Youri Tielemans has not yet committed his long-term future to Leicester City.

Tielemans is only contracted with the Foxes until the end of the 2022-23 season.

And Leicester may consider selling their FA Cup final hero at the end of this season if they cannot strike a new deal.

 

TOP STORY – SPANISH GIANTS KEEN ON TIELEMANS

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid are circling for Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, reports The Athletic.

The 24-year-old Belgium international publicly said he is "keeping his options open" as he negotiates a new Leicester deal.

Barcelona and Madrid would be interested in Tielemans, who has also been linked with Liverpool, should he become available next off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider reports Tottenham are still planning to sell Dele Alli, although they will wait until the end of this season. Spurs are hoping Alli's value will rise throughout the season to land a significant transfer fee.

– Everton are considering moves for Real Madrid pair Isco and Luka Jovic in January on six-month loan deals, according to Defensa Central.

– Liverpool are keeping an eye on Porto's Colombian star Luis Diaz, reports The Independent, with the two sides having met in the Champions League on Tuesday.

– Juventus have joined Chelsea in showing interest in Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, claims the Daily Mail.

– Newcastle attacker Allan Saint-Maximin has interest from Chelsea and Liverpool, according to the Express.

Manchester United are in the market for a midfielder. 

With a long-rumoured target looking unlikely, United are shifting their gaze from one England midfielder to another. 

Could they prise another up-and-coming star from Leeds United? 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SHIFT SIGHTS TO PHILLIPS

Kalvin Phillips is Manchester United's latest target in an effort to shore up the midfield, the Daily Star reports. 

The Leeds star has gained favour at Old Trafford as United have given up hopes of adding West Ham's Declan Rice thanks to his reported £90million price tag.

Phillips, 25, is under contract at Elland Road through 2024 and reportedly is valued at £60m. 

 

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are still in pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt and are prepared to offer Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Memphis Depay to Juventus in a deal for the Netherlands defender, who is valued at €75m, according to Calciomercato.

– Franck Kessie has turned down Milan's latest contract offer and is eyeing a move to the Premier League, 90min reports, with United and Liverpool said to be interested. 

– Juan Mata is considering a move away from Old Trafford in January due to a lack of playing time this season, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

– Everton are considering loan deals with Real Madrid for Isco and Luka Jovic, claims Defensa Central.

– West Brom teen Reyes Cleary is drawing attention from Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim, says the Daily Mail. 

– Steven Nzonzi is nearing a move from Roma to Al Rayyan, Calciomercato reports. 

Manchester City made something of a statement in their 1-0 win over potential title challengers Chelsea on Saturday, whereas Manchester United seemed to take another step back as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign stuttered again.

But Solskjaer is certainly not the only top-flight manager feeling the heat – Nuno Espirito Santo's honeymoon period as Tottenham boss is well and truly over, with the Portuguese now among the favourites to be the first Premier League boss sacked this season following a 3-1 defeat in the north London derby.

Without any further ado, here are some of the more curious facts and stats from across the Premier League this past weekend…

City defence putting the 'guard' in Guardiola

It may not have been the thrill ride neutrals were likely hoping for, but City's 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge was another impressive indicator of just how good Pep Guardiola's team is as a unit.

Of course, they won the Premier League only a few months ago, so saying City are "good" probably won't cut it for analysis – but what is really making people sit up and take note at the moment is how their unity and cohesion is translating into defensive solidity.

City have conceded just one goal in their six Premier League games this term, the fewest they've ever shipped at this stage of any league campaign.

Let's not forget that Chelsea had been widely praised for their own start to 2021-22, yet on Saturday they were prevented from having a single shot on target in a home league game since November 2012, which coincidentally was also against City.

But even more impressive from City's perspective was the fact Chelsea's expected goals (xG) value was just 0.2, the worst they've recorded in a home Premier League game since Opta records began in 2008-09.

While Chelsea fans will understandably be frustrated, it would seem their struggles on Saturday were more down to City being in a groove defensively.

They've only faced six shots on target this season, a record no Premier League has bettered over the first six matches in a campaign since at least 2003-04. If they keep this up, the title will surely be staying at the Etihad Stadium.

Fernandes' penalty miss not Man Utd's big issue

It was another day to forget for United on Saturday as they lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa.

They were presented with a great opportunity to equalise in second-half stoppage time, but Bruno Fernandes sent his penalty over the crossbar.

Much of the focus afterwards was on Fernandes and his miss, though it would be unfair to pin the blame on him – after all, of the 23 spot-kicks he has taken since his United debut, he's only failed to convert two.

