MANCHESTER’S dominance of the early Premier League pace continued – and a familiar pattern continued to form immediately below City and United as the big six all won.
Only Watford in sixth, who won 2-1 at Swansea City, are breaking up England’s Champions League contingent plus Arsenal at the top of the table.
Indeed, the top five now consists exclusively of clubs representing England in the Champions League this week, with Manchester City leading the way and United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool tucked in behind them.
Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening ensured the Gunners have now taken seven points from a possible nine since losing 4-0 at Liverpool last month.
We look at 11 talking points from the fifth round of Premier League matches, starting with Manchester City’s continuing excellence in front of goal.
Manchester City are a goal machine
City’s last three Premier League games have seen them win 5-0 against Liverpool, 6-0 at Watford and 5-0 against hapless Crystal Palace, taking their overall goal tally in the competition to 21 in six matches.
Worryingly for their title rivals, they are not relying on one or even two regular goalscorers.
Sergio Aguero has six goals, Raheem Sterling five, Gabriel Jesus four, Leroy Sane three and two others – plus an opponent – have scored one each.
To underline the significance of they run, the last time a team enjoyed three consecutive five-goal wins in England’s top flight was Aston Villa in 1899.
No Pogba? No problem. Manchester United keep on winning
The supposed first test of United’s lightning early-season form was how they would fare without reinvigorated midfield star Paul Pogba.
The Frenchman is set for an extended spell out of the team through injury – but United continued their fine run of form, winning 1-0 at Southampton through Romelu Lukaku’s sixth league goal of the season.
Jose Mourinho was sent to the stands late in the game after referee Craig Pawson felt he had stepped onto the pitch – but his team closed out victory and continued to match City point for point.
The top six is already taking shape
Good old Watford. Not only did they respond to a home hammering against City by going away and beating Swansea, they also ensured the top six contains a different name.
But with six of the top seven spots occupied by last season’s top six, the Premier League table is already – after only six games – starting to take shape.
Coutinho and Mignolet snap Liverpool out of a slump
Liverpool won games in a row in all competitions in August – but frustration had set in as they went the same number of games at the start of September without a win.
But Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were very effective in their 3-2 win at Leicester, with Philippe Coutinho – his short and mid-term future now resolved – scoring a stunning free-kick.
Liverpool led 3-1 at one stage, but needed Simon Mignolet’s penalty save – after his clumsy tackle on Jamie Vardy – to ensure the three points.
Now the transfer window is shut, Arsenal are on track
Arsenal’s form since the transfer window shut, and speculation about Alexis Sanchez’s future ended (albeit until January), has been excellent.
The window was clearly a distraction, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moving to Liverpool just days after Arsenal lost 4-0 at Anfield.
Free from such issues, the Gunners are finding their groove, with summer recruit Alexandre Lacazette scoring twice in Monday’s 2-0 win over West Brom.
The Premier League appears to have found the strikers it needed
A quick look at the leading scorers’ list shows Aguero, Alvaro Morata and Lukaku all on six goals.
With Jamie Vardy on five, and Gabriel Jesus, Harry Kane and Lacazette on four, the pool of striking talent in the Premier League is as deep as it has been for a long time.
The race for the golden boot – won by Kane or Aguero in each of the last three seasons, and by Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie, Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry in the past – promises to be as intriguing as it has been for a long time.
✅ Games: 6
✅ Wins: 0
✅ Scored: 0
Next 2 Fixtures:
✅ Man Utd: Away
✅ Chelsea: Home
✅ Benteke: 6-8 Weeks pic.twitter.com/yiVafkMiwU
— SPORF (@Sporf) September 25, 2017
Crystal Palace are already odds-on favourites to be relegated
When it rains, it pours. Crystal Palace, who have lost all six of their games without scoring, including Saturday’s 5-0 hammering at Manchester City, go to Manchester United this weekend.
After that, they take on Chelsea.
And now striker Christian Benteke is facing a couple of months out injured.
England’s bookmakers have Palace as overwhelming favourites to be relegated.
Oumar Niasse steps out of the shadows to rescue Everton
Even when Ronald Koeman guided Everton to a first league win since the opening day, he faced criticism.
Because the man whose two goals gave Everton a 2-1 win over Bournemouth was Oumar Niasse: a man Koeman had frozen out of the squad.
Niasse returned from the cold, more than 16 months after his last Premier League appearance for the club, to score his first league goals for Everton and save Koeman’s blushes.
Promoted clubs have found their feet
After Newcastle won three games in a row, their impressive run was halted by fellow newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion, who beat Rafa Benitez’s team 1-0 on Sunday.
Along with Huddersfield Town, who kept their fourth clean sheet in six games, the teams promoted to the Premier League for this season have all started competently.
Huddersfield are eighth with nine points, Newcastle are tenth on the same tally, and Brighton are 13th with seven.
All of which puts added pressure on those sides who were in the division last season but have made sluggish starts: notably Palace, Bournemouth, West Ham, Leicester, Swansea and Stoke.
Chelsea’s depth is no concern as Hazard concerns
Chelsea beat Stoke 4-0 away from home to underline their consistency since a shock 3-2 home loss to Burnley on the opening weekend.
If there was a doubt over Chelsea going into the season it was whether they had enough depth to compete on several fronts all season.
Their performances to this point suggest they do, with Eden Hazard’s return only bolstering their options.
This weekend is a big one
The final game before an international break is always important for Premier League clubs: lose and the disappointment drags, win and players head off with a spring in their step.
The highlights in week seven include Manchester City’s trip to Chelsea.
Saturday, September 30: Huddersfield v Tottenham, West Ham v Swansea, Bournemouth v Leicester, Manchester United v Crystal Palace, West Brom v Watford, Stoke v Southampton, Chelsea v Manchester City.
Sunday, October 1: Arsenal v Brighton, Everton v Burnley, Newcastle v Liverpool.