Unai Emery reached the milestone of 50 Premier League matches in charge of Arsenal on Saturday in the 2-0 defeat at Leicester City, but an overriding sense of disappointment is all he has managed to establish at the club.

Emery arrived in 2018 as Arsene Wenger's replacement, with the Frenchman ultimately paying the price for going 14 years without winning the title.

In fairness to Wenger, spending at the club was significantly reduced in the wake of their move to the Emirates Stadium, particularly when compared to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool over the same period.

It was hoped Emery's introduction would bring a fresh approach and winning mentality after years of stagnation at Arsenal. However, despite his trophy successes in previous spells with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, some – justifiably – had doubts about the Spaniard's style of play and training methods often criticised as boring.

After reaching 50 Premier League games, it is difficult at present to see him lasting much longer and his record compared to the division's best highlights the gulf in class.

Going backwards after Wenger

Emery's Arsenal have averaged 1.74 points per game across his 50 matches in the top flight. Of those in charge of the traditional 'big six', that figure is only better than Mauricio Pochettino (1.7) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (1.30) over their 50 most recent Premier League games – though the latter's figures are obviously skewed by his spell at Cardiff City.

That's where the positives end in terms of points per game for Emery, however.

Jurgen Klopp (2.62) and Pep Guardiola (2.52) are way out in front over their past 50 matches, while Frank Lampard – who has only taken charge of 12 in the Premier League – has accumulated a respectable 2.17 points per outing.

Similarly, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has done significantly better, averaging 1.84 points per game across his last 50 matches in the Premier League with Liverpool and the Foxes.

But the real kicker is the comparison with the much-maligned Wenger, whose 1.76 average means he too collected more points over his final 50 games at Arsenal than Emery has in his first 50.

Way behind the most prolific scorers

Wenger's Arsenal also scored more than Emery's side. During the Frenchman's final 50 games, they scored 96 times, seven more than they have with the Basque coach.

City have set the bar in terms of scoring over the period in question, netting 130 times, 12 more than Liverpool.

Defensively it is the other way round. While City's record of 33 allowed is exceptional, Liverpool's is even better at just 31.

Arsenal's defensive woes have been well-documented under Emery, with Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Sokratis Papastathopoulos hardly convincing.

As such, they have conceded 68 times since the start of last season, more than double both City and Liverpool and four more than in Wenger's final stretch.

Emery's already had enough time to solve issues

Emery can at least point to the fact he has lost fewer matches (13) than Wenger (16) did over the periods highlighted, though it's a pretty hollow victory.

Klopp and Liverpool again set the standard here, having lost just one of their past 50 Premier League matches, though even Rodgers has been beaten fewer times than Emery over his 50 most recent games, losing 12.

The overarching issue for Arsenal and Emery is a complete lack of identity, something one can certainly argue they still had even in Wenger's latter days.

While these statistics highlight how far behind the Premier League's leading pair Arsenal are, their lack of a discernible style and direction is arguably the main problem, one Emery probably will not get much more time to fix.

After all, there is little doubt they have regressed under his stewardship.

Here they are again: Liverpool and Manchester City. The Premier League's leading protagonists primed for another high-paced, highly important battle, both determined to make a statement ahead of an international break.

It is 10 months since these two previously lined up against each other in the league. Back on January 3, the Reds went into the fixture at the Etihad Stadium knowing a win would open up a double-digit lead at the summit.

Success would not have secured the crown, of course, but it would have left their rivals with substantial ground to make up and with less than half a season remaining. City knew as much too, leading to a performance full of spirit to go with their undoubted skill.

"We knew that it was a final today, if we lose it is almost over," Pep Guardiola said after a hard-fought 2-1 triumph secured by Leroy Sane’s 72nd-minute goal.

For Jurgen Klopp's side, it was a first defeat in their 21st league outing. It also turned out to be the only one, yet they still could not end the club's long, agonising wait for title number 19.

So near, yet so far.

Victory in the Champions League final helped soften the blow to a degree, but the league is undoubtedly the trophy the fanbase craves the most. Their bread and butter, as the legendary Bill Shankly once so wonderfully described it. Liverpool have been starved of it since 1990.

They have gone close on three occasions to ending the drought in the Premier League era, finishing second to Manchester United under Rafael Benitez in 2009, then missing out again five years later during Brendan Rodgers' reign, City on that occasion pipping them to the post. Those second-place finishes offered hope, albeit history shows they were false dawns in terms of climbing back on their perch.

There were reasons for the pessimists to fear the same might happen again this season, too. International commitments led to a disjointed return to club duty - Sadio Mane did not make it back until August 5, four days before the opener against Norwich City – while the transfer window was all about trimming the fat from the squad, rather than making major additions.

But, if anything, the disappointment of coming up short just a few months ago has fuelled a determination among a group of players clearly inspired by their manager.

Familiarity has not led to a lack of focus. The heavy metal football may have been toned down, yet Klopp has ingrained in them a cold, steely edge. No cause ever feels lost - just ask Barcelona from last season's European semi-final second leg, as well as Leicester City and Aston Villa more recently. These Reds have developed a ruthless, relentless streak, something that will be required if they want to stay ahead in a gruelling race.

These are the same faces, only this feels different. Fabinho was a second-half sub at the Etihad at the start of the year, a big-money signing still bedding in. Now he is a key cog, the anchor surrounded by attacking intent. There are few - if any - better than the Brazilian in the defensive midfield role across Europe. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, was not involved. He is quickly getting up to speed again after his lengthy injury lay-off, adding an alternative option to slot into the engine room. As for the defence, Klopp has the kind of options available to him that his opposite number would welcome right now.

While there is still time for tiredness amid a crowded fixture list (enjoy the Club World Cup, everybody!) to kick in, this not-new-but-still-improved Liverpool have charged out of the gate with such ferocity that City are left trying to hang on to their coattails again. The going will get tougher, but a sizeable lead would give them some much-needed breathing space.

So, with a six-point cushion and with home advantage this time around, Klopp's warriors get a chance on Sunday to do something they could not quite manage at the start of 2019.

As was the case in Manchester, this weekend’s clash at Anfield will not decide the destiny of the trophy, despite the hyperbole surrounding it. While City have shown signs of vulnerability with two defeats on their record already, it should not be forgotten that they had also lost twice just prior to the previous meeting.

On that occasion, the fine margins that can define a football game amounted to 1.12 centimetres, the distance John Stones had to spare when clearing Sadio Mane's goal-bound effort with the score at 0-0.

This time, Liverpool will hope to get across the line against City. If they do, the early front-runners will become the firm favourites, even if there are still plenty of hurdles to clear.

