Blues and Reds power to­wards show­down

The West Australian - - SPORT -

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.

Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

Eden Haz­ard

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