It must be getting harder and harder for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta to deny his team is a genuine title challenger in the Premier League this season.

Still, after recording another statement win — 3-2 over Liverpool on Sunday — Arteta was sticking to the script.

“They are really strong, they have shown that for five years,” Arteta said, in reference to defending champion Manchester City, the winner in four of the last five seasons. “We haven’t done any of that.”

Well, if anyone is going to stop City, it looks like it will be Arsenal.

Pegged back twice by Liverpool at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal showed resilience and lots of character to recover again as Bukayo Saka converted a penalty in the 76th minute to seal an eighth win in nine league games this season.

“We are top of the league” was the chant that swept around the stadium after the final whistle, with Arsenal going back above City by a point.

“They are in the best moments of their lives,” Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said.

The same cannot be said of Liverpool, which dropped 14 points off Arsenal not even a quarter of the way through the season.

Worse for manager Jürgen Klopp, Luis Diaz left the Emirates on crutches with his left knee in a brace after getting hurt late in the first half and Trent Alexander-Arnold was substituted at halftime with a twisted ankle.

“That is the icing on the cake,” said Klopp, whose team has won just two of its eight games in the league and has City up next.

Liverpool twice came from behind, having first conceded to Gabriel Martinelli after 58 seconds. Darwin Núñez scored the first equalizer and Roberto Firmino — the replacement for Diaz — canceled out Saka’s first goal.

RONALDO’S MILESTONE

Cristiano Ronaldo has finally scored in the Premier League this season. It was a landmark goal, too.

The 37-year-old Portugal striker took his tally in his club career to 700 by netting the winner as Manchester United beat Everton 2-1.

Ronaldo came off the bench in the 29th minute to replace the injured Anthony Martial and scored 15 minutes later, running onto Casemiro’s through ball and driving a low left-footed shot under England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

It was Ronaldo’s 144th goal for United across two spells at the club. He also netted 450 goals for Real Madrid, 101 for Juventus and five for Sporting.

Just as in the Europa League on Thursday, United had to come from behind to win after Alex Iwobi put Everton ahead with a curling shot from outside the area in the fifth minute. Antony equalized in the 15th.

CONTENTIOUS WINNER

Gianluca Scamacca is adjusting nicely to life as West Ham’s new striker.

Make that a goal in each of his three games over the past week, his latest a brilliant but contentious one in a 3-1 win over Fulham.

The Italy striker showed his growing composure in front of goal with an audacious chip over Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno to make it 2-1, after bringing the ball down just inside the area almost in slow motion.

Scamacca barely celebrated, suggesting he felt something was amiss, but the goal survived an initial VAR check for offside and then a second, lengthy review of the ball appearing to brush the striker’s fingers after he controlled it.

The goal was given and prompted a touchline meltdown from Fulham manager Marco Silva, who was booked for his angry protests.

Fulham led through Andreas Pereira’s first goal for the club but he gave away the penalty that Jarrod Bowen tucked away for the equalizer. Michail Antonio scored West Ham’s third in stoppage time.

AARONSON’S RUN

In Brenden Aaronson, the United States sure has a talent on its hands heading into the World Cup.

With a weaving solo run that took him past or beyond four opponents, Aaronson helped put Leeds ahead in its match against Crystal Palace. The winger’s shot at the end of his dribble struck the post and Pascal Struijk converting the rebound.

Palace rallied to earn a 2-1 win, however, with Odsonne Édouard and Eberechi Eze scoring the goals in their team’s second victory of the season.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___

Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80