The attackers who spearheaded Belgium's run to the World Cup semifinals were missing when Chelsea and Manchester United took to the field for their Premier League games on Sunday. It didn't prove to be an issue.
Without the injured Eden Hazard, Chelsea romped to its biggest win of the season in any competition — a 4-0 thrashing of Burnley. Without the dropped Romelu Lukaku, United played one of its best matches of a turbulent season and beat Everton 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Hazard should be back in Chelsea's starting lineup as soon as he is fit again — maybe as early as next weekend — after a back problem that flared up in the 2-2 draw against United last week. The wide forward is the joint-top scorer in the Premier League with seven goals, perhaps the best player of any team so far this season.
When Lukaku is back in United's team is anyone's guess.
United looked a different proposition without the big striker, pouring forward into open spaces and playing the kind of exciting, attacking football rarely seen under its pragmatic manager, Jose Mourinho. Two players who benefited from Lukaku's absence — Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial — were the scorers.
Everton scored its goal, and had its best period of the game, when Lukaku was on the field as a substitute. Gylfi Sigurdsson converted a penalty after Richarlison was fouled by Chris Smalling, but United held on for the win in front of some special guests.
The 12 boys who were trapped with their soccer coach in a flooded cave in northern Thailand for almost three weeks were guests at Old Trafford for the match, and wore red-and-white United scarves for the occasion.
United moved up to eighth in the standings, nine points behind leader Liverpool, and still look unlikely to be challenging for the title this season. Chelsea could be there for the long haul, though.
Even without Hazard, Maurizio Sarri's team had far too much for Burnley at Turf Moor. Ross Barkley set up goals for Alvaro Morata and Willian, either side of scoring himself, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek added a late fourth.
Chelsea is unbeaten and in second place, two points behind Liverpool.
ARSENAL'S RUN OVER
Arsenal had almost forgotten what it felt like to not win a game, with 11 straight victories in all competitions coming since mid-August.
The run is over, however, after a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace, which claimed a point thanks to the second of two successful penalties by Luka Milivojevic.
Granit Xhaka, with a thunderous free kick, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored in a five-minute span to put Arsenal ahead by the 56th after Milivojevic's first penalty gave Palace the lead in first-half stoppage time.
Arsenal is fourth, four points behind Liverpool, but could get overtaken by north London rival Tottenham if it beats Manchester City on Monday.