Manchester City ran out comfortable 4-1 winners over hosts Swindon Town in Friday's FA Cup third-round clash.

City, under the guidance of assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell after Pep Guardiola contracted COVID-19, never looked in danger of suffering a first FA Cup defeat to a side from the fourth tier or lower since 1984.

The visitors were cruising by the half-hour mark, with Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus getting the goals.

Ilkay Gundogan buried a fine free-kick with just under an hour played to put the game beyond doubt, before Harry McKirdy got a consolation.

Cole Palmer's gorgeous late strike finished the League Two side off and capped a great performance late on.

Swindon were lucky to hold out for 14 minutes, but Silva – who had previously wasted two great chances – was never going to miss when the excellent Palmer presented him with a tap-in.

City then pounced on Louis Reed's questionable flick just outside his own area as Swindon attempted to play out from the back, with Kevin De Bruyne feeding Jesus into the box for a simple finish.

The contest was over – if it wasn't already – in the 59th minute as Gundogan cleverly curled his free-kick around the wall and into the bottom-right corner.

The Swindon goalkeeper's wall positioning may have played a part, though Lewis Ward went some way to making amends when saving Jesus' penalty after Jordan Lyden fouled the Brazilian.

City could not keep a clean sheet, with Jonny Williams capitalising on Rodri's error and playing McKirdy into the area to finish past the suspect Zack Steffen.

But the away side had the last laugh, Palmer planting an exceptional finish into the top-left corner.

 

Santa's been! Santa's been! Santa's been!

Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year and we're all awfully excited that the big man has been.

But we're even more excited by the familiarity of a hectic Premier League schedule over the next few days!

We appreciate you may be about to tuck into your dinner or snoozing after over-indulging already, but why not digest some tasty Christmas Premier League facts before cracking on with the next beer?

Wondering where you might enjoy such a gem? Well, we have you covered below, with the help of the happy little elves at Opta.

A CRUZ FOR SANTA IN DECEMBER

We ho ho hope you don't mind a little Christmas gag to headline this section to get us cracking…

It seemed only fitting to start with a bit of a coincidence that a man with a festive theme in his name is responsible for the best minutes-per-goal ratio during the month of December (a minimum of six goals).

That man is ex-Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz, who netted nine times in 846 minutes for a ratio of 94 minutes per goal.

Just like Rudolph and the rest of the gang at the end of a busy Christmas Eve shift, Santa Cruz can still be reined in.

Divock Origi has eight December goals in 760 minutes for a goal every 95 minutes (just better than Mick Quinn's eight in 779 for a ratio of one every 97.4 mins). Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah has scored a mightily impressive 23 goals in December, with a minutes-to-goals ratio of 102.1.

MAYNOR THE KING OF THE CHRISTMAS CRACKERS?

Paper hats, Christmas jokes and cheaply assembled plastic toys…you all love pulling a cracker at Christmas!

And there have been many crackers scored in the month of December in the Premier League – not least Maynor Figueroa's 60.5-yard effort for Wigan Athletic against Stoke City back in 2009, which remains the longest of long-range goals in the competition during the final month of the calendar year.

The full-back's quick thinking with a free-kick from his own half caught Thomas Sorensen off guard and nestled in the back of the goal.

Former Portsmouth man Matt Taylor had a penchant for a long-range goal and his famous audacious volley against Everton in 2006 measured in at 40.6 yards.

Juan Mata (39.9 yards for Man Utd v Stoke), Sebastian Larsson (39.4 yards for Birmingham City versus Wigan) and Kevin De Bruyne (38.3 yards for Manchester City v Crystal Palace) all rank in the top five.

LLORIS AND THE KEEPERS GIFTING OUT THE GOODS

Christmas, at least under normal circumstances, is a time for spending time with loved ones and eating copious amounts of foods that aren't particularly good for us.

It is also, of course, if we're being honest, a time to exchange tat by the Christmas tree and say a silent prayer the generous buyer has kept the receipts.

Obviously, in football you're not supposed to be generous with your gifts – but Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been particularly forthcoming with presents for opposition teams at this time of year.

The France World Cup winner has committed seven errors in the month of December, a Premier League high and one more than Red Devils number one David de Gea.

SANTA'S NOT THE ONLY LAPLAND VISITOR

Santa makes his annual jolly around the globe to deliver presents to all the good boys and girls but back in 2001 there was another who heralded from Lapland to visit England.

Finland international Hannu Tihinen arrived on loan at West Ham from Norwegian side Viking and fittingly made his Premier League debut on Boxing Day!

In total he made only eight Premier League appearances, winning just once in England's top flight.

Perhaps the difference in quality was just – ahem – poles apart for Tihinen, who was nonetheless part of the side that memorably defeated Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup early in 2002.

RED DEVILS TOP OF THE TREE

The old cliche is that it means nothing to be top at Christmas…but for the sake of the jokes in this piece it's very important to be top of the tree come December 25!

