Cristiano Ronaldo faces an uncertain Manchester United future, but he stands to pass a string of landmarks if he stays and plays for Erik ten Hag this season.

Tottenham's Harry Kane, set to captain England at the World Cup later in the year, is chasing a significant club landmark.

And guess who will join Mohamed Salah in bidding to set an opening-day career goals record.

Of course, it's......  Jamie Vardy.

As the new season gets under way on Friday, Stats Perform looks at the records and milestones coming into view.

KANE, RONALDO, HAALAND: TARGETS IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF THE BIG GUNS

What role Ronaldo has to play remains in the balance, given he appears keen to leave United for a second time.

But if the 37-year-old features for the Red Devils, he can begin to chase down landmarks. For starters, he is just four victories short of having had a hand in 150 United wins in the Premier League, having drawn 43 times and lost 37 while a member of the team across his two Old Trafford spells.

Ronaldo is a mere six goals away from becoming the first player to amass 500 goals in Europe's top five leagues. His record 494 goals to date have come from 616 league matches. On his heels, however, is perennial rival Lionel Messi, once of Barcelona and now at Paris Saint-Germain (480 goals in 546 league games).

Kane is 17 away from hitting the 200-goal mark in the Premier League, a total only ever achieved by Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208). Sergio Aguero (184) and Andy Cole (187), third and fourth on the Premier League era list, are poised to be knocked down a peg as Kane continues his assault on the league record.

Both Leicester City's Vardy and Liverpool's Salah will be looking to equal or break the Premier League matchday one goals record, which is currently held jointly by Shearer, Frank Lampard and Rooney (eight goals). Vardy and Salah have seven each, like the retired Teddy Sheringham and Aguero.

Manchester City new boy Erling Haaland has caused a sensation with his goalscoring wherever he has played, dazzling for Molde, Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund and Norway. He could become the seventh Norwegian to score on his Premier League debut, and the third to do so in the opening game of a season, after Tore Andre Flo for Chelsea in 1997-98 and Adama Diomande in 2016-17 with Hull City.

DESERVES A LONG SERVICE MEDAL

Liverpool's James Milner, fresh from signing a new one-year contract, is 12 short of reaching 600 Premier League games. Only three players have reached that mark to date: Gareth Barry (653), Ryan Giggs (632) and Lampard (609).

Milner made his Premier League debut for Leeds United as a 16-year-old in November 2002, so a 20-year anniversary is approaching for the former England midfielder.

David Moyes was already a Premier League manager by the time Milner made his first appearance. At Everton then, he has done the rounds since and is a mere two games away from completing 1,000 matches in all competitions as a manager in English football.

Now at West Ham, Moyes looks to be at the opposite end of his touchline career to Mikel Arteta, the Arsenal manager who is one away from bringing up his first 50 wins as a Premier League boss.

STICK AROUND LONG ENOUGH...

Only six teams have been constant members of the Premier League since its first year in 1992-93. Completing the first 30 seasons without suffering the indignity of relegation have been Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal. Sooner or later, all sorts of landmarks arrive for these league lynchpins.

Arsenal have lost 249 Premier League games and headed into Friday night's season opener against Crystal Palace under threat of becoming the 13th side to lose 250. They would have had the longest wait to lose 250, however, having already played four games more than Chelsea, who took the longest (1,148 games) of those to have reached the not-so-desirable milestone.

Tottenham, another of those stalwart sides, are just five away from becoming the fifth team to score 1,000 goals at home in the competition (Manchester United 1,214, Liverpool 1,156, Arsenal 1,154, Chelsea 1,121).

Chelsea are 27 shy of 2,000 goals, home or away, having plundered 1,973 in their 1,152 games to date.

Aston Villa and Newcastle United are both 12 short of losing 400 Premier League games. Only West Ham (408) and Everton (414) have lost more games than those sides, who will hope to avoid spilling over that barrier this season.

West Ham are four away from reaching 1,000 Premier League games, while promoted Nottingham Forest are two away from 200.

MAKING UP THE NUMBERS

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson needs one assist to become only the second defender to register 50 Premier League assists, after Leighton Baines (Wigan, Everton). Robertson has 49, with Baines managing 53 across his career.