In the same time period, Cristiano Ronaldo – seemingly Fernandes' main penalty rival now – has taken 22 and missed four. This is not a problem that United need to dwell on much.

Instead, they'd be wise to look into their glaring tactical inefficiencies, with Solskjaer's team sorely lacking identity, cohesion and a defined playing style. Too often they are bailed out by moments of individual brilliance, which is an unsustainable approach to solely rely on in a title challenge.

Against Villa, those instances of individual excellence never arrived, despite United mustering 28 shots. That was the most efforts attempted by United without scoring in a home league game since October 2016 (38 shots in 0-0 draw with Burnley).

They have now conceded in each of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, their worst such run in 49 years, and lost three successive home matches (all competitions) for the first time since 1962.

Norwich set new benchmark for worst start

With every match that passes, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to become ever dimmer for Norwich City.

A 2-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday leaves Norwich pointless and with a -14 goal difference after six matches – that makes their start to the season the worst after six matches in Premier League history.

Only twice before had a Premier League side begun a campaign without a single point from six games, the last of which was Frank de Boer's infamous Crystal Palace team in 2017-18 – the Dutchman was sacked after the fourth match in that sequence.

Norwich have at least been a little more patient than Palace, with Daniel Farke's record of overseeing two promotions seemingly ensuring he retains some good will at the club, even if he now has the highest loss percentage (75 per cent, 33/44) of any manager to take charge of at least 20 games in the Premier League.

Most would already consider Norwich to be doomed for relegation, though perhaps there is some reason for optimism.

There have only been nine teams to start a top-flight season (prior to 2021-22) with six or more successive losses, but four of them – including Palace – have avoided relegation.

Vardy joins exclusive club

Jamie Vardy ended up having a peculiar day when Leicester City drew 2-2 with Burnley on Saturday, the former England striker scoring three of the four goals.

It was his own goal that gave Burnley an early lead, while he also got both Leicester equalisers, including one late in the day.

That was his first own goal ever in 360 appearances for Leicester, while he became the first player to net at both ends for the club in a single Premier League game.

It's happened to some of the best, though. He joins an illustrious list containing 11 others who have scored at least 100 goals but also put past their own goalkeeper, with Harry Kane, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney among them.

On top of that, Vardy is now only one of five players in Premier League history to score at least twice at the right end and an own goal in the same game after John Barnes (Liverpool v Spurs 1995), Niall Quinn (Sunderland v Charlton Athletic 2001), Rooney (Man Utd v Stoke City 2012) and Tammy Abraham (Chelsea v Wolves 2019).

But he is still doing more than his fair share at the other end, his brace in this game taking him to eight goal involvements in his past seven league games, which is 89 per cent (8/9) of Leicester's goals in that time.

Bad omens stacking up for Nuno

After three wins from his first three Premier League games in charge, everything was looking rather rosy for Tottenham boss Nuno.

Three matches and three defeats later, some will doubt whether he'll still be in charge this time next month, let alone this time next season.

Sunday's north London derby was his 10th in charge of Spurs and the 3-1 loss made him the first manager to lose as many as four of his first 10 matches at the helm of the club since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

Hoddle was also the last Spurs boss to conceded at least three goals in three consecutive league games in September 2003, and he was sacked after that run.

Nuno will probably make it to the next match but the last team to begin a season with three wins and then lost the next three (Everton, 1993-94) finish as low down as 17th.

His future arguably rests on getting something out of Kane, who's failed to score in five straight league games for the first time since August 2016, but things aren't looking great given Spurs' 35 open-play shots is the second fewest in the division and their expected goals (xG) total is just 3.2, only higher than three teams.

While a lack of quality chances might usually be masked by Kane's excellence, he's not bailing them out any longer – if that continues, it's difficult to see Nuno keeping his job for the long term.

The Premier League table already looks to be taking shape, with a thrilling title race potentially in store.

Two of the favourites meet early on Saturday, as Chelsea welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge.

At the same time, Manchester United – joint-top alongside the Blues and Liverpool – host Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

With the season really kicking into gear, so are the title races in fantasy leagues. So, to avoid getting left behind, take heed of our Opta-powered picks for matchday six...

 

DAVID DE GEA (Manchester United v Aston Villa)

Despite their EFL Cup defeat to West Ham on Wednesday, United remain unbeaten in the league and moved onto 13 points thanks to some late drama last Sunday, also in a match against David Moyes' Hammers.

Jesse Lingard came off the bench to score against the club for whom he starred on loan last term, but West Ham were awarded a last-gasp penalty and a chance to rescue a draw. However, substitute Mark Noble, with his first touch, saw his penalty saved by David de Gea.

