Liverpool assistant head coach Pep Lijnders has described Liverpool's attackers as being "like raptors from Jurassic Park" after the 5-0 hammering of Manchester United.

The Reds have been potent this season, their tally of 41 goals in all competitions bettered only by Bayern Munich (60) among teams from Europe's top five leagues.

Mohamed Salah has been responsible for 15 of those goals, making him the second-highest goalscorer among Europe's elite this season behind Robert Lewandowski (17).

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have six each, while, and Diogo Jota – who scored against United on Sunday – has four to his name.

Each of Liverpool's forwards have been in fantastic form and Lijnders puts that down to Jurgen Klopp's men going back to basics.

"I think it has to do with the way we are playing," he said during a news conference on Tuesday previewing the midweek EFL Cup last-16 tie with Preston North End. 

"It's the whole package that means our front players get into good positions. The front three look like raptors in Jurassic Park! 

"We haven't changed anything. Sometimes improving is going back to basics. Players needed a break after a few intense and emotional seasons."

With his hat-trick at Old Trafford, Salah has now scored in a club-record 10 successive matches for Liverpool in all competitions.

The Egypt international, who surpassed Didier Drogba (104) as the highest-scoring African in Premier League history with 106 goals, is expected to be rested against Preston.

Takumi Minamino scored twice and Divock Origi was on target as Liverpool swept aside Norwich City 3-0 in the last round and both players are in line to start again at Deepdale on Wednesday.

"We are used to making changes," Lijnders said. "We have to do things the right way by training and recovering correctly. 

"That's what I like about us – we prepare at the same level no matter who the opponent. We have to show our fans that same hunger and desire.

"Origi is the top scorer in this competition. He is a world-class finisher and is looking sharp, as is Minamino. Last season went to show that we need all of our players.

"They all have to show the right mentality and be ready. They have to stay patient and keep training hard."

Lijnders confirmed James Milner will miss Liverpool's next four matches ahead of the international break with a hamstring injury sustained in the win at Old Trafford.

Naby Keita also came off in that game following a strong challenge from Paul Pogba, who was shown a red card, but Liverpool's assistant was able to provide a more positive update on the midfielder.

"Naby has a bruise in this moment, which we are assessing day by day," Lijnders said.

"Thankfully his leg wasn't planted, but it's still a painful one. It's looking good. Fabinho will also be monitored daily and may return next weekend."

Liverpool travel to Preston aiming to keep alive their good record against lower-league opposition in the EFL Cup, having progressed from 16 of their past 17 such ties.

"Our priority is to put on a good display," Lijnders added. "That is the case from the start of the season until the end.

"Our game needs freshness and we want the opponents to feel our attack. The only way we will be able to properly press is to rotate.

"We are taking it game by game and are hoping to maintain our consistency."

Jurgen Klopp has suggested star forward Mohamed Salah wants to end his career at Liverpool following the Reds' 5-0 thrashing of rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Liverpool romped to a big win in Manchester with Salah hitting a hat-trick and grabbing an assist for Naby Keita, with Diogo Jota also getting on the scoresheet.

Liverpool head coach Klopp was full of praise for Salah, who became the first away player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford since Ronaldo did so for Real Madrid in the Champions League in April 2003, while he is only the second player to do so while playing for Liverpool after Fred Howe in November 1936. 

"The fifth goal, Mo was there to get the goals and he deals with the fuss that everyone makes around him," Klopp said to Sky Sports. "He enjoys his football and long, long, long, may it continue. I knew already (he wants to end his career here), I know the situation."

Klopp was also stunned by the manner of his side's win and hailed their clinical performance after the Reds recorded their largest margin of victory against United since October 1895, winning 7-1 at Anfield. It was also Liverpool's greatest margin of victory in the fixture away from home. 

The German also explained that the Reds intentionally eased off at 5-0 to lower the risk of further injuries after James Milner was forced off early and Keita was carried off on a stretcher after a two-footed tackle from Paul Pogba that saw the Frenchman sent off.

"What can I say? Did I expect that? No," Klopp continued. "What we did in the last third was insane. Pressing high, winning balls, scoring wonderful goals. I told them at half-time to play better.

"We started incredibly well and stopped playing football. We controlled the game after the fifth, it was not about scoring more, just trying to get out without more injuries.

"The result is insane, I asked if there was one like this in history and if there isn't then it will take a while. The players put a nice piece in the book. It is special but we don't celebrate like crazy, we have respect for the opponents. We were lucky in some moments, United are not in their best moment.

"Three points against a real opponent but you have to understand these games right. We got lost against Aston Villa and you have to learn off it. We smashed Crystal Palace once and the results are not interesting. I analyse the games, we can play better football and have to concentrate more.

"I couldn't be happier, it is exceptional. Absolutely outstanding. I have a few defeats in my mind which was not necessary but we won today so we drink beer on the way home.

"James Milner has a hamstring, he showed me something was not right. Naby Keita we have to see, a full-throttle [tackle] on the shin."

Salah spoke of the Reds' title ambitions after becoming the top-scoring African player in Premier League history, his 107 goals taking him clear of Didier Drogba's 104, while also becoming the first-ever Liverpool player to score in three consecutive away games against United in all competitions.

