Manchester United veteran Paul Scholes marked his 700th appearance for the club with a goal in a 4-0 Premier League win over Wigan Athletic on Saturday as champions Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke City.
Elsewhere, Arsenal thrashed rock-bottom Southampton 6-1 to leave the promoted Saints still searching for their first points of the season.
At Old Trafford, Scholes got the ball rolling for United, before debutants Alex Buttner and Nick Powell completed the scoring as the home side went second in the table, a point behind Chelsea, who were held 0-0 by Queens Park Rangers.
United missed the chance to take an early lead when Wigan’s Ali al-Habsi saved Javier Hernandez’s weak penalty. It was a controversial spot-kick, won after Danny Welbeck dived in the box.
However, after halftime al-Habsi could only weakly palm away Nani’s cross, allowing Scholes to score his 163rd goal for United.
Hernandez then atoned for his spot-kick error by making it 2-0.
Dutch leftback Buttner, signed from SBV Vitesse, then scored a superb goal, beating three men before his shot from a tight angle went in off al-Habsi.
The, eight minutes from time, midfielder Powell made it 4-0.
“We always remember Paul Scholes as someone who arrives late in the box, but his role has changed over the years, playing a holding role,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “Buttner was rash at times, but he has great enthusiasm and he is a great finisher.”
At the Britannia Stadium in Stoke, England centerforward Peter Crouch gave the hosts a 15th-minute lead when he bundled the ball in from close range, having appeared to handle in the buildup, but Manchester City were level 10 minutes before halftime when Javi Garcia scored on his debut when he headed in Carlos Tevez’s free-kick.
Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross’ goal-line clearance late on ensured a point for the Potters.
“It was basketball — not football,” City manager Roberto Mancini said of Crouch’s goal.
Arsenal, who are now third in the table, struck in the 11th minute at the Emirates when Kieran Gibbs’ cross was turned in to his own net by Southampton defender Jos Hooiveld.
Lukas Podolski’s long-range free-kick then made it 2-0, Gervinho added Arsenal’s third 10 minutes before halftime and another Gibbs-inspired own-goal, this time by Nathaniel Clyne, made it 4-0.
There was still time in the half for Saints to pull one back, through Danny Fox, after Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny dropped a cross, but Gervinho struck again in the 71st minute when he tapped in from close range after substitute Aaron Ramsey’s cross hit the post.
Then, two minutes from time, Theo Walcott scored against his old club to make it 6-1.
“We moved the ball at a very high pace and gave Southampton lots of problems,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Rueful Saints counterpart Nigel Adkins added: “If you give quality players time they will hurt you and that’s what happened.”
At Loftus Road, there was no pre-match handshake from Anton Ferdinand for Chelsea captain John Terry in what turned out to be a goalless draw.
The match was the first between the clubs since since Chelsea and England defender Terry was found not guilty of using a racial slur against QPR’s Ferdinand in the corresponding fixture in October last year.
“As far as we are concerned, our player offered it [a handshake] and if the other player doesn’t want to receive it, then we move on,” Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo said.