London (AFP) – Chelsea joined Manchester City and Liverpool at the Premier League summit on Sunday as Riyad Mahrez blazed a late penalty over the bar when presented with a golden chance to end his team’s Anfield hoodoo.
Arsenal, who lost their first two games of the season, are right back in the title hunt after a 5-1 stroll against Fulham while Chelsea saw off Southampton 3-0 to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
Liverpool came into the match unbeaten in 17 home games against Manchester City in all competitions but the atmosphere was flat at Anfield and Jurgen Klopp’s team have now gone four games without a win.
Despite all the rich attacking talent on display, Liverpool and City cancelled each other out in a cagey encounter, mustering just four shots on target between them.
But as the match between the two sides meandered towards a conclusion, Leroy Sane was brought down in the box by Virgil van Dijk.
Algerian forward Mahrez placed the ball on the penalty spot but watched in despair as his shot sailed over the bar.
The draw means City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all locked together on 20 points, with the defending champions top by virtue of their superior goal difference.
Arsenal are now in the top four, level on 18 points with London rivals Tottenham, as the Premier League table takes on a familiar look.
Earlier, Ross Barkley celebrated last week’s recall to Gareth Southgate’s England squad by creating Chelsea’s opener for Eden Hazard and scoring the second himself. Alvaro Morata netted the third.
Hazard’s goal was his eighth of the season, seven of which have come in Chelsea’s opening eight Premier League games.
The Belgium forward played down title talk at this early stage in the season.
“It’s too early to be thinking about the title, we know it is tough to win,” he said. “But it is good to be up there.”
And Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri insisted the 30-point gap between Chelsea and champions City last season is too much to make up in one campaign.
– Arsenal style –
In the first match of the day, Unai Emery’s Arsenal turned on the style on the banks of the River Thames to climb into the Premier League’s top four.
The club, who parted ways with long-standing manager Arsene Wenger last season, were written off as title challengers after defeats against City and Chelsea but have now won six Premier League games in succession.
Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both scored twice, with Aaron Ramsey grabbing the other.
But Emery, perhaps mindful that tougher challenges lie ahead, was wary about Arsenal being labelled title contenders.
“We lost the first two matches against Manchester City and Chelsea,” he said. “We were calm then and we need to be the same way in our mentality when we are winning.”
Tottenham won on Saturday to keep their title challenge on track but Manchester United and their manager Jose Mourinho grabbed the headlines after United battled back from 2-0 down to beat Newcastle 3-2.
Forward Juan Mata said he hoped the last-gasp victory would give the team a mental lift.
“We couldn’t afford another defeat, we couldn’t afford another disappointment, especially for the fans,” he told MUTV
“I think they saw today we tried everything, and we came back and from the mental point of view it’s a very important three points.”
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