"I think it is great to win 5-0 here, we knew before the game it would be tough if we did not play our game," Salah said to Sky Sports. "We knew they will come and try to give everything so we had to give 100 per cent.

"As long as the team keep winning I am happy and to give my best to the team to win. We know what it takes to win the Premier League, we did it two years ago. A big win here but still only three points.

"We try to win each game and try to win the title. We need to play to win everything. From our heads from pre-season, we need to win the Premier League and hopefully, we go for that."

Jurgen Klopp closed in on a milestone win in sensational style as Mohamed Salah's hat-trick inspired Liverpool to a 5-0 rout of Manchester United.

Matters look bleak for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the pressure mounting on the United manager, who saw his team torn to shreds on Sunday.

Salah scored the Reds' final three goals, having teed up Naby Keita's opener, while Diogo Jota grabbed Liverpool's second. Paul Pogba's red card merely compounded United's misery.

It was a momentous day for Liverpool and a dismal one for United. Stats Perform looks at the records that tumbled in an historic result.

 

Klopp closes in on double century

Taking charge of his 229th match as Liverpool manager in the Premier League, Klopp claimed his 198th victory as Reds boss in all competitions. 

If including shoot-out victories, which Opta do not, Klopp has in fact already hit that mark.

He has also overtaken Rafael Benitez and Gerard Houllier (including matches as co-manager with Roy Evans) as the manager to have taken charge of the most games for the club in the top flight.

Klopp's team look well set for a title tilt. They have scored 19 goals in their first five away matches in the Premier League this season.

In English top-flight history only two sides have scored more after five away games – Manchester City in 2011-12 (20) and United in 1907-08 (20).

Salah in dreamland

It has been some season so far for Salah, as he moved onto 10 Premier League goals with a gift-wrapped hat-trick.

He is the first away player to net a hat-trick at Old Trafford since Ronaldo Nazario did so for Real Madrid in April 2003, while he is only the second player to do so for Liverpool, after Fred Howe in 1936.

Salah's goal tally in the Premier League now stands at 107, three clear of Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African player in the competition's history.

The 29-year-old has scored in 10 consecutive appearances for the Reds in all competitions. Since he joined the club prior to the 2017-18 campaign, he is the only Premier League player to score in 10 successive matches.

 

Solemn times for Solskjaer

United were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes for the first time, and 4-0 down at half-time for the first time in any Premier League game.

The Red Devils have only lost by a larger margin in this fixture in October 1895 when Liverpool beat them 7-1 at Anfield. It is their largest margin of defeat in this fixture when playing at home.

Liverpool are only the second team in English top-flight history to win consecutive away games by a margin of five or more goals without conceding themselves, after United in February-March 1960.

It is the first time United have lost by a margin of at least five goals at Old Trafford without scoring since they slumped to a 5-0 defeat to Man City in 1955.

Pogba's calamitous cameo 

Pogba had a 15-minute cameo to forget. He replaced Mason Greenwood at half-time, but was trudging down the tunnel on the hour mark after lunging in on Keita, who had to be taken off on a stretcher.

He had 20 touches, made 16 passes and was robbed of possession in the build-up to Salah's hat-trick goal. It was one of five occasions he gave the ball away.

The France midfielder's red card was the 17th in Premier League matches between Manchester United and Liverpool – the only fixture with more red cards in the competition is Everton vs Liverpool (22).

Cristiano Ronaldo also struggled to have an impact, despite a disallowed goal. The 36-year-old previously featured in a 5-0 defeat during his time at Real Madrid, to Barcelona in November 2010.

Mohamed Salah maintained his scintillating form with a hat-trick and Paul Pogba was sent off as Liverpool hammered Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's shambolic Manchester United 5-0 at Old Trafford.

Liverpool humiliated their fierce rivals to pile more pressure on Red Devils boss Solskjaer, with Jurgen Klopp celebrating 200 wins as manager of the Merseyside club in dream fashion.

United were blown away as they went in at half-time four goals down for the first time in a Premier League game, making it all too easy for the Reds as Naby Keita and Diogo Jota were on target before Salah struck twice.

The magnificent Salah completed his hat-trick early in the second half, taking his goal tally for the season to 15, before substitute Pogba was dismissed for a poor challenge on Keita.

Salah has now scored in 10 consecutive games and Liverpool are unbeaten in 21 matches, while United are in disarray after the most chastening of defeats in their own backyard.

Keita silenced the United faithful when he capitalised on poor defending to slide beyond David de Gea with his right foot after being slipped in by Salah.

That strike in the fifth minute was the Reds' earliest at Old Trafford in the Premier League and they did not have long to wait for a second, Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross giving Jota a tap-in after a mix-up between Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.

Liverpool, already without the injured Fabinho, lost James Milner midway through the first half but Salah put them out of sight with a double before the break after Alisson had denied Mason Greenwood.

The abysmal Red Devils were all over the place and the ruthless Egypt forward made them pay, finishing with his right foot when he was picked out by Keita and tucking home with his left from close range just before a half-time whistle that was greeted with loud boos.

