Liverpool closed the gap on leaders Manchester City with victory over West Ham, while Chelsea tightened their grip on third place in Saturday's Premier League action.

The Blues saw off Burnley 4-0 at Turf Moor, a scoreline that was matched by Aston Villa in their statement victory against Southampton.

Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Brentford also picked up wins, but it was a bad start to life under new management for Leeds in their early kick-off against Leicester City.

Following another eventful day of Premier League action, Stats Perform delves into the key Opta facts from each of the games.

Leeds United 0-1 Leicester City: New manager, same Leeds

Jesse Marsch's first game as Leeds boss ended in defeat to Leicester as United fell to a fifth successive league loss for the first time since April 2015, when they were in the Championship.

Leeds have failed to score in three straight league matches for the first time in a year, this despite registering 19 shots in their latest blank against Leicester.

United's expected goals (xG) return of 1.95 is their highest without scoring in a league game since June 2020, and the familiar failings were also on show at the other end.

Harvey Barnes' second-half winner means Leeds have gone 13 league games without a clean sheet, their longest-such run since 14 without a shutout ending in August 2016.

This was the fifth straight league game Barnes has scored against Leeds – four of those while playing for Leicester and one for West Brom, making them his favourite opponent.

 

Aston Villa 4-0 Southampton: Coutinho's home comforts

Villa are firmly back on track after registering back-to-back victories under Steven Gerrard for the first time since his opening two games in charge in November.

The Villans put four unanswered goals past Southampton at Villa Park for their biggest Premier League win since thrashing Liverpool 7-2 in October 2020.

Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho once again played a big part in the victory by scoring one and assisting another for Douglas Luiz.

Coutinho has now been directly involved in six goals in his first four home league games for Villa, scoring three of his own and setting up as many.

Ollie Watkins had earlier opened the scoring with his 21st Premier League strike since the start of the 2020-21 season, while Danny Ings added to his two assists with Villa's fourth goal.

 

Newcastle United 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Fraser helps end Magpies' duck against Seagulls

For a while things looked incredibly bleak for Newcastle, even after their big-money takeover, but they now find themselves seven points above the relegation zone.

The Magpies held off Brighton to make it eight Premier League games without defeat – no team is on a better such run – with five of those matches ending in victory.

Ryan Fraser opened the scoring to make it two goals in five Premier League outings, matching his tally from his previous 70 appearances, before setting up Fabian Schar.

That was the earliest United have scored twice in a Premier League home game since January 2007 and, despite Lewis Dunk's header, Eddie Howe's side saw out the win.

It marks the first time Newcastle have defeated Brighton in the Premier League in their 10th such encounter, having previously failed to so much as score against them at home.

 

Norwich City 1-3 Brentford: Bees buzzing thanks to Toney treble

After a run of eight Premier League games without a win, Brentford bolstered their survival ambitions with a well-earned victory away at bottom side Norwich.

Ivan Toney was the hero for the Bees with three goals, two of those from the penalty spot, making Brentford the 40th different team to boast a hat-trick scorer.

The Brentford striker now has nine Premier League goals for the season, each of those coming via his right foot.

Teemu Pukki scored a consolation but it was another miserable day for Norwich, whose goal difference of -42 is the worst at this stage since Derby County in 2007-08 (-44).

Not that it will matter a great deal in the grand scheme of things, but Brentford are the first team Pukki has scored home and away against in a single Premier League season.

 

Wolves 0-2 Crystal Palace: Shaky Wanderers lose again

Wolves' European hopes suffered another blow as they fell to a third successive Premier League defeat, as many as they lost in their previous 13.

Bruno Lage's out-of-form side have now conceded six goals in their last four league games, after shipping just five in 12 before that.

Jean-Philippe Mateta came up with the breakthrough from close range for his fourth goal in eight Premier League starts, and Wilfried Zaha doubled Palace's lead from the penalty spot.

Ivory Coast international Zaha has now been directly involved in 83 goals in the competition, the joint-ninth best total for an African player, level with Nwankwo Kanu.

With this latest loss, it is the first time Wolves have lost three games in a row against Palace in their entire league history.

 

Burnley 0-4 Chelsea: Blues cruise at Turf Moor

It was business as usual for Chelsea as they won for a third Premier League game running without conceding in what proved to be a straightforward victory at lowly Burnley.

The Blues scored all four of their goals in the second half as they enjoyed their biggest away league win since October 2018 when also beating Burnley by the same scoreline.

This was the biggest margin of victory for an away side in a game that was goalless at half-time since Tottenham beat Aston Villa 4-0 in December 2012.

Reece James started the scoring and in the process became the first defender from Europe's top five leagues to both score and assist five goals this term in all competitions.

Kai Havertz also netted twice before Christian Pulisic added some gloss to the scoreline – his fourth goal at Turf Moor, matching a record for an away player set by Tottenham's Harry Kane.

 

Liverpool 1-0 West Ham: Reds roll on thanks to Mane

Sadio Mane's first-half goal made it seven wins in a row for Liverpool in the Premier League, their best such streak since a run of 18 when they claimed the title two years ago.

That close-range finish was Mane's 12th of the season in the league, nine of those coming at Anfield – no player has scored more home goals in the division this season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold played the ball into the box for Mane's goal for his 16th assist in all competitions this term, more than he has ever registered in a single campaign.

