Frank Lampard's start to life back at Chelsea has not gone according to plan.

The Blues have lost all three of their games under Lampard, who was appointed on an interim basis earlier in April following Graham Potter's dismissal.

That run included a 2-0 defeat at Real Madrid in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final tie, with Los Blancos heading to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday with a club record in their sights.

Tuesday's other game sees Serie A leaders Napoli go up against Milan, who lead 1-0 from the first leg of that all-Italian encounter.

With the help of Opta numbers, Stats Perform previews the first two Champions League matches of the week.

 

Chelsea v Real Madrid: Los Blancos hunting sixth straight knockout win

Madrid have won their last five Champions League knockout matches, their joint-longest winning run in knockout games in the competition.

All five wins have come against English teams, with only Barcelona (seven in a row between 2014 and 2016) having a longer winning run against English clubs.

Karim Benzema scored Madrid's opener in last week's 2-0 win at Santiago Bernabeu. The striker's last 11 Champions League goals have come against English teams, while his last 14 have all been in the knockout stages of the competition, the longest such run by a player in Champions League history. Benzema has 14 goals and two assists for Madrid in his last nine appearances in the knockout stages.

Madrid's second was teed up by Vinicius Junior, who has been involved in 20 goals in his last 20 Champions League appearances, scoring 10 goals and assisting 10 goals in this time. Since the start of last season, the Brazil winger is the only player to reach double figures for both goals and assists in the competition.

Madrid have progressed from 18 of their 19 Champions League ties after winning the first leg by two or more goals, failing only in 2003-04 against Monaco in the quarter-finals.

Chelsea do have some hope, however. They have progressed from five of their last seven Champions League ties when losing the first leg away from home, and done so in each of the last two when losing by two clear goals (vs Napoli in 2011-12 and Paris Saint-Germain in 2013-14).

The Blues have lost two of their last three European matches against Madrid (W1), both in Champions League quarter-finals across the last two campaigns. They had not lost any of their first five against them before this (W3 D2).

 

Napoli v Milan: Serie A leaders out to avoid third Rossoneri reverse

Napoli have already lost twice to Milan in April, losing 4-0 in Serie A at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium and 1-0 at San Siro in the first leg of this tie. The last side to beat them three times in one season was Lazio in the 1994-95 campaign.

The omens are good for Milan, who have won their last three away matches against Napoli, all in Serie A, their joint longest away winning run against them. 

Milan have not reached the Champions League semi-finals since the 2006-07 season, when they went on to win the competition. They have only been eliminated twice after winning the first leg of a knockout tie – in 2003-04 v Deportivo de La Coruna in the quarter-final (4-1 first leg, 0-4 second leg) and 2012-13 v Barcelona in the last 16 (2-0 first leg, 0-4 second leg).

Napoli are, however, unbeaten in their last 12 home Champions League matches (W9 D3) since a 4-2 defeat to Manchester City in November 2017. They have won their four home games this season, scoring at least three goals in each victory.

That being said, Napoli have been eliminated from their last 10 European knockout ties after losing the first leg, last progressing to the next round after suffering a first-leg deficit in the 1988-89 UEFA Cup quarter-final against Juventus.

Olivier Giroud could be crucial for Milan. The veteran campaigner has been directly involved in six goals in nine appearances in the Champions League this season (four goals and two assists) – the most by a Milan player in a single campaign since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 2011-12 campaign (nine – five goals and four assists).

Kevin De Bruyne became the second player to reach 100 Premier League assists for one club as the Manchester City playmaker teed up Erling Haaland for the hosts' third goal in a 3-1 win over Leicester City.

The result cut Arsenal's lead to three points at the top of the table, ahead of the Gunners' trip to West Ham on Sunday.

Saturday's games saw Ollie Watkins remain in eye-catching form for Aston Villa, but there were grim home defeats for London giants Chelsea and Tottenham as Brighton and Hove Albion and Bournemouth celebrated impressive victories.

Here Stats Perform, guided by notable Opta match facts, unpicks the finer detail from the day's Premier League action.

Manchester City 3-1 Leicester City: Haaland and De Bruyne star as City keep pressure on

Armed with a 3-0 lead after 25 minutes, Manchester City took their foot off the pedal and Leicester gained a foothold, but the Foxes rarely get much from this fixture. It is 11 wins in their last 13 league games against Leicester now for Pep Guardiola's team, and five wins from as many meetings.

City are on a 10-match winning streak across all competitions, which they have bettered only twice during the Guardiola era, having a run of 21 wins from December 2020 to March 2021, and an 11-game run from August to October in 2017.

Haaland scored twice to take his goals tally to 32 in the top flight, ever closer to the Premier League record of 34 in a single campaign, while De Bruyne's pass that set up the Norway striker's second meant he completed 100 assists for City. Ryan Giggs, with 162 for Manchester United, is the only other player to reach a century of assists for one club in the Premier League.

De Bruyne has now assisted 10 goals for Haaland across all competitions this season, and that is the most assists any one player has had for the young goal machine with a top-flight club, beating Jadon Sancho's nine when he and Haaland were team-mates at Borussia Dortmund in the 2020-21 campaign.

Leicester remain deep in relegation trouble, with the 2015-16 Premier League champions having taken just eight points from 16 games in the competition (W2 D2 L12), losing eight of their past nine.

 

Aston Villa 3-0 Newcastle United: Watkins and Villa hit half-century marks as Emery revival gathers pace

Aston Villa were hovering precariously closely to the relegation zone when Steven Gerrard was sacked in October. A sensational recovery continued as they steamrollered third-placed Newcastle on Saturday, with their winning run in the Premier League now at five games.

They last reached five wins in a row in the competition on this corresponding weekend 25 years ago, when John Gregory was boss, and Saturday's result means Newcastle's Eddie Howe has lost his last four league clashes with Villa manager Unai Emery, who was previously in charge of Arsenal, by an 11-2 aggregate.

Villa have reached 50 points from 31 games, the earliest they have achieved that tally since they got there in 29 matches in 2009-10, and Watkins has been a key figure in the team's resurgence.

The England striker added to Jacob Ramsey's opener, which came from Watkins' headed assist, by netting a second-half double to take the game away from the Magpies.

Watkins' 50th, 51st and 52nd goal involvements for Villa (39 goals and 13 assists) came in his 102nd Premier League game for the team, with only Christian Benteke (88 games) having reached 50 in fewer games in the competition for the club. Watkins has 12 goals and three assists on Premier League duty since the World Cup, with only Haaland (16) having more goal involvements during this time.

Chelsea 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: Seagulls swoop for Stamford Bridge scalp

Brighton substitutes Danny Welbeck and Julio Enciso did the damage, and Chelsea could have no complaints. In terms of expected goals (xG), Brighton bossed this, ending with 2.28 compared to the hosts' 0.60.

After failing to win against Chelsea in 14 Premier League matches, Brighton have done the double this season, having won 4-1 at home in October.

Chelsea's winless run at home in the league now stands at four matches (D2 L2), and that is their worst streak since taking just one point from their final five games at Stamford Bridge in the 2015-16 season.

Only Manchester United (10) have had more goals from substitutes than Brighton (8) in the Premier League this season, and those two sides meet next weekend in the semi-final stage of the FA Cup.

