By Justin Palmer
LONDON (Reuters) - Irrepressible Luis Suarez scored twice in Liverpool's 5-0 rout of 10-man Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday that suggested the former aristocrats of English football may have the pizzazz and swagger to end their long wait for a league title.
Champions Manchester United ended a poor run of results with a comfortable 3-0 win at Aston Villa but it was Suarez who made all the headlines.
Reveling in the role of captain in Steven Gerrard's absence through injury, the Uruguayan produced another virtuoso display which put Liverpool above Chelsea into second place on goal difference, two points behind leaders Arsenal who have 35 from 16 games.
Suarez began the season late after serving the end of a ban but the striker has made up for lost time - his 16th and 17th Premier League goals more than powderpuff Spurs and nine other top-flight teams have managed.
"It was a brilliant all-round performance. The players worked tirelessly. The level of football was superb," enthused Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
"We got five goals and arguably we could have had seven or eight. That's the beauty of team, it has goals in it.
"We spoke before game that were missing outstanding players in Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge but I said winning teams support each other. We've shown it's the team that is most important for us."
Liverpool have not been crowned champions since 1990 and trips to Manchester City and Chelsea this month could go a long way to revealing whether the Anfield club have the stamina and class for a sustained title challenge.
Suarez, flourishing without injured partner Sturridge alongside him, netted an 18th-minute opener with a precise finish into the bottom corner.
Philippe Coutinho struck the bar but Jordan Henderson added a second five minutes before halftime after Hugo Lloris had palmed away a Suarez shot.
Spurs then capitulated to their worst home defeat in 16 years after Brazil international Paulinho was shown a straight red card for catching Suarez in the chest with a high foot.
Suarez crossed for young defender Jon Flanagan to net his first Liverpool goal, he lifted the ball over an outrushing Lloris to score the fourth and provided the cross for Raheem Sterling to ice the cake with a late fifth.
Spurs remained seventh and manager Andre Villas-Boas shrugged when questioned about whether his job was safe.
"I don't need to convince anyone. Our run is magnificent in the other competitions but not in the Premier League," he said.
"Regarding my position, it is not for me to decide. I can only work to make things better.
England striker Danny Welbeck made the most of a rare start for Manchester United with a first-half double at Villa as the champions ended a run of four Premier League games without victory.
Welbeck, recalled in place of the injured Robin van Persie, struck twice in three minutes for United who moved up one spot to eighth, 10 points behind Arsenal.
United had suffered successive home defeats by Everton and Newcastle United which followed draws at Cardiff City and Tottenham but they outclassed the hosts and made the game safe when Tom Cleverley struck on 52 minutes.
"It was a good job from us. The players did well and the only thing I would criticize is that we didn't score more goals," United manager David Moyes told Sky Sports.
"We were a bit sloppy in the first five minutes but after that played really well."
United received another boost when Scotland international midfielder Darren Fletcher, battling a chronic bowel condition, came off the bench for his first appearance for nearly a year.
Villa, who began brightly but carried little threat once they had fallen behind, have won just one of their last 36 Premier League games against United.
Nathan Dyer scored for Swansea City but suffered a suspected fractured right ankle in the 1-1 draw at Norwich City.
Dyer flicked past John Ruddy on 12 minutes but was carried off on a stretcher late in the first half after a challenge with Sebastien Bassong.
"We have to wait a couple of days for an X-ray and a scan, and we all cross our fingers to hope it is not that bad," said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup.
"That will overshadow everything else. It is just a game of football."
Norwich earned a point thanks to Gary Hooper's spectacular volley in first-half stoppage time.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
- Sports & Recreation
- Luis Suarez
- Manchester United
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