It ended a run of 40 penalties without a save from De Gea, who has now this season prevented more goals (2.5) than any other keeper in the Premier League, according to expected goals on target data.

SHANE DUFFY (Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion)

Has Graham Potter's luck at Brighton and Hove Albion finally changed? His team have impressed over the past few seasons, yet a clinical edge was often missing. Now, though, the Seagulls have won four of their five games and sit pretty on 12 points.

A key figure in their strong start has been Shane Duffy. The centre-back's career looked to be petering out after a poor loan spell at Celtic last season, but he has come back strong this term.

No Premier League defender has had more shots (10) or scored more goals (one) than Duffy so far this season, while only Man City have faced fewer shots on target than Brighton in 2021-22.

REECE JAMES (Chelsea v Manchester City)

Reece James is of course an expensive option for fantasy players, though it is an investment worth making, given his ability going forward and the fact he plays for one of the competition's strongest teams.

Despite only playing 158 minutes so far in the league, James has been directly involved in three goals, more than any other defender.

He has scored once and provided two assists, averaging a goal involvement every 53 minutes.

BRUNO FERNANDES (Manchester United v Aston Villa)

Given the hype around Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford, it would be understandable if many fantasy players had elected to sacrifice his compatriot Bruno Fernandes in order to free up funds for the former Real Madrid and Juventus superstar.

But Fernandes is still one of the most reliable players in the league when it comes to accumulating fantasy points, and he would have had an assist in the win over West Ham had Ronaldo's initial effort gone in before he netted the rebound.

Fernandes has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances against Villa, with all three of his goals coming from the penalty spot. Only one player has scored more goals against an opponent with 100 per cent of them being penalties in the competition – Troy Deeney against United (four). No player has more goal involvements (49) than Fernandes since he made his debut in February 2020.

DEMARAI GRAY (Everton v Norwich City)

Rafael Benitez's unbeaten start at Everton came to an end at Aston Villa last week, before the Toffees then crashed out of the EFL Cup in midweek, with James Rodriguez's departure to Qatar completing a difficult few days.

Benitez, a contentious pick as Everton manager, could do with a win on Saturday against Norwich City, who are on a 15-match losing streak in the Premier League.

With Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison likely to miss the game through injury, Everton need Demarai Gray to carry on his fine form. He has scored three goals so far this season from just three attempts on target. Only in 2018-19 has the winger scored more goals in a single top-flight season (four).

RAUL JIMENEZ (Southampton v Wolves)

After winning at Watford to finally get their first points on the board, Wolves went down 2-0 at home to 10-man Brentford last time out.

Wolves have played some exciting football under new boss Bruno Lage, but they need to start converting their chances, and Raul Jimenez coming back into form would be key to doing just that.

Although he has yet to score or assist in the Premier League this season, Jimenez has been directly involved in 29 shots (14 shots, 15 chances created). Only Mohamed Salah (37) and Sadio Mane (31) have been involved in more. The Mexican has created the most chances without an assist and taken the joint-most shots without a goal, so surely his luck will change soon. 

JAMIE VARDY (Leicester City v Burnley)

It has not been a flying start to the season for FA Cup holders Leicester City, who have had some inconsistent results and performances to match.

They lost to Brighton last week, going down 2-1, with Jamie Vardy scoring his 150th goal in all competitions for the Foxes.

Vardy has been directly involved in six goals in his past six Premier League games (five goals, one assist), with these involvements accounting for 86 per cent of Leicester's total goals in that run (six of seven).

James Rodriguez has left Everton to join Qatari side Al-Rayyan for an undisclosed fee.

The Colombia playmaker, who did not make his nation's squad for the Copa America due to concerns over his fitness after missing the end of Everton's 2020-21 campaign, had not featured in a competitive game for the Toffees so far this season.

Rafael Benitez reportedly did not see the 30-year-old as a key player in his squad and confirmed earlier this month that Everton had been open to offers for the former Real Madrid man, who won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup.

Signed on a free transfer from Madrid by previous manager Carlo Ancelotti, James made 26 appearances in all competitions for Everton last season, scoring six goals and creating a further eight.

However, with the Qatari transfer window still open, Al-Rayyan – coached by former Paris Saint-Germain and France boss Laurent Blanc – have now signed the Colombian star. 

Blanc took over Al-Rayyan in December 2020 and guided them to a third-placed finish in the Qatar Stars League, behind Al-Duhail and Al-Sadd, coached by Barcelona legend Xavi.

James' signing represents a coup for the league ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, though he will still have to fight his way back into Reinaldo Rueda's Colombia squad.

