We're only about halfway through Week 7 of the Barclays Premier League season, but Saturday's action provided about as much drama and excitement as fans could handle.
Expected Champions League contenders Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United all had games on the schedule for Oct. 5, but each had various circumstances to deal with in their bid to reach the top of the EPL table by season's end.
Elsewhere, Fulham looked to slow Stoke City at Craven Cottage while Cardiff City, Newcastle United, Hull City and Aston Villa were also among the clubs with important matches on the Week 7 schedule.
There were winners, losers and a draw on Saturday. We'll break down the scores and a few of the top highlights from those six matches below.
EPL Scores for Saturday, Oct. 5
Manchester City 3, Everton 1
Cardiff City 1, Newcastle United 2
Fulham 1, Stoke City 0
Hull City 0, Aston Villa 0
Liverpool 3, Crystal Palace 1
Sunderland 1, Manchester United 2
Week 7 Highlights
Januzaj's Debut Double Saves United
Adnan Januzaj doesn't waste any time.
The 18-year-old United midfielder made the most of his first opportunity in David Moyes' starting lineup, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Red Devils. As noted by the club's official Twitter account, the absence of Marouane Fellaini in Saturday's lineup could be more than a one-match situation:
If Januzaj keeps playing like he did against Sunderland, it's safe to say the sting of an extended Fellaini absence would be lessened considerably.
Craig Gardner scored a goal in the opening minutes of Saturday's match for Sunderland, leaving things looking bleak for United to eclipse that mark the rest of the way. But Januzaj was having none of that line of thinking and scored two quick goals in the second half to give United the shock 2-1 victory.
101 Great Goals had the match highlights on Twitter:
Sunderland 1 – Manchester United 2 highlights http://t.co/dTFd9az0QI— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) October 5, 2013
Diehard Old Trafford faithful know who Januzaj is, but the rest of the world likely isn't among that following. Luckily, The Guardian profiled the young phenom after the match:
It's unfair to expect Januzaj to record a brace in each and every start, but more Man of the Match performances will certainly boost United's chances to climb the table after a slow start to the season.
Liverpool Rolls, Leads Table
If just for a day, Liverpool has regained their lead in the EPL table.
Arsenal and Tottenham can lay claim to the top spot with wins on Sunday, but that doesn't take away what was an impressive performance by the Reds against Crystal Palace.
Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard all scored goals for Liverpool, while Dwight Gayle had a second-half strike to bring us to the 3-1 tally. Suarez's strike was his third in two EPL games and first at Anfield since returning from suspension.
If Liverpool is going to win the table, though, they'll need to perform better in the second half. Mirror's Football Twitter account explains:
That's the league leaders, there RT @oilysailor: Liverpool's second half record this season: 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1, 0-1, 1-1, 0-1— MirrorFootball (@MirrorFootball) October 5, 2013
All that said, it's the Reds who lead amongst their 19 peers. It's hard to criticize what Brendan Rodgers has done to try to turn things around at Anfield this season. We'll see if the Reds can continue to trend in the right direction with Arsenal (Nov. 2) and Everton (Nov. 23) looming in the next few weeks.
Man City Gets Back on Track
Following losses to Aston Villa (EPL) and Bayern Munich (Champions League), it was important for Manchester City to get back on track against an upstart Everton squad who was ahead of City in the table when the day began.
Goals from Alvaro Negredo and Sergio Aguero before a late Tim Howard own goal gave City a 3-1 home victory on Saturday afternoon.
While the match was important for the squad as a whole, it was also important for keeper Joe Hart, who had given up five goals in the previous two matches. An early Romelu Lukaku strike sent that number to six in three matches, but Hart rebounded with three saves and kept a clean sheet in the second half.
A busy schedule awaits City during the remainder of October, with EPL, Champions League and Capital One Cup matches all on the docket. They now have some momentum heading into those contests.
Sunday, Oct. 6 Schedule
Norwich City vs. Chelsea (8:30 a.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. BST)
Southampton vs. Swansea City (8:30 a.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. BST)
West Brom vs. Arsenal (10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. BST)
Tottenham vs. West Ham (10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. BST)
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant on Twitter.