Hakim Ziyech ensured Chelsea remained at the Premier League summit with a 2-1 victory over Watford at Vicarage Road on Wednesday. 

The Blues looked set to hand their title rivals a boost by dropping points for the third time in four games, but substitute Ziyech made a decisive impact in the 72nd minute.

Mason Mount gave Chelsea the lead after play was suspended for around half and hour when a fan suffered a cardiac arrest in the stands. Watford later confirmed the individual had been stabilised. 

Emmanuel Dennis equalised before half-time but Mount teed up Ziyech for his first Premier League goal of the season to remove the threat of Thomas Tuchel's men being overtaken by Manchester City or Liverpool.

Watford started brightly and Edouard Mendy had to react quickly to stop Cesar Azpilicueta scoring an own goal in the fifth minute, but there was a significant break in play when a spectator fell ill. 

Chelsea's first effort was cracked against the post by Mount shortly after play resumed but he did not fail at the second attempt, guiding home Kai Havertz's pass in the 30th minute after an exquisite touch from Marcos Alonso.  

Watford drew level on the stroke of half-time, with Moussa Sissoko dispossessing Ruben Loftus-Cheek and launching a break that ended with Dennis finding the bottom-left corner with the help of a deflection off Antonio Rudiger.  

Tuchel hooked Saul Niguez and moved Trevoh Chalobah into midfield for the second half but a hamstring injury meant he had to be replaced by Ziyech in the 60th minute. 

The game appeared to be heading for a draw until Mount picked out Ziyech in the centre of the box and the Morocco international's first-time effort had too much power for Daniel Bachmann to keep out. 

Bachmann did well to stop Ziyech doubling his tally in the closing stages but Watford were unable to come back a second time and salvage a result. 

What does it mean? A first for Chelsea 

Thanks to Ziyech's winner, Chelsea have been victorious in three successive league matches at Vicarage Road for the first time. 

It was the Blues' eighth win in nine Premier League meetings with Watford, with Claudio Ranieri unable to become the first former Chelsea boss to beat them in the competition with two different clubs. 

Mount in peak form 

Having been a substitute in Chelsea's previous two games, Mount excelled on his return to the starting line-up. His goal made him the first player to reach double figures in all competitions for the Blues under Tuchel. 

So long, Saul? 

In his first Premier League start since his debut back in December, Saul failed to impress. He had just 18 touches and made only nine passes – seven of which were completed. His loan from Atletico Madrid could well be cut short in January given his struggles at Stamford Bridge. 

What's next?  

Chelsea head to rivals West Ham for a derby at London Stadium, while Watford face another tough test with Manchester City visiting Vicarage Road. 

Mason Mount is impressed with the impact Thomas Tuchel has had on Chelsea's defence since replacing Frank Lampard in January.

The German led Chelsea to Champions League success last season just a few months after being hired, though there is every indication he is turning the Blues into a team that will challenge for the major honours on a consistent basis.

Chelsea went into the weekend with a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League – only Liverpool (35) had scored more than them, though Tuchel's side boasted the best defensive record with just four conceded in 12 games.

Manchester City (22) were the only club to have allowed fewer shots on target than the Blues (39) over the first 12 matchdays – similarly, Pep Guardiola's men (7.7) were the sole club with a lower xGA (expected goals against) than Chelsea (12.2).

During Lampard's only full season in charge, Chelsea conceded 54 times from an xGA of 38.95 – they let in 15.05 goals more than the average team would have expected based on the quality of chances, comfortably worse than the second-worst sides in that metric over 2019-20 (Norwich City and Everton, both 7.2 over xGA).

Their improvement defensively is not lost on Mount.

"[Tuchel] is brilliant to work under," Mount told Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's clash with Manchester United. "He is very intense when the games come around and in training, but off the field he is very relaxed, someone you can talk to and he puts his arm around you.

"So, it is the best of both, but when you don't perform, he will not be happy and will tell you. And that is definitely something that keeps us on our toes and keeps us going. We have set a very high standard, and we always want to keep that going and training is a big thing.

"We always look at the opposition a few days before we play them, but most of it is just focusing on ourselves. We know what we can do as a team and if we are doing those simple things the best we can, then we are always able to open up those pockets of space and create chances.

