It was, quite frankly, a bonkers day of action that left observers scratching their heads in disbelief at what unfolded. It was Playstation football.
Jose Mourinho returned to the club that sacked him in 2018 and led his former employers a merry dance as his Tottenham side demolished Manchester United 6-1.
Surely the result of the weekend from an impressive Spurs one thought, a performance that couldn’t be topped. That was until the late game saw Aston Villa, who managed to stay in the division last season by the skin of their teeth, completely destroy reigning champions Liverpool 7-2.
Theatre of Screams
United were ahead after only a minute, Bruno Fernandes scoring from the penalty spot after Davinson Sanchez was penalised. It seemed like a Sunday stroll was on the cards for the Red Devils.
However, Spurs had other ideas and completely took control of the game with midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg pulling the strings and the lethal strike partnership of Son Heung-min and Harry Kane once again taking centre stage. Even Spurs’ much maligned full back Serge Aurier played well and added his name to the score sheet.
United were pitiful and contributed significantly to their downfall. They were shambolic in defence where Harry Maguire and Eric Bailly looked like confused and disoriented uncles on the dancefloor at a family wedding as Spurs attackers, like over-enthusiastic teenagers, weaved and tormented with slick moves and fancy tricks.
Luke Shaw resembled an amateur who had won a competition to play for the day, a Sunday league pub footballer who was way out of his depth. His crude trip on Lucas Moira late in the game no doubt owed much to frustration but it summed up his contribution to the afternoon’s proceedings and he was lucky to escape with only a yellow card.
Teammate Anthony Martial was not as fortunate when his petulant reaction to Eric Lamela’s goading earned him a first half red card. In truth, the one man disadvantage was irrelevant as Spurs completely dominated with goals from Son (2), Kane (2), Ndombele and Aurier capping an extraordinary afternoon.
“To win 6-1 against Manchester United at Old Trafford is an honour for all of us, considering the dimension of Manchester United and Old Trafford,” Mourinho said post-match.
“It’s very embarrassing, it hurt all the players. It hurts me as the manager,” United manager Ole-Gunnar 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.”
The Theatre of Dreams had become The Theatre of Screams as a humiliating nightmare unravelled for the homeside. The only saving grace was the fact there were no fans there in person to witness it.
The action at Villa Park an hour or so later then took fans viewing at home to an altogether different level of bewilderment. Jurgen Klopp had only one word for opposing manager Dean Smith at full-time: Wow!
Liverpool were missing goalkeeper Alisson Becker, new signing Thiago and influential forward Sadio Mane but still fielded a strong team that actually enjoyed 70% of possession throughout the game.
But, as we all know, it’s goals that count and Villa were out of the blocks quickly, taking only four minutes to score courtesy of summer-signing Ollie Watkins. He then went on to record a first-half hat-trick, becoming the first Villa player to do so against the Reds for 88 years, and he could have had more.
"People have questioned Ollie Watkins’ price,” commented Villa manager Smith post-match. “That has probably trebled now."
Liverpool’s high line was exposed time and time again as Villa captain Jack Grealish revelled and loan-signing from Chelsea Ross Barkley excelled. It is no exaggeration to say Villa could have easily recorded double figures as they hit the woodwork and Adrian made a series of key saves in the Liverpool goal.
Mohamed Salah scored twice for Liverpool but the truth was they were never in it as John McGinn, Barkley and a Grealish brace added to Watkins’ treble to take them second in the league.
Villa have recruited wisely and look a potent outfit, making a mockery of those that predicted another season of toil ahead.
“We never dreamed of getting a result like this,” Smith told BBC Sport.
“The performance was outstanding from start to finish. We created an awful lot of chances against an exceptional defence and team. We had to work very hard,” he added.
It was very much uncharted territory for Liverpool and all a clearly shocked Klopp could do was raise a bewildered smile as the goals flooded in and his team were dismantled. To his credit, he was magnanimous in defeat and afforded Villa the plaudits their incredible performance warranted.
“You have to say that Villa did very well,” the German said. “They were very physical, very smart and very direct, we were not.
“All the things you should not do in a football game, we did tonight.
“We put all our rubbish things and mistakes in one game and hopefully we can start again,” he added.
There was yet another surprise result in the opening game of the day as West Ham United beat Leicester 3-0 at The King Power Stadium.
The Foxes had shocked Manchester City with a 5-2 triumph last weekend and were expected to maintain their 100% league record but the Hammers, bouyant after their 4-0 destruction of Wolves in the last game, had other ideas and were superior from the first whistle to the last.
Goals from Michail Antonio, Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen sealed the win and no doubt improved the mood of manager David Moyes who is in quarantine at home following a positive test for COVID-19.
Elsewhere, Southampton piled on the pressure for West Brom with a 2-0 win, Wolves overcame plucky Fulham 1-0, and Arsenal defeated Sheffield United 2-1 at The Emirates Stadium.
Added to Everton’s classy display against Brighton that took them to the top of the table and a masterclass from Leeds and Man City the previous day, it was a breathtaking weekend of action.
Last weekend we were bemoaning the lop-sided handball rule and the use of technology via VAR that made for a hugely controversial round of fixtures.
Thankfully, there wasn’t an incident of note this weekend and we are now back to debating and appreciating the actual action on the pitch and long may that continue, particularly if it serves up games as entertaining as this.