As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

The domestic calendar in England was halted last week in a bid to reduce social gatherings and the Football Association confirmed its leagues would not return until at least the end of April.

While we cannot say for sure how this weekend's Premier League fixtures would have gone, our friends at Opta have come up with a system to predict the outcomes.

What chance would your team have had? Take a look below.

 

Predictor explainer:

The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.


 

BURNLEY v WATFORD

Home win: 49 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 25 per cent

Watford may have handed Liverpool their first defeat of the Premier League season, but with just one victory in their past three visits to Turf Moor it is Burnley who are expected to win by the predictor. Sean Dyche's side have gone unbeaten in seven top-flight matches to move into a more comfortable position in the middle of the table.

CHELSEA v MANCHESTER CITY

Home win: 30 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Manchester City are the pick to prevail at Stamford Bridge, a ground where Pep Guardiola has lost on two of his three Premier League visits. Kevin De Bruyne's winner in September 2017 fired City's charge to a 100-point title romp but goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz saw the Blues hand Guardiola's men the first league defeat of their triumphant 2018-19 campaign. Kante and De Bruyne were both on target when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium back in November, before Riyad Mahrez sealed a 2-1 comeback win for the hosts.

LEICESTER CITY v BRIGHTON

Home win: 62 per cent
Draw: 22 per cent
Away win: 16 per cent

Brighton won at Arsenal back in December, but that was just one of two away victories for the Seagulls so far in the Premier League this season, so their prospects at Leicester were inevitably looking bleak. After a worrying slump, Leicester looked to have rediscovered their mojo by the time the league ground to a halt, with Jamie Vardy back on the goal trail following a drought. Leicester’s nine wins at the King Power Stadium this term looked highly likely to become 10.

LIVERPOOL v CRYSTAL PALACE

Home win: 76 per cent win
Draw: 16 per cent
Away win: 8 per cent

A predicted triumph for Liverpool at Anfield is by no means a surprise given they are on a top-flight record of 22 straight home wins. With just an eight per cent chance of winning, Palace had the lowest chance of victory in this round of fixtures. However, with City predicted to come out on top against Chelsea, the Reds' wait to clinch the Premier League title would have continued.

MANCHESTER UNITED v SHEFFIELD UNITED

Home win: 48 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The halt in football action came at a bad time for Manchester United, who were on a magnificent roll - 11 matches unbeaten with eight victories. The Opta predictor backed the hosts to continue that run, but at 48 per cent, a home win was seen as far from a certainty. Amid an amazing season, Sheffield United are just two points behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men and at 30 per cent, it is the most likely contest on the matchday to end in a draw. That was also the outcome in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November.

NEWCASTLE UNITED v ASTON VILLA

Home win: 54 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The predicted win for Newcastle is something Aston Villa – second from bottom and 10 points shy of Steve Bruce's men – could ill afford in reality. Newcastle are unbeaten in five matches at St James' Park, although that run includes three consecutive 0-0 draws. Villa have lost four in succession in the Premier League and only won three times in the top flight since beating the Magpies 2-0 in the corresponding fixture on November 25.

NORWICH CITY v EVERTON

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Norwich prop up the Premier League table and the predictor reflects as such, with Everton having a greater chance of victory on the road. The Toffees' last win at Carrow Road came in 2004, though, and Everton were beaten 2-0 at home by Daniel Farke's side back in November, Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny with the goals at Goodison Park.

SOUTHAMPTON v ARSENAL

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 48 per cent

Southampton’s resurgence during December and January had given way to a worrying patch of form over February and early March. Ralph Hasenhuttl's men did beat Aston Villa at home, but this Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta’s leadership are a different prospect to the team Saints held 2-2 in north London back in November. The Gunners are unbeaten in the Premier League in 2020, and they would have fancied claiming all three points on offer at St Mary's.

TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM

Home win: 70 per cent
Draw: 17 per cent
Away win: 13 per cent

The Hammers were not predicted to fare particularly well at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but they did defy the odds with a 1-0 win at the same venue in April 2019, Michail Antonio scoring the winner. Tottenham were the victors in the reverse fixture this season, a 3-2 triumph in Jose Mourinho's first match in charge.

