Everton boss Rafael Benitez has been dealt a major blow after star forward Richarlison was ruled out for several weeks with a torn calf.

The Brazil international was substituted after 58 minutes in the 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Sunday, with Benitez defending that decision by insisting his player was injured.

Now Everton have confirmed 24-year-old Richarlison faces a spell out of action, at a time when they already are without England frontman Dominic Calvert-Lewin due to a thigh injury.

Calvert-Lewin has been absent since August, with Everton hoping Richarlison's spell out of the team will be significantly shorter.

The club said in a medical update on Tuesday that Richarlison is "expected to be sidelined for a number of weeks", stating the former Watford player underwent a scan that revealed the muscle tear.

Richarlison, a strike partner of Neymar in Brazil's team, has three Premier League goals and two assists from 11 appearances this season. He had two goals disallowed in last week's 2-1 home win over Arsenal before getting the equaliser.

His creative influence as well as his goal threat will be missed by an Everton side who sit 14th in the Premier League, with Richarlison having created 13 chances for others so far in this campaign.

That includes four Opta-defined 'big chances', which is more than any other Everton player in the top flight this season.

Everton go to third-placed Chelsea on Thursday at the beginning of a busy two and a half week run that sees them also host Premier League clashes with Leicester City, Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion, and travel to Burnley.

Benitez is also set to be without ex-England winger Andros Townsend, who suffered a fracture in his foot against his former club Palace, while captain Seamus Coleman is recovering after suffering bone bruising and soft tissue damage in the painful loss at Selhurst Park.

One title race ended in controversial fashion this past weekend, but the Premier League's charge to the top is only just clicking into gear.

Lewis Hamilton will not be the only one left feeling harshly penalised after events over the last few days, after eight spot-kicks were awarded across the latest round of top-flight fixtures.

Chelsea were a major benefactor, as their win over Leeds United saw them keep pace with title rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.

Ralf Rangnick's Manchester United also scored from the spot in a win over Norwich City, while Conor Gallagher inspired Crystal Palace to a victory over Rafael Benitez's Everton.

Benitez's former club Newcastle United, meanwhile, suffered another damaging defeat in their quest to make it to the January transfer window with a fighting chance of staying up.

With all that and more, here are some of the weekend's quirky stats from the Premier League...

 

Penalties galore

The season of giving is approaching and it seems Premier League referees were more than willing to hand out goalscoring gifts.

Brentford beat Watford thanks to a last-gasp penalty on Friday, when the fun started. Bryan Mbeumo's resultant strike saw the Bees become the first team in Premier League history to have each of their first 10 home goals in the competition scored by different players.

Champions City then needed a spot-kick to defeat 10-man Wolves, with Raul Jimenez receiving his marching orders for blocking a free-kick from being taken, just 31 seconds after he had received his first booking. Raheem Sterling put it away, scoring his 100th goal in the Premier League. He is the 32nd player to reach that landmark in the top flight.

Chelsea's clash with Leeds really boosted the penalty numbers, with three awarded at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Rudiger became only the second Chelsea player to win two penalties in a single Premier League match, after Yuri Zhirkov against Aston Villa in March 2010. Jorginho put away both penalties to secure a 3-2 win, with Raphinha having put Leeds ahead from 12 yards.

Cristiano Ronaldo made no mistake at Carrow Road and Youri Tielemans was also on target for Leicester City in their demolition of Newcastle. Mohamed Salah converted a penalty he won in order for Liverpool to see off Aston Villa and club legend Steven Gerrard at Anfield.

Each penalty at Stamford Bridge resulted in a side taking the lead, a Premier League first, while Saturday was the first matchday to have three 1-0 wins all settled by spot-kicks.

Seven penalties awarded eitiher on Saturday and Sunday ranks second in Premier League history across a single weekend, after September 13-14 in 2003 (eight). Last season saw 125 spot-kicks given, the most ever in the competition, at a rate of 0.33 per game. The count for 2021-22 so far stands at 41.

