Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum has blasted Everton's conduct as "completely unacceptable" following injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara sustained in Saturday's Merseyside derby.

Van Dijk is likely to miss most of the campaign after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage following a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

With Van Dijk having been flagged offside, Everton's goalkeeper did not receive any punishment for the tackle, while the Football Association confirmed on Monday that Pickford would not face retrospective action.

Premier League leaders Everton did subsequently have a player sent off, with Richarlison seeing red for a lunge on Thiago late on, and the former Bayern Munich star has not made the trip to Amsterdam to face Ajax in the Champions League.

Richarlison's red card was the 22nd sending off in a Merseyside derby in the Premier League era, with the Toffees having had 15 players dismissed.

The incidents left a sour taste for Wijnaldum, with the Dutchman believing Everton – who had four players carded on Saturday compared to Liverpool's two – have a track record of being too robust in derbies.

"Of course we are upset. The way Pickford went in was completely stupid," he said.

"I believe he didn't want to injure Virgil, but the way he took the tackle, he didn't care. I think we've had it a lot in the games against Everton.

"In my opinion, they take it way too far in the games we play against them. Sometimes you go a little over the top, but this was too much.

"We can talk about the tackle from Richarlison, it was also a nasty one. That's what bothered me the most. Accidents can always happen, you can be unlucky, but the way they were doing it was completely unacceptable. It makes it harder that they don't get punished."

While Richarlison issued an apology for his tackle on Thiago, it was confirmed on Sunday that Van Dijk will require surgery and Wijnaldum acknowledged that the squad are hugely concerned for their star defender.

"First of all we're still devastated, it's also different than normal. The way it happened is really hard for us," he added.

"Everyone has a really bad feeling about it. When we were speaking with the players after Saturday I think none of the players slept because of what happened with Virgil. It's a really hard one to take.

"People will say that because Virgil is really important part of our team. He had really big performances, a really important player for us, a leader.

"It's quite normal people will say that, but it's up to us. It's a situation we didn't deal with before, but it's what we have to deal with. Everyone can see what kind of impact he's had."

Mesut Ozil's Arsenal career appears to be over after he was left out of Mikel Arteta's 25-man Premier League squad.  

The 32-year-old has not featured for the Gunners since a Premier League game against West Ham on March 7 and was left out of their Europa League squad this month.  

With the transfer window now shut, Ozil - whose contract expires at the end of the season - will have to wait until January to find a way out of the club.  

Ozil sparkled fleetingly during his first two seasons at Emirates Stadium after joining from Real Madrid in 2013, before enjoying a stellar 2015-16. He provided 19 assists and created 28 'big chances' in 35 Premier League games that term, drastic improvements on his previous modest returns. 

He has failed to meet those standards ever since, though, falling to nine and then eight assists in 2016-17 and 2017-18. His big chances created slid to nine and then 13 across those same terms. 

Ozil signed a new contract in early 2018, reportedly worth £350,000 a week, and his form since has fallen away dramatically. Two assists in 24 Premier League games in 2018-19 were followed by just two again last term, when he played 18 matches in the top flight. 

He made headlines this month after offering to cover the cost of Gunnersaurus' salary in order to keep the long-standing mascot at Arsenal. 

It had been reported that Jerry Quy, who has performed matchday and event duties for 27 years in the famous green dinosaur costume, was made redundant as part of the Gunners' cost-cutting measures. 

Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who has not featured for the Gunners so far this season, has also been left out of Arteta's squad. 

Arsenal face Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday before hosting Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday. 

 

Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips is facing up to six weeks out with a shoulder problem. 

Phillips sustained the injury during Leeds' 1-0 defeat at home to Wolves on Monday, though he played the entire 90 minutes. 

The 24-year-old is consequently expected to be unavailable for England's Nations League games against Belgium and Iceland in November. 

A club statement read: "Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips suffered a shoulder injury in last night's Premier League defeat to Wolves at Elland Road.  

"Whilst we are pleased to confirm that surgery is not required, the Leeds born England International could still face up to six weeks on the sidelines. 