WOLVES V BOURNEMOUTH

Home win: 58 per cent
Draw: 23 per cent
Away win: 19 per cent

Wolves are unbeaten in all three of their Premier League matches against Bournemouth, including a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture, and the predictor has them as the more likely winners on this matchday. That would come as a welcome relief to Wolves, who have won just one of their last five home top-flight matches, while Eddie Howe's men would be primed for a seventh consecutive away loss.

The Premier League has been suspended until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so what does that mean for the rest of the season?

Decisions made by UEFA and CONMEBOL to push back Euro 2020 and the Copa America until 2021 opened the door for domestic competition to continue longer than initially planned.

Upon announcing a four-week extension to the initially planned hiatus on Thursday, the Football Association (FA) revealed it would allow its leagues to continue beyond the June 1 deadline set out in its regulations.

The eventual run-in could prove to be heavily congested. Some Premier League teams are still competing on three fronts, others possess a game in hand, while UEFA is still hoping for a round of international matches in June.

If no games are cut out, we look at how the calendar for English teams could hypothetically shape up if competitions across Europe were able to resume following April 30.

 

May 2/3 - Matchday 30

May 7 - Postponed Europa League last-16 first legs and unplayed matchday 29 games

May 9/10 - Matchday 31

May 12/13/14 - FA Cup quarter-finals

May 16/17 - Matchday 32

May 19/20/21 - Champions League and Europa League last-16 second legs

May 23/24 - Matchday 33

May 26/27/28 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final first legs

May 30/31 - Matchday 34

June 2/3/4 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final second legs

June 6/7 - Matchday 35

June 13/14 - International week

June 20/21 - Matchday 36

June 23/24/25 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final first legs

June 27/28 - Matchday 37

June 30/July 1/2 - FA Cup semi-finals

July 4 - Matchday 38

July 7/8/9 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final second legs

July 11 - FA Cup final

July 15 - Europa League final

July 18 - Champions League final

Manchester City could let Sergio Aguero leave at the end of the season, according to a report.

City were handed a two-season Champions League ban last month over Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches, although they are appealing the ruling.

However, that could lead to a big-name exit at the end of the campaign.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY COULD LET AGUERO LEAVE AT END OF SEASON

Manchester City are willing to let Aguero go if they fail to overturn the European ban, according to The Sun.

The report says the 31-year-old Argentina forward would be allowed to leave if he indicated he wanted to do so despite being contracted until 2021.

Aguero is the Premier League club's all-time leading goalscorer and is enjoying another fine campaign, netting 23 times in 29 games.

 

ROUND-UP

- Luka Jovic has struggled at Real Madrid and could be set for a switch. AS reports Napoli are considering a move for the 22-year-old forward, who has scored just twice this season after joining Madrid for a reported €60million from Eintracht Frankfurt.

- Chelsea seem ready to move on from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Daily Express reports the Premier League club have been alerted to the potential availability of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who is said to be weighing up his future at Barcelona. The Mirror reports Chelsea are monitoring Dean Henderson, who has impressed on loan at Sheffield United from Manchester United.

- Also at Stamford Bridge, The Mirror reports Tammy Abraham has rejected a contract offer from Chelsea. Abraham – who has 15 goals this season – has a deal until 2022 but reportedly wants fresh terms similar to the club's other stars before recommitting.

- Looking to strengthen their defence, Manchester City are prepared to spend £80m (€92.5m) on Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to the Daily Express.

- With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang perhaps set for an Arsenal exit, CalcioMercato reports Inter are considering a move for the forward, who played for AC Milan's youth team but never made an appearance for the senior side.

- Everton are eyeing a move for Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin in the close season, according to The Sun.

Liverpool came from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 and set a record for the most consecutive home wins in England's top-flight history.

Jurgen Klopp's side edged closer to a first Premier League title thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, after Callum Wilson had put the Cherries ahead at Anfield.

Arsenal were given a tough time by West Ham before Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to drag them closer to the Champions League places, but Wolves slipped up against Brighton and Hove Albion.