Records set to go

Sterling's goal for City was the 499th scored in the Premier League under Pep Guardiola, in what was his 206th top-flight match in charge.

Guardiola is set be the Premier League manager to have seen his side score 500 goals in the fewest games, with Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp the current record-holder on 234.

Staying with City, they have already won 32 league games in 2021, one shy of Liverpool's top-tier record for a calendar year, set back in 1982. With four games remaining before the turn of the year, that is surely another record the champions are set to take.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are now on 1,999 top-flight victories, and will become the first team to reach the 2,000 milestone with their next success.

Benitez on thin ice?

It was always going to be a difficult task for Benitez to win over the Everton faithful. Given the chants directed his way by the travelling support at Palace on Sunday, he is as far away as he ever was from achieving that. A 3-1 defeat at Selhurst Park means Everton are on a run of one win in 10 league matches.

The wonderful Gallagher was their downfall, scoring twice either side of James Tomkins bundling home from a corner. The on-loan midfielder has now scored six goals and laid on three assists, contributing to nine of Palace's 22 league goals this season (41 per cent).

That ranks him eighth in the league when it comes to goal contributions for a side, and top among English players in the competition, and first for players aged 21 or under.

Everton have come from behind to claim 10 points this season, which already marks their best total since 2017-18 (14) and is the most in the competition this season, but based on the frustration directed Benitez's way, the former Liverpool boss might be in need of a Christmas miracle.

Howe's that defence staying up?

One place Benitez would certainly feel the love is St James' Park. Newcastle finally claimed their first win of the season by beating Burnley, but they were on the end of a 4-0 pasting at Leicester.

Newcastle's defence is the primary course for concern. They have already conceded 34 goals, the worst in the league. After 16 top-flight matches, they have conceded as many goals on eight other occasions, the last being in 1977-78.

Newcastle went down in that season, as they did in the 1960-61 campaign, but Eddie Howe might at least take some solace from the fact that the Magpies survived on the other six occasions.

Paul Pogba's club future continues to be a major topic of speculation.

The 28-year-old is into the final year of his Manchester United contract.

Pogba has flirted with the idea of an extension but has been stalling on a decision.

 

TOP STORY – REAL AND PSG HOME IN ON POGBA

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are both ready to ramp up the race to sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United, claims Marca.

Pogba is running down his United contract, meaning he will be a free agent in mid-2022.

Real and PSG will rekindle their interest after new United interim manager Ralf Rangnick said Pogba should not need to be convinced to stay.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United forward Edinson Cavani has offered his services to Juventus, according to Calciomercato. The Uruguayan veteran has also been linked with Barcelona.

- Barcelona are plotting moves for Chelsea's trio Cesar Azpilicueta, Christian Pulisic and Antonio Rudiger, reports Mundo Deportivo.

- Milan are circling to sign Liverpool's super-sub Divock Origi as they seek a long-term replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, claims Tuttomercato. Atalanta are also interested.

- Calciomercato reports that Roma are considering a move for Spezia midfielder Jiulio Maggiore. The 23-year-old is out of contract in 2023 and valued at €8m (£6.8m).

- Roma are also interested in a move for Norwich City's Max Aarons, according to Corriere dello Sport. Tottenham and Everton are also in the race.

- Lyon are interested in a move for Villarreal's Arnaut Danjuma, claims Todofichajes. Manchester United and Barcelona are also tracking the ex-Bournemouth winger.

Is a Leeds United midfielder ready to reject a switch to Old Trafford?

Typically, Manchester United are too big to turn down but Kalvin Phillips is believed to be willing to withstand their interest due to the rivalry between the two clubs.

The beneficiaries of such a decision? Liverpool apparently.

 

TOP STORY – PHILLIPS TO TURN DOWN MAN UTD

Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips will snub a move to Manchester United in favour of Premier League rivals Liverpool, according to The Sun.