Salah completed his treble five minutes into the second half, racing onto Jordan Henderson's incisive pass before beating De Gea with a clinical left-foot finish after Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for offside.

United's day took yet another turn for the worse when Pogba was dismissed for a reckless lunge on Keita following a VAR check, having initially been shown a yellow card on the hour mark.

Keita was unable to continue and the United players look like they would rather not, as only a brilliant save from De Gea prevented Alexander-Arnold adding a sixth.

Andrew Robertson's block sent the ball crashing against the crossbar late on to prevent Edinson Cavani from finding the back of the net and there were inevitably more boos at the final whistle to end a totally one-sided contest.

Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah has the ability to match the sustained level of performance Cristiano Ronaldo has managed to achieve.

Salah's Liverpool visit Ronaldo's Manchester United in the Premier League's headline fixture on Sunday.

The Egypt forward has been in sensational form this season, scoring 12 goals in all competitions, with seven of those coming in eight top-flight matches.

Salah's tally includes brilliant individual goals against Manchester City and Watford in his last two Premier League outings and, while Ronaldo hit the ground running in his second spell at United in terms of goalscoring, the 36-year-old has been part of a disjointed Red Devils attack.

At this moment, Salah's all-round game seems to be at its peak. He has provided four assists from 25 chances created and has outperformed his expected goals (xG) value by some way (12 goals from an xG of 9.0).

 

Klopp insists he has never thought to compare Salah and Ronaldo, though he believes the professionalism and commitment of the duo is one area in which the players are very similar.

Asked if Salah could hit the levels of continued success that Ronaldo has enjoyed late into his career, Klopp said: "You need luck, because things can happen with injuries and so on, but I think the professionalism of both Mo and Cristiano is the one thing you can compare 100 per cent.

"It is probably the same. Mo is incredibly professional. He is really the first one in and very often the last out of all the players.

"He is constantly interested in all the things he can do and has to do to keep or improve the standard. I think he still has a lot to give, 100 per cent.

"It helps him for sure and the team he is playing for then as well and I hope it is for us [in the future]."

Salah scored another fantastic individual goal in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid in midweek, becoming the first player in the club's history to score in nine consecutive matches across all competitions.

"It's true that I have been blessed with incredible players during my time but, no, when the ball went over all players in that situation and Mo had to already run pretty quick to get it before the sideline and then he turns, it didn't look for me like a proper goalscoring opportunity to me," Klopp added.

"But challenge by challenge it developed into that. That's the situation and that is the difference between a moment when momentum is not on your side and when momentum is on your side.

 

"It is all about the quality of Mo in this moment to do it, to try it and you can imagine how much all the players of Atletico knew about this ability and wanted to defend it desperately and still couldn't do it.

"That is pretty special, pretty special. I am really happy and more than fine with the players I could watch during my time, and being quite positive when they got the ball, that something special will happen."

Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season (two in the FA Cup, one in the Premier League) – no Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive games at Old Trafford.

Liverpool head to Manchester unbeaten in 18 league games, the longest current run in the top four tiers of English football (W13 D5).

Away from home, Liverpool have scored at least three goals in each of their last five Premier League games (17 in total), with only United last season having a longer such run in the competition (six).

Mohamed Salah has declared he wants to stay at Liverpool for the rest of his career.

The Egyptian forward is rated by his club boss Jurgen Klopp as the best player in the world currently, after scoring 12 goals in 11 games for the Reds this season.

His current deal runs through to the end of the 2022-23 season, but Liverpool are eager to secure his future as soon as possible.

It is clear that in-form Salah is happy at Anfield, but there is more to it than that, with the club needing to satisfy his financial demands.

He is putting all the onus on Liverpool to come up with the attractive offer that will persuade him to make a long-term commitment, knowing there would be clubs queueing up to offer him big-money deals should he leave.

At the age of 29, the next contract he signs will likely be Salah's last major deal of his career.

"This doesn't depend on me. If you ask me, I would love to stay until the last day of my football [career]," Salah told Sky Sports.

"But I can't say much about that, it is not in my hands. It depends on what the club want.

"At the moment, I can't see myself ever playing against Liverpool. That would make me sad.

"It's hard. I don't want to talk about it, but it would make me really sad. Let's see what will happen in the future."

On Sunday, Salah is set to line up for Liverpool at Manchester United, where he scored three times in two visits last season, netting twice in an FA Cup defeat and then once late on in a 4-2 Premier League win.

No Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive away games against Manchester United, but Salah has netted in his last nine outings across all competitions.

It would almost be a surprise, therefore, if he failed to find the net at Old Trafford, with the fact United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine home league matches another factor to consider.

Comparisons have been drawn between Salah and United forward Cristiano Ronaldo, and they will continue on Sunday, with the performance of each man likely to be pivotal to the outcome.

In his first season at Liverpool, in 2017-18, Salah broke Ronaldo's record of 31 Premier League goals in a 38-game campaign, scoring 32 times and averaging a strike every 91 minutes.

Salah's shot conversion rate of 22.22 per cent that season (from 144 attempts in total) is the best either he or Ronaldo have managed in their Premier League careers.

In terms of assists, Salah has twice reached 10 for a campaign, in 2017-18 and Liverpool's title-winning season of 2019-20. Ronaldo's best figure of eight was recorded in 2006-07.

