Palmeiras midfielder Danilo has been granted his first call-up to the Brazil squad, while Tite selected Fabinho for the upcoming friendlies in June despite injury concerns over the Liverpool star.

Brazil announced a 27-man squad on Wednesday for friendlies against Korea Republic, Japan and South American rivals Argentina next month.

Fabinho is one of 13 Premier League players called up, despite the midfielder limping off in Liverpool's 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday after suffering a muscle injury.

Reports suggest Fabinho will miss the upcoming FA Cup final against Chelsea, along with league games against Wolves and Southampton, as he faces a race against the clock to feature in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28 as Liverpool hunt an unprecedented quadruple.

Fellow midfielder Danilo was the other notable inclusion by Tite, with the Palmeiras man earning his maiden call-up after impressing at the Club World Cup, where his side were defeated in the final by Chelsea.

On Danilo's inclusion, Tite told reporters: "Danilo is one of those players that we have been following, we are always attentive to players that are emerging. 

"Danilo played well at the Club World Cup in games that we followed live and made visits to the club. We were looking at a series of things on how he performs so we could justify his selection."

Fabinho's Liverpool team-mate Alisson also made the list, along with fellow goalkeeper Ederson, while Manchester United duo Alex Telles and Fred were named alongside Arsenal's Gabriel Magalhaes.

Newcastle United's Bruno Guimaraes was again selected by Tite and will look to add to his six caps, but there was no room for Magpies team-mate Joelinton, who has impressed since dropping into midfield under Eddie Howe.

Casemiro could partner Guimaraes in the middle alongside Lyon's Lucas Paqueta, while Weverton and Guilherme Arana were the only other two players to feature from Brazil's domestic league.

Tite will have vast experience in the backline to call upon as well, with the likes of Alex Sandro, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos to select from.

Up top, Gabriel Jesus will look to carry over his scoring form from his exploits with Manchester City, with Neymar, Vinicius Junior and Real Madrid's Champions League hero Rodrygo part of a star-studded attacking line-up.

The upcoming friendlies are part of Brazil's penultimate preparations for the 2022 World Cup, where Tite's side are placed in Group G alongside Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Alex Telles (Manchester United), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Danilo (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico-MG), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Gabriel Magalhaes (Arsenal), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain) and Thiago Silva (Chelsea); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Danilo (Palmeiras), Fabinho (Liverpool), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon) and Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphinha (Leeds), Richarlison (Everton), Rodrygo (Real Madrid) and Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

The CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying format is too tough on the players, with Thiago Silva keen for an alternative that can aid performance to be found. 

In the current system, South American teams play one another twice in a single group for a total of 18 matches. The top four qualify for the World Cup, with the fifth-placed team entering a play-off against a team from Asia. 

Given the scale of the continent and the fact many players ply their trade with European clubs, huge distances need to be traversed and matches can be played at significantly varying altitudes and temperatures in the space of just a few days. 

Brazil centre-back Silva believes a change is needed, with FIFA having reportedly met with some players to discuss what a new format could look like for the first 48-team World Cup in 2026. 

"It's not the 18 games, but the travelling we do. It's a lot of mileage compared to the Europeans, who play close together," Silva was quoted as saying by Globo Esporte. 

"There's a lot of wear and tear, in addition to the climate, which is totally different from what we are used to in Europe. 

"Me and the team had a hard time training in Teresopolis, which is colder than Rio de Janeiro [where Brazil played Chile on Thursday]. This can hinder performance. 

"If we could somehow find a balance in these trips, it would certainly facilitate our stay and our performances. 

"It's definitely unnecessary wear and tear, in my opinion." 

After defeating Chile 4-0 in the heat of Rio on Thursday, Brazil play their final qualifier against Bolivia at over 3,500 metres above sea level on Tuesday.

Thomas Tuchel praised the quality of Reece James after the wing-back registered a goal and an assist in Chelsea's 4-0 thrashing of Burnley.

James has recently returned to action after suffering an injury in December's 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion, playing just over an hour in Chelsea's EFL Cup final loss to Liverpool and appearing in an FA Cup win at Luton Town before starring at Turf Moor.