Tottenham 2-3 Bournemouth: Echoes of Balotelli as Outtara stuns Spurs

Tottenham have Aston Villa and Brighton in hot pursuit after this shock reverse, with Dango Ouattara getting Bournemouth's winner four minutes and 11 seconds into stoppage time.

It was the latest winning goal Bournemouth have ever scored in the Premier League, as well as being the second-latest winning goal scored against Spurs by any team on record since 2006-07, after Mario Balotelli's strike for Manchester City in January 2012, which came after four minutes and 39 seconds of added time.

This was Bournemouth's first away league win against Tottenham, after losing on all five previous attempts, and it marked the first time Spurs have lost at home when taking the lead since a 3-2 setback against Southampton in February of last year.

Bournemouth have won five of their last nine Premier League games and have remarkably leapt six points clear of the bottom three, having won just five of their previous 25 matches. Dominic Solanke scored the Cherries' second and provided assists for their two other goals, scoring and assisting in the same Premier League game for the third time this season, with no player having done so on more occasions.

Christophe Galtier is in need of a lift from his Paris Saint-Germain players when they face Lens in a huge Ligue 1 clash on Saturday following such a turbulent week.

It emerged on Friday that Galtier has initiated legal proceedings after the PSG head coach was accused of making racist comments about players during his time as Nice boss.

Galtier, who denies the allegations, has been faced with calls for him to resign just over nine months after he took charge.

The 56-year-old has expressed his gratitude for the support he has received as leaders PSG prepare to face second-placed Lens on Saturday, when a victory at Parc des Princes would put them nine points clear.

Stats Perform pick out the standout Opta data for the big showdown in the French capital.

PSG must focus to gain revenge over Lens 

Lens beat the champions 3-1 at home on New Year's Day courtesy of goals from Przemyslaw Frankowski, Lois Openda and Alexis Claude Maurice.

Les Sang et Or are unbeaten in three matches against PSG, who responded to back-to-back home defeats at the hands of Rennes and Lyon by winning 2-0 at Nice last time out.

Lens are the only team the Parisian giants have not beaten in Ligue 1 since the start of last season.

PSG will be looking to avoid losing three consecutive home matches in the French top flight for the first time since April 2021.

Lens on a roll

With four consecutive Ligue 1 victories, Lens will arrive at Parc des Princes riding on the crest of a wave and knowing they must continue their excellent run to stay in the hunt for the title.

A tally of 63 points from 30 games this season is their best to date in the competition.

This is Franck Haise's side's longest winning run in Ligue 1 this season, and a double over PSG will have Galtier's men looking over their shoulders.

Mbappe on the brink of making more history

Kylian Mbappe will become PSG's leading all-time goalscorer in Ligue 1 if he finds the back of the net this weekend.

Level with Edinson Cavani on 138 goals, the France forward will also become the leading scorer for a Ligue 1 club in the 21st century with his next strike.

PSG's record goalscorer has not netted against Lens in three games against them, so this would be a great time for him to set that record straight.

 

Messi to emulate Mbappe and Hazard?

With 14 goals and as many assists in Ligue 1 this season, Lionel Messi continues to deliver time and again.

The Argentina captain could become the third player to score at least 15 goals and provide 15 assists in a Ligue 1 season since Opta starting records began (2006-07) after Eden Hazard in 2011-12 (20 and 16) and Mbappe in 2021-22 (28 and 17).

The 2023 NBA playoffs are here and promise to be as thrilling as ever.

There are narratives all over the place ready to be written, with the Golden State Warriors trying to retain their championship, the Los Angeles Lakers coming from 2-10 to potentially win it all, and the Boston Celtics looking to make up for last season's Finals heartbreak.

Between now and the start of the Finals in June, who knows how many shock results, big performances and memorable moments basketball fans will be treated to.

The final two places will be decided on Friday with the last two play-in games determining who will face top seeds the Milwaukee Bucks and the Denver Nuggets, while the first round gets underway straight away on Saturday.

Stats Perform takes a look at the six confirmed series so far, starting with arguably the most intriguing of them all.

Western Conference:

Phoenix Suns (4) v Los Angeles Clippers (5)

After an outstanding 2021-22 campaign in which they finished as the top seed in the West with a record of 64-18, the Suns began this season with a 6-1 run.

However, by the end of their first game of 2023, Phoenix had already lost as many as they did in the entirety of the previous regular season and only managed a record of 45-37 in the end to finish as a fourth seed.

Adding Kevin Durant in February gave them a much-needed boost, though, and his link-up with Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, DeAndre Ayton and Chris Paul feels like it could lead to something special in the postseason. Durant is 8-0 as a Net.

They will be up against a Clippers team who have had stumbles during the season but went 11-5 heading into the playoffs.

Kawhi Leonard's return from injury in November was huge for Ty Lue's team, with he and Paul George both averaging 23.8 points per game for the season.

The teams split their four meetings during the regular season, albeit including a Clippers victory in their final game when the Suns rested their starters.

Sacramento Kings (3) v Golden State Warriors (6)

It feels like the Kings quietly went about their business this season, amassing 48 wins, more than half of which (25) came on the road.

That could not really be further removed from the Warriors' experience, which saw only 11 of their 44 victories come as the away team.

However, after starting 7-29 on the road this season, Golden State won four of their final five. That included a 56-point victory at the Portland Trail Blazers on April 9, tied for the second-largest road win by any team in NBA history (Pacers at Thunder in May 2021 – 57).

De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis will lead the way for Sacramento, but a certain Stephen Curry will be expected to shine again in the postseason as he has done so often in the past.

Since 2013-14, Curry has gone 27-2 against the Kings, the second-best record by any player against a single opponent (min. 20 games) during that span (Norman Powell, 19-1 vs Nets). Curry has averaged 26.7 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds over those games.

Golden State were 3-1 against the Kings this season, with Curry (25 points) and Klay Thompson (29) doing much of the damage in their victory in the penultimate game of the campaign against shorthanded opponents.

Memphis Grizzlies (2) v Los Angeles Lakers (7)

As LeBron James recently said, the Lakers were given just a 0.3 per cent chance of making the playoffs by analysts when they started the year 2-10.

As it turned out, they nearly reached the postseason without even needing the play-in tournament, but a fairly routine win against the Minnesota Timberwolves got them to the dance.

James has been outstanding again this season, averaging 28.9 points, and will be eager to produce fireworks now that he and the Lakers are back in the postseason.

On the other side, Ja Morant seems to have put recent problems behind him and looks ready to lead the Grizzlies.

His 26.2 points have been ably supported by Desmond Bane (21.5) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (18.6), though they will miss the presence of the injured Steven Adams, who averaged 11.5 rebounds this season.

The Lakers went 2-1 against the Grizzlies this season, although the home team won on each occasion.

Eastern Conference:

Cleveland Cavaliers (4) v New York Knicks (5)

It was a strong year for Cleveland, winning 51 games in the regular season, although they had a losing record on the road (20-21).

Donovan Mitchell (28.3 points) has been sensational for the Cavaliers, who could hold a significant advantage throughout the playoffs as they boasted a perfect 7-0 record for games that went into overtime during the season.

The Knicks are looking for their first playoff series win in 10 years in what is only their second postseason appearance in that time.

