Michael Owen offered an eloquent reponse to his critics by firing in a hat-trick to end his goal drought and help Liverpool to a 3-0 win at Manchester City – a result which keeps Gerard Houllier’s side in second spot two points behind Arsenal.
Owen opened the scoring on 4 minutes, pouncing from close range after Manchester City made a hash of clearing a corner. The current European Footballer of the Year completed his hat-trick in the second-half, on each occasion collecting passes from Stevenn Gerrard before firing past the helpless Peter Schmeichel.
For leaders Arsenal, the records keep being broken. Saturday’s 4-1 win at Leeds saw the Gunners break Chesterfield’s 73-year-old record by scoring in their 47th consecutive match. The win extended Arsenal’s unbeaten away run to 23 games, while equalling Manchester United’s Premiership record of 29 unbeaten matches without defeat. Their target now is Nottingham Forest’s all-time unbeaten record of 42 matches, set in 1977-78.
Manchester United showed further signs of improvement, coming from behind to record a 3-1 win at Charlton. The home side had gone ahead through a spectacular Claus Jensen strike before the fit-again Paul Scholes levelled early in the second-half. Ryan Giggs scored the second after being set-up by substitute Ruuud Van Nistlrooy and Giggs returned the favour in injury-time, setting up a straightforward header for the Dutch striker.
Chelsea’s unbeaten run came to an end when they crashed 3-2 at home to bottom-of the-table West Ham. The visitors were thankful to Paoolo di Canio for two second-half strikes, the first of which is already being discussed as a possible goal of the season.
Under-pressure Sunderland boss Peter Reid earned himself some respite when his side overcame fellow strugglers Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light. The 1-0 win courtesy of David Bellion – making his first start for the club – lifts Sunderland to 16th place in the table.
Middlesbrough moved up to fourth in the Premiership after a comfortable 3-0 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Goals from Massimo Maccarone, Geremi and Joseph Desire Job ensured the points for ‘Boro.
In what already looked likea relegation tussle, Bolton were thankful to former French international Youri Djorkaeff, who saved the Trotters a point with a late goal against Southampton. Earlier, Gordon Strachan’s side looked on course for their first away win of the season, after Wayne Bridge fired home from the edge of the area.