This season, Salah sits alongside Jamie Vardy on seven goals at the top of the Premier League scoring chart, heading into the weekend programme.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has commanded Manchester United to douse the blazing brilliance of Liverpool's "on-fire" forward Mohamed Salah.

The United manager knows Salah is capable of turning up at Old Trafford on Sunday and making a game-winning contribution, after scoring 12 goals in 11 games this season.

Six of those goals have come in Salah's last four games, including Champions League doubles against Porto and Atletico Madrid, and the Egypt international has only failed to net in one game this term: the 2-0 win over Burnley in August.

Although Solskjaer said he would side with Cristiano Ronaldo in any debate about who is the best player in the world, his admiration for Salah shone through.

"I'll always back Cristiano in any competition. He's unique and his goalscoring record has been fantastic and he keeps on scoring," Solskjaer said.

"But that being said, Salah at the moment is on fire. You've seen some of the goals he's scored lately. We know we need to be at our best to defend against him.

"Players like this don't come around very often and we've got to enjoy them when we watch them – from afar, not on Sunday, that's too close for me."

Wonder strikes against Manchester City and Watford in Liverpool's last two Premier League games have illustrated how well Salah is performing, and he sits alongside Jamie Vardy on seven goals at the top of the Premier League scoring chart.

Along with those goals in Europe, that lift him into double figures, Salah has found a consistency this season that makes him Liverpool's number one threat.

"So we've got to do a good job, but not just against him," Solskjaer said. "I'm a big admirer of the frontline they've had for many, many years now, with [Sadio] Mane and [Roberto] Firmino. Maybe [Diogo] Jota will play, who knows?

"They're players you have to focus on and you've got to be nailed on for 95 minutes to keep a clean sheet.

"When you play against a team at the level of Liverpool at the moment, they're on a great run of form, with some individuals' skills that you cannot almost defend against. But as a team we need to be compact, we need to be aggressive, we need to go out there and give every drop of nous and knowledge, strong mindset and physical energy.

"It's going to take everything to get results against the best teams in Europe and the world, and Liverpool are one of them at the moment."

Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season, netting twice in a 3-2 FA Cup defeat before hitting the fourth as Liverpool won 4-2 in the Premier League.

No Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive away games against United, while the Merseyside giants have not earned consecutive league wins at Old Trafford since January 2002.

Should Jurgen Klopp's men follow up last season's Premier League success at United with another victory, they would hold a seven-point cushion over their great rivals.

United have a disappointing recent record in league games against Liverpool, winning just one of their previous 10 encounters. This game has often failed to live up to expectations in recent seasons, with six of the last 10 ending in draws, and Liverpool coming out on top in the other three.

Solskjaer said he hoped the 3-2 win over Atalanta on Wednesday signalled "the end of a bad period for us" and that it might be "the start of something big". That is bold talk, given United have lost three of their last four domestic games, including a 4-2 setback at Leicester City last Saturday.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 18 in the Premier League, with the turmoil that plagued them at the start of the year banished and replaced by an optimism they can challenge for a second title in three years.

United are without a clean sheet in any of their last nine home league matches, their longest such run since a run of 10 between September 1970 and February 1971.

Although United finished ahead of Liverpool last season, Solskjaer was realistic enough to recognise it was injury chaos in the Anfield ranks that blunted the 2020-21 challenge from Klopp's men, with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sitting out most of the season.

"They're one of the teams we're trying to chase. What they've done in the last four years is something we're striving towards and [trying] to go past them," Solskjaer said.

"We ended above them last season, they had a very bad spell of injuries, so now they're back to their best."

Liverpool meet Manchester United in a clash of two of the Premier League's fiercest rivalries on Sunday, and it will also see two of the competition's star forwards face off.

Cristiano Ronaldo's move back to United was a sensational story late in the transfer window, and though the 36-year-old picked up where he left off in England back in 2009, it is Liverpool's Mohamed Salah who has taken the limelight so far this season.

Salah leads the way with seven goals from eight league appearances in 2021-22, including two quite sensational strikes in his last two top-flight matches, against Manchester City and Watford respectively.

His efforts, which also include four assists, a tally so far bettered only by Ronaldo's United team-mate Paul Pogba (seven), have helped Liverpool to five victories and three draws.

On Friday, Jurgen Klopp was asked in his pre-match news conference to compare Salah and Ronaldo, as two of the league's – and indeed world football's – best players.

"I never thought about that," he said. "Why should we compare Cristiano Ronaldo and Mo Salah?

"Both are world-class players and that's it. I would say, even though Cristiano Ronaldo's left foot is not that bad, I'd say Mo's left foot is probably better!

"Maybe then in the air Ronaldo is slightly better and his right foot is probably better! But speed wise they are both pretty quick, very desperate to score goals, so maybe that's it but I really never thought properly about that and never really thought about it."

While Klopp may not think to compare the duo, Stats Perform has used Opta data to assess how the star forwards stack up.

 

Premier League records

While Ronaldo always seemed set for stardom since bursting onto the scene under Alex Ferguson in 2003-04, Salah did have a rather more stagnated journey to becoming one of the top-flight's best players, with the Egypt forward initially struggling at Chelsea after a move from Basel in January 2014.

