A review of Saturday's action in the Premier League where Watford beat Manchester United in a high-scoring day.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future as Manchester United manager looked to be hanging by a thread after a 4-1 defeat at Watford which saw them finish with 10 men.
United travelled to Vicarage Road having lost four of their last six Premier League games before the international break and this heavy defeat only piled more misery on the beleaguered Norwegian.
The Hornets could have taken a sixth-minute lead but Ismaila Sarr, who had to retake his first penalty after Kiko Femenia was ruled by VAR to be in the box, had his second spot-kick saved by David De Gea.
But Joshua King tapped home to give the home side a deserved lead in the 28th minute before Sarr followed up with a low drive of his own just before half time.
Despite substitute Donny van de Beek pulling one back with a header in the 50th minute, United were unable to find go the equaliser, with Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis adding to the home side’s tally in stoppage time.
It was a poor performance from United, which was compounded when Harry Maguire was shown a red card with 21 minutes remaining.
The defender had come under criticism for his part in goals conceded in the 4-2 defeat at Leicester, the 5-0 home thrashing by Liverpool and the 2-0 loss to Manchester City in recent weeks despite impressing for England.
Liverpool returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion as they put Arsenal to the sword with a 4-0 victory which halted the Gunners’ 10-match unbeaten run.
Having seen their unbeaten start to the season ended at West Ham before the international break, Jurgen Klopp’s side responded in style with a comprehensive dismantling of their opponents, who had arrived looking to leapfrog their hosts into the top four.
But for all Arsenal’s recent improvement Liverpool’s quality shone through as they eased back into second place, four points behind Chelsea, after a 15th consecutive game in which they scored more than twice – the longest run by an English top-flight club since Wolves’ 16 in 1939.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta, remembered here for his time as an Everton player, discovered to his cost the dangers of rattling Anfield’s cage as a touchline bust-up with Klopp ignited the atmosphere and energised the home side.
It was that incident which saw the match catch fire as Liverpool’s players used the injection of emotion to press home their territorial advantage with goals from Sadio Mane, in the first half, Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and substitute Takumi Minamino – with his first touch.
Maxwel Cornet’s superb volley was the pick of the goals as Burnley and Crystal Palace took a point each from a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw.
In dreary conditions Cornet lit up Turf Moor with a stunning finish four minutes into the second half, levelling the scores after a breathless first half in which Palace came from behind to lead 3-2, but only after letting slip an early 1-0 advantage.
Christian Benteke scored twice, either side of headers from Ben Mee and Chris Wood before Marc Guehi gave the visitors the lead at the break.
It was a point which will give both Sean Dyche and Patrick Vieira confidence their sides are on the right track – Burnley seem to have left behind their early-season woes and are steadily collecting points, while Palace are now unbeaten in seven and on the fringes of the top six.
Allan Saint-Maximin spared new boss Eddie Howe defeat in his first game in charge as Newcastle came from behind twice to snatch a Premier League draw with Brentford after a six-goal thriller.
With Howe watching from afar after testing positive for Covid-19, the Magpies looked to be heading for defeat when skipper Jamaal Lascelles inadvertently turned substitute Frank Onyeka’s 62-minute shot into his own net.
However, Saint-Maximin claimed a 3-3 draw with 15 minutes remaining to set up a grandstand finish, but to no avail as his side slipped of the bottom of the Premier League table without a win this season to leave their new head coach in little doubt as to the task ahead.
Despite the arrival of new owners – non-executive chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan was among a crowd of 52,131 for the first time – a new head coach and a more progressive style of play, Howe’s men produced more of the same as they scored goals, but conceded all too easily.
Former Magpie Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo ran their rearguard ragged at times to rekindle memories of last season’s Carabao Cup quarter-final defeat at Brentford, perhaps the lowest point of Steve Bruce’s reign.
Dean Smith started his Norwich tenure with three points after Grant Hanley’s 79th-minute header earned a 2-1 victory at home to Southampton.
The result made it back-to-back triumphs for the Canaries, who moved off the bottom of the Premier League table after Teemu Pukki had cancelled out Che Adams’ early opener for the visitors.
Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was at fault for Hanley’s late effort which saw the Norfolk club celebrate another win, having gone 20 top-flight fixtures without one before their success at Brentford two weeks ago.
The new man in the Carrow Road dugout insisted he would not make “massive changes” in terms of team selection, but his decision to recall Billy Gilmour and Todd Cantwell proved popular with the fans.
It was in sharp contrast to predecessor Daniel Farke, who had not used the talented duo since defeat at home to Watford in September.
Steven Gerrard made a winning start as Aston Villa boss with 2-0 win over Brighton at Villa Park.
Gerrard left Rangers during the international break to replace Dean Smith, who was sacked following five successive Premier League defeats, and got Villa Park bouncing again with two late goals.
Ollie Watkins broke the deadlock with a lovely curling effort after 84 minutes before Tyrone Mings lashed home a second goal two minutes from time.
It saw Gerrard become the first Villa manager to win his first Premier League game in charge since John Gregory in February 1998, and immediately put a four-point gap between Villa and the relegation places.
Raul Jimenez scored the only goal as Wolves brought West Ham’s winning run to an end with a 1-0 victory at Molineux.
Jimenez struck his third goal of the season in the 58th minute having been teed-up by Daniel Podence, who had twice been denied by good Lukasz Fabianski saves earlier in the second half.
The visitors were left frustrated in their subsequent efforts to fight back as their run of four successive Premier League victories was halted with a first away defeat since April.
Bruno Lage’s Wolves, recording a fifth win in seven games, are up to sixth in the table, while David Moyes’ Hammers remained third ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Arsenal later on Saturday.
Premier League leaders Chelsea got back to winning ways with a convincing 3-0 demolition of Leicester on Saturday.
First-half goals from Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante put Thomas Tuchel’s men on course at the King Power Stadium before Christian Pulisic added a third after the break.
The European champions could have had more with Ben Chilwell hitting the crossbar and the offside flag ruling out three further strikes in the second half.
It was an emphatic response from the London side, who have had two weeks to dwell on their disappointing draw with struggling Burnley last time out. It also landed a winner for Sporting Life Members Extra readers, with Jake Pearson tipping up over 2.5 goals at 11/10.