United and Liverpool at sixes and sevens as EPL goes wild


LONDON: English football’s biggest teams have never experienced a day like it. Liverpool and Manchester United were both comprehensively humiliated by defeats on Sunday that rank among the heaviest in their history.

Just when it looked like United’s 6-1 collapse at home to Tottenham Hotspur would be the day’s biggest shock in the Premier League, Liverpool managed to surpass it.

The champions fell apart to lose 7-2 to an Aston Villa side that only avoided relegation on the final day of last season and are now one of only two sides with 100% starts.

For the first time since 1986, United have lost their opening two home league games of the season and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer labelled their heaviest home defeat since 2011 as “my worst day ever”.

“It’s very embarrassing, it hurt all the players. It hurts me as the manager,” Solskjaer said. “I’ll hold my hands up, I’m responsible for this. I promise we’ll do everything we can to turn this around.”

No defending champion in 67 years has lost so heavily in England. It’s been 57 years since Liverpool were beaten as badly.

“All the things you should not do in football we did tonight,” said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who added his team had “lost the plot”. “The results are strange.”

It leaves Everton and Villa, whose last titles came in the 1980s, leading the way with perfect starts.

A stunning first-half hat-trick from Ollie Watkins helped end the champions’ winning start to the season in extraordinary fashion.

Liverpool started badly at Villa Park as a poor pass from goalkeeper Adrian — deputising for the visitors for Alisson after the Brazilian picked up a shoulder injury — gifted Watkins the opener in the fourth minute.

While there was good fortune about Watkins’ first goal in a Villa shirt, his second was pure quality as he cut inside before firing into the top corner to make it 2-0 in the 22nd minute.

Mohamed Salah’s excellent finish looked to have got Liverpool back in the game in the 33rd, but John McGinn’s deflected effort two minutes later restored Villa’s two-goal advantage.

Watkins completed his hat-trick inside 39 minutes, with former Everton midfielder Ross Barkley — on his debut after joining Villa on loan — making it five, 10 minutes into the second half.

Salah reduced the deficit but Jack Grealish netted number six before Villa’s captain ran clear to cap the rout.

“To go and get a result and a performance like that, against an exceptional team, takes something special,” Villa manager Dean Smith said.

Just hours before Liverpool’s epic meltdown, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, sacked by United in 2018, inflicted a huge blow to Solskjaer’s own job security.

“It is history for Tottenham, history for my boys and I cannot deny it is also history for me,” said a delighted Mourinho.

Despite taking the lead through Bruno Fernandes’ second minute penalty, United collapsed as they conceded four goals in the first half of a league match for the first time since 1957.

Tanguy Ndombele equalised in the fourth minute after dismal defending from Harry Maguire and South Korea forward Son Heung-min made it two from Harry Kane’s seventh minute quick free-kick.

United were reduced to 10 men when Anthony Martial was harshly sent off in the 28th minute for his reaction to a push from Erik Lamela.

That opened the floodgates as United surrendered, with Kane grabbing Tottenham’s third in the 31st minute after stealing Eric Bailly’s weak pass.

United were in disarray and Serge Aurier crossed for Son’s close-range finish in the 37th minute.

Aurier drilled home in the 51st minute and Kane made it six with a 79th minute penalty, completing a memorable victory for Spurs, which matched United’s 6-1 loss to Manchester City in October, 2011.