London, United Kingdom | AFP | Manchester City clung onto the coat-tails of Premier League pacesetters Liverpool with a hard-fought win against Everton on Saturday after Jurgen Klopp’s men extended their perfect start to the season.
Elsewhere, 10-man Tottenham put their recent wobbles behind them to clamber into the top four with victory against Southampton while Chelsea grabbed their first home league win under new boss Frank Lampard.
In the early match, Liverpool won their seventh Premier League game out of seven thanks to Georginio Wijnaldum’s fortunate strike in a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United.
The European champions looked short on invention against the well-organised Blades until Wijnaldum’s shot from the edge of the box 20 minutes from time trickled between the legs of United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
Liverpool, who have won 16 consecutive league games, finished a single point behind champions City in the Premier League last season but are now setting a searing pace as they chase their first top-flight title since 1990.
“For us it was important to win, we had unbelievably big chances,” Klopp told BT Sport.
“In the first half we had two big chances and in the second one, which we scored from. These games, they are not all beauties and you have to work hard for the results.”
City were under huge pressure to respond in the late kick-off at Goodison Park and took the lead through Gabriel Jesus midway through the first half.
But while Pep Guardiola’s men were irresistible going forward, they looked shaky at the back, with makeshift centre-back Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi in central defence.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalised and both sides had further chances to score before a Riyad Mahrez free-kick and a late Raheem Sterling goal sealed a 3-1 victory, which moved City back to within five points of Liverpool.
“It’s always difficult here,” said Guardiola. “First half we started incredible, the first 20-25 minutes, then we had problems to control Gylfi Sigurdsson in that position.
“But we created from wide areas in the second half and we had the quality of Riyad Mahrez for the goal.
“Everton have fast players, they caused a lot of problems at the back, so I’m delighted because we want to go for this league and try to win it again.”
– Kane strikes –
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino recalled his big guns for the home match against Southampton, making 11 changes from the side that suffered a shock League Cup exit at Colchester in midweek.
Spurs had won just two of their opening eight games in all competitions before Saturday and looked in deep trouble when they were reduced to 10 men.
Tanguy Ndombele fired the home side ahead but they suffered a blow when Serge Aurier was sent off after half an hour for two yellow cards.
Hugo Lloris then gifted Southampton an equaliser with a goalkeeping howler, Danny Ings dispossessing the Frenchman in his six-yard box and forcing the ball home before Harry Kane restored the home side’s lead shortly before half-time.
The 2-1 win lifted Spurs into fourth place in the Premier League, one spot behind West Ham, who drew 2-2 away to Bournemouth after beating Manchester United last week.
Pochettino said he was proud of the spirit his side had shown, adding it was an “amazing victory” for his team.
“Unbelievable fightback from the team, scoring the goal with 10 men and then fighting all together in the second 45 minutes, keeping a clean sheet in the second half,” he said.
Chelsea boss Lampard said his side’s 2-0 home win against Brighton, coupled with a clean sheet, would boost his players’ confidence.
Speaking about the crop of young players coming through, he told the BBC: “It is great for the club and a long time coming. The work is done in the academy. The mentality is great. They want to play for this club. At the moment they are earning it and setting a level for others.”
Also on Saturday, there was a first league win of the season for Wolves, 2-0 against bottom club Watford, and Crystal Palace were 2-0 winners against Norwich.
Aston Villa twice led against Burnley but were pegged back and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
High-flying Leicester host struggling Newcastle on Sunday while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s misfiring Manchester United are at home to Arsenal on Monday.