Liverpool were not at their best and that was particularly true of Mohamed Salah, who failed to score from six shots – only against Stoke in April 2018 (seven) has he fared worse.

Incredibly, Virgil van Dijk has never been on the losing side for Liverpool in 60 Premier League home games at Anfield, setting a new record in that regard.

 

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United has been the subject of widespread speculation.

The 28-year-old midfielder will be out of contract at the end of this season.

Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are among the sides linked with the World Cup winner.

TOP STORY – JUVE TO PRIORITISE POGBA DEAL

Juventus have made signing Manchester United midfielder Pogba their top priority, reports Calciomercato.

Pogba has regularly been linked with a move away from Old Trafford as he stalls on a new deal with the Red Devils.

The Frenchman spent four years with the Bianconeri from 2012 to 2016 and they are dreaming of his return.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports that Roma are leading the way to sign Mexico international Hector Herrera, who is expected to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of this season.

- Milan have swooped in on Newcastle United target Sven Botman and are set to beat them to the Lille defender's signature, claims Calciomercato.

- Milan midfielder Franck Kessie's next destination is becoming more likely, with Barcelona moving closer to sealing a deal for the Ivorian on a free transfer, reports SPORT.

- Fichajes reports that Crystal Palace have enquired with Real Madrid about their asking price for midfielder Dani Ceballos .

- Robert Lewandowski is out of contract in 2023 and wants a new deal with Bayern Munich but no talks have yet taken place, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Sure, relying on Mohamed Salah every week is a decent fantasy football strategy, it's certainly good enough for most, but what happens when the Egyptian magician isn't in Premier League action?

With Liverpool in EFL Cup final duty against Chelsea, the Reds' fearsome front-line and creative full-backs are suddenly off limits to fantasy football managers across the land, while Arsenal and Chelsea are also out of league action.

However, courtesy of Opta-powered data, Stats Perform has managed to pick out some of gameweek 27's potential stars, featuring the England captain, an in-form Burnley new boy, and one of the Premier League's most lethal defenders.

HARRY KANE (Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur)

Despite Antonio Conte's team lurching to a fourth loss in five Premier League games at Turf Moor in midweek, the England captain remains the perfect pick for managers who need a big-hitter in Salah's absence.

Kane has been involved in seven goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances, registering six goals and an assist in that time. Meanwhile, five of those contributions, including four goals, have come on the road.

If that isn't enough to make managers' minds up, Kane will be facing a Leeds team which has already shipped 56 league goals this term, and has scored 10 goals in his eight Premier League appearances in Yorkshire. 

DAVID DE GEA (Manchester United v Watford)

For those looking for an adequate replacement for the likes of Allison or Edouard Mendy between the sticks, Red Devils stopper De Gea looks to be the perfect choice, ahead of a kind home fixture with Watford.

When looking at Opta's Expected Goals on Target data, no Premier League goalkeeper has prevented more goals than the Spaniard this season, with De Gea conceding 32 Premier League goals from 39.09 xG on target faced.

Although De Gea did ship four times when Watford ended Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils reign earlier this season, United have never lost a home league game against Watford, recording 11 wins and two draws against the Hornets at Old Trafford. They have not faced any other side in more home games during their league history without losing (also 13 unbeaten vs Hull City).

CRAIG DAWSON (West Ham United v Wolves)

The best fantasy football managers are those that find themselves looking for marginal gains, and what better way to do that than to pick one of the division's most lethal defenders?

Since the 2014-15 season, no Premier League defender can match Dawson's tally of 14 headed goals, and the big centre-back has now netted in successive games, against Leicester City and Newcastle United.

West Ham's next Premier League clash sees them take on Wolves at the London Stadium. For all their good form, the visitors are averaging under a goal per game this season, so Dawson could also be in with a chance of a clean sheet.

WOUT WEGHORST (Crystal Palace v Burnley, Burnley v Leicester City)

Finally, Burnley's towering Dutch striker Wout Weghorst stands out as an appealing under-the-radar selection, ahead of the Clarets facing two games in four days.

Since Weghorst made his move from Wolfsburg to Turf Moor, he has weighed in with a goal and two assists, meaning only Salah (three goals and one assist) has registered more goal involvements amongst Premier League players since his arrival.

Although Burnley's weekend opponents Crystal Palace have been buoyed by a 4-1 win over Watford, they then host a Leicester team which has conceded 40.61 expected goals this season, a tally worse than all but three Premier League teams, so another Weghorst contribution could be on the cards.

Thomas Tuchel freely admitted he is unsure about how to get more from Romelu Lukaku after the striker endured a particularly quiet 90 minutes against Crystal Palace at the weekend.

A last-gasp goal from Hakim Ziyech clinched Chelsea a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park, but much of the post-game focus was on Lukaku's impact – or lack of.

The Belgium international had just seven touches across the entire match, the fewest ever recorded in a single Premier League match for a player to feature for at least 90 minutes since Opta started collecting the data (2003-04).

Remarkably, just two of those were in the first half and one was from kick-off, and Tuchel suggested after the game that it did not say much about Chelsea "in general".

Chelsea now turn their attention to the Champions League and hosting Lille on Tuesday, but Lukaku's performance and general struggles at the club were once again at the fore.

Asked how he can get Lukaku more involved, Tuchel said: "What can I do? I don't know.

"We have to deal with it. The data is out there and the data speaks a certain language. He was not involved in our game, it's sometimes like this.

