Ole Gunnar Solskjaer passed his biggest Manchester United test yet, while Liverpool put their title bid back on track.
Here, Press Association Sport examines five key lessons learned from the weekend’s Premier League action.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer extended the dream start to his interim managerial stint still further in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Tottenham. United’s clash against Spurs at Wembley was billed as the big audition for the long-term United manager’s job, with Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino linked with the full-time Old Trafford helm. Former Norway and Red Devils striker Solskjaer grabbed the edge on the day however, with the visitors emerging victorious thanks to Marcus Rashford’s fine finish. David De Gea’s inspired goalkeeping thwarted Tottenham at every turn, while Paul Pogba laid on Rashford’s goal to make it four goals and four assists in the Premier League since Solskjaer took temporary control. Solskjaer now holds the outright record for winning his first six matches as United boss, and continues to push the case to take over full-time in the summer.
An unconvincing Liverpool ground past Brighton 1-0 at the Amex Stadium, to set their Premier League bid back on track. Defeat at chief title rivals Manchester City turned into a bigger wobble with an FA Cup loss at Wolves. Mohamed Salah’s penalty settled some frayed Reds nerves though, amid a curiously lacklustre south-coast showing. Midfielder Fabinho impressed out of position at centre-back and Virgil Van Dijk was once again imperious too. Liverpool had to provide an immediate reaction to that City defeat, which ended their unbeaten league start. Jurgen Klopp’s men never got going, but still found a way to win, leaving the German boss pleased with a “mature” performance. A first league title since 1990 might just end up founded on victories like this.
Gifted youngster Declan Rice bagged his first Premier League goal as West Ham saw off Arsenal 1-0, leaving boss Manuel Pellegrini purring. The former Manchester City chief branded Rice the “complete” player, lauding his abilities in both defence and now midfield. And Rice’s long-term future surely appears in a central holding role given just the rarity of genuine top-class defensive midfielders.
New boss Ralph Hasenhuttl talks as directly as he has his Southampton team playing right now. The Austrian’s no-nonsense approach has had an immediate effect at St Mary’s, so much so that the south coast club can now rightly hope to step clear of the relegation scrap. Saturday’s 2-1 win at Leicester – playing half the match with 10 men after Yan Valery’s red card – proved a study in the renewed backbone instilled by Hasenhuttl.
Cardiff’s goalless draw with Huddersfield did enough on its own to encapsulate this year’s dearth of quality at the table’s foot. But then Fulham leaked two own goals to surrender a lead at Burnley that came courtesy of Andre Schurrle’s stunning strike. Germany midfielder Schurrle’s effort would have been worthy of winning most matches, and definitely deserved more than it received at Turf Moor. Joe Bryan and Denis Odoi put through their own net for a Fulham side lacking confidence and resolve. However the table eventually ends up, one or two sides of low quality could well avoid the drop.