"Kalvin began his rehab at Thorp Arch this morning and will be working hard with the medical team to return to action as soon as possible."

Phillips has missed just 15 games in all competitions for Leeds since Marcelo Bielsa took over ahead of the 2018-19 season. 

They have suffered six defeats in those matches (eight victories, one draw), with their win percentage dropping to 53.3 per cent from 54.9 per cent when Phillips is in the team. 

Leeds on average score fewer goals (down to 1.5 from 1.6) and concede more (up to 1.1 from 1.0) when playing without the England midfielder.

Manchester United have named their 25-man squad for the Premier League season and there is no place for Phil Jones or Sergio Romero.

Last February, Jones signed a new contract at Old Trafford to run until June 2023 and containing the option of a further year.

However, he has not featured in the Premier League since a 2-0 loss to Burnley at Old Trafford in January – a defeat that proved to be United's final reverse in the top flight in 2019-20.

Romero has served as David de Gea's understudy since joining from Sampdoria in 2015 but has slipped down the pecking order since Dean Henderson's return from his successful loan stint at Sheffield United.

Jones and Romero were axed from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Champions League squad this month along with Marcos Rojo, although the Argentina defender has made the cut this time.

United have endured a mixed start to the Premier League season but bounced back from their humiliating 6-1 loss to Tottenham by beating Newcastle United 4-1 last time out.

Liverpool and Manchester United are in talks over the creation of a breakaway European Premier League, according to a report by Sky News.

The Premier League giants could be among as many as five English clubs to join the competition, and the report claims more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain have been involved in negotiations.

Wall Street bank JP Morgan is said to have prepared a $6billion (£4.6bn/€5.1bn) funding package to help launch the competition.

Sky News said Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham had also been approached over joining.

A Liverpool spokesperson offered no comment on the story when approached by Stats Perform, other than to describe it as "very speculative". City and United are yet to reply to requests for comment.

FIFA was reported to have given its support to the proposals, although the president of world football's governing body, Gianni Infantino, said last December: "FIFA is not backing any project."

UEFA has not gone on the record publicly over what appears to be a challenge to the supremacy of its Champions League. Its president, Aleksander Ceferin, last year condemned the concept of world leagues as "selfish and egotistical".

European football's governing body posted an interestingly timed tweet as the European Premier League reports broke, flagging the confirmed destinations for the next four Champions League finals through to 2024.

The existing Champions League structure is set to be revamped after the 2024 campaign, with plenty of posturing around the elite club game in Europe focused upon what shape this might take, although the backers of the European Premier League purportedly have ambitions to launch as early as 2022.

The latest talk of a European league follows the failure of Project Big Picture in England, a raft of proposed reforms initially backed by Liverpool and United that would have sanctioned a substantial coronavirus bailout package and increased financial support for the English Football League in exchange for increased voting rights on Premier League matters for the 'big six' clubs.

Following an emergency meeting last week, the Premier League said clubs had "unanimously agreed" that Project Big Picture would not be "endorsed or pursued", while committing to a strategic plan to examine the future funding of English football.

Jordan Henderson says it is the responsibility of the whole squad to ensure Virgil van Dijk returns to a Liverpool team challenging once again for major honours. 

The Reds were dealt a huge blow when it was confirmed their towering centre-back requires surgery on damaged knee ligaments sustained after an ugly challenge from Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 draw against Everton on Saturday. 

Van Dijk is expected to miss the majority of the rest of the campaign and potentially may not play again this season. 

Liverpool have won the Champions League, Club World Cup and Premier League over the past two seasons and captain Henderson told his team-mates that culture of competing for big honours must continue in the absence of Van Dijk. 

"That's down to us as players to make sure that when he is back and he is fit that we're still fighting to be successful and fighting for trophies," Henderson told Liverpool's official website. 

"You've got to use times like this to be stronger and to be even more together than we already are. And use it as a positive in some way – I know it sounds ridiculous at the moment, but that's what you need to try to do.  

"We need to try to look forward and try to help us in the next however many months Virgil will be out for. 