"It's, of course, not what we want or Romelu wants, but it's not the time to laugh about him and makes jokes about him."

It was put to Tuchel that the disruption caused by long-term injuries to wing-backs Ben Chilwell and Reece James, who were key during the early months of the season, could have played a part in Lukaku's lack of cohesion with the rest of the team after a promising start.

"Every style changes with long-term injuries of key players," he continued. "We played many games with a back three and wing-backs and two of the key wing-backs are Reece and Chilly [Chilwell], who got injured at their peak level. They had a huge impact on our game offensively and defensively.

"So of course, this changes but we are not the only team where these players have the huge impact and in our system the wing-backs are a crucial position.

"Still, we can also play and win games without any player, this is our job and what we want to do. This is what we try when we have injuries or COVID cases. It's on us and me to adapt and find solutions.

"There is a history of strikers struggling at Chelsea, so it may not be the easiest place in the world for strikers.

"In my opinion, Chelsea are a team considered a strong defensive team, a physical team, that has a certain attitude when in competitive football.

"We demand a lot of our strikers in terms of defending. We want to be physical, hard-working group that wants to play a physical game as well as a skilful game.

"We are on the subject and are well aware, but like always in football it's not just one reason to sort. It's a complex sport and we will continue to play with faith, with a team effort, and it's what we do."

Thomas Tuchel has moved to manage expectations of Chelsea ahead of a crucial week that will see them return to Champions League action and contest the EFL Cup final.

Chelsea played their first Premier League game in nearly a month on Saturday, beating Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park thanks to a late Hakim Ziyech goal.

In the intervening month, Chelsea progressed in the FA Cup and won the Club World Cup for the first time, defeating Palmeiras in extra-time.

Tuchel complained about Chelsea's packed schedule after beating Palace, acknowledging his team looked "a bit drained and exhausted".

But they have little time for rest with Lille visiting Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday and then a showdown with Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday, as Chelsea look to claim a second trophy of the season.

Looking forward to an important week, Tuchel tried to ease the pressure.

"I think it is very important for us in this moment to be realistic and not over-expect from us," he told reporters.

"Also accept games against teams in mid-table or the lower end of the table can become difficult games. Once we accept that, it is the first step to feel a certain freedom and to become better, that we don't over-expect.

"We should not expect too much about how big others see us and if we are the favourites against Lille, just accept it is a phase where things feel a bit tight and a bit more difficult than in other times.

"We will accept it and this is the situation for the match on Tuesday. First of all we play at Stamford Bridge and we are confident to have a good performance because we deliver on a high level in knockout matches, cup matches, Champions League matches."

Despite his previous comments about fixture congestion, Tuchel is not especially worried about the tight turnaround being an issue before facing French champions Lille.

"I think that Saturday to Tuesday evening for us as a home game and playing in London should not be a problem," he added.

"Sometimes it can cause a big advantage if there is a tight schedule, but we will be ready to fight with Lille on an okay level so that should not be decisive."

Saturday was quite a day in the Premier League, with shock results impacting both ends of the table, and the middle.

Liverpool appear to live challengers again in the title race after their 3-1 victory against Norwich City was followed by Tottenham's dramatic 3-2 win away to leaders Manchester City.

Mohamed Salah scored his 150th goal for Liverpool and Luis Diaz bagged his first in English football, while former City target Harry Kane insisted on shoving narrative into everyone's faces with a sensational performance for Spurs at the Etihad Stadium.

Elsewhere, a late Hakim Ziyech goal secured Chelsea a win at Crystal Palace, Arsenal's youngsters earned them a 2-1 win against Brentford, while West Ham were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle in the early game.

Burnley produced a surprising performance to win 3-0 at Brighton, with Wout Weghorst getting off the mark for his new club, while Watford also threw a spanner in the works of the relegation fight with a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.

The other game of a busy day in England's top flight saw Southampton beat Frank Lampard's Everton 2-0 at St Mary's thanks to goals from Stuart Armstrong and Shane Long.

Manchester City 2-3 Tottenham: City Kane-d by ruthless Spurs

Pep Guardiola's City team had looked imperious since losing at home to Crystal Palace in October, until today.

City were dominant but wasteful against Spurs, finding the target with only four of their 21 shots, while the visitors made Ederson work with five of their six efforts, beating him three times to take the points.

Kane’s winner, timed at 94:25, was the latest winning goal scored against City in the Premier League since Michael Owen for Manchester United in September 2009 (95:27).

Tottenham duo Kane and Son Heung-min have now assisted one another for 36 Premier League goals, the joint-most of any pairing in the competition's history, moving level with Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.

Son has been directly involved in 10 goals in 15 appearances against City (seven goals, three assists); only against Southampton (15) and West Ham (11) has he had a hand in more goals for Spurs.

Meanwhile, Guardiola has lost twice to Tottenham this season, and has only lost more games to Chelsea (eight) than Spurs (six) in his entire managerial career.

Liverpool 3-1 Norwich: Reds come back thanks to usual suspects, and a new one

Early in the second half at Anfield, it did not look like Liverpool would be cutting Manchester City's lead on Saturday, finding themselves 1-0 down to the Canaries after Milot Rashica's first Premier League goal.

However, a marvellous overhead kick from Sadio Mane was soon followed by a historic moment for Salah, who scored his 150th goal for Liverpool in just his 233rd appearance. Only Roger Hunt (226) has reached that total faster in the club's history.

