Caroline Weir was the derby hero for Manchester City as her spectacular strike sealed a 1-0 win over Manchester United on a record-breaking day for the Women's Super League.

A crowd of 31,213 at the Etihad Stadium smashed the division's previous best crowd of 5,265, for Arsenal's title-sealing win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium in April.

It is likely to be a short-lived best mark, though, with a crowd close to Stamford Bridge's 41,000 capacity expected for Sunday's London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham.

Staging showpiece games at some of England's biggest grounds is part of the WSL's drive to capitalise upon the national team's run to the semi-finals of this year's World Cup, which culminated in an estimated audience of 11.7million tuning in to watch Phil Neville's side lose to eventual winners the United States.

Five of England's World Cup stars featured for City on Saturday, but it was United – only re-established last season and newly promoted from the Championship after their women's team were wound down in 2005 – who looked the most threatening before half-time, as Ellie Roebuck made a stunning close-range save to deny Jane Ross.

The hosts resumed on the front foot, however, and Weir sent most of the history-making attendees into raptures by arrowing a stunning 25-yarder into the top corner after 48 minutes.

United almost levelled seven minutes from time when Netherlands star Jackie Groenen – one of six debutants in Casey Stoney's starting XI - scrambled against the base of the post, only for a rattled City to hang on.

With Aymeric Laporte on the sidelines, Manchester City are looking for reinforcements.

Laporte's knee injury has left City with John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as their only recognised centre-backs.

Could a star defender from Serie A be the answer in January?

 

TOP STORY – CITY LOOK TO SKRINIAR

Pep Guardiola wants defensive reinforcements in January and Manchester City are set to target Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to CalcioMercato.

Aymeric Laporte is set for a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, depleting City's options as they eye a third consecutive Premier League title.

Inter star Skriniar has emerged as an option for City, though the Italian side are not keen on losing the 24-year-old – who was linked to Manchester United in the off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Real Madrid will try to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe at the end of the season. Madrid were linked with Neymar prior to the transfer deadline but now appear set to target his PSG team-mate.

- According to Aksam, Liverpool will monitor the form of Trabzonspor goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir throughout the season.

- Tuttomercatoweb says Napoli are ready to re-sign Arkadiusz Milik, Piotr Zielinski and Nikola Maksimovic, while a contract extension for Gianluigi Donnarumma is AC Milan's priority.

- Former AC Milan forward Jeremy Menez wants to return to Serie A via Sampdoria, according to CalcioMercato. The 32-year-old former France international is a free agent after leaving Mexican side Club America.

- Serie A champions Juventus are eyeing a double swoop for Tottenham stars Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, says the Daily Mail. Eriksen and Alderweireld are set to become free agents at the end of the season and Inter are also reportedly monitoring the situation.

- Valencia are determined to tie down Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres to new deals, reports SuperDeportes.

Lionel Messi will get to decide his Barcelona future, regardless of when the star is contracted until.

Messi, 32, re-signed with the LaLiga champions two years ago, extending his contract until 2021.

But such extensions may not matter when it comes to arguably the world's best player.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI CAN LEAVE BARCELONA AT THE END OF ANY SEASON

Messi can choose to leave Barcelona at the conclusion of any campaign regardless of his contract, according to El Pais.

The Argentina superstar made his debut for the club in late 2004, and his future is seemingly in his own hands.

It remains to be seen when, or if, Messi decides to depart Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Philippe Coutinho eventually left Barcelona for Bayern Munich on loan, but it could have been different for the playmaker. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola rejected the chance to sign the 27-year-old, according to Marca.

- Left out of Juventus' Champions League squad, Mario Mandzukic is eyeing a January exit, according to Calciomercato.com. The striker was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United during the transfer window.

- Staying in Turin, Juventus could have signed Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng in the close season. Calciomercato.com reports Maurizio Sarri rejected a move for the centre-back.