"Defensively, that has been a big change for us, and we do not really give many chances away and that starts from the front. The way we press at the front sets the tone and at the back, with the change of formation and the shape we do play, it helps at the back so the full-backs can press the side where the ball is, there is cover the other way and just move and that has really helped us."

While bossing Chelsea did not work out for Tuchel's predecessor Lampard, Mount enjoyed his breakthrough at the club under the Blues legend, having also played for him at Derby County.

Mount was one of the main beneficiaries of Lampard's season and a half in charge and has remained a key figure under Tuchel.

He still sees Lampard's playing style as a source of inspiration, with Mount putting significant work into his end product in attack.

"I always look at my game and think I can score or create more, be more of a threat going forward. That is something I've always looked at in training with finishing drills, how I get into the box, looking with (coach) Joe Edwards at how my runs into the box affect the play," he said.

"So that is a big part of my game that I want to improve. You look at how big stats are now – what crosses come in and the percentage of goals that come from different crosses we look at and what area of the box do you score most goals, it is around the penalty spot and in the six-yard box, you rarely see goals from outside the box, mostly 'worldies' now, but not many.

"So I'm just trying to get in the box as much as I can now."

He still has work to do, though.

Mount is touching the ball on average 4.2 times in the box every 90 minutes – although that is an increase on his figure for Lampard's final few months, it's the same amount he recorded over the course of 2019-20.

But he is getting more shots away in such areas. He averaged 0.9 shots on target every 90 minutes during Lampard's first season and then 0.6 in the first half of 2020-21, but that increased to 1.1 after Tuchel's hiring and then again to 1.2 this season.

Manchester United's managerial post is vacant after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday.

Solskjaer had led United since December 2018 but failed to win a trophy, finishing runners-up in last season's Premier League and Europa League.

The lean spell has United desperate to return to their former glories with their next managerial appointment.

 

TOP STORY – ZIDANE NOT KEEN ON MAN UTD JOB

World Cup winner and ex-Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is not interested in the vacant Manchester United job, reports BBC Sport.

Zidane left Madrid in May after failing to win LaLiga and has been linked with a host of roles since.

United have approached the 49-year-old about their vacant post but he is not interested in the position at this point.

 ROUND-UP

- Fichajes claims that reported United target Mauricio Pochettino would put Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top of his wishlist if he got the Red Devils job. The current Paris Saint-Germain boss is among those linked with the vacant post. The Telegraph claims that Pochettino is open to moving to Old Trafford at the end of this season.

- Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is United's second choice behind Pochettino reports Sky Sports, while The Sun claims the Red Devils have already approached Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers.

- Sport claims that new Barcelona boss Xavi wants to sign Al-Sadd's Algeria international striker Baghdad Bounedjah. Xavi coached Al-Sadd until taking over at Barca earlier this month.

- Tottenham may make a move for Roma midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo who is unhappy at the club, claims Calciomercato.

- Fichajes reports that Real Madrid have an interest in Mason Mount, who is currently in talks with Chelsea on a new deal. Manchester City and Bayern Munich are also interested in Mount's services.

Gareth Southgate is hopeful Jordan Henderson and Jack Grealish "won't miss too much football" after the duo withdrew from the England squad ahead of Monday's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

The Three Lions' manager confirmed that both players suffered minor injuries in Friday's 5-0 win over Albania.

Grealish did manage to train the following day, but he has now returned to Manchester City for further assessment, while Henderson has headed back to Liverpool.

England only need to avoid defeat against the lowest-ranked team in the world to qualify for Qatar 2022.

Speaking at a media conference on Sunday, Southgate said: "With Henderson it was within the [Albania] game. With Jack, we think a little bit perhaps within the game, but he trained yesterday. As a precaution, we scanned them both, so there are small injuries on the scans.

"We just hope that they're not going to miss too much football ball from here on. It shouldn't be too bad in either case, but we just have to see how that progresses."

Southgate confirmed that Raheem Sterling has also withdrawn from the squad for personal reasons.

He also ruled Chelsea's Mason Mount (dental) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw (concussion) out of contention, with the pair having also missed the Albania game.

It was confirmed earlier on Sunday that Crystal Palace's on-loan midfielder Conor Gallagher has been drafted in from England's U21 squad for his first senior call-up.

Southgate insisted that both he and Arsenal's Emile Smith Rowe – who made his senior debut off the bench against Albania – had been called up on merit.