Phillips has emerged as a target for Leeds' bitter rivals United, while Liverpool are also admirers of the England international.

Wary of the backlash a move to Old Trafford would cause among Leeds fans, Phillips is ready to reject United and join Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are plotting a move for Everton star Richarlison, claims Fichajes. The Brazil international scored against Arsenal on Monday, while he has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Borussia Dortmund have made direct contact with Salzburg star Karim Adeyemi. The Germany international is Dortmund's main target as clubs queue up to sign Erling Haaland, who is wanted by Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Chelsea, PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich.

- Tuttomercato says Franck Kessie could leave Milan on a free transfer. The soon-to-be free agent has been linked with Tottenham, Inter, PSG and United.

Fiorentina are poised to sign Lille star Jonathan Ikone, per Gianluca Di Marzio. The deal is reportedly not related to the future of wantaway forward Dusan Vlahovic – the Serbia international has been linked with City, United, Bayern, Inter, Juve, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta conceded the Gunners were not good enough as they suffered stoppage-time heartbreak against Everton in the Premier League.

Arteta's Arsenal suffered their third defeat in four Premier League matches after Demarai Gray's stunning individual effort saw the hosts snatch a dramatic 92nd-minute victory.

Martin Odegaard had given the visitors a half-time lead with his neat volley from Kieran Tierney's cross at Goodison Park.

Arsenal were made to rue their failure to convert their winning position, as Richarlison equalised before Gray completed the turnaround in the second minute of stoppage time.

Arteta felt his players were punished for their lack of game management after succumbing to three consecutive league defeats to Everton for the first time since 1986.

"In the first half, we were very inconsistent with the ball," Arteta told Sky Sports. "I didn't like it. [We had] no penetration; one of the few times we did it, we scored. 

"Second half, we tried to do more of those things, created four big chances, but conceded a very sloppy goal when you need to manage the game.

"I think the team tried to keep going, we kept pressing high. We lost a few important duels that put us some pressure."

"What I want is more from my team. Today, you have the game under control even though you're not playing your best, and you have to find a way to win it.

"It could have been very different, but we haven't managed to do it. When the opponent is there for the taking, you have to do it, and we haven't. It wasn't good enough."

Odegaard concurred with Arteta that seventh-placed Arsenal must significantly improve their performance levels.

Former Real Madrid midfielder Odegaard was one of Arsenal's better performers on Merseyside; registering game-high tallies of four key passes and three shots on goal.

Odegaard's goal was the ninth consecutively scored by Arsenal in the Premier League by a player aged 23 or younger, their longest such run in Premier League history.

He also became the youngest Norwegian (22 years, 354 days) to score in back-to-back Premier League appearances since John Arne Riise in August 2002 for Liverpool (21 years, 328 days).

"It's a hard one to take. I think in general, we were not at the level we needed to be at today," he said. "We had some good moments, but we have to do much better. We should have been better.

"It's hard to say exactly what happened. We have to do better when we have that lead. We stopped playing and gave them the game they wanted to play.

"I think it is [a mindset problem]. When you're leading 1-0, you get afraid to lose the win and, in my opinion, that's what we did wrong today. 

"You go for the second goal and that was the intention, but we didn't manage to do that on the pitch."

Arsenal have lost consecutive Premier League matches when scoring the first goal in each match, the first time they have done that since December 2016, with one of those defeats also a 2-1 loss against Everton at Goodison Park – the other was a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.

Demarai Gray's stoppage-time wonder goal saw Everton snatch a dramatic 2-1 victory over Arsenal and relieve the pressure on boss Rafael Benitez.

Martin Odegaard put the Gunners in front just before half-time at Goodison Park with a neat volley from Kieran Tierney's cross.

But despite twice being denied by VAR, Richarlison equalised with 10 minutes remaining, before Gray completed the turnaround with a stunning 25-yard effort in the second minute of stoppage time.

