EPL

Knee injury keeps Fabinho out of Man United-Liverpool clash, Pogba on bench

By Sports Desk October 24, 2021

A knee injury kept Fabinho out of Liverpool's squad to face Manchester United, who left Paul Pogba on the bench.

Fabinho sustained the knock during Liverpool's Champions League win at Atletico Madrid in midweek.

It is not thought to be a long-term issue but was serious enough to see him miss the clash at Old Trafford.

Ibrahima Konate and Diogo Jota came into Jurgen Klopp's starting XI, with Joel Matip and Sadio Mane left on the bench.

Named among the substitutes for United was midfielder Pogba as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made three changes to the side that lost at Leicester City last week.

Marcus Rashford started up front while Fred and Scott McTominay were deployed in midfield and Bruno Fernandes was declared fit to play having sustained a knock in United's Champions League comeback against Atalanta.

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    Chelsea slipped from first to third in the Premier League over the weekend after a costly defeat at West Ham, which included a bizarre late winner for the hosts.

    Divock Origi was told to "Be Divock" by Jurgen Klopp, so duly went and scored a 94th minute winner for Liverpool at Wolves, while Ralf Rangnick achieved something his fellow German didn't in his first game as interim boss at Manchester United.

    Antonio Conte and Steven Gerrard also continued their positive starts to respective gigs at Tottenham and Aston Villa in a sentence that feels like it's straight from your favourite football management simulation game rather than real life.

    With all that and more, here are some of the weekend's quirky stats from the Premier League...

     

    Chelsea Hammered

    Did he mean it? Arthur Masuaku says no but your West Ham supporting mates say yes.

    Masuaku's kick of the ball in the 87th minute at the London Stadium flew past Edouard Mendy to inflict Chelsea's second league defeat of the season, toppling them from the summit of the Premier League.

    It was the Frenchman's first Premier League goal in his 96th appearance for the Hammers, from his 29th attempt at goal, if you can even call it that.

    The 3-2 defeat was Chelsea's first in the Premier League after leading at half-time since December 2018 against Wolves under Maurizio Sarri – they had been unbeaten in 48 league games when ahead at half-time before Saturday (W40 D8).

    It is no time to panic for Blues fans, though. The future looks bright with all their talented young players, accompanied by Brazil's answer to Steve Buscemi with a skateboard over his shoulder.

    Aged 37 years and 73 days, Thiago Silva became the oldest player to score for Chelsea in the Premier League, breaking Didier Drogba's record from April 2015 against Leicester City (37 years, 49 days).

    The Late Late Show with Divock Origi

    You could say there was an air of inevitability about it as Divock Origi arrived on the Molineux pitch in the 68th minute on Saturday.

    The Belgian is a man who arguably deserves a statue more than a starting place at Anfield, having scored just once in the league prior to this game since the last day of the 2019-20 season, but who has famously bagged late goals just when his team has needed them.

    His dramatic strike in the closing seconds of this game was Liverpool’s 39th winner scored in 90+ minutes in the Premier League, at least 13 more than any other side. It was also his 10th as a substitute in the Premier League for the Reds, with no player having netted more from the bench for the club in the competition.

    It felt harsh on Wolves, though they had hardly done much to bother their opponents at the other end of the pitch, having just three shots in this game, their fewest in a Premier League match since March 2019 (two vs Chelsea).

    One particularly sore loser will have been skipper Conor Coady. Although a former Liverpool player, he will have been hoping his heroic goal-line block of Diogo Jota's effort, with an xG of 0.604, would have at least secured a point for his team, particularly as the ball hit him square in the Divocks.

     

    King Ralf

    There had not been such anticipation about the future of Manchester United since that bloke Ole was at the wheel. Remember him?

    United's interim gaffer Ralf Rangnick became the sixth German to manage in the Premier League as he stood in the Old Trafford dugout to see his new team beat Crystal Palace, and he was the first to win his debut game in charge in the competition (Felix Magath, Klopp, Jan Siewert, Daniel Farke and Thomas Tuchel all failing to do so before him).

    Following the 1-0 success, six of the last seven managers (including caretakers) have won their first game in charge of the Red Devils in all competitions, with Louis van Gaal being the only exception (he suffered a 2-1 loss against Swansea City at Old Trafford in August 2014).

    United also kept their first clean sheet at home in all competitions since April against Granada in the Europa League, having conceded in 15 consecutive home matches prior to Sunday.

    Fred's impressive winner was his second goal of the season in 12 Premier League matches, as many as he scored in 76 appearances in his first three seasons in the competition beforehand.

    More capital chaos for Canaries

    After their 3-0 defeat at Tottenham, Norwich City have now lost 12 of their past 13 Premier League games in London (W1), conceding 29 goals and scoring just three.

    Antonio Conte became the third Spurs manager to win his first three Premier League home games, after Ryan Mason and Harry Redknapp, but will be hoping that Kane will start to find the net again soon, with the England captain having only scored once in 13 league games this season.

    Norwich manager Dean Smith felt his team were hard done by, and perhaps he had a point when you consider how close the xG of the contest ended, with Norwich's 1.33 only just behind Spurs' 1.52. It was little surprise that Conte's men were more deadly in their finishing though, particularly with Son Heung-min about.

    The South Korea forward has been directly involved in 50 per cent of Tottenham’s league goals this season (six goals, two assists), with only Teemu Pukki (63 per cent) and Emmanuel Dennis (55 per cent) being involved in a higher share of their side's tally.

    Son both scored and assisted in a single Premier League game for the 19th time. Since 2015-16, only Mohamed Salah (22) has done so more often in the competition.

     

    Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, seems management isn't hard

    Doing a stellar job at Rangers is one thing, but Steven Gerrard's management capability was really going to come under the microscope when he moved south to the Premier League.

    It is still early days of course, but so far, the former Liverpool and England midfielder must be wondering what all the fuss was about as he saw his Aston Villa side win again with a 2-1 victory against Leicester City and his former boss Brendan Rodgers.

    Having only won three of their first 11 Premier League games of the season under Dean Smith (D1 L7), Villa have since won three of their first four under Gerrard, with the only failure coming in the narrow 2-1 defeat at home to champions Manchester City.

    Gerrard emphasised on his arrival that he wanted to improve the defence, but Ezri Konsa must have thought he meant at the other end as he bagged a brace on Sunday. In his 216th professional appearance in all competitions, Konsa scored twice in a game for the first time. In doing so, he was the first defender to score a brace for Aston Villa in a Premier League match since Ciaran Clark against Arsenal in November 2010.

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    Salah reportedly told MBC Masr TV that his future is "in the hands of the management and they have to solve this issue",

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    He said in a news conference on the eve of the Champions League clash at Milan: "We know exactly what he's about and we are talking.

    "Extending a contract with a player like Mo is not a thing you do where you meet for a cup of tea in the afternoon and find agreement. That's completely normal.

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    "We have to rotate, we will rotate, that's clear. We have to is the headline, actually. We will make changes and if you make changes you get in fresh legs, if you get fresh legs you get a high energy in the game, if we have high energy we will have a chance to play a good game," he said.

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    Inter head to the Spanish capital after a dominant 3-0 win over Jose Mourinho's Roma moved them within a point of leaders Milan in the league.

    Simone Inzaghi's side also know a win will ensure top spot in Group D but Inter have not defeated Madrid away from home in European competition since March 1967.

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    "It is a prestigious game for us," he added. "We play against a team that is doing very well, playing football well. 

    "We play [for] first place and that is important. And we play in our stadium in front of our fans. It will be an interesting match."

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