By Ian Chadband
LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool maintained their finest start to any season, earning a sixth straight Premier League win 3-0 over Southampton as Manchester City returned to form with a dazzling 5-0 win at Cardiff City on Saturday.
On a day when Manchester United welcomed former manager Alex Ferguson back to Old Trafford only for Wolverhampton Wanderers to spoil the party with a 1-1 draw, United’s deadliest rivals continued to set a burning pace.
Liverpool had never before won their first seven games in all competitions in any season but they marked Juergen Klopp’s 600th match as a manger by surpassing their 1961-62 season record when they won their first six.
A Wesley Hoedt own goal, Joel Matip’s header and Mohamed Salah’s poached rebound settled the game by halftime as the feelgood factor sweeping Anfield continued after the midweek Champions League triumph over Paris St Germain.
Champions Man City put their shock home Champions League defeat by Olympique Lyonnais behind them, rebounding with a crushing win at Cardiff kicked off by Sergio Aguero’s opener on his 300th appearance for the club.
The Argentine scored his 205th City goal just after the half-hour, opening the floodgates for further strikes before the break from Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan. Record signing Riyad Mahrez added his first two for City after the break.
The league favourites’ convincing wins sees Liverpool lead the table on a maximum 18 points from six games with unbeaten City still pursuing hard on 16.
Chelsea, third on 15, have the chance on Sunday to join Liverpool with a perfect start to the campaign on 18 points if they win at West Ham United while Watford’s 1-1 draw at Fulham in the early game kept them fourth on 13.
Ferguson, the patriarch of Old Trafford, received a cheering standing ovation as he took his seat in the stands for the first time since he underwent emergency surgery after a brain haemorrhage in May.
United looked poised to welcome him back with a win as Brazilian Fred scored his first goal for the club since his move from Shakhtar Donetsk but Jose Mourinho was left frustrated again after a recent resurgence with Joao Moutinho deservedly equalising soon after halftime.
United are already losing touch with the leaders, now eight points behind Liverpool.
Aleksandar Mitrovic joined Eden Hazard on five goals as the Premier League’s top scorer when the Serb’s second-half equaliser for Fulham checked Watford’s best start to a top-flight campaign after Andre Gray’s 90-second opener.
At the other end of the table, Burnley hauled themselves off the bottom with their first win of the season, 4-0 over Bournemouth to interrupt the Cherries’ fine campaign, with goals from Matej Vydra, Aaron Lennon and a double from Ashley Barnes.
Cardiff, Huddersfield Town, beaten 3-1 at Leicester City after taking an early lead, and Newcastle United, who drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace, prop up the league on two points.
Tottenham Hotspur play at Brighton & Hove Albion later on Saturday.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond)