London: Superb individual goals by forwards Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino gave Liverpool a 2-1 Premier League win at Southampton and provisionally lifted them to the top of the standings on Saturday.
Liverpool have six points from two games after their opening 4-1 home win over Norwich City. Either champions Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur, who clash in the late kick off, can leapfrog them.
Looking weary in the opening 30 minutes after their penalty shootout win over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul on Wednesday, Liverpool weathered waves of Saints attacks before Mane fired them ahead on the stroke of halftime.
The Senegal forward teed himself up on the edge of the penalty area and curled a rasping shot past home goalkeeper Angus Gunn, who was left clutching thin air.
The European champions dominated after the break and missed several chances before Firmino picked up a loose ball, side-stepped a defender and drove a crisp low shot past Gunn in the 71st minute.
But the visitors barely hung on in the closing stages after a howler by their stand-in goalkeeper Adrian gifted the home side a lifeline, with the Spaniard’s poor clearance rebounding off former Liverpool striker Danny Ings into the back of the net.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was Arsenal’s match-winner again as the Gabon forward sealed a 2-1 victory against Burnley to extend his side’s perfect start to the season earlier.
Aubameyang had netted the only goal in last weekend’s win at Newcastle and he emulated that crucial contribution with another decisive strike at the Emirates Stadium.
Alexandre Lacazette’s first goal of the season had given Arsenal the lead before Ashley Barnes equalised for Burnley just before half-time.
It was a encouraging afternoon for Arsenal manager Unai Emery as his widely written-off team continued to bounce back from their dismal end to last season.
Failing to finish in the top four and losing the Europa League final against Chelsea robbed Arsenal of a Champions League place and led to a summer of recriminations as fans vented their frustrations.
But Emery has quietly assembled a more vibrant squad than he had in his troubled first campaign.
With two successive wins to start the season for the first time in 10 years, the early signs are promising for Arsenal ahead of sterner tests against Liverpool and Tottenham in their next two games.
As well as goals for Arsenal’s two main strikers, there was a virtuoso performance from on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, who had two assists in his first start.
Club record signing Nicolas Pepe impressed after coming off the bench as half-time and although former Chelsea defender David Luiz was hardly rock solid on his debut, Emery’s back four did enough to keep Burnley at bay.
Mesut Ozil was again absent from the Gunners squad after the German midfielder was ill earlier this week.
Ozil missed the Newcastle match because of “further security fears” after being involved in a carjacking incident with team-mate Sead Kolasinac in July.
But Ozil’s absence wasn’t a hinderance against a Burnley team who suffered their eighth successive loss at the Emirates.
Lacazette, back from an ankle injury that meant he was only a substitute at Newcastle, came close to putting Arsenal in front when he met a Sokratis flick with a close-range header that Nick Pope tipped over.
It was only a temporary reprieve for Burnley as Emery’s side took the lead from the resulting corner in the 13th minute.
Ceballos’s corner reached Lacazette at the near post and he showed impressive strength to hold off Erik Pieters as he turned away from a gaggle of Burnley defenders, his determined effort sending him slipping to the turf but not before he guided his shot through Pope’s legs.
Ceballos showed a deft touch and quick feet to escape the attentions of his marker, drawing a huge cheer from the Arsenal fans who are already comparing him to Gunners great Cesc Fabregas.
Reiss Nelson squandered a chance to double Arsenal’s lead when he fired too close to Pope, who also denied Matteo Guendouzi after another attack sliced through the Burnley defence.
But Burnley drew level in the 43rd minute when Dwight McNeil’s shot deflected to Barnes and he took advantage of Arsenal’s sloppy marking to poke home from close range for his third goal of the season.
Arsenal 2 Burnley 1
Aston Villa 1 Bournemouth 2
Brighton 1 West Ham 1
Everton 1 Watford 0
Norwich 3 Newcastle 1
Southampton 1 Liverpool 2
Manchester City vs Tottenham