Manchester United have sat in such a position on seven occasions, more than any other team, but Liverpool – six times – are the only side to hold top spot three seasons running having done so in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

In total, 11 sides have managed to be top at Christmas – Chelsea (5), Manchester City (3) and Arsenal (2) unsurprisingly also doing so. Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United (2), Aston Villa, Leeds United and Leicester City have also achieved the honour.

There have been 15 instances of a team being in first place on December 25 and jingling all the way to the Premier League title, but nothing can be wrapped up this early in the season.

SNOW-BODY DOES IT BETTER THAN SHEARER OVER CHRISTMAS

For a man with 260 Premier League goals to his name, it should come as no surprise to hear that the player with the most goals scored in the period from December 26 to January 5 is Alan Shearer.

The Newcastle United great netted 23 times between those dates, five more than the 18 celebrated by former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler.

Dimitar Berbatov and Jermain Defoe each have 17, the same amount as Tottenham star Harry Kane, who has Shearer's record in his sights.

JESUS RISES TO THE OCCASION

Christmas for many is mainly a secular celebration nowadays but the traditional meaning of the holiday season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

In the Premier League, there have been six occasions of a player with Jesus in their name scoring a December goal – five of which were from Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus.

The other was netted by former City winger Jesus Navas, who fittingly at this time of year often delivered for others – producing six December assists and amassing 74 crosses from open play.

Premier League games are coming thick and fast, with European competition now on hiatus until the New Year.

The next few weeks provide fantasy football managers with a great opportunity to quickly rack up the points, but smart selections will be more important than at any other point of the season as rotation takes place amid the congested schedule.

In our latest batch of picks, Manchester City and Chelsea are particularly well represented, while a Manchester United talent will be hoping to kick-start his campaign.

Squeezing all of these into your team might be a little costly, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest they will reward you handsomely.

EDERSON (Manchester City v Wolves)

Brazil international Ederson is usually a pretty safe bet between the posts in fantasy football – you could argue this weekend makes him an even more interesting option.

For starters, no one has more than his 26 Premier League clean sheets since the start of last season, and then there's the form of visitors Wolves.

Bruno Lage's men have scored just once in their past five league games, the fewest in the division. Is that clean sheet number 27 incoming?

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City v Wolves)

For the reasons mentioned above and also the fact Wolves' 12 Premier League goals this term are the second-fewest after Norwich City, you might be inclined to get as many City defenders in your team as possible.

If that is your tactic, Joao Cancelo should be your first pick given he also offers a threat going forward. Granted, he's not scored yet this season, but the statistics would suggest it's only a matter of time.

Based on the quality of chances that have gone his way, Cancelo's 1.88 expected goals (xG) is the third-highest among players not to score in 2021-22 – he's also had the most shots (33) of all the goalless players. Surely his luck will turn soon?

REECE JAMES (Chelsea v Leeds United)

If we're honest, you should probably have Reece James in your team already given how good he's been this season – but if you've not got him, consider this your final warning.

The England international is thriving in Thomas Tuchel's wing-back-friendly system, boasting comfortably the most goal involvements per 90 minutes (0.98) among Premier League defenders. Ben Chilwell is second with 0.67.

He's creating 2.47 chances per 90 minutes, a figure only bettered by Kostas Tsimikas and Trent Alexander-Arnold, while he's level with Chilwell for the most touches in the opposition's penalty area (4.33).

MARCUS RASHFORD (Norwich City v Manchester United)

It's been a slow start to the season for Marcus Rashford, who missed the first few weeks due to injury and has subsequently struggled to build up sharpness.

But if there's any opposition he'd back himself to impress against, Norwich would be the one.

In 149 minutes played against the Canaries, Rashford has four goal involvements (three scored, one assisted) – that works out at one every 37 minutes.

Only against Sunderland, whom he's played only 26 minutes against, does Rashford have a better record.

MASON MOUNT (Chelsea v Leeds United)

A curious quirk of Tuchel's time at Chelsea has been the lack of goals scored by recognised strikers, but that's translated into a healthy spread across the squad.

Mason Mount is Chelsea's top scorer in the league since Tuchel took charge, his nine efforts three more than anyone else. Similarly, his six assists also represent a club-high.

Mount's recent purple patch has undoubtedly played a role in that, with the England international both scoring and assisting in three of his past four top-flight starts.

GABRIEL JESUS (Manchester City v Wolves)

He may not have been expecting to play such a regular role for City this term, but Gabriel Jesus has been quietly effective out on the right flank.

Jesus will be keen to build on his fine record in clashes with Wolves, too, having scored in all of his three previous league starts against the Molineux club.

That equates to a total of five goals – only against Everton (eight) has Jesus scored more, although he's played 256 more minutes in meetings with the Toffees.

JOSHUA KING (Brentford v Watford)

If Watford are going to avoid the drop, Joshua King will have to play an important role. He's certainly shown signs of his quality this season, such as his hat-trick at former club Everton back in October.

