampton led 2-0 against fifth-placed Leicester City but were pegged back to draw 2-2 — Jamie Vardy getting the visitors’ first goal to top the scoring charts with nine.