- Ousmane Dembele was reportedly wanted by Paris Saint-Germain while they were in talks with Barcelona over a move for Neymar. But the attacker refused to leave because he is at his dream club at Barcelona, according to L'Equipe.

- Former Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio is reportedly in talks with Monaco, but the 55-time Italy international turned down a move to Scottish giants Rangers, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Left out of the England squad, Manchester City defender Kyle Walker is worried he has no international future under Gareth Southgate, the Daily Star reports.

Premier League clubs boast the most players on the 55-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPro World 11 for the first time in a decade.

LaLiga, with 20 representatives, has been displaced after nine successive years as the best represented competition, with clubs in England's top flight contributing 21 nominees.

Manchester City lead the Premier League with eight players in contention for a spot, including five first-time nominees: Ederson, Raheem Sterling, Aymeric Laporte, Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo.

The club's captain, David Silva, misses out, but Sergio Aguero is back in the mix after being overlooked for the past two years.

European champions Liverpool are next best in England with seven but neither club boast as many as Real Madrid (nine) or Barcelona (11).

New signings Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann boost Barca's representation following a season in which the Spanish side made a stunning Champions League exit at the hands of the Reds.

More than 23,000 professional footballers voted on the list, which predictably includes names like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

Thibaut Courtois, Philippe Coutinho, Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku are among the notable omissions.

The 2019 FIFA FIFPro World 11 will be revealed at The Best FIFA Football Awards in Milan on September 23.

Manchester City star Ederson believes compatriot Alisson deserves to win The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper award following a brilliant year for club and country.

Brazil international Alisson moved from Roma to Liverpool in July 2018 and enjoyed an exceptional first season at Anfield as the club won the Champions League.

The 26-year-old was named the competition's best goalkeeper and won the Golden Glove at the end of his maiden Premier League campaign after recording 21 clean sheets in 38 games.

He then helped Brazil triumph at the Copa America and looks a clear frontrunner to be crowned the third winner of FIFA's top goalkeeping honour after Gianluigi Buffon and Thibaut Courtois.

Ederson and Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Barcelona are also in the running but the City player views his Selecao team-mate as the standout.

"I think the three of us were the best, but I see Alisson one step ahead," said Ederson.

"He was great in the Premier League, won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and had a great Copa America as well.

"So I think whoever wins will be deserving and I'm happy for two Brazilian goalkeepers to reach this level."

Only a calf injury suffered on the opening day of the new Premier League season has interrupted Alisson's dream run, ruling him out of Brazil's upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Peru.

His absence gives Ederson a rare chance to stake a claim for the national team's number one shirt.

"We all know the great period that Alisson is living. And I'm having a good time too. Of course, these are opportunities," said the former Benfica goalkeeper.

"As a player you must be prepared for everything. I train as if I am always playing, which makes it easier for me to be used.

"I hope to make the best of the opportunities I have here and I'll give my best."

The transfer window may be closed but the rumours do not stop!

Christian Eriksen was unable to secure a move away from Tottenham prior to Monday's deadline.

Since then, the likes of Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Inter have been linked to the Spurs star.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO PREPARING JANUARY MOVE FOR ERIKSEN

Atletico Madrid are set to return for Tottenham's Christian Eriksen in January, according to AS.

Eriksen was linked to the likes of Atletico, Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United but a move did not materialise.

Now, Atletico, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly monitoring the situation as Eriksen prepares to become a free agent at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to the Mirror, Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic is set to be offered a chance to move to the Premier League. The Croatian veteran was linked to Manchester United but a move failed to transpire prior to the transfer window closing.

- LaLiga pair Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao are keeping tabs on Chelsea and Spain full-back Cesar Azpilicueta, reports the Mirror. It comes amid concerns the Spaniard could lose his spot in the Chelsea XI to Reece James.

- Brazilian side Flamengo are interested in signing free agent Claudio Marchisio, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Former Juventus star Marchisio is without a club since leaving Zenit. Flamengo were also close to luring Mario Balotelli before he opted for Brescia.

