LONDON: Mason Mount scored twice as Chelsea beat Aston Villa on Sunday to strengthen their grip on a Premier League top-four place while champions Manchester City prepared to take on Liverpool in a blockbuster clash.
Manchester United played out a 0-0 stalemate at home to Newcastle on a busy day of action while Southampton and West Ham shared the points in a 1-1 draw.
Arsenal were on their way to a fourth straight league win in a match delayed after referee Chris Kavanagh lost contact with the video assistant referee and goalline technology.
Chelsea’s fourth consecutive league win came courtesy of Mount’s double plus an inspired performance from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who produced a string of saves in the first half.
Mount’s first came after Villa defender Tyrone Mings — in the sixth minute — miscued a simple header straight to the England midfielder, who finished coolly beyond Emi Martinez.
Despite their early gift, Chelsea struggled to find attacking fluency and were indebted to Arrizabalaga, whose best save came from a point-blank header from Danny Ings.
Chelsea manager Graham Potter made a double change at half-time, bringing on defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Cesar Azpilicueta for Kai Havertz and Marc Cucurella.
Mount doubled their lead in the 65th minute, curling home a free-kick from 25 yards after he was brought down by Mings.
Cristiano Ronaldo was handed just his second start of the Premier League season against Newcastle but could not add to his tally of 700 club goals — a milestone he reached last week against Everton.
Eddie Howe’s visitors could have been ahead at the break after an impressive first half in which Joelinton hit the crossbar before turning the rebound onto the post.
Southampton took a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute when Romain Perraud’s shot was deflected in by defender Ben Johnson but Declan Rice equalised in the second half with a fine strike from outside the area.
Arsenal shaded an entertaining first half at Elland Road and led 1-0 at the break following Bukayo Saka’s fourth league goal of the season.
The goal came in the 35th-minute lead following Rodrigo’s wayward pass. Martin Odegaard slipped Saka in on the right edge of the area and the England winger slammed the ball into the roof of the net.
Play was earlier halted by referee Kavanagh over the communication issues less than four minutes after kick-off. Leeds officials confirmed that a power cut at the stadium had caused the problem.
Leeds missed the chance to equalise in the 64th minute when Patrick Bamford dragged his penalty wide.
Liverpool will start their match against City at Anfield 13 points behind the champions after just two wins in their first eight league games.
The prolific Erling Haaland returned for City after being rested for the Champions League draw at FC Copenhagen in midweek — the Norwegian has scored 20 goals in his first 13 appearances for City in all competitions.
Phil Foden, who signed a new five-year contract this week, also came back into the starting line-up.