He scored twice in 10 league appearances in his first half-season at Stamford Bridge but, under Jose Mourinho, played only three times in the competition in 2014-15 before loan moves to Fiorentina and Roma, the latter switch eventually being made permanent.

But in his first season at Liverpool in 2017-18, Salah broke Ronaldo's record of 31 Premier League goals in a single campaign, scoring 32 times across 36 matches, averaging a strike every 91 minutes.

Salah's shot conversion rate of 22.22 per cent that season (from 144 attempts in total) is the best either he or Ronaldo have managed in their Premier League careers.

In terms of assists, Salah has twice reached 10 for a campaign, in 2017-18 and Liverpool's title-winning season of 2019-20. Ronaldo's best figure of eight was recorded in 2006-07.

Klopp pointed to Ronaldo's aerial prowess as an area where the Portugal star certainly edges out his Egyptian counterpart, and that is reflected in the data – the former Real Madrid man having scored 11 of his 87 Premier League goals with his head, compared to just six from Salah.

Salah has scored a remarkable 104 league goals from 166 appearances, while Ronaldo has scored his tally from 201 games in the competition.

 

The season so far...

Salah also edges the statistics when taking this season specifically into account. In all competitions, he has already netted 12 goals in 11 games, all of which have been starts, while Ronaldo has scored six times in eight matches.

Ronaldo has averaged a goal every 107 minutes, while Salah has done so every 80 minutes. The latter has also been involved in 16 goals compared to Ronaldo's tally of six, with the Liverpool attacker crafting 25 chances for team-mates.

Much has been made of Ronaldo's transformation into a penalty box poacher, though his 54 touches in the opposition area is some 39 fewer than Salah (93), perhaps speaking more to the differing styles of play between United and Liverpool.

Both players have outperformed their expected goals (xG), suggesting their finishing has been better than would be expected. Salah, however, is some three ahead (12 goals from an xG of 9.0), with Ronaldo's six goals coming from an xG of 5.4.

Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season (two in the FA Cup, one in the Premier League), and he could become the first Liverpool player to net in three consecutive matches at Old Trafford.

The Premier League table continues to take shape as we approach matchday nine, with Liverpool versus Manchester United the headline clash of the weekend.

Mohamed Salah, a fantasy football favourite, will look to further his nine-game scoring run as the Reds travel to Old Trafford, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping the comeback win against Atalanta inspires his side.

Chelsea, whose defence continues to provide valuable clean-sheet points for many a fantasy line-up, face strugglers Norwich City and Manchester City – another clean-sheet machine – travel to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Whether it is the Blues' regimented defence or Jurgen Klopp's shot-hungry attack, Stats Perform uses Opta-powered data to pick out seven potential fantasy stars.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea v Norwich City)

Edouard Mendy was, arguably, the primary reason Chelsea collected all three points at local rivals Brentford last time out.

The goalkeeper produced six second-half saves as he left the Bees in disbelief with his various acrobatics to secure his 20th clean sheet in just 38 top-flight games.

With that many shutouts to his name, he boasts a clean-sheet ratio of 53 per cent – the highest of all keepers with 10-plus starts in Premier League history.

BEN CHILWELL (Chelsea v Norwich City)

Marcos Alonso may have been an early pick but Thomas Tuchel's wing-back roulette now seems to be favouring Ben Chilwell, who is in fine goal-scoring form.

The England left-back not only offers defensive returns, but he has also managed to score in his last three Premier League matches – having registered just two gaols in his first 26 Blues appearances in the competition.

Partnered with Mendy and against a shot-shy Norwich outfit, Chilwell is almost a certainty to provide some much-needed contributions from your backline.

JOAO CANCELO (Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City)

Joao Cancelo is the only one of Pep Guardiola's defenders to start all eight top-flight fixtures this term, after fantasy favourite Ruben Dias was surprisingly benched against Burnley.

The versatile full-back is yet to score but boasts the highest expected goals of any defender this term (1.3), while enjoying the most touches in the opposition box among the same category (22).

Only Shane Duffy (14) has attempted more shots than Cancelo (13), and the full-back should also be a shoo-in for clean-sheet bonus points, given no defender has kept more than his six shutouts this season.

MOHAMED SALAH (Manchester United v Liverpool)

By this point, if Salah is not present in your team then questions may need to be asked following his solo 'Goal of the Season' competition he has seemingly created in the last couple of games.

Since the start of March, the Egypt forward has been directly involved in the most goals, with his 18 (12 goals, six assists) two more than Leicester's Kelechi Iheanacho.

A premium but must-buy option for every fantasy outfit, Salah could wreak havoc on Sunday against a somewhat timid Red Devils defence at Old Trafford.

SON HEUNG-MIN (West Ham v Tottenham)

With an unusually out of form Harry Kane failing to deliver for Tottenham, and the majority of fantasy owners, Son Heung-Min has stepped up for Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

The South Korea international has scored four times and assisted once – those contributions worth eight points to Spurs, more than any player in the competition this campaign.