Though injuries did limit his game time, James was a creative fulcrum for Everton under Ancelotti, forging 54 chances, placing him second in the squad behind Gylfi Sigurdsson (60), who made 18 appearances more.

James led the way for Everton with chances created from open play (38) and when it came to crafting big chances (14) – defined by Opta as situations where players should reasonably be expected to score. 

Per 90 minutes played, James created 0.56 big chances in the Premier League, putting him just below Jack Grealish and Bruno Fernandes (0.58), ranking sixth in the competition among those who played 20 or more matches.

Everton went unbeaten in their first five games under Benitez but lost 3-0 to Aston Villa last Saturday before heading out of the EFL Cup with an 8-7 penalty shoot-out defeat to Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday, following a 2-2 draw at Loftus Road.

"To be fair, I don't have too much information," Benitez said when asked about James after the EFL Cup exit. "I know he is already there [in Qatar].

"Don't forget, we are talking about a special situation from this club, the financial fair play rules have to manage everything in the best way we can."

Everton have been operating under tight financial constraints this season, with four of the five arrivals under Benitez coming on free transfers, while Demarai Gray cost a reported £1.7million from Bayer Leverkusen.

Bukayo Saka only turned 20 earlier this month but he is a player on the rise.

The Arsenal forward was part of England's side that reached the Euro 2020 final in July.

Saka has put in plenty of eye-catching displays for the Gunners too.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS AND ATLETICO KEEN ON SAKA

Calciomercato claims that Juventus and Atletico Madrid  are both monitoring Arsenal's England international forward Bukayo Saka .

The Gunners are believed to want £43million (€50m) to sell the 20-year-old, who signed a four-year deal in July last year.

Saka has become a key player at Arsenal, making 32 Premier League appearances last term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Everton's Colombia international James Rodriguez has reached a verbal agreement to join Qatari club Al Rayyan according to Argentine journalist Cesar Luis Merlo. Rodriguez has not played yet this season and almost joined Porto in the off-season.

- Inter are homing in on a move to sign Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek reports Calciomercato. The 24-year-old Dutchman has had a tough time at Old Trafford since joining United for £35m from Ajax in 2020.

- Calciomercato also claims that Jose Mourinho wants to lure Manchester United right-back Diogo Dalot to Roma . The Argentine spent last season on loan with Milan.

- Andreas Christensen is set to sign a new deal with Chelsea worth £120,000-per-week claims The Sun.

Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners over Crystal Palace on Saturday, to take their place at the top of the Premier League.

Title rivals Manchester City could only draw at home to Southampton, but Manchester United and Chelsea subsequently joined Liverpool on 13 points.

Here are some of the more curious facts from across the Premier League weekend.


Premier League first for Reds trio

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita scored Liverpool's goals in their win over Palace at Anfield.

It is the first time in the Premier League that a game has ended 3-0, with all three goals being scored by African players.

Mane opened the scoring with his 100th goal for Liverpool. The Senegal forward has now scored in each of his last nine league appearances against Palace, making him the first player in Premier League history to score in nine straight matches against a single side.

All three of Liverpool's goals came from corners. Not since City beat West Brom in March 2015 has a top-flight game ended 3-0 with all the goals coming from corners.

Dave saves... finally

There was late drama aplenty at London Stadium on Sunday as United joined Liverpool at the top of the table thanks to a 2-1 win over West Ham.

After Cristiano Ronaldo continued his fantastic start to his second United stint to drag the Red Devils level, Jesse Lingard came on to break West Ham hearts late in the game.

London Stadium is the 66th different stadium that Ronaldo has scored at in matches played in Europe's big five leagues, and he has scored at more unique venues than any other player since his United debut in 2003-04, ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (64).

Lingard, meanwhile, became the 47th player to score for and against West Ham in the Premier League. Excluding own goals, West Ham have had more players score for and against them than any other side in the league's history.

But it was David de Gea who proved to be United's hero, as he saved a last-gasp penalty from Mark Noble, who was brought on specifically by David Moyes to take the spot-kick.

De Gea's save ended a drought stretching back to April 23, 2016 of 40 spot-kicks faced without making a save for both club and country, in the process helping United claim a dramatic win at London Stadium. 

Of those penalties, 11 were scored by Villarreal players in May's Europa League final, with De Gea ultimately missing the decisive kick in the Red Devils' shoot-out defeat. 

The 30-year-old did keep out a Jordan Ayew penalty in last September's league meeting with Palace, but that was retaken and scored by Wilfried Zaha after De Gea was deemed to be off his line. 