Luis Díaz became the 16th different Colombian player to score a Premier League goal, producing a nice finish after a Jordan Henderson throughball. He was also Liverpool’s 16th different goalscorer in the competition this season (excluding own goals), the joint-most of any side in 2021-22 (Chelsea and City both also 16).

Henderson was a standout performer on the day as well, drastically improving from his showing at Burnley last weekend.

He completed just 50 per cent of passes (18 out of 36) in the 1-0 win at Turf Moor, but on Saturday produced his second-best pass success rate in the Premier League for Liverpool in a game where he made at least 100 passes, with 97.2 per cent (104 of 107), only bettering that against Hull City in 2016-17 (97.3 per cent, 108 of 111).

Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea: Late Ziyech strike saves Blues

Chelsea returned to Premier League action after winning the FIFA Club World Cup last week to eventually secure three points against Palace thanks to an 89th-minute Ziyech strike. The Moroccan has scored in three consecutive league matches for the first time since September 2019 in the Eredivisie with Ajax.

The Blues have now won back-to-back league games for the first time since October, when they won four in a row, and could also be looking up the table after City's wobble.

It was another clean sheet for Chelsea, who have kept 37 in 70 matches in all competitions under Thomas Tuchel, more than any other Premier League side since the German’s first match in charge in January last year.

It was not all good from Tuchel's men though, with struggling striker Romelu Lukaku managing just seven touches, one of which was at the kick-off, the fewest in a single top-flight game for a player to feature for at least 90 minutes since Opta started collecting the data in 2003-04.

Arsenal 2-1 Brentford: Young guns fire Arteta's side to victory

Goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka earned Arsenal a hard-fought win against Brentford, despite Christian Norgaard's late strike for the Bees.

Smith Rowe bagged his ninth league goal this season; the only player to score more in a single campaign for Arsenal when aged 21 or younger was Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99 (17).

Saka registered his 11th goal involvement in the Premier League this season (seven goals, four assists), the most of any under-21 player and a haul bettered only by Jarrod Bowen (16), Mason Mount (13) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (12) among English players.

The Gunners netted their 600th (and 601st) Premier League goals at the Emirates Stadium, reaching the milestone in their 297th game there, with only United at Old Trafford (283) and City at the Etihad (290) doing so at a single stadium in fewer games in the competition.

Brentford are winless in their last seven league games, last having a longer run between September and October 2018 (eight games). Thomas Frank's side have also lost their last five away league games, their longest such run since February 2011 (also five).

West Ham 1-1 Newcastle: Magpies continue to rise under Howe

Eddie Howe's 500th league game as a manager (410 with Bournemouth, 77 with Burnley and 13 with Newcastle) ended with a well-earned point from the London Stadium in the day's early kick-off.

Craig Dawson gave West Ham the lead before Joe Willock's equaliser came just before half-time.

Newcastle have now taken 12 points from their last six Premier League games, two more than they managed in their previous 18 this season (10 points).

Dawson's goal was the 11th scored from a set-piece by the Hammers in the league this season (not including penalties), a figure only Liverpool (14) and City (12) can better.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-3 Burnley: Weghorst gets off the mark in big Clarets win

A quite remarkable performance from Sean Dyche's side in his 250th Premier League game in charge of Burnley saw them ease to a 3-0 win at the Amex Stadium, with Weghorst, Josh Brownhill and Aaron Lennon all finding the net.

Brighton suffered the heaviest defeat by a team hosting the English top flight's bottom side since Crystal Palace lost 4-0 at home to Sunderland in February 2017.

This was Burnley's first away win in the league since May 2021 (v Fulham), ending a run of 12 games without a win on the road. They also scored more goals in this game than they had in their previous five Premier League away games combined (two).

Weghorst scored his first goal for Burnley, becoming the first Dutchman to score for the Clarets in the competition. This ended a run of seven league games without scoring for Weghorst, with his previous goal coming in December for previous club Wolfsburg against Cologne.

Aston Villa 0-1 Watford: Dennis a menace to Villa

Another relegation-threatened side stepped up to secure an impressive away win as Roy Hodgson earned his first victory in charge of Watford thanks to a goal from Emmanuel Dennis.

This was the Hornets' first Premier League away win since October (5-2 v Everton), and their first away win in the competition while also keeping a clean sheet since January 2020 (3-0 v Bournemouth).

After winning two of their first three home games under Steven Gerrard (L1), Villa are now winless in their last four games at Villa Park (D2 L2). This was the first Premier League home game they have failed to score in since May 2021 (v Everton), ending a run of 12 in a row in which they had found the net.

Watford have now kept as many clean sheets in four Premier League games under Hodgson (two) as they had in their previous 36 games in the competition.

Southampton 2-0 Everton: Another free-kick continues Toon revival

The revival of Everton under Lampard was nowhere to be seen at St Mary's as Ralph Hasenhuttl's side continued their good run of form.

Southampton have now won four of their last eight Premier League games (D3 L1), as many victories as they managed in their previous 20 games in the competition (D8 L8).

Everton's total of 22 points from their first 23 games in the league this season is their worst at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1950-51 (three points for a win), when they also had 22 and were relegated at the end of the season.

Long's goal was his first in the league since February 2020 (v Aston Villa), ending a run of 799 minutes without the Irishman scoring in the league.