When asked about older players like James Maddison, Callum Wilson and Patrick Bamford being overlooked, he said: "We haven't had an opening for a forward, and Patrick's been injured as well. In terms of the others, we think Conor and Emile are playing better than others that we could have called in, simple as that.

"The door is never closed. I like the idea of bringing young players in because you're investing in England's future.

"It would be easier perhaps in the short term to bring in an older player, but I'm not certain there are older players who are playing better than those two at this current moment in time in the positions they are playing."

Conor Gallagher has been rewarded for his fine form at Crystal Palace with his first call-up to the senior England squad.

The Chelsea-owned midfielder enjoyed a promising debut campaign in the Premier League last season with West Brom, impressing despite their relegation.

He won the Baggies' Young Player of the Year award and subsequently secured another temporary move within the top flight, joining Patrick Vieira's Palace.

At Selhurst Park, Gallagher has been a standout performer, earning a nomination for the Professional Footballers' Association's Player of the Month award for October.

A regular at under-21 level, Gallagher will link up with the senior squad in the hope of featuring against San Marino on Monday, with England requiring a point to seal their qualification for the World Cup.

Several players will not be available for Gareth Southgate, however. Jordan Henderson and Jack Grealish have returned to their clubs for injury assessments, Mason Mount will miss out due to dental surgery, Luke Shaw has concussion and Raheem Sterling has a "personal matter" to attend to.

Nevertheless, it offers Gallagher a great opportunity to stake a claim with Qatar 2022 a little over a year away.

He was arguably unlucky not to be called up ahead of Friday's win over Albania, such has been his start to the season with Palace.

Gallagher has been involved in six goals, four of which he has scored himself, and created another 17 opportunities – no other Palace player can better him in any of those metrics.

There are also only eight Premier League midfielders to attempt more tackles (26) and complete more dribbles (12) than Gallagher this term, while his 65 wins in duels see him ranked third, evidence of the well-rounded qualities he will bring to Southgate's squad.

 

Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Mason Mount and Luke Shaw remain doubts for England's World Cup qualifier against Albania, but Jack Grealish is back in training and is set to be available for the clash at Wembley Stadium on Friday.

It will be the Three Lions' final home game of the year and a win will see them move within one point of qualifying for Qatar 2022 from Group I, assuming second-placed Poland do not fail to win in Andorra.

The England manager has already lost Marcus Rashford, James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice to injury from his initial squad, with Emile Smith Rowe the only replacement called up.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday, when asked about the availability of Mount (dental) and Shaw (concussion), Southgate said "I've got to check in with our medical staff for our update. The longer it goes, the more unlikely it is.

"Mason has to recover from his dental surgery. Luke didn't pass his [head injury assessment] after the first day and rightly, we have to follow the guidelines with that.

"Jack Grealish has trained and is ready if required."

Southgate was asked how Arsenal youngster Smith Rowe has settled into the squad after his first senior call-up.

"He has settled really well," he added. "He obviously knows a couple of his club teammates and Phil [Foden] from the U17s. This is a group that makes new players very welcome so it's not a difficult environment to settle in and his quality has been apparent from the way he has trained.

"We have always worked on the basis that we need a strong squad because you will get injuries. We have depth and we have players who have been waiting for opportunities to play."

England captain Harry Kane was also present at the media conference and emphasised the need for he and his team-mates to brush off the disappointment of their 1-1 draw at Wembley in their previous qualifier against Hungary.

Kane said "Whenever you have a disappointing game, or you don't reach the standards you normally reach, it kind of wakes you up a little bit and makes you realise there's still work to do, still more to improve on.

"Three points from that game would have really helped towards securing qualification, so now it's about turning it round and responding to that game. We've had a great week of preparation but it's all about performing when the pressure's on and the team have done that before."

Kane was also asked about his own start to the season, having scored only once in his first 10 Premier League games for Tottenham. He was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in the last transfer window, but denied that it has had an influence on his performances.

"Losing a European final for your country at Wembley will probably stay with me the rest of my career. You never really get over those things, unless we go and win a major tournament. That always stings but I'm pretty used to getting back into things," Kane said.

"There was a lot of speculation over the summer, that's the first real time that's happened to me. But that's part and parcel of being a big player, having to deal with those situations, and I think I dealt with it well. Now it's about focusing. There's still a long way to go at club level and we've got these two games to finish off what's been a great calendar year [for England]."

