Roberto Firmino is Liverpool's most important player as he "makes everything tick" for Jurgen Klopp's side, according to former striker Emile Heskey.

Firmino came off the bench to help the Reds beat Newcastle United 3-1 on Saturday and extend their run to 14 consecutive victories in the Premier League.

Liverpool were level when Firmino replaced the injured Divock Origi, with Sadio Mane having cancelled out Jetro Willems' opener, but the Brazil international helped set up Mane's second within three minutes of his introduction.

A sublime backheel to Mohamed Salah led to the home side's third at Anfield, which secured a result that puts them five points clear of champions Manchester City after five matches.

Heskey, who spent four years on Merseyside and was often used as a link between midfield and strike partner Michael Owen, believes Firmino turns Liverpool into a stronger side as he makes life easier for his attacking team-mates.

"I would say Firmino [is most important] and the reason I say that is he's the one that makes everything tick when it comes to the front three," Heskey told Omnisport.

"Take him out of there, yes, they will get you goals, yes, they will cause havoc but they won't do it in the same fashion that they do with him.

"He makes everything tick, everything goes through him and it just looks smoother when it goes through him, and they create more chances when he's in the team."

While Firmino's selflessness is an asset to Liverpool, Heskey believes Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford would benefit from being more single-minded.

Rashford's penalty gave United a 1-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday and took his tally to three goals in five league games this term, but Heskey thinks the England forward's versatility is perhaps holding him back from becoming a more ruthless finisher.

"I would like to think Marcus Rashford's best position is centre-forward," Heskey said. "But as you say, he can play all along the front line because he's got that ability. He's very direct, he's very quick, he's got a skill in him, and he doesn't mind providing.

"Now, if you're a centre-forward that wants to score goals, and goals only, you don't want to be pushed on the left or the right because you know you're not going to score from there. You want to be right in the middle where you can score goals. He's more of an unselfish player that you could actually play in different positions."

Andy Robertson has praised Roberto Firmino for his key role in lifting Liverpool to a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Newcastle United on Saturday.

Brazil forward Firmino stepped off the bench before half-time and provided assists for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah as the Premier League leaders recovered from an early deficit.

Jurgen Klopp had intended to give the regular starter some rest following his involvement in two Brazil friendlies in the United States during the international break.

But a twisted ankle forced Divock Origi from the pitch in the 37th minute, when the scores were level at 1-1, and proved the catalyst for a stronger Liverpool performance.

"We're gutted for big Div coming off, hopefully it's not too serious but he had to come off at that time," left-back Robertson told his club's website.

"But to bring Bobby on is always a nice sub to have.

"Obviously he came back late from internationals and the manager decided to put him on the bench.

"When he came on he showed his class and could probably have had three or four assists. He had a big impact and that's what we needed. Luckily we had enough for the three points."

The victory moved Liverpool five points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who lost 3-2 at Norwich City.

The Reds now turn their attention to this week's Champions League opener away to Napoli, the first of four games before the end of the month.

"August was relaxed in terms of what we're used to but September is back to the busy schedule," Robertson said.

"The Champions League starts on Tuesday and we'll be on a flight on Monday.

"So it's all about recovering, we need to recover properly and we need to be ready to go on Tuesday.

"September is a busy period. We need to come through it firing and get the results we need."

Jurgen Klopp refused to praise Liverpool for coming from a goal down to beat Newcastle United 3-1 as he said the Reds merely did their job.

Jetro Willems scored with a wonderful strike early on to put Newcastle in front at Anfield, but Liverpool rallied and a Sadio Mane brace was followed by Mohamed Salah's clincher 18 minutes from time.

In the end Liverpool could have won by more only for Martin Dubravka in the Newcastle net to produce a string of saves to keep the score down.

It was put to Klopp in his post-match news conference that the Reds displayed admirable character to turn things around, but the German was not overly impressed.

"It doesn't make me too pleased because I think it is the job," Klopp told reporters. "We cannot only perform on the best days of our life. If you have an average day you still have to perform and to win. 

"We have to learn from the game, that's how it is. The challenge after the international break is always to find a common rhythm.

"We have had to do that plenty of times, we needed longer today. That's okay as long as we don't concede, because there is always a chance to come back."

Roberto Firmino had a vital role off the bench after replacing the injured Divock Origi in the first half, playing the pass that led to Mane's second, before setting up Salah with an outrageous flick.