- The Daily Mail claims Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola wants to sign a new defender in January. The report comes after Aymeric Laporte's knee injury left City with just two fit centre-backs – John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.

- David Beckham's Inter Miami are set to sign River Plate midfielder Exequiel Palacios, according to TNT Sports. The expansion franchise – who are backed by the former Manchester United star and will enter MLS in 2020 – have also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani and Barcelona forward Luis Suarez.

Vincent Kompany believes football must ensure diversity at administrative levels if it is to effectively address the problem of racism.

Kompany's Belgium team-mate Romelu Lukaku was the target of racist chanting during Inter's 2-1 Serie A win at Cagliari last weekend – the latest in a succession of recent incidents that have seen players abused due to the colour of their skin.

With a number of the recent flashpoints having occurred online, Twitter issued a statement on Tuesday detailing meetings with English players' union the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), anti-discrimination group Kick It Out and clubs of players affected, while pledging to curb "unacceptable behaviour" on its site.

However, Kompany feels problems will continue to fester so long as the football bodies handing out punishments for racist behaviour do not effectively represent different ethnicities.

"Romelu is a victim of something disgraceful. Something that should never happen, not just in a football stadium but in society," the Anderlecht player-manager told Sky Sports News.

"Really, if you go back to who we are now expecting decisions from – the institutions - that is where the problem lies.

"The real racism lies in the fact that none of these institutions have representatives who can really understand what Romelu is going through.

"You're dealing with a crowd of people and decision-makers who are all trying to explain to Romelu how he should think, how he should feel about this, when you actually have no decision-makers who are remotely in touch with what he's experienced in his life.

"That's the real issue when you go through the board of UEFA, the Italian league, English league, everywhere.

"There is a true, true problem of diversity and, as long as you don't have diversity in places of power and in boardrooms, you cannot have the right decisions in terms of sanctions."

Kompany was speaking ahead of his testimonial at Manchester City next Wednesday, where Arsenal and France great Thierry Henry has become the latest player confirmed as part of the Premier League All-Stars XI.

A City side featuring David Silva and Sergio Aguero will be led by Kompany and contain a host of the long-serving captain's ex-team-mates, with all proceeds to be donated to the Tackle4MCR homelessness charity.

In the meantime, the 33-year-old has been adapting to his first managerial assignment with boyhood club Anderlecht.

It has proved a tough introduction to top-level coaching, with Kompany forced to wait until the 1-0 weekend win over rivals Standard Liege – a game he missed due to a hamstring strain – to taste victory for the first time.

"It was a good win," he said. "It's our version of the Clasico.

"The fans have been waiting for it patiently. [We have had] Good football and no results but now we've got good football and results. Everybody's happy."

Aymeric Laporte has undergone surgery after damaging cartilage and the lateral meniscus in his right knee, Manchester City have confirmed.

Laporte sustained the injury during Saturday's 4-0 Premier League win at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

The defender, who received a long-awaited call-up to the France squad this week, was booked for the challenge on Adam Webster in which he was hurt.

A significant spell on the sidelines will follow for Laporte, a mainstay in the City side that completed a domestic clean sweep last season, although Pep Guardiola will likely be buoyed by the news a man he described as the best left-sided defender in Europe has avoided anterior cruciate ligament damage.

City winger Leroy Sane is out following ACL surgery, while Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy have also sustained the same major injury during Guardiola's tenure.

A timeframe is yet to be placed on Laporte's recovery and City said in a statement: "The surgery, carried out by Dr Ramon Cugat in Barcelona, was successful and a more detailed prognosis will be provided in due course."

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk are the three finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Player award.

FIFA announced a 10-man shortlist for the gong in July and, following the initial voting period, the final three have been revealed.

Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah were the seven players cut from the initial list.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk is the favourite of many after playing a vital role in the Reds' Champions League triumph and their Premier League title challenge – finishing just a point behind Manchester City.

He was recognised for his exploits just last week, when he was named UEFA's Player of the Year, beating Messi and Ronaldo to the prize.

