By Ian Chadband
LONDON (Reuters) – Mohamed Salah-inspired Liverpool laid down an emphatic early-season marker as they outplayed Arsenal on Saturday to win 3-1 and ensure they are the only team left in the Premier League with a 100 percent record.
The European champions were in full cry at their Anfield fortress with two second-half goals from Salah ensuring they have a maximum nine points from three matches while they also ended Arsenal’s own perfect league record.
On another eventful afternoon in England’s top-flight, Manchester United suffered more woe from the penalty spot as they went down to a shock home defeat to Crystal Palace and Frank Lampard celebrated his first win as Chelsea manager at Norwich City.
Attention, though, centred on the day’s late match between the two heavyweights who had won their first two games but it turned into a demonstration of Liverpool’s strength as they equalled a 29-year-old club record with a 12th straight league win.
Liverpool dominated once Joel Matip headed home from a corner four minutes before halftime, with Salah, seeking to be the Premier League’s top scorer for the third successive year, then taking over after the break with a 10-minute double.
After David Luiz desperately pulled his shirt in the area, the Egyptian converted from the spot before later producing a solo tour de force to spin and speed away from the hapless Brazilian and slot home a wonderful left-foot finish.
Arsenal earned a late consolation through substitute Lucas Torreira but Juergen Klopp’s men opened up a three-point lead over the Gunners, who are second on six points.
Champions Manchester City, who play at Bournemouth, and Tottenham Hotspur, who host Newcastle United, have the chance to move on to seven points if they win their matches on Sunday.
Earlier, Manchester United’s hopes of continuing a promising unbeaten start to the campaign were undone by Palace’s 93rd-minute strike from Patrick van Aanholt in a 2-1 victory for Roy Hodgson’s strugglers.
Daniel James thought he had earned United a point by cancelling out Jordan Ayew’s first-half goal in the 89th minute but toothless United were left to rue their second missed penalty of the week.
After Paul Pogba had missed on Monday against Wolverhampton Wanderers, this time it was Marcus Rashford who spurned the opportunity, hitting the inside of the post and raising fresh questions about United’s policy not to have one designated penalty taker.
Lampard finally landed his first managerial victory for the Blues at the fourth attempt as Tammy Abraham’s double inspired a thrilling 3-2 win at Norwich City for his youthful side.
Lampard, back at the club he graced for 13 years as a player, fielded the youngest Chelsea side in a league match for 25 years, with an average age of 24.
Abraham struck in just the third minute, and after Norwich had twice fought back from a goal down, he also proved the match-winner at Carrow Road with another superb strike in the 68th minute.
Another of Lampard’s starlets, Mason Mount, also scored while Teemu Pukki continued his dazzling start to the season for Norwich with a league-leading fifth goal.
“Our performances haven’t given us what we deserved so far — but today it did,” said Lampard.
Abraham, who became the youngest player to score twice in a Premier League match for Chelsea for 21 years, added: “It’s something I have always dreamed about, to score for my childhood club.”
Leicester City moved up to third on five points after a first-half goal from Jamie Vardy and a thunderously struck winner from Harvey Barnes repelled a fightback from Sheffield United in a 2-1 win at Bramall Lane.
Brighton & Hove Albion’s encouraging start under Graham Potter also hit the buffers after the 30th-minute sending off of Florin Andone allowed Southampton to take control and win 2-0 on the road.
Watford saw their painful, pointless start to the season continue with a 3-1 defeat at Vicarage Road to West Ham United, for whom new record French signing Sebastien Haller scored a second-half double.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Toby Davis)