The England wing-back scored a superb opening goal early in the second half, twisting and turning before firing a neat finish into the bottom-left corner, before supplying an assist for Kai Havertz's second goal of the day as the Blues netted three times in eight second-half minutes.

With 11 goal involvements in the Premier League, James is the first defender in Europe's top five leagues to register at least five goals and assists this season, and Tuchel was full of praise for him after the comfortable win.

"We missed him for such a long time that you get used to it," Tuchel said. "It was nine weeks and in this time we had something like 25 matches, so we were constantly trying to find solutions and we did it as a team.

"We managed to win games and even titles in this period but once he's back and plays three times, today the first time from the beginning, you see what you missed. 

"[He has] such huge quality and it's very impressive how decisive he is in training and now even in the games.

"These [wing-back] positions are very important when you play with this [3-4-3] structure and it's the same on the left side, so it puts things into perspective when you see what we missed.

"I'm very happy that he came back like this."

James is also one of just three English players to record at least five goals and assists this term in the Premier League, alongside West Ham's Jarrod Bowen and Chelsea team-mate Mason Mount.

Meanwhile, Tuchel was also keen to praise the influence of Thiago Silva, after the 37-year-old contributed to Chelsea's third consecutive league clean sheet.

Before racking up their four second-half goals, Chelsea came under a good deal of Burnley pressure in a tense first period, and Tuchel was keen to highlight the Brazilian's importance against a physical home side.

"He's so professional. The dressing rooms are not so big here [at Turf Moor], which is not a problem, but when you're in there so close with the team you can see his focus, and how professionally he prepares for every game. 

"That's why he can perform like this.

"In a match where you have so many long balls and so many second balls, and where you rely so heavily on the quality of your first touch if you win a duel in the air, it makes a huge difference and that's what he does.

"It's very impressive but I can tell you he works very hard, and on top of it he's a fantastic person and a big character in the dressing room."

Chelsea once again downed Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in the headline clash of the weekend's Premier League fixtures.

Fellow title hopefuls Liverpool, who still have a game in hand, closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to nine points with victory over Crystal Palace in south London.

Staying in the capital, Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by lowly Burnley as they lost ground in the race for the top four, while Leicester City shared the points with Brighton and Hove Albion.

With the action all over for a couple of weeks, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from Sunday's fixtures.

Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool: Reds down Eagles again as Robertson delivers

Liverpool reduced Manchester City's advantage at the top to nine points after a 3-1 victory over Palace, who have lost each of their last 10 league meetings with the Reds.

Virgil van Dijk placed Jurgen Klopp's side in control after just eight minutes at Selhurst Park with his 10th headed goal in the competition – only Sami Hyypia (17) has scored more headers for the Reds in the Premier League.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added a second after the half-hour mark as he scored in back-to-back top-flight matches for the first time since February 2020.

Both of those goals were created by Andrew Robertson, who now sits joint-second with team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold (both 43) for the most assists in the league since the start of the 2017-18 season, with only Kevin De Bruyne boasting more (52).

Odsonne Edouard halved the deficit in the second half, but Fabinho secured three points with Liverpool's 169th Premier League spot-kick – the joint-most awarded to a team in the competition's history along with Manchester United.

Arsenal 0-0 Burnley: Gunners fail to fire against Clarets

Arsenal have failed to win any of their opening five games of a calendar year for the first time since 1995 after being held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley.

Nick Pope was in excellent form, while Alexandre Lacazette spurned a glorious open-goal opportunity, as the Clarets conceded 20 shots – the most they have faced in the Premier League without conceding since May 2021 (21 versus Fulham).

Lacazette's profligacy meant the Gunners have failed to score in four consecutive matches across all competitions for the first time since December 2005.

Arsenal will be desperate to improve upon their torrid run of form to challenge for the top four, with this stalemate being the first time the Gunners have failed to beat the team starting the day bottom of the table at home for the first time since October 2008.

Leicester City 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Foxes tamed by away specialists

Leicester remained unbeaten at home to Brighton in the Premier League, though Brendan Rodgers may feel they should have claimed victory after a 1-1 draw.