The Netherlands international also helped his country to the final of the Nations League, only for a Ronaldo-inspired Portugal to lift the inaugural title.

Ronaldo also enjoyed success at club level, helping Juventus cruise to an eighth successive Scudetto, finishing as their top scorer across all competitions with 28 goals.

Messi's numbers dwarfed Ronaldo's, though, as the Barcelona star scored 51 goals in total, including 36 from 29 starts in LaLiga, with Barca retaining their title.

Those goal-scoring exploits won Messi the European Golden Shoe and, on top of being LaLiga's most prolific player, he also set up 13 goals, a haul only matched by Pablo Sarabia.

Messi's Barca team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen is among the three finalists for the goalkeeper award, with City's Ederson and Alisson of Liverpool also in the hunt.

And there is a distinct Premier League feel to the final three of the coaches' award, with Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino all in the running.

The winners will be announced on September 23.

Real Madrid look set to finally land a midfielder before the transfer window closes.

The LaLiga giants have been linked to numerous midfielders and, after a slow start to the season, they may make a signing ahead of the window shutting on Monday.

Madrid are reportedly close to strengthening their squad by completing a move for Sporting CP star Bruno Fernandes.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID CLOSE TO SEALING FERNANDES DEAL

Real Madrid have almost completed a deal for Fernandes, according to ESPN.

The Portugal international, 24, was linked to Manchester United and Tottenham earlier in the window.

Now, the Sporting captain looks set for Madrid, who have reportedly targeted United's Paul Pogba, Spurs' Christian Eriksen and Ajax's Donny van de Beek during the close season.

It comes just days after Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade said Fernandes was heading to Madrid for €70million.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Neymar saga will finally end – for now – with the Paris Saint-Germain star staying with the Ligue 1 champions. L'Equipe reports the Brazil international will remain with PSG, while Sport reports Barcelona will resume their pursuit of Neymar in 2020.

- That could mean a few more eyes on Mauro Icardi on Monday. PSG are in talks with Inter over a potential loan deal for the forward, according to RMC Sport and Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Pogba may still be hoping to eventually get his move to Real Madrid. The Mirror reports the France international will resist signing a new deal with Premier League giants Manchester United, with his current contract running until 2021, although the club have an option to extend that by a year.

- Javier Hernandez should get a deadline-day move from West Ham. The Premier League club have agreed to sell the forward to Sevilla for close to €8.9m (£8m), according to Sky Sports News.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan came off the bench during Arsenal's draw against Tottenham on Sunday and he could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium a day later. Roma are pressing hard to sign the midfielder on loan with an option to buy, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Phil Foden may have to wait for his chances at Manchester City, but the Premier League champions are keen to keep the teenage midfielder in their squad. The Sun reports City rejected loan bids from Rangers and Roma for the England youth international.

Pep Guardiola feels Fernandinho and Kyle Walker are both capable of filling in for injured Manchester City centre-back Aymeric Laporte.

The defender, who earned a long-awaited call-up by France this week, was taken off on a stretcher during Saturday's 4-0 Premier League win at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Laporte was described by Guardiola in the build-up to the game as the best left-sided defender in Europe but it is feared a right knee injury could rule him out for an extended period, with the 25-year-old joining Leroy Sane in the treatment room.

His absence left City temporarily with one fit senior centre-back, Nicolas Otamendi, although Guardiola confirmed John Stones should be available to face Norwich City after the international break, having recently suffered a hamstring strain.

City did not sign a central defender during the transfer window, instead bringing in Joao Cancelo from Juventus, with fellow right-back Danilo heading in the opposite direction.

They failed to replace departing captain Vincent Kompany and ended an interest in Harry Maguire before Stones and Walker's England team-mate joined rivals Manchester United for £80million.

"The club works incredibly well in all departments and sometimes we cannot afford it like other teams afford it and that is all," Guardiola told reporters.