Borussia Dortmund endured another grim Klassiker experience at the Allianz Arena on Saturday as Bayern Munich ran out 4-0 winners.

Bayern were only a week out from a 5-1 thrashing at Eintracht Frankfurt that cost head coach Niko Kovac his job, but Dortmund were still unable to lay a glove on them in a one-sided encounter.

Dortmund last won in Munich in April 2014, with the caveat that their rivals had already been crowned Bundesliga champions before succumbing to a 3-0 loss.

At the start of the decade Bayern-Dortmund was one of the most compelling rivalries in world football. Now, at least when the game takes place in Bavaria, a procession feels somewhat inevitable – as the past five Bundesliga editions show.

November 9, 2019 - Bayern Munich 4 Borussia Dortmund 0

Robert Lewandowski's was his old employers' inevitable tormentor, moving on to 23 goals for the season in all competitions as interim head coach Hansi Flick enjoyed a dream start in the job.

Serge Gnabry was also on target, while ex-Bayern defender Mats Hummels put through his own goal. Jadon Sancho was substituted before half-time for a listless Dortmund, with boss Lucien Favre stating the England winger was "not good enough" on his return from injury.

 

April 6, 2019 – Bayern Munich 5 Borussia Dortmund 0

Hummels – in Bayern colours for the last time in this fixture – opened the scoring as Lewandowski inevitably got in on the act. Goals from Javi Martinez and Gnabry meant it was 4-0 before half-time.

Lewandowski completed a rout that was particularly sapping, given Dortmund had arrived at the Allianz Arena two points ahead in a gripping race for the title, which Bayern and Kovac would retain on the final matchday.

 

March 31, 2018 – Bayern Munich 6 Borussia Dortmund 0

There was no close Bundesliga battle to speak of here, as Bayern moved to the brink of glory by humiliating their rivals.

Lewandowski was a hat-trick scorer on this occasion, with Thomas Muller, James Rodriguez and Franck Ribery in on the act to the delight of veteran coach Jupp Heynckes, who had returned to eek out one more title after Carlo Ancelotti's sacking the previous September.

Far from being able to capitalise, Dortmund entered their own state of flux when Peter Stoger replaced Peter Bosz at the helm midway through the campaign.

 

April 4, 2017 – Bayern Munich 4 Borussia Dortmund 1

Dortmund were unable to match their impressive form of Thomas Tuchel's maiden 2015-16 season in charge and headed to the Allianz Arena fourth, 15 points behind the champions elect.

Bayern surged into a 2-0 lead through Ribery and Lewandowski and, although Raphael Guerreiro's free-kick reduced the arrears, Arjen Robben and a Lewandowski penalty ensured Ancelotti had no real cause for alarm.

 

October 4, 2015 – Bayern Munich 5 Borussia Dortmund 1

Tuchel's first Klassiker was hardly a more pleasant experience. The ever-prolific Lewandowski scored twice for Pep Guardiola's Bayern.

Another man with Dortmund ties, Mario Gotze completed the scoring – Muller having netted a first-half brace before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back.

Leicester City have produced better performances this season.

Saturday's 2-0 win over Arsenal saw the Foxes show flashes of their best, but in reality they could have humiliated their visitors had they been as good as they can be.

That's a damning indictment of the standard this Arsenal team is playing at.

Brendan Rodgers' men wasted some fine opportunities, lacking perhaps the clinical nature that often typifies them in attack, while defensively Arsenal were afforded few chances of their own.

But Arsenal's incompetence saw them unable to raise their level to Leicester's. In the end, a 2-0 defeat ultimately flattered the Gunners.

Early positivity dissipates

Emery came under fresh criticism after their previous Premier League game, a 1-1 draw with Wolves, for getting his tactics completely wrong, setting the team up narrowly despite Nuno Espirito Santo's penchant for playing with plenty of width.

This week Emery could be spared such criticism, with the line-up seeing him appear to give in to the fans' desires - there was a back three, two wing-backs offering much-needed width and more attacking intent. There was Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi in midfield too, plus Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all started.

But there was precious little to be encouraged about by the performance. After a bright start, they failed to match Leicester in any department.

Gunners have lost their identity

Arsenal had a total of eight shots over the course of the contest, albeit just two in the second half. Only one hit the target and Lacazette was guilty of a woeful miss in the same move that Wilfred Ndidi was fortunate to escape unpunished when handling in the box.

Even suggestions of defensive solidity before the break could only be put down to Leicester's wastefulness. On another day, the Gunners could have been trailing by at least two at the interval.

Emery's inability to project an identity on this Arsenal team has fans still clinging on to the days when they were renowned for their eye-catching style as the Premier League's pass-masters.

Those days are long gone – this Leicester is the team Arsenal think they should be.

Foxes like the Arsenal of old

In Ndidi, Leicester have an impressive midfielder who effectively shields the defence while also proving reliable in possession. The Nigerian won 61.9 per cent of his 21 duels, conceded just one foul and completed 90 per cent of his attempted passes.

Youri Tielemans was excellent once again. Perhaps criticised for his inability to dictate matches, his influence in attack was undeniable. Of his 62 passes, 51 were in the Arsenal half, while he created three chances and set up Jamie Vardy's opener.

And then there is James Maddison. His finish for the second goal was sublime, but again he was a creative force, crafting three opportunities and playing a vital role in Vardy's goal with an outrageous flick.

Even Leicester's defenders were impressive on the ball, a hallmark of previous Arsenal backlines. Caglar Soyuncu completed 86.5 per cent of his passes in the visitors' half while Jonny Evans' success rate was 82.8, comfortably better than all three of the centre-backs in the opposing XI.

But away from statistics, there is an incisiveness and flow to Leicester's play – especially in the second half on Saturday – that is akin to some of Wenger's most entertaining Arsenal teams.

Their first goal was particularly notable in that respect, as Ricardo Pereira played the ball into Maddison, he flicked it to Tielemans, whose first-time pass picked out Vardy to sweep home and round off a fluid move.

Right man in the wrong dugout?

Rodgers has managed to implement his style impressively despite only taking charge in February. Emery has been at Arsenal for considerably longer, yet it is still difficult to work out what he has changed for the better.

Arsenal were linked with Rodgers when they hired Emery, but they ultimately went for the man who had won trophies with Paris Saint-Germain, with reservations over the former's time at Liverpool hanging over him.

But, if the decision-makers at Arsenal had the idea of playing up-tempo football similar to Wenger's peak years after the Frenchman departed, the choice of Emery is a baffling one. Rodgers, for his 'philosophy', would have made a more natural replacement. 

Now it appears Rodgers' Leicester are the real deal, while Emery's Arsenal are a real dud.

There is no doubt Claudio Bravo has the full backing of his manager ahead of Manchester City's clash with Liverpool.

