Jack Grealish and Son Heung-min, two of the Premier League’s most high-profile players, have been facing growing criticism for their failure to score this season.
They silenced the doubters on Saturday.
With a strike after just 55 seconds, Grealish — the England international with the Stg 100 million ($A207 million) price tag — set Manchester City on their way to a 3-0 win at Wolverhampton and first place in the standings, at least for 24 hours.
Then later, with a hat-trick in the space of 14 minutes after coming off the bench, Son rounded off Tottenham’s 6-2 victory over last-placed Leicester, whose manager Brendan Rodgers will head into the international break with his job under serious pressure after six straight league defeats.
The wins left City and Tottenham tied for points in first and second place on 17, two clar of Arsenal, who can regain the lead if they win at Brentford on Sunday.
“Rightly so, people have been asking questions — I should be scoring more and getting more assists,” said Grealish, who hadn’t even set up a goal this season.
“I am always going to have people talking about me with the money that was spent on me, but all my career I haven’t scored enough goals. I do want to add that to my game.”
Naturally, Erling Haaland was one of City’s other scorers at Molineux — that’s 11 in seven games in the league and 14 in nine in all competitions since joining from Borussia Dortmund — along with Phil Foden.
Wolves had had to play with only 10 men from the 33rd minute after Nathan Collins’ red card for a chest-high lunge on Grealish.
City now have 23 goals in seven games so far.
Son was rotated — or was he dropped? — by Tottenham manager Antonio Conte for the Leicester game and his emotions were clear after each of his goals after he came on as a 59th-minute substitute.
Two of the goals were curling shots into the top corner and his hat-trick goal squirmed under beleaguered Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward, before needing the say-so of a VAR review which ruled he’d been onside.
“The way I play, I can do much better than I have been,” Son said.
“I have been disappointed, the team has been doing really, really good but I was disappointed with my performances.”
Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Rodrigo Bentancur also scored for Tottenham, while Youri Tielemans — with a twice-taken penalty — and James Maddison responded for Leicester.
Now, it’s also no wins in six games for Newcastle, whose manager Eddie Howe will understand the pressure that comes with coaching the soccer team with the world’s richest owners. How patient will the club’s Saudi leadership be?
After Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at St James’ Park, which drew some boos from the home fans, Newcastle remain without a win in the league since beating Nottingham Forest on the opening weekend.
Bournemouth had taken the lead against the run of play through Philip Billing in the 62nd minute, but Newcastle equalised five minutes later when Alexander Isak converted a penalty awarded for a Jefferson Lerma handball.
There were more tributes to Queen Elizabeth II before and during Saturday’s games, including a pre-match minute’s silence and a period of applause after the 70th minute — marking the 70 years she was on the throne.
All players wore black armbands as a mark of respect for the Queen, who died last week. Her funeral is in London on Monday.