And Klopp accepts the Reds' setup was not working until Firmino came on.

"It was my idea to start with Sadio in the centre and Div [Origi] on the left wing," Klopp said. "That has already worked for us, but [Saturday] it didn't work too well.

"We changed it in the game, but unfortunately Div twisted his ankle early in the game and then had to come off. We all hope it is not too serious.

"But then Bobby [Firmino] came on in his natural position, Sadio found space and was more flexible, Mo [Salah] was really strong against physical players.

"When we were more flexible and we used Mo more often for balls into his feet and one-twos in and around the box, we were then really in charge of the game.

"We won a lot of second balls, fewer counter-attacks, and it was a really good game. Wonderful goals. We had even better moments which we didn't finish off."

Klopp was unable to provide much of an update on Origi, however, other than to say he is due for a scan.

"Origi will have a scan then we will know more," he added. "That's not cool. He is in really good shape, hopefully not a lot to be found."

Virgil van Dijk paid tribute to Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino for his impressive display off the bench in Saturday's 3-1 win over Newcastle United – and is grateful he does not have to play against the Brazilian.

Firmino played two matches for his country in the United States during the international break and, with Liverpool beginning their Champions League defence away to Napoli next week, Jurgen Klopp opted to rest the forward.

But an injury to Divock Origi in the first half saw Firmino introduced earlier than planned and he had a swift impact, playing the pass that led to Sadio Mane's second goal.

He then claimed a delightful assist with an outrageous flick for Mohamed Salah's clincher 18 minutes from time and Van Dijk was impressed.

"He is a very important player for all of us," Van Dijk told BT Sport. "I know how difficult it is for a defender when the striker drops his position.

"He is making life difficult for any defender in the world, I think. He is so good and I am very happy he is on my team."

Andrew Robertson was similarly complimentary of Firmino, particularly with the assist for Salah that made sure of all three points.

"It was a special goal," he added to BBC Sport. "Bobby's [Firmino] vision is frightening and Mo's [Salah] finished it off. Winning 3-1 after a tough international break is always a good result."

Roberto Firmino will start Liverpool's visit of Newcastle United on the bench after playing twice on international duty, giving Divock Origi the chance to impress.

Firmino started both of Brazil's international friendlies, against Colombia and Peru, in the past week, playing a total of 146 minutes across the two outings in Miami and Los Angeles.

Given Brazil's 1-0 defeat to Peru took place only a little over three days ago, Jurgen Klopp has opted to keep him in reserve.

The only other change to the side that beat Burnley 3-0 before the international break sees Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain come in for Jordan Henderson in midfield.

Klopp's decision to rest Firmino is made even less surprising by the fact the Reds begin their Champions League defence away to Napoli on Tuesday.

"Of course, we have to think about these things," Klopp told BT Sport. "Hendo [Henderson] is ready, Bobby [Firmino] is probably ready, but it's not about being ready – it's a bigger picture and we have to think about that.

"We could have made more changes, but we need the rhythm as well and it makes not too much sense. A lot of games are coming up.

"We really want to have the best starting line-up we can have for the specific opponent and that's what we thought is the right one."

Former Red Jonjo Shelvey starts in midfield for Newcastle, who will be hoping to stop Liverpool's 100 per cent start to the season.

Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 Premier League victory over Burnley before the international break, but it was not their free-flowing football that made the headlines.

Instead, most of the post-match talk centred on Sadio Mane's furious reaction, the forward seemingly livid with team-mate Mohamed Salah after being substituted at Turf Moor.

The Senegal forward was apparently angry at Salah for taking a shot moments earlier rather than setting up his team-mate for a simple finish.

It has led to some suggesting the Egypt international is greedy, with former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saying: "Salah is a bit obsessed with finishing himself."

An assessment of the Opta data suggests Salah might not be quite as selfish as Mane – and many others – think.

 

SALAH THE SURPRISE TEAM PLAYER?

Liverpool enjoyed a stunning 2018-19 Premier League campaign, finishing just a point behind champions Manchester City with a whopping 97 points.

Central to their success was the exhilarating front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino, who plundered 56 goals between them.

Their finishing prowess has never been in question, but how does their relationship in normal play stack up?

Firstly, and perhaps surprisingly, the trio were only responsible for assisting nine of those strikes.