That's contributed to him registering nine goal involvements in his past nine away starts in the Premier League.

Granted, that run does stretch back to 2020 and his time with Bournemouth, so it only counts for so much, but at the very least it suggests he can be an effective option when Watford's backs are against the wall.

International football is officially over for another year. *Pauses for cheers or jeers*

With the November international break done with, we turn our attention back to domestic football, with a hectic period set to begin in the Premier League.

More fantasy points will be available over the next seven weeks or so than at any other period in the season, such is the jammed nature of the schedule, and there's no better time to get ahead of the curve.

Stats Perform has delved into the Opta data to pick out seven picks for this week, hopefully giving you the edge...

EDOUARD MENDY (Leicester City v Chelsea)

Leicester City may represent a tricky opponent for any team, particularly given their good options going forward, but if anyone can keep them at bay, it's Mendy.

Not only has the Senegal international conceded the joint-fewest goals (four, excluding own goals, minimum of three appearances) in the Premier League, he also leads the way with 3.4 goals prevented, according to expected goals on target data.

In terms of form goalkeepers this season, Aaron Ramsdale runs him close, but Mendy is the outstanding candidate.

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City v Everton)

City's versatile Portuguese full-back enjoyed an exceptional 2020-21, but he seems to have stepped things up even further this term.

In 17 games in 2021-22 across all competitions, Cancelo has already reached seven goal involvements (two goals, five assists), just one fewer than his haul of eight in 43 outings last term.

He has been hugely influential at City, while it would also hardly be a surprise if they keep a clean sheet against an out-of-sorts Everton.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Liverpool v Arsenal)

Liverpool's right-back became something of a scapegoat – fairly or not, that's a discussion for another day – in 2020-21. It is safe to say his critics are rather quieter at the moment.

Only Bruno Fernandes (37) can better Alexander-Arnold's 30 chances created in the Premier League this term, while no defender has more than his four assists.

A resurgent Arsenal could cause Liverpool issues, so a clean sheet is no guarantee, but there is no defender more likely to nab you an assist or two.

CONOR GALLAGHER (Burnley v Crystal Palace)

On-loan Chelsea youngster Gallagher has been a revelation for Palace this season, with his all-action style proving a great addition to Patrick Vieira's team.

He has also provided plenty of quality in the final third, having a hand in a team-high six goals (four goals, two assists).

Gallagher has already beaten his combined tally (two goals, two assists) from 2020-21 when he was on loan at West Brom, and he won his first England cap against San Marino earlier this week.

BRUNO FERNANDES (Watford v Manchester United)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have seemingly hobbled from 'crisis' to 'crisis' this season, and while Fernandes arguably has not been as impressive as last season, he is still essential to the Red Devils.

He leads the way with the most chances created (37) in the league this term, and that fits into his wider excellence ever since joining United, a period that has seen him supply the most assists (22) and craft the most goal-scoring opportunities (162) of anyone in the competition.

Additionally, only Mohamed Salah (55) has been involved in more goals than Fernandes (52) in the same period. Regardless of perceptions of his form, the Portugal star is a must-have, particularly given United will fancy their chances of bouncing back at Vicarage Road.

GABRIEL JESUS (Manchester City v Everton)

While he may not be playing in the striker role many might have expected before the season started, instead featuring largely as a right-sided winger, Jesus has made a strong start to 2021-22.

With the South American World Cup qualifiers not extended to a triple-header this month, Jesus is also less of a selection risk than he was after the international breaks in September and October.

But above all, he loves playing Everton. In eight Premier League games against them, Jesus has scored eight times, or roughly one every 69 minutes, and he will be aiming to give the Toffees plenty to chew on yet again this weekend.

SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Leeds United)

Among the players Antonio Conte will be hoping to get more out of after a slow start to the season, Son is surely near the top of the list.

Since the start of last season, no player has outperformed their expected goals (xG) tally by a greater margin than the South Korean (8.2), with 21 goals from 12.8 xG.

Obviously that can suggest a degree of unsustainable fortune on Son's part, but we all know he is an exceptional player capable of the extraordinary. Leeds are a side who let other teams play, and that might be just what the doctor ordered for Son and Spurs.

Brazil head coach Tite said the Selecao were interested in Xavi joining their coaching staff before the Barcelona great returned to Camp Nou as head coach.

Xavi has been tasked with restoring the fortunes of embattled LaLiga giants Barca following his appointment as Ronald Koeman's successor on Saturday.

The 41-year-old spent 17 trophy-laden seasons at Barcelona before moving to Al-Sadd in 2015, eventually taking charge four years later.

After returning to Catalonia, Xavi revealed he turned down the opportunity to join Tite's Brazil ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

As Brazil – six points clear atop the standings – prepare for Thursday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Colombia, Tite addressed the country's interest.

"I don't have too much information on Xavi to do a deeper analysis," Tite told reporters. "I know him from inside the pitch. And some information from the press that is superficial. I don't know him with the depth I have with my colleagues that I spend every day with. We have to be careful to talk about it.

