There were fireworks on and off the pitch in the Premier League this weekend with no shortage of brilliant goals, heroic individual performances and ruthless decisions.
On a Premier League weekend which will be remembered for postponement controversy, Rafa Benitez’s sacking and a Manchester United spat, the on-pitch action lived up to events off it.
Brighton snatched a point at the death against Crystal Palace in the Friday night game before Manchester City produced the clinical performance of champions-elect to defeat rivals Chelsea.
A 2-1 loss at Norwich proved to be the final straw for Rafa Benitez, while Wolves finally discovered fluency in attack to beat Southampton 3-1.
Familiar flaws proved to be the undoing of Newcastle in a relegation six-pointer against Watford in the other Saturday 3pm kick-off before Philippe Coutinho announced his return to the English top-flight with a stunning performance for Aston Villa against Manchester United.
In the wake of the draw, interim manager Ralf Rangnick became embroiled in a war of words with Anthony Martial after claiming he refused to travel to Villa Park, only for the Frenchman to hit back defiantly.
There were only two games on Sunday following the Premier League’s contentious decision to postpone Tottenham versus Arsenal, but the entertainment continued as Liverpool brushed Brentford aside and Jack Harrison’s hat-trick fired Leeds to an unexpected win at West Ham.
Those are the headlines fans will have read and digested; here are some things you may have missed over the weekend.
1. Ederson makes history
Manchester City’s victory over Chelsea asserted their status as the best team in the country, and it was a landmark occasion for their goalkeeper, Ederson.
The Brazilian kept his 83rd clean sheet in 166 Premier League appearances, making him the only shot-stopper with over a century of games played in the division to record a shutout in at least half of them, according to statistics experts Opta.
Ederson leads the race for this season’s Golden Glove with 12 clean sheets, two clear of Liverpool’s Alisson.
2. JWP lights up Molineux
The result may not have gone Southampton’s way, but James Ward-Prowse’s free kick against Wolves was almost certainly the goal of the weekend.
The Saints skipper summoned a piledriver from range which soared into the far top corner, advancing his reputation as one of the Premier League’s best dead-ball specialists.
Ward-Prowse’s strike halved the deficit with minutes remaining at Molineux, but any hope of a Southampton comeback was extinguished as Adama Traore scored in added time.
3. Newcastle’s unwanted record
It was another weekend of disappointment for Newcastle as Watford forward Joao Pedro’s 87th-minute strike denied them all three points at St James’ Park.
Allan Saint-Maximin opened the scoring early in the second half with a sublime finish from the edge of the area and Eddie Howe’s side appeared to be on course for their second win of the season.
However, the Magpies were sunk by Pedro’s fine header, meaning they have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League this season (21), according to Opta.
4. Sancho settles for cameo
In an intriguing decision, Ralf Rangnick opted to start 19-year-old academy graduate Anthony Elanga over £73million summer signing Jadon Sancho as Manchester United took on Aston Villa.
In fact, Sancho did not get onto the pitch until the 78th minute, when he replaced the teenager, moments before Coutinho scored the equaliser in the riveting 2-2 draw.
It marked the Englishman’s latest blow in a challenging debut season with United, although Rangnick refused to confirm whether Elanga has leapfrogged Sancho in his pecking order.
“We have got so many games to play, I am not thinking about who is ahead of who,” the interim manager said. “It was today the decision to play him from the start but as I said, we have got so many games coming up, it could be different in the next game.”
5. The next big Villan
Staying with the match at Villa Park, Coutinho understandably stole the headlines by creating one goal and scoring another in his first appearance since joining on loan from Barcelona.
The man of the match award did not go to the Brazilian, however, and was instead presented to his young teammate, Jacob Ramsey.
The 20-year-old has been a standout player since Steven Gerrard was appointed manager and chipped in with a goal and assist against the Red Devils.
Ramsey also caught the eye with his tireless, combative approach, and he seems destined to go a long way under Gerrard’s tutelage.
6. Exhausted Irons
Leeds were at their relentless, harrying best as they defeated West Ham 3-2 after an enthralling encounter at the London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Harrison scored a fantastic hat-trick to secure a morale-boosting victory for Marcelo Bielsa’s side, lifting them further clear of the relegation zone while denting the Irons’ hopes of a top-four finish.
After the match, David Moyes pointed the finger at Premier League schedulers for making his side play three games in eight days.
“I cannot understand it and it only tells me that the people making those decisions do not understand what recovery means, what it means to play games on a regular basis and the people putting the games are getting that wrong for sure,” the frustrated Hammers boss said.