Coach Tom Thibodeau has Julius Randle (25.1) and Jalen Brunson (24.0) to thank for guiding his team to a comfortable playoff place, with Randle also averaging 10.0 rebounds.

New York's starters are averaging 86.5 points this season, the most by any starting unit (Cleveland rank fifth at 83.5). That accounts for 74.6 per cent of the team's scoring, which is the highest rate by a Knicks squad since 2010-11 (74.7).

The Knicks were 3-1 against the Cavs this season, including their last one at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse just two weeks ago.

Philadelphia 76ers (3) v Brooklyn Nets (6)

Ever since he went to Philadelphia, it has felt like James Harden has been the story heading into any clashes between these two.

It feels like there is so much more to it now, though, especially since the Nets also lost Durant and Kyrie Irving.

No longer a team of stars, the Nets are reinventing themselves as just a team, and it will be interesting to see how they manage the postseason. The Nets finished the season 10-4 in games decided by three or fewer points, tied with the Knicks for the best record in the league (min. 10 one-possession games).

Harden and Tyrese Maxey have provided capable support to Joel Embiid, who has been his usual impressive self, with an average of 33.1 points, the most in the entire league.

The Sixers certainly have the momentum going into this series, winning all four of their meetings this season, including in the final game. It was the first time one of the teams swept the season series since Philadelphia won all four matchups against the New Jersey Nets in 2010-11.

Boston Celtics (2) v Atlanta Hawks (7)

Few expected the Celtics to make the Finals last year, and even fewer thought they would take a 2-1 lead against the Warriors.

It all went south from there, though, ultimately losing 4-2, but their response this season has been impressive again.

Boston started 21-5, and although that levelled out towards the middle of the regular season, they put together some more impressive runs to finish 57-25.

Jayson Tatum's average of 30.1 made him briefly a contender for MVP, while Jaylen Brown (26.6) and Marcus Smart are expected to be fit again during the first round.

Trae Young led the Hawks through their play-in clash with the Miami Heat, and he and they will now need to step up again.

Young has scored 30 or more points in four straight road games against the Celtics. Since the NBA-ABA merger, just four players have scored 30-plus points in five straight games in Boston (including playoffs): Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Curry and James.

The Celtics won all three regular season meetings, including in their final games before the postseason, although both fielded weakened teams.

Manchester City gained ground on Arsenal last week, cutting the Gunners' lead at the top of the Premier League to six points.

City, who have a game in hand, beat lowly Southampton last time out and on Saturday face another relegation battler in the form of Leicester City, who will be under the stewardship of Dean Smith for the first time.

Arsenal, meanwhile, take on West Ham in a London Derby. The Hammers are also fighting at the wrong end of the table, though two wins from their last three league matches has given David Moyes' team some confidence.

Nottingham Forest are another team scrapping for survival, and Steve Cooper will be looking to make home advantage count against Manchester United.

Likewise, Leeds United will hope the Elland Road faithful help propel them to victory against Liverpool, who they beat at Anfield earlier in the campaign.

With the help of Opta data, here are some key predictions ahead of another fascinating weekend of Premier League action.

 

Manchester City v Leicester City

City have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against Leicester City (L2), winning the last four in a row since a 5-2 home defeat in September 2020.

Having been beaten in seven of their last eight Premier League games (D1), Leicester have now lost 19 league matches overall this term. Not since 2001-02 (20) have the Foxes lost 20+ league matches in one season, and should they lose against City, it will be the joint-second earliest they have ever hit 20 defeats in a Football League campaign.

Leicester midfielder James Maddison has scored in this exact fixture in each of the last two campaigns; only two visiting players have scored a Premier League goal at Etihad Stadium in three consecutive seasons – Collins John (2004-05 to 2006-07) and Tim Cahill (2008-09 to 2010-11).

Best bet – Erling Haaland to score: Is there any way to stop Haaland? Many teams have tried, and nearly all have failed. The Norway international is already on 30 league goals this season, averaging a strike every 73 minutes with a shot conversion rate of 33.3 per cent. Given Leicester's defensive frailties, the 22-year-old will be licking his lips.

Long shot – Leicester to keep a clean sheet: The Foxes have not prevented the opposition from scoring in a league match since November, when they beat West Ham 2-0. If they are to get out of trouble, then interim boss Smith has to find a way to tighten things up at the back.

Opta prediction: Leicester won four of their first five Premier League visits to Man City (L1) but have since lost five of their last six games at the Etihad Stadium (W1). It is no surprise, then, that Opta's supercomputer has City as huge favourites (75.1 per cent), while Leicester are given only an 8.5 per cent chance of pulling off a win. 

 

West Ham v Arsenal

Arsenal have won 11 Premier League away games this season, only winning more on the road in 2001-02 (14) and 2004-05 (12). The Gunners have the most wins (11), most points (35), most goals scored (30) and fewest goals conceded (11) of any team away from home in the Premier League this term.

They have also won eight Premier League games against West Ham after conceding the first goal, including a 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture in December. It is both the most wins Arsenal have against an opponent when conceding first, and the most defeats West Ham have against a side when opening the scoring in the competition.

Arsenal have scored 72 goals from an xG of 60.1 in the Premier League this season, with their difference of +11.9 bettered only by Manchester City (12.2). Meanwhile, West Ham have scored 27 goals from an xG of 38.4, with their difference of -11.4 the biggest negative difference this term.

Best bet – Arsenal to score first and avoid defeat: The Gunners are the only team yet to lose a Premier League game when scoring the first goal this season, winning 18 and drawing three. However, they did let a two-goal lead slip in their 2-2 draw at Liverpool last time out.

Long shot – West Ham to win: West Ham have won just two of their last 29 Premier League games against Arsenal (D5 L22), who have only lost three of their 26 Premier League visits to West Ham (W14 D9) and have won nine of their last 14 away games against the Hammers (D4 L1).

Opta prediction: Given West Ham's woeful record against the Gunners, their chances of success are ranked at only 28.8 per cent by Opta, with the draw at 28.4 per cent. The likelihood of Arsenal winning is 42.8 per cent.

 

Nottingham Forest v Manchester United

This is Forest's first home league game against United since February 1999, when they lost 8-1 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoring four times as a substitute.

Forest are winless (D3 L6) and without a clean sheet in their last nine Premier League games. In fact, Forest are winless in all 23 league games in which they have conceded this season (D8 L15), with all six of their victories being to nil.

United have lost three of their last four away games in the Premier League (W1), having only lost three of their first 10 on the road this season (W5 D2). The Red Devils have conceded 29 away goals in 14 away league games this term; not since 1978-79 have they hit 30 goals conceded within their first 15 away matches of a league campaign.

Best bet – United to avoid defeat: United have won their last nine games against Forest in all competitions, beating them three times this season alone (once in the league, twice in the EFL Cup). The Red Devils have beaten a side four times in a season twice before, doing so against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993-94 and Chelsea in 2010-11.

Long shot – Jesse Lingard to score: Lingard has yet to score for Forest in the league. He could become the third former United player to score his first Premier League goal for a side against the Red Devils, after Keith Gillespie at Sheffield United in 2006-07, and Dan James for Fulham this season.

Opta prediction: United have won their last six Premier League games against Nottingham Forest, scoring at least three goals on each occasion, and they are the favourites for Sunday's game, with Opta suggesting they have a 52.6 per cent likelihood of taking three points. Forest are given a 20.6 per cent chance. The draw is ranked at 26.8 per cent.

