Liverpool goes top of EPL
There's an upside to missing out on the Champions League for Liverpool and Chelsea. They have surged into the Premier League's top-two places while England's participants in Europe's elite competition failed to win on their return to domestic duties.
With no gruelling midweek European games, Chelsea and Liverpool conserved their energy to produce emphatic domestic victories. A day after Chelsea routed Everton 5-0, Liverpool overwhelmed Watford 6-1 yesterday to move a point ahead of their London title rivals.
Manchester City lost top spot after being held by Middlesbrough on Saturday, dropping to third. Arsenal and Tottenham drew 1-1 in the north London derby yesterday before champions Leicester were beaten 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion.
"It's a little physical advantage for sure," Arsenal manager ArsÈne Wenger said about not playing in the Champions League, which boosts the profits and prestige of participants.
Manchester United followed up their 2-1 loss at Fenerbahce in the Europa League by winning 3-1 at Swansea to halt a four-match win-less run in the Premier League.
Liverpool occupy top spot for the first time since May 2014 when the team came close to winning the title for the first time since 1990 before a late collapse.
Sadio ManÈ, Philippe Coutinho and Emre Can scored in the space of 16 first-half minutes to put Watford out of sight. Roberto Firmino, ManÈ and Georginio Wijnaldum added further goals in the second half.
Liverpool, which have now scored four or more goals in five league matches this season, is a point in front of Chelsea and two ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal.
PRETTY GOOD TEAM
"When I came here (in October 2015), I asked for time and patience and belief," Liverpool manager J¸ergen Klopp said. "And after 11 match days, everyone's asking for guarantees and they are not there. The only thing we have is a pretty good football team."
JosÈ Mourinho was forced to watch from the stands as he served a touchline ban, but he will have liked what he saw in south Wales.
There was a landmark goal for one of the brashest of players. The first of Zlatan Ibrahimovic¥'s two goals was the 25,000th in the Premier League since the competition's inception in 1992.
Paul Pogba also unleashed a 20-yard volley for his second league goal since joining United in August from Juventus for a world-record fee of €105 million.