LONDON, United Kingdom, Sep 23 – Liverpool secured a sixth straight win at the opening of a league season for the first time in 28 years to pull clear in the Premier League title race as Chelsea stumbled for the first time this season at West Ham on Sunday.
The two face off next weekend and champions Manchester City are ready to take advantage after easing into second, just two points behind Liverpool, by thrashing Cardiff 5-0.
It was another poor weekend for Manchester United, though, as they lost more ground in a draw at Wolves, while Tottenham bounced back to win at Brighton and Arsenal won for a fifth straight game against Everton.
Here, AFP Sports looks at five things we learned from the Premier League weekend
Spurs show their mettle
It wasn’t always pretty as winter arrived early on the south coast, but Spurs battled to end a three-game losing streak in a 2-1 win at Brighton.
Mauricio Pochettino recognised Spurs’ spirit had shone through more than any sparkling football, but insisted that is what he wanted to see.
“Football is (about) mentality, to fight, to be available to always try to give your best and today the spirit was fantastic,” said Pochettino.
But, the question remains whether the Argentinian can summon more than sheer determination from a squad still drained for their World Cup exertions.
Liverpool’s strength in depth
Liverpool made it a magnificent seven straight wins, from all competitions, to start the season by sweeping aside Southampton 3-0 at Anfield despite Jurgen Klopp taking the opportunity to utilise the depth of resources in his squad.
Xherdan Shaqiri was given his first start for the club and played his part in the first and third goals as Wesley Hoedt turned into his own net and Mohamed Salah ended a short-lived goal drought.
Joel Matip also scored on his first start of the season, while, with the game won, Klopp replaced Shaqiri at half-time to protect his lead with James Milner in midfield.
“I said to Shaq at half time that I’d never taken a player off at half time after such an influential half,” said Klopp.
Will lack of firepower cost Chelsea?
Chelsea boast a frightening array of attacking talent, with the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian capable of dismantling any defence on their day, but the lack of a reliable front man could dent a title push.
Hazard is leading the Premier League charts with five goals so far this season but strikers Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata have just one goal between them.
Giroud was picked ahead of Morata for the match against West Ham on Sunday, with Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri opting for his greater physical presence, but the French World Cup winner struggled to impose himself.
Sarri talked about the need to move the ball more quickly and create better movement off the ball following the 0-0 draw at the London Stadium.
But unless Giroud and Morata find a way to finish off their chances, there could be more frustrations ahead.
Moutinho undoes Mourinho
Manchester United’s three-game revival to ease an early season crisis came to an end as Wolves continued their highly impressive return to the top flight with a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Even Jose Mourinho couldn’t begrudge the visitors a point on a day that started so brightly for United with the return of former manager Alex Ferguson to watch a match for the first time since undergoing emergency surgery on a brain haemorrhage in May.
Wolves have used their connections with Mourinho’s own agent Jorge Mendes to get to the Premier League and build a squad that should comfortably avoid a relegation battle.
Portuguese international Joao Moutinho is one of Mendes’s many clients to arrive at Molineux and curled his first goal for the club into the top corner to earn a deserved point.
Cech makes his point
When Petr Cech was left out of the Arsenal side for their midweek Europa League win against Vorskla Poltava, some saw the presence of Bernd Leno in goal as proof that the former Chelsea star was set for a long spell on the sidelines.
Cech has ensured a difficult start to the season as he struggled to adapt to new Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s desire for his stopper to play the ball out to his defenders.
And with Leno signed from Bayer Leverkusen in pre-season, the German seemed certain to take over at some point.
But Cech has other ideas. After returning to the team as captain on Sunday, the Czech veteran, 36, rolled back the years with a superb display to keep Everton at bay before Arsenal sealed a 2-0 win. It was Arsenal’s first clean sheet of the season and showed Cech won’t surrender his berth without a fight.