"What I can say to you is that they talked to me about it. Rogerio Caboclo talked to me about that possibility. And he said that he would talk to Xavi. And I said yes because he could bring, as an assistant manager, the baggage of what he experienced inside the football field.

"Plus the experience he had outside it. As a captain, the conduct he had as a leader, and I could see it even from far away. He could bring his leadership, correction, knowledge, ideas.

"From that moment, what happened I don't know. Rogerio [Caboclo] told you about everything. But, yes, this was talked about. And right afterwards, they talked about Muricy [Ramalho]. And, yes, they talked about it. Yes, he was requested. And this is the second stage because Muricy is the one now."

Brazil are unbeaten through 11 World Cup qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022, though the focus has been on Gabriel Jesus leading into the Colombia clash.

Jesus has not scored for the Selecao since the 2019 Copa America final against Peru, but Tite backed the Manchester City forward.

"Gabriel is an attacker," Tite said. "He is either nine or seven. Either he is on the side, as a wing, aggressive. Or he is the one infiltrating. From the depth pass. He has both characteristics. He has this history in the national team.

"Go back in time. When I took over in the game against the Equator, he was that player, he did a sequel. Then, he played on the side with [Roberto] Firmino and [Philippe] Coutinho inside. We didn't have Neymar. He has this versatility. He is a player who has the physical and technical virtues to perform one or another function. Sometimes, scoring a goal is from the opportunities you have.

"It reminds me of Edmar, a player I used to play with. I always thought that there are phases that the ball hits, hits, and I score. And there are some moments when I am in the right place, I follow the move, but the ball doesn't come.  He will appear. In the last match, it appeared. And it had, in the great defences from the Uruguayan goalkeeper [Fernando] Muslera, two or three accurate finishes.

"That is what I want from an attacker. That is what the specific work has been given and what Gabriel Jesus can give."

This weekend could perhaps spell the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United tenure, and opponents Tottenham have a player capable of causing real damage.

Elsewhere, the form of Manchester City's sort-of-striker Gabriel Jesus and Newcastle United's possibly-only-striker Callum Wilson make them worthy considerations for your fantasy teams for this weekend.

There is also a more surprising pick from Southampton who could offer some real value.

Below are Stats Perform's weekly suggestions for fantasy football players, powered by Opta data...

 

AARON RAMSDALE (Leicester City v Arsenal)

It was a signing that did more to raise supporter eyebrows than excitement levels, but Aaron Ramsdale is beginning to prove his worth for Arsenal.

Having grasped the number-one spot with two gloved hands, the former Sheffield United man boasts a save percentage of 80, having kept out 16 of 20 shots on target faced.

Given only Edouard Mendy can do better among goalkeepers to play more than 90 minutes this season, Ramsdale has surely earned a shot in your side.

TINO LIVRAMENTO (Watford v Southampton)

Trent Alexander-Arnold is the only defender to create more chances in the Premier League this season (12) than Southampton's Tino Livramento (10).

Something of a revelation on the south coast, he could become just the third 18-year-old this century to start the first 10 games of a Premier League season after Micah Richards (2006-07) and Phil Jones (2010-11).

Since Watford have won just one of their past 13 league games with Southampton, Livramento seems worth a punt.

 

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Liverpool v Brighton and Hove Albion)

If you don't know by now that Trent Alexander-Arnold tends to get quite a lot of points for a defender, you've probably not been paying attention.

This season, the Liverpool star is ranked eighth in the Premier League for expected goal involvements (excluding penalties), while only Bruno Fernandes (34) has created more chances (25). And he's a right-back.

Alexander-Arnold might just be prime captain material for this weekend, particularly if you think the Reds can keep a clean sheet at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

DEMARAI GRAY (Wolves v Everton)

It's not all going swimmingly for Rafael Benitez at Everton, but Demarai Gray is looking like a real bargain, having joined for around £1.7million from Bayer Leverkusen.

With three goals and two assists in nine games this season, he has already matched his best tally for direct goal involvements in a single Premier League campaign.

He also happened to score the last time he played against Wolves, for Leicester City in January 2019.

 

SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Manchester United)

Of Son Heung-min's 17 Premier League goal involvements in 2021, 13 of them have come at home, a tally bettered only by Bruno Fernandes (15).

The Tottenham star has developed a knack for playing against Manchester United, too. After going eight games without a goal against the Red Devils, he scored three and set up another in their two meetings in 2020-21.

Could he be the man to spell the end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?

 

GABRIEL JESUS (Manchester City v Crystal Palace)

Gabriel Jesus has scored three and assisted six goals in his most recent nine league starts for Manchester City. His five assists in 2021-22 means he is already just two shy of the most he has ever managed in a single season.

Saturday's game with Crystal Palace will be a special occasion for City, as it will be Pep Guardiola's 200th Premier League game in charge (naturally, his 146 wins in his first 199 matches is a record).