"Why should I doubt any player in my team? Why do you ask these questions?" a spiky Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

"It's a team game and sometimes you make a mistake; sometimes you make a good save and sometimes not. But why should I not have any confidence with one player in my team? He wouldn't be here otherwise."

It was a staunch defence of a player whose errors in his first season in England were highly scrutinised, before he then lost his place to £35million man Ederson.

Bravo came on against Atalanta after Ederson sustained an injury, but his outing only lasted 36 minutes until a rash run from goal ended in a red card.

Still, with Ederson not fit to start at Anfield, Guardiola will be turning to Bravo again on Sunday. He insists he has no doubts about the former Barcelona man, who was the hero in the Community Shield penalty shoot-out win over Liverpool in August. But should he?

EDERSON IS STILL THE SHOT-STOPPING SUPREMO...

Exploring what might be called the basic elements of goalkeeping, there is little to argue against Ederson having the edge over Bravo.

The Brazilian has made 85 Premier League appearances, keeping 41 clean sheets – almost one every two games. Bravo, in 24 games, has managed six shut-outs, or one in four.

Ederson, of course, has been playing behind a stronger defence than Bravo did in 2016-17, when he made all but three of those appearances. Dig deeper, though, and the numbers are still not on Bravo's side.

The Chile international has faced 64 Premier League shots on target, saving 37 of them, giving him a save percentage of 57.8. Ederson, with 145 saves from 202 shots on target faced, is at 71.8 per cent.

 

...AND HE IS DEFYING EXPECTATIONS

Going further, Ederson outperforms Bravo when it comes to Expected Goals on Target Conceded (xGOT) – Opta's measure of the quality of a chance created by a team, and therefore a good indicator of how many goals a keeper can reasonably be expected to have conceded.

Excluding own goals, Ederson has conceded 57 times in the Premier League, with an xGOT rating of 62.9. Bravo, who has conceded 27 times, has an xGOT of 19.9.

In other words, Ederson should realistically have conceded six more goals than he has in England's top flight, given the quality of chances his opponents created. As for Bravo, he has let in seven more goals than he should. 

 

KLOPP'S RIGHT – EDERSON CHANGES HOW CITY PLAY

Speaking to Sky Sports, Klopp said this week: "If he wouldn't play then [City's game plan] would change, because Ederson is an important part of their game, 100 per cent. Bravo can do similar things, but exactly the same? Nobody can do [that]. That's how it is."

Although he didn't specify what makes Ederson so crucial to City, it's reasonable to assume Klopp was referring to his sweeper-keeper tendencies. And he has a point.

Ederson is a critical part of City's possession play. He boasts a passing accuracy of 84.7 per cent, and he has completed 26.2 per cent of all passes ending in the final third – a hugely important ploy when it comes to escaping the Liverpool press.

He also has a massive 'keeper sweeper' accuracy of 95.1 per cent. Opta defines a keeper sweeper as any time that a goalkeeper rushes out at least to the edge of his area, under some pressure from an opposing forward racing to the ball, in which he reacts quickly and reads the play.

As for Bravo, his passing accuracy is down at 74 per cent, with his 'keeper sweeper' accuracy at 79.3 per cent. As for those long passes into the last third, he has completed only one in 10. Klopp does not need telling that those are significant drops.

To give Bravo his due, though, perhaps Guardiola is right not to be worried about the risk of mistakes, at least. Bravo has only twice committed an error leading to a shot or goal in the Premier League. Ederson has done so nine times.

When Mateo Kovacic re-joined Chelsea in a reported £45million deal after spending last season on loan at Stamford Bridge, it's fair to say the news wasn't met with much more than a shrug from most.

A tidy player, undoubtedly, but Kovacic's debut campaign at Chelsea did little to hush those who have expected more from him since moving to Real Madrid after very promising spells with Dinamo Zagreb and Inter earlier in his career.

Fading in and out of matches, struggling to dictate play and seemingly unable to completely convince Maurizio Sarri, Kovacic generally looked like a square peg in a round hole.

Although he made 21 Premier League starts, he completed 90 minutes just twice and failed to dislodge Ross Barkley, whose own tale of somewhat unfulfilled potential is perhaps comparable.

But under Frank Lampard this season, Kovacic looks to be on the right track and showed evidence he is stepping out of Jorginho's shadow in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

For all the praise Lampard's young team – which on Saturday was the youngest it, or any previous Chelsea starting XI, has been in the Premier League – has received this season, their first-half showing highlighted deficiencies.

Vicente Guaita in the Palace goal was barely worked despite Chelsea's dominance, with three of their first eight shots coming from free-kicks, while there were also a couple of long-distance efforts.

A lack of impetus in the final third was laid bare without the suspended Jorginho, as Tammy Abraham only had a solitary shot before half-time.

While Kovacic caught the eye with some powerful runs from deep and Christian Pulisic's trickery on the ball left Palace defenders in knots on a couple of occasions, their general build-up play was a little predictable and the final pass unable to cut through the visitors' packed defence.

Chelsea would have been well aware of how Palace planned to set up. They are notoriously effective away from home, with their record of 11 Premier League wins on the road since the start of last season bettered by only Liverpool, Manchester City (both 18) and Chelsea (14).

Jorginho's usual influence was particularly notable by its absence.

Having been a frequent target of Chelsea fans last season, often booed and jeered by Blues supporters, he has gone about his business very effectively this term.

No player had attempted or completed more passes (865/765) than the Italian in the Premier League in 2019-20 before Saturday, while his 125 passes into the final third was also unmatched, proving there is far more to his game than simply nudging possession on to a team-mate five yards away.

Without Jorginho's vision and incisiveness, Chelsea's attackers were already at a disadvantage.

But, while it wouldn't have been fair to expect Kovacic to fill exactly the same role, he did exhibit solid evidence of his own marked improvement and was crucial in breaking Palace down.

His unique spin on the deep-lying playmaker position ultimately proved vital as Chelsea ended Palace's resistance in the 52nd minute – he darted in off the left flank, skipped past two defenders and prodded a pass through to Willian, whose clever flick released Abraham for an easy finish.

For all Jorginho's ability, it was an action one almost certainly wouldn't have seen from the former Napoli schemer.

Kovacic's role in Chelsea's second was rather more Jorginho, however.

Receiving the ball from the back and just inside his own half, Kovacic noticed Pulisic in space on the left and drove an inch-perfect cross-field pass right to him. He cut inside and found Michy Batshuayi, whose deflected shot sat up kindly for the American, who nodded past Guaita.

Although it wasn't Kovacic's name on the scoresheet, he finished the match leaving little doubt of his growing influence.