"We pay a lot of money for a lot of players, that is why we have a depth of squad with huge quality but we cannot do... the club tell me, 'You have a limit, you cannot go forward'.

"'Maybe in the future but not now, you cannot do it.' I say, 'Okay, you cannot do it so we cannot do it, so we are going with what we have'.

"But we don't expect Leroy out for a long time and now Laporte, maybe, we wait but doesn’t look good, But it is what it is.

"During the season it happens and the other guys are going to make a step forward and one day we need to put Kyle Walker like a central defender, he is going to play central defender, so we are going to find solutions.

"I am sad for Leroy, I am sad for Laporte today, that is what I am concerned [about] - but we are going to move forward."

While Walker has played on the right of a back three for England, Fernandinho slotted into the heart of defence against Brighton and has filled the role for City on occasion.

Guardiola could also look to the club's academy, where there are high hopes for Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis -18 and 17 respectively and yet to make a Premier League appearance between them. 

"It happens because he is a nice guy, because he is open minded," Guardiola said of versatile Brazil midfielder Fernandinho. "Normally the players know, 'I am playing in that position, just that position, if not I don't play' and that is not the case [with Fernandinho].

"So he is a typical captain. He thinks for the group more than himself, but he is a guy who is incredibly respected in the locker room and by our staff. That is why he can do it.

"He needs some processes defensively, but he is intelligent and has a lot of experience and we will see.

"We will work – unfortunately now we cannot because it is the international break, but we are going to work on it and we need him in this position.

"Because right now we have John and Nico and Dinho and Eric Garcia, or Taylor Bellis - two young guys in the academy who are going to help us to do that."

The Premier League table is taking on a familiar look after matchweek four, with undefeated Liverpool and Manchester City setting the pace following comfortable victories.

But there are some unexpected sides among the chasing pack, with Leicester City and Crystal Palace completing the top four after home wins, while Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham sit outside the top six.

At the other end of the table, promoted Aston Villa and Norwich City are struggling to get going and both suffered away defeats, while the division is propped up by last season's FA Cup finalists Watford, who picked up their first point.

A delve into the Opta data on the weekend's action reveals the milestones being passed and records being set as the 2019-20 season unfolds.

FIRMINO REACHES 50 AS REDS MAKE HISTORY

Liverpool's 3-0 victory over Burnley at Turf Moor marked a historic milestone for the Anfield club, who have won 13 league games in a row for the first time in their history.

Those 13 victories have all featured more than one Liverpool goal and the Reds are the first side to achieve that feat since Tottenham's glorious team of 1960.

After Chris Wood's own-goal opened the scoring at Burnley, Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool's lead with his 30th in all competitions since the start of the last season, pulling him level with Mohamed Salah over that time period.

Roberto Firmino's strike 10 minutes from time wrapped up a straightforward victory for the European champions and made him the first Brazilian player to score 50 Premier League goals. He is the ninth player to reach that milestone in the Premier League era for Liverpool, who have more half-centurions than any other club in the division except Manchester United, who have also had nine 50-goal players.

DERBY TURNAROUND DENIES SPURS MUCH-NEEDED AWAY WIN

Tottenham looked on course for their first league win away from home in eight attempts when goals from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane put Mauricio Pochettino's men 2-0 up over north London rivals Arsenal.

But Alexandre Lacazette pulled one back for the hosts just before half-time and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drew Arsenal level in the second half to leave Tottenham with a record of two draws and six defeats from their last eight Premier League away games - their longest winless streak on the road since December 2011 to April 2012 (also eight games).

Pochettino's record in away visits to fellow 'big six' opponents is poor, with Spurs having won just three of their 27 such trips since he took over in 2014-15.

Arsenal went behind when Bernd Leno parried the ball to Eriksen's feet - the goalkeeper's sixth error since the start of last season - and Granit Xhaka conceded a penalty for the fifth time since his Premier League debut to allow Kane to make it 2-0.

But Lacazette narrowed the deficit before Aubameyang scored in his seventh successive Premier League start at Emirates Stadium - an Arsenal record bettered only by Thierry Henry, who scored in nine successive starts at Highbury.