It's hard to look beyond a comfortable City win: they have lost only once to Palace in 12 league meetings, while that 3-2 defeat in December 2018 was the only one of their past 50 matches to kick off at 15:00 local time on a Saturday that has ended in defeat.

CALLUM WILSON (Newcastle United v Chelsea)

Plenty of star names could be on the horizon for Newcastle United, but Callum Wilson has looked determined to prove he has a place in the new era at the club.

The striker has six goals in his past six league games, as many as he managed in his previous 21, and is hoping to score for the fourth match in a row for only the second time in the Premier League.

Newcastle might be up against it to beat Chelsea, but the Blues have so far conceded just three times which is almost eight fewer than their expected goals-against total of 10.7. At some stage, that will have to give...

Manchester City can solely rely on goals from their wingers and midfielders in the absence of a true number nine in the Premier League this season, according to former striker Paul Dickov.

City regained their domestic crown last term, finishing 12 points clear of second-placed Manchester United in the Premier League, while scoring 83 goals along the way, though just 13 of those came from recognised centre-forwards.

Gabriel Jesus scored nine goals, while Sergio Aguero – who has since joined Barcelona – contributed with just four having missed much of the campaign through injury.

Ilkay Gundogan top-scored with 13 goals in midfield, with winger Raheem Sterling notching 10 and Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez each netting on nine occasions as Ferran Torres added seven of his own.

Similarly this term, just two of City's 14 Premier League strikes have come courtesy of Brazil international Jesus – Torres has played in a forward role and scored twice but the Spaniard is not a true centre-forward.

Following Aguero's departure to Camp Nou, Tottenham striker Harry Kane was heavily linked with a move to City but a transfer did not materialise, while the likes of Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland have been linked.

Nevertheless, Scotsman Dickov is confident his former club have the credentials to cope without a main marksman once more.

"The answer at the minute is yes because we've seen that last season," Dickov, who spent two spells with City between 1996-2002 and 2006-2008, told Stats Perform. "I know Sergio Aguero was still at the club, but he missed the majority of it. 

"But Manchester City went on to win [the Premier League title] really quite easily playing without an actual number nine, and they've shown again this season that they can do it. 

"If Manchester City don't win the league this season, everybody's going to be saying it's because they've not got that number nine and the reliance has been on the midfielders and the false number nine to score the goals. But at the minute, you've got to say that they're not missing one.

"I think if Manchester City comes to January and they're still fighting for the top of league and still in the Champions League, people can say that Pep's been right again."

Dickov believes City's decision not to continue their pursuit of Kane demonstrates their own belief in the current quality of the squad.

"Knowing Manchester City as I do – as a club and as a board and how they do their transfers – they will identify players or a player and they will do what they can to get them," the 48-year-old added.

"They will not – especially over recent seasons – be held to ransom and pay over the odds. 

"I think when the new owners first came in, to get Manchester City onto a level they had to pay more money to get the players.

"But over the last few years, they now feel as though they don't have to. I think with the Harry Kane one, he was obviously the player that they wanted.

"If they didn't get him, they weren't going to settle for second best because they believe that the players within the squad – after what happened last season and the addition of Jack Grealish – were good enough to take them to the next level, and for them to retain the title this year."

Manchester City showed exactly why they are the reigning champions as they overcame previously unbeaten Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.  

As for neighbours Manchester United, they suffered a damaging 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, who were good value for the victory, while Liverpool were held to a 3-3 draw by Brentford, despite another record-breaking goal from Mohamed Salah. 

Elsewhere, Michail Antonio's fine start to the season continued as his late goal helped West Ham overcome Leeds United. 

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

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City: Jesus seals record-breaking victory for Guardiola

City bounced back from last weekend's surprise 0-0 draw with Southampton by ending Chelsea's unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign. 

Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal of the game, the Brazilian becoming the fifth player to score 20 or more match-winning goals for the club in the Premier League, after Sergio Aguero (48), Raheem Sterling (23), Yaya Toure (22) and David Silva (20). 

It was Jesus' 52nd Premier League goal, with City never losing a game in the competition in which he has scored in (P44 W42 D2) – extending the record for most games scored in without ever losing for a single side. 

The victory also allowed Pep Guardiola to set a new club record for most wins by a manager, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss moving past Les McDowall with a 221st victory. 

Chelsea, meanwhile, have lost their last two home Premier League games against the defending champions (also 0-2 vs Liverpool last season), after going unbeaten in each of the previous 13 such matches (W7 D6). 

Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa: Hause secures memorable win at Old Trafford

Manchester United suffered their first defeat of the Premier League season as Aston Villa sealed a first top-flight win over the Red Devils since December 2009. 

Kortney Hause grabbed the decisive goal in the 88th minute, the latest winner scored by an away team at Old Trafford in the Premier League since Patrick van Aanholt secured victory for Crystal Palace in the 93rd minute in August 2019. 