Now without a win in four Premier League visits to Goodison, Mikel Arteta’s side missed the chance to return to fifth place in the table.

Everton were unbeaten in their three previous home games against Arsenal in the Premier League and made a bright start to proceedings.

Top scorer Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure were off target, while Anthony Gordon had a shot blocked inside the box.

The hosts thought they had taken a 44th-minute lead when Richarlison headed in Andros Townsend's cross, but VAR denied them as the Brazil international strayed marginally offside.

The visitors capitalised in first-half stoppage time, Odegaard arriving late to neatly volley home Kieran Tierney's centre.

Odegaard almost turned provider eight minutes after the restart, the former Real Madrid midfielder’s cross finding Gabriel Magalhaes, whose header was saved by Jordan Pickford.

Everton and Richarlison were denied by VAR again four minutes later, the latter offside by a fraction once more as he received Doucoure's pass before slotting beyond Aaron Ramsdale.

But their persistence paid off 10 minutes from time, Richarlison reacting quickest to head home the rebound after Ramsdale had done brilliantly to turn Gray’s initial effort onto the crossbar.

Eddie Nketiah then squandered a glorious opportunity to snatch the points for Arsenal; the substitute somehow hitting the post with a close-range header.

It proved costly as Everton snatched all three points in the second minute of added time, Gray embarking on a strong run before bending a wonderful 25-yard strike in off the post.

Everton insisted manager Rafael Benitez retains their "full support" amid an ongoing slump, but director of football Marcel Brands has left the Premier League club.

Dutchman Brands joined Everton from Eredivisie outfit PSV in 2018 and signed a new three-year contract as recently as April.

Reports emerged on Sunday he had left his Goodison Park post and that was made official late in the evening, with Brands saying it was his choice to move on.

Brands departed due to differences in opinion over plans for the future of the club, with his views apparently not sufficiently aligned with those of others.

He said, quoted on Everton's website: "This decision has taken some time and some consideration and was one of the most difficult I have faced in my career.

"The board and I agreed that there is a clear difference in the vision and direction for this beautiful club and, with that in mind, the decision was taken."

Everton are mired in a dismal run of form under former Liverpool boss Benitez, taking one point from a possible 21 across their last seven games to slide out of the top half and down to 16th place.

In a statement, the club said: "Everton Football Club can confirm that Marcel Brands has left his post as director of football.

"Brands joined Everton from PSV Eindhoven in June 2018 and was appointed to the club's board in 2019. The owner and directors would like to thank Marcel for the service he has given to the club over the past three and a half years and wish him well for his future.

"A strategic review of the football structure will now take place which will inform the best model for the club to proceed with in the long-term.

"In the meantime, the owner and board of directors will continue to provide our manager, Rafa Benitez, with their full support."

Everton's owner is Farhad Moshiri, who elected to appoint Benitez after Carlo Ancelotti left the club at the end of last season to embark on a second spell as head coach of LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

A 4-1 defeat to Merseyside rivals Liverpool last Wednesday was Everton's last Premier League outing, with Benitez's team next in action on Monday when they face Arsenal at Goodison.

The appointment of Benitez in June was a controversial one given his past as a fans' favourite at Liverpool, and his renowned affection for the Reds. A positive start curried favour with some sceptics, but there has been a cooling in the support from many Everton supporters for the Spaniard and his team in recent weeks, with results in sharp decline.

Ralf Rangnick has been tasked with restoring the fortunes of struggling Premier League giants Manchester United.

His previous work at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga has sparked speculation regarding possible transfers.

That has led to talk regarding Amadou Haidara.

 

TOP STORY – HAIDARA WANTED AT OLD TRAFFORD

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick wants to make RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara his first signing, according to The Sun.

Rangnick has been appointed until the end of the season and talk of January incomings have already emerged.

The German brought Haidara to Leipzig during his time at the Bundesliga club and he is believed to be interested in reuniting with the 23-year-old star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Old Trafford and El Nacional reports United want Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, having rebuffed a proposal for Philippe Coutinho.