It is all change in the England squad, with two players dropping out, and Emile Smith Rowe earning a first senior call up from Gareth Southgate.

Smith Rowe has been in excellent form for Arsenal this season, but was not initially included in Southgate's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.

The midfielder, who was handed Arsenal's number 10 shirt for 2021-22, has appeared in every Premier League game for the Gunners this term.

His tally of 15 chances created ranks him second in Arsenal's squad, behind Bukayo Saka (19). He has provided two league assists and scored four goals, meaning he is the club's joint-top scorer in the top flight alongside captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

After initially arriving at St George's Park to be part of the England Under-21 squad, Smith Rowe will instead join the senior side after Marcus Rashford and James Ward-Prowse dropped out.

Rashford has only just returned from a long injury lay off following shoulder surgery, and will remain at Manchester United in order to work his way back to fitness, while Southampton's Ward-Prowse is ill.

Southgate might also be without regulars Luke Shaw and Mason Mount. The United full-back is following concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury in Saturday's derby defeat to Manchester City and will continue to be assessed by the club before being released for international duty. 

Mount, meanwhile, has had his arrival pushed back by dental surgery and will be monitored over the coming days.

England host Albania on Friday, before taking on San Marino three days later. Four points from the two matches will guarantee their place in Qatar.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed an infected wisdom tooth was the reason behind Mason Mount's recent absence as the midfielder eyes a return against Burnley.

Mount missed the last two matches, which came against Newcastle United in the Premier League and Malmo in the Champions League, through illness.

Tuchel has elaborated on what caused the problem and also discussed the England call-up Mount received despite his recent absence from the league leaders' team.

"It's a tricky one," Tuchel said when he was asked about Mount ahead of Saturday's home top-flight clash with Burnley on Saturday.

"Mason was ill but the reason was his wisdom tooth, this was the reason for the feeling [unwell], a bit of an infection. 

"Then he was back in training and lost a bit of weight as he couldn't eat properly. He takes medication and let's see. 

"He is in the squad for Saturday and can play some minutes, but we will need to wait for the reaction because it seems proper treatment has to be done."

Mount, who scored a hat-trick against Norwich City the last time he started a match on October 23, could join up with England at some stage in the international break.

But Tuchel was not sure whether it would be from the start or even at all, with matches against Albania and San Marino coming up in World Cup qualifying.

"If everything is okay [then he will join up], but we need a proper treatment, so it can be that he is out or he joins a bit later," added the German.

"We will always push and encourage him. We are proud when he is selected, he is proud. 

"So there is nothing going on behind closed doors to keep Mason here. There is something going on we need to take care about."

After 10 matches, Chelsea lead Liverpool by three points at the top of the table.

They face Burnley having won their last four Premier League games against them, scoring 12 and conceding twice in that run, but Tuchel is not expecting an easy ride.

Marcos Alonso has been added to the Chelsea injury list, while forwards Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner remain out along with midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

Tuchel said: "Marcos injured himself in the very last minute of the Malmo match.

"He tried to come out for training but the stress is too high on the ankle. Nothing big but too painful at the moment.

"We know exactly what we'll get from Burnley, they have a clear identity, a manager that has been in charge many years. It will be a tough one."

Asked when Lukaku could return, Tuchel said: "We have the international break now and then we will be more clear. We will see what is going on during the second week of the international break."

And his stance on the football calendar was clear amid debate over the likes of Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who has rejected a call-up for England's Under-21 team.

"There are too many international windows, too many competitions, too many games for the top players," he said. "That increases quantity and not quality. It's too much, simple as that."

Chelsea have scored 16 goals in their opening five home Premier League games this season (W4 L1), their joint-most at this stage of a Premier League season.

The Burnley clash will be the 30th league game for Tuchel at Chelsea and he has racked up 18 clean sheets over the course of his first 29. 

Jose Mourinho is the only Premier League manager to keep more than 18 in his first 30 games in charge in the competition (22).

Chelsea maintained their position at the Premier League summit as they thumped sorry Norwich City 7-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Manchester City remain two points behind after cruising past Brighton and Hove Albion 4-1 at the Amex Stadium.

