Arsenal and Liverpool emerged victorious from two of the Premier League’s fiercest rivalries with wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United respectively on Sunday.
Arsenal prevailed over big-spending Spurs 1-0 thanks to Olivier Giroud’s third goal in as many matches, while Daniel Sturridge matched him in the scoring stakes as The Reds also won 1-0 on the day the club celebrated the 100th birthday of legendary former manager Bill Shankly.
Liverpool sit top of the Premier League with nine points from three matches, two ahead of Chelsea.
Manchester City, Arsenal, Stoke City and Spurs are on six points, with United two further back on four.
Spurs have spent heavily in the transfer window in anticipation of the potential world-record sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, while Arsenal have only brought in Yaya Sanogo and Mathieu Flamini on free transfers.
Arsenal, however, looked the more cohesive side and were rewarded after 23 minutes when Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott combined to set up Giroud at the near post.
Both teams pressed in search of further goals, and while there were opportunities neither were able to find the crucial touch, with Spurs in particular in debt to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who made several fine saves.
It was a sweet victory for Arsenal who have recovered from their shock 3-1 defeat by Aston Villa on the opening day of the season with two successive wins, and could help silence some of the critics hitting out at Arsene Wenger’s lack of action in the transfer market.
STURRIDGE ON TARGET
On the day Liverpool celebrated the man who did so much to turn the club into a force, they ensured they honoured Shankly’s memory in the best possible fashion.
Agger got the better of Rio Ferdinand from a corner and Sturridge, celebrating his 24th birthday, reacted sharply to nod the ball home from close range.
Champions United, without striker Wayne Rooney after a training-ground incident left him with a bad cut on his forehead, rarely threatened to equalise despite dominating possession in the second half.
David Moyes’s first competitive defeat as United manager continued his poor record at Anfield where he failed to win in 12 attempts when he was in charge at Everton.
“It is a great win for our belief, last season we drew too many of the big games and we lost both times to Manchester United, but today was another marker for us and since January our form has been very, very good,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told Sky Sports.
“Manchester United played well and we weren’t as fluent as we have been but we now have the mentality to get results.”
In the other early kickoff, Swansea City picked up their first points of the season with victory over West Bromwich Albion, who lie bottom of the table with a single point and no goals scored.
Ben Davies opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with a classy side-foot volley after being set up by Pablo Hernandez who sealed all three points in the 83rd minute, capitalising on good work from compatriot Michu.
The result will come as a relief to Michael Laudrup’s side after defeats by United and Spurs, while even the return of striker Nicolas Anelka from compassionate leave could not paper over the problems facing West Brom.