Thomas Tuchel admitted Chelsea must improve after looking "drained and exhausted" in their 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, but praised his team's defensive solidity following Hakim Ziyech's late winner.

Ziyech's 89th-minute strike meant the Moroccan has scored in three successive league games for the first time since doing so in the Eredivisie with Ajax in September 2019, and kept the London club within seven points of second-placed Liverpool in the Premier League table.

Chelsea were far from their best throughout the contest, however, managing just nine attempts on goal in the match, while striker Romelu Lukaku had seven touches of the ball, the lowest figure since Opta's Premier League records began in 2003-04.

Speaking after the match, Tuchel conceded that Chelsea were not at their best at Selhurst Park, before hitting out at their congested fixture list.

"Every team will have games like this, especially between December, January and February, where the conditions can create adversity", said the former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss. 

"If we had another draw, maybe we'd talk about this game longer, but when you win it you have the chance to move on and forget it.

"We won't wake up tomorrow wondering what we could do better.

"We look a bit drained and exhausted. Everyone is giving their very best, but we are struggling a little bit, so it's important to win and keep going."

Romelu Lukaku had one of the quietest games in Premier League history as Chelsea overcame Crystal Palace 1-0 on Saturday. 

A last-gasp goal from Hakim Ziyech stole all three points for Chelsea, who looked to be heading for a disappointing draw at Selhurst Park following an ineffectual display from Lukaku. 

The Belgium international had just seven touches across the entire match. That is the fewest in a single top-flight game for a player to feature for at least 90 minutes since Opta started collecting the data in 2003-04. 

Lukaku only had two touches in the first half – one of which was from the kick-off – and completed just four of his six passes. 

He did not register a single shot and was caught offside twice, with one of those leading to Ziyech having a goal disallowed by VAR. 

Asked about Lukaku's lack of touches, head coach Thomas Tuchel said: "It says he was not involved and could not make a point. I'm not sure it says so much about us in general." 

Lukaku scored in the semi-final and final of Chelsea's Club World Cup success last week but has found the back of the net just twice in his past 14 Premier League outings.

Hakim Ziyech was on target once again in the Premier League with a last-gasp volley to clinch a 1-0 victory for Chelsea over Crystal Palace.

By steering Marcos Alonso's deep cross past substitute Jack Butland in the 89th minute, Ziyech scored for the third straight league game and secured an important three points.

The Blues looked to be heading back down to earth with a bump a week on from winning the Club World Cup for the first time in their history, with Antonio Rudiger and N'Golo Kante thwarted in the first half. 

Palace came out fighting in the second period but were eventually undone by a composed finish from Ziyech, with Chelsea establishing an eight-point advantage over top-four chasing West Ham and Arsenal. 

Mason Mount has been ruled out of Chelsea's next two matches with a foot injury, but Thomas Tuchel is pushing for the midfielder to return in time for next week's EFL Cup final.

England international Mount limped off in the first half of Chelsea's Club World Cup final victory against Palmeiras last weekend after damaging ligaments in his ankle.

That was the 23-year-old's 34th appearance of the season in all competitions, level with Antonio Rudiger for the most of any Chelsea player.

Mount's 15 direct goal involvements this season are the most of any Blues player, the England international having scored seven and assisted eight.

Tuchel is therefore eager to get Mount back to fitness in time for the EFL Cup final with Liverpool at Wembley on February 27.

Asked for an update on when Mount could return, Tuchel said at a news conference on Friday: "We will push for the EFL Cup final. We will push. 

"He has injured ligaments. Returning against Lille in the Champions League [on Tuesday] seems very, very close, but we will try hard for the EFL Cup final."

Tuchel also confirmed ahead of Saturday's trip to London rivals Crystal Palace that Reece James – who has not played since December – is set to return to training next week.

Cesar Azpilicueta is therefore expected to fill in once again on the right-hand side of the defence against Palace, a week on from lifting the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

The Spain international has won every trophy available at club level with Chelsea, but he is set to become a free agent at the end of the campaign.

Tuchel remains a big fan of the long-serving defender, who has racked up more than 450 appearances for the club.

"He's always important; he has been super important since day one," Tuchel said. "We had a good connection from the first day.

"He gets better with every game he plays, he leads by example, which is always super nice to have.

"Now he has collected so many trophies and an incredible career at one club which is outstanding.

"He embodies everything that Chelsea stands for, being relentless, humble and a warrior at the same time. I'm happy to have him."

By now, you probably all get it: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah are pretty good at kicking a football.

So, for this week's fantasy picks, Stats Perform has looked at the Opta numbers behind some players who may not offer quite the same points guarantee as the superstars, but are cheaper and nowhere near as popular.

If everyone picks the exact same players, fantasy football managers will pick up similar points – why not take a punt on some of these?

NICK POPE (Brighton and Hove Albion v Burnley)

Burnley may be mired in a relegation battle, but goalkeeper Nick Pope has looked sharp so far in 2022.

The England international has kept two clean sheets, bettered only by Alisson and Ederson, and prevented more goals than anyone else (3.6).

He may represent something of a risk, but his form suggests Pope could be a shrewd buy.

RICARDO PEREIRA (Wolves v Leicester City)

Granted, Pereira has only scored in consecutive games once before, way back in September 2019. However, his strike against West Ham was a timely reminder of his talents following injury troubles.

Up next is a trip to Wolves. While Bruno Lage's men are solid, they do not scored masses, and Pereira has done damage to them before.