While it is Salah's generosity that has been called into question, the stats suggest the Egyptian was even more of a team player than Mane last season. The Egyptian passed to the other two forwards 48 times more than Mane (258 passes v 210 passes).

Firmino was the top assist maker of the trio, laying on five goals for the pair. All three of Salah's assists were for Mane, while the latter was responsible for creating just one goal for his fellow forwards (to Salah).

Mane can perhaps count himself unlucky to not have had more assists to his name, given he created 20 chances for Salah.

FIRMINO STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Klopp's side have started this season as they finished the last, winning all four of their games - and they sit top of the Premier League table.

It was looking like a serene start until Mane's outburst, but does he have a point?

The stats show that Salah has passed to Firmino 10 times more than Mane and has yet to create a chance for the latter. He has created three for the Brazilian.

However, it appears the Egyptian might have cause to feel equally aggrieved with Mane, given he has received just five passes from him this season – one fewer than in the opposite direction and 15 fewer than Firmino has been on the receiving end of.

When compared to Firmino's passing stats, the pair came off unfavourably. This, however, can be explained by the fact they play on opposite sides of the pitch, with Firmino largely tasked with feeding the potent pair.

Only Salah knows if he deliberately overlooks his team-mates in favour of scoring himself, but as long as the Reds continue to sweep aside all before them in the Premier League, Klopp is hardly likely to care.

Liverpool would be "lost" without star forward Roberto Firmino, according to left-back Andy Robertson.

Firmino continued his impressive start to the season on Saturday, scoring one to become the first Brazilian to 50 Premier League goals, and assisting another in a 3-0 win at Burnley.

The Brazil international has two goals and two assists in four league games and Robertson said the forward was unique.

"With his work-rate, his technique, his goals and his all-round play, I don't think there's anyone like him," he told UK media.

"People will say there are better strikers, but for me what he does is so important to our team. We'd be lost without him. He's world class."

After a Chris Wood own goal, Firmino set up Sadio Mane before wrapping up Liverpool's win with 10 minutes remaining.

Robertson said the 27-year-old's ability to contribute defensively was important for the European champions, who are top of the Premier League.

"He does everything, and that's the beauty of Bobby. He can do it all. He's our first line of defence, and I've not seen anybody better at doing that," he said.

"He presses the defenders and doesn't give them a minute. He comes back and nicks the ball in midfield for us.

"He's so important defensively for us, then he goes up the park and scores goals and makes assists. That's what we need him to do."

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.

Jurgen Klopp was beaming after Liverpool's 3-1 win over Arsenal in the Premier League as he praised his team's desire, passion and power.

Table-topping Liverpool preserved their 100 per cent record thanks to Mohamed Salah's brace against Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday.

Joel Matip opened the scoring before Salah's second-half brace as Liverpool won their 12th successive Premier League match – breaking a club record.

Lucas Torreira scored a consolation with five minutes remaining but Liverpool – who moved three points clear atop the table – were not to be denied on Merseyside.

"I was really happy with a lot of parts of the game; I think everything we did well in the first four games we did tonight for longer, more precise and better tuned," Reds manager Klopp said.

"I loved the desire, the passion, the power and the energy that we put into this game. It made us really uncomfortable to play against, which is what we wanted and so we deserved the first goal. It was a very determined header as well; I don't know how many people held on Virgil [Van Dijk] in that moment, it looked like they built something around him, but Joel was there – big Joel – and made a fantastic goal. I think it was a deserved result for half-time.

"In the second half then, there was the clear penalty. We played nice passes and we were there with a lot of good moments, football moments, today – but you need these decisive moments.

"The penalty was nicely taken and then the third goal is just incredible again – a really, really good goal. So, pretty much the story of the game; we could have controlled it better, that’s probably our real challenge. [When we were 3-0 up] Arsenal didn’t really press anymore, they were deep, together, and we passed the ball into their legs and that makes no sense.

"We were still in a kind of an attacking mood, so we have to prepare these situations better. We have a lot to improve but it was a big step tonight as well, so I am really happy. One question and such a long answer!"

While Salah stole the headlines with two goals in the second half, Klopp lauded Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino.

"Roberto Firmino what a player he is, unbelievable," Klopp added. "I am really happy with the performance. I did not see a bad player tonight or a player that played under his level. Fabinho played sensational."

Liverpool and Arsenal are neck and neck at the top of the Premier League after two games but on Saturday the Gunners visit Anfield, where they have a terrible recent record.