Veteran Silva helps give Spurs the blues

Aged 36 years and 362 days, Thiago Silva became the second-oldest Chelsea player to score in the Premier League behind only Didier Drogba, who scored against Leicester City aged 37 years and 49 days in April 2015, when the Brazilian headed Thomas Tuchel's side ahead at Tottenham.

N'Golo Kante's deflected effort made it 2-0. The midfielder scored for the first time in 49 league appearances, having last found the net against Man City in November 2019. Three of his last four top-flight strikes have come from outside of the box.

Antonio Rudiger condemned Spurs to a second successive 3-0 defeat; they have lost consecutive Premier League matches by a 3+ goal margin for the first time since their opening two games of the 2011-12 campaign.

Harry Kane, meanwhile, cut a forlorn figure up top for Nuno Espirito Santo's side. He has failed to score in his first four Premier League appearances of a season for the first time since 2015-16, attempting just four shots so far.

Super-sub Bailey bursts Benitez's bubble

Everton's unbeaten start under Rafael Benitez came crashing to a halt as Leon Bailey starred with a blistering cameo in Aston Villa's 3-0 win.

Bailey came on from the bench and had an instant impact. With Matty Cash's first Premier League goal having put Villa ahead, the Jamaica forward whipped in a corner that Lucas Digne turned into his own net.

Digne has now scored three own goals in the Premier League, level with Younes Kaboul for the French player to have done so on the most occasions.

Villa were not finished there, however, and Bailey burst clear to lash home his first Premier League goal. Moments later, he went off with an apparent thigh injury, becoming only the second Villa player to come as a substitute, score, and then be substituted in a Premier League match, after Julian Joachim against Derby in September 2000.

Farke's losing streak rolls on, Toney at the top

Ivan Toney scored and assisted another as Brentford defeated Wolves 2-0 on Saturday.

Since the start of last season, Toney is the outright leading goalscorer in the top four tiers of English football (excluding play-off matches), with 33 strikes to his name.

Another promoted club, Norwich City, suffered their fifth defeat of the campaign. In total, the Canaries have now lost each of their last 15 Premier League games, meaning Daniel Farke is the manager with the longest losing run in top-flight history.

Mick McCarthy (14) was the last manager to go close to almost as long as Farke without a top-tier win, though that was back in 2005.

Arsenal continued to recover after a dreadful start to the season with a successful trip to Burnley, but Manchester City dropped points at home to Southampton. 

City's failure to find the net was a welcome boost for Liverpool, who cruised past Crystal Palace thanks in part to Sadio Mane making Premier League history with his 100th goal for the Reds. 

Brentford became the 14th promoted side to accrue eight or more points after five games, and the first since Wolves, as they recorded a 2-0 win at Molineux in the early kick-off, while Norwich City remain stuck without a point to their name after going down 3-1 at home to Watford. 

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at the key statistics from Saturday's most notable fixtures.

Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace: Mane registers century as Reds gain early ground in title race

Liverpool headed into the weekend on an eight-match winning run against Palace in the Premier League and they extended that further with yet another success over the Eagles - only against Bolton have they had a longer winning streak (10 between 2007-2011.). 

Unsurprisingly, Mane and Mohamed Salah were both on the scoresheet, with the former becoming the 18th player to score 100 goals in all competitions for the Reds. His first-half finish also means the Senegal forward is the first individual in the Premier League era to score in nine consecutive matches against the same opponent. 

Mane had Salah to thank for his opener and the Egypt forward brought up his 134th goal involvement - which is 24 more than any other player since his debut under Jurgen Klopp - with his second-half strike. 

Naby Keita added the other goal, Liverpool's 16th from a corner in the league – the most by any top-flight side since the start of last season (including all three against Palace). 

Manchester City 0-0 Southampton: Champions held to unlikely draw

It took until the 90th minute for City's one and only attempt on target through Phil Foden, making it their lowest tally in a top-flight game since March 8, 2017 against Stoke City. 

This was City's first Premier League draw in 31 games, dating back to December 2020 as Raheem Sterling became the ninth player – and second Englishman after Joe Hart – to bring up 200 appearances for Pep Guardiola's side in the competition. 

In James Ward-Prowse's 100th consecutive appearance in the division, Southampton will have been delighted to collect just a second point from their past 11 visits to the Etihad Stadium, with this a first clean sheet there since 2003. 

However, the Saints are now winless in seven league games, including drawing four in a row for the first time since March 2002. 

Burnley 0-1 Arsenal: Clarets continue torrid run against resurgent Gunners

'1-0 to the Arsenal' used to ring around Highbury and Mikel Arteta's current crop are following that lead, with this result making it consecutive 1-0 league wins for the first time since December 2014. 