Aston Villa veteran Ashley Young and Tottenham new arrival Richarlison are two shy of reaching 50 Premier League goals, while Newcastle's former Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope is four away from 50 clean sheets in the competition.

Brighton and Hove Albion are two away from 50 wins, with Aston Villa four short of 300 draws, a tally that only Everton (320) have reached.

Southampton need four victories to reach 100 away wins, and Aston Villa want four three-pointers on the road to reach their 150 wins. Leicester, on the other hand, are four away from 150 Premier League away defeats. Brendan Rodgers will hope to fend off that landmark until well into the new campaign.

Chelsea are hoping to raid Leicester City for both Wesley Fofana and Jamie Vardy during this transfer period, with the former reportedly telling the club he wants out, while the latter's contract is set to expire in 12 months.

Fofana, 21, has emerged as one of the most valuable young defenders in the Premier League despite missing most of this past season with a broken leg. He has represented France's Under-21s, and appears on track to a long international career at the senior level.

Vardy, 35, has scored at least 13 goals in each Premier League season since 2014-15, and if he indicates he has no interest in signing a new contract to stay in Leicester, this transfer window will be their last opportunity to cash-in on the club legend.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA SET SIGHTS ON DYNAMIC LEICESTER DUO

While Vardy will likely have a significant say in his future due to his contract situation, the same cannot be said for Fofana, who recently signed an extension that ties him to the club through 2027.

90min reports both Chelsea and Manchester United are monitoring Vardy's situation, with the thought that he could potentially be a relatively cheap replacement option after Romelu Lukaku was shipped out on loan to Inter, as well as Timo Werner having one foot out the door.

There is no word about an asking price for Vardy, but according to ESPN, Leicester are adamant Fofana is not available at any price, despite previous rumours that they value him at £85million. 

Meanwhile, the Mirror claims that since the Stamford Bridge side's interest became clear, the centre-back has been actively pushing for the move to Chelsea, and he has removed any mention of Leicester from his social media pages.

 

ROUND-UP

– Sky Sports is reporting that Sampdoria have accepted Brentford's £16.7m bid for 22-year-old Danish midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard.

– According to 90min, if Tottenham cannot secure Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo, they will switch attention to Wolves winger Adama Traore.

– Football League World is reporting Sevilla and Wolves will battle it out for the signing of 23-year-old striker Ben Brereton-Diaz from Blackburn Rovers.

– Fabrizio Romano claims Sevilla are also interested in United full-back Alex Telles, who is said to be behind both Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia in the club's pecking order. 

– The Guardian is reporting Chelsea are interested in Southampton's Kyle Walker-Peters, and that an offer between £35m and £40m could get the deal done.

Jamie Vardy is set for another layoff with a knee injury after Brendan Rodgers confirmed the Leicester City striker will be out for "a few weeks", while Wesley Fofana's return from a long-term absence has been delayed.

Vardy, 35, has already spent a lot of time on the sidelines in 2022, with his substitute appearance in the 2-0 win at Burnley on March 1 being his first outing of the year following a two-month spell out with a hamstring injury.

He subsequently started Leicester's 1-0 defeat of Leeds United four days later, but during that match he sustained damage to his knee.

Rodgers was somewhat vague when outlining how long he expects Vardy to be out, but it would seem Leicester will be without their top scorer for potentially up to a month.

"He got a knock to his knee, but hopefully in the next three to four weeks it responds okay," Rodgers said ahead of Thursday's Europa Conference League last-16 clash with Rennes.

"He's going to be out for a few weeks, which is a shame."

Rodgers had been hoping to give centre-back Fofana his first competitive minutes of the season during the visit of Rennes.

The young Frenchman returned to training in February after breaking his leg in a pre-season clash with Villarreal last August.

But he will have to wait a little longer for his long-awaited return after a bout of COVID-19.

"[Fofana] has picked up COVID, which has been our season right the way through with injuries and unfortunate circumstances," Rodgers said.

"He is not going to be able to feature [Thursday] but we are hoping for the weekend now.

