LONDON (AP) — After a winless start to the season and a dispiriting loss to its archrival, Liverpool needed to make a statement against Bournemouth on Saturday.
A 9-0 win, equaling the record for the biggest ever victory in the English Premier League, sends a loud message indeed.
Liverpool blew away Bournemouth at Anfield to put its early season struggles behind it, with Roberto Firmino scoring two goals and setting up three more.
After opening the campaign with two draws and a loss, it was the kind of performance that will erase many of the questions about whether Jurgen Klopp’s team had lost its edge.
Manchester City also showed that it can never be counted out after the defending champion found itself trailing by two goals for the second straight game. Erling Haaland netted a second half hat trick as City rallied to beat Crystal Palace 4-2 at home — having managed to salvage only a 3-3 draw at Newcastle last weekend.
Manchester United and Chelsea also won on a good day for the traditional powers.
United made it back-to-back wins in the league for the first time since February by beating Southampton 1-0 away thanks to a second-half goal by Bruno Fernandes.
Chelsea overcame the early sending off of Conor Gallagher to beat Leicester 2-1 at Stamford Bridge behind two goals from Raheem Sterling.
Also, Brighton beat Leeds 1-0 and Brentford drew at home against Everton 1-1.
Arsenal, the only team to start the season with three wins, had a chance to maintain its perfect record when it played Fulham at home in the late game.
Firmino lost his starting place to new signing Darwin Nunez this season, but showed he can still be a vital part of Liverpool’s attack. With Nunez serving a suspension, Firmino set up Liverpool’s opening three goals before netting the fourth himself in the 31st minute.
The blowout against visiting Bournemouth continued, and when Luis Diaz netted his second to make it 9-0 in the 85th it looked like Liverpool could become the first league team to score 10 goals in a game.
As it was, Klopp’s team settled for a share of the record for biggest win held by Man United — which has won 9-0 twice — and Leicester.
Perhaps the only thing as remarkable as the scoreline was the fact that Liverpool star forward Mohamed Salah didn’t register either a goal or an assist in the rout.
Man City is making a habit of digging itself out of holes.
Pep Guardiola’s team has fallen two goals behind in four of its last six league games, but has not lost any of them.
This time City trailed 2-0 after just 21 minutes against a clinical Palace side after an own-goal by John Stones and a header by Joachim Andersen.
After Bernardo Silva pulled one back eight minutes into the second half, Haaland took over with three goals in the space of 20 minutes to take his tally to six in his first four league appearances.
Sterling netted his first two for Chelsea following his offseason move from City, as the Blues bounced back from their 3-0 loss to Leeds.
Aside from Gallagher being sent off, Chelsea was also without manager Thomas Tuchel as he was serving a touchline ban following his confrontation with Antonio Conte in the opening home match against Tottenham.
But Sterling broke the deadlock just after halftime with a shot from the edge of the area, and doubled the lead in the 63rd with a tap-in from Reece James’ cross at the far post.
Leicester pulled one back through Harvey Barnes three minutes later, but Jamie Vardy and Ayoze Perez both missed chances for an equalizer.
Leicester defender Wesley Fofana was left out of Brendan Rodgers’ squad amid reports he is close to finalizing a transfer to Chelsea.
Fernandes has been serving as Man United’s stand-in captain since manager Erik ten Hag decided to drop Harry Maguire to the bench, and the Portugal midfielder seems to be relishing wearing the armband.
Fernandes steered in a cross from Diogo Dalot in the 55th as United followed up Monday’s win over Liverpool with another morale-boosting performance.
It was also the team’s first clean sheet, thanks in part to David de Gea’s reflex save to keep out a header from Joe Aribo in the 66th.
It’s a result that will give a bit more breathing space to Ten Hag, the manager who faced a torrent of criticism and skepticism after the team’s dismal start to the campaign.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports