Liverpool swept to the top of the Premier League as Sadio Mane’s double inspired a 6-1 rout of Watford, while Tottenham rescued a 1-1 draw at north London rivals Arsenal on Sunday.
While Liverpool dazzled, their old rivals Manchester United ended a four-match winless run in the league as goals from Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured a much-needed 3-1 victory at Swansea.
Liverpool have emerged as genuine title contenders and Jurgen Klopp’s side moved one point clear of second placed Chelsea thanks to a scintillating goal spree at Anfield.
The Reds took the lead in the 27th minute when Senegal winger Mane met Philippe Coutinho’s corner with a header that looped past Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
Just three minutes later, Roberto Firmino picked out Coutinho on the edge of the penalty area and the Liverpool forward fired home with a fine low strike.
Klopp’s team were three up two minutes before halftime as Emre Can arrived unmarked at the far post to head in Adam Lallana’s cross.
The goals kept coming and Firmino added the fourth in the 57th minute, the Brazilian finishing off Lallana’s cross, before Mane got his second in the 60th minute with a clinical close-range effort from Firmino’s pass.
Daryl Janmaat notched his first goal for Watford in the 75th minute, but there was still time for Liverpool to complete the demolition in the 90th minute through Georginio Wijnaldum’s tap-in.
Liverpool have won seven of their last eight league games and go into the international break with growing belief they can win the club’s first English league title since 1990.
“It’s better than being 10th, or whatever. It’s very important to collect the points for the final third of the season,” Klopp said of his team’s position.
“On a good day, we are really difficult to play and that’s the most important thing we can say.”
At the Emirates Stadium, Harry Kane marked his return from injury with the equaliser as Tottenham kept their hated neighbours from the Premier League summit.
Arsenal took the lead in the 42nd minute when Tottenham defender Kevin Wimmer headed a free-kick into his own net.
But England striker Kane, who had been sidelined for seven weeks due to ankle ligament damage, equalised for Tottenham from the penalty spot early in the 51st minute after a foul on Mousa Dembele by Laurent Koscielny.
The result prevented Arsenal from climbing above Chelsea and Manchester City and opening up a six-point gap over Tottenham, who remain fifth, three points below Arsene Wenger’s men and four points off first place.
Wenger was angered by Tottenham’s penalty and said: “From where I sit, it looked harsh. It didn’t look a deliberate foul or that he was dangerous to score.”
Despite his frustration over the spot-kick, Wenger accepted the result was “fair” and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino agreed.
“It’s difficult to say one team deserved it more than the other,” Pochettino said.
After a difficult period for Pogba and Ibrahimovic, United’s star duo were back on song at the Liberty Stadium.
France midfielder Pogba put United ahead in the 15th minute with a sumptuous volley and Swedish striker Ibrahimovic bagged the second six minutes later with a shot that Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski might feel he should have saved.
Ibrahimovic followed his first league goal since September with another one in the 33rd minute as he lashed in from Wayne Rooney’s pass.
Swansea defender Mike van der Hoorn reduced the deficit in the 69th minute and there was late frustration for Ibrahimovic when he picked up a booking that rules him out of United’s next match against Arsenal.
“I knew that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would score. It was always a question of time,” Mourinho said.
“But one thing is a striker who does not score and does nothing for the team. He always does everything for the team.”
West Bromwich Albion moved away from the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at Leicester.
James Morrison put Albion ahead in the 52nd minute before Algeria striker Islam Slimani levelled for the champions three minutes later.
Matt Phillips hit Albion’s winner with 18 minutes left and Leicester have now lost five times already in their miserable title defence.
Elsewhere, Hull staged a second half fightback to end their barren run with a 2-1 victory over Southampton at the KCOM Stadium.