LONDON: The craziest day yet in the new Premier League exploded with Manchester United collapsing 6-1 at hone to Tottenham then champions Liverpool going one worse in a 7-2 disaster at Aston Villa.
Those two results put in the shade West Ham’s earlier surprise 3-0 win away to Leicester on a day which also saw defeats for two promoted teams with Fulham losing 1-0 at Wolves and West Bromwich Albion going down 2-0 at Southampton Sheffield United are yet to claim a point after losing 2-1 at Arsenal.
The saddest feature of the day was that no fans were in the stadia to see it all.
The headlining events began at Old Trafford where Manchester United crashed to Spurs – and their old boss Jose Mourinho – despite earning a dream start with the gift of a penalty in the first minute.
United also had to play for an hour with 10 men after Anthony Martial was sent off for retaliation against Eric Lamela in a scuffle at a corner.
The size and manner of the defeat added to a growing sense of crisis incurred by United’s failure to make significant summer signings. They were sloppy and disorganised, especially in defence, and handed a victory smile to Jose Mourinho, the manager they sacked in December 2018.
Spurs had appeared vulnerable. This was their fourth game in eight days and they conceded a penalty after 30 seconds. Davinson Sanchez tripped Martial and Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring.
United should have built on that. Instead it was Spurs who took control. In the third minute Tanguy Ndombele punished a mix-up between Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly and, in the seventh, Heung-min Son scored a second after a quick free kick by Harry Kane.
Serge Aurier, Son and Lamela came close to more Spurs goals before Martial was sent off in the 29th minute. Almost immediately Son set up Kane for a third Spurs goal and then scored his own second.
This was the first time United had conceded four goals in the first half of a Premier League match. Their old French star Patrice Evra, an analyst for Sky TV, said: “It’s a catastrophe. A disaster.”
Solskjaer brought on midfielders Scott McTominay and Fred at half-time to shore up defence. Mourinho replaced Lamela with Lucas Moura, concerned that the Argentinian was in disciplinary danger after his lucky escape from a red card in the Martial incident.
Five minutes into the second half Aurier made it five after Paul Pogba failed to spot his overlap. Pogba was at fault again in the 78th minute, bringing down Ben Davies so Kane could score No6 from a penalty.
That made it United’s heaviest defeat at Old Trafford since the 6-1 beating by Manchester City in 2011.
Next up were Liverpool at Villa for whom Ollie Watkins scored a first-half hat-trick to end the champions’ 100pc start to their title defence. Villa had stayed up last season by virtue only of one point which they claimed in the last day of term.
Watkins opened the scoring in the fourth minute following a mistake by Reds goalkeeper Adrian and doubled the hosts’ lead with a fine 22nd-minute strike.
Mohamed Salah replied just after the half hour mark, only for John McGinn to swiftly make it 3-1 and Villa never looked back as Watkins then nodded his third in the 39th minute to complete a perfect hat-trick – left foot, right foot and header.
Former Everton man Ross Barkley subsequently deepened Liverpool’s misery 10 minutes into the second half as he marked his Villa debut with a goal and, after Salah pulled another back, Jack Grealish then added two more for the hosts as Liverpool were condemned to a truly embarrassing defeat.
The quartet are three points behind Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton, who Jurgen Klopp’s men face at Goodison Park in their next match on October 17.
Goalkeeper Adrian was brought into the Liverpool starting line-up after Alisson Becker suffered a shoulder injury in training on Saturday.
The Spaniard made a nightmare start as his poor attempt at a pass was pounced upon in the Liverpool box by Grealish, who laid the ball to Watkins for a simple finish.
Liverpool started to exert some pressure, with Emiliano Martinez twice blocking efforts Roberto Firmino, but Villa were soon back on the front foot and doubled their advantage when Watkins, again set up by Grealish, cut inside Joe Gomez and fired past Adrian into the top corner.
Martinez saved a couple of Diogo Jota efforts and Barkley then went close to making it 3-0 before Liverpool reduced the deficit in the 33rd minute as the ball came to Salah in the box and he cracked it in.
But within moments the visitors had conceded again, McGinn’s volley going past Adrian via a deflection off Virgil Van Dijk.
And they were left shell-shocked again four minutes later as Watkins completed his treble by heading home Trezeguet’s cross, the effort standing after a VAR check for offside.
Barkley then got his debut goal in the 55th minute, hitting a shot from outside the box that flew in off Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Grealish again the provider.
His first came in the 66th minute, another goal involving a deflection as the Villa skipper’s shot hit Fabinho en route to the net.
Watkins was then denied by Adrian, before Grealish burst clear of the Liverpool defence as he latched onto a McGinn pass and calmly tucked the ball past Adrian.
This was the first time Liverpool – missing first-choice goalkeeper Alisson through injury and Sadio Mane and Thiago after positive Covid-19 tests – had conceded seven goals since 1963 and only their fourth Premier League defeat since January 3, 2019.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “You have to say that Villa did very well. They were very physical, very smart and very direct, we were not.
“We had big chances which we did not use, but when you concede seven I’m not sure you can say it would have been 7-7. We made too many mistakes and massive ones obviously. It started with the first goal and around the goals we made massive mistakes.
This was the first time Liverpool have conceded seven goals in a match in all competitions since April 1963 in a 7-2 league defeat at Tottenham and they were the first reigning champions to ship seven goals in a league match since Arsenal against Sunderland in September 1953.
Their 11 goals conceded is their most after four games of a league season since 1937-38 (also 11).