Manchester City claimed the Premier League summit only to be swiftly knocked off it by Liverpool on Saturday, in a sign of what is likely to be in store over the coming weeks in a nail-biting title race.
Erling Haaland’s double — his first goals since returning from a foot injury — earned champions City a 2-0 victory over an obdurate Everton side at The Etihad Stadium.
That cranked up the pressure on Liverpool but Juergen Klopp’s side duly responded by beating Burnley 3-1 with Dioga Jota, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez all on target.
It meant the day ended as it had begun with Liverpool two points clear of City, who have played one game less.
Liverpool have 54 points from 24 games with City on 52 from 23 and third-placed Arsenal, who face West Ham United on Sunday, on 49 from 23 games.
Klopp’s side, beaten by Arsenal last week, were not at their best again and had to work hard to subdue Burnley who actually equalised through Dara O’Shea’s header and looked capable of taking something home as they battle against relegation.
Jota headed Liverpool into the lead in the 31st minute and Diaz and Nunez, also with headers, secured the victory after the break to return Liverpool above City.
“It’s not only the three points. You cannot have momentum guaranteed all the time,” Klopp, whose side host City on March 10, said. “It’s always a different challenge. If it’s not clicking straight away, fight through it. It was really tough today but the boys fought through and got three points.”
“I cannot imagine him two months stopped and moving this huge body and be in shape again, but he is back,” Guardiola said. “I think he is going to help.”
Tottenham Hotspur moved back into the top four — leapfrogging Aston Villa — thanks to Brennan Johnson who struck deep in stoppage time to secure a 2-1 home victory against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Pascal Gross’s penalty had given Brighton an early lead but Pape Matar Sarr levelled on the hour and Tottenham’s talisman Son Heung-min, who started on the bench having returned from the Asian Cup, set up Johnson with 96 minutes on the clock.
One worry for Klopp, however, was Trent Alexander-Arnold’s failure to emerge for the second half because of injury.
City also found Everton a tough nut to crack and they did not muster a shot on target in the opening half.
Such is the firepower available to Pep Guardiola that even the stiffest resistance is usually pierced and Haaland’s return to the scoresheet was inevitable.
His 15th and 16th goals of the season saw the Norwegian reclaim sole top spot in the league’s scorer list — his second set up by Kevin De Bruyne, also recently back from injury.
Tottenham have 47 points from 24 games although Villa, who have 46, play sixth-placed Manchester United on Sunday.
Bottom club Sheffield United gave themselves a glimmer of hope in their survival battle as they won 3-1 at Luton Town to move level on 13 points with 19th-placed Burnley.
Luton, in 17th, wasted a golden chance to ease away from the relegation zone as goals by Cameron Archer, James McAtee and Vinicius de Souza gave Sheffield United their first away league win of the season and only their third win in all.
“They got two fours in their last two games so they’re no mugs… For us to get that win gives us a little bit of belief and a little bit of confidence,” United boss Chris Wilder said, referring to Luton’s four-goal performances in their two previous league matches.
Fulham claimed their first Premier League win in 2024 as they beat Bournemouth 3-1 with Rodrigo Muniz scoring twice to lift the London side above their visitors into 12th place.
Ivan Toney was on target for Brentford as they emerged from a six-match losing streak to win 2-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In Saturday’s late game, Nottingham Forest twice came from behind to equalise, but visitors Newcastle United escaped with a 3-2 win after two brilliant individual goals by Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, a win that lifts the Magpies to seventh in the table.
Super sub Scott McTominay scored a late winner as Manchester United continued to inch up the Premier League table and keep alive their dreams of European qualification with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag’s United are sixth on 41 points after their third consecutive victory, five points behind fifth-placed Villa who would have climbed to fourth with a win. United are six points away from fourth spot and a Champions League berth
Arsenal exacted sweet revenge on West Ham United with a 6-0 away thrashing to stay right in the thick of the Premier League title race on Sunday, obliterating their hosts before halftime.
Mikel Arteta’s side had lost twice against their London rivals this season but were 4-0 ahead by halftime with goals by William Saliba, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel and Leandro Trossard.
The punishment continued in the second half with Saka making it 5-0 before former West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, who assisted two goals in the opening period, thumped his team’s sixth on a day of abject humiliation for the hosts.