Patson Daka broke the deadlock as he became just the second Foxes player to score in each of his first three home starts in the competition, after Leonardo Ulloa in the 2014-15 season.

The Zambia striker found the net just 26 seconds after the interval, the quickest goal scored in the second half of a top-flight game since February 2020.

However, Danny Welbeck levelled things up as he scored his fourth goal against Leicester in the Premier League, only bettering that haul in games with Aston Villa (five).

Neither side could find a late winner, ensuring the Foxes remain unbeaten at home to the Seagulls in the top flight since December 1980, while Graham Potter's side have only lost one of their last 11 away leagues games – a joint-low with Manchester City.

Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: Blues make London derby history  

Chelsea registered their fourth win in all competitions this season – and third in January alone – over London rivals Tottenham with a 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge.

Harry Kane thought he had struck first before the break but a slight push on Thiago Silva saw his finish ruled out before Hakim Ziyech expertly curled in his fifth league goal for Chelsea – all five of those having come at different venues.

Silva added a second soon after as he became the oldest player (37 years, 123 days) to score in the Premier League since February 2013 to condemn Antonio Conte to his first top-flight defeat as Spurs head coach.

The defender's header was set up by a free-kick from Mason Mount, who provided his 20th assist since the start of the 2019-20 campaign – the most by any Chelsea player across all competitions in that period.

Spurs were unable to breach the Blues' goal, meaning they have now gone six matches across all competitions since last scoring against Chelsea, who became the first side to collect 500 points in Premier League London derby matches (501 points from 272 derbies).

Antonio Conte saw his unbeaten Premier League run as Tottenham boss end on familiar turf as Chelsea claimed a 2-0 derby win at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

A stunning finish from Hakim Ziyech and a Thiago Silva header early in the second half gave the Blues the victory as they became the first team to pass 500 points in London derby matches in the Premier League era.

Silva had earlier been involved in a controversial incident, Harry Kane seeing a goal disallowed at 0-0 after a hand in the back of the defender sent him tumbling to ground.

For Spurs, whose only win in their past 32 away league matches against Chelsea came against Conte's side in April 2018, it was a first league loss since the 3-0 reverse at home to Manchester United in October that brought Nuno Espirito Santo's short reign to an end.

Romelu Lukaku passed up the best early openings, slicing a shot over the bar in the first minute and missing the ball from a teasing Mason Mount cross when he should have done better.

Spurs had barely offered a threat until Kane gathered Steven Bergwijn's low cross and drilled home a finish on the turn, but the goal was was ruled out for a push on Silva.

The visitors were lucky not to go a man down before half-time, though, VAR deeming no further action was needed for a Matt Doherty foul on Malang Sarr and Japhet Tanganga somehow escaping even a free-kick for pulling back the shirt of Callum Hudson-Odoi after previously being booked.

It was Tanganga who was left for dead by Hudson-Odoi a minute after the restart, the winger then teeing up Ziyech to curl a sublime finish into the top-left corner and put Chelsea ahead.

Hugo Lloris denied Ziyech a second soon after as Chelsea ramped up the pressure, with Mount whistling a shot just over the bar from Hudson-Odoi's cut-back.

The Chelsea winger was proving a real handful for Spurs and, after Eric Dier tripped him down the left wing, the resulting Mount delivery was glanced in via the head of Silva.

 

What does it mean? Chelsea close on City as Spurs suffer top-four blow

The defeat means Spurs stay seventh, having missed out on the chance to leapfrog Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester United to climb into the top four.

Chelsea move to within 10 points of leaders Manchester City, having played a game more, with Liverpool a point further ahead.

Mercurial Mount

Mount was exceptional on the right of the Chelsea attack as he exploited space whenever Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was dragged out of position trying to break up passing lanes.

The England midfielder created a team-high four chances and found the target with five of nine crosses, including the head of Silva for the second goal.

Conte counts cost of Tanganga inaction

After Tanganga escaped a second yellow card, it looked likely Conte would substitute him at half-time to remove the risk of falling a man behind.

His decision not to proved key to Chelsea's breakthrough, as he allowed Hudson-Odoi to run clear for fear of being punished for any attempt to halt his run. It was 2-0 before he was finally replaced by Lucas Moura.