"It is really unfortunate for the two guys, and in particular Wesley, who has been building up to this moment. We just have to cope with the set-backs that come along."

Jamie Vardy has now scored 94 Premier League goals since turning 30, surpassing the previous record.

Vardy, who had been ruled out with a hamstring injury since Leicester City's win over Liverpool on December 28, returned to the matchday squad for their trip to Turf Moor on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old came on as a second-half substitute and, after assisting James Maddison's opener, wrapped up a 2-0 win - Leicester's first league victory of 2022 - when he headed home from Harvey Barnes' cross.

He has now surpassed Ian Wright's tally of 93 Premier League goals after hitting the age of 30, and also both scored and assisted after coming on as a substitute for the first time in his top-flight career.

"He's just clever," Brendan Rodgers said, as reported by BBC Sport Leicester. "His game knowledge and idea of the game, the streetwise things, [they] are the things we’ve been missing [in his absence]. 

"His movement was electric, his running brings others into the game."

Since his Premier League debut in August 2014, Vardy has been directly involved in 168 goals in the competition, scoring 128 times and providing 40 assists. His haul is bettered only by his former England team-mate Harry Kane during that time, with the Tottenham man tallying up 207 Premier League goal contributions. 

Erling Haaland has revealed he studies Jamie Vardy's game closely as he believes the Leicester City striker is "maybe the best in the world" at running in behind defenders.

Borussia Dortmund star Haaland has become one of the most sought-after players in world football after scoring 80 goals in 79 games during his two years at the Bundesliga club.

That is a tally bettered only by Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (107) – who has played 11 more games – among players from teams in Europe's top five leagues.

Haaland has been linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern, with reports suggesting he has a €75million release clause that will activate in July.

Despite his impressive exploits, Haaland acknowledges there are still areas of his game he can improve, with an unlikely player proving to be a source of inspiration.

"I've been watching a lot of players. Let's take for example the run in behind the centre-back when the number 10 has the ball," he told Sky Sports. 

"You have maybe the best in the world at that, Jamie Vardy. I've been looking a lot at him on exactly this. I have always been watching a lot of football and I still do. 

"When we play Saturday, I go home on Sunday and watch football all day."

Vardy has scored 122 goals in 227 Premier League appearances since the start of the 2015-16 campaign, which famously ended with Leicester winning the title.

The 35-year-old ranks 10th in terms of the most prolific strikers in Europe's top five leagues over that time, a metric that Lewandowski also leads with 209 goals in 208 games.

 

Vardy has also spoken of his admiration for ex-Arsenal and Manchester United striker Robin van Persie.

"Van Persie I watched a lot because he was also left-footed," Haaland said. 

"I watched him scoring a lot of goals and as a left-footer as well it was natural for me to watch him a lot. I've been watching a lot of players, especially strikers."

Of the 80 goals scored by Haaland for Dortmund, 64 have come via his left foot, nine with his right and the other seven from headers.

The former Salzburg striker has been likened to a number of iconic figures, Zlatan Ibrahimovic among them, but he is not interested in comparisons.

"Ibrahimovic is a cool guy, and I think he is also himself 100 per cent on the pitch. He does everything he can to win," Haaland said.

"I don't want to compare myself to anyone. I think I am a bit special, with my physical abilities. 

"My mother was really quick, my grandmother was really quick, my father was really quick, but not so quick."

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy is set to be sidelined for up to four weeks with a hamstring injury.

Manager Brendan Rodgers revealed Vardy initially sustained the injury in the EFL Cup clash against Liverpool, in which the Foxes were eliminated on penalties after a 3-3 draw.

The 34-year-old was rested for the 6-3 defeat against Manchester City as a result, but played the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 Premier League clash with the Reds, where he aggravated the problem.

It comes as a huge blow to Leicester, with Vardy – their top scorer in the Premier League on nine goals – set to miss the next four games. As it stands, he would be back in contention to face Liverpool again in February.

"[Vardy] wasn't sure whether it was [a challenge from Joel Matip] or he felt something before, but you could see he could sort of run on and soldier on and wanted to," Rodgers said.