That goal meant United have now conceded in each of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, their longest top-flight run without a clean sheet on home soil since February 1972 (also eight games). 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side did have the chance to seal a point in stoppage time, but Bruno Fernandes blazed his spot-kick over the crossbar. That was only the Portugal international's second penalty miss in his 23 attempts for the club, the other coming against Newcastle United in the Premier League in October 2020. 

Brentford 3-3 Liverpool: Reds held by brilliant Bees

Premier League newcomers Brentford secured a memorable point against Jurgen Klopp's men in a pulsating match. 

The result marked the first time Liverpool had conceded three goals in a top-flight away game against a newly promoted side since January 2016 against Norwich City (a 5-4 win), while Brentford scored three goals in a top-flight game for the first time since January 1947 (4-1 against Wolves). 

Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal for the Reds, reaching that figure in 151 games – fewer than any other player in Liverpool's history. 

Indeed, only Alan Shearer for Blackburn (124 games), Harry Kane for Tottenham (138) and Sergio Aguero for Man City (147) have reached a century of Premier League goals for a single club in fewer appearances than Salah. 

Brentford have enjoyed an impressive start in the top tier, though. Their eight Premier League goals have been scored by seven different players – excluding own goals, only Chelsea (10) and Manchester City (nine) have had more different scorers in the competition this term. 

Leeds United 1-2 West Ham: Hosts suffer late Antonio hammer blow

David Moyes' side left it late to wrap up back-to-back wins at Elland Road for the first time in their history. 

Raphinha had put the hosts ahead early on with his fifth Premier League goal from outside the penalty area, the joint-most of any player since he made his debut in the competition in October 2020, tied with Son Heung-min. 

A Junior Firpo own goal pulled the Hammers level, before Antonio sealed all three points in the 90th minute. 

That goal meant Antonio became just the third player to score a 90th-minute winner against Leeds at Elland Road in the Premier League, after Nolberto Solano for Newcastle in December 2001 and Scott Parker for Charlton in December 2002. 

Pep Guardiola is proud to have set the record for the most ever wins as Manchester City manager with Saturday's 1-0 victory over Premier League title rivals Chelsea.

The Catalan coach clocked up his 221st win in all competitions since arriving at City in 2013, overtaking the record previously held by Les McDowall.

City's well-earned victory at Stamford Bridge, secured courtesy of a deflected Gabriel Jesus strike, moves the reigning English champions level on points with Chelsea.

It snapped a three-game losing run for Guardiola against Chelsea, each of those with Thomas Tuchel in charge of the Blues, including May's Champions League final in Porto.

Guardiola's men dominated possession (60 per cent) and outshot their opponents 15 to five, leaving the ex-Barcelona boss to reflect on an impressive triumph for his side.

"The guys were outstanding today," he told BT Sport. "At this stadium, against this opponent, to do what we did makes me so proud.

"We came here and played our game. Sometimes you can't do it because the opponent is better. We were encouraged to press high and they could not make the build-up.

"Setting the win record makes me proud. We've done it at Stamford Bridge, against the Champions League winners. 

"We've been magnificent together. It makes me proud, not just for myself but especially for the club."

Jesus proved the hero for City in west London with a shot on the turn that deflected off Jorginho and wrong-footed Edouard Mendy, who starred with a couple of fine saves later in the match.

The Brazil striker has three goals and four assists in his last seven Premier League starts and has never been on the losing side when netting in the competition, a run spanning 44 games.

"Gabriel always gives us everything," Guardiola said. "You cannot say anything more about him. Every single game he runs for his team-mates.

"Having players like him in our team makes me so happy."

Jesus became the fifth player to score 20 or more match-winning goals in the Premier League for City, following in the steps of Sergio Aguero (48), Raheem Sterling (23), Yaya Toure (22) and David Silva (20). 

"I turned well and I was able to shoot," he told BT Sport when asked about his latest match-clinching strike against Chelsea.

"I was a bit lucky but I'm very happy to score that goal. The most important thing is that everyone played so well.

"We were against one of the best teams in Europe. They play so good and have a lot of amazing players. We knew it was going to be difficult for us. We played very well and won the game.

"Sometimes we don't play well, but if we suffer a little bit we can attack. We have a lot of top players to create chances and try to score goals."

Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal as Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to move level on points with their Premier League title rivals.

City lost three times to Chelsea in the space of six weeks at the end of last season, including in the Champions League final, but Pep Guardiola finally got the better of Thomas Tuchel in Saturday's contest.

After dominating the first half without managing to test returning Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, the visitors opened the scoring eight minutes after the restart through a heavily deflected Jesus shot.

That sparked the game into life as City missed two big chances and Romelu Lukaku had a goal ruled out, though Jesus' strike proved to be the difference as top-flight champions City inflicted a first defeat of the season on European champions Chelsea.

Tuchel shifted from his usual 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 to accommodate Timo Werner and Lukaku up top for the first time and Chelsea struggled to get going.