Son, up against West Ham, could provide further joy on Sunday if he is to carry Spurs seemingly single-handedly to victory once more.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal v Aston Villa)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been integral to Arsenal's early-season revival, finding the net in each of his last three top-flight games at Emirates Stadium.

In total, he has managed 42 Premier League goals at the Gunners' home ground, with only Robin van Persie firing in more (46).

Against a wounded Aston Villa defence, who shipped three late goals against Wolves in their last game, can Aubameyang continue his fine scoring run?

RAHEEM STERLING (Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City)

Again, err on the side of caution with this pick, given Guardiola's preference to rotate his wealth of playmaking riches regularly.

However, should Raheem Sterling start against Brighton – he could be an unlikely differential to source vital attacking gains in gameweek nine.

The England international has netted four times in four starts against the Seagulls, scoring a hat-trick on his last visit to the South Coast in July 2020.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson hailed Mohamed Salah following his record-breaking performance in the 3-2 Champions League victory at Atletico Madrid.

Salah made history by becoming the first Liverpool player to score in nine successive matches to earn the Reds a dramatic win away to 10-man Atletico in Madrid on Tuesday.

LaLiga champions Atletico had two-goal Antoine Griezmann sent off and a late penalty contentiously overturned in the Group B battle.

After opening the scoring in the eighth minute before Naby Keita made it 2-0 five minutes later, Salah converted a penalty with 12 minutes remaining to give Liverpool a five-point lead in the group.

With 31 goals, Salah – who has a 90 per cent penalty-conversion rate for the club across all competitions – is now Liverpool's all-time leading scorer in the Champions League as Alisson praised the in-form Egyptian star.

"I'm really happy for him, he's a fantastic player," Alisson said during his post-match news conference.

"He's showing on the pitch all the time, making really nice goals, not just easy goals. But he contributes a lot for the team as well – not only scoring but helping in the defensive phase, playing for the team.

"He is a hungry player, he's a hungry striker. I'm really happy for him. I hope that he continues that."

Liverpool beat Atletico for the first time in the Champions League (D2 L2), while the victory ended a five-game winless run in away games against Spanish sides in the competition (D1 L4).

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool led 2-0 after just 13 minutes – the earliest Atletico have ever been two goals down in a Champions League match before.

However, it was also the first time Liverpool have ever scored and conceded two or more goals in the opening half of a Champions League fixture.

"I believe the boss is a maestro in talking in the right moments, the right things," Alisson said of manager Klopp. "I think he brought us in the game again in the changing room and also our attitude changed a little bit in the second half.

"It is not easy when you are 2-0 up and then you concede a goal and you know that it will be hard. We came here, we knew that it wouldn't be easy to play against Atletico and the game shows it for everyone, for us and for everybody who watched the game.

"So, I'm happy that we could score the third goal and don't concede anymore and control more the situations, but there is a gap to improve as well when we have one player more than them on the pitch. You must create more chances but, as I said, it is not easy when they park the bus in front of the goal. We are happy for the three points."

Mohamed Salah made history by scoring in a ninth successive match for Liverpool to earn the Reds a dramatic 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid, who had two-goal Antoine Griezmann sent off and a late penalty contentiously overturned.

In-form forward Salah opened the scoring inside eight minutes in Tuesday's breathless Champions League tie before Naby Keita volleyed in a second five minutes later as the visitors took complete control at Wanda Metropolitano.

That was the earliest Atletico had gone two goals down in a Champions League match, though they hit back before half-time through Griezmann's double.

Griezmann was sent off early in the second half for a high boot on Roberto Firmino and Liverpool made the man advantage count when Salah scored a second of his own from the penalty spot.

Liverpool, who were given a late reprieve when a penalty awarded for Diogo Jota's shove on Jose Gimenez was overruled following a check of the pitchside monitor, now hold a five-point lead over Atletico and Porto at the top of Group B.

At 29 years and 130 days, Liverpool fielded their oldest starting line-up in a match since September 1953 and their experience showed in a fast start that saw them open the scoring early on.

Salah's left-footed shot from outside the box took a deflection on its way past Jan Oblak and was later credited to the Egypt forward after some initial confusion over who the final touch came off.

Atleti continued to be pushed back and they found themselves two goals behind soon after when Felipe's poor defensive header fell nicely for Keita to thump home with a dipping first-time shot from 18 yards.

But the home side soon settled and were back in the game thanks to a slight touch from Griezmann to help Koke's shot into the bottom-left corner, the goal allowed to stand after a lengthy VAR check for a possible offside in the build-up.

Griezmann was then denied by Alisson when played clean through on goal, but the France international made amends by taking Joao Felix's pass in his stride and coolly slotting past the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Alisson and Oblak continued to be called into action in a frantic end-to-end match, but momentum shifted back in Liverpool's favour with 52 minutes played with Griezmann's straight red card.

Jurgen Klopp's side made a spell of pressure count 12 minutes from time as Mario Hermoso barged into Jota inside the box and Salah, who missed a penalty against Milan in Liverpool's opening group match, buried the spot-kick.

There was still time for more drama in the Spanish capital, with referee Daniel Siebert pointing to the spot for Jota's challenge on Gimenez, but the decision was controversially overturned before substitute Luis Suarez could step up and take the penalty.