If he continues on his current trajectory, the only shrugging from Chelsea fans will come after inspirational performances - he has the capability for such effectiveness to be his norm.

There is simply no stopping Robert Lewandowski right now, despite Bayern Munich's relative struggles.

Bayern were fourth in the Bundesliga heading into the weekend and have sacked coach Niko Kovac, yet Lewandowski has 21 goals in 17 games in all competitions.

Even after caretaker boss Hansi Flick revealed on Tue Lewandowski requires groin surgery, the striker went out the next day and scored against Olympiacos.

Now, as he prepares to face former club Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker, the latest incredible record of a sensational career is within sight.

With the help of Opta data, we break down Lewandowski's ridiculous goalscoring form.
 

THE BEST FORM OF HIS CAREER

Lewandowski has been a prolific goalscorer throughout his Bayern career but never has he netted at the frightening rate he is currently maintaining.

The Poland international's best minutes-per-goal rate in a season for Bayern prior to this campaign was a strike every 92 minutes in 2017-18. His foremost conversion rate across a season was previously 27 per cent in both 2016-17 and 2018-19.

This term, Lewandowski has scored every 69 minutes, hitting the net with a staggering 31 per cent of his shots.

He had never previously scored 21 goals - his present tally - in fewer than 21 matches at the start of a campaign, doing so in that number last season, while his best haul after 17 games of a single season was 18 in 2015-16.

THE BEST FORM IN EUROPE

It is not just that Lewandowski is blowing away his previous career bests, he is the standout striker in European football right now.

Lewandowski's 21 goals are comfortably the most by a player in Europe's top leagues in all competitions this term, with Ciro Immobile next on 15. Raheem Sterling has 14, with Timo Werner and Sergio Aguero next on 13 each.

That outstanding minutes-per-goal rate of one every 69 minutes is the best around, too, although Immobile is pushing Lewandowski close with a goal every 70 minutes.

Aided by his remarkable total so far this term, Lewandowski has netted 212 goals since joining Bayern at the start of the 2014-15 season - the third most in that time behind Lionel Messi (255) and Cristiano Ronaldo (232). Not bad company to be keeping.
 

HISTORY-MAKER, RECORD-BREAKER

Between a 2-0 DFL-Supercup defeat to Dortmund on August 3 and a substitute DFB-Pokal appearance against Bochum on October 29, Lewandowski struck in 13 consecutive Bayern games - two matches short of Gerd Muller's club-record streak.

His run of Bundesliga games with goals remains unbroken, though, as Lewandowski became the first player in league history to net in the first 10 matches of a campaign.

Klaus Allofs and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have each scored in 10 straight games across two seasons, but another goal against Dortmund on Saturday would make Lewandowski the first to extend such a streak to 11 matches.

There appears to be no end to the 31-year-old's form and he continues to climb the all-time Bundesliga goals list, reaching fourth with his haul of 216 in 300 games for Bayern and Dortmund. Former coach Jupp Heynckes (third) is next in his sights on 220.

Five months on from the Raptors' stunning NBA Finals triumph in Oakland, the city of Toronto will hope to be celebrating further success after the MLS Cup final.

The Raptors defeated two-time defending champions the Golden State Warriors for their first title, and Toronto FC can add another championship by beating Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

Toronto and Seattle are facing one another in the season decider in MLS for the third time in four years, winning a title apiece at BMO Field before this showdown at CenturyLink Field.

Victory would cap a sensational 2019 for sports in Toronto, but other cities have similarly been able to hail two or more major championships in the same year previously. We take a look at the seven most recent examples.
 

1998: CHICAGO - Bulls (NBA), Fire (MLS)

Michael Jordan's NBA dominance with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s gave the city's other sports teams plenty of opportunities to complete a double. In 1998, two years after the introduction of MLS, early force Chicago Fire were able to deliver.

Jordan ended his final season in Chicago a champion once again, the MVP and Finals MVP as the Utah Jazz were beaten 4-2 in June. Fire then defeated DC United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl in October, capping a fine year for the Windy City.
 

2000: NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK - Devils (NHL), Yankees (MLB)

The sports teams in the greater New York area brought in the millennium in real style as both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Yankees were able to clinch championships.

The second of the Devils' three Stanley Cup successes to date came against the Dallas Stars in June's Game 6, before a New York victory at the World Series was guaranteed as the Yankees faced the Mets four months later. The Yankees won inside five games for a third straight title.
 

2002: LOS ANGELES - Lakers (NBA), Galaxy (MLS), Angels (MLB)

Few cities have enjoyed a year as dominant as Los Angeles did in 2002, with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Anaheim Angels all triumphing.

The Lakers won the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year in June, crushing the New Jersey Nets 4-0, before October brought double delight for the city's sports fans, with Galaxy beating New England Revolution 1-0 as the Angels began their World Series campaign, ultimately edging out the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
 

2004: NEW ENGLAND/BOSTON - Patriots (NFL), Red Sox (MLB)

It should have surprised no one to see the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, their second of three in four years, but it was a far bigger deal to see the Boston Red Sox come out on top in the World Series.

Tom Brady earned his second ring as the Carolina Panthers were edged out in a dramatic fourth quarter in February, before neighbours the Red Sox ended the 'Curse of the Bambino' and an 86-year wait for a championship by thrashing the St Louis Cardinals in October, having earlier come from 3-0 down against the Yankees.

2009: PITTSBURGH - Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL)

Pittsburgh sports fans have had plenty to celebrate since the turn of the century. The Pirates have largely toiled in MLB, but the NFL Steelers and NHL Penguins have each seen success - and did so in the same year in 2009.

The Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls when they held off a fourth-quarter fightback from the Arizona Cardinals in February, while the Penguins avenged their 2008 Stanley Cup defeat to the Detroit Red Wings against the same team in Game 7 in June.
 

2012: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

If Toronto can win a second MLS Cup in three years, they will then hope to kick on and pursue Galaxy's record of five titles - the fourth of which came in December 2012, six months after the Los Angeles Kings broke their Stanley Cup duck.

Playing just the second Finals in their history, the Kings dealt established winners the Devils a six-game defeat. Galaxy, far more accustomed with success, then defeated Houston Dynamo for the second year running in the MLS Cup final.


2014: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

Having waited so long for a first triumph, the Kings wasted little time at all to double their tally - much like Toronto FC, the Reds will hope.

Another New York outfit, the New York Rangers, were dispatched 4-1 in June, setting up another magnificent double with Galaxy when Bruce Arena's men beat New England thanks to an extra-time Robbie Keane strike in December.

KSI and Logan Paul are set to wage war again at Los Angeles' Staples Center on Saturday.

