Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney celerbrates scoring their second goal with Anthony in Barclays Premier League match against Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday Martial Action Images
Manchester United replaced Manchester City as Premier League leaders with Wayne Rooney ending an 11-match run without a league goal in his side’s comfortable 3-0 win over Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday.
After early-season pacesetters City crumbled to a 4-1 defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in the day’s early action in north London, United took full advantage with Rooney and Juan Mata adding to Memphis Depay’s first Premier League goal for the club on the stroke of halftime.
Rooney’s goal, bundled in 40 seconds after the break, took his league tally for United to 171, joint third with Denis Law on United’s all-time list of league scorers. United moved top for the first time since the opening day of the 2013-14 season and for the first time under Louis van Gaal.
They have 16 points from seven games, one more than City who took the lead at Tottenham through record signing Kevin de Bruyne but slumped to their second successive league defeat with England striker Harry Kane on target for the hosts after 12 hours without a goal for his club.
Arsenal fell behind at Leicester City but Chile striker Alexis Sanchez returned to his best form with a hat-trick in a 5-2 victory that lifted them to fourth with 13 points, level with West Ham United who drew 2-2 at home to Norwich City. The result ended Leicester’s unbeaten start to the season.
Tottenham are up to fifth on 12 points.
Under-pressure Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers enjoyed some relief with Daniel Sturridge bagging a brace in a nervy 3-2 home win against Aston Villa.
Southampton breezed past Swansea City 3-1 while Stoke City beat Bournemouth 2-1 for their first league win of the season.
With Rooney back amongst the goals and Depay also on target, optimism is growing at Manchester United after two seasons without challenging for the title.
Depay opened the scoring from Mata’s cut-back and once Rooney had doubled the lead there was no way back for Sunderland who have only two points this season.
“That’s what we’re all playing for. We have to work hard to make sure we stay there,” Rooney posted on Twitter.
Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to blame the match officials for his side’s capitulation at Spurs, despite the home side’s first and third goals being offside.
“We didn’t play very well against West Ham (last week) in the first half, we didn’t play well here in the second half,” Pellegrini said.
Record signing De Bruyne put City ahead in the 25th minute after a counter-attack led by Yaya Toure who failed to finish the game after picking up a hamstring injury.
Eric Dier levelled for Tottenham on the stroke of halftime with a low shot, although Kyle Walker had been yards offside before crossing in the build-up to the goal.
A header from Toby Alderweireld put Tottenham ahead in the 50th minute before Kane, also looking offside, coolly clipped in a rebound when Christian Eriksen’s free kick hit the bar and Erik Lamela completed the rout.
Arsenal fell behind to James Vardy’s early strike but were indebted to Sanchez who became the first player to score a hat-trick in England, Spain and Italy’s top flight leagues.
Theo Walcott equalised before Sanchez put Arsenal ahead after 33 minutes, headed his second in the 57th minute and smashed home his hat-trick goal 10 minutes from time.
Two-goal Dan is the man for Liverpool, says Rodgers
Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring their third goal against Aston Villa in the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool on Saturday - Action Images via Reuters
The value of a fit and firing Daniel Sturridge was there for all to see as he alleviated some of the pressure on beleaguered Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers with two goals in a 3-2 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.
The striker produced a vicious left-foot effort in the second half to give Liverpool a 2-0 lead after James Milner had opened the scoring.
Sturridge also restored their two-goal advantage with a placed effort after Rudy Gestede had pulled one back for Villa.
Gestede’s second ensured a nervy finish in front of an edgy home crowd but the fulltime whistle allowed the Anfield fans and their manager to breathe a sigh of relief after a testing period where Liverpool went four Premier League games without a win.
After a week of questions about his future, the three points allowed Rodgers to reflect on a player whose goals could come riding to his rescue.
After forming a lethal partnership with Luis Suarez when Liverpool narrowly missed out on the title in 2013/14, Sturridge missed most of last season through injury and made his first start of this campaign against Norwich City last weekend.
“If you’re going to compete at the top of the table you need to have big quality and we have got some very good players here. But Daniel Sturridge has shown over his time here that he is a really top talent,” Rodgers said on the club website (www.liverpoolfc.com).
“When you miss that type of quality...you can suffer for it. He is probably disappointed he didn’t have a hat-trick but his overall game and touch and two finishes were outstanding.
“He showed a great combination with young Danny Ings who obviously didn’t get a goal today but I thought he played his part up top with Daniel,” added Rodgers.
“They showed that understanding that good players do. Both can run in behind, both can come short and they pressed the game well. It was very good.”
The victory, which moved Liverpool up to seventh and within five points of leaders Manchester United, buys Rodgers some breathing space ahead of next weekend’s Merseyside derby against Everton.
“Today we were clinical, got our rewards, and it’ll give the players that bit of confidence,” Rodgers said. “Now we recover and just focus on our next game.”