"But the scan has shown up that he could be [out for] three to four weeks. 

"He felt it in the game at Liverpool in the [EFL] Cup. If you saw that game, you could see the last half hour it was hindering his performance, but it felt like it could play on and obviously, we couldn't make any more changes.

"We didn't involve him at the weekend [against City] to give them that sort of maximum rest, even though he was on the bench, but he was never really going to be available to play.

"And then obviously, the other night he just felt it towards the end of the game. I just think the combination of games we've had affects the recovery time. It's just a difficult period for players, especially for recovery."

Vardy is Leicester's third most used Premier League player, having played 1321 minutes – behind only Kasper Schmeichel (1620) and Caglar Soyuncu (1418).

With Patson Daka still recovering from an injury of his own and Kelechi Iheanacho set to link up with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations after the upcoming clash with Norwich City, the Foxes are set to endure a spell without a fit senior striker.

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were again named as substitutes by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for the visit of Leicester City.

The England pair were pictured on a night out after City's 7-0 rout against Leeds United earlier in December and dropped out of Guardiola's starting line-up for the 4-0 win over Newcastle United last Sunday.

City staff were reported to be disappointed by the condition of the pair when they reported for a recovery session after the Leeds game and Guardiola reminded City players of their responsibilities once more on Friday.

Guardiola again decided Grealish and Foden should be among the substitutes for the Boxing Day clash with Leicester.

Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez were the three selected to start in the frontline for the reigning Premier League champions, tasked with breaching Leicester's shaky defence.

The visiting Foxes also named Jamie Vardy on the bench for the game at the Etihad Stadium, where the forward scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win in this fixture last season.

Vardy scored a first-half brace before the EFL Cup penalty shoot-out defeat against Liverpool in midweek, with the striker not fit enough to take a spot-kick after suffering from a hamstring injury.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers opted for caution with his selection, given his side again face Jurgen Klopp's side in the league on Tuesday, with Vardy dropping to the bench as former Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho started up top.

The visitors were without Timothy Castagne and Jonny Evans as Rodgers remained hampered by injuries in defence, while Harvey Barnes also missed out with Ademola Lookman taking over his usual slot on the left wing.

Liverpool are through to the EFL Cup semi-finals after edging Leicester City 5-4 in a penalty shootout having overturned a two-goal deficit in a gripping 3-3 draw.

Caoimhin Kelleher saved two Leicester penalties before Diogo Jota – a key figure off the bench – converted the crucial kick to send Jurgen Klopp's much-changed Reds through.

A Vardy brace had initially put the visitors 2-0 up early on at Anfield, and although Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got Liverpool on the scoreboard, a spectacular Maddison strike had Leicester cruising at the break.

But half-time substitute Jota reduced the deficit again after the hour and Takumi Minamino equalised deep into stoppage time to force a shootout.

Minamino was the sole Red to miss his kick, but it mattered not as Kelleher denied Luke Thomas and Ryan Bertrand to allow Jota to wrap things up.

 

Mohamed Salah equalled Jamie Vardy's record of scoring or assisting in 15 consecutive Premier League games after netting against Newcastle United on Thursday.

Liverpool found themselves behind to a Jonjo Shelvey curler, but soon restored parity as Diogo Jota converted before Salah tapped in from close range to record a goal involvement in his 15th straight league game.

The former Chelsea man has now found the net in five consecutive top-flight home games against Newcastle as well, his best 100 per cent scoring run against one side at Anfield in the competition.

He also now has 24 Premier League goal involvements this season (15 goals, nine assists), in Premier League history only Alan Shearer in 1994-95 has registered more before Christmas.

With Jota's earlier strike, Liverpool also made it 32 consecutive games across all competitions in which they have found the net - a new club record after a 31-match run between 1957 and 1958.

Salah moved to within one of the Leicester City striker's tally after scoring a penalty in the 1-0 win over Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa on December 11. 

It was the 15th straight Premier League spot-kick the Egypt international had converted - the second-longest such run in the competition after Matt Le Tissier (23 between 1994 and 2000).