What's next?

Chelsea host Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup on February 5 after their winter break before their Club World Cup campaign begins. Spurs's fourth-round clash is at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on the same day.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has revealed that N'Golo Kante and Thiago Silva have tested positive for COVID-19.

The pair were left out of Chelsea's starting line-up for Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Tottenham and will now serve a period of self-isolation.

Kante has featured in 17 of the Blues' 31 matches this season, while Silva – who signed a one-year contract extension on Monday – has been used 22 times.

It is the second time in a little over three months that France international Kante has tested positive for coronavirus.

Asked about the duo's absence from the side to face Tottenham, Tuchel told Sky Sports: "Unfortunately, Thiago and N'Golo have tested positive.

"It's huge for us because they are two huge players. We had the last information today in the morning, so it is quite challenging, but we will push.

"The guys who are here have our trust and our belief.

"We will push things to the maximum. The situation hasn't changed since some weeks ago, it's not the moment to repeat it, from here we are looking for solutions. 

"I have trust in the guys who play and hopefully we put in a strong performance."

As well as facing Tottenham over two legs, Chelsea also take on Chesterfield in the FA Cup and face Manchester City in the Premier League over the next 10 days.

Romelu Lukaku started the tie at Stamford Bridge, three days on from being left out of Chelsea's squad to face Liverpool after giving a controversial interview.

The striker made a public apology on Tuesday and was back involved against Spurs, with the Blues eyeing a first-leg advantage to take into next week's reverse fixture.

Chelsea have progressed from five of their last seven EFL Cup semi-final ties, failing only in 2012-13 (v Swansea City) and 2017-18 (v Arsenal) in that run.

Since winning three games in a row against Chelsea between 2018 and 2019, Tottenham were winless in their last eight against the Blues in all competitions prior to Wednesday's game.

Thomas Tuchel insisted Chelsea are "trying their very best" to tie the impressive Antonio Rudiger to a new contract, while also hailing the evergreen Thiago Silva.

Rudiger joined from Roma in July 2017 and has been an integral part of the Blues' backline under Tuchel, starting the most games since the German's arrival last January (50) and ranking first for minutes played (4,575).

However, the centre-back's contract is due to expire at the end of the season, with clubs now able to negotiate with the 28-year-old should he not agree on negotiations with Chelsea.

A host of Europe's elite clubs, including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, have been linked with the defender but Tuchel remains hopeful his international compatriot will commit his future to the Champions League winners.

Tuchel told reporters on Tuesday: "I cannot predict the future. I don't know if his representatives talk to other clubs. If you know so, or assume so, fair enough. 

"It is possible now because it is January and he has not signed yet. As I understand it, we are in communication with him. The club are in communication. He is aware of what I demand, how I appreciate to work with him. 

"The level which he is playing is still super high and outstanding. There are no doubts that the situation is a concern for that. The point is very clear, my opinion is very clear. The club is trying the very best and their communication is going on. It has not changed a lot."


Unlike his defensive partner Rudiger, Silva has already signed fresh terms at Stamford Bridge after continuing to impress following his free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, in which he made 34 appearances across all competitions.

The club exercised the option for a one-year extension last season and did so again on Monday, ensuring the 37-year-old will remain a Blue for at least one more campaign.

Silva has made 22 appearances across all competitions this season, with his total of 19 blocks the third-highest by a defender in the Premier League after West Ham's Craig Dawson (24) and Burnley's James Tarkowski (29).

Indeed, no other Chelsea defender has made more than six blocks, and Tuchel credited the Brazil international's efforts.

He added on Silva: "Benjamin Button. Thiago Button of football! I know how much work, how much professional attitude is behind that. 

"It is a miracle in a way. He came to this league, this schedule, this approach and intensity of a daily business, in the every end of his career. This was very brave. I know how much effort he puts in to stay fit. 

"Off the pitch, at home, he takes care of his recovery and sleep, of his nutrition. This is outstanding. Only because of that this is possible. We are happy because the new contract makes him calm. 