Martin Odegaard's direct free-kick, the 40th scored by 17 different Arsenal players in the Premier League, proved the difference as Sean Dyche's side failed to beat Saturday's opponents for a 10th consecutive league meeting. 

The Clarets attempted shots through 11 different players – only against Wolves in 2010 have they had more (12) - but still failed to avoid reaching 13 league games without a win at Turf Moor. 

Aaron Ramsdale maintained his run of clean sheets with a third in a row in his first three appearances for the Gunners, making him the first Arsenal goalkeeper to do so since Wojciech Szczesny in 2009-10.

Aston Villa 3-0 Everton: Substitute Bailey shines as Begovic struggles

Leon Bailey appeared as a second-half substitute, scored and was then brought off 21 minutes after his introduction as Aston Villa downed Everton, in the process extending their Villa Park unbeaten run in the league to five games – their longest such run since January 2015. 

Matthew Cash was also on target for a first goal in his 33rd Premier League appearance, while Lucas Digne netted his third own goal, the most of any player since his arrival at Everton ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. 

All three goals games came after half-time as Villa recorded their biggest win over the Toffees in all competitions since 2005. 

Asmir Begovic was granted his first Premier League appearance in 896 days but the goalkeeper has now conceded 22 goals in seven appearances since his last clean sheet. 

Jamaica international, Leon Bailey, insists he feels at home at new club Aston Villa after an impressive cameo against Everton on Saturday.

Since joining the Clarets from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the transfer window, Bailey has been used sparingly in the team’s line-up and is yet to start a match.  Against Everton, however, he gave fans a hint of what could be in store for this season with a match-changing introduction.

Bailey entered the pitch in the 61st minute and had almost an immediate impact on proceedings.  After Matty Cash’s thunderous shot put the hosts ahead in the 66th minute, Bailey’s viciously swung corner was headed into the back of his own net by Lucas Digne.

The Jamaican then got his first goal for Villa in fine style after sprinting on from the halfway line to a long ball provided by Danny Ings and crashing his shot into the net past a stranded Everton keeper Asmir Begović.  Things, however, ended on a worrying note for Bailey who had to be substituted in the 82nd minute after going down with an injury.  The change was later revealed to be more of a precaution.

“To have the fans chanting my name when I was going on, it was such an amazing feeling.  Words can’t even explain.  The fans were great tonight, it was perfect for me to get the goal for them tonight.  I feel welcome as a Villa player,” Bailey said following the match.

“I was just excited to get on the pitch, and I delivered, it was a perfect night,” he added.

As for the injury, the player did not think it was that serious.

“It might have been from hitting the ball, maybe I hit it too hard.  I just felt a little stiff in my quad, but I don’t think it’s anything serious.  So instead of risking it, I just decided to come out instead of risking it.  We have a lot of games coming up.”

The Premier League table already looks to be taking shape, with a thrilling title race potentially in store.

And fantasy leagues are no different, with the best players quickly racking up early-season points to pull clear.

Want to avoid being left behind? Why not take a look at our Opta-powered picks for matchday five...

 

ALISSON (Liverpool v Crystal Palace)

Liverpool have started the season in fine form and Alisson has been central to their defensive solidarity, which has seen them keep three clean sheets in four games.

Since the start of last season, only Hugo Lloris (7.7) has prevented more goals than the Brazil goalkeeper (6.2) according to expected goals on target data, while only two can boast a better save percentage than his 74.2.

Crystal Palace may have cruised past Tottenham last time out but beating Alisson will provide a different challenge and the Liverpool man could be a guarantee for much-needed clean sheet points.

JAMES TARKOWSKI (Burnley v Arsenal)

Burnley are winless this term, but James Tarkowski remains a wonderful bargain option for your shaky backline.

While the Clarets may concede against Arsenal, Tarkowski offers returns at the other end of the pitch and boasts the highest xG (4.3) among Premier League defenders since the start of last term.

Only the more expensive Andrew Robertson, Joao Cancelo and Trent-Alexander Arnold have had more touches in the opposition box in that time period, too, meaning the centre-back could prove an alternate option on matchday five.

VIRGIL VAN DIJK (Liverpool v Crystal Palace)

From one end of the budget to the other, Virgil van Dijk may set you back but he has been the Premier League's most dangerous defender so far.

The centre-back has produced nine shots, with only Cancelo (13) and Alexander-Arnold (11) managing more opposition-box touches among defenders than Van Dijk's 11.