A little over a year ago, the two big-talking internet personalities fought to a unanimous draw in Manchester in an amateur bout.

The warring duo are going at it again but this time in the professional ranks, with Matchroom and DAZN putting the event on PPV.

But just who exactly are KSI and Logan Paul? Omnisport has dug a little deeper to provide profiles on the YouTube stars.


KSI

Who is KSI?

KSI, real name Olajide William Olatunji, shot to prominence through his online videos. Originally, KSI grew his following by uploading videos of himself playing the EA Sports franchise game FIFA.

As his profile grew, KSI ventured into other projects – most notably releasing rap tracks and a clothing range.

 

What's his social media following like?

KSI has an astonishing 20.5million subscribers to his YouTube channel, while 5.1m follow his Twitter account and 6.7m his Instagram page.

 

KSI… what does it stand for?

The KSI moniker means "Knowledge, Strength, Integrity" – three words he has tattooed on his arm. He made a video of him getting the ink, in which he apologises to his mum.

 

How did he get involved in boxing?

KSI fought for the first time in an amateur bout against fellow YouTube star Joe Weller in February 2018.

That came around after Weller called out KSI following victory in his first amateur bout. After winning the fight, KSI was awarded the YouTube Boxing Championship.


LOGAN PAUL

Who is Logan Paul?

Paul first became an online personality through his work on now defunct video service Vine. He later moved to YouTube and Facebook and now is a vlogger.


What's his social media following like?

His Logan Paul Vlogs channel has 19.9m subscribers, while a further 1.78m subscribe to his Impaulsive podcast YouTube page. He has 16.4m and 5.1m followers on his respective Instagram and Twitter pages. 


Has he been involved with other ventures?

He most certainly has. As well as his strong online game, Paul has produced music videos and podcasts, while he has also dabbled in some acting. 


How did he get involved in boxing?

Technically, it was KSI who fired the first shot when he called out Paul following his win over Weller. The confident American answered the call.

Even if Hansi Flick's time in charge of Bayern Munich is short, he is not likely to forget his first Bundesliga match.

The 54-year-old, who was placed in interim charge of the first team after Niko Kovac agreed it was better for all concerned if he walked away, will take on Borussia Dortmund at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Flick oversaw a 2-0 win against Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday, but his opening league match is a very different kind of fixture. Bayern are a point behind Dortmund after 10 matches and four adrift of leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, so a win really is paramount.

With Dortmund having found a bit of form recently it's a hard game to predict and, as we can see, Bayern coaches have had mixed fortunes in the modern era when it comes to their first league Klassikers...

 

Ottmar Hitzfeld: Bayern Munich 2-2 Borussia Dortmund, 04/10/1998

Hitzfeld had huge success in charge of each of these teams, so perhaps it's fitting his first Klassiker as Bayern coach ended in a draw.

Stephane Chapuisat put Dortmund ahead, Bayern turned it around with two goals in a minute from Giovane Elber and Carsten Jancker, but Christian Nerlinger forced a draw.

Hitzfeld took over at Bayern again in 2007 for a little over a year, and that first Klassiker ended goalless. You can't say he wasn't fair.

Felix Magath: Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Bayern Munich, 18/09/2004

Another 2-2 draw, although this one was a touch more dramatic.

Ewerthon's double had Dortmund ahead, but Lucio halved the deficit in the 88th minute and Roy Makaay snatched a point in stoppage time. It was a springboard to back-to-back domestic doubles for Magath.

Jurgen Klinsmann: Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Bayern Munich, 23/08/2008

Bayern won the DFB-Pokal final against Dortmund after extra time under Hitzfeld four months earlier, but the teams could not be separated here.

BVB, now under a certain Jurgen Klopp, took an early lead through Jakub Blaszczykowski but were pegged back by Tim Borowski in the second half. Klinsmann, meanwhile, was gone the following April.

 

Louis van Gaal: Borussia Dortmund 1-5 Bayern Munich, 12/09/2009

This was more like it.

Jupp Heynckes took temporary charge before Van Gaal became Klinsmann's permanent successor, and he laid down a marker with this Dortmund demolition.

Mario Gomez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and a Thomas Muller double made sure Mats Hummels' opener was swiftly forgotten. Only Jose Mourinho's Inter stopped Bayern winning the treble that season.

 

Jupp Heynckes: Bayern Munich 0-1 Borussia Dortmund, 19/11/2011

Andries Jonker took temporary charge after Van Gaal's exit before Heynckes got the gig on a full-time basis.

His first Klassiker was settled by a Mario Gotze strike that helped Dortmund stay on course for a league and cup double that season. Of course, Heynckes would get substantial revenge when he won the treble by beating Dortmund in the Champions League final just 18 months later.

 

Pep Guardiola: Borussia Dortmund 0-3 Bayern Munich, 23/11/2013

Guardiola had big shoes to fill when he replaced the popular Heynckes. Following a 4-2 loss when the teams met in the DFL-Supercup, a convincing Klassiker win before December was a smart way to go about things.

Gotze broke the deadlock against his old club before Robben and Muller settled things late on. Almost inevitably, Bayern won the double that season.

Carlo Ancelotti: Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Bayern Munich, 19/11/2016

Despite his past achievements and his air of amiability, it just didn't click between Ancelotti and Bayern.

Losing to Dortmund courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal didn't help his cause, and although he won the title in his only full season, he was out the door by September 2017.

Jupp Heynckes: Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Bayern Munich, 04/11/2017

Interim boss Willy Sagnol never got to tackle a Klassiker, so Heynckes was given another chance to cement his legacy as an Allianz Arena hero.

He didn't disappoint. Robben, Robert Lewandowski and David Alaba put the game to bed before Marc Bartra's consolation, and Heynckes' fourth Bundesliga title as Bayern coach followed at the end of the season.

 

Niko Kovac: Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Bayern Munich, 10/11/2018

Kovac certainly served up a treat in his first Klassiker - it's just a shame it wasn't one Bayern fans could stomach.

Lewandowski goals were twice cancelled out by Marco Reus before Paco Alcacer settled a thriller. Another domestic double followed for Bayern, but Kovac would still be gone within a year.

He may be heading over 15,000 kilometres from home, but Sonny Bill Williams is back where it all began.

The 34-year-old has returned to rugby league after signing a lucrative two-year deal with Super League newcomers Toronto Wolfpack.

It is another fascinating move for the New Zealander, who has represented his country in both codes, holds a 7-0 record in professional boxing and was Googled more often than Kim Kardashian by Kiwis in 2010.

Here, we take a look at Williams' career so far.

BULLDOGS BEGINNINGS

Fifteen years ago Williams, then 18, burst onto the scene with a brilliant display in his NRL debut as Canterbury Bulldogs thrashed Parramatta Eels 48-14.