Watford produced a stunning comeback to thump Everton at Goodison Park, while Leeds United left it late to snatch a point against Wolves.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the fixtures from the day.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-4 Manchester City: Foden inspires City's latest win over Seagulls

Phil Foden was at the heart of City's big win at the Amex Stadium as Pep Guardiola's side sealed an eighth win in nine Premier League games against the Seagulls.

Ilkay Gundogan put the visitors ahead before Foden scored just his second brace in the Premier League, previously doing so against Burnley in June 2020.

Alexis Mac Allister pulled one back for Graham Potter's side to became the first player to score a Premier League penalty as a substitute for Brighton.

Riyad Mahrez added gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time, though, after being teed up by Foden. The Algerian has scored more goals in all competitions (16) than any other City player so far in 2021.

The result meant Brighton conceded four goals for the first time in 43 Premier League games, since a 4-2 loss against Everton in October 2020. Indeed, the Seagulls conceded as many goals as they had in their previous seven league games combined.

Chelsea 7-0 Norwich City: Mount puts Blues in seventh heaven

Chelsea made light work of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner's absences, winning a Premier League game by seven or more goals for the fourth time and the first time since an 8-0 win over Aston Villa in December 2012.

Mason Mount was the star man, the England international becoming the 20th different player to score a Premier League hat-trick for Chelsea. Only Arsenal (21) have had more hat-trick scorers in the competition.

Ben Chilwell was on the scoresheet as well, the former Leicester City left-back becoming the first Englishman to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances for Chelsea since Frank Lampard in February 2013.

The defeat was Norwich's joint-heaviest in Premier League history, the Canaries also losing 7-0 to Manchester City in November 2013.

Their haul of just two goals after nine league games this season is the joint-lowest tally ever at this stage of an English league campaign, and just the third time a team has registered such a low return at this stage in the Premier League (Crystal Palace in 2017-18 and Everton in 2005-06).


Everton 2-5 Watford: King comes back to haunt Toffees

Watford scored four times in the final 12 minutes to complete a remarkable fightback at Goodison Park.

They were indebted to a superb hat-trick from former Toffees striker Josh King, who became just the third player to score a Premier League hat-trick against a side he has previously played for in the competition, after Andy Cole (for Manchester United vs Newcastle) and Marcus Bent (for Wigan vs Blackburn). 

It was just the second time Watford had scored five goals in an away Premier League game (also vs Cardiff in February 2019), becoming just the seventh newly promoted side in Premier League history to score five or more goals in an away game.

The result also marked the first time the Hornets had come from behind to win an away Premier League game since January 2019 vs Crystal Palace, having lost each of their previous 21 such matches in the competition.

Leeds United 1-1 Wolves: Rodrigo leaves it late for Bielsa's men

Despite earning a late point thanks to Rodrigo's stoppage-time penalty, seven points from nine games marks Leeds' worst start to a top-flight campaign since 1981-82 (six points), a season in which they were relegated to the second tier.

Wolves had looked destined for all three points thanks to another goal from Hwang Hee-chan. The South Korean has scored four goals from just four shots on target in the Premier League this season, the best such 100 per cent conversion rate in the competition so far this term.

Rodrigo stepped up late on to salvage a point, though. His equaliser from the spot was just Leeds' third penalty goal scored in the final minute of a Premier League match, after Gary McAllister against Coventry City (October 1995) and Ian Harte against Derby County (December 1999).

Thomas Tuchel wants Chelsea's players to continue proving their quality after watching them run riot against Norwich City.

Shorn of the injured Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, Chelsea made light work of lowly Norwich at Stamford Bridge, with Mason Mount scoring a hat-trick in a 7-0 win.

It was the fourth time Chelsea have won a Premier League game by seven or more goals and the first time since December 2012 against Aston Villa (8-0), with only Manchester United netting seven or more goals in more Premier League games.

Mount opened and rounded off the scoring, with strikes from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and an own goal from Max Aarons wedged in between.

Chelsea's win lifted them four points clear at the top for at least a few hours, and though pleased with the display, Tuchel wants the same level of performance when the Blues take on Southampton in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

He told BT Sport: "Yes, a good performance, we were sharp, put in a lot of effort.

"High-pressing, [we] played a high rhythm and created a lot of chances and we were very precise. It was a deserved win. To score seven you need a bit of luck and momentum, but a good game.

"This will not stop, this is only one game and the next one follows on Tuesday here, up for a challenge again and they will have to prove it again. All the credit, but it's only one game."

Mount had not scored since netting in a 2-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid in May, but he was the star of the show against the hapless Canaries, who also had Ben Gibson sent off.

He had more shots (five) and efforts on target (four) than any other player, while his tally of three key passes trailed only Mateo Kovacic (six).

Tuchel said: "It's good, because no matter what the coach says and how many good opportunities you have, how satisfied the coach is, the offensive guys need goals to feel fully happy, full confidence.

"He waited long, too long, and it was good that he got some goals today."

Tuchel had concerns about fatigue with Mount, and he added: "I don't think it was a matter of now he is fresh and yesterday he was tired. For now it's a process, we are still in between international breaks, I think it's normal. It's a status that will not change from one game to the other.

"I agree that today he looked fresh and it was good to put him on the pitch. We need to be careful with these players ... who play important roles in their national teams and have a lot of competitions."

Mount added: "Before the game I was putting pressure on myself to get on the scoresheet because it's been quite a long time since I did, and then three come around in the same game.

"I don't think I've ever scored more than one in a game for Chelsea, so it's obviously a massive moment for me to get three, I'll remember this for a long time.

"You put pressure on yourself. I was always getting in the positions to score, but I just wasn't putting it in the back of the net, and I just thought there'd be a game where it was going to come off and today was the day.

"It was my luck today, and obviously the team as well, not just me. The way we played today, I spoke before about intensity, an early kick-off, being at it from the beginning and we were like that today."

Mason Mount says going through the experience of missing part of England's run to the Euro 2020 final after being forced to isolate played a part in his decision to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

The 22-year-old and team-mate Ben Chilwell were deemed close contacts of Scotland's Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for coronavirus after a stalemate with England at Wembley and had to sit out the Three Lions' final group game with the Czech Republic.

He was back on the bench for the last-16 tie with Germany, but Gareth Southgate did not feel the Chelsea playmaker was fit enough to play a part and he was an unused substitute in a famous 2-0 win.

Under current coronavirus protocols, which have changed since June and July, those who have been fully vaccinated no longer have to isolate after coming into contact with somebody that has tested positive for the virus.

And amid fresh scrutiny about the vaccination rates within football, with a number of England players unwilling to disclose their status, Mount has confirmed he has received both doses.

"Going through that experience, missing the game, a top, top game kind of did have an effect on my decision," he told reporters ahead of England's World Cup qualifier with Hungary on Tuesday.

"But I think for players, personally it's down to someone and it is down to their decision how they feel about it.

"I don't think you can force anyone to get it but, for me, going through that experience, it did make me want to get it and get it quite quickly."

Mount started five games for beaten finalists England at Euro 2020 and has already featured eight times for Chelsea this campaign.

He did take some time to get up to full speed, which he puts down to a hangover on the back of England's memorable Euros run.

"After an experience like that and how far we got, it does take some time to get over it and reflect," said Mount, who has been included on the 30-man shortlist for the 2021 Ballon d'Or award.

"But as soon as the next season starts, that's go to be behind you. Maybe physically there can still be a toll, even though you've had a break.

"So it's natural that happens and after playing many games in the normal season, then to go to the Euros and play games, and then after a short break go straight into pre-season, it can take a toll. 

"Maybe I've felt that a bit this season. I missed a week with a little injury at Chelsea but to get back and be in the England squad, that little break makes you feel more energetic and gives you that little boost. 

"I don't want to miss any game but it does help sometimes to take a step back and let yourself recover."

England manager Gareth Southgate is unconvinced by the idea of having the World Cup every two years, questioning the feasibility of continuously adding to the football calendar.

The idea of a biennial World Cup had been floated in the past, but in recent months it seems to have become a much more likely next step for the competition.

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger publicly backed the idea back in July and, as FIFA's head of global football development, the Frenchman has argued a revamp of the international football calendar is both "what the fans want" and a necessity for the improvement of player wellbeing.

FIFA has been carrying out a feasibility study on the prospect of a World Cup every two years and last month held an online summit to discuss plans.

But FIFA's Wenger-backed proposals have been met with antipathy from many key stakeholders, such as confederations, officials, leagues, players and clubs.

UEFA has been particularly scathing in its response to the idea, with president Aleksander Ceferin openly in opposition and vice-president Zbigniew Boniek rather callously questioning the mental sanity of such a proposal.

