By gaining redemption for one of the darkest days in its history, Southampton succeeded in pushing record-breaking Liverpool even closer to its first English league title in 30 years.
A 2-1 win at Leicester on Saturday gave Southampton a measure of revenge for its humiliating 9-0 loss to the same opponent in the Premier League 2½ months ago. That loss was the club’s biggest ever and the heaviest home defeat in the country’s long history of top-flight soccer.
At the same time, it gave Liverpool a chance to pull further clear at the top in its quest to reclaim the biggest prize in English soccer. The Reds didn’t waste it, beating Tottenham 1-0 a couple of hours later thanks to Roberto Firmino’s first-half strike.
Liverpool has a scarcely believable 16-point lead -- with a game in hand over second-placed Leicester , too -- and has made the best-ever start to a season across Europe’s big five leagues after collecting 61 points from 21 games.
“It’s for sure special, but I just can’t feel it,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. “What I know about football is if somebody gives you a trophy or something, then it’s done. Until then, you have to fight as much as you can.
“But so far,” Klopp added with a smile, “so really good.”
Manchester City can climb above Leicester by winning away to Aston Villa on Sunday.
Since that embarrassment against Leicester in October, which plunged Southampton into the relegation zone, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team has the fourth best record in the Premier League after winning six of its subsequent 12 games.
Relegation seems unlikely now and Hasenhüttl’s reputation has been restored.
“We’ve changed everything — the behavior, how we play, how we create chances, the commitment, the belief in what we are doing,” he said.
“We will never forget the result of the first game. But the second part of the story was for us, and that was the target today.”
Hasenhüttl also has the most in-form striker in the league in Danny Ings, who scored the winner for his 14th goal in an increasingly impressive season for the striker.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defense of his own position, and the work being done by the hierarchy at Manchester United, was as emphatic as the performance of his players in a 4-0 win over Norwich.
Marcus Rashford scored twice on his 200th appearance for the club before goals by Anthony Martial and substitute Mason Greenwood, as United’s strikers carried the team to victory at Old Trafford.
What was noticeable during the match were chants against the club’s American ownership -- the Glazer family — and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.
“I’m not sure if the players will get it, but I noticed,” Solskjaer said. “As a club we’ve got to stick together, we’ve got to be united. We are a family.
“I can only say from when I’ve been here I’ve been backed by the owners, I’ve been backed by Ed, and they’re supporting me. … They’ve just got to believe me when I say I feel we are doing loads of good things behind the scenes and we are going in the right direction.”
United moved up to fifth, five points behind Chelsea, which beat Burnley 3-0 through goals by Jorginho, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi to consolidate fourth place.
AUBAMEYANG SEES RED
His goal was very familiar. What happened later to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang certainly wasn’t.
The Arsenal captain had a mixed afternoon in drawing with Crystal Palace 1-1, finishing off a flowing team move for the 12th-minute opening goal before getting sent off for a straight red card advised by VAR.
Aubameyang’s late challenge on Max Meyer initially was punished with a yellow card, but upgraded to a red after a VAR check.
Arsenal is in the unusual position of 10th place after 22 games but has lost only once in five games under new manager Mikel Arteta.
Everton began the process of placating its fans after its meek surrender to a youthful Liverpool side in the FA Cup last weekend with a 1-0 win over Brighton.
Richarlison scored his eighth goal of the season to seal the win at Goodison Park.
The loss to Liverpool prompted angry supporters to turn up at the club’s Finch Farm complex during the week in an effort to confront the players.
Elsewhere, Miguel Almiron scored for Newcastle in its 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton -- his third goal in three weeks after going his first 11 months at the northeast club without scoring. Leander Dendoncker equalized for Wolves.