Mohamed Salah became the first player in Liverpool history to score in nine successive matches with his early strike in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.

The Egypt forward guided in a left-footed drive from just outside the box that was initially credited as a James Milner goal due to the shot taking a deflection on its way through.

However, the goal was later awarded to Salah and with that the 29-year-old broke yet another record as he extended his remarkable scoring streak.

Salah's run started with a penalty to help the Reds to a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on August 28 and he followed that up with goals against Leeds United, Milan, Crystal Palace, Brentford, Porto (two), Manchester City and Watford.

That impressive solo goal against Watford on Saturday made Salah the fourth Liverpool player to net in eight straight matches alongside Sam Raybould (1902-03), John Aldridge (1987-88) and Daniel Sturridge (2013-14).

He moved outright first in that list with his goal at Wanda Metropolitano, with that strike also meaning he has scored in each of his last six away games for Liverpool in the Champions League.

Only Sergio Aguero has scored in more successive away matches in the competition for an English club, the now-Barcelona striker finding the net seven games on the spin for Manchester City between 2017 and 2019.

The Champions League group stage reaches the halfway point this week and Tuesday provides another set of tasty fixtures.

Liverpool travel to Atletico Madrid seeking revenge two seasons on from their last-16 exit to Diego Simeone's side in the pick of the games.

Real Madrid and Manchester City are each looking to respond to defeats last time out when they take on Shakhtar Donetsk and Club Brugge respectively.

Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain host RB Leipzig and two of Europe's great entertainers in Ajax and Borussia Dortmund face off in Amsterdam.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data ahead of some key contests.

 

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool: Reds face bogey side

Following their last-16 exit to Atletico two seasons ago, Liverpool are winless in four Champions League meetings with the LaLiga champions – only Basel have they faced as many times without winning in Europe's top competition.

The Reds have also lost six of their past seven games on Spanish soil in the tournament since beating Real Madrid in the 2008-09 last 16, though they were victorious at the Wanda Metropolitano against Tottenham in the 2018-19 final.

Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in that meeting with Spurs and he has more recently scored in each of his past five away games for Liverpool in the Champions League – the longest-such streak by a Reds player in the competition.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid: Will Ancelotti be Los Blancos' lucky omen?

Shakhtar beat Madrid home and away in the group stage last season and could become just the third side to win three in a row against Los Blancos in the competition after Bayern Munich and Juventus.

While Madrid's recent record against the Ukrainian outfit is poor, head coach Carlo Ancelotti has won all four of his previous Champions League games against Shakhtar – only against Bayern (six) and Liverpool (five) has he won more often.

Prior to their shock defeat at the hands of Sheriff last time out, Madrid beat Inter 1-0 at San Siro in their opening Group D contest. However, not since 2014-15 have they won their opening two Champions League away games.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig: History not on Germans' side

After netting in PSG's win against Manchester City three weeks ago, Messi is looking to join Neymar (2017), Alex (2012) and George Weah (1994) in scoring in his first two home games for the club in the competition.

PSG have a great record against German opponents, having won seven of their eight meetings with Bundesliga clubs on home soil, though the exception in that run was in April this year when Bayern won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes.

The Ligue 1 side do not tend to slip up at home in the group stage, losing just one of their past 28 such games – against Manchester United in October 2020 – and netting 2.7 goals per game on average.

Club Brugge v Manchester City: Pep seeking response to Paris pain

Ahead of this first ever meeting with City, Brugge are winless in 12 matches against English opponents in all European competitions since beating Chelsea in the Cup Winners' Cup 26 years ago.

The Belgian champions are unbeaten in their past four home group matches in the Champions League, though, picking up eight points across that run – only once have they gone five in a row without defeat (a run of six that ended in October 2019).

But Pep Guardiola will be confident of City getting their campaign back on track following defeat in Paris, the Catalan coach having lost successive away games in the competition once previously when in charge of Bayern in 2014-15 (against Porto and Barcelona).

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Borussia Dortmund

2 - Dortmund have won their previous two major European matches in the Netherlands, both in the Champions League. Their last defeat on Dutch soil was in the 2002 UEFA Cup final against Feyenoord.

3 - Ajax are aiming to win their opening three games to a Champions League campaign for the first time since 1995-96 under Louis van Gaal, the season in which they last made it all the way to the final.


Besiktas v Sporting CP

4 - Sporting have failed to win a European match on Turkish soil, drawing three times and losing once, with that loss coming against Istanbul Basaksehir in February 2020 in the Europa League. Besiktas, though, have won just once in 11 home Champions League games, beating RB Leipzig 2-0 in September 2017.

3 - Sporting lost their opening two group matches, against Dortmund and Ajax, and are at risk of losing three in a row for the first time in the current group-stage format.


Porto v Milan

6 - Porto have kept a clean sheet in six of their past seven games in the group stage of the Champions League, though they did concede five times in their last outing in the competition against Liverpool.

7 - Including qualifying matches, seven of Milan's eight away matches in UEFA competitions in Portugal have ended as a draw, with their only win coming against Porto in March 1993 courtesy of a Jean-Pierre Papin goal.