Salah's haul of 21 goals and nine assists prior to Thursday's contribution on Merseyside was achieved with an expected goals tally of just 16.58 and an expected assists tally of only 3.75, suggesting Liverpool have benefited from some especially clinical finishing this term.

Mohamed Salah matched Jamie Vardy's record of scoring or assisting in 15 consecutive Premier League games after netting against Newcastle United on Thursday.

Liverpool found themselves behind to a Jonjo Shelvey curler, but soon restored parity as Diogo Jota converted before Salah tapped in from close range to record a goal involvement in his 15th straight game.

The former Chelsea man has now found the net in five consecutive top-flight home games against Newcastle as well, his best 100 per cent scoring run against one side at Anfield in the competition.

He also now has 24 Premier League goal involvements this season (15 goals, nine assists), in Premier League history only Alan Shearer in 1994-95 has registered more before Christmas.

With Jota's earlier strike, Liverpool also made it 32 consecutive games across all competitions in which they have found the net - a new club record after a 31-match run between 1957 and 1958.

Salah moved to within one of the Leicester City striker's tally after scoring a penalty in the 1-0 win over Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa on December 11. 

It was the 15th straight Premier League spot-kick the Egypt international had converted - the second-longest such run in the competition after Matt Le Tissier (23 between 1994 and 2000).

Salah's haul of 21 goals and nine assists prior to Thursday's contribution on Merseyside was achieved with an expected goals tally of just 16.58 and an expected assists tally of only 3.75, suggesting Liverpool have benefited from some especially clinical finishing this term.

Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel confessed he is at a loss to explain the club's poor defensive record.

The Foxes came from behind to claim a point against Spartak Moscow in Europa League Group C on Thursday after Daniel Amartey cancelled out Victor Moses' opener.

Leicester had a chance to secure victory when Moses gave away a penalty but substitute Jamie Vardy saw his spot-kick saved.

Moses' goal meant Brendan Rodgers' side have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last nine games in all competitions, and have only managed one in their last 15.

Schmeichel told BT Sport: "We are conceding too many goals at the moment but had enough chances to win it.

"Why are we conceding? If I knew it wouldn't be happening. It is something we are working on every single day but is not working too well at the minute.

"The game was there to be won. We dominated most of the game and they had a couple of chances and scored. We are conceding too many goals at the moment but had enough chances to win it.

"When you are not getting the luck you have to dig in and work harder. We have to look at ourselves, we cannot blame anyone else and have a massive Premier League game coming up against Leeds United."

Leicester have won just one of their last six games in the Europa League (drawn three, lost two), while failing to keep a clean sheet in each of the last five.

They were poor in front of goal against the Russian side, with just three of their 13 attempts on target despite enjoying 76.9 per cent of possession.

Group C is wide open, though, with third-placed Leicester a point behind second-placed Legia Warsaw and two behind leaders Napoli.

The Foxes play both sides in their remaining two fixtures which means their fate is in their own hands.

Kelechi Iheanacho acknowledged Leicester's forward players were equally culpable as their defensive colleagues for the draw with Spartak and they must improve in front of goal to qualify for the knockout phase.

"It was a frustrating game, we conceded a sloppy goal but got back into the game," added the Foxes striker.

"We were on them for the last 10 minutes, tried every means to score but we have to focus on the next two games now. Hopefully we will win and go through.

"The first half we kept the ball well and moved it quickly, in the second half we came out well but it was one of those games. We have to do a bit more.

"We missed a couple, we need to do more in the offensive side. It didn't come tonight.

"Everyone is down at the moment, we need to now focus on the next games. The Premier League first then look to progress in the Europa League."

Jamie Vardy missed a second-half penalty as Leicester City could only draw 1-1 with Spartak Moscow on Thursday to leave Europa League Group C wide open.

Victor Moses put Spartak ahead early in the second half when he escaped the attentions of Leicester's defence and planted a firm header low into the corner of the net.

The Foxes equalised shortly afterwards when Daniel Amartey headed in from a corner, before Moses gave away a penalty when he hauled down Ademola Lookman.

Substitute Vardy stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Spartak goalkeeper Alexander Selikhov guessed correctly and saved well.