Southgate was less forthright but still expressed a hint of disagreement.

"I don't know how far things have progressed. There seemed to be a lot of things not in the original proposal I was shown; it is hard to keep track," he told reporters on Monday ahead of England's World Cup qualifier against Hungary.

"We all want high-level games; the Nations League showed the quality and that is exactly what we want to be involved in, but you can't just keep adding to the calendar."

England midfielder Mason Mount was in attendance with Southgate and agreed with the idea that players should be consulted when such proposals are being drawn up, though he seemed to be open to playing a major tournament every year.

"I'd love that, but after the Euros and everything we went through, it [recovering mentally] probably did take longer than anything else," he said.

"You reflect on how it went – it was obviously such a big heartbreak to go all the way then fall at the last hurdle was difficult."

On player consultation, he added: "To have the players' input would be positive, I think.

"We want to play in as many top tournaments and games as possible, we want to be involved. To speak to us would be positive and help shape the future."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says Manchester City remain the benchmark for his side in their pursuit of the Premier League title ahead of Saturday's meeting at Stamford Bridge.

The sides will face off for the first time since May's Champions League final at Estadio do Dragao in Portugal, which Chelsea won 1-0 through a Kai Havertz goal.

The Blues have now won their last three meetings with City, doing so in three different competitions in the space of six weeks at the end of last season.

Chelsea have carried that form into the 2021-22 campaign with seven wins and a draw to their name in all competitions.

They are joint-top of the league and are three points better off than City, but Tuchel believes the reigning champions remain the side to beat if they are to finish top this term. 

"It's a six-pointer between two teams who are rivals for the top four or the best outcome possible," Tuchel said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"Any team can, of course, steal three points from a direct competitor. Does it change anything? No, but there's no need to play it down.

"We could play a draw, though. Things will be tough and I mean that. They are the benchmark for many years now and I am very happy we're able to produce this kind of performance and result consistently. 

"We need to prove we can deliver with the same consistency. City remain the benchmark. We have to stay hungry and close the gap. This is what we have to do for 90 minutes. It's a marathon, not a sprint."

None of the last 12 Premier League meetings between Chelsea and City have been drawn, with the Blues winning five to their opponents' seven.

Another victory for Tuchel's men this weekend would move them six points clear of City, but Tuchel acknowledged the title race still has a long way to go regardless of Saturday's result.

"We are aware of the situation but I don't think it will provide any extra motivation for us," he said. "If it was three games before the end of the season, maybe.

"We need to be at our best, best level and that does not change. This is what I feel and it's what is important. 

"In the last three matches against them, we isolated the situation and if we wanted to compete with them in a 50/50 match, we needed out top level.

"It doesn't matter how many points we have and they have. Tomorrow against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, it's on. And we need to be fully on."

Tuchel added: "Let's be honest, if we win tomorrow we will not be champions and if City win tomorrow we will not be champions and we won't be in depression.

"It's an important match, a big match that we like to be involved in, and the situation we face this match is a good one because we feel ready for this kind of competition."

Tuchel confirmed he will be without Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount, the latter – who set up Havertz's winner in the Champions League final – sustaining a minor injury in the midweek EFL Cup penalty shoot-out win over Aston Villa.

"He is very disappointed and I didn't feel it during the last match because it was the second half and he played through the injury," Tuchel said.

"He finished the game, was confident to take an important penalty. So it was a surprise.The steps he is taking are huge. Maybe it was possible if the game was one day later. 

"So it's a minor injury but there is disappointment for him and us because he is a player that we count on. But no matter the importance, no matter how we rely on him, the task is to find solutions without him and bring him back as soon as possible."

Tuchel still has a number of other players to call upon in midfield and attack, yet arguably more intriguing will be the team opposite number Pep Guardiola fields.

The Catalan coach, often accused of overthinking his team selection in big matches, has failed to win all three encounters with Tuchel in English football.

Chelsea could become the first team to win four successive games against Guardiola in all competitions, though Tuchel has the utmost respect for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.

Asked if he believes he is a better coach than Guardiola, Tuchel said: "This question does not even exist for me and I can't answer it. 

"It's a question for you guys and you can endlessly debate. I am a huge admirer for the impact he had from his first day of his professional coaching.