Inter v Sheriff

- Inter have failed to score in their previous three home Champions League games (the last two group games in 2020-21 and against Madrid this term). They have never previously gone four major UEFA European home games without scoring.

- Sheriff are looking to become just the third team this century to win their first three games in the Champions League, after Leicester City in 2016-17 and Malaga in 2012-13.

After nearly two weeks off due to the international break, Premier League football was back this past weekend and it was as intriguing as ever.

A new era began at St James' Park, though the outcome of the match was arguably as familiar as ever for Newcastle United fans, while similar could be said of Watford as they began Claudio Ranieri's tenure by being battered by Liverpool.

That game saw Mohamed Salah spectacularly edge closer to Liverpool history, while their next opponents – bitter rivals Manchester United – continued their dreadful run by conceding four to Leicester City.

But Harry Kane got himself back among the goals and Wolves pulled off what of the most unlikely comebacks the Premier League has seen.

Below, Stats Perform delves into some of the quirky Opta facts from the weekend…

Salah on verge of historic achievement

The early frontrunner for individual end-of-season awards in the Premier League is undoubtedly Salah, who has made a scintillating start to 2021-22.

He somehow reached a new level of spectacular on Saturday in the 5-0 dismantling of Watford, his incredible solo goal showcasing the kind of improbable dribbling one would expect to see in an unrealistic football film or naff television advert – only this was real.

But more than the sheer audacity of the goal, it was the eighth goal in a row that Salah has scored in for Liverpool – not only was that a personal best for him, it equalled a club record set by Daniel Sturridge.

If Salah scores in his next appearance, which will presumably be either against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday or United at the weekend, he will become the first Liverpool player to net in nine successive outings.

Newcastle, the Premier League's pressing anomaly

Sunday ended up being something of a reality check for Newcastle. While most fans will have turned up to St James' Park with a sense of optimism for the first time in years, all will have left at full-time with the realisation that – Saudi money or not – this is a team that could conceivably be in the Championship next season.

But one area that they are seemingly proving quite efficient is with regards to their pressing leading to goals.

Now, it's worth saying that Newcastle aren't among the most intense teams when it comes to their off-the-ball setup, as their 47 high turnovers is only more than four clubs in the Premier League.

However, three of those situations have led to a goal, which is more than anyone else in the division and speaks to an impressive level of efficiency.

That probably won't come as much of a consolation if they do get relegated, though.

Kane at home on the road

What with all the furore surrounding Newcastle heading into the weekend, Kane's Premier League woes for this season seemed to take a backseat in the build-up.

Whether that played a role in him finally getting his first Premier League goal of the season is impossible to prove, but his clever finish in Spurs' 3-2 win did highlight just how reliable Kane has been as an away striker over the years.

It was his 88th away goal in the competition, taking him past Alan Shearer and to within six of the record holder, Wayne Rooney. But Kane's haul comes from just 128 away games.

Rooney's 94 was from 243 matches on the road, Shearer needed 219 for his total. For Kane to reach such a figure so soon is a truly astonishing accomplishment.

Wolves' turnaround a comeback for the ages

Is there anything in football that matches the sheer joy of a late comeback? You go from being resigned to defeat, then having a little hope and ultimately becoming overwhelmed with emotion as the turnaround is complete. It's a rollercoaster.

Most fans know what it's like to see something similar, but what Wolves supporters witnessed on Saturday was even more remarkable because due to the speed at which everything unfurled.

They were 2-0 down at local rivals Aston Villa in the 80th minute, but then Romain Saiss, Conor Coady and Ruben Neves scored in the final 10 minutes to earn a 3-2 win.

Only once before has a team comeback from two or more goals down later than the 80th minute in the Premier League (Reading against West Brom in 2013), which puts Wolves' feat into historic context.

The race is on to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland, who might be set to make a move in mid-2022.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are all interested in the Norwegian goal machine, but could Newcastle United also be a factor?.

Haaland netted 41 goals from 41 games last term for Dortmund and already has 13 this season.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENTER HAALAND RACE

Newcastle are the latest club to enter the race to sign Borussia Dortmund's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, reports AS.

The report claims Real Madrid are losing their grip as favourites to sign Haaland, with Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and now Newcastle potentially in contention.

The Magpies' move is said to be "not out of the question" following the club's takeover by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund who appear set to make a splash in the transfer market in January. 

ROUND-UP

- Mohamed Salah's agent has arrived in England for contract talks with Liverpool over a £500k-per-week deal, according to the Mirror.

- ESPN reports that Premier League trio Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are tracking Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, rivalling Real Madrid. United's interest is said to be based around whether Paul Pogba departs.

- Dusan Vlahovic will follow Federico Chiesa's lead and reject a new Fiorentina contract offer in favour of a move to Juventus, ignoring Premier League interest from Tottenham and Liverpool, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Barcelona are interested in Manchester United's Nemanja Matic, claims The Sun. The Serbian has a little over 18 months remaining on his United deal so Barca believe they could sign him next off-season on a cut-price deal.

- Goal Germany reports that Bayern Munich are making a move to sign Salzburg talent Karim Adeyemi, with the player's agent and father reportedly holding talks with the Bavarian club on Saturday.

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