At the foot of the table, Norwich City are beginning to look a lost cause, but Newcastle United gave their own survival hopes a real boost.

LACAZETTE KEEPS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HOPES ALIVE

Arsenal are now five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and three adrift of Wolves in fifth after battling to a 1-0 win over West Ham.

David Moyes' side managed 14 shots to the Gunners' nine, hit the post through Jarrod Bowen and were thwarted more than once by Bernd Leno, but they were undone by substitute Lacazette with 12 minutes to play.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's shot deflected to Mesut Ozil, who headed the ball to Lacazette to allow the striker to lash home the winner, the goal awarded after a VAR check overturned the initial offside call.

Wolves are only three ahead of Mikel Arteta's side, having missed out on the chance to move into the top four after failing to break down Brighton in a 0-0 draw at Molineux.

 

CENTURION SALAH GETS REDS BACK ON TRACK

Having lost three of their past four games across all competitions, Liverpool's Anfield home was not exactly in good spirits when Wilson tapped in Jefferson Lerma's cross to give Bournemouth a ninth-minute lead.

Bournemouth, though, are a team who had lost their previous five league games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0, so banking on them keeping the leaders at bay was always a long shot.

Unfortunately for Eddie Howe, Bournemouth rather gifted Liverpool their goals. Salah scored his 70th Liverpool goal in his 100th league appearance after Jack Simpson carelessly lost the ball to Mane, and it was 2-1 before the break when the visitors gave up possession in midfield and Virgil van Dijk played Mane in to score.

It was not a vintage display, but it did give Liverpool a record 22nd top-flight home victory in a row and put them 25 points clear at the top. Bournemouth remain 18th, behind Watford on goal difference, the Hornets having lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace.

MAGPIES ON THE UP BUT CANARIES ARE IN TROUBLE

Newcastle's run of five league games without a win - and four without a goal - came to an end with a 1-0 defeat of Southampton on the south coast.

Matt Ritchie, who signed a new contract at Newcastle this week, saw a penalty saved in the first half, not long after Moussa Djenepo had been sent off in a separate incident for a reckless challenge on Isaac Hayden, but Allan Saint-Maximin struck 79 minutes in to lift the Magpies eight points above the bottom three.

Norwich, though, are still six points from safety after a Billy Sharp goal and another fine performance from Dean Henderson saw them lose 1-0 at Sheffield United, who sit sixth.

FA Cup holders Manchester City face a trip to Newcastle United in the quarter-finals.

Pep Guardiola's men were unconvincing in their fifth-round clash with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, Sergio Aguero scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win.

City's reward is a trip to St James' Park, where they were held to a 2-2 Premier League draw in November.

Chelsea, who knocked out runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool on Tuesday, will visit fellow Champions League chasers Leicester City.

Arsenal's quest to extend their competition record to 14 titles next takes them to Bramall Lane, the Gunners having suffered a 1-0 defeat there in October when Unai Emery was still at the helm.

Derby County, the sole remaining non-Premier League side in the competition, will travel to Norwich City should they stun Manchester United on Thursday.

Wednesday's clash between Tottenham and Norwich was locked at 1-1 in extra time, but Tim Krul denied Gedson Fernandes in a penalty shoot-out to send the Canaries through.

The quarter-final matches will be played on the weekend of March 20-22.

 

Draw in full:

Sheffield United v Arsenal
Newcastle United v Manchester City
Norwich City v Derby County/Manchester United
Leicester City v Chelsea

Chelsea dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge, while Newcastle United and Sheffield United also moved into the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Watford inflicted a shock first Premier League defeat on runaway leaders Liverpool on Saturday and they suffered a third loss in their past four games in all competitions three days later.

Adrian's howler gifted Willian the opening goal 13 minutes in and there was no way back for Jurgen Klopp's side after Ross Barkley doubled Chelsea's lead in the second half.

Kepa Arrizabalaga impressed on his return to the Chelsea team, making a flurry of saves in quick succession in the first half on a frustrating evening for a much stronger Reds side than they fielded in previous rounds.

Newcastle reached the last eight for the first time since 2006, ending their goal drought to beat Championship leaders West Brom 3-2.