All City had to show for their dominance of possession in a quiet first half, though, was a sliced Jesus shot at the back post after being found by Phil Foden.

Guardiola's side picked up from where they left off in the second half and opened the scoring with the game's first attempt on target.

Joao Cancelo's long-range effort hit Jesus and the Brazil striker took over with a shot on the turn that flicked off Jorginho on its way past a wrong-footed Mendy.

Mendy pulled off a fine low save to help Jack Grealish's shot past the post and substitute Thiago Silva blocked Jesus' drive on the line as City pressed for a second.

Those missed chances almost came back to haunt City when Lukaku tapped the ball into the net at the other end, but Kai Havertz was offside in the build-up and it was ruled out.

Chelsea desperately went in search of a leveller, yet the best of the remaining opportunities fell to City's Grealish, the midfielder again denied by Mendy when through on goal.

Brazil have summoned eight Premier League players for October's World Cup qualifiers – and former Middlesbrough star Juninho is hopeful a deal will be struck to avoid more quarantine chaos.

Coach Tite called nine English-based stars for the last batch of internationals at the start of September, but none travelled, with top-flight English clubs refusing to release a number of players travelling to countries on the United Kingdom's travel red list.

Anyone returning from those countries would have been required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, regardless of vaccination status, which was an unacceptable situation for the clubs.

There are hopes that a deal can be struck to allow footballers to travel in bubble conditions, with Juninho pointing to talks involving the Premier League, world football's governing body FIFA and British government officials.

At one point last month it appeared the players who did not join their national teams could be obligated to miss club games, effectively as a punishment, but that threat eventually receded.

Some Premier League players did travel to their national teams, however, and Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, plus Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez, joined up with Argentina. They were then at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to stop the Selecao's game against Argentina proceeding.

Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

The English-based contingent selected by Brazil for October's games includes captain Thiago Silva, goalkeepers Alisson and Ederson, Fred, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino. Everton's Richarlison misses out due to a knee injury, but Leeds United's Raphinha and Tottenham's Emerson Royal are in the squad.

Juninho, now a co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, said the players were selected this time because of the belief a solution could be found.

"There have been several meetings with FIFA, the Premier League and the British government," Juninho said, quoted on Brazilian sport website Lance.

"We trust that next week there will be a resolution on these cases."

Brazil travel to play Venezuela on October 7 and Colombia three days later, before a home clash in Manaus against Uruguay on October 14.

The players are due to assemble in Bogota, Colombia, on October 4. Brazil's eight wins from eight have put them firmly at the front of the race to qualify for next year's finals in Qatar.

 

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Danilo (Juventus), Emerson Royal (Tottenham), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Gerson (Marseille), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Edenilson (Internacional); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Antony (Ajax), Raphinha (Leeds United), Gabi (Flamengo), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Harry Kane's attempt to leave Tottenham did not go according to plan before the transfer window closed.

Despite interest from Manchester City, Kane remains in London with Spurs.

Kane could be prepared to sign another contract at Tottenham…

 

TOP STORY – NEW DEAL FOR KANE?

Tottenham star Harry Kane is open to a contract extension if the offer includes a release clause, according to Eurosport.

Kane wanted to leave Tottenham in the off-season, but a move did not materialise, despite interest from Premier League champions Manchester City.

The England striker, though, could be willing to re-sign on one condition.

Paris Saint-Germain, JuventusReal Madrid and Barcelona have previously been linked with Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus could face competition from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for City forward Gabriel Jesus, reports Calciomercato. Juve are keen to bolster their attack following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit but face a battle should Robert Lewandowski leave Bayern. Lewandowski has been linked with the likes of City and Madrid.

- Fabrizio Romano claims United are planning to offer Luke Shaw a new contract at Old Trafford. However, United are prioritising new deals for Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.

Liverpool are among the contenders to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, says 90min. Haaland has been linked with United, City, Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Juve and PSG but 90min claims Liverpool have held talks with his agent Mino Raiola.

Central and South American players who were barred from travelling to World Cup qualifiers by their Premier League teams will be available this weekend after their countries backed down from a request to ban them under FIFA rules. 

Players from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay are cleared to play as their national federations agreed late Friday to waive a measure that would have compelled the players to sit out after their clubs refused to release them for international duty. 

Premier League teams last month decided to prevent players from nations on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 "red list" to participate in Qatar 2022 qualifiers, citing the UK's requirement that people who have travelled to those countries quarantine for 10 days upon their return. 

There had been some indications earlier Friday that the players might be available, but official word did not come down until shortly before midnight London time. 

Brazilians now available to their clubs Saturday include Ederson and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City, Chelsea's Thiago Silva and Manchester United's Fred. 

Among players from other nations involved, Wolves can use Mexico's Raul Jimenez on Saturday, while Newcastle will have Paraguay's Miguel Almiron available, and Watford can play Chile's Francisco Sierralta 

Liverpool will be most relieved, with Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino cleared to face Raphina and Leeds on Sunday. 