The teenager scored a try and made 184 metres that night and, one month later, he became New Zealand's youngest ever Test player.

Canterbury went on to win the 2004 NRL Grand Final, with Williams coming off the bench in the victory. A star was born.

TO TOULON

After four seasons with the Bulldogs, Williams controversially switched codes, and countries, joining Top 14 side Toulon, despite having five years left to run on his deal with Canterbury.

A bitter court case followed, and Williams only spent two years in France before turning down an extension that would have reportedly made him the highest-paid player in union.

Williams had other ideas. He wanted to become an All Black.

WORLD CUP WINNER

Williams signed a contract with the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2010 and returned to Canterbury, this time with the region's union team, while representing the Crusaders in Super Rugby.

He made his much-anticipated All Blacks debut in November 2010, starting at outside centre against England, becoming the first man in almost a century to represent the country in both league and union.

New Zealand would end their long wait for a second World Cup title in 2011, with Williams scoring a World Cup record three tries as a substitute.

A HIT AT HEAVYWEIGHT

In 2009, Williams traded passes for punches when he made his debut as a professional boxer, stopping Gary Gurr in the second round.

That was thought to be a one-off but Williams clearly had a taste for the sweet science and he fought four more fights - winning them all - before taking on a title shot against Francois Botha in 2013.

Williams would walk away with the WBA International Heavyweight belt with a points win over a man who had fought Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis previously.

However, there was an element of farce to the bout as it was cut short by two rounds, with the Kiwi clearly struggling by the end of the 10th.

RULING THE ROOST

Five years after his last NRL appearance - and after a stint in Japan - Williams returned to league with the Sydney Roosters, scoring a try on his debut in front of a record crowd.

He would be named the Roosters' player of the year that season and won a second NRL title.

Already a World Cup winner in union, he came close to claiming league's most coveted international prize too but was part of the New Zealand side beaten by Australia in the 2013 final.

Another return to union followed, though, and Williams added another World Cup winners' medal to his collection with the All Blacks in 2015.

Some players thrive under the spotlight more than others – Liverpool will hope Sadio Mane proves his mettle against Manchester City, when the focus will be on him for more than one reason.

Mane has established himself as one of the Premier League's great entertainers and arguably Liverpool's biggest attacking threat, yet he has also earned himself a reputation as a purveyor of the dark arts – or "diving", as Pep Guardiola put it on Saturday.

Earlier that day, Mane had gone down very easily in the penalty area during Liverpool's 2-1 win at Aston Villa. Under pressure from Frederic Guilbert, the forward theatrically went to ground and was swiftly shown a yellow card for simulation by referee Jon Moss.

Jurgen Klopp and Mane have had their say since and come to the conclusion that the Senegal forward is not a "diver" – and even Guardiola appeared to backtrack – yet this weekend he will come under intense scrutiny over his conduct, performance and attitude, particularly given that this was by no means the first time the former Southampton star courted flak for diving.

Considering Mane's importance to Liverpool, Klopp will be desperate for him to harness that attention to the Reds' benefit on the big stage, something Sergio Aguero has become remarkably adept at. 

Aguero the benchmark

Since joining City from Atletico Madrid in 2011, Aguero's productivity in games against the so-called "big six" has been truly remarkable.

In 67 matches, Aguero has scored 44 goals from 241 shots with a conversion rate of 18.3 per cent. Against any standard of opposition that would be considered outstanding – to boast such a record against the Premier League's best is astonishing.

But he is yet to score in seven trips to Anfield, making it his least favourite away ground. 

Jamie Vardy is the closest to Aguero in terms of goals, with 31 in 59 matches. While that may not be as impressive, the fact that haul comes from 109 shots – giving him a startling 28.4 per cent conversion rate – suggests he relishes such occasions like few others.

Mane's record of 18 goals in 53 matches against the top sides may pale in comparison, but it remains impressive and is bettered by only six players.

Sadio the main Mane at Anfield

There is little doubt Mane has become the most influential attacker at Liverpool this season, with 12 goal involvements (nine goals, three assists). Mohamed Salah has 10 split equally between goals and assists, while Roberto Firmino is on nine (five goals, four assists).

Mane's nine goals across all competitions may not be groundbreaking, but it is only one shy of Raheem Sterling and two fewer than Aguero.

He has proven to be a vital creator for the Reds as well, laying on 29 chances for team-mates, six more than Firmino and eight better than Salah.

It is also worth pointing out Mane's 20.9 per cent conversion rate, as that too is significantly better than those posted by Salah (7.9 per cent) and Firmino (13.2 per cent).

Mane out to make a splash

Mane's reply to Guardiola after Liverpool's Champions League win over Genk suggested he is handling the situation rather comfortably.

Not only did he admit he would do what he did against Villa – what he considered to not be a dive – again, he insisted Guardiola's comments won't change him.

Given he has established himself as Liverpool's chief attacking threat, that'll be music to the ears of Klopp as he prepares his side to potentially go nine points clear at the Premier League summit.

Klopp will hope Mane can make a splash of the right kind against the champions at Anfield.

The San Francisco 49ers are the last unbeaten team remaining in the NFL, though that record will come under threat in Week 10 when they face the Seattle Seahawks and MVP candidate Russell Wilson.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Cincinnati Bengals - now the only franchise without a win in 2019 - meet the Baltimore Ravens, who will be buoyed by their win over the previously undefeated New England Patriots.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay will look to continue his impressive record against AFC teams in Pittsburgh, while the Miami Dolphins, fresh off their first win over the New York Jets, will look to finally get a victory on the road.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we take a look at the Week 10 match-ups.

THURSDAY (all times Eastern)

Chargers (4-5) at Raiders (4-4), 8:20pm

- The Chargers have won three straight Thursday night games and are 7-3 since the league started putting games on that day in 2006.

- Los Angeles quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown at least one touchdown in 23 straight games against Oakland. Only Brett Favre (26 against the Chicago Bears) and Dan Marino (24 against the Jets) have longer streaks against a single opponent.

- Josh Jacobs has rushed for 740 yards this season, eclipsing Bo Jackson to record the most by a Raider through their first eight games.

SUNDAY

Lions (3-4-1) @ Bears (3-5), 1pm

- Despite their record, the Lions are one of three teams (along with the Kansas City Chiefs and 49ers) to have led in every game this season.

- Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to play his 150th NFL game. He already has the most completions (3,559) and passing yards (41,025) through 150 games in NFL history.

- Stafford's counterpart Mitchell Trubisky has thrown for just 8.95 yards per completion this season. He is on course to have the fewest yards per completion of any Bears quarterback ever.