The Magpies had gone three games without a goal, but Miguel Almiron's first-half brace and Valentino Lazaro's finish put them three up. 

Matt Phillips pulled one back and although Kenneth Zohore added a second in stoppage time, that could not prevent Newcastle from putting their name in the hat.

Sheffield United needed extra time to get past Reading, Billy Sharp nodding in the winner after a George Puscas penalty cancelled out David McGoldrick's opener.

David de Gea is no stranger to scrutiny at Old Trafford.

There were serious concerns over De Gea when he was lured to Manchester United by former boss Alex Ferguson as a lean 20-year-old goalkeeper in 2011.

De Gea, though, answered questions about his physique – the Spaniard repaying Ferguson's faith and going on to win a Premier League title, as well as FA Cup, Europa League, EFL Cup and Community Shield silverware.

He cemented himself as one of the world's best keepers. However, those concerns have emerged again and they are growing louder following his latest mistake in Sunday's 1-1 draw away to Everton.

De Gea's attempted clearance was blocked by Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin into the net in just the third minute. United manager to salvage a point, but those errors are occurring more frequently.

Unlike previous seasons, De Gea has serious competition in the form of Dean Henderson – who is excelling on loan at Sheffield United in England's top flight.

England youth international Henderson is widely viewed as the future of United, but the 22-year-old is reportedly unwilling to return to Manchester next season unless he is the number one.

So, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a decision to make. Stick with De Gea or cash-in on the rumoured Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus target, while turning to Henderson?

Using Opta stats, we compare the form of De Gea and counterpart Henderson in the Premier League this season.

 

Games played
De Gea: 28
Henderson: 26

Shots Faced (inc. blocks)
De Gea: 297
Henderson: 295

Goals Conceded
De Gea: 30
Henderson: 22

Clean Sheets
De Gea: 7
Henderson: 9

Saves
De Gea: 72
Henderson: 66

Saves (from inside the box)
De Gea: 44
Henderson: 39

Saves (from outside the box)
De Gea: 28
Henderson: 25

Save Percentage
De Gea: 70.59
Henderson: 74.42

Clearances (inc. Punches)
De Gea: 12
Henderson: 20

Goals Conceded (in box)
De Gea: 26
Henderson: 21

Goals Conceded (out box)
De Gea: 4
Henderson: 1

Errors Leading to Goals
De Gea: 3
Henderson: 1

Errors Leading to Shots (inc. goals)
De Gea: 4
Henderson: 1

Drops
De Gea: 1
Henderson: 3

After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

“For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

"And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

- United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

- Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

- PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

- Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

Frank Lampard once again got the better of his former manager Jose Mourinho as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their top-four hopes.

Ex-Blues midfielder Lampard saw his side complete a Premier League double over Spurs at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's early kick-off.

In the late game, Manchester City put seven points between themselves and third-placed Leicester City with a 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

It was a good day elsewhere for fourth-placed Chelsea too, as Sheffield United dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Struggling Aston Villa and Bournemouth both suffered away defeats but Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle United with a 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

 

LONDON DERBY DELIGHT FOR CHELSEA

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso rewarded Lampard's faith in them by marking their returns to the starting line-up with goals.

Striker Giroud scored his first club goal since August before Alonso doubled the lead prior to the break, with Chelsea hanging on despite a late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In leading his side to home and away Premier League victories over Tottenham in 2019-20, Lampard became the first boss to beat a team managed by Mourinho in both league fixtures in a single season.

Chelsea moved four points clear of both Spurs and Sheffield United, who were held by Brighton at Bramall Lane as Enda Stevens' opener was cancelled out by Neal Maupay.

JESUS CITY'S SAVIOUR AFTER AGUERO’S PENALTY MISS

Sergio Aguero became the latest City player to miss a penalty before Gabriel Jesus scored a late winner in a 1-0 victory at Leicester.

Aguero's second-half spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, with four different City players having failed to convert their last four Premier League penalties.

Yet Jesus, brought on for Aguero, slotted past Schmeichel 10 minutes from time to move City seven points clear of third-placed Leicester.

SAINTS AND EAGLES BOOST SURVIVAL HOPES

Southampton moved 10 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals 87 minutes apart from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong in a 2-0 triumph over Villa.

Roy Hodgson's Palace claimed their first victory of 2020 as Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick on the stroke of half-time proved enough to beat Newcastle, who lost Valentino Lazaro to a late red card.

Bournemouth were unable to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, however, as they went down 3-0 at Turf Moor.

The Cherries had two goals disallowed in the defeat to Burnley, who moved up to eighth thanks to second-half goals from Matej Vydra, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil.

Frank Lampard once again got the better of his former manager Jose Mourinho as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their top-four hopes.

Ex-Blues midfielder Lampard saw his side complete a Premier League double over Spurs at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's early kick-off.

It was a good day elsewhere for fourth-placed Chelsea too, as Sheffield United dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Struggling Aston Villa and Bournemouth both suffered away defeats but Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle United with a 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

 

LONDON DERBY DELIGHT FOR CHELSEA

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso rewarded Lampard's faith in them by marking their returns to the starting line-up with goals.

Striker Giroud scored his first club goal since August before Alonso doubled the lead prior to the break, with Chelsea hanging on despite a late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In leading his side to home and away Premier League victories over Tottenham in 2019-20, Lampard became the first boss to beat a team managed by Mourinho in both league fixtures in a single season.

Chelsea moved four points clear of both Spurs and Sheffield United, who were held by Brighton at Bramall Lane as Enda Stevens' opener was cancelled out by Neal Maupay.

 

SAINTS AND EAGLES BOOST SURVIVAL HOPES

Southampton moved 10 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals 87 minutes apart from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong in a 2-0 triumph over Villa.

Roy Hodgson's Palace claimed their first victory of 2020 as Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick on the stroke of half-time proved enough to beat Newcastle, who lost Valentino Lazaro to a late red card.

Bournemouth were unable to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, however, as they went down 3-0 at Turf Moor.

The Cherries had two goals disallowed in the defeat to Burnley, who moved up to eighth thanks to second-half goals from Matej Vydra, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil.

Sheffield United continued their remarkable Premier League campaign with a 2-1 comeback victory over lowly Bournemouth on Sunday.

Callum Wilson gave the Cherries, buoyed by back-to-back top-flight wins, a 13th-minute lead at Bramall Lane when he thrashed home from six yards, but the hosts fought back to move to within two points of fourth spot.

Billy Sharp netted his first goal since scoring a late leveller in the 1-1 opening-day draw between these two sides to level it up in first-half stoppage time, the veteran striker poking in after Bournemouth failed to clear their lines.

Substitute John Lundstram sealed the three points for Chris Wilder's side, keeping his cool to slot the winner past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale six minutes from time.

Beaten Bournemouth remain just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Bournemouth striker Joshua King endured a "difficult couple of days" after a potential return to Manchester United failing to materialise, according to Eddie Howe.

United were rumoured to be interested in bringing King back to Old Trafford towards the end of the January transfer window, the club sinking cover for the injured Marcus Rashford.

King, 28, was said to be particularly eager to join United, having made two senior appearances for as a youngster and featured prominently under current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the club's reserves.

Bournemouth were reported to have rejected United's advances and they signed former Watford striker Odion Ighalo instead, with King apparently left feeling "used", according to the Athletic.

Howe accepts King had a tough time coming to terms with the outcome but has urged the Norwegian to take it as a compliment and not dwell on personal matters as Bournemouth face a relegation tussle.

"That was a difficult couple of days for him," Howe told reporters. "But it's a huge compliment and a huge moment for him, to have Manchester United come in and express an interest in him.

"But he's very focused on our current position and this club. He knows we're in a relegation fight; it's no time for him to focus on himself, he knows that, and he's very much a team player.

"So, he's looking forward to being fit and contributing to our battle."

Bournemouth travel to Sheffield United on Sunday sitting just two points above the bottom three, though they go into the contest on the back of successive Premier League wins.

Liverpool opened up a whopping 22-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League as four second-half goals saw them cruise past Southampton 4-0 at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds were lucky to not be behind at the break after a chaotic first half, but normal service was resumed after the interval as they racked up a 16th consecutive top-flight triumph.

Merseyside rivals Everton, meanwhile, came from two goals down to edge past Watford 3-2 in a thrilling game at Vicarage Road.

Antonio Rudiger scored twice as Chelsea and Leicester City played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium, while there were wins for Sheffield United and Bournemouth over Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively.

Brighton and Hove Albion came from two goals down to draw 3-3 at West Ham, while bottom side Norwich City held Newcastle United to a goalless draw at St James' Park.

SALAH AT THE DOUBLE FOR RELENTLESS REDS

Mohamed Salah scored twice as runaway leaders Liverpool produced a second-half surge to seal a comprehensive victory over Southampton.

Jurgen Klopp's world champions secured a 24th win from 25 top-flight games this season, with Salah striking twice in the last 18 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 47th minute against his former club, unleashing a low drive past Alex McCarthy, before Jordan Henderson doubled their lead on the hour mark.

RUDIGER HEADS BRACE IN LANDMARK MATCH

Rudiger marked his 100th appearance for Chelsea with an unlikely brace but Frank Lampard's side were unable to secure maximum points.

Chelsea went ahead a minute into the second half at the King Power Stadium when Rudiger nodded in Mason Mount's corner.

Their lead lasted less than 10 minutes, Harvey Barnes drawing Leicester level with the aid of a deflection off Reece James to give Willy Caballero - picked ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga - no chance.

Ben Chilwell put the hosts ahead with a cool finish in the 64th minute, but the Blues claimed a share of the spoils to stay eight points behind third-placed Leicester when Rudiger headed home his second 19 minutes from time.

TOFFEES STING HORNETS WITH LATE STRIKE

Everton's Theo Walcott scored in the 90th minute to complete a remarkable turnaround against Watford.

Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra had put the Hornets 2-0 up, but defender Yerry Mina scored twice in first-half stoppage time to haul Carlo Ancelotti's side level.

Everton's hopes of sealing all three points looked to be over when Fabian Delph was dismissed 13 minutes from time for two yellow cards, but Walcott steered home after a quick break to send the travelling faithful into raptures.  

Sheffield United have completed the signing of highly rated midfielder Sander Berge from Belgian side Genk.

Having played a key role in Genk's title triumph in Belgium last season, Berge – a Norway international – had been linked with a number of Premier League sides.

Tottenham, West Ham and Burnley had all been credited with an interest in the 21-year-old, along with league leaders Liverpool.

But it is the Blades – eighth in the table – who have secured Berge for a club-record fee reported to be £22million (€26.1m), with the midfielder penning a four-and-a-half-year deal at Bramall Lane.

"The board have really backed us in this window to bring in players of the quality of Sander," Chris Wilder told United's official website.

"He fits the bill in so many ways. He's a Norwegian international who has played 20 times for his country. He's also played Champions League football and we're delighted he has decided to come to Bramall Lane.

"Sander is someone we have known about for quite a while now. It was clear that he was really excited about coming here and that was great to see.

"I think this signing just shows how far we have come in a short space of time that we are now attracting the likes of Sander to the football club."

Berge, who will wear the number 32 shirt, scored six goals in all competitions during his time at Genk, while he started each of their Champions League group stage matches this season.

Liverpool's march towards the Premier League title shows no sign of slowing down, as the Reds claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wolves.

Manchester United are clinging to a top-six position after they slid to a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, the latest in a string of wretched results this season that have sparked an angry reaction from supporters.

While United toil, neighbours Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win at Sheffield United that continued their resurgent league form, with a winning combination delivering the goal for Pep Guardiola's side.

Leicester City might have expected a challenge from the big clubs behind them by now, but the Foxes continue to sit pretty in third place, and a 4-1 win over West Ham continued to make them look immovable from the top four this season.

The midweek Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, revealing a string of telling trends and match facts.

 

MANE INJURY DOES NOT DERAIL LIVERPOOL'S CHARGE

Liverpool lost Sadio Mane to injury during the first half in Thursday's clash with Wolves, yet Roberto Firmino struck late on to claim the win as the Reds became just the fifth side in English Football League history to go 40 straight matches unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp's side have amassed 67 points from a possible 69 in the Premier League this season; this is at least five more than any side in English top-flight history has ever previously had after as many games of a campaign.

Raul Jimenez drew Wolves level after Jordan Henderson's opener, and the Mexican's header ended a run of 725 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Richarlison scored for Everton at Anfield in December.

Jimenez also became the third Premier League player to net 20+ goals in all competitions this season, after Sergio Aguero (21) and Raheem Sterling (20).

Since the start of last season, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 Premier League goals, at least five more than any other player, with 10 of those coming from dead balls, also a league-high.

Firmino, meanwhile, has scored six goals in his last eight games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 32 appearances for the club, and all of his 10 Premier League strikes this season have come away from home.

UNITED IN TURMOIL AS CLARETS PUT NEGATIVE SPIN ON OLE REIN

Manchester United may sit fifth, but in terms of points tallies Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's are closer to 14th-placed Newcastle than they are to fourth-placed Chelsea after 24 games.

The league standing is highly vulnerable, given Tottenham, Wolves and even Sheffield United are breathing down United's necks.

Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Burnley means United now have a negative Premier League win-loss record since manager Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis in March.

They had impressed during his caretaker spell, but since Solskjaer went from being a stand-in to the chosen one, their record shows 11 wins and 12 defeats in the Premier League.

United's Old Trafford setback followed their 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield, meaning they have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the second time under their Norwegian boss.

Burnley looked to be in freefall just days ago and relegation was becoming a serious concern, but wins over United and Leicester City have lifted them to 30 points - just four adrift of the Red Devils.

PASSPORTS AT THE READY, LEICESTER LOOK BOOKED IN FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURN

Catch them if you can! Leicester City had a wobble with defeats to Southampton and Burnley, but Brendan Rodgers' men now sit 14 points clear of fifth place and surely their destiny is a second season in the Champions League.

In the absence of anything approaching a charge from teams outside the top four, it would take a spectacular collapse for the Foxes to miss out, with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday emphasising their quality.

Leicester have racked up eight wins in 12 Premier League home games so far, their best record at this stage of a season, and the 52 goals they have banged in amounts to their most in the top flight from their first 24 games since the achieved the same tally in 1930-31.

Rodgers and West Ham boss David Moyes were once rivals on Merseyside, in charge of Liverpool and Everton respectively.

While Rodgers eyes success towards the top of the table, Moyes has taken on a relegation battle with a West Ham side who are outside the bottom three on goal difference alone.

Since the start of October 2019, no team have gained fewer points (11) or lost more games (11) in the Premier League than West Ham, and it gets no easier: Liverpool are their next opponents.

At least that game is a home fixture for the Hammers. Moyes' away record in matches against teams starting the day in the Premier League top four is diabolical, winning just one of 50 such games.

KEVIN KEEN TO HELP - DE BRUYNE IS KING OF THE ASSISTS

When Sergio Aguero turned in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne to give Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United, it was more than merely two Premier League greats combining to deadly effect.

History, in fact, was made in that motion, with De Bruyne becoming the first player in the Premier League era to provide 15 or more assists in three different seasons.

The Belgian had 18 in 2016-17, 16 the following season, and after an injury-wracked 2018-19 campaign he already has 15 from 23 appearances this term.

The scale of De Bruyne's achievement can be better appreciated by considering the likes of Ryan Giggs, Cesc Fabregas, Dennis Bergkamp and his own City colleague David Silva have been unable to produce at that level so consistently.

Former Wolfsburg playmaker De Bruyne has entered the top 20 of all-time assist providers in the Premier League, and there is no keeping Aguero down either.

Aguero has been directly involved in 43 goals in 43 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams - scoring 35 goals and assisting in eight more.

It took City until the 73rd minute to make their breakthrough at Bramall Lane, and a lot of the credit for the hosts' resilience went to goalkeeper Dean Henderson, whose first-half penalty save from Gabriel Jesus means he has stopped four of the last eight spot-kicks he has faced in English league football.

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