Given Liverpool look likely a good bet for a clean sheet as well – conceding only five goals in eight straight wins against Palace – Van Dijk could provide a perfect double threat despite the off-putting outlay for the Netherlands captain.

ABDOULAYE DOUCOURE (Aston Villa v  Everton)

Abdoulaye Doucoure may not be your typical fantasy midfielder in the ilk of Mohamed Salah, Bruno Fernandes or Paul Pogba.

However, the Everton midfielder is in fine form and provides a wonderful budget option, having been involved in four goals in his past four games in the competition for the Toffees.

Aston Villa have managed just two shutouts in their past 16, too, so Doucoure's box-to-box prowess could cause carnage once more at Villa Park.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Burnley v  Arsenal)

Some fantasy players may have given up hope with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but he repaid the faith of those loyal to him with a goal against Norwich City last Saturday.

The Gabon forward, who many discounted after a poor last campaign, will be central to Mikel Arteta's revival and he has netted eight times in seven top-flight matches against Burnley.

Given Burnley have not kept a clean sheet in their past seven and Arsenal attempted 30 shots last time out, Aubameyang could provide more returns at Turf Moor.

SADIO MANE (Liverpool  v Crystal Palace)

Salah appears the obvious option as always for the visit of Crystal Palace; however, Sadio Mane offers an alternate differential at Anfield.

Liverpool have fired in 100 shots already this term – just the second side to register a century in their opening four Premier League games since 2003-04 – and Mane has accounted for 22 of those.

The Senegal star has also scored in each of his past eight against Palace, making him one of the best picks for matchday five.

DANNY INGS (Aston Villa v Everton)

Danny Ings has been a fantasy favourite from the start of the season but has not delivered as of yet with Aston Villa.

That could change against Everton, however, as the Toffees are his favourite opponent having scored five top-flight goals against them.

The omens are in Ings' favour, too, given he has managed to score against Everton with all three of his previous Premier League clubs – could he make it a fourth with Villa?

Everton manager Rafael Benitez revealed Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be sidelined for more than two or three weeks after missing Monday's 3-1 win over Burnley with toe and quad injuries.

The 24-year-old England international had scored in Everton's opening three Premier League matches but was not part of the matchday squad against the Clarets.

Calvert-Lewin has been playing through injuries and Benitez revealed the full extent, stating he will be sidelined for several weeks to recover.

“It could be longer, he broke his toe, then was playing with an injection, with pain, it was not easy for him," Benitez said.

"He was not training with the rest of the team and that is the reason, I think, why he had the problem.

"For me, it will be longer than two or three weeks."

Everton's victory over Burnley lifted the Toffees up to fourth spot in the league, remaining one of only five unbeaten sides.

Benitez's side stormed back from 1-0 down in the second half with three goals in six minutes including a stunning long-distance strike from winger Andros Townsend who supplied the assist for Michael Keane's equalizer.

"The main thing in this team, everyone said we needed wingers," Benitez said.

“Today, Richarlison did a great job [up front] also and the two wingers helped the striker do better.

“When I decided Andros could be an important player for us, I was convinced. He is a professional and keen to learn and we have a group of players who want to improve."

Paul Pogba will be in demand when his contract expires after this season.

While several big clubs are in the mix, one has reportedly taken the lead.

The Santiago Bernabeu could be Pogba's next home.

 

TOP STORY - REAL MADRID WANT POGBA

Real Madrid are confident they can land Paul Pogba on a free transfer after this season, Mundo Deportivo reports. 

The interest apparently is mutual, as the report says Pogba would favour a move to Los Blancos over interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus

The deal might not be so easy to close if Manchester United decide to sell Pogba during the January window, but he remains a top target for Madrid either way.

 

ROUND-UP

- After failing to find a landing spot in Europe following his departure from Arsenal, veteran centre-back David Luiz will join Flamengo through the end of 2022, according to reports by Fabrizio Romano and Goal Brazil. 

- Alexandre Lacazette appears on the way out at Arsenal after the Gunners made a significant effort to sign Tammy Abraham during the transfer window, Romano reports. 

- Chelsea and Bayern Munich could pursue a swap deal that sends Timo Werner back to Germany and brings Leroy Sane back to the Premier League, according to Todo Fichajes.

- Everton will make another attempt to prise Ainsley Maitland-Niles from Arsenal during the January window, ESPN reports.

- Ajax defender Jurrien Timber is drawing interest from Chelsea and Tottenham, according to 90min. 

Rafael Benitez says James Rodriguez is working to adapt to Everton's new style of play despite a move away from Goodison Park failing to materialise.

