Manchester City and Liverpool, last season’s top two in the English Premier League, were made to sweat by determined opposition before opening their campaigns with hard-fought victories overnight.
David Silva and Sergio Aguero scored as champions City began their title defence with a 2-0 success at Newcastle United, after Daniel Sturridge had struck late in the game to earn Liverpool a 2-1 win at home to Southampton.
The two rivals joined five other teams, including Arsenal, on maximum points, ahead of their showdown at the Etihad Stadium in a week in the first major head-to-head of the season.
Earlier, Sturridge snaffled a 79th-minute winner as Liverpool edged Southampton at a sun-soaked Anfield.
Manchester United’s campaign got off to a false start on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at home to Swansea City in new manager Louis van Gaal’s first competitive game.
Arsenal, meanwhile, needed an injury-time goal from Aaron Ramsey to overcome Crystal Palace 2-1.