 

Leeds United v Liverpool

Leeds slumped to a 5-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in their last home game, and sit just two points above the bottom three. Depending on results elsewhere, the Whites could be in the relegation zone by the time Monday's game comes around. They are looking for only their second Premier League double over Liverpool, previously achieving that feat in the 2000-01 campaign.

Liverpool have not lost any of their last five league visits to Elland Road against Leeds (W3 D2) since losing 4-3 in November 2000, with Mark Viduka scoring all four for the hosts that day.

The Reds are averaging 0.87 points per game away from home in the Premier League this season (13 points in 15 away games), their lowest in a campaign since 1992-93 (0.76 – 16 points in 21 games). 

Best bet – Mohamed Salah to be involved in a goal: Salah has seven goals in five Premier League appearances against Leeds for Liverpool, scoring in their 3-0 win at Elland Road last season. No Reds player has more Premier League goals against Leeds than Salah (Robbie Fowler also seven), while only Gordon Hodgson has more in their league history (nine).

Long shot – Under 1.5 goals: Leeds have shipped 10 goals in their three Premier League games in April (W1 L2), more than any other team so far this month. Liverpool, who are winless in their last five games in all competitions (D2 L3), have netted 15 times in their last five top-flight meetings with the Whites.

Opta prediction: Despite their dismal form on the road, Liverpool are made big favourites by Opta (61.4 per cent). A Leeds win is ranked at 15.8 per cent, with a draw forecast at 22.8 per cent.

There is no margin for error when it comes to selecting your fantasy team with just six weeks of the Premier League season to go.

Whether you are battling to win the league, striving to climb off the bottom or desperate to catch or family member above you, it is vital to pick up precious points before it’s too late.

While you may have been picking up points galore in recent weeks and reluctant to make changes, be wary of missing out by keeping the faith.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform have picked out four players to get in your team for the latest set of matches.

 

David de Gea (Nottingham Forest v Manchester United)

Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea has the joint-highest number of top-flight clean sheets this season, racking up 13 along with Newcastle United's Nick Pope.

Seven of the Spaniard's shutouts have come in 2023 and that can rise to eight when the Red Devils face struggling Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

Forest have failed to score in all three games against United so far this season, with De Gea playing in two of those matches.

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Leeds United v Liverpool)

Liverpool full-back Alexander-Arnold produced a third assist this year for Roberto Firmino to equalise late in a pulsating 2-2 draw with leaders Arsenal last Sunday.

Only Kieran Trippier (420) and Kevin De Bruyne (298) have played more passes into the opposition box than the England international's 287 this season.

Alexander-Arnold has provided assists in each of his previous two trips to Leeds United in the top flight and, with the Whites suffering a 5-1 hammering at home to Crystal Palace last time out, he can capitalise on their defensive frailties on Monday.

Michael Olise (Southampton v Crystal Palace)

Olise caused Leeds all sorts of problems in that rout at Elland Road on Sunday, becoming only the second Palace player to provide three assists in a Premier League match.

Leeds were unable to contain winger Olise, who has produced 13 assists since the start of last season. Only De Bruyne has more assists than Olise per 90 minutes of the players who have featured in at least 3,000 minutes during that time.

Olise can torment bottom-of-the-table Southampton at St Mary's on Saturday.

Ivan Toney (Wolves v Brentford)

Brentford striker Toney has scored 18 Premier League goals and provided four assists this season.

Only Erling Haaland (35) and Harry Kane (25) have more goal involvements in the division in the 2022-23 campaign.

Toney has scored twice and laid one goal on in his Premier League encounters with Wolves, a tally he can add to at Molineux on Saturday.

Champions League holders Real Madrid resume their European campaign on Wednesday as they once again go up against English opposition in Chelsea.

Now with Frank Lampard in charge again, Chelsea realistically need to win the Champions League just to qualify for it next season, with the Blues languishing 11th in the Premier League.

But after brushing Liverpool aside in ruthless fashion in the last round, Madrid will be massive favourites in the eyes of most people.

Wednesday's other Champions League duel is almost as intriguing. Serie A rivals Milan and Napoli will tussle in San Siro, with any of the four teams in that side of the draw likely fancying their chances of reaching the final.

Ahead of two potentially engrossing matches, Stats Perform picks out the best Opta pre-game facts.

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Benzema out to continue dominance of Premier League opposition

This season has been perceived as an underwhelming one for Karim Benzema in some respects, with injuries disrupting him – particularly ahead of the World Cup.

But since Qatar 2022, the only player across the top five leagues to register more goal involvements in all competitions than Benzema (24) is Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (25), and the Frenchman has been especially lethal in recent weeks.

He scored hat-tricks in each of his first two games this month and was sensational in Madrid's 6-2 aggregate defeat of Liverpool in the previous round, scoring three times over the two legs.

 

That haul means each of his last 10 goals in the Champions League have been against English clubs (in order: x4 Chelsea, x3 Manchester City, x3 Liverpool), which is already the longest such streak against clubs from a single nation by one player.

Benzema's form and Chelsea's rather unimpressive current state would have most considering Los Blancos firm favourites on Wednesday, and the Blues would do well to stop their hosts from scoring given they have netted in each of their previous 30 Champions League knockout games at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Chelsea and interim manager Lampard will be grasping to every hint of optimism they can find.

Their record against Madrid might be one such example, as they have the lowest percentage of losses (14 per cent) of any team to have played them at least five times in European competition.

The Blues are also unbeaten against the Champions League reigning champions since 2004-05 (six games), which is a record.

Milan v Napoli: Uncharted territory for the Partenopei

This promises to be a memorable season for Napoli, who are within touching distance of a first Scudetto since 1990.

But their Champions League journey could yet elevate this campaign to hitherto unseen levels for Luciano Spalletti's side.

After all, this will be their first Champions League quarter-final. Considering they were drawn into the side of the bracket that looks wide open, the outlook is promising.

 

Admittedly, Napoli were remarkably beaten 4-0 at home to Milan at the start of this month, though the Serie A leaders should be a different beast with Victor Osimhen back in the team.

The Nigeria international's brilliance in attack has contributed to Napoli being the top scorers in this season's Champions League with 25 goals, while only Bayern Munich have won more matches (eight to seven).

Furthermore, Napoli's average of 3.1 goals per game is the fifth-best in a single campaign after Bayern in 2019-20 (3.9), PSG in 2017-18 (3.4), Real Madrid in 2013-14 (3.2) and Liverpool in 2017-18 (3.2).

 

Milan will hope they have the defensive nous to counteract that. And, to be fair, they are one clean sheet away from five successive Champions League shutouts for the first time since 2004-05.

Some might also point to Milan's greater experience in such ties, though this will actually be just their first quarter-final since 2011-12, and they last reached the semis in 2006-07 en route to winning the competition.

For the Rossoneri, even when you take into consideration that freak 4-0 away win on April 2, a positive result on Wednesday is surely a must – Napoli will be aiming to make it four successive wins over Milan at San Siro.

Just eight teams remain in the Champions League, and there is every chance one of Tuesday's quarter-finals could yield the eventual winners.