"And also stick by him and be there for him whenever he needs us. But he's a strong character, he's strong mentally and he certainly will be back stronger and hopefully it's not too long."

The absence of the Dutchman is sure to be keenly felt by the champions, particularly in the immediate term with goalkeeper Alisson still out of action.

Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have played 70 league games with Alisson and Van Dijk in the starting line-up, winning 56, drawing 10 and losing four, giving them a win rate of 80 per cent. 

By contrast, in 92 games led by the German without those two involved, Liverpool have won 49 times, drawn 27 and lost 16, their win rate dropping to 53.3 per cent and their points per game slipping to 1.9 from 2.5. 

Without Alisson and Van Dijk, Liverpool have conceded 110 goals – 1.2 per game – compared to just 51, or 0.7 per game, when they have played. 

Henderson said in his role as skipper he will be there to help Van Dijk through the difficult times. 

"It's a tough one. It's a big blow for us. For him personally, obviously. But for us as a team, a massive blow," he added. 

"I'm just gutted for him. So, it's been a tough couple of days, I spoke to him yesterday. And yeah, it's a difficult moment, but that's when you need to be there for each other. 

"I'll be there as much as I possibly can for him, I'm sure the lads will do the same and his family certainly will, to help him through the journey he'll go on."

Arsene Wenger has described the criticism he received from sections of the fan base and board towards the end of his Arsenal tenure as "unjustified" and "brutal". 

The Frenchman spent 22 years as manager of the Gunners, winning three Premier League titles and the FA Cup on seven occasions, while famously overseeing the Invincibles side of 2003-04. 

However, Arsenal struggled to match the standards of the golden days of Wenger's early tenure after the move to Emirates Stadium in 2006, though there were three FA Cup triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2017. 

There was an increasingly vocal "Wenger Out" brigade at Arsenal towards the end of his stay at the club and those moments were tough for Wenger to accept. 

Speaking to the Guardian, Wenger said: "The hostility of a section of the fans and the board was unjustified. 

"I felt as if I’d built the training centre and the stadium myself brick by brick...it was very hard, very brutal. 

"Arsenal was a matter of life and death to me, and without it there were some very lonely, very painful moments."

Elaborating further on his time at Arsenal being life and death, Wenger said: "It was my approach to the job.

"When you drive home after a defeat, and you think about the number of people who are destroyed, you have a sense of responsibility, of guilt.

"I believe there is no other way for a manager than to identify completely with the club, and to behave like he owns it."

Wenger opened up on the struggles he went through after a defeat, often replaying games in his mind, causing sleepless nights.

"I was more mentally sick. I made 1,235 games for Arsenal and didn't miss one. I can't remember when I stayed in bed to miss training in 22 years," he said.

"But, after defeat, you never sleep. You have an internal film that goes through your mind. It's a sense of anger, humiliation, hate. 

"The next day you have to put that into perspective but every defeat is still a scar on my heart."

Liverpool may need to make a January move for a centre-back after Virgil van Dijk's serious knee injury. 

The Premier League champions were dealt a huge blow with Van Dijk set to miss most - if not the remainder - of the season after a tackle from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby draw against Everton. 

Liverpool have been left with just two senior centre-backs – Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – with Van Dijk's injury, although defensive midfielder Fabinho can also provide cover. 

Unsurprisingly, there have been transfer rumours in the aftermath, with the Reds linked with RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano and Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Ben White. 

Having joined Leipzig from Salzburg for a reported €10million in 2017, Upamecano re-signed earlier this year, but he apparently has a €42m release clause in his contract – although that can only be triggered at season's end. 

Upamecano is highly rated in Europe and, using Opta data, we assess how his performances compare to Liverpool's defenders.

Bright future awaits, but would Upamecano improve Liverpool?

Upamecano, 21, helped RB Leipzig finish third in the Bundesliga and reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.

The France international's tackling numbers were particularly impressive when compared to Liverpool defenders Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip.

In the Bundesliga last season, Upamecano had 1.95 tackles per 90 minutes – with Matip (1.66 per 90 in just nine Premier League games) the closest of Liverpool's trio. However, only Van Dijk (52.2) had a worse tackle success rate than Upamecano (58.8), with Gomez and Matip both above 69.