Earlier Friday, Jurgen Klopp said at a news conference that he hoped a solution could be reached for the benefit of all parties involved. 

"It is a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs, and the players especially," Klopp said. "We should not forget at this moment that the players wanted to play these games, the clubs wanted to let the players go but it was not possible."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hit out at the "crazy" decision from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to invoke a FIFA suspension for Ederson and Gabriel Jesus.

City duo Ederson and Jesus were – among the majority of other South American players in the Premier League – not released by their clubs for the recent round of World Cup qualifiers on the continent.

Premier League clubs unanimously agreed last month they would refuse to release players called up by nations that are on the British government's travel red list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

All of South America is on this list, and players would have had to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their arrival back in the United Kingdom, leaving them unavailable for at least two league games and next week's European fixtures.

Spurs trio Davinson Sanchez, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero nevertheless joined up with Colombia and Argentina respectively, while Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia also travelled, though the Argentine contingent agreed to return early.

However, Martinez, Lo Celso and Romero were at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo last weekend when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to detain the trio, as Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

Explaining his frustration and confusion, Guardiola pointed to this fact after Brazil invoked a FIFA ruling to prevent clubs from fielding the players they did not release.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Leicester City, Guardiola told a news conference on Friday: "Right now it still isn't clear, hopefully they can play, we will wait and see tomorrow if there is some good news. The club didn't inform me of anything. So we are going to wait and see if they can play or not.

"I don't understand the situation for the fact that I don't know what we can do. It's an honour for us that our players go and play for the countries where they are born. It's no problem at all.

"It's difficult to justify for me that the Argentina players who play in the Premier League, they go to Brazil and they were not allowed to play, and the Brazilian players who should have travelled to play this game would have been completely the same.

"So if they travelled there, they wouldn't have been able to play because of the quarantine there. If they do it so they [fly to Brazil] but cannot play in Brazil and after when they came back they could not play here for 10 days. And if they don't fly, then after they are suspended for five days because they were here. So it makes no sense.

"Argentina travelled with some players, the police were on the pitch, and they could not play the game because they didn't follow the protocol.

"So it would have happened with the Brazil players. And after the federation from Brazil asked FIFA to ban these players that cannot travel to play with them, but they could not play there, and now they could not play here? It's crazy."

With Zack Steffen isolating in the United States having tested positive for COVID-19, Guardiola will likely have to call on veteran goalkeeper Scott Carson to make just his second City appearance if Ederson is rendered unavailable – the former England international's only previous outing being in a 4-3 win over Newcastle United back in May, his first top-flight appearance in a decade.

Ferran Torres scored a hat-trick in that match and, after netting twice against Arsenal last time out, has now been involved in six goals in his last six league appearances. 

Jesus, playing on the right of City's front three, has also made a strong start to the season and would be a miss for Guardiola's team. Indeed, the forward has only scored more times against Everton (eight) in the Premier League than he has in meetings with Leicester (five).

Guardiola was at least able to offer positive news on the fitness of Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne.

"Yesterday Phil made the first training session, and Kevin was training alone and then with the players still here," he said. "They're feeling much better."

Manchester City inflicted more misery on former assistant Mikel Arteta and his 10-man Arsenal side with a resounding 5-0 win in Saturday's Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.

The Gunners were two goals down inside the opening 12 minutes through an Ilkay Gundogan header and Ferran Torres' strike, before losing Granit Xhaka to a straight red card for a reckless challenge.

Gabriel Jesus and Rodri added to City's goals tally either side of half-time and Torres rounded off the scoring in the closing stages with his second of the contest.

Arsenal have now lost their opening three league games without scoring and remain in the relegation zone, while City have recovered from their opening-game defeat to Tottenham with back-to-back wins without conceding.

After putting five unanswered goals past Norwich City last weekend, the hosts named an unchanged starting line-up in the league for the first time since October 2017 and soon picked up from where they left off.

Bernardo Silva and Jesus combined down the right and the latter sent a cross to the back post for Gundogan to head past Bernd Leno before the Arsenal goalkeeper could properly react.

That was the 10th time in a row City had opened the scoring against Arsenal in the league and they soon had a second goal thanks to Torres' simple finish after Silva's cross somehow made its way through to the unmarked Spaniard.

The goal was allowed to stand following a VAR check for a possible foul on Calum Chambers and Arteta, having also seen Kieran Tierney denied a penalty, had further reason to be annoyed when Xhaka was sent off for lunging in on Joao Cancelo.

Jesus tapped in a third goal for City shortly before half-time after being teed up by Jack Grealish at the end of a flowing move and Rodri sided-footed a fourth past Leno from further out eight minutes after the restart.

Substitute Raheem Sterling was twice denied by Leno after being introduced from the bench, but Torres – who had set up Rodri's strike - converted a Riyad Mahrez cross with a header in off the post to register a third successive 5-0 home win for City in the Premier League.

 

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