"Thiago needs to be calm because he is a very sensitive and emotional person. This makes him very precious for our team and for our dressing room. He can feel emotions, he can feel different state of emotions from others and can help so much. 

"He is calm, he has huge targets. He is a big impact, he is available how he needs to be available. When he plays he plays strong, it's a big help. Good for him and good for us."

The defensive duo are set to be in action once more in Wednesday's EFL Cup semi-final first leg against Tottenham, after Tuchel confirmed Trevoh Chalobah and Andreas Christensen as likely injury absentees.

Chelsea defender Thiago Silva has signed a new deal that will keep him at the Premier League side until the end of the 2022-23 season.

The Brazil international was signed on a free transfer ahead of the 2020-21 campaign after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, making 34 appearances in all competitions in his first term with the Blues.

Silva started in the Champions League final against Manchester City but was forced off late in the first half through injury, leaving him to watch from the sidelines as his team-mates clinched a 1-0 triumph in Porto to secure the trophy for a second time.

The club exercised the option to extend his contract for another year after that victory and have followed that up with a third consecutive one-year deal for the 37-year-old.

Silva has made 22 appearances across all competitions this season, most recently starting in the Blues' pulsating 2-2 Premier League draw with Liverpool on Sunday.

His total of 19 blocks is the third highest by a defender in the league, with no other Chelsea defender making more than six. 

He is also in the Premier League's top 10 defenders for recoveries (102). 


"To play here with Chelsea is a real pleasure," he told the club's official website. "I never thought I would play for three years here in this great club, so I'm very happy to stay for another season.

"I will continue to give everything for this club and for the supporters, who have always been by my side since I arrived.

"It's amazing to have this relationship with the fans and not only that but the players, staff and the whole club. I'm going to give everything to keep playing at this level in the most important league in the world."

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: "Thiago Silva's experience, leadership and performances have been and remain very important to this squad, so we are hugely pleased to extend his contract by another year.

"We look forward to his continued influence as we seek honours this season and next, and more of the qualities that have led to him having such a big impact for us on and off the pitch."

Chelsea are next in action on Wednesday when they host Tottenham in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.

Thomas Tuchel was delighted to see Chelsea come from behind to defeat Aston Villa 3-1 but was left concerned by injuries to N'Golo Kante and Thiago Silva on Sunday.

Chelsea fell a goal behind when Reece James inadvertently flicked Matthew Targett's first-half cross past Edouard Mendy, but Jorginho soon levelled things up from the spot following Matthew Cash's foul on Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Tuchel introduced Romelu Lukaku at half-time and the Belgium forward flicked the visitors ahead with his ninth goal in 10 Premier League appearances against Villa; he has not scored more against any other opponent in the top five European leagues.

Jorginho again converted from 12 yards to seal victory with his 10th top-flight penalty in 2021. Since Tuchel's first game in charge, the Blues have scored more penalties than any other Premier League side, while the Italy midfielder has scored more spot-kicks than any other club besides Chelsea in that period.

Chelsea's win moved them within six points of leaders Manchester City and level on points with Liverpool, who have a game in hand, but Tuchel was left frustrated by the game going ahead as injuries and COVID-19 infections impacted upon his plans.

Tuchel told BBC Sport: "We showed a very good reaction after their goal. The own goal made things super complicated. The reaction was very good. We defended strong and did not allow big chances. It was a deserved win but hard work.

"We have concerns for injured players. We let Callum Hudson-Odoi play 90 minutes after COVID. Thiago Silva got injured. N'Golo Kante is injured. Mateo Kovacic is playing after injury and COVID without any preparation and training.

"We're just filling holes where we can fill them. We play teams without international duties. Five changes were invented because of COVID.

"Now we're in the middle of COVID and some teams are having games postponed and others aren't. Three changes are a big disadvantage."

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick insisted five substitutes should be reintroduced in England's top flight for the benefit of player welfare, and Tuchel echoed his compatriot's thoughts.

Asked whether five substitutes should be reintroduced, Tuchel responded: "Of course. We are the only league that play in winter, which I love, but we're not protecting the players.

"All other leagues have five changes. Then we compete against them in the Champions League. It's a bit frustrating. It will not stop.