In the Champions League, Upamecano had 3.4 tackles per 90 minutes , well above Van Dijk (1.08) and Gomez (1.59), and also at a better rate (56) than the Liverpool trio. Matip, often injured in 2019-20, played just 90 minutes in total in Europe's top club competition last season.

Ready to do battle

Upamecano contested the most duels (87) of the four in the Champions League, and went at a success rate of 71.26, similar to Van Dijk (70 duels and 74.29 success rate), while he also had a comparable number of headed clearances per 90 minutes (2.04 to Van Dijk's 2.28) and interceptions (1.63 to 1.08). Gomez had 2.64 interceptions per 90 minutes in the Champions League last season.

Van Dijk's absence will also hurt Liverpool aerially, with the Dutchman an imposing figure in Jurgen Klopp's back four.

Upamecano, who stands at 186cm, was between Van Dijk and Gomez when it came to aerial duels last season. He won 18 of 27 aerials in the 2019-20 Champions League, a rate worse than Van Dijk (33 of 47) but better than Gomez (24 of 41).

It was a similar story in the respective leagues, although he contested fewer than Liverpool defenders. An area Upamecano fell short in, at least domestically, was in being dribbled past by an opponent, which happened 20 times in 28 Bundesliga games, a figure ranking him below both Van Dijk (seven times in 38) and Gomez (11 in 28), but ahead of Matip (seven in nine). 

Boosting Liverpool's build-up play

A problem set to be exacerbated by Alisson's injury absence, Van Dijk's passing ability in defence is also important to how Liverpool function.

In this area, Upamecano may offer the Reds the most. In the Champions League last season, his passing accuracy in the opposition half was 83.1 – higher than the Liverpool trio, including Van Dijk (82.7). When it came to passing accuracy ending in the final third, Upamecano again topped the list (74.1), ahead of Gomez (71.6), and that included averaging 11.7 passes into the final third per 90 minutes.

In domestic action, Upamecano also topped the list in these categories, and his passing accuracy in the opposition half to begin this Bundesliga season is 84.7, while Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip have all dropped off from last season in this area.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be ready to extend his contract at Milan after a fine start to the season. 

Ibrahimovic returned to the Serie A club in January, extending his deal in August through until the end of the 2020-21 season. 

However, the veteran striker could be set to remain at the club for longer, per speculation in Italy.

 

TOP STORY – IBRAHIMOVIC COULD RENEW AT MILAN UNTIL 2022

Ibrahimovic's agent Mino Raiola is already studying a plan to extend the striker's deal at Milan until 2022, according to Corriere della Sera.

The 39-year-old has scored four goals in two Serie A games for league leaders Milan this season, including a brace in the derby win over rivals Inter at the weekend.

Ibrahimovic netted 10 goals and provided five assists in 18 league appearances in 2019-20.

ROUND-UP

- Unhappy about being left on the bench against Crotone, Paulo Dybala's future at Juventus is again a subject of interest. However, Tuttosport reports the aim is still for the playmaker – who is contracted until 2022 – to renew his deal before January.

- Barcelona could be set for good news. Goal reports Barcelona are working on new deals for Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet after agreeing to a contract with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Meanwhile, AS says Gerard Pique is ready to accept a pay cut.

- Phil Jones is yet to play for Manchester United this season and could leave in January. The Sun reports United could demand £20million for the defender, who is contracted until 2023.

- Maurizio Sarri could be set for a return to coaching. CalcioMercato reports the former Juventus and Chelsea boss is a target for Fiorentina amid pressure on Giuseppe Iachini after the club collected just four points from their opening four Serie A games of the season.

- Out of contract at Marseille at season's end, Florian Thauvin could be set for a move. Le 10 Sport says Milan are interested in the forward.

- With Virgil van Dijk out due to a serious knee injury, Liverpool could be looking for a defender in January. Football Insider says Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White remains on the Premier League champions' radar.

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool need to do whatever it takes to sign RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano in January after losing Virgil van Dijk to a serious knee injury. 