Manchester City and Bayern Munich tussle in arguably the tie of the round, a contest that has seen the intrigue multiply following the latter's dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann and hiring of Thomas Tuchel.

Of course, Tuchel has won this competition before and boasts plenty of quality in his squad, but City probably go into the tie as favourites because of their greater stability and the 'Erling Haaland factor'.

Tuesday's other game, which takes place on the other side of the draw, pits Benfica and Inter against each other, with both sides surely fancying their chances of a shock run to the final given they will come up against either Milan or Napoli in the semi-finals.

But without any further ado, Stats Perform looks at the pick of the pre-match Opta facts for Tuesday's first legs.

Manchester City v Bayern Munich: Haaland out to finally beat Die Roten

There will certainly be a degree of familiarity surrounding this duel between two giants of the European game.

It will be the seventh meeting between City and Bayern in the Champions League, with both sides alternating victories across the previous six (three each) fixtures.

On top of that, City boss Pep Guardiola is of course a former Bayern head coach, with the Premier League side's only loss in their past three home games against Die Roten coming when he was in charge at Allianz Arena (October 2013).

Guardiola will also be going up against Tuchel once again. He may not publicly admit it, but revenge is surely a target.

Tuchel was in charge of Chelsea when City lost their only Champions League final, and the German has won two of the three matches the two coaches have contested in cup competitions. Guardiola's only victory came via a penalty shoot-out in the 2016 DFB-Pokal final.

Still, Guardiola boasts a tremendous record at this stage of the competition.

He has won 54 per cent of his 72 Champions League knockout games, the best win rate of all managers with at least 30 matches under their belt in such ties. Additionally, Guardiola is the only one of these coaches to have won more than half of these games.

 

Erling Haaland will also be tussling with some familiar foes.

The Norwegian striker has a solid record against Bayern on an individual level, scoring five times in seven games against them for Dortmund, but he was on the losing side each time.

He will be keen to break that duck.

Benfica v Inter: Eagles close to 33-year high

For some, Benfica might stand out as being almost out of place at this stage of the competition, but it is the second season in a row they have reached the quarter-finals.

Similarly, while one may associate Inter more closely with deep runs into the Champions League, their six quarter-finals this century is only one more than Benfica.

The Portuguese side will not come into this tie intimidated by their opponents either.

Benfica have already beaten Juventus home and away in the competition this term, overcoming something of a psychological barrier that had seen them win only two of their previous 11 games against Serie A sides in Europe's top-tier competition.

Granted, Inter have dealt with Portuguese opposition this season as well, knocking Porto out in the previous round with a slender 1-0 aggregate win. But there was more than a hint of fortune about that success, with the Primeira Liga side's expected goals (xG) significantly higher than Inter's (3-5 to 2.1).

Nevertheless, Benfica need only to look at their own form to inspire confidence. Victory on Tuesday will see them record five successive European Cup/Champions League wins for the first time since a run of six en route to the 1990 final.

There are also reasons for optimism in how the two teams play.

The average starting distance of Inter's sequences of play in the Champions League this term is 38.2 metres from their own goal, with Simone Inzaghi's side recovering possession the furthest away from the opposition goal – on average – of any side involved in this season's quarter-finals.

That could play into Benfica's hands given they have attempted more shots following high turnovers (within 40m of the opposition goal) than any other side in the competition this season (18), and their five goals from such situations is a joint-high with Napoli.

Inter have ridden their luck already this season – Benfica will hope to get the rub of the green at Estadio da Luz on Tuesday to improve their chances of reaching the semi-finals for the first time in 33 years.

Manchester City put pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal ahead of their trip to Liverpool on Sunday with an emphatic 4-1 victory at Southampton.

Erling Haaland's double took him to 30 Premier League goals in 27 games, just 70 shy of Son Heung-min's career total in his eighth season in England after the South Korea international made history on Saturday.

The race for the other top-four places behind Arsenal and City saw Manchester United and Newcastle United both win, while Tottenham remain three points back after riding their luck against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Stats Perform looks at some of the more notable Opta numbers to come out of the pick of Saturday's Premier League action.

Manchester United 2-0 Everton: Wasteful Red Devils still win comfortably

After goals from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial either side of half-time, United have won 39 Premier League games against Everton, the joint-most one side have against another in the competition's history (also 39 wins for United against Spurs).

Erik ten Hag's men have won 23 of their 28 home games in all competitions this season (D3 L2), their highest total of wins in a single campaign at Old Trafford since 2010-11 (26).

As they continue to fight relegation, Everton have won just one of their last 17 away Premier League games (D7 L9) and remain winless on the road since a 2-1 victory at Southampton in October (11 games since).

McTominay's strike was his fifth in five games for club and country, as many as in his previous 106 appearances for United and Scotland combined.

Ten Hag bemoaned his side's wastefulness as United failed to convert seven big chances – six of which came in the first half – their joint-highest total on record (since 2010-11) in a league match (also seven vs Sunderland in December 2012).

 

Brentford 1-2 Newcastle United: Bees stung by Magpies

Brentford started well in this one but ultimately failed to win a Premier League game in which they had opened the scoring for the first time (P26 W19 D6 L1), while Newcastle have lost just one of their last five away league games in which they have conceded first (W2 D2), winning the last two.

Eddie Howe has won exactly 100 Premier League points as Newcastle boss (P56 W28 D16 L12), with only fan favourite Kevin Keegan needing fewer games (51) to reach that milestone.

Ivan Toney became just the fourth player to score home and away against Newcastle in a Premier League campaign having previously played for them in the competition, following Louis Saha (2001-02), Craig Bellamy (2008-09) and Abdoulaye Faye (2008-09).

Before netting from the spot, though, Toney failed to score a penalty for the first time since October 2018 for Peterborough United against Barnsley when he saw his first effort saved by Nick Pope, having scored 24 successive penalties before Saturday (excluding shoot-outs).

A David Raya own goal drew Newcastle level, then Alexander Isak scored his eighth Premier League goal to take the points. Seven of those have either drawn Newcastle level (two) or given them the lead (five).

Tottenham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Son reaches landmark while Seagulls are left to fume

Brighton suffered their first defeat in eight Premier League games on the road (W4 D3) since a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in October, although they will be tempted to lay a lot of the blame at the door of the officials.

Seagulls boss Roberto Di Zerbi was furious with two goals being ruled out for alleged handballs, while Kaoru Mitoma was also denied what looked like a very good shout for a penalty. The Italian then became the first manager to be sent off twice in the Premier League this season. Cristian Stellini was also dismissed.

For Son, though, it was a landmark day as his terrific opener made him the first Asian player to score 100 Premier League goals, while he is just the 10th player in the league's history to score 100 goals and register 50 assists for one team – and the first to do so for Spurs.

Lewis Dunk equalised in his 200th Premier League appearance, with each of the last four players to mark that milestone in such a way now having been centre-backs  (also Kurt Zouma, Virgil van Dijk and Ben Mee).

But after the controversy at the other end, Harry Kane won it for Tottenham with his 10th goal in 12 appearances for the club against Brighton in all competitions. The Seagulls are the ninth team he has reached double-figures against in his career, along with Leicester City, Everton, Arsenal, Southampton, West Ham, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Stoke City.