"Brighton and Hove Albion will play a super physical game then we have two games against Tottenham, who are out of Europe and fully focused on the league and EFL Cup."

Lukaku – who scored in the reverse fixture this season – has a fantastic record against Villa but Tuchel revealed he had no idea about his striker's tendency to score past the Villans.

"No, I was not aware of [Lukaku's excellent] record against Villa," he continued. "I should have known this before. We decided at half-time to have a bit more threat and create more problems.

"I was happy he was involved. He was the game-changer today. We took a lot of risks – 45 minutes was more than the medical department recommended. Who knows if it's the right thing to do?"

Romelu Lukaku is fit for Chelsea's trip to Brentford on Saturday but a frustrated Thomas Tuchel has revealed Antonio Rudiger will join fellow centre-back Thiago Silva in missing out.

Superstar striker Lukaku withdrew from Belgium duty with muscle fatigue and was a doubt for the Premier League leaders' short hop across west London.

However, Blues boss Tuchel told a pre-match news conference: "Romelu is fine, had all training sessions, he will play tomorrow."

The news was not so positive on Rudiger, though, after he came back from his time with Germany with a back issue.

Christian Pulisic remains out, while Hakim Ziyech has been struggling with headaches.

"Toni Rudiger came back injured from the national team, Christian Pulisic is still injured, we have doubts of Ziyech – he missed two sessions with a headache," Tuchel said.

Veteran centre-back Silva is also absent having featured in Brazil's 4-1 World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay on Thursday night. 

The short turnaround between that clash and Saturday's fixture is a source of frustration for Tuchel, who says the situation is one he has learned to contend with.

"He will be back in the afternoon hopefully safe from this match in Brazil," he said of Silva.

"We had our talk today about Brentford, we had our tactical talk, he missed all that. He played 90 minutes, had all that travelling, he is not available. 

"Of course, I'm not happy, but I knew before when he will come back, when he will travel. I got used to a lot of stuff in national breaks, this is how it is. Are we happy all the coaches with the games players play for their countries? No, they [are] not. Do they ask us anything? No. I knew it before.

"We speak about it during UEFA coaches meetings. The calendar, you have to accept it.

"I'm not even too frustrated about it, but I think it's too many games, too many competitions for the top players in the clubs. The game is for the players, for the spectators, and spectators want the best players on the pitch, healthy and hungry, and we cannot always provide it if you play so many games in so many competitions.

"Given we only have three [substitute] changes, unlike five in other leagues, it's a big thing we have to cope with.

"I'm actually not too frustrated, I know what's coming, I know when the next international break is coming, we try to do our best in every international break."

Thiago Silva will be absent for Saturday's trip to Brentford due to his involvement in Brazil's World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay, Chelsea have announced.

The 37-year-old played the full 90 minutes as the Selecao beat their visitors 4-1 on Thursday, edging closer to securing their spot at Qatar 2022.

Although the match was technically a Thursday kick-off in Manaus, it did not finish until 03:30 BST – Silva would have just 38 hours, including a hefty journey, between the two matches if expected to play in both.

Chelsea stated on their official website: "On Saturday, the Blues will be without the experienced Thiago Silva, whose match for Brazil did not finish until 3.30am Friday UK time.

"Providing Toni Rudiger is available, the resources at centre-back are there to cope."

Such situations have been commonplace since FIFA implemented "a change to the men's international match calendar in a response to global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic".

South American qualifiers had to be postponed in March 2021 and CONMEBOL, the region's governing body, requested for those fixtures to be "recovered" by squeezing an additional match into each of the international windows of September and October.

Some Premier League clubs – including Chelsea – refused to release their South American players last month over quarantining fears, which led to CONMEBOL urging FIFA to issue 10-day bans on the teams and players involved.

While clubs escaped sanctions, this month they have not withheld players from joining up with their international squads, and as many as six Premier League players started the win over Uruguay.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva said he hopes Neymar does not lose his joy of football after the Selecao star revealed the 2022 World Cup may be his last.

Neymar has dominated headlines since hinting next year's Qatar showpiece could be his final hoorah with Brazil, having admitted he does not know if he has the "strength of mind to deal with football" much longer.