Netherlands international Van Dijk was forced off early in the Reds' 2-2 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton on Saturday after a wild challenge from Jordan Pickford.

Scans have since revealed Van Dijk suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that will ensure he misses the majority – if not the entirety – of the remainder of the season.

Liverpool have previously been linked with 21-year-old France international Upamecano and Carragher – the Reds' second-highest appearance maker – says Jurgen Klopp needs to bring him in as a matter of urgency when the January transfer window opens. 

"Liverpool's next big signing had to be a centre-back anyway and I am talking next summer," Carragher told Sky Sports. 

"Dejan Lovren went and they didn't replace him so they only have three centre-backs and one of those, Joel Matip, is always injured. There are question marks now about Joe Gomez.

"So, there is no doubt that Liverpool had to go big in the transfer market next summer. That was the next one. That has now got to be brought forward to January 1, whoever the target was in the summer. Not the end of January. 

"There is a young man everyone was talking about at Leipzig, Dayot Upamecano. I think he is only 6'1" or 6'2", so he is maybe not that aerial but if he is the one they wanted then bring it forward. Pay extra money and do it on January 1.

"That means getting through 11 league games without Virgil van Dijk."

When Frank Lampard was questioned over Chelsea's poor defensive record in his tenure as manager, he suggested his goalkeepers were to blame.

Ahead of Tuesday's home game against Sevilla, which will kick off the Blues' Champions League campaign, it was put to Lampard that his side were conceding enough goals for him to rank him among the club's worst bosses ever in that category.

Indeed, Chelsea have conceded nine goals in their first five Premier League games this season – three coming in Saturday's 3-3 home draw with Southampton – and leaked 54 in the 2019-20 top flight, more than any other team to finish in the top 10.

"I'm aware of the stats and the other stat is we have conceded second least shots," said Lampard.

"That helps to narrow down the issue. It's something we are aware of with our recruitment and on the pitch with the players to make sure we set up well.

"We want to concede less, as do all teams at the moment."

As Lampard referenced with recruitment, Chelsea hope the signing of Edouard Mendy for around £22million from Rennes can solve their goalkeeping issues.

But is the statistic he cites correct and to what extent can the other keepers, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero, be blamed for the club's woeful defensive record? We have used Opta data to find out...

CHELSEA RANK HIGHLY IN PREVENTING SHOTS

Since Lampard took charge at the start of last season, Chelsea have conceded 89 goals in 62 games across all competitions, an average of 1.44 per game.

Of the 17 sides who played in the Premier League last year and this year, that puts Chelsea in the bottom half (11th of 17).

The best two records, by comparison, are held by the two Manchester clubs, with City (61 in 65) and United (63 in 67) both averaging 0.94 goals conceded per game. West Ham are the worst, with 1.58 (79 in 50 matches).

But, as Lampard suggests, there is a significant difference when it comes to shots faced.

Taking all competitions into account, the Blues have faced 590 shots across their 62 games, an average of 9.52 per game.

That ranks third of the 17 teams, only narrowly behind Manchester City (7.34 shots per game) and Liverpool (9.46), with Leicester City (9.76) the only other team facing less than 10.

Of the shots Chelsea have faced, 215 have been on target, an average of 3.47 per game which ranks fifth of 17. 

So, Chelsea have been reasonably effective in limiting the shots they face and the attempts their keepers have to save.

However, 15 per cent (89) of opposing teams' shots have resulted in a conceded goal and by that metric, Chelsea are worst of all 17 teams.

The best is Arsenal (eight per cent) and Manchester United also rank in single figures (nine per cent), so it seems Lampard has a point that his goalkeeping is the primary concern.

KEPA STATS MAKE ABYSMAL READING

Delving deeper into Opta's advanced goalkeeper metrics, we can look at expected goals and how their keepers rank in the goals prevented statistic.

Unfortunately, it makes abysmal reading for Kepa. 

There were 43 shot-stoppers who played a Premier League game since Lampard took charge of Chelsea and Kepa ranks last in goals prevented differential.

