The Premier League leadership chopped and changed over the weekend but when the dust settled Leicester were top of the pile, one point clear of Tottenham and Liverpool.
Southampton started Sunday in pole position but were leapfrogged first by Spurs, then the Foxes before Liverpool and Manchester City played out a 1-1 draw.
It means just six points separate the 2016 champions from Manchester City all the way down in 10th.
Elsewhere in Europe, Bayern Munich emerged victorious in the ‘Klassiker’, Real Madrid were sunk by a hat-trick of penalties, Lionel Messi looked more like his old self and a fairytale league title is about to be won in the Arctic Circle.
Here is a look at the biggest talking points from the weekend’s European football action as the season continued on its unpredictable course:
Man City’s goal rush dries up
Even as City finished a distant second to Liverpool last season, Pep Guardiola’s men still comfortably outscored the Reds by 17 goals.
City have racked up 303 league goals in the past three seasons, but an early season lack of fluency in the final third showed again against Liverpool.
They have now found the net just once in each of their past five league games.
An improvement at the other end of the pitch since Ruben Dias was paired with Aymeric Laporte in central defence means they remain within striking distance of the top of the table, six points adrift with a game in hand.
But the fact they have dropped points in four of their opening seven league games shows they are not the force that stormed to back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, winning 198 points over two seasons.
Guardiola has had to cope without a natural striker for much of the season and Gabriel Jesus showed the difference that can make, with an instinctive finish for his side’s equaliser.
Sergio Aguero is also expected back after the international break and the club’s all-time top-scorer’s prowess in front of goal is what City’s title challenge has been badly missing.
Can Pogba find a role at Man Utd?
Paul Pogba remains a square peg in a round hole at Manchester United despite occasional flashes of brilliance.
In Saturday’s must-win game against Everton, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to start with Scott McTominay and Fred at the base of his midfield, with Bruno Fernandes higher up the pitch.
It worked a treat as man-of-the-match Fernandes scored twice in a 3-1 victory, with Pogba, 27, again reduced to a bit-part role as a late substitute.
Solskjaer came to the defence of the Frenchman after he conceded a costly penalty against Arsenal last week, saying he was working his way back to full fitness after an ankle injury last season and a coronavirus infection earlier this campaign.
But it is telling that he did not pick him in the starting line-up against Istanbul Basaksehir in midweek or at Goodison Park on Saturday.
The richly gifted World Cup winner recently ramped up speculation over his future again by admitting it would be a dream to play for Real Madrid but he is tied to United until 2022.
It is difficult to know whether either party sees a long-term relationship the way things currently stand.
- Kimmich injury mars Bayern’s Klassiker -
Bayern Munich once again got the better of Borussia Dortmund, beating their rivals 3-2 away in a thrilling ‘Klassiker’ with goals from David Alaba, Robert Lewandowski – his 11th of the Bundesliga season – and Leroy Sane.
Erling Braut Haaland’s late goal for Dortmund proved to be a mere consolation, and Bayern are two points clear of RB Leipzig at the top of the table, and three ahead of Dortmund.
Bayern have now won 11 of their last 15 Bundesliga meetings with Dortmund since winning their 2013 Champions League final showdown.
Hansi Flick’s team have also now won 33 of their last 34 matches but this latest victory was marred by the knee injury suffered by Joshua Kimmich.
The brilliant midfielder hurt himself trying to challenge Haaland and had surgery on Sunday. He will be out until January and will be greatly missed.
- Real Madrid calamity -
Real Madrid looked to be back on track after recent results, but Zinedine Zidane’s side capitulated in stunning fashion at Valencia, conceding three penalties and a Raphael Varane own goal in a 4-1 defeat against a struggling side.
It is Real’s worst La Liga loss since a 5-1 hammering by Barcelona in October 2018 which cost Julen Lopetegui his job as coach. Not that Zidane is likely to suffer the same fate, but the result equalled his worst margin of defeat as coach.
According to renowned Spanish sports statistician Mister Chip, Carlos Soler is just the third player to score a hat-trick of penalties in the same La Liga game, after Alen Peternac and a certain Alfredo di Stefano.
Madrid, with a game in hand, are fourth in La Liga, four points behind leaders Real Sociedad, who have won five straight games after defeating Granada 2-0.
Messi revels as super-sub
Lionel Messi’s form at the start of the season had scarcely been better than the results of his ailing team, and on Saturday the Argentine was rested at kick-off against Betis. But he came on for the second half with the score 1-1 and helped Barcelona run away with the game.
A brilliant leave allowed Antoine Griezmann to make it 2-1, and his fifth penalty of the season made it 3-1. The Argentine’s first goal from open play in this campaign was Barca’s fourth, and they wound up winning 5-2 to give coach Ronald Koeman some breathing space.
Their next game is a trip to an Atletico Madrid side on a formidable 23-game unbeaten run.
PSG pull away after giving head start
Paris Saint-Germain kindly gave the rest of France a head start by losing their first two games this season, but on Saturday they made it eight straight wins since then by brushing aside Rennes 3-0.
That was despite the reigning champions being without a whole of host of players due to injury, including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, and seeing three more go off during the game.
After the early hopes that this most unusual of years might offer up a title race in Ligue 1, Paris are now five points clear of Lille, whose unbeaten start to the campaign ended with a 3-2 defeat at Brest.
They may be struggling in the Champions League, but PSG look well placed to win yet another French title, even with one hand tied behind their backs.
Norway set to crown fairytale champion
From the small town of Bodo, just north of the Arctic Circle and a 16-hour drive from Oslo, Bodo/Glimt are on the brink of winning the Norwegian title for the first time after a remarkable season.
Sunday’s 7-0 destruction of bottom club Aalesund moved them 18 points clear of reigning champions Molde with six games remaining.
They have lost just once all season and average almost 3.5 goals per game, with even the loss of winger Jens Petter Hauge to AC Milan not clipping their momentum.
Edged by Milan in Europa League qualifying in September, Bodo/Glimt are now set to bring Champions League football to the Arctic next season.
(With AFP inputs)