Falcons (1-7) @ Saints (7-1), 1pm

- Both the Falcons and Saints are coming off a bye. Since 2009, they are both 8-2 following a bye - the joint second-best record in the NFL in that time behind the Ravens (9-2).

- Atlanta have lost six straight games, though, and have not dropped seven in a row since 2003.

- Two weeks ago Julio Jones recorded his 14th regular-season game with at least 150 receiving yards, tied for the most of any active player along with free agent Antonio Brown.

Chiefs (6-3) @ Titans (4-5), 1pm

- Patrick Mahomes may return this week, but the Chiefs have gone 1-1 with Matt Moore filling in. The two quarterbacks have combined for 19 touchdown passes, one interception and a 109.8 passer rating this season.

- Tennessee have been shut out in the first half on four occasions this season. They are 0-5 when trailing at the break and 4-0 when not behind.

- Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked on 10 per cent of his dropbacks this season - the third highest among QBs with 100 or more attempts. Marcus Mariota, now Tannehill's backup, has the highest sack rate with 13.6 per cent.

Ravens (6-2) @ Bengals (0-8), 1pm

- Baltimore have scored 40 points on opening drives this season and have yet to concede any on their opponents' first offensive series.

- Lamar Jackson has rushed for at least 60 yards in five successive games - the second time the second-year quarterback has achieved that feat in his career. Michael Vick is the only QB in the Super Bowl era to rush for 60-plus yards in more than five straight games (six).

- The only Bengal to score a rushing touchdown this year is quarterback Andy Dalton, who has found the endzone three times on the ground.

Bills (6-2) @ Browns (2-6), 1pm

- The last time the Browns beat the Bills, Rob Chudzinski was their head coach. Buffalo have won four of their previous five meetings.

- Buffalo are 3-0 on the road for the first time since 1993, the last time they went to the Super Bowl. The previous time they went 4-0 was in 1965.

- Baker Mayfield has only thrown seven passing touchdowns this season and the Browns have the second fewest scores through the air in 2019.

Giants (2-7) @ Jets (1-7), 1pm

- The Giants have given up the most points since their five-game losing streak began in Week 5 (158) and have 12 turnovers in that time - only the Jets (14) have coughed the ball up more frequently.

- Jets running back Le'Veon Bell is one of only three players with at least half of his team's touches this season (51.7 per cent). The other two are Christian McCaffrey (55.2 per cent) and Nick Chubb (51.6 per cent).

- Saquon Barkley has not had a rushing touchdown in consecutive games. He has never gone three games without a rushing score in his NFL career.

Cardinals (3-5-1) @ Buccaneers (2-6), 1pm

- Tampa Bay have lost five successive games at home. Only the Washington Redskins (eight) have a longer active winless streak on their own patch.

- Arizona are the first team to go five games without a turnover since the 2017 Chiefs. The Cardinals' four turnovers are the fewest in the NFL this season.

- Eight of the previous nine meetings between these two have been one-possession games.

Dolphins (1-7) @ Colts (5-3), 4:05pm

- Miami have lost 10 straight games on the road and will equal the franchise record, set between 2006 and 2008, if they fail to get a victory on Sunday.

- Colts veteran Adam Vinatieri is the first kicker to miss at least five field goals and five extra points over his team's first eight games since 1988.

- Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick needs two more passing touchdowns to reach 200 for his career.

Panthers (5-3) @ Packers (7-2), 4:25pm

- Kyle Allen, who will get the start again after Cam Newton was placed on injured reserve, leads the NFL with a 116.7 passer rating in the red zone.

- The future appears bright for the Panthers, who have had a combined 2,393 scrimmage yards from players aged 23 or younger - by far the biggest total in the league.

- Green Bay have gone three straight weeks without a turnover and have had six such games in total in 2019 - the joint-most along with the Arizona Cardinals.

Rams (5-3) @ Steelers (4-4), 4:25pm

- Since McVay took over as head coach in 2017, the Rams are 10-0 against AFC teams in the regular season and have a 16-4 overall record on the road - the best in the NFL over that span.

- Pittsburgh have forced three or more turnovers in four successive games. The Steelers are second in takeaways in the NFL this season, behind only the Patriots.

- On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh have allowed the fewest sacks (eight) in 2019.

Vikings (6-3) @ Cowboys (5-3), 8:20pm

- The Vikings are looking to sweep the NFC East having won all three of their games so far by a margin of at least 10 points.

- Dallas are 4-0 against fellow NFC East foes and have scored 35 points on average, yet they are 1-3 against teams outside their division.

- Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook leads the league in games with at least 100 yards from scrimmage (seven).

MONDAY

Seahawks (7-2) @ 49ers (8-0), 8:15pm

- Seven of Seattle's nine games this season have been decided by one score, including six of their seven wins.

- Wilson has thrown 22 touchdowns to just one interception this season and he has had five games with a passer rating of 130.0 or higher - one shy of the all-time single-season record, held by Aaron Rodgers (2011) and Tony Romo (2014).

- Jimmy Garoppolo posted his higher passing rating of the season last time out (136.9) and did not throw an interception for only the second time in 2019.

Talk of diving and tactical fouls has only added fuel to the fire as Liverpool and Manchester City face off in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table Premier League clash at Anfield.

The unbeaten league-leading Reds needed an 87th-minute header from Andy Robertson and an injury-time winner from Sadio Mane to defeat Aston Villa 2-1 last time out and preserve a six-point cushion over City.

Champions City needed to rally themselves to overcome Southampton, after which manager Pep Guardiola stoked the fires by saying of Liverpool's star forward Mane: "Sometimes he [Mane] is diving. Sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. He's a talent."

It was a suggestion Klopp bridled at and, although Guardiola later sought to clarify the meaning of his comments, Liverpool's German boss could not resist a cheeky jibe at past accusations his rival's side commit "tactical fouls".

It has undoubtedly added an intriguing sub-plot ahead of one of the most eagerly awaited Premier League matches in recent memory as Liverpool seek to significantly boost their bid to end a near 30-year wait for top-flight glory.

Last season, Liverpool lost just once in the league but still missed out by a solitary point to City, who it is fair to say have failed to excel when playing at Anfield.

 

PEP'S KLOPP HOODOO ENDING?

Guardiola's record would stand up against any coach he has faced, but in Klopp he undoubtedly has a genuine rival.

Since becoming Barcelona boss in 2008, Guardiola has lost more matches across all competitions against the former Borussia Dortmund coach than any other manager, with the German triumphing on seven occasions.

City's Catalan boss is unbeaten in his past three encounters with Klopp; however, never before has he gone four games without losing against him.

In the Premier League, there is no splitting the duo with Guardiola and Klopp holding two wins apiece and a couple of draws from the six times they have faced one another in the competition.

