LIVERPOOL, Oct 15: The goals finally dried up for Manchester United in the English Premier League. They are flowing more than ever at title rival Manchester City.
Hours after United’s cautious approach eked out its latest 0-0 draw at Liverpool on Saturday, City produced an attacking masterclass in a 7-2 home win over Stoke — the biggest victory in the league this season.
The standard of opponent was vastly different but it was hard to escape the contrast between the top two teams, who many are tipping to be vying for the title.
After eight rounds, the Manchester rivals remain unbeaten but City has taken the outright lead for the first time by two points from its neighbor.
City is setting new standards in attacking play: Its goal tally of 29 is the most by a team in the first eight league games of a top-flight season in 123 years, since Everton scored 30 in 1894. Before its trip to Anfield, United had 21 goals from seven games.
There was finally something to celebrate for Crystal Palace, which registered its first points and goals of the season in a surprise 2-1 win over Chelsea.
With Chelsea losing for the second straight game, third-placed Tottenham leads the chase to the Manchester clubs after beating Bournemouth 1-0 for a first league win at its temporary home of Wembley Stadium in four attempts.
Arsenal conceded in injury time to lose 2-1 at Watford.
Here’s a look at Saturday’s action:
Twelve months after a 0-0 draw in what has traditionally been regarded as the biggest fixture in English soccer, Liverpool and Man United played out another goalless draw at Anfield.
Afterward, coaches Juergen Klopp and Jose Mourinho launched a defense of their respective footballing philosophies, aiming little digs at each other and claiming private victories.
The loser was a global audience that expects more quality from England’s most decorated and illustrious clubs.
United defended in numbers and had goalkeeper David De Gea to thank for preserving a point in the game’s most significant incident, the Spain goalkeeper sticking out his left boot to keep out Joel Matip’s effort from point-blank range.
Liverpool controlled possession but couldn’t pierce the wall of white United jerseys set up by Mourinho, whose players carried out his game plan to the letter.
City didn’t even need top scorer Sergio Aguero in its latest attacking clinic.
The Argentina striker stayed on the bench on his return to the squad after sustaining a broken rib in a car crash. He watched as City’s free-scoring attack — a front three of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne orchestrating behind them — ran amok at Etihad Stadium.
On his 100th appearance for City, De Bruyne had a hand in four of the goals — including a no-look pass in one of the build-ups and a threaded ball that took out four Stoke players for Sane to score.
Gabriel Jesus scored twice and Sterling, David Silva, Fernandinho and Bernardo Silva also netted for City, which has at least five goals in its last three home league games.
City has won seven of its eight games.
RELIEF FOR PALACE
“We’re Crystal Palace, we score when we want,” sang the fans as the league’s bottom club found the net for the first time this season — in its eighth game.
Invariably, it was an own goal, by Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, in the 11th minute, but it sparked a surprisingly impressive display by Palace at Selhurst Park.
Tiemoue Bakayoko equalized for the champions with a header from a corner in the 18th but Palace responded on the stroke of halftime through winger Wilfried Zaha, who was back in the team for the first time since getting injured on the opening weekend.
Chelsea has lost back-to-back games, having been beaten by Manchester City 1-0 before the international break, and has dropped nine points behind first-place City.
TOTTENHAM WINS, ARSENAL LOSES
After two draws and a loss at Wembley, Tottenham finally won at its new home thanks to Christian Eriksen’s goal just after halftime. Harry Kane had his first game in six without a goal.
In contrast to its concerning home form, Spurs have won all four away league games. They stayed five points behind City, and trimmed the gap to United to three points.
Tom Cleverley scored Watford’s winner against Arsenal in the second minute of injury time, completing his team’s comeback from going behind to Per Mertesacaker’s goal. Troy Deeney equalized from the penalty spot.
In other games, Burnley came back to draw 1-1 against West Ham, which had Andy Carroll was sent off for two bookings, and Swansea beat Huddersfield 2-0. AP