- Portuguese journalist Pedro Almeida claims Jose Mourinho's job as Roma head coach is in danger following another defeat, this time 3-0 to former club Inter in Serie A on Saturday. Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure amid just three wins in nine league games. Mourinho has also been linked with Everton as pressure mounts on Rafael Benitez.

Chelsea and Arsenal are both interested in Paris Saint-Germain forward Mauro Icardi, says Ekrem Konur. The Argentina international has been linked with Barca, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Juventus.

- According to The Sun, Ligue 1 giants PSG are lining up a bid for Wolves' left-back star Rayan Ait-Nouri.

- Widespread reports claim Leipzig are seriously considering the sacking of head coach Jesse Marsch, who only replaced Julian Nagelsmann at the start of the season. Leipzig have lost three consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time in their history.

Kylian Mbappe has had an extended flirtation with Real Madrid.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of this season.

Mbappe has stalled on signing a new deal with PSG amid speculation of a move.

TOP STORY – REAL CONVINCED OF MBAPPE DEAL

Real Madrid are convinced they will win the race for Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe's signature, according to AS.

Los Blancos are certain the 22-year-old France international will join the club on a free transfer at the end of this season.

Mbappe has long flirted with Madrid and has decided he will not renew with PSG. The LaLiga giants are already planning Mbappe's arrival at the sporting and commercial level.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City have joined the race to sign Fiorentina's hot property forward Dusan Vlahovic, claims La Repubblica.

- Barcelona have held discussions with Manchester City about the potential to sign Spanish forward Ferran Torres in January, according to ESPN.

- Fichajes reports that Liverpool are interested in signing Lille's Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches. Lille have valued him at £34m.

- Arsenal are homing in on Lille's Canada international forward Jonathan David, according to the London Evening Standard. David is currently Ligue 1's leading scorer.

- Calciomercato claims Christian Eriksen is close to terminating his deal with Inter, having been unable to play since his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

- Bayern Munich midfielder Marc Roca is in the sights of Roma who have considered a move for the Spaniard, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Chelsea have opened talks with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy over a new deal, claims Football Insider.

- Everton have joined the race to sign Zenit striker Sardar Azmoun, according to 90min.

Cashed-up Newcastle United are currently sitting last on the Premier League table, without a win with the season into December.

As a result, the Magpies are expected to be busy when the transfer window opens in January.

Newcastle are the only team yet to win a Premier League game this season.

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE TARGET ENGLISH SEXTET

The Telegraph claims that Newcastle United have six English players on their January shortlist, including Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, Tottenham's Harry Winks, Chelsea's Ross Barkley and Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier.

According to the report, the club will hand over a blank cheque to manager Eddie Howe to land players who can make an instant impact.

Newcastle's owners are confident they can act swiftly in January despite their ongoing search for a sporting director. Burnley's James Tarkowski and Liverpool's Nat Phillips are also on their radar.

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror reports that Arsenal are tracking Everton's England international forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a view to an end-of-season move, as Alexandre Lacazette's replacement.

- Manchester United's veteran Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani wants to join Barcelona next season claims The Times.

- Milan and Internazionale are both lining up bids for Manchester United's Brazilian full-back Alex Telles according to The Sun.

- The Sun claims that Chelsea loanee Saul Niguez is unhappy at the club and wants a switch in January after joining the Blues on loan from Atletico Madrid in August. However, Saul cannot join a third European club this season, complicating matters.

- Talks between Barcelona and Ousmane Dembele have failed to progress, putting in doubt his future at the club, reports Sport.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed two-goal hero Mohamed Salah and "unplayable" Sadio Mane after the Reds routed crosstown rivals Everton 4-1 in the derby.

Salah bagged a brace as Liverpool crushed Everton in the Premier League to earn Merseyside bragging rights at Goodison Park on Wednesday.