In his 36 league matches for Chelsea since Lampard took charge, Opta's expected goals system projects the Spaniard should have conceded 39.21 goals. The actual figure was 51, giving him a goals prevented ratio of minus 11.79.

For context, the next worst of those who played at least 25 matches in that time period, were England duo Nick Pope (minus 4.31) and Jordan Pickford (minus 4.17).

Caballero also has a negative differential (minus 3.73), conceding nine Premier League goals from his six matches when his expected figure was 5.27.

The best goalkeeping performance in that time has come from Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris (plus 9.87 goals prevented), closely followed by Martin Dubravka (plus 8.57), Dean Henderson (plus 8.35) and Vicente Guaita (plus 7.97) – with those four ranking well clear of the rest.

As a team, Chelsea have conceded 63 in the league since August 2019, while the expected figure is 44.74, their minus 18.26 differential being far and away the top-flight's worst.

Southampton are next worst at minus 9.91, while the best record is held by Sheffield United, who conceded 46 when they were expected to concede 56.59, giving them a plus 10.59 ratio.

The poor goalkeeping is highlighted further when looking at Chelsea and their big six rivals.

Chelsea (44.74), City (44.34), Liverpool (44.67) and United (46.61) all rank similarly for the Premier League goals they would have been expected to concede since the start of last season.

By contrast, Arsenal (62.73) and Tottenham (62.72) rank more poorly.

However, the actual figures show Chelsea (63) conceded the most of the big six, more than Arsenal (54) and Spurs (55), who were boosted by the positive differentials and fine performances of Bernd Leno, Emiliano Martinez and Lloris.

City (42) fared best, with Ederson (plus 4.47) ranking well, while Liverpool (46) United (48) finished up relatively close to their expected figures, all highlighting just how badly Chelsea have been let down between the sticks compared to their nearest competitors.

Chelsea will hope Mendy, once fully fit and settled, can resolve their goalkeeping woes, as it is clear the data backs up Lampard's statement.

Jurgen Klopp has refused to put a timescale on Virgil van Dijk's return from knee surgery but expects the Premier League champions to "make the best" of his absence. 

The Reds confirmed on Sunday the Netherlands international had damaged ligaments in his knee and is likely to miss most of the rest of the campaign. 

Van Dijk was subjected to a wild challenge by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in Saturday's 2-2 Merseyside derby draw with Everton and limped off after 11 minutes.

The 29-year-old has since vowed to come back "better, fitter and stronger" after surgery but, while confirming he will be out for a "pretty long time", Liverpool boss Klopp would not be drawn on an exact date for his return to action.

"He will now be out for a while, that's clear," he told Liverpool's official website. "We don't want to set any timeframe, to be honest, because each player is different and these possible timeframes are always for the x, y, z player. Virgil is Virgil and we don't want to set any timeframe.

"But he will be out for a pretty long time and that's what the situation is. I expected it pretty much after the game, especially when I saw the challenge back. I saw it the first time only from the bench, and when I saw it back I was pretty clear that he will be out for a long time.

"So, we feel now in this moment extremely, extremely [sad] for him because most of us were in a similar situation and we know that these situations are absolutely rubbish.

"You don't need it but you have to get over it and Virgil will get over it, 100 per cent, and today is already the first day, if you want, of the recovery. 

"We already go in the right direction. So, see what you get and then make the best of it and that's what we do now."

Klopp says he understands what Van Dijk is going through after suffering a similar injury during his own playing career and insists the club will do everything it can to support him. 

"It's always the same; players love to be on their own to deal with it to begin with," he added. "I have been in the business long enough to know that. I was injured myself; I had exactly the same injury and you're not pretty chatty. 

"We are in contact, of course. We are there for him. He knows that and we will wait for him like a good wife is waiting when the husband is in jail and will do all we can to make it as easy as possible for him."

Frank Lampard hopes Chelsea's young squad have learned lessons from last season's Champions League campaign ahead of their clash with Sevilla.

On their return to Europe's elite club competition in 2019-20, Chelsea finished second to Valencia in the group stage before losing 7-1 on aggregate to eventual winners Bayern Munich in the last 16.

