City routs Arsenal even without Kane; Liverpool-Chelsea draw

Manchester City’s Rodrigo, right, celebrates after scoring his side’s fourth goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City didn’t need Harry Kane or Cristiano Ronaldo to destroy Arsenal.

With four different scorers in the 5-0 win on Saturday, maybe the attacking options currently available to Pep Guardiola are enough to defend the Premier League title.

Or perhaps it’s just a sign of Arsenal’s frailties that City so easily dismantled a side that has now lost all three league games without scoring. And the fact City played against 10 men for 55 minutes after Granit Xhaka was sent off for a two-footed lunge on João Cancelo.

But Arsenal’s defense had already ceded territory easily for Ilkay Gundogan to head in the opener and Ferran Torres to score in the opening 12 minutes. Gabriel Jesus was able to tap in again before halftime and, after the break, Rodri curled in and Torres was on target again with a header.

“That is why we did not need to buy a striker,” Guardiola said. “We tried but it was not possible. It is a fantastic squad. I have to say thank you for the players they have given me.”

It was a great end to a week where City had to give up on its attempt tobring Tottenham striker Harry Kane to the Etihad Stadium and thought it could sign Cristiano Ronaldo before Manchester United stepped in.

Having lost its opening game to Tottenham, City was already playing catch-up. But while City moved onto six points, four of the teams with perfect starts dropped points in their third games on Saturday.

Title contenders Liverpool and Chelsea drew 1-1 at Anfield. West Ham was held 2-2 by Crystal Palace and Brighton lost 2-0 to Everton. Only Tottenham is still in the running for a third consecutive win when Kane leads the London club into Sunday’s game against Watford.

It’s not only Arsenal on zero points after three games. Norwich, which lost 2-1 to Leicester after conceding goals from Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton, is yet to get off the mark. Newcastle picked up its first point in a 2-2 draw against Southampton. Brentford is on five points in its first-ever Premier League season after drawing 1-1 at Aston Villa, with Ivan Toney’s goal wiped out by Emi Buendia’s first since joining the hosts in the offseason.

ANFIELD STALEMATE

Kai Havertz’s header was canceled out by Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah’s penalty after Reece James was sent off for handling. Liverpool’s attack lacked a cutting edge — even with a man advantage — as Chelsea’s defense marshalled by Andreas Christensen proved too robust to break down.

“He started in the central position and finished the game in the right position, because we decided to bring on Thiago (Silva) and stay with the back five,” Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said. “Andreas is very strong, he’s super talented. … I think he feels the trust, he knows what to do, he can absolutely help, he’s a top defender and a top guy. I have the feeling he’s growing every week in confidence and personality.”

WEST HAM HELD

West Ham twice threw away the lead secured by Pablo Fornals and then Michail Antonio, with Conor Gallagher equalizing both times for Palace. But Patrick Vieira is still waiting for his first win in charge of Palace, which has two points.

PENALTY SPAT

Everton was already leading through Demarai Gray’s first-half strike when it won a penalty after the break at Brighton. Richarlison grabbed the ball after Seamus Coleman was taken down in the box by Joel Veltman. Everton’s designated penalty-taker, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, had to convince Richarlison to hand the ball back so he could score from the spot.

COMEBACK

After Callum Wilson’s opener for Newcastle was canceled out by Mohamed Elyounoussi, the St. James’ Park hosts looked set again for a first win of the season when Allan Saint-Maximin netted in the 90th minute. But Jamaal Lascelles’ challenge on Stuart Armstrong allowed James Ward-Prowse to level for Southampton from a penalty in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

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