The drama continues unabated in what is turning out to be a fascinating English Premier League (EPL) title race.
Table-toppers Manchester City dominated the derby against United in style, Liverpool swept past Fulham and ‘Sarriball’ deflated as they were held at home by Everton.
After a season when City shattered all sorts of records including most EPL points, goals scored and gap in points over second place, the landmarks keep coming thick and fast.
With Pep Guardiola’s City two points ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, who are in turn two ahead of Maurizio Sarri’s Blues — all three sides remain unbeaten in the league — it is certainly much tighter at the top this time around.
This is the first time in English top-flight history that three teams remain undefeated after 12 games.
That in itself is something to admire, given the heightened competition of all opposition as more and more money becomes available to teams in the Premier League to buy big.
England’s eternal bridesmaids, poor old Liverpool, must be cursing their misfortune. They have never won the English top-flight league since it rebranded from the First Division to the Premier League 26 years ago — you have to go back to 1990 to their last league triumph. They would have thought that going into the international break with nine games won out of 12, zero losses and 30 points in the bag — equalling their best start in the EPL — they would be sitting pretty at the top of the heap and a first title would be theirs to lose.
Alas, City have carried their form from last season into this, and may even have improved with the way they dispatched United at the Etihad on Sunday. Playmaker David Silva and goal machine Sergio Aguero continue to play like they are 10 years younger that their respective ages of 32 and 30, and Raheem Sterling is finally showing his true potential now he has found his confidence under Guardiola.
Chelsea, despite their goalless blip against Everton, are still breathing down the necks of the top two and are similarly without a loss to their name in the league.
Their much-improved style of football since Sarri took over from Antonio Conte in the summer, and Eden Hazard continuing to excel, means only a fool would disregard their chances of getting their hands on a seventh top-flight English trophy. This is the second time in Chelsea’s history that they are unbeaten in their first 12 games. They also achieved that in 2014-15 under Jose Mourinho and went on to win the league ...
It goes to show that this campaign will come down to the finest of margins, regardless of unbeaten form.
Down at the other end, despite the increased riches bestowed upon top-flight teams in England, Fulham’s loss against Klopp’s boys meant they have now made the third-worst start in Premier League history.
However, they can take a small crumb of comfort from the misfortunes of their closest competitors.
No team from 14th place in the standings to bottom side Fulham have more than two wins to their name (Newcastle United only got their two in their past two games) and only four points separate that not-so-magnificent seven.
On this form we are going to the wire at the bottom as well as the top.