After conceding a last-gasp equaliser in Saturday's 3-3 Premier League draw with Southampton, the Blues open their Champions League campaign at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

With Chelsea winning only two of their first five league games and already having been dumped out of the EFL Cup, Lampard's men could be tested again when they meet Europa League winners Sevilla, but Lampard is relishing the challenge.

"It is a great platform to learn because you are playing against the best, we played against the best in Bayern Munich and it shows you the quality levels," the Chelsea boss said ahead of the start of their continental campaign, with Rennes and Krasnodar the other teams in Group E.

"We were a young team last year, working a lot to improve, and the Bayern game was a great marker for the young players in the squad to realise the levels that need to be attained. I remember having that myself as a young player.

"Getting through the group was also difficult for us, having lost the first game [against Valencia] – so we had to show a lot of discipline and focus to get through hard matches at Ajax and Lille.

"So hopefully there have been lot of lessons learned from that period.

"I remember the first leg [against Bayern] very well, we didn't play particularly well in the first half but had opportunities to score. Then in the second half they scored goals very quickly and made the tie difficult for us."

Chelsea have won only one of their last nine Champions League games against Spanish opposition, while Sevilla have triumphed in each of their last three European games against English sides – two against Manchester United and another victory over Wolves.

Lampard acknowledged their threat, adding: "I mentioned before about concentration, focus and discipline and that becomes even more important here than other competitions because of the level of Champions League. 

"That's what I would always make very clear to the players going into a match against someone of the quality of Sevilla."

Forward Timo Werner scored his first league goals for Chelsea with a double in the Southampton draw and has some fine Champions League form from his time at RB Leipzig to draw upon.

He has been directly involved in nine goals from his last 11 appearances in the competition, scoring seven times and adding two assists.

Lampard, who will become only the second Englishman to manage in two Champions League campaigns after Bobby Robson, also revealed midfielder Billy Gilmour was moving closer to a first-team return.

The teenager has not played since July due to a bad knee injury.

"Billy's working really well," Lampard said. "Three weeks or so from a return, the other side of the next international break all being well.

"He is working with physios but will hopefully integrate in training soon."

Another spectacular weekend in the Premier League always looked likely after Liverpool's thriller at Everton, and we weren't disappointed.

The champions lost Virgil van Dijk to injury and a winning goal to a Sadio Mane offside so marginal it seems VAR has now started dealing with measurements on the Planck scale.

Gareth Bale's return to action for Tottenham was warmly welcomed (mostly by jubilant West Ham fans) as a Jose Mourinho team once more produced a goal-fest, a sure sign that 2020 is truly losing its marbles.

Thankfully, we were also given a healthy dose of normality. Arsenal lost to Manchester City for the seventh time in a row, Jack Grealish was fouled so much you have to wonder if his tiny shin pads are shouting insults at every opponent, and Crystal Palace did their utmost to get a result against Brighton and Hove Albion without actually shooting.

Here are some of the more unusual takeaways from the past few days...

 

WHERE EAGLES (DON'T) DARE

Brighton out-shot Palace by 19 in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park, but it wasn't until the 90th minute through Alexis Mac Allister that they finally scored.

Palace had been leading 1-0 since the 19th minute, when Wilfried Zaha converted a penalty won by Michy Batshuayi. Remarkably, that was their only shot in the entire match; since Opta began collecting such data back in 2003-04, no other team has gone through a whole Premier League game in which their solitary attempt was from the spot.

Swansea City hold the Premier League record (at least since 2003-04) when it comes to the lowest number of shots for an entire season: they managed 339 in 2017-18. Palace, who have had 32 in their five games this term, might just have something to aim for – if aiming were their strong suit, anyway.

IT'S GUNNER CHANGE ONE DAY

Some degree of normality was restored at the Etihad Stadium, where Arsenal, who seem to love losing to Manchester City, lost to Manchester City.