James arrived as a marquee signing on a free transfer from Real Madrid in September 2020, with Carlo Ancelotti keen to reunite with the playmaker.

However, James was absent for much of Everton's run-in as the Toffees missed out on Europe, ultimately ending the season in 10th place.

With Ancelotti gone and Everton turning to Benitez – who did not seem to trust James during his short stint as Madrid boss – speculation mounted that he would leave Everton.

A part-exchange deal with Porto for James' compatriot Luis Diaz was worked on but did not come to fruition, though as late as this week Everton were still seemingly willing to let the 30-year-old leave, with Istanbul Basaksehir reportedly agreeing a loan move.

James elected to stay put, but Benitez warned he must now work hard to regain his place.

"He's training with the team. Obviously we have been talking about his future, we had some clubs interested. He still is here, he is training with the rest of the team-mates," Benitez said when asked if James could feature for the first time in 2021-22 when Everton host Burnley on Monday.

"I was not in the conversations, I know there was some clubs interested. If the offer was good, you know the financial fair play rules that we have with salaries and to bring players in so it was important for us to create some space with other players but we couldn't manage that.

"The team is doing well, the players understand what we want to do and he has to understand that. Then we have to bring the best from each player, in this case he has to adapt to the team and then we will try to get the best from everyone."

Difference maker?

Though injuries restricted him to 26 games in all competitions last season, James scored six goals and provided eight assists, creating 54 chances, placing him second in Everton's squad behind Gylfi Sigurdsson (60), who made 18 appearances more.

James led the way for Everton with chances created from open play (38) and when it came to crafting big chances (defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score). 

Per 90 minutes played, James created 0.56 big chances in the Premier League, putting him just below Jack Grealish and Bruno Fernandes (0.58), ranking sixth in the competition in that metric from players to play 20 or more matches.

Benitez's tenure at Everton has started with two wins and a draw in the league, as well as progression in the EFL Cup. Only West Ham and Manchester City (both 10) have scored more goals, while the Toffees' xG (expected goals) value of 5.34 is the fifth-best in the division.

On the face of it, having a player of James' undoubted quality to drop into the side could only improve matters.

"It was not easy because he was available in the transfer window. Now he has realised he has to focus and show his commitment and it's what he is trying to do and that is good news for us," Benitez added.

"It is good news for us because he can give us something more, we don’t have any doubt about his quality but we have to be sure that we have players playing 90 minutes with intensity and the quality that they have."

Completing games may well be the biggest challenge for James. He was substituted in 16 matches last season, more than any other Everton player.

Jamaica international Khadijah Shaw scored on debut for new club Manchester City who engineered a rousing start to the English FA Women’s Super League (WSL) with a 4-0 win over Everton.

The 24-year-old, who secured a move to the English League earlier this summer, did not take long to get on the scoresheet, as she found the back of the net in the 38th minute.

The prolific Jamaican striker smartly stuck the ball into the net from 6 yards away after being set up at the end of a sweeping counter-attacking move.  The goal put the team 3-0 ahead.  Earlier Vicky Losada had opened the scoring in the 26th minute, with Canadian international Janine Beckie doubling the lead in the 36th.

Club captain Steph Houghton then rubbed salt into the wounds of the Toffees with a goal in the 67th minute.

Shaw signed for City in June on a three-year deal after a two-year stint with French club Bordeaux where last season she finished as the league’s leading goalscorer.

 

 

Dani Olmo departed Barcelona's youth setup in 2014, moving to Croatian giants in Dinamo Zagreb.

Now playing for RB Leipzig, the 23-year-old continues to catch the eye.

Olmo is reportedly eyeing another chance at Barca.

 

TOP STORY – OLMO WANTS BARCA COMEBACK

RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo is hoping to return to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Olmo came through Barca's famed La Masia before joining Dinamo Zagreb's youth team in 2014 and eventually Bundesliga outfit Leipzig in 2020.

The 23-year-old Spain international, however, wants a new chance at Barca and has reportedly set yes to a Camp Nou comeback without looking at contract terms.

 

ROUND-UP

- Everton are hopeful of launching a bid to sign Edinson Cavani from Manchester United following Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford, per Todo Fichajes.

- Calciomercato says Inter are considering a move for Eintracht Frankfurt and Serbia winger Filip Kostic, who was poised to join Lazio on deadline day before a move fell through.

- The Sun says Wolves are set to make Adama Traore their highest earner amid interest from Tottenham and Liverpool.

Chelsea could target Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly in January, reports Football London. The Senegal star has previously been linked with Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barca and others.

- Le10 Sport claims Paris Saint-Germain never made an offer for Ronaldo, who left Juventus for United.

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