With two assists, he has only claimed more goal involvements against Everton (three) and West Ham (four) in his Premier League career.

JACOB RAMSEY (Aston Villa v Watford)

Ramsey has been a standout breakthrough youngster in the Premier League this term, with his form in recent weeks in particular causing people to sit up and take note.

The 20-year-old has six goal involvements this season, a figure only Bukayo Saka (10) can better among under-21 players.

Five of Ramsey's have been in his past seven matches, and this weekend sees Villa host struggling Watford – he might just fancy his chances of adding to his tally, and he is still a fairly cheap option.

MICHAEL OLISE (Crystal Palace v Chelsea)

Olise is another young player having a solid season – he has also tallied six Premier League goal involvements this term.

Those have come in just 568 minutes on the pitch, meaning he is involved in 0.95 goals per 90 minutes.

Only Mohamed Salah (1.19), Patson Daka (1.05), Riyad Mahrez (1.0) and Paul Pogba (0.98) boast a better record than Olise among players with at least 500 minutes played.

Again, he remains a low-cost option.

When watching games from pretty much any league in the world, there is a reasonable chance one of the players featured will be described as "on loan from Chelsea".

Such is the volume of players the recent FIFA Club World Cup winners send out on loan each season, they have even had their own WhatsApp group to keep in touch, as revealed a few years ago by Patrick Bamford.

The Leeds striker, who was on loan at Crystal Palace from Chelsea at the time, said: "The loan department set it up and allowed people in. Sometimes it drains your battery when everyone is messaging each other."

It had been seen as a ploy for the London club to hoard players for several years before selling them on for a profit once they had established themselves, but in recent times, especially with youngsters who came through the youth ranks at Cobham, it seems the chance of a first-team appearance isn't as fanciful as it once was.

The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James went on to become regular first-teamers after successful loan spells elsewhere.

Conor Gallagher has been loaned out by Chelsea four times and is currently turning out for Palace, earning valuable Premier League minutes, just as he did last season at West Brom.

The 22-year-old is yet to make his first-team debut for the Blues, but in light of his performances for the Eagles, his long wait could potentially be over next season.

Ahead of Chelsea's trip to Selhurst Park to face Palace on Saturday, where Gallagher will be ineligible to play against his parent club, Stats Perform takes a look at whether he could indeed have a future at Stamford Bridge.

Little by little, Gallagher impresses Tuchel

Speaking in December, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel said: "We love Conor. We are convinced about him.

"We took the decision for Conor because when we looked at the midfield - Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante - he was considered number four in the group.

"Conor knew this all the way. An opportunity came up where he could clearly see more minutes and more responsibility."

Tuchel ended up signing Saul Niguez on loan from Atletico Madrid, but the Spaniard has failed to make an impact during his time in England.

Gallagher, meanwhile, has scored seven goals in 21 Premier League appearances this season, including braces against Everton and West Ham, as well as a goal and an assist in Palace's shock 2-0 win at Manchester City in October.

It has been a lengthy journey already for the player, though, having been loaned to Charlton Athletic in 2019.

He impressed so much that Chelsea cut his loan short in the January window as, despite Gallagher's performances, Charlton were struggling in the Championship and he was instead sent to Swansea City, who were challenging for promotion.

Although he failed to score during his time in Wales, he still impressed then Swans manager Steve Cooper – who had managed England's U17s to World Cup glory in 2017 – as he grabbed five assists in his first nine games at the Liberty Stadium.

The next logical move was the Premier League, and Gallagher was loaned to West Brom for the 2020-21 campaign, where he made 32 appearances in all competitions, before heading to Selhurst Park for another season of top-flight football.

Although he performed well at West Brom, Gallagher has undoubtedly stepped up a gear under the tutelage of Palace's Patrick Vieira, and even earned his first senior England cap when he came on as a substitute in the 10-0 thrashing of San Marino in November.

It has not just been a case of him looking good among his team-mates at Palace. Gallagher actually stacks up well against most Premier League midfielders.

Only Arsenal's Emile Smith-Rowe and Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United (eight) have scored more this season than Gallagher's seven, while only Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan has a higher expected goals rate (6.22) than Gallagher's 5.47, which is based on the quality of the chances for a player.

Like Mason, can Gallagher mount a challenge at Chelsea?

It is hard to ignore the fact that Gallagher's improvement this season has come under a manager who was one of the best midfielders in the world during his playing days in Vieira, much like Mount grew significantly while working under Frank Lampard both at Derby County and Chelsea.

Mount's is clearly the path that Gallagher should aim to tread. From being a promising youngster out on loan, he became an integral part of a European and world championship winning side.

Gallagher can take heart from the fact that Tuchel has already expressed his admiration, and the German has been happy to continue to give young players chances where he can, but it remains a place that Gallagher will have to earn.

Compared to Chelsea midfielders who have played more than five games this season, Gallagher measures well on chance creation, with only Mount (2.13) creating more per 90 minutes than his 1.61.

In terms of profile, Gallagher is certainly more in the mould of a Mount than any other of Chelsea's current midfielders. Both look to get forward whenever possible, and have more touches in the opposition box per 90 than any of the Blues' other options (Mount = 5.21, Gallagher = 3.07).

