Blues and Reds power towards showdown
The foundations are being laid for one of the English Premier League’s most exhilarating and competitive title races.
For the first time since the league’s inception 26 years ago, two teams — Chelsea and Liverpool — have a 100 per cent winning record after five matches.
Eden Hazard’s hat-trick powered Chelsea to a 4-1 victory over Cardiff shortly after goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino helped the Reds overcome Tottenham 2-1.
Dual perfection won’t last much longer as Chelsea host Liverpool in a Stamford Bridge showdown in a fortnight.
Manchester City are in the slipstream after the defending champions maintained their unbeaten record with a 3-0 defeat of Fulham to remain two points behind the frontrunners.
Watford’s perfect start to the campaign ended with a 2-1 home defeat by Manchester United.
For the first time since May 2017, Arsenal posted successive away wins in the league.
Granit Xhaka struck a longrange free kick and helped to set up Mesut Ozil’s goal in a 2-1 victory at Newcastle for Unai Emery’s side.
Bournemouth rose to fifth place, beating Leicester City 4-2.
Wilfried Zaha was rushed back from a groin injury and scored a brilliant solo goal to give Crystal Palace a 1-0 win at Huddersfield and their first success since opening day.
Belgium star Hazard prepared for Chelsea’s Cardiff meeting with some encouragement and advice from Blues manager Maurizio Sarri on Friday.
“You can score 40 goals,” Sarri recalled telling the winger. “But you have to spend less energy far from goal and you have to play in the last 25m of the field.”
Hazard’s best tally since joining Chelsea in 2012 is 18 in the 2016-17 campaign — he already has six.
A video assistant referee trial took place during five of the games, though decisions were not altered.
The only decision found to be incorrect was a Leroy Sane effort for Manchester City which was wrongly judged offside.