Tottenham bolstered their Premier League title credentials and raised fresh doubts over Manchester City’s challenge with a 2-0 win in the latest battle between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola to end the weekend on top of the table.
Chelsea also enjoyed moving top for a few hours for the first time in Frank Lampard’s time in charge with a dominant 2-0 win at Newcastle, but the Londoners still face a huge challenge to take Liverpool’s crown as English champions.
Despite an injury crisis that deprived Jurgen Klopp of eight first-team regulars, the Reds cruised past Leicester 3-0 on Sunday to join Tottenham on 20 points at the summit.
AFP Sport looks at three things we learned from the Premier League this weekend:
Liverpool still set the standard
Liverpool were without the injured Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, plus top scorer Mohamed Salah due to a positive coronavirus test and still wiped the floor with the side that started the weekend top of the table.
Long-term defensive injuries to Van Dijk and Gomez have opened the door to a host of other potential title contenders, but on this evidence Liverpool remain the team to beat.
Players may come and go but the system and spirit instilled over five years by Jurgen Klopp remains the constant. James Milner and Fabinho shone in unfamiliar roles in the back four, while Curtis Jones and Naby Keita grabbed their chance to start in midfield.
Up front, Diogo Jota continued his stunning start to life at Anfield and Roberto Firmino got a much-needed goal to quieten his critics.
With Salah, Henderson, Thiago and Alexander-Arnold among those due back in the coming weeks, the champions schedule also eases up with Brighton, Fulham, Crystal Palace, West Brom and Newcastle to come before the end of the year.
Spurs spirit excites Mourinho
It wasn’t just the clinical attacking play, tactical maturity and the defensive solidity that caught Jose Mourinho’s eye in Tottenham’s win over City.
Outwitting his old rival Pep Guardiola is always a sweet moment for Mourinho, but the Tottenham boss did not dwell on that aspect of a victory that served as a significant statement of intent for his team’s title chances.
It was the way spirited Tottenham ignored the fatigue from a draining international break to cope with the City threat that most impressed Mourinho.
“Harry Kane is fantastic and he very much represents the spirit of the team. Then you look to the other guys,” Mourinho said.
“(Steven) Bergwijn wasn’t ill, he was dying. Sonny the same, then Lucas (Moura) comes and does the same.
“If we manage this spirit to be the DNA of the team we are closer to doing good things.”
Turbo Timo impresses Lampard
Timo Werner wasted a host of glorious chances in Chelsea’s win at Newcastle, but the Germany forward still finished as the man of the match in Lampard’s eyes.
Werner was a constant threat to the Newcastle defence with his potent combination of raw pace and intelligent movement.
After missing plenty of chances to land the knockout punch himself, Werner made amends with a blistering burst from the halfway line before slipping a precise pass for Tammy Abraham to slot home Chelsea’s second.
Werner already has eight goals for his new club and is delivering on his £45 million ($59 million) price tag as Chelsea’s £220 million spending spree has transformed Lampard’s men into title challengers.
“I thought he was a real threat for us throughout. You need players of that quality to win games,” Lampard said.
“The pace he travels with the ball is something special. He was so unselfish and you rely on those players who are top-class.”