They also both have significantly more penalty box entries per 90 than any other Chelsea midfielder with over five Premier League appearances this term (Mount = 7.78, Gallagher = 5.22), with the next highest being Kante with 2.72, and a higher xG excluding penalties per 90 (Mount = 0.24, Gallagher = 0.27), with the next highest being Loftus-Cheek with 0.14.

The issue with Gallagher being so similar to Mount is that he'd likely find himself being in an either/or situation. Tuchel prefers to have two controlling players in his midfield three, usually two of Jorginho, Kante and Kovacic, so it seems unlikely he'd start Mount and Gallagher together very often.

It therefore seems like, should Tuchel indeed look to utilise him at Stamford Bridge next year, it will be Ross Barkley's place in the squad that Gallagher slots into, and the former Everton man has only made four starts in all competitions this season, two of which came in the EFL Cup.

The question then becomes one of whether Gallagher is happy with that role after two seasons of regular football in the Premier League and with an England spot to fight for ahead of the World Cup in November.

For the time being, it is not something that the player needs to focus on too much. He can simply enjoy the game time he is getting in south London and try to perform to the sort of levels that will give Tuchel a decision to make when planning for next season.

Barcelona have been working to overcome their financial challenges over the past 12 months.

The Blaugrana have been plotting a way forward with their playing squad.

Barca landed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer in January, as well as a loan move for Adama Traore.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TARGET DE VRIJ

Barcelona are keen on Inter's Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij, reports Fichajes.

De Vrij is contracted with the Nerazzurri until the end of the 2022-23 season, but Barca may view him as Gerard Pique's successor.

Inter are reportedly open to interest from other parties, if the price is right, with the 30-year-old heading towards the final year of his present deal.

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims Paris Saint-Germain are putting together a lucrative deal to lure Paul Pogba to the club from Manchester United as a free agent. Pogba also has interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona, while he may still stay at Old Trafford.

- Newcastle United's efforts to sign Sevilla defender Diego Carlos will continue in the off-season after missing out in January, reports Marca.

- RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku has been added to Manchester United's list of off-season targets, claims ESPN.

- Crystal Palace and Watford are both keen on Liverpool veteran James Milner, according to Fichajes.

Manchester United's inability to take their chances came back to bite them once more as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on Saturday.

Che Adams struck early in the second half to cancel out Jadon Sancho's opener at Old Trafford.

In the 3pm GMT kick-offs, Everton ended a six-match winless streak in the Premier League as Frank Lampard oversaw a vital 3-0 win over Leeds United at Goodison Park, while Watford were beaten by Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace.

Later, league leaders Manchester City moved 12 points clear at the top with a 4-0 thrashing of strugglers Norwich City at Carrow Road.

Manchester United 1-1 Southampton: Rangnick's right, but that won't get the Red Devils points

Ralf Rangnick may have risked the wrath of some pundits after bringing up expected goals in his post-match comments, but the interim manager is correct – his side are creating plenty of chances without putting them away.

United finished the game with 12 shots to Southampton's 13, but an xG of 2.6 to the visitors' 0.9.

 

Nevertheless, for only the second time in their Premier League history, United have failed to win back-to-back matches despite being ahead at half-time in both, having last done so in December 1998.

Across their 10 top-flight games under Rangnick, meanwhile, they have averaged fewer goals per game than they have under any other manager in Premier League history (1.4).

United are at least unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League games against Southampton (W5 D7) since a 1-0 home loss in January 2016, while having only scored two goals in his first 23 appearances for the club in all competitions, Sancho has since netted two in his last three.

Brentford 0-0 Crystal Palace: Bees stop the rot

Brentford ended a run of five straight Premier League defeats and registered a clean sheet for the first time in 12 top-flight games (since a 1-0 win over Everton on November 28), as they drew with Palace.

It was a match of few clear chances (there were only 15 shots in total), though Wilfried Zaha was convinced he should have been awarded a late penalty.

Zaha was making his 250th Premier League appearance for Crystal Palace, just the third African player to hit that milestone for a single club in the competition, after Shola Ameobi (294 for Newcastle) and Didier Drogba (254 for Chelsea).

Everton 3-0 Leeds United: Lampard up and running

Lampard claimed his first league win as Everton manager in style, as the Toffees snapped a four-match losing streak in the competition with an emphatic 3-0 win over Leeds.

Everton went 2-0 up before half-time through Seamus Coleman's first league goal in 69 games, since May 2019, and Michael Keane's 10th goal in the top flight for the club.

 

Both of those were headers and no team have now scored more headed Premier League goals than Everton, who are level with United on 336.

It was the first time Everton scored twice before half-time in 40 Premier League games, last doing so one year and nine days earlier against, coincidentally, Leeds at Elland Road.

Anthony Gordon diverted in Richarlison's shot to seal Everton's biggest Premier League win since a 5-2 victory over West Brom in September 2020.

Watford 0-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: No home comforts for the Hornets

Watford have now lost six consecutive home league games for the first time since August to October 1990, a run which also included a defeat to Brighton.

Neal Maupay and Adam Webster got the goals for Brighton, who have lost just one of their past 12 away games in the Premier League, all coming in 2021-22 (W4 D7) – no side has lost fewer away games in the top flight this term than the Seagulls.

Watford have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past 17 home Premier League matches, equalling the competition's record run without a home shut-out.

Roy Hodgson has taken on a big job, and Watford will want a favour from Aston Villa against Newcastle United on Sunday to remain within three points of safety.