Raheem Sterling's goal gave the hosts a seventh win in a row in the league over the Gunners, who last lost as many in succession against the same opponent at the hands of Ipswich Town between 1974 and 1977. If they lose the return fixture, they'll equal a club record of eight consecutive top-flight defeats to the same team, having last done so to Leeds United from 1972 to 1976.

The worst such run in England's top tier belongs to West Brom: they were beaten 15 times in a row by Chelsea from 1984 to 2011 before Gareth McAuley gave them a 1-0 win in March 2012.

 

JACK'S HACKS

Grealish might be struggling to win over England boss Gareth Southgate, but his opponents certainly seem to view him as a force to be reckoned with.

In Aston Villa's 1-0 win at Leicester City, Grealish won five fouls – nobody was fouled more often – to take his tally to 182 since the start of last season. Unsurprisingly, that's the highest number in the division.

According to Opta data, the most-fouled player in the Premier League since 2003-04 is former Bolton Wanderers striker Kevin Davies, who won 727 free-kicks. Grealish has some way to go before he can reckon with that figure, but at least he has double the number of England caps as Davies, who got one back in October 2010.

RED-FACED REDS

Conceding twice to Everton did more than sting Liverpool's local pride – it also took them to 13 goals conceded in five league games this season, the same number they let in after 15 matches in 2019-20. In fact, it's the most they have ever conceded in the first five league games of a season since shipping 13 back in 1953, when Winston Churchill was still prime minister of the United Kingdom.

If their average of 2.6 goals against per game continues, they will end the season having conceded at least 98 times. That would set a new club record in terms of their worst defensive displays across a campaign, surpassing the 97 goals they let in back in, you guessed it, 1953-54. How they would have hoped for better news on Virgil van Dijk's injury.

It could be worse, though: Manchester United conceded a quite spectacular 26 goals in the first five games of 1930-31, which remains a record in England's top flight. Churchill wasn't even in the government at the time.

 

UNBELIEVABALE

Spurs were cruising to a 3-0 victory when Bale came on against West Ham for his first appearance for the club in 2,707 days. What a moment for the fans watching at home.

Of course, it was the West Ham faithful who will have been jumping for joy in their living rooms by the end of the game, with Fabian Balbuena, a Davinson Sanchez own goal and an utterly magical hit from Manuel Lanzini snatching the most dramatic of 3-3 draws. Bale had earlier missed a great chance to make it 4-2, for good measure.

Still, welcoming back Bale after more than seven years will have been a special moment, although it doesn't quite match Wayne Rooney's Premier League record. His first appearance after rejoining Everton in 2017 came 4,837 days after his first in 2002, and he marked it by scoring the winner against Stoke City.

Andrea Pirlo described Pep Guardiola as a "model for the whole football movement" and admits he never dreamed he would one day be coaching Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Italy great Pirlo has taken his first steps into coaching with Juventus this season and his side have eight points from his four Serie A games in charge. 

There are some parallels to be drawn with Guardiola, who cut his managerial teeth at Barcelona – initially with Los Cules' B team before going on to oversee one of the greatest sides of any generation with a star-studded cast including Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. 

He consequently went on to coach Bayern Munich before joining Manchester City in 2016 and Pirlo sees Guardiola as an example for any rookie coach. 

"Guardiola is an example for all of us, he is one of the best. He gave a way forward for young coaches who wanted to promote a certain type of offensive football," Pirlo told UEFA.com. 

"Each of us has his own ideas and wants to carry them forward, but he is certainly a model for the whole football movement.  

"I like his style of play: always attacking and influencing the game in order to always manage situations. This must be our goal for the future." 

At Juve, Pirlo has Portugal superstar Ronaldo among his ranks – a player considered one of the greatest of all time. 

During his career, Ronaldo has lifted the Champions League five times, claimed domestic titles in England, Spain and Italy and is a five-time Ballon d'Or winner. 

Pirlo spoke of the pride he feels at working with a player of his calibre. 

"No, I never would have imagined it, but I am happy to have a great football player available and to see him train and play. For me and for the whole team it is a great pleasure," he added.  

"At 35 he works like a young boy, with the same passion and the desire to commit himself every day. He is an example for everyone." 

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