As fog engulfed English stadiums, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Diego Costa illuminated the Premier League on Saturday.
And the 35-year-old Ibrahimovic is fast catching the striker seven years his junior on the scoring leaderboard with only two goals separating them.
Ibrahimovic provided both goals at the Hawthorns as Manchester United rolled over West Bromwich Albion 2-0 for a third consecutive league victory “a header after five minutes and a deflected second-half strike.
“He is great to play alongside because he makes such great runs,” United winger Jesse Lingard said. “That makes him easy to link up with.”
At Crystal Palace in south London, Chelsea clocked up an 11th consecutive win for the first time in a Premier League season. Costa secured a 1-0 victory for Antonio Conte’s side by heading in his 15th goal of the league campaign in the first half.
And Costa is far ahead of Ibrahimovic on a more significant table. Costa’s Chelsea tops the Premier League, still 13 points ahead of Ibrahimovic’s sixth-place United.
That’s an unsettling gulf for United manager Jose Mourinho, who celebrated a third consecutive victory on the first anniversary of being fired by Chelsea for a second time.
Returning United to the top four Champions League places, let alone challenging for the title, is a tough mission for Mourinho.
Three of the teams ahead of United are in action on Sunday. There’s a meeting of Arsenal and Manchester City “third versus fourth “at the same time fifth-place Tottenham hosts Burnley.
Here’s the rest of Saturday’s action:
Stoke 2, Leicester 2
Struggling champion Leicester conceded twice after Jamie Vardy was sent off before staging a late comeback but still slipped to 15th place.
Vardy saw red in the 28th minute for a tackle on Mame Diouf. Danny Simpson’s hand ball then gave Stoke a penalty that Bojan Krkic converted, and Joe Allen sent the hosts into a two-goal lead at halftime.
Leonardo Ulloa began the recovery in the 74th and Daniel Amartey headed in his first Leicester goal in the 88th to give Leicester only its second point on the road.
Middlesbrough 3, Swansea 0
Middlesbrough climbed four points clear of the relegation zone while Swansea is only off the bottom on goal difference.
Alvaro Negredo scored two first-half goals and Marten de Roon added a third in the 58th. Bob Bradley’s Swansea has conceded 11 goals in its last three away games in the league and scored only once.
“When I came here I knew what I was getting into and I’m not backing down from it now,” Bradley said. “That’s the challenge “ when the team has put itself in a tough spot everybody has got to stick together during the toughest times and fight the fight.”
West Ham 1, Hull 0
West Ham has five league wins this season and all were achieved with 1-0 scorelines.
Mark Noble, who clinched Wednesday’s win over Burnley after missing a penalty, netted from the spot at the Olympic Stadium as Hull slipped to the bottom of the standings.
Sunderland 1, Watford 0
Sunderland moved off the bottom thanks to Patrick van Aanholt tucking the ball in off the far post four minutes into the second half.
A fourth league win in seven games took Sunderland a point from safety. Watford is seven points ahead in 12th place.