 

Southampton 1-4 Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne was back to his sensational best at St Mary's, registering his 100th Premier League assist, making him the fifth player to reach that mark and doing so in fewer appearances (237) than any of the previous four.

Haaland's brace, including an outrageous bicycle kick, meant he has scored 44 goals in all competitions for City this season – the joint-most ever by a Premier League player in a single campaign, level with Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002-03) and Mohamed Salah (2017-18).

De Bruyne laid on the opener and has assisted seven Premier League goals for Haaland this season, the most one City player has ever assisted for another in a single campaign.

Jack Grealish teed up the other Haaland goal and also got on the scoresheet. He has now been involved in 10 goals in 15 league games since the World Cup (four goals, six assists). Only Haaland (14) has been involved in more for Pep Guardiola's team in that time, while it is three more than Grealish managed in his first 34 appearances for City (four goals, three assists).

Julian Alvarez replaced Haaland and dispatched a second-half penalty, becoming the fifth different City player to score as a substitute in the Premier League this season, with only United and Wolves (six) having more.

Arsenal face another major obstacle in their quest to land a first Premier League title in 19 years when they travel to Liverpool on Sunday.

The Gunners have historically struggled at Anfield, though Mikel Arteta's men have passed most tests this season en route to opening up a healthy lead over Manchester City.

While Arsenal will be looking to continue their good form, having won seven league games in a row, it is the start of another new chapter for Chelsea when they head to Wolves.

Frank Lampard was this week appointed as caretaker manager for the rest of the season following the sacking of Graham Potter, with Chelsea way down in 11th place.

There are plenty of other big games at the top and bottom of the division this weekend, not least at Old Trafford where Manchester United and Everton face off.

United got their top-four hopes back on track in midweek and will be seeking some momentum when they take on an Everton side sitting level on points with the bottom three.

Here, with the help of Opta data, Stats Perform has provided some key insights and predictions.


Manchester United v Everton

United have dominated this fixture down the years, with their 38 Premier League wins against Everton the second most one team has over another after the Red Devils themselves against Tottenham (39 wins).

Erik ten Hag's men have won both meetings with Everton in all competitions this term – 2-1 in the league at Goodison Park and 3-1 in the FA Cup on home soil – and could make it three wins in a single campaign against them for the third time (after 1993-94 and 2015-16 seasons).

Everton have improved since Sean Dyche took charge, picking up 12 points from their nine league games under him, with that seven more than they managed in their final 12 games under Lampard.

Best bet – Everton to score at Old Trafford: The Toffees' away form this season may be terrible, as is their overall record at United, but they have scored in each of their past nine Premier League games at Old Trafford, with that the Red Devils' longest run without a clean sheet against a single opponent in the competition.

Long shot – Everton to avoid defeat: Scoring away at United is one thing; holding on for a point or more is another. Everton have won just one of their past 29 away league meetings with United, but their past three visits to Old Trafford have finished all square.

Opta prediction: United failed to win any of their six matches in the early Saturday kick-off slot last season, but they have won all three such games this campaign, including a 2-1 win over Manchester City in January. Everton have won just two of their past 31 away league games, meanwhile, and Opta's model gives them only a 20.6 per cent chance of winning at Old Trafford. United are given a 52.7 per cent chance of success, meanwhile, and the draw is rated at 26.7 per cent.

 


Wolves v Chelsea

Chelsea have failed to win on their past two league visits to Molineux, but the good news is that their most recent victory there came in September 2019 under Lampard.

Wolves are unbeaten in their three Premier League games against opponents from London under the watch of Julen Lopetegui, having failed to win any of their previous 11 such matches prior to the Spaniard's arrival.

The Blues have picked up just 16 points from 14 away top-flight matches, which is their lowest return after 14 road games in a single campaign since 2000-01 (nine).

Best bet – Wolves to win without conceding: Given Chelsea's form, a Wolves win this weekend would hardly be the biggest of surprises – especially considering Lopetegui's men have won their past three league games against sides starting the day above them without letting in a goal (1-0 v West Ham, 3-0 v Liverpool and 1-0 v Tottenham).

Long shot – Raheem Sterling to score or assist: The Chelsea winger has been directly involved in just one goal in his past six matches, but since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, only Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne (nine) has been directly involved in more league goals at Molineux than Sterling among visiting players (three goals, two assists).

Opta prediction: Wolves are winless in their past four Premier League games against Chelsea since beating them 2-1 at Molineux in December 2020. The Blues will be hoping the new (well, returning) manager bounce pays off and the Opta model makes them favourites to win with a 42.3 per cent backing, compared to 27.9 per cent for Wolves and 29.8 per cent for the draw.

 


Liverpool v Arsenal

Arsenal are facing Liverpool as Premier League leaders for the ninth time, with the previous eight occasions producing a total of 33 goals at an average of over four per game.

Since briefly surrendering top spot to Man City following a 3-1 defeat in February, Arsenal have won their last seven Premier League games. They have scored at least three goals in six of these, including the last five in a row.

Liverpool have won five of their last six Premier League home games (D1), including each of the last three by an aggregate score 11-0. The Reds have not conceded in any of their past seven hours and 26 minutes of league football at Anfield, since Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's strike for Leicester City in December.

Best bet – Mohamed Salah to score or assist: The Egypt international is expected to be recalled by Jurgen Klopp and that could spell bad news for Arsenal. Salah has been involved in 105 league goals in 105 games at Anfield for Liverpool (74 goals, 31 assists) and has scored in three successive home league appearances for the Reds.

Long shot – Arsenal to lose without scoring: The Gunners have lost on their last six league visits to Anfield, conceding at least three goals each time. They have failed to score against the Reds on 20 occasions in the Premier League era, which is their worst record against any team in the division.

Opta prediction: Arsenal won the reverse fixture with Liverpool 3-2 in the first major sign they were the real deal this season, though not since the 2009-10 campaign have they pulled off the league double in this fixture. They have a 22.6 per cent chance of doing so this weekend, according to the Opta model, while Liverpool are rated at 51 per cent to pick up the three points. A draw is given a 26.4 per cent chance of happening.

It is over a decade since Arsenal won at Anfield in the Premier League, but they will be confident of moving a step closer to winning the title by beating Liverpool on Sunday.

The Gunners head to Merseyside riding on the crest of a wave following seven consecutive top-flight wins.

Manchester City can reduce Arsenal's lead at the top of the table to five points by beating bottom-of-the-table Southampton on Saturday and the champions will be hoping for a favour from the Reds.

Eighth-place Liverpool were held to a drab goalless draw at Chelsea after losing three games in a row and they are in desperate need of points to have any chance of securing a European spot.

The Reds have not lost at home to Arsenal in the top flight since a 2-0 defeat in September 2012 and have won their past six Premier League games against the London club in their own backyard.

Stats Perform use Opta data to preview another huge match for Mikel Arteta's side in the title race.

Reds in need of more home comforts

While this has been a season to forget for Liverpool, their struggles have not been due to their home form.

Jurgen Klopp's side have only been beaten once at Anfield in the top flight and won five of their past six Premier League home games.

They demolished Manchester United 7-0 in their last home match and have gone seven hours and 26 minutes without conceding a goal in the Premier League at Anfield since Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's strike for Leicester City in December.

Klopp is looking to win seven in a row against the same opponent in his top-flight managerial career for the first time since doing so against Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund (2009-15).