Leicester's positive intent almost brought an early opener as Ayoze Perez headed wide from a good position, before Selikhov saved well from Kelechi Iheanacho.

Spartak were content to sit deep, giving Boubakary Soumare the time to shoot from distance as he struck the underside of the bar with a spectacular effort.

Despite enjoying 73.7 per cent of possession in the first half, that was as close as the Foxes went before the interval and Spartak took the lead six minutes into the second half – Mikhail Ignatov's right-wing cross allowing the unmarked Moses to guide a header beyond Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester levelled just before the hour when Perez flicked on Ryan Bertrand's in-swinging corner and Amartey outmuscled Roman Zobnin to head in.

Shortly after replacing Patson Daka, Vardy was presented with a chance from the penalty spot with 14 minutes left after Moses felled Lookman, but Selikhov dived low to his left to save superbly.

Leicester had a final chance through Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's saved header, with Iheanacho unable to pounce on the rebound.

Premier League football takes a back seat again for the best part of a fortnight now as the international break arrives, but the past weekend gave us plenty to chew on in the interim.

Liverpool and Manchester City played out a belter of a match at Anfield on Sunday, as Mohamed Salah shone yet again on English football's biggest stage.

That contest provided further evidence of the gap between those two and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United, though Bruno Fernandes' latest achievement suggests the Norwegian should be doing better given the talent at his disposal.

Below, Stats Perform looks at some of the quirky Opta facts from the weekend…

Salah a double threat

Sunday's 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield was utterly engrossing, and Mohamed Salah played a key role in that.

Not only did he set up Sadio Mane's opener with a brilliant run and pass, he then got Liverpool's second at the end of an incredible run that saw him evade most of the City defence.

That was the 20th time he has both scored and assisted during a single Premier League game, which is six more than anyone else in the top-flight since his Reds debut on 2017-18 — Son Heung-min is next with 14.

There is also no Liverpool player particularly close to him in that regard in the club's entire Premier League history, with Steven Gerrard second to Salah with 16 instances of getting a goal and assist in the same game.

Fernandes setting the pace

Manchester United may be erratic, but Bruno Fernandes certainly isn't when it comes to decisive moments in the Premier League.

He set up Anthony Martial with a lovely turn and throughball for the first goal in United's 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday, that assist taking him to 50 goal involvements in 58 Premier League matches — only Andy Cole (43), Alan Shearer and Eric Cantona (both 54) reached that mark in fewer games.

But putting his achievement into modern-day context, Fernandes (30 goals, 20 assists) sits top of the pile for most involvements since his debut, his 50 being four more than Salah (34 goals, 12 assists).

The only other player on more than 40 in that time is Harry Kane (44 involvements, 30 goals, 14 assists).

The Premier League's deadliest attack… Sort of

So, you think you know which team is the most clinical in the Premier League this season? Well, you're wrong.

It's not Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City. It's certainly not Tottenham or Arsenal… It's Brentford. In a way.

When it comes to the amount of goals scored from their shots on target, the Premier League new boys have been the most clinical, netting 10 (or 45.5 per cent) of their 22 accurate attempts following the 2-1 win at West Ham.

Liverpool are the league's leading scorers with 17, but those goals have come from 53 shots on target, meaning only 32.1 per cent of their accurate efforts are beating the goalkeeper.

Norwich City prop up the table (11.8 per cent), with Spurs (18.8 per cent) and Arsenal (19.2 per cent) also in the bottom three.

Vardy almost the 'golden oldie'

Jamie Vardy's story is a familiar one these days. His journey to the top wasn't straightforward, but since getting there he's been absolutely devastating.

Of course, his 24-goal haul was essential in Leicester City's incredible title triumph of 2015-16, but he's continued at a great level, only recording under 15 Premier League goals in a single season once since.

He already looks well on track to better his tally of 15 from 2020-21 this season, with the former England man on six in seven league games, and now he's closing in on a record.

Vardy's goal against Crystal Palace at the weekend was his 90th in the top-flight since turning 30 in January 2017, with Arsenal great Ian Wright (93) the only player in the competition's history to score more after his 30th birthday.

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).

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