Jordan Henderson and Salah struck inside the opening 20 minutes and while Demarai Gray pulled a goal back for Everton prior to half-time, Liverpool were in complete control thanks to Salah's second and Diogo Jota.

Salah has scored 13 Premier League goals this season, nine of which have come away from home – it is more than double the number of any other player so far, while the Egyptian star is the first Liverpool player to register a goal or assist in seven consecutive away appearances in the competition.

Liverpool's Salah has been directly involved in at least one goal in each of his last 12 Premier League appearances (13 goals, seven assists), the third player to achieve that feat after Stan Collymore (12, March - August 1995) and Jamie Vardy (15, August - December 2015).

Salah, meanwhile, became the first Liverpool player to score twice away at Everton in the derby since Fernando Torres in September 2008.

Klopp praised Salah, Mane and Jota afterwards as third-placed Liverpool stayed within two points of leaders Chelsea.

"Not only him, but of course him as well," Klopp told reporters when asked about Salah. "Scoring these two goals, the first one was a pass from Hendo [Jordan Henderson] and the next one... he put [Seamus] Coleman under pressure.

"We saw a similar situation in the Chelsea – [Manchester] United game; even Jorginho, one of the best in the world, under pressure and a high ball is really tricky. He went and put that away, absolutely great.

"Diogo's [Jota] goal, outstanding. The performance of all of the boys was absolutely outstanding. I thought Sadio [Mane] was in moments unplayable as well, so it was just a good performance."

Liverpool scored four goals in an away league match against Everton for the first time since a 5-0 win in November 1982 under Bob Paisley.

Klopp's Liverpool have scored at least twice in each of their last 18 games in all competitions, the new longest record in history by an English top-flight side.

Liverpool captain Henderson, meanwhile, became the first Liverpool player to score and assist at Goodison Park in the same Premier League game since Steven Gerrard in December 2005.

"Hendo was good, but with his skillset you should be good," added Klopp. "When you can train, when you can play, when you get rhythm and then you have the quality of Hendo, then you will play good football games.

"Tonight, I think it was for him as well the best performance at Goodison. Obviously since I'm at Liverpool we had to learn these kind of games. We had to learn to play at Old Trafford, we had to learn to play at Goodison, and tonight we showed that we made a big step in our development and that's really good.

"It doesn't mean anything for the future but it shows us that this is now our benchmark, that's what we have to reach now in each game when we play these kind of teams, because emotions are important in football. We are a very emotional football team but, first and foremost, you need the right mood and mindset. Yes, emotion [is] good but not the only important thing."

The Everton fans who had bravely bothered to stick around until full-time of Wednesday's derby-day surrender to Liverpool made their voices heard in no uncertain times.

"Sack the board" was the chant aimed in the direction of the directors' boxes, with chairman Bill Kenwright and director of football Marcel Brands bearing the brunt of the ire from the disgruntled Toffees faithful.

Conversely, there were plenty of songs of support for Everton boss Rafa Benitez – the only issue being they were songs of joy from a buoyant Liverpool away end keen to serenade their legendary former manager as his present employers were ruthlessly dismantled 4-1 at Goodison Park.

The exodus of home fans began from 20 minutes, by which time Reds captain Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah had put Liverpool 2-0 in front – the latter and Joel Matip having already passed up golden opportunities.

Those who stayed were offered brief hope of a recovery when Demarai Gray halved the deficit before the break, but Salah and the brilliant Diogo Jota offered a brutal reminder of the chasm that exists between Merseyside's heavyweights.

Cliche lovers never fail to remind us that the form book goes out the window in derby matches. But that fabled window was slammed shut for an Everton side now winless in eight top-flight matches, with six of those ending in defeat.

What is so maddening for the Blue half of the city is the predictability of it all. Everton's present predicament is the result of muddied thinking, a raft of managerial changes, and a baffling approach in the transfer market that has resulted in a disjointed and dispirited squad.