Norwich City 0-4 Manchester City: Perfect Sterling hat-trick sees leaders storm on

City lost on their previous league trip to Carrow Road, but there appeared little danger of a shock this time around as Raheem Sterling's perfect hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 win.

Sterling became the third City player to score a perfect hat-trick in the Premier League, after Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero (twice). Meanwhile, no player has scored more away hat-tricks for the club in the competition than Sterling, with each of his last three coming on the road.

 

The ex-Liverpool attacker became the sixth City player to score as many as 10 headed goals in the Premier League, with only Aguero (19) and Niall Quinn (13) netting more.

City scored at least four goals in a Premier League away game for the 21st time under Pep Guardiola, at least eight more than any other side since the Catalan coach joined the club.

Norwich, meanwhile, have conceded 50 goals in their 24 Premier League games this season – only in 1938-39 (21) and 1946-47 (19) have they shipped 50 in fewer games in a single league campaign.

Premier League leaders Manchester City collected a routine victory over Brentford to further their advantage at the top.

That victory saw Pep Guardiola's side extend their lead at the summit to 12 points, with second-placed Liverpool due to host Leicester City on Thursday.

Tottenham fell to a late defeat against Southampton as Antonio Conte suffered his first home league loss as Spurs boss, while Aston Villa shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller with Leeds United.

And strugglers Norwich City picked up a valuable draw at home to Crystal Palace, with Dean Smith's side now a point behind 17th-placed Newcastle United as the relegation battle continues.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the Opta data from the day's top-flight action.

Manchester City 2-0 Brentford: Citizens cruise to league double over Bees

Strikes either side of the interval from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez helped City to a 2-0 win over Brentford as the Citizens completed the league double over the Bees for the first time since 1936-37.

Mahrez opened the scoring as he netted in his seventh consecutive game across all competitions for City – only Lionel Messi (twice) and Sergio Aguero have previously achieved that feat under Pep Guardiola.

De Bruyne doubled the hosts' lead in the second half, the midfielder recording his 85th goal involvement (35G 50A) in his 96th top-flight appearance at the Etihad Stadium, where he has found the net five times in his last four games.

Brentford rarely troubled Ederson's goal and were caught offside 10 times in the match, the most by a Premier League team since January 2018 as City recorded their 100th clean sheet under Guardiola in the competition.

The Bees have now lost five consecutive league matches for the first time since December 2007, under Terry Butcher in League Two, and for the first time in the top flight since April 1947 (seven in a row).

Tottenham 2-3 Southampton: No home comforts for Conte

Southampton twice rallied from behind to earn a late 3-2 victory at Tottenham to end Conte's unbeaten start at home in the league as Spurs boss.

Jan Bednarek poked into his own net to give Spurs the lead, the centre-back now on a Premier League-high three own goals since the start of 2019-20. Similarly, Tottenham have benefited from the most own goals in the competition this season (three).

But Armando Broja soon levelled up. That was the Albania striker's sixth top-flight goal this term – only Kevin Davies (nine in 1997-98) managed more in the Premier League for Southampton while aged 20 or under.

Son Heung-min restored his side's advantage with his 12th strike against Southampton across all competitions, five more than he has registered against any other team for Spurs.

Saints fought back again, Mohamed Elyounoussi equalising before Che Adams sealed victory. Both finishes were set up by James Ward-Prowse, who assisted two goals in a single Premier League match for only the second time in 290 appearances.

Having equalised in the 79th minute, Southampton's victory was the latest they had been behind in a Premier League match that they would go on to win since March 2016 against Liverpool (equalised in 83rd minute).

Aston Villa 3-3 Leeds United: Whites continue away scoring run in Villa Park classic

Aston Villa, who had Ezri Konsa dismissed late on, shared the points with Leeds in a 3-3 thriller as Dan James, Jacob Ramsey and Philippe Coutinho dominated proceedings.

James scored his third and fourth Premier League goals this term, his best-ever tally in a season, though Marcelo Bielsa found his side 3-2 down at half-time.

Coutinho initially cancelled out James' opener as he became the sixth Villa player to score in each of his first two Premier League appearances at Villa Park, and the first since Carlton Cole in August 2004.

The Brazil international then teed up a Ramsey double as the midfielder became the youngest player to score more than one goal in a Premier League game for Villa (20y 257d) since Luka Moore got a hat-trick in February 2006 (19y 356d).

Diego Llorente restored parity in the second half as Leeds recorded three goals in consecutive Premier League away games for just the second time, and for the first time since March 1995, to earn a valuable point.

Norwich City 1-1 Crystal Palace: Zaha's penalty falter costs poor travelling Eagles

Norwich City raced out the blocks at Carrow Road but ultimately had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

Teemu Pukki – who has scored 43 per cent of Norwich's top-flight this season (6/14), the highest such share of any player in the competition – netted the fastest goal in the Premier League this season as he finished after just 38 seconds. 

Wilfried Zaha pegged Smith's team back with his 80th goal involvement in England's top division (53G 27A), 79 of which have been for the Eagles.

Michael Olise teed up the Ivory Coast international's second-half equaliser, his seventh goal involvement (3G 4A) across all competitions in 2022 – the most by any Premier League player.

Palace should have secured all three points but Zaha failed from the penalty spot for the first time, on his fifth attempt, meaning the Eagles have won just one of their last 13 away games in the league.

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