LONDON: Manchester United’s crisis deepened on Saturday as Brighton & Hove Albion’s Danny Welbeck scored in a 3-1 win against his old club while Manchester City beat West Ham United to stay perfect in the Premier League.
Liverpool had a brief taste of life at the top, beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 in the early kick-off, while Tottenham Hotspur scored two goals in stoppage time to beat Sheffield United.
The season is spiralling out of control for Erik ten Hag’s United, who started the campaign in buoyant mood after ending their trophy drought and finishing third in the league last season.
Some fans dreamed of a long-overdue title challenge but instead they find themselves trailing leaders City by nine points after a third chastening defeat in five matches.
United started brightly at Old Trafford, desperate to put their nightmare start to the season behind them but former youth player Welbeck silenced the home fans in the 20th minute.
A 53rd-minute goal by Pascal Gross gave United a mountain to climb and substitute Joao Pedro made it 3-0 before a consolation for Hannibal Mejbri.
Brighton’s fourth straight league win against United lifted them to third in the table.
Ten Hag, in his second season at Old Trafford, now has a huge job on his hands to save United’s season, besieged by problems on and off the pitch.
Jadon Sancho has been exiled from first-team training after a public spat with the manager while fellow forward Antony has been given a leave of absence to address domestic abuse allegations, which he denies.
Protests continue in the stands against unpopular owners the Glazer family, who appear to have put their attempt to sell the club on hold.
Champions City continue to churn out the wins, even though Pep Guardiola’s men did not have it all their own way at the London Stadium, trailing to a James Ward-Prowse goal in the first half.
Jeremy Doku equalised early in the second period and Bernardo Silva put City 2-1 before Erling Haaland’s seventh goal of the season guaranteed a fifth win in five games.
City’s win lifts them to 15 points, two clear of Liverpool at the top of the table.
Earlier, Jurgen Klopp’s men roused themselves after an anaemic first-half display against Wolves, recovering from a goal down following a first period that Wolves dominated.
Cody Gakpo scored 10 minutes into the second period and Andy Robertson finished neatly in the 85th minute before an own goal from Hugo Bueno added gloss to the scoreline.
It was the third time this season that Liverpool have come from behind to win.
Klopp said his team deserved to win the game after their powerful second-half performance but stressed that they could not afford to keep falling behind.
“Turning games around is helpful in a season but we cannot rely on it, we cannot,” he told the BBC. “We have to play better in the first half of games generally. We are not stable yet, that is not possible. Too many things are new.”
Sheffield looked to be on track for their first win of the season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
But Spurs grabbed an equaliser in the 98th minute when Richarlison headed home Ivan Perisic’s corner to set up a grandstand finish, with 12 minutes of additional time at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Dejan Kulusevski scored the winner.
Aston Villa scored three late goals to beat Crystal Palace 3-1.
The London side led 1-0 courtesy of Odsonne Edouard’s first-half goal but Jhon Duran equalised in the 87th minute.
Douglas Luiz scored a penalty deep into stoppage time to put Villa in front and Leon Bailey made it 3-1.
Fulham’s Carlos Vinicius condemned Premier League new boys Luton Town to a fourth consecutive defeat.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2023