AGUERO ONE SHORT OF HOME CENTURY

Sergio Aguero scored twice in Manchester City's 4-0 demolition of Brighton and Hove Albion, taking the Argentinian to 99 Premier League goals at Etihad Stadium.

Only Thierry Henry at Highbury (114) and Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford (101) have scored more goals at a single venue in Premier League history than Aguero, whose second goal was assisted by David Silva.

That came after former Spain playmaker Silva also laid on Kevin De Bruyne's opener, and he has assisted 87 Premier League goals since his City debut in August 2010 - 27 more than any other player.

Bernardo Silva scored the fourth goal as the champions capped a result that leaves Brighton winless in every game they have played away at City, drawing two and losing on eight of their 10 trips.

SOLSKJAER'S SIDE MAKE SLOWEST START IN 27 YEARS

Manchester United roared to a 4-0 win over Chelsea in their season opener but head into the international break with just five points from four games, their lowest total at this stage of a Premier League campaign since 1992-93.

Saturday's subdued 1-1 draw at Southampton extended United's winless run away from home to eight competitive matches, the club's worst in almost five years.

Daniel James, scorer of a sublime opener, continues to be a bright spark and has now netted as many for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side as he did in his final 22 Championship appearances for Swansea City.

But the Wales winger's third of the season was not enough for victory, Jannik Vestergaard forcing a share of the spoils with his first goal for Saints in his 27th league appearance.

Kevin Danso provided the cross for centre-back Vestergaard to equalise, although the Austrian later undid some of that good work by becoming the first Premier League player to be sent off on a home debut since Yannick Sagbo of Hull City in August 2013.

Kevin De Bruyne accepts it will be a blow for Manchester City if Aymeric Laporte's knee injury is serious.

The defender was carried off on a stretcher during Saturday's 4-0 Premier League win at home to Brighton and Hove Albion after hurting his right knee in a challenge with Adam Webster.

Laporte was booked for the tackle to add insult to injury, with City boss Pep Guardiola saying after the game the centre-back "does not look good".

The 25-year-old has already been replaced in the France squad by Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti for upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra having received a long-awaited call-up by Didier Deschamps this week.

Fernandinho filled in for City against Brighton but Guardiola's options are limited after no central defenders were signed following the departure of club captain Vincent Kompany at the end of 2018-19.

John Stones has been restricted to one league appearance although the England defender could return to club action following the international break.

City are already without Leroy Sane after the winger damaged his anterior cruciate ligament, and De Bruyne hopes Laporte is not set for a similarly lengthy lay-off – although he insists they must be ready to cope.

"It's always a shame when people get injured," said De Bruyne. "It's not nice for the team or for the person when you are away for long.

"We already have Leroy [unavailable] so if Aymeric is out for a couple of months it's a blow for us. But on the other hand, we have to deal with it.

"We lost Vinnie already but it gives possibilities to other people and hopefully John [Stones] will be back soon and hopefully we will be okay."

De Bruyne scored a second-minute opener for City against Brighton as the champions recorded their first home league win of the season.

The Belgium international, who only scored twice in the Premier League in an injury-hit 2018-19, never doubted he would be able to regain top form.

"Last year was last year," added the influential playmaker. "I've started the season really well and I feel okay and the team is doing good.

"We've just played four games and there's still 65 to go in all competitions. It's a hard season, we need everybody.

"I'm happy with the way I've come back, but that was never in doubt."

Romelu Lukaku's goalscoring record should have earned him more respect in England, according to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.

Manchester United sold 26-year-old Lukaku to Serie A side Inter in August for a reported €80million.

The striker hit 27 competitive goals in his first season at Old Trafford but that figure fell to 15 last term as critics questioned aspects of his game and conditioning.

Martinez managed the former PFA Team of the Year member at Everton, where he spent four prolific years, and believes his overall impact in the Premier League went undervalued.