The 29-year-old has carried the weight of a nation amid criticism since bursting on the scene with Santos in 2009 before making his Brazil debut the following year.

Only Brazil great Pele (77) has scored more goals for the national team than Neymar (69), who has won the Confederations Cup (2013) with the South American powerhouse to go with an Olympic Games gold medal in 2016.

Silva leapt to the defence of Brazil team-mate Neymar in an emotional message of support.

Neymar misplaced 15 passes in Sunday's 0-0 draw at Colombia – his highest tally in a game this qualifying campaign.

"Here at the national team, I have gone through some moments that are very similar [with what Neymar is going through], especially after 2014 World Cup [7-1 semi-final loss to Germany following Neymar's tournament-ending injury]," Silva told reporters, having also played alongside Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain.

"I was called a crybaby, weak, very weak, mentally. These are things that hurt you and you know that you are not what you have been called.

"I hope he doesn't lose his joy, continue to be happy the way he always is. He is a very special kid and, when he's happy, doing what he loves, he delivers."

"If you need someone strong to be by your side, know that I will always be there. The Silva family love you," Silva added in an Instagram story.

Silva was speaking as Brazil prepare for Thursday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier against Uruguay.

Brazil's run of nine straight victories in their qualifying campaign was ended in Colombia.

Tite's Brazil remain top of the CONMEBOL standings, six points clear of rivals Argentina through 10 games.

"I think we are on the right path," Silva said. "I have been with the Brazilian team for a long time, I have gone through all the stages and four cycles of the World Cup. I know how difficult it is to build a team and a group that will compete in the World Cup, and certainly Tite has a very big task to choose the 23 players. So much so that he has called a few new players up and handed them their debuts.

"He shows the experience he has, but at the same time, he has to make his 23 World Cup decisions. We have not played very well, but we are on the way to a good winning path. In a way, this form is also strengthening us. In the case of Argentina in the final of the Copa America, this gives us strength, in some way it creates a stronger shell, you know.

"We are going through all these stages, and I am sure that we will be firm and strong in Qatar. Although we have not yet achieved our main goal mathematically [for qualification], we are very close to that."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Liverpool ran out 3-0 winners over Crystal Palace on Saturday, to take their place at the top of the Premier League.

Title rivals Manchester City could only draw at home to Southampton, but Manchester United and Chelsea subsequently joined Liverpool on 13 points.

Here are some of the more curious facts from across the Premier League weekend.


Premier League first for Reds trio

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita scored Liverpool's goals in their win over Palace at Anfield.

It is the first time in the Premier League that a game has ended 3-0, with all three goals being scored by African players.

Mane opened the scoring with his 100th goal for Liverpool. The Senegal forward has now scored in each of his last nine league appearances against Palace, making him the first player in Premier League history to score in nine straight matches against a single side.

All three of Liverpool's goals came from corners. Not since City beat West Brom in March 2015 has a top-flight game ended 3-0 with all the goals coming from corners.

Dave saves... finally

There was late drama aplenty at London Stadium on Sunday as United joined Liverpool at the top of the table thanks to a 2-1 win over West Ham.

After Cristiano Ronaldo continued his fantastic start to his second United stint to drag the Red Devils level, Jesse Lingard came on to break West Ham hearts late in the game.

London Stadium is the 66th different stadium that Ronaldo has scored at in matches played in Europe's big five leagues, and he has scored at more unique venues than any other player since his United debut in 2003-04, ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (64).

Lingard, meanwhile, became the 47th player to score for and against West Ham in the Premier League. Excluding own goals, West Ham have had more players score for and against them than any other side in the league's history.

But it was David de Gea who proved to be United's hero, as he saved a last-gasp penalty from Mark Noble, who was brought on specifically by David Moyes to take the spot-kick.

De Gea's save ended a drought stretching back to April 23, 2016 of 40 spot-kicks faced without making a save for both club and country, in the process helping United claim a dramatic win at London Stadium. 

Of those penalties, 11 were scored by Villarreal players in May's Europa League final, with De Gea ultimately missing the decisive kick in the Red Devils