"The impact at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, he has my biggest respect. 

"There is not reason to ask myself if I am a better coach. I do the best I can, I am in a place I am very happy, and I am a better coach today than yesterday."

Bernd Leno's future at Emirates Stadium is up in the air.

Aaron Ramsdale's arrival, on a deal that could reach a reported £30million, put Leno's first-choice position in jeopardy.

The 29-year-old German joined Arsenal in 2018 and has been number one since.

TOP STORY - ARSENAL CONSIDERS LENO SALE

Arsenal are contemplating selling German goalkeeper Leno next year following Ramsdale's arrival, claims the Daily Mail.

Ramsdale was selected ahead of Leno in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday after the German had an indifferent start to the season

The report claims there is little chance Arsenal will sell Leno in January but that the Gunners signed Ramsdale believing he may usurp the German by the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

- As Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid circle, Paul Pogba is leaning towards extending his stay with Manchester United claims The Athletic. The report cites Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at United on Pogba's thinking.

- West Ham United have placed a £100 million price tag on in-demand Declan Rice with  Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City all jostling for his signature according to Football.London.

- French midfielder Thomas Lemar is expendable following Antoine Griezmann's arrival and could be sold by Spanish champions Atletico Madrid claims Todo Fichajes. Atletico wants to raise transfer funds to bolster their squad.

- Football Insider claims that Bayern Munich are already working on signing Chelsea's German striker Timo Werner next year, with a January move not ruled out.

- Chelsea will open talks with England international midfielder Mason Mount on a new long-term deal according to 90min.

- Arsenal target Houssem Aouar will not leave Olympique Lyon mid-season reports Todo Fichajes.

Gianfranco Zola has claimed England boss Gareth Southgate was "too conservative too soon" in the Euro 2020 final and suffered the inevitable consequences.

Italy's penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley on Sunday has been followed by reports that Southgate could soon be knighted.

That is despite his team falling short when they had home advantage, failing to build on Luke Shaw's second-minute strike that was the earliest goal scored in a European Championship final.

Roberto Mancini's impressive Italy had 19 shots to England's six over the 120 minutes, while also enjoying 65.4 per cent of possession. The Azzurri finished with an expected goals score of 2.16 compared to England's meagre 0.55, underlining their dominance of the chances.

Leonardo Bonucci's second-half equaliser was followed by Italy edging a nervy battle on spot-kicks to land the trophy for the first time since 1968, and Zola sensed England retreated too quickly into their shell.

"Maybe Southgate was a bit too conservative because England boast important players at the highest level," Zola told Stats Perform.

"They were doubtlessly advantaged and having scored after just two minutes gave them further advantages. But especially in the second half, they started defending the goal cushion too early, defending so deep – as they say in England – enabling Italy to find their pace and plays and the equaliser was a natural consequence.

"So Southgate was too conservative too soon.

"Mancini on the other hand was so good. All the subs proved him right. When he subbed [Nicolo] Barella I was expecting more [Manuel] Locatelli than [Bryan] Cristante, but he got that right too as the team kept their pace high, producing quality."

 

Former Italy forward Zola, who won 35 caps for the Azzurri, was surprised by how little influence England's Mason Mount had on the final.

Mount has been impressive in the Premier League for Chelsea, the club where Zola was such a favourite in a seven-year spell from 1996 to 2003.

But in 99 minutes of action against Italy, before being substituted, Mount had only 36 touches of the ball and completed just 15 of 22 passes for a 68.2 per cent success rate. All of Italy's starting XI had a higher percentage than Mount achieved, with Federico Chiesa's 77.8 per cent their lowest mark.

Chiesa was far more threatening than Mount, who was given an advanced midfield role by Southgate, operating just behind Harry Kane but barely having any influence on the game.

In 54 games for Chelsea last season, across all competitions, Mount scored nine goals, had eight assists and created 109 chances. The 22-year-old had one assist in 464 minutes of action at the Euros, creating eight chances over the tournament.

"For sure after what he had shown in the Premier League, in the Champions League and even in the friendlies ahead of the Euros, he didn't shine," Zola said.

"He is young and the long season with Chelsea where he always played may have had an impact on his sub-par performance. Yet, he is a very skilful player and this experience will help him become better and stronger.

"As I am told, he is a level-headed kind of guy so this experience will help him for sure."

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