Only 18 players have ever scored more goals in the competition than Lukaku's 113 from 252 appearances.

"Romelu hasn't been appreciated for most of the time he's been in the British game," Martinez told the Daily Mail.

"And the reason is very clear. Everyone analyses what he hasn't got as a number nine. Everyone wants to tell him the first touch should be better, that he should be stronger in the air, that he needs to make more room.

"But what they miss is his outstanding trade as a goalscorer. Look at his stats. He is one of the most significant scorers at his age.

"Like any player, if you are going to highlight the things they don't do well, you wouldn't get the feeling of a good player.

"But in Romelu's case, he's always been a top goalscorer."

Lukaku's move made him the third high-profile member of Belgium's starting XI to leave the Premier League during the close season, after Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany.

Kevin De Bruyne remains at Manchester City and has enjoyed an exceptional and injury-free start to the new season.

Asked whether there is a better midfielder in world football, Martinez replied: "No, no, no, definitely not.

"Kevin De Bruyne is a modern playmaker. Xabi Alonso at Liverpool or Xavi Hernandez at Barcelona – when they received the ball, everything had to slow down and this allowed them to execute the pass.

"De Bruyne, he executes passes before the flow of the game has seen it, before people have seen it."

Liverpool set a new club record on Saturday, beating Burnley 3-0 to record a 13th consecutive top-flight victory.

Jurgen Klopp's men finished the 2018-19 campaign with nine straight Premier League wins and have taken maximum points from their first four games of this season.

As a result, they have surpassed the 12-game winning run previously achieved under Kenny Dalglish in 1990.

How does Liverpool's ongoing winning streak compare to the record runs of the rest of the Premier League's 'big six'? With the help of Opta, we take a look...

 

Manchester City: 18 wins in a row

Liverpool would need to win each of their next five Premier League matches - against Newcastle United, Chelsea, Sheffield United, Leicester City and bitter rivals Manchester United - to equal the 18-game streak City put together from August to December two years ago.

Pep Guardiola's side needed a 97th-minute strike from Raheem Sterling to beat Bournemouth in the first game of that run, which featured 5-0 wins over Liverpool and Crystal Palace, a 6-0 triumph at Watford and a 7-2 mauling of Stoke City.

It was Palace who eventually brought an end to City's stunning string of wins, earning a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park that could have been even better, with Ederson saving an injury-time penalty from Luka Milivojevic.

City subsequently won 14 matches in a row to pip Liverpool to last season's title and also claimed victory in their first game of 2019-20 before drawing 2-2 with Tottenham in a match they dominated.


Arsenal: 14 wins in a row

Arsenal's 'Invincibles' famously completed an unbeaten Premier League season in 2003-04, but the Gunners' longest winning streak in the competition did not come in that campaign.

Their best run of 14 straight wins was achieved in 2002, when a team spearheaded by Thierry Henry secured a league and FA Cup double.

A 2-0 win over Birmingham City in August saw Arsene Wenger's magnificent side set a new benchmark for consecutive top-flight wins, at least until City's recent dominance.


Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham: 13 wins in a row

In winning 13 successive games, Liverpool have drawn level with the best runs of Chelsea and Tottenham.

The Reds' current streak began against Burnley in March and stretched to 13 matches with Saturday's 3-0 win over the same opponents.

Chelsea recorded 13 wins in a row from October to December in 2016 and went on to be crowned champions the following May.

You have to go way back to 1960 for Tottenham's longest winning runs in the top-flight, which was achieved under Bill Nicholson in another season that ended with the league trophy being lifted.


Manchester United - 12 wins in a row

Somewhat surprisingly given their years of sustained success under Alex Ferguson, United sit bottom of this particular list.

They have never won more than 12 league games in a row, reaching that mark in August 2000 - three months after winning the Premier League yet again.

Indeed, the longest winning runs of United, City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all come, at least in part, during title-winning campaigns.

After coming so close to glory last term, Liverpool will hope they follow suit next May.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.