Liverpool and Chelsea maintained their perfect Premier League starts after four games on Saturday as champions Manchester City edged past Newcastle to remain two points behind the early leaders.
A huge error from £65 million ($84 million) goalkeeper Alisson Becker threatened to halt Liverpool’s early season charge, but Jurgen Klopp’s men held out for a 2-1 win at the King Power in another demonstration of their new-found defensive solidity to go with the firepower of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Chelsea had to wait until 19 minutes from time to break down Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge before the in-form Pedro Rodriguez opened the scoring and Eden Hazard sealed the points in a 2-0 win.
City bounced back from a rare slip-up at Wolves last weekend thanks to goals from England internationals Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker in a 2-1 success to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sheikh Mansour’s takeover that has transformed the club.
At the other end of the table it was another afternoon to forget for West Ham, who remain the only Premier League side without a point, as Adama Traore snatched a 1-0 win for Wolves in stoppage time at the London Stadium.
On a rare off day for Salah, who was substituted 20 minutes from time, Mane and Firmino stepped into the breach to give Liverpool a 2-0 half-time lead at Leicester.
But that was a more comfortable cushion than they deserved as for the third straight game the Reds failed to produce their free-flowing best.
Alisson more than played his part in registering clean sheets against West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton, but the Brazilian No1 was caught trying to dribble past Kelechi Iheanacho and the Nigerian squared for Rachid Ghezzal to set up a grandstand finish.
“It’s only positive that he is that good a footballer. But we all have to learn to use it in the right way still,” said Klopp of Alisson’s propensity to take risks.
“That was a mistake – no goalkeeper in the world should dribble in that situation.”
While Liverpool and City were expected to challenge for the title, Maurizio Sarri’s perfect start at Chelsea has surprised even the Italian himself.
Sarri’s imprint was again clear to see as the blues dominated possession, but were made to work to inflict Bournemouth’s first league defeat.
“They were very organised and they defended very well but usually in this match you have to be patient because you can win in the last 20 minutes,” said Sarri.
City maintain chase
City also had to be patient as a combination of poor finishing and Martin Dubravka in the Newcastle goal prevented a rout at the Etihad after Sterling fired the hosts into an eighth-minute lead.
Newcastle enjoyed barely 20 per cent possession, but made it count to level on the half hour mark when DeAndre Yedelin turned home Salomon Rondon’s cross.
“When teams set up like Newcastle did, you are going to get done on the counter. It is something we need to improve on,” said Walker.
“We’ve been done more than last season, so we’ve got cobwebs to brush off from the summer and hopefully we can come good after the international break.”
For all the intricate play by Pep Guardiola’s men, it required some force to get the job done eventually as Walker hammered home a strike from 25 yards for the match winner seven minutes into the second-half.
‘Very bad start’
West Ham would love any type of goal at the moment as a near £100 million investment in the transfer market is still to yield any return.
“I don’t think it is a bad start – it is a very bad start,” admitted manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose side also lost on the road to Liverpool and Arsenal, and at home to Bournemouth.
“We can’t lose six points here at home like we have. Playing away against Liverpool and Arsenal and you don’t play so well is understandable. Here at home to lose we must be very worried.”
Everton’s fine start to life under Marco Silva was tempered by a 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield.
The points were also shared in a 2-2 draw between Brighton and Fulham, while Southampton claimed their first victory of the season 2-0 at Crystal Palace.