Since their last win away to Liverpool some seven years ago, Arsenal have been on the end of heavy and humbling defeats, including 4-0 and 5-1 losses on their two previous visits.

They do have some good modern memories of the stadium - Andrey Arshavin scored all four Gunners goals in a Premier League classic that ended 4-4 - but overall Liverpool have certainly had the edge in this fixture.

Ahead of the enticing clash between the early pacesetters, we look back at Arsenal's last six Premier League trips to Anfield where they have conceded a whopping 22 goals, although only once have they failed to score themselves.


Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: February 8, 2014

This thrashing started the hoodoo. Arsenal were top of the league when they visited Anfield only to be completely humiliated by Brendan Rodgers' rampant Reds.

Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez formed an unplayable front three for Liverpool and it was 4-0 inside 20 minutes, Martin Skrtel striking twice from set-pieces.

Liverpool finished two points behind Manchester City that season after imploding in the final weeks of the campaign, with the two sides likely to do battle again this season in a title race into which Arsenal will hope to force their way.


Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal: December 21, 2014

Skrtel's 97th-minute equaliser earned the Reds a 2-2 draw in this one, with Liverpool scoring in extended stoppage time played due to the Slovakian defender sustaining a head injury earlier in the game.

Remarkably enough, this is the only time Arsenal have conceded fewer than three goals in their past six trips to Anfield.


Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal: January 13, 2016

This was the last time Arsenal avoided defeat in the Premier League at Anfield, but they still shipped three goals against Jurgen Klopp's men. Roberto Firmino scored twice with Olivier Giroud also claiming a brace, but the Reds needed a late Joe Allen strike to salvage a draw.

This proved a key day in the title race, with Arsenal seeing their lead from Leicester City at the top of the table disappear. The Foxes, inspirationally led by Claudio Ranieri, went on to win the league by 10 points from the Gunners in one of sport's most improbable title triumphs, while Liverpool finished eighth under Klopp having sacked Brendan Rodgers in October 2015.


Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal: March 4, 2017

The two sides were fighting it out for Champions League qualification when they met at Anfield towards the end of the 2016-17 campaign, but it was Liverpool who came out on top.

Firmino struck again – he has scored eight times in as many appearances against the Gunners – and he set up Sadio Mane to make it 2-0, before Danny Welbeck hit back for Arsenal. Georginio Wijnaldum struck late to secure victory and Liverpool pipped Arsenal to fourth place by a point.

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: August 27, 2017

Arsene Wenger's last league visit to Anfield ended in a 4-0 thrashing as Klopp's men ran riot. Firmino opened the scoring, with Mane and Mohamed Salah also netting before Sturridge wrapped things up.

This defeat meant Arsenal had lost two of their first three games of the 2017-18 season, at the end of which the Frenchman ended his long reign.


Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: December 29, 2018

In the most recent meeting last December, Arsenal actually opened the scoring with Ainsley Maitland-Niles putting them in front, but then they collapsed in spectacular fashion. Firmino scored twice in quick succession, with Mane and Salah also on target before the break.

Firmino completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after the interval as the Reds moved nine points clear at the top of the Premier League table, a lead Manchester City eventually reeled in over the second half of the season to defend their title.

Jurgen Klopp says he "thanks God" for having Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino at his disposal after the fearsome front three's fine start to Liverpool's season.

Liverpool have scored nine goals in four competitive matches this season, with the trio having already racked up a combined nine goal involvements between them.

Mane has started the campaign in particularly deadly form, netting three and registering the assist for Firmino's winner in the 2-1 victory over Southampton on Saturday.

The trio have been vital in Liverpool's re-emergence as a leading power in England and Europe over the last couple of seasons and Klopp considers himself lucky to call on his fantastic three.

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Klopp said: "A lot of times in my life I had sensational players always, [but] not world-class players.

"Now, thank God I have them and they make the difference. We don't have to talk about that.

"Sadio Mane, Bobby Firmino, Mo Salah – these guys in the last situation are really outstanding.

"They were a constant threat [against Southampton], however tired they are. That's brilliant and, of course, made the difference. We don't have to talk about that."

The Reds are next in action on Saturday when they host Arsenal.

Arsenal and Liverpool can boast 100 per cent records after two games of the new Premier League season, while four sides have failed to pick up a point from their opening pair of matches.

Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Southampton and Watford all suffered defeats on matchday two, while Manchester City and Chelsea dropped points at home.

With every team desperate to get into a winning habit, Opta's data helps us take a closer look at the patterns unfolding after the weekend's big games.

 

REDS WIN AGAIN TO EQUAL RODGERS' RECORD

Liverpool racked up their 11th consecutive top-flight victory with a 2-1 win at Southampton, equalling the club record set under Brendan Rodgers in April 2014.

Sadio Mane's third goal in four days sent Jurgen Klopp's men on their way just before half-time at St. Mary's and the Senegal international has scored 20 goals for the club in 2019 - eight more than Liverpool's next sharpest shooter, Mo Salah (12).

Roberto Firmino doubled the European champions' lead 19 minutes from time to ensure Danny Ings' late goal - courtesy of Adrian clearing the ball into his shin - was nothing more than a consolation as the Reds made sure they started the season with two wins for the second consecutive campaign, a feat they last achieved in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Mane also became the first player to score in his first Premier League start of four consecutive seasons since Mark Viduka did so between 2002-03 and 2005-06.

CITY DROP POINTS DESPITE DELUGE OF SHOTS

Manchester City failed to win a Premier League match for the first time in 16 games, despite attempting 30 shots in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium.

The last time Spurs faced as many shots in a Premier League fixture was against Fulham (31) in November 2011, but they emerged with a point after Gabriel Jesus' late strike was ruled out by a VAR handball decision in the build-up.

Raheem Sterling put City ahead after 20 minutes with his fifth goal in four matches against Spurs at the Etihad, and, after Erik Lamela equalised for Tottenham, Sergio Aguero scored his 97th Premier League goal at the champions' home ground.

Only Thierry Henry (114 at Highbury), Wayne Rooney (101 at Old Trafford) and Alan Shearer (97 at St. James' Park) can boast equal or better scoring records at a single Premier League stadium than Aguero, who was teed up by Kevin De Bruyne's third assist in two league games - one more than he managed in the whole of last season.

But City's hopes of extending a Premier League winning streak that began on February 3 were undone when Lamela turned provider for Lucas Moura to equalise.

Lamela has scored and assisted for Tottenham in three different Premier League matches, all of them against Manchester clubs (twice against City, once against United).

PUKKI TREBLE EXTENDS MAGPIES' TRAVEL WOES

Newcastle United have won just two of their last 29 Premier League away matches in the month of August (D10 L17) after Teemu Pukki scored a hat-trick as Norwich City beat the Magpies 3-1 at Carrow Road.

The last time Newcastle won their first away league game of the season was in 2011-12 against Sunderland and they failed to cope with the threat of Finland international Pukki as Canaries boss Daniel Farke became the first Norwich manager to win his opening Premier League home game since Mike Walker in 1992.

Norwich fans had to think back 26 years to remember the last time they had a player score a Premier League hat-trick, Efan Ekoku doing so against Everton in September 1993.

Pukki, who also scored in Norwich's opening day defeat at Liverpool, has scored 33 league goals for the club since the start of last season, more than any other player across the top four tiers of English football.

LEICESTER LEAVE LAMPARD WINLESS IN THREE

Leicester City came from behind to draw 1-1 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and make Frank Lampard the first Blues boss since Rafael Benitez (2012-13) to fail to win any of his first three games in charge.

After a Premier League opening day defeat at Manchester United and a UEFA Super Cup loss on penalties to Liverpool, Chelsea took the lead through Mason Mount's home debut goal only to be pegged back by Wilfred Ndidi's second-half equaliser.

Mount's opportunist strike made him the first English player to score on his first home Premier League appearance for Chelsea since Paul Hughes netted against Derby County in January 1997, while Ndidi's bullet header was his fifth goal in 90 Premier League appearances.

Ndidi scored from a corner by James Maddison, who has created 50 chances from set-pieces in the Premier League since the start of 2018-19 - at least six more than any other player in the division.

Liverpool's victory over Southampton on Saturday not only sent the Reds back to the top of the table but also matched a club record for successive Premier League wins.

Sadio Mane's sublime strike and a second-half effort from Roberto Firmino proved enough to secure the points at St Mary's Stadium, despite a late howler from goalkeeper Adrian gifting Danny Ings a goal against his old club.

The result brought up an 11th straight top-flight triumph for Liverpool, matching their best winning streak in the Premier League, previously set between February and April 2014 under Brendan Rodgers.