Klopp should take solace from some home comforts. Five of the seven wins he holds over Guardiola have come when his team have been at their own stadium, including three with Liverpool at Anfield.

Under Guardiola, City have failed to score in just six of 62 Premier League away games and three of those have come on Merseyside – two against Liverpool and once against Everton.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: ALISSON V EDERSON

Alisson and Ederson are not just rivals for the gloves at international level with Brazil, they are also crucial to the way Liverpool and City play.

The Reds forked out a reported £66.8million to sign Alisson from Roma in July 2018 and that outlay was repaid during a fine Golden Glove-winning debut season that yielded 21 clean sheets and saw just 22 goals conceded.

Injury has restricted Liverpool's first-choice keeper to just four league outings this term, including the opener against Norwich when he was subbed off with a calf problem, and he has an impressive minutes-to-goals-conceded ratio of 103.

Crucial to modern-day goalkeeping is the ability to play out from the back and Alisson brings that to the Reds, boasting a passing accuracy of 83.9 per cent.

Ederson has been equally crucial to City's domestic dominance under Guardiola, winning the Premier League title in his first two campaigns at the Etihad Stadium, including a league, FA Cup and EFL Cup treble in 2018-19.

This term, he has kept five clean sheets in 11 league appearances, conceding 10 goals and possessing a save percentage of 74.4.

As expected, Ederson's passing accuracy is high – 90.1 per cent – and he will have to be typically quick with his feet against the brilliance of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

FORM GUIDE: ANFIELD A FORTRESS FOR LIVERPOOL

Liverpool are unbeaten in 28 consecutive Premier League games, which represents the eighth best streak in the competition's history.

At Anfield, Klopp's side are on an even more impressive run having not tasted defeat on home soil in 45 league games – only Chelsea's 86-game run that ended in October 2008 can beat that.

City will have to go some to prevent Liverpool from finding the back of the net, with the Merseysiders scoring in 20 straight league matches – the last time they failed to register was a goalless draw with Everton in March.

Guardiola's side have lost two of their last seven league games, having been beaten just once in 23 prior to that, but they have won 13 of their past 15 away matches.

Liverpool only have one win from their most recent five league encounters with City – a 4-3 triumph at Anfield in January 2018 – but have not lost at home against the Citizens since May 2003.

Impressively, Liverpool have taken a league-high 10 points from losing positions already this season, winning their last two Premier League games despite conceding first – they have never achieved the feat in three straight matches in the competition.

HISTORY SAYS...

Liverpool have a formidable home record against City, losing just one of their last 28 games at Anfield against this Sunday's visitors – the lone defeat being a 2-1 setback in May 2003.

Indeed, their most recent 16 encounters with City at Anfield have returned 11 wins and five draws.

However, Liverpool's only defeat in their past 50 Premier League games against all opposition came against Guardiola's side in January.

City should be wary of the fact Liverpool have won more Premier League games against reigning champions (21) than any other team in the competition's history, last losing a home match in such a circumstance against Manchester United in December 2007.

Pep Guardiola has been known to readily remind journalists in his news conferences that he understands how to cope with an injury crisis.

The Manchester City manager likes to recall his first Champions League final, when Barcelona faced a rampant Manchester United in Rome with Yaya Toure at centre-back, Carles Puyol shunted out to right-back and veteran Sylvinho in the other wide defensive position.

Barca dazzled during a 2-0 win that sent one of the greatest club teams in history on their way into the stratosphere.

So, when all Guardiola's senior City centre-backs were injured this season, no problem. Defensive midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri could play there - and they did exactly that during back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Atalanta.

It was the same when Benjamin Mendy missed the bulk of the past two seasons, as career midfielders Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko simply became very passable left-backs. Zinchenko still is one.

David Silva's addition to a weighty Etihad Stadium injury list last weekend meant namesake Bernardo starting in a central attacking midfield position alongside Kevin De Bruyne for Wednesday's 1-1 draw against Atalanta at San Siro.

What glorious riches, and they were cashed in as the Portugal playmaker arrowed a pass for a first-time backheel by Gabriel Jesus that fell into Raheem Sterling's stride for a first-time finish. Sterling, one of the outstanding attackers in world football, was darting in off a left flank that Leroy Sane will be unable to occupy until he recovers from cruciate ligament damage.

There are answers to most conundrums Guardiola has to address and the impression is he often revels in doing so. But the scene that unfolded from half-time onwards at San Siro will have done nothing to whet his appetite ahead of City's crunch trip to Liverpool in the Premier League this weekend.

Claudio Bravo was warming up. Fairly extensively. He was coming on.

Ederson made way as a precaution, with a thigh injury to shake off before Sunday. Guardiola will hope the injury is as minor as a miner driving a Morris Minor. And maybe a little more minor than that.

For all the exquisite talents in his outfield array, no Guardiola signing has been more pivotal to his back-to-back Premier League titles in England than his Brazil international between the posts.

It should be added that the first trophy the Spaniard won with his current employers, the 2018 EFL Cup, arrived with Bravo in goal having been a penalty shoot-out hero against Wolves and Leicester City in the earlier rounds. But what came before in his debut campaign marks the former Barcelona man's standing with the City faithful.

If Wednesday at one of European football's most famous arenas represented a fresh page for Bravo, he promptly poured some of that oil Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have been talking about this week and set it on fire.

He could do little about Mario Pasalic powering home a 49th-minute equaliser, but his first act was still to pick the ball out of the net. It recalled that mid-season spell during his nightmare 2016-17 when every shot on target seemed to herald an opposition goal. Willy Caballero was eventually called up to spare him.

There were plenty of other things Bravo might have done in the 81st minute instead of belying the experience of his 36 years and a career that has yielded two Copas America and LaLiga titles, among multiple honours.

His rash challenge on Josip Ilicic was a clear red card. Bravo became the first substitute goalkeeper in Champions League history to be sent off.

When emergency keeper Kyle Walker - apparently an enthusiast in the role during training ground penalty contests - nervously kept out the resulting free-kick from Ruslan Malinovskiy to earn harrumphing chants of "England's number one" from the City faithful, he had made more saves in the game than Bravo. It was not a statistically strong few minutes for the veteran.

The stats that loom largest over this pivotal week are Liverpool's six-point lead over the champions at the Premier League summit and the 16-and-a-half years that have passed since City last won at Anfield.

Guardiola can take heart from the resilience his depleted team showed before a baying crowd as opponents in Atalanta had the bit between their teeth.

However, if he is to be without Ederson, the inimitable thread who brought his whole tapestry together, the chances of overturning those numbers on Merseyside have shifted uncomfortably close to improbable.

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