The last manager to win seven consecutive home top-flight games against Arsenal was John Nicholson between 1921 and 1928 with Sheffield United.

 

Ramsdale can match Cech and Ederson

Arsenal have only conceded nine goals on their travels in the Premier League this season.

Aaron Ramsdale has kept nine clean sheets away from home in a brilliant campaign that could finish with the Gunners ending such a long wait to be crowned champions.

Petr Cech (11 in 2004-05, 10 in 2008-09) and Ederson (11 in 2018-19, 10 in 2021-22) are the only goalkeepers to have recorded at least 10 shutouts on the road in a Premier League season.

Ramsdale is just one away from joining a very exclusive club.

Salah back with a bang?

Mohamed Salah was restricted to a substitute appearance in the stalemate at Stamford Bridge this week, but the forward should be back in the side to take on the leaders.

Salah has been involved in 105 Premier League goals in 105 appearances at Anfield for the Reds (74 goals, 31 assists).

The Egypt star is looking to score in four consecutive home top-flight appearances for the first time since a six-game run between January and June 2020.

He also boasts a record that suggests he enjoys facing Arsenal, having had a hand in seven goals in five appearances against the Gunners at Anfield (5 goals, 2 assists).

Trossard to torment Reds again? 

Leandro Trossard scored a hat-trick for Brighton and Hove Albion in a 3-3 draw at Liverpool back in October.

Only two players have scored at Anfield for two different sides in the same Premier League season: Dean Saunders in 1992-93 (Liverpool, Aston Villa) and Robbie Keane in 2008-09 (Liverpool, Tottenham).

No player has found the back of the net at Liverpool's home for two different away sides in a single campaign.

Following the two-week international break and then a double gameweek, the Premier League fixture schedule returns to normal this weekend with 10 fixtures across two days.

That is not to say there are not still some huge selection decisions to make when it comes to picking your fantasy side in what is now very much the business end of the campaign.

Some players are quite simply undroppable at this stage, while others look good value for those willing to take a gamble and make up some points.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform has picked out four players – one for each position – that look good value to help your side this weekend.

Emi Martinez (Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest)

Villa conceded against Leicester City last time out, but they have kept six Premier League clean sheets in 2023, with that tally bettered only by – surprisingly – Liverpool (seven).

Martinez has been in goal for five of those games, the Argentina international bringing the form he showed at the World Cup with him back to Villa Park.

He has made 38 saves this calendar year and has prevented 2.02 goals – only three goalkeepers have fared better – and is up against a low-scoring Forest side this weekend.


Timothy Castagne (Leicester City v Bournemouth)

Leicester are enduring a poor campaign and have struggled badly to keep clean sheets, doing so just six times all season in the Premier League.

Right-back Castagne has masked defensive inadequacies with some solid attacking play, however, with only three other defenders being involved in more goals this term (four).

In fact, of the defenders to have created at least 15 chances, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (33 per cent) has a higher proportion that are big chances than Castagne (31 per cent).


Kaoru Mitoma (Tottenham v Brighton and Hove Albion)

Brighton attacker Mitoma is not quite the unknown figure he was a few months back, with more and more flocking to put him in their team as the weeks go by.

The Japan international is the first Brighton player to register a goal involvement in five successive Premier League games, with that the longest ongoing run in the competition.

All 11 of his goal involvements this season have come since his first start on October 29 – only four midfielders have been involved in more during that period.

 


Gabriel Jesus (Liverpool v Arsenal)

Having slowly built up his fitness since returning from a three-month lay-off, Jesus marked his first start in the win over Leeds United with two goals.

The Brazil international, whose most recent start at club level prior to that was against Wolves in November, now has seven goals and five assists in 17 league games this term.

Jesus tends to perform well against next opponents Liverpool, too, as only against three other sides has he been directly involved in more goals than he has versus the Reds (six).

Frank Lampard is back at Chelsea.

The club's record goalscorer and former boss has taken on an interim position in the dugout until the end of the season, when Chelsea will bring in their long-term choice.

Of course, should Lampard do well enough, he could put his own name into consideration, but either way he still has plenty to do over the next two months.

Graham Potter was hired to give the team an identity, but Lampard will have no such responsibility given his short-term deal and the fact that someone like Julian Nagelsmann or Luis Enrique would bring their own ideas should they ultimately be hired ahead of next season.

Lampard was sacked by Chelsea in January 2021, before suffering the same demise at Everton two years later, but his continued legendary status at Stamford Bridge has secured him another lucrative opportunity to lead them.

Stats Perform has taken a look at five areas where the former West Ham and Manchester City midfielder will need to thrive to improve the club, as well as his own chances of finding a long-term gig beyond this one.


Find a way to score goals again

To say that Chelsea have been goal-shy this season is somewhat of an understatement.

Following their 0-0 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday, the Blues have scored 29 goals in 29 Premier League games this season, only ever netting fewer at this stage of a league campaign twice before (23 in 1921-22 and 16 in 1923-24).

During his 57 Premier League games in charge of Chelsea between August 2019 and January 2021, Lampard's team scored 102 goals.

They also had a shot conversion rate of 11.5 per cent, compared to their remarkably profligate 7.9 per cent this season.

Potter's issue was that he generally played without a striker and his midfielder's didn't score enough. If there is anyone who can teach midfielders to score goals, you would think it's Lampard, who hit 211 of his own during his playing days at Chelsea.

Get the old Mount back

It appears to be a widely held belief that Mason Mount enjoyed the best spell of his Chelsea career under Lampard.

He actually produced more under Thomas Tuchel, with 38 goal involvements (19 goals, 19 assists) in 86 games, compared to his 21 (11 goals, 10 assists) in 80 games under Lampard.

Mount was given his initial opportunity by Lampard though, and certainly developed and learned impressively in the first season and a half of his time in the Chelsea first-team.

The England international has struggled this season though, with just three goals and three assists from 32 games, and he has even been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool or Manchester United with his contract situation still up in the air.

If he can get his groove back at Stamford Bridge under Lampard though, maybe it can lead to a renaissance for Mount at the club.

Qualify for Europe

With nine games remaining in the Premier League, Chelsea sit in 11th place, five points behind seventh place Aston Villa, and 14 off the top four, meaning they are closer to the relegation zone (12 points) than Champions League qualification.

The table has been a strange place this season, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a few wins can catapult a team up several places.

While a top four finish is almost certainly beyond them, Chelsea could still at least keep themselves in European competition with a few victories.

Europa League successes in 2013 and 2019 laid foundations for bigger achievements, and in a season that has seen so few positives on the pitch, it would be a notable tick in the box should Lampard secure a place in Europe.

Overcome a familiar face

While they probably won't be in the competition next season, Chelsea remain in this season's Champions League, though with a daunting quarter-final against defending champions Real Madrid on the horizon.

The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu will be Lampard's second game in charge, and Chelsea gave Los Blancos quite a scare when they went 3-0 up there in last season's final eight second leg.

Madrid ultimately won on aggregate after extra-time, but really struggled to deal with the Blues' approach, albeit with the tactical acumen of Tuchel directing them.

Lampard played under Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, and so could perhaps have one or two insights into how to get the better of him.

He might not be feeling too confident after seeing what Madrid recently did to Liverpool and Barcelona, though.

