By Neil Robinson
LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool’s perfect start to the season continued with a 3-0 win at Burnley, a club-record 13th successive Premier League victory that quickly displaced Manchester City, 4-0 conquerors of Brighton & Hove Albion, at the top of the table.
After four games, last season’s top two have broken clear of the pack although this time it is Jurgen Klopp’s side two points ahead as they go into the international break.
On a day of several VAR controversies as English football continues to grapple with the new technology, Leicester City emerged as the nearest pursuers after beating Bournemouth 3-1 but there was more frustration for Manchester United and Chelsea, who were held by Southampton and Sheffield United respectively. West Ham United and Crystal Palace both won.
At Turf Moor, Liverpool took the lead on 33 minutes when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross looped off Chris Wood’s head into the far corner of the net, with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino also scoring in another impressive performance.
The club’s previous record run was set between April and October 1990, when the team was managed by Kenny Dalglish.
City’s win was even more emphatic and never in doubt from the moment Kevin de Bruyne put them ahead in the second minute. With Sergio Aguero scoring twice to keep up his record of scoring in each of City’s four league games and substitute Bernardo Silva netting with his second touch, it was business as usual for City, who lost French defender Aymeric Laporte with what looked like a serious knee injury.
“It doesn’t look good,” said Pep Guardiola.
United failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority at Southampton where the home side played the final 17 minutes with 10 men after defender Kevin Danso was sent off for a second yellow card.
Although United took the lead through Daniel James, who registered his third league goal of the season with a fine strike, Danish centre back Jannik Vestergaard headed the equaliser on 58 minutes.
Southampton then held firm to frustrate the visitors under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who said two points from their last three games represented “a dip in results but not form”.
The Norwegian also rejected suggestions Paul Pogba could leave the club before Monday’s European transfer deadline.
“Paul Pogba will be playing for us,” he said.
Third-placed Leicester continued their excellent start to the season with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth, with Jamie Vardy involved in all the home team’s goals.
The striker scored twice and made a third for Youri Tielemans to complete a memorable week in which it was announced his wife is pregnant for the fifth time.
Bournemouth felt Tielemans should have been red carded for a foul on Callum Wilson, a challenge that VAR considered but chose not to intervene on even though Wilson said he felt Tielemans almost ‘broke my ankle’.
There was more controversy at Selhurst Park where referee Kevin Friend disallowed a late equaliser for alleged simulation by Jack Grealish.
The decision enraged Villa manager Dean Smith who questioned why VAR did not step in, and Norwich manager Daniel Farke was also unhappy about non-intervention after a challenge on his defender Christoph Zimmermann did not receive a red card in the 2-0 defeat at West Ham.
“This is a game where VAR didn’t work,” he said.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard looked close to securing his first home win of the season after Tammy Abraham scored twice in the first half but the promoted visitors showed plenty of fight to snatch a point with a strike from Callum Robinson and a late own goal from Kurt Zouma.
Bottom side Watford, who had lost their first three games, eased some of the pressure on manager Javi Gracia by scraping a point in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle United.
(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Pritha Sarkar)