MANCHESTER, England (AP) Brendan Rodgers was fired as Liverpool manager after a 1-1 draw at Everton on Sunday and Alexis Sanchez’s stunning double inspired Arsenal to a 3-0 win over Manchester United, ending a chaotic weekend in the English Premier League.
Staying unbeaten in Merseyside derbies failed to prevent Rodgers paying the price for Liverpool’s slump since almost winning the league title in 2014. His sacking came a few hours after Dick Advocaat resigned as Sunderland manager, with the northeast club second from bottom.
”Ambition and winning are at the heart of what we want to bring to Liverpool and we believe this change gives us the best opportunity to deliver it,” Liverpool’s American owners – Fenway Sports Group – said in a statement, with the team currently in 10th place in the league.
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Liverpool’s announcement overshadowed a dominant performance by Arsenal, as the London club knocked United off the top of the standings.
With a mixture of panache and power, Sanchez produced two superb finishes return a smile to the face of his manager, Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal scored all three of its goals in the first 20 minutes, with Sanchez taking his personal haul to six goals in three games with a deft backheel flick and a pile-driver from the edge of the area.
It meant United’s return to the top of the league – for the first time in 110 weeks – was a brief one as Manchester City regained first place thanks to its 6-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday.
For Wenger, this was the ideal riposte to critics who questioned his team selection – and his players’ temperament in big games – after a damaging loss to Olympiakos in the Champions League in midweek. His attackers exposed United’s weakness at fullback in a strong start to the game, before Wenger’s tactical tweaks in midfield stifled a resurgence from United in the second half.
”Some of the best football I’ve ever been involved in. It was like the Arsenal of old,” said Arsenal striker Theo Walcott, who dedicated the win to Wenger. ”That sends a message to the Premier League that we’re here to be reckoned with.”
Arsenal moved into second place, above United on goal difference, and to within two points of City.
Wenger was the only Premier League manager in charge longer than Rodgers, who joined Liverpool with a reputation as one of the brightest coaches in English football and nearly ended the club’s wait for a first championship since 1990.
But since falling short in that memorable title race with Man City 17 months ago, Rodgers has struggled to lift Liverpool after the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
Liverpool has won only three games this league campaign and is the lowest scorer in top half.
Everton’s winless run against Liverpool extended to 10 games, although Romelu Lukaku earned the blue half of Merseyside a point by canceling out Danny Ings’ opener at Goodison Park.
Christian Eriksen scored two equalizers with free kicks for Tottenham in a 2-2 draw at Swansea.
It brought to an end a tumultuous weekend in England that saw Sergio Aguero score five goals in 20 minutes for Man City and Chelsea lose for the fourth time in eight games in a stuttering defense of its title.
United conceding three times in the first 20 minutes for the first time in the 23-year history of the Premier League added to the chaos.
Sanchez is back to the form of last season, when he scored 25 goals in his debut year in England. After a hat trick against Leicester and a goal against Olympiakos, Sanchez gave Arsenal the lead against United in the sixth minute with a flick into the net at the near post from Mesut Ozil’s cut-back.
Ozil scored himself a minute later and Sanchez added the third in the 20th by cutting inside over-run right back Matteo Darmian and smashing a rising shot high into the net.
”When you start like that, you can never win a game,” United manager Louis van Gaal said. ”I have never seen that from my team.”