Set the table for successor

It might not be what Lampard envisioned his role at Chelsea ultimately being when he was initially hired in 2019, but the opportunity to help the club in the interim also means preparing the team for the next boss, whoever that may be.

As mentioned, he could even fancy himself to convince Todd Boehly to give him a longer chance, but either way, he will be tasked with making sure the team goes into next season with more optimism than they have now.

With so many new arrivals in the last two transfer windows, giving Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke more chances to shine will be key, while Joao Felix could learn plenty from him should he eventually make his loan move from Atletico Madrid permanent.

At the very least, it is likely having Lampard back at the helm will appease the fans, and having a better atmosphere will hopefully be a springboard for anyone to hit the ground running next season, when significant improvement will be an absolute must.

Chelsea are once again on the hunt for a new head coach after Graham Potter's brief tenure was brought to an abrupt end on Sunday.

While the news might have caught some by surprise given Chelsea's insistence about Potter being a long-term hire when initially appointed, many will feel the writing was on the wall.

Premier League management is a cut-throat business and Chelsea's actions are the case in point, with Potter reportedly costing them £21million in compensation just 206 days earlier.

Despite his excellent reputation, Potter was unable to meet the demands at Stamford Bridge and leaves with a record that does him few favours.

Plumbing new depths

Chelsea's confirmation of Potter's dismissal was very respectful and made clear how remorseful they were about such a decision, but not even he would claim things have gone well.

Potter's record of 1.27 points per game in the Premier League is the joint-worst among Chelsea bosses to take charge of at least 20 matches in the division.

Considering how high expectations have become at Chelsea over the best part of the past two decades, that was a particularly damning return.

Potter leaves with Chelsea languishing in the bottom half of the table – 11th to be exact – and requiring something of a miracle to close the 12-point gap between them and fourth.

The last time they were not in the top half after at least 28 games was in 1995-96.

Additionally, with a haul of 38 points from 28 games, Chelsea have their worst total at this stage of a season since 1994-95 when they had only 36.

Core of the issue

There have certainly been occasions when Potter's Chelsea have been praised for playing good football.

But at no point have they been good at scoring goals, which is quite important in football...

Between November 6 and February 28, Chelsea scored just six goals in 15 games across all competitions, which was the fewest of any team from England's top four tiers.

While that spell was followed by a run of three successive wins, Sunday's 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa showed they were still suffering from the same issues.

They had 27 shots against Unai Emery's side, their most in a Premier League game without scoring since January 2014 against West Ham.

That feeds into a wider issue of wastefulness, with Chelsea underperforming their xG (expected goals) by 7.4 in the Premier League during Potter's reign, which is the worst differential of all 20 top-flight teams.

On top of that, Chelsea's 29 goals is their worst return at this stage of a league campaign since 1978-79, when they also only managed 29.

But was success without proper patience ever possible?

Chelsea's transfer activity was frankly ridiculous. Of the 32 players currently in their squad who have made at least one league appearance this term, 13 are new signings this season – and that does not include the likes of Armando Broja and Conor Gallagher, who returned from long-term loan spells.

His name may be Potter, but he cannot just wave a magic wand and guarantee cohesion – in reality, he was arguably always on a hiding to nothing.

Arsenal and Manchester City matched each other stride for stride and goal for goal on Saturday.

The Gunners restored their eight-point advantage over Pep Guardiola's side with a 4-1 victory over Leeds United at Emirates Stadium, shortly after City had downed Liverpool by the same scoreline in the early Premier League kick-off.

Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford continued their tussle for European football with an entertaining 3-3 draw – Alexis Mac Allister's 90th-minute penalty levelling the scores.

Meanwhile, it was another grim day for Graham Potter's Chelsea, who lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to Aston Villa.

Man City 4-1 Liverpool: Pep hits century to end Reds' run

City successfully navigated a potential stumbling block with relative ease, responding after falling a goal behind to secure Guardiola's 100th Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium.

Those wins came from just 128 matches (D16 L12), with Guardiola becoming the fastest manager to reach a century of home wins in the competition, beating Arsene Wenger's previous record of 139 games with Arsenal.

Ahead of kick-off, all the focus was on the absence of Erling Haaland, but it is not wise to overlook his understudy Julian Alvarez, who took his tally to six goals in seven starts for City in the Premier League – five of which have come at home.

For Liverpool, the loss represents an eighth away defeat of the season, their most in a single season since 2014-15 (also eight).

The Reds also saw a run of 44 matches unbeaten when scoring first in the Premier League snapped, having won their last 22 such matches in a row, with the loss their first in that regard since a 3-1 defeat to Leicester City in February 2021.

Jurgen Klopp's side have now conceded 30 Premier League goals against City, 11 more than they have against any other opponent.

Arsenal 4-1 Leeds United: Gunners no April's Fools

City laid down the marker with their win against Liverpool but Arsenal are a forced to be reckoned with on April 1, winning all seven of their Premier League games on the date with a 25-3 aggregate score – the best 100 per cent win record for any side on any date.

The Gunners are in their stride, scoring three or more goals in three consecutive league matches for the first time since October 2015.

With Bukayo Saka rested, Mikel Arteta's supporting cast shone. Leandro Trossard claimed his seventh assist since his January switch, more than anyone else in that timeframe, while Gabriel Jesus' brace took his season tally to seven – all of which have come in London.

It was Leeds' 17th Premier League defeat to Arsenal, equalling their worst record against a single opponent having lost the same number against both Liverpool and Manchester United.

If Javi Gracia wanted a positive, he need look no further than Rasmus Kristensen who, having failed to score in his first 15 league appearances, has now been on the scoresheet in back-to-back matches.

Brighton and Hove Albion 3-3 Brentford: Seagulls swarm after frantic first half

After just 28 minutes, both sides had celebrated two goals, marking the earliest time each team had scored twice in a game since Burnley's clash against Chelsea in April 2019.

Mac Allister's dramatic late equaliser was a deserved reward for the hosts, who became the first side on record (since 2003-04) to see all 10 of their outfield starters have at least two efforts on goal in a single Premier League game.

The Seagulls peppered Brentford's goal throughout, registering 33 shots and 15 attempts on target, both of which are the highest totals in any game this season from all clubs.

Though the late equaliser will sting the Bees, Thomas Frank's side have lost just one of their last 16 Premier League matches (W7 D8).

Ivan Toney's goals have been invaluable for Brentford, particularly on the road, with nine of his 17 league goals this season coming away from home – only Haaland and Harry Kane have more (both 10).

Chelsea 0-2 Aston Villa: Blues lack home comforts 

Suffering defeat and failing to score at home for the fourth time this season, Chelsea equalled their worst-ever seasons in that regard (1994-95 and 2019-20) and slipped into the bottom half in the process.

The Blues certainly pushed hard for a goal. They had 27 attempts – their most without scoring in a Premier League match since January 2014.

Villa continue to be revitalised under Unai Emery, with only Arsenal (13) and Manchester City (10) securing more victories in the Premier League than the Villans (nine) since the Spaniard's appointment on November 6.

Ollie Watkins stole the show, scoring in a fifth consecutive Premier League away game, the first Villa player to achieve that feat, and hitting double figures for goals for the third consecutive season – something only Mohamed Salah and Kane can also boast.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.