Jurgen Klopp's side will now have the chance to go one better when they return to Anfield next week, with Arsenal - who have won both of their opening matches - visiting Merseyside.

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struck at Southampton as Liverpool won 2-1 to continue their run of consecutive Premier League victories despite a late Adrian mistake.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds started poorly on the south coast on Saturday, seeing their hosts squander a couple of presentable first-half chances, but Mane, as so often, came up with the goods.

His brilliant effort - a third of the season after two in the UEFA Super Cup final - woke Liverpool from their slumber and they were comfortable in the second period even before Firmino doubled the advantage.

There was a wobble when Adrian hacked the ball straight at Danny Ings for an unlikely Saints response. Former Reds striker Ings should have equalised with a gilt-edged chance for his second, yet Liverpool held on.

A run of nine wins to close out last season could not deny Manchester City the title, but that streak of league successes goes on - reaching a club-record-equalling 11 - as Klopp's men look to be in the mix again this term.

Liverpool, perhaps missing Alisson's calm in possession, looked shaky at the back early on, but they were grateful to Adrian - passed fit after a freak ankle injury in the Super Cup celebrations - for an instinctive close-range stop from Maya Yoshida following a corner.   The hosts remained on top and had another huge headed chance as Che Adams met Oriol Romeu's cross 10 yards out but nodded over the crossbar.   Yet after 46 minutes of toil, former Southampton man Mane came up with a moment of inspiration for the European champions in first-half stoppage time, cutting inside from the left and drilling into the top-right corner from 20 yards.   Liverpool were improved after the restart and Joel Matip flicked James Milner's scuffed shot agonisingly wide, before Angus Gunn denied Mohamed Salah as he raced through on the right.   Firmino should have stretched the lead when he slid a finish past the right-hand post, but he made no mistake the next time he was granted a sight of goal, moving from left to right in the area and striking low into the bottom-left corner.   Gunn expertly saved from Mane and Andy Robertson, and Southampton threatened a late fightback when Adrian comically hurried a clearance into Ings' shins with the ball finding the back of the net. The former Liverpool man squandered another late chance from close range as Klopp's men escaped.
 

What does it mean? Reds already battling for points

It will still be fresh in the mind of Liverpool players, staff and fans how taxing last season's title challenge was. We are in August but, at St Mary's, the visitors' display was that of a side already prepared to dig in again. The Reds were poor for 45 minutes but got the job done. The sign of champions? Two games into the season, they might hope to be more fluent.

Mane the man again

Klopp was able to name his first-choice front three from the start for the first time this season and, predictably, it was Mane and Firmino who made the difference. Mane's goal was particularly key as Southampton were hammering on the door and he turned the match in the visitors' favour.

Adrian fit but at fault

There were concerns Andy Lonergan was going to have to make his Premier League debut at 35 years old when Adrian was struggling following the Super Cup. The Spaniard was fit to start and made one crucial first-half stop, but his mistake for Southampton's goal provided a reminder of his limitations - even if Alisson has been guilty of similar in the past.

What's next?

Liverpool are now already four games into the new season and their next task is a tough one, with Klopp's men hosting Arsenal next Saturday. Southampton go to Brighton and Hove Albion earlier on the same day.

Sadio Mane feels Roberto Firmino deserves the credit for Liverpool's UEFA Super Cup triumph, although it was the Senegal star who struck twice.

Olivier Giroud gave Chelsea the lead in Istanbul on Wednesday in what was the first all-English Super Cup clash.

But after Firmino came off the bench for the start of the second half, he provided two assists for Mane to turn the tie around before Jorginho made it 2-2 with a penalty.

Adrian, deputising for Alisson, was then the hero by denying Blues striker Tammy Abraham to give the Reds a 5-4 victory on penalties.

Even though Mane is Liverpool's top scorer in 2019 with 18 goals in all competitions, he is more than happy to share the limelight.

"To be honest, I think I was just a lucky boy," Mane told UEFA.

"I think all the credit should go to my team-mates, especially Bobby [Firmino] – he could have scored but he preferred to give it to me.

"I think this is how we play at Liverpool. We play for each other and we always enjoy playing for each other and to give each other passes. I think that makes us strong."

Liverpool, who won their Premier League opener 4-1 at home to Norwich City last week, are back in action away to Mane's old club Southampton on Saturday.

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