Benitez has to take his share of the blame, of course. Attempting a 4-4-2 against Liverpool's attacking juggernaut, allowing Salah and the rest of the Reds' devasting cast the freedom of Goodison Park, is a decision that ranks among the very worst of his illustrious career.

But the Spaniard's hands have been tied to an extent. Limited funds in the transfer market, the loss of star striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin to injury, and colossally dense thinking in the boardroom have all played a part in the Toffees' increasingly sticky situation.

Benitez's appointment was met with widespread despair given his association to the Reds, which included leading Liverpool to that famous Champions League comeback in Istanbul in 2005.

What will rankle even more for a despairing fanbase is the fact Everton's worryingly rapid fall is coinciding with a time where everything at Liverpool from boardroom to dugout is so frighteningly in sync.

Picking a title winner from Chelsea, Manchester City or Liverpool right now is a tricky task, and for the neutral long may this thrilling race continue.

But make no mistake about it, Jurgen Klopp and his marauding troops look bang up for the battle of regaining a trophy wrested back in style by Pep Guardiola's City last term.

In Salah they have a player who many would agree is the best in the world on current form and he has now been directly involved in at least one goal in each of his last 12 Premier League appearances (11 goals, seven assists) – the third player to achieve that feat after Stan Collymore (12) and Jamie Vardy (15).

The Egyptian's sensational form is in keeping with Liverpool's relentless assaults on their opponents. In this game, the Reds broke the all-time record for consecutive games of scoring two or more goals (18), and the 25 away goals they have scored in their first seven on the road has only been bettered twice (Sunderland, 27 in 1892-93, Manchester United, 26 in 1907-08).

Moreover, the 43 goals in 14 games they have scored is not only their most at this stage of a league season since 1895-96 (48 goals), it is 10 more than anyone else has managed so far (Chelsea - 33). It is also the first time Liverpool have scored four at Goodison since the famous 4-4 in 1991, Kenny Dalglish's last game of his first spell in charge, and the first time in the league since Ian Rush scored four in a 5-0 win in November 1982.

It was just over 13 months ago that Liverpool departed Goodison Park with a 2-2 draw and the loss of influential centre-back Virgil van Dijk to a serious knee injury after being clattered by Jordan Pickford.

It began a raft of injuries, particularly in defence, that ultimately derailed their title defence. But Van Dijk and his team-mates were all smiles on a night when the gulf between the Reds and the Blues, both on and off the pitch, was laid bare in such a devastating manner in front of the watching world.

Jurgen Klopp labelled Liverpool's 4-1 win at city rivals Everton as their best performance at Goodison Park in recent years after the Reds earned Merseyside bragging rights.

Jordan Henderson opened the scoring before assisting Mohamed Salah's opener as he became the first Liverpool captain since 2005 to lay on an assist and get on the scoresheet in a Premier League game at Everton's ground.

Salah, who has been directly involved in at least one goal in each of his last 12 top-flight fixtures, then added a second as he became the first Red to register a brace away in the Merseyside derby since September 2008.

Diogo Jota struck in the second half to cap off another productive outing, with Demarai Gray's first-half strike that initially halved the deficit proving irrelevant in a fruitless performance by Rafael Benitez's Everton on Wednesday.

Klopp, who lost his last Premier League game 2-0 against Everton, praised Liverpool's display as he revelled in the away performance.

"It was a really good game from my team, a really mature performance, grown-up performance, much better than in years before, especially at Goodison," Klopp told Amazon Prime Video post-match.

"We were much too open when we gave away the goal but it can happen when you are superior. We should have been one or two-nil up before we scored the first goal.

"We scored the goals at 2-0 and maybe then we were not that ruthless, we gave them so life back. I am not seeking for perfection, if it would be easy I know everyone could do it. The boys did well."

The former Borussia Dortmund head coach also indicated Salah, who has now scored 13 times in the league this season to top the charts, was frustrated at not recording a hat-trick in a dominant display.

"He [Salah] was angry after the game!," he added. "He wanted to score the third one. I don't take these things for granted. 

"His second goal, you have to force these kinds of mistakes. Mo put Coleman under pressure to win that ball and from then on it is a good chance he will score.

"We have momentum but it was by far the best performance since I've been at Liverpool at Goodison. Before the game people told me that in derbies form or shape doesn't count, I see it totally different."

Liverpool are third in the Premier League standings, two points behind leaders Chelsea after 14 matches.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah said he has "no comment" to coming seventh in the Ballon d'Or voting as he laughed off finishing low down the list.

The Egypt international was considered among the favourites to come out on top at Monday's ceremony in Paris on the back of another impressive year for Liverpool.

However, Salah finished below Cristiano Ronaldo, N'Golo Kante, Karim Benzema, Jorginho, Robert Lewandowski and record-extending seven-time winner Lionel Messi.

After scoring twice in Liverpool's 4-1 win against Everton on Wednesday, Salah was asked by Amazon Prime how he felt about finishing seventh in the standings.

Salah shook his head while laughing and said: "I have no comment".

Prolific forward Salah doubled Liverpool's lead after Jordan Henderson had opened the scoring at Goodison Park, before Demarai Gray pulled one back for Everton.

Salah's second and a thumping Diogo Jota strike sealed a third win in a row for the Reds, who remain within one point of Manchester City and two behind leaders Chelsea.

It is the first time Liverpool have scored four goals away to Everton in the league since a 5-0 victory in November 1982 and Salah was pleased with the performance.

"It's a great result. To come here, play good football and win the game is something positive," he said.

"The scoreline is great. We also scored five against Manchester [United] – hopefully we can continue like that."

Salah, who is the first Liverpool player to score twice away at Everton in the league since Fernando Torres in 2008, added: "Hopefully there are many more goals to come.

"My first target is to win something at the club – the Premier League, the Champions League... hopefully both."

Salah has now scored 13 Premier League goals this season, nine of which have come away from home – more than double the number of any other player.

He is also the first Liverpool player to register a goal or assist in seven consecutive away appearances in the competition.

The 34 goals Salah has scored in all competitions this calendar year is a tally bettered only by Benzema (35), Kylian Mbappe (37), Erling Haaland (38) and Lewandowski (53) among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool thumped Merseyside rivals Everton 4-1 to make it three Premier League victories in a row and inflict further pressure on Toffees boss Rafael Benitez.

The Reds raced two goals in front inside 20 minutes in an away game against Everton for just the third time in the competition's history thanks to strikes from Jordan Henderson and Salah.

Demarai Gray pulled a goal back before half-time to improve the mood around the ground, which began emptying after the second of Liverpool's goals, but Salah gave Liverpool some breathing space with his second.

Diogo Jota blasted home a fourth to highlight the gulf between the clubs and add some gloss to a win that keeps Liverpool within one point of Manchester City and two behind leaders Chelsea, with both sides also victorious on Wednesday.

Salah twice went close and Joel Matip wasted a big chance as Liverpool made a fast start, but the visitors' pressure soon told as Henderson guided Andy Robertson's cutback past Jordan Pickford with a first-time shot.

That was Henderson's first Merseyside derby goal in his 18th appearance and he also set up Liverpool's second goal, the midfielder playing in Salah following a Ben Godfrey error for his team-mate to bend around Pickford from an angle.

Liverpool continued to dominate but were given something to think about when Gray took Richarlison's pass in his stride and slotted in Everton's first goal in a month with 38 minutes played.

That kept alive the prospect of a fifth successive league draw between the sides at Goodison, but Salah restored Liverpool's two-goal lead with another calm finish after Seamus Coleman failed to control a poor pass from Gray on halfway.

Jota brilliantly turned Allan and fired an unstoppable drive past Pickford to round off the scoring 11 minutes from time in a one-sided derby that will lead to more questions being asked of Liverpool legend Benitez.

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