LONDON (Reuters) - Premier League leaders Manchester City brushed aside Leicester City 2-0 for their 16th successive win in all competitions as Manchester United welcomed back long-term absentees Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a 4-1 rout of Newcastle United.
With Tottenham Hotspur losing ground after a 2-0 derby defeat at neighbours Arsenal, the league continues to look an argument between Manchester’s big two who are separated by eight points.
A tap-in by Gabriel Jesus and a stunning strike from Kevin De Bruyne provided the City goals against a Leicester team who have often troubled them in the past.
The home side went close to equalising when Harry McGuire hit the post after the break, but City went straight up the other end and put the result beyond doubt with a stunning counter-attack that De Bruyne rounded off with an unstoppable 20-yard shot in the 49th minute.
The only concern for City manager Pep Guardiola was an injury to John Stones, who hobbled off before the break and may not play again this year.
“We are going to miss (John Stones) for a long time, maybe six weeks off,” said Guardiola after the game.
“It is tough because the calendar is so demanding. We don’t have many central defenders and they will suffer but we will find a solution.”
The successful return of Vincent Kompany from injury will provide compensation although the Belgian was fortunate to escape with a booking for a foul on Jamie Vardy in the third minute.
United’s Pogba and Ibrahimovic were also back in action at Old Trafford. The Frenchman contributed an assist and scored United’s third in an impressive 70-minute appearance before Ibrahimovic made an unexpected return from the bench after seven months out with a knee injury.
“It’s my head that is playing; my knee just needs to follow,” he said after his 15-minute cameo.
Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku scored the other goals as United hit four in the league for the seventh time this season after Dwight Gayle had given Newcastle the lead.
At Arsenal, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said he was “disappointed in the performance and the way we conceded the goals” after the derby defeat scuppered suggestions of a permanent shift in the north London balance of power.
Arsenal went ahead through a controversial goal from Shkodran Mustafi, which Pochettino thought should not have stood.
“The goal was offside. But we lose,” he said. “I’m not blaming the referee. It’s a strange situation. It changed the dynamic of the game. We need to accept that. We can’t control that.”
At Anfield, Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool beat Southampton 3-0 to record three consecutive Premier League wins for the first time in 2017.
The Egyptian’s brace on 31 and 41 minutes made it 14 goals in 18 games for Liverpool with Philippe Coutinho rounding off the afternoon with their third to put them one point off the Champions League places.
Chelsea had an equally untroubled afternoon after beating West Bromwich Albion 4-0, a result that piled more pressure on Baggies manager Tony Pulis whose side are without a win in 11 games.
“The defending was very poor,” said Pulis after the defeat in which Eden Hazard scored twice. “It leaves me in the position I was in before the game. The board of directors will decide what they have to do.”
The Premier League’s two worst defences, Crystal Palace and Everton, predictably leaked goals as honours were shared in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Selhurst Park.
Palace were pegged back after twice taking the lead though James McCarthur and Wilfried Zaha although Christian Benteke should have sealed it with an easy chance for Roy Hodgson’s side in the second half.
Callum Wilson scored a hat-trick to earn 10-man Bournemouth victory over Huddersfield Town.
“We had to dig deep,” said the striker, whose goals were his first since he fought back from serious injury.
Burnley continued their impressive start to the season with a 2-0 win over Swansea City. Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes scored the goals to leave seventh-placed Burnley level on points with Liverpool and Arsenal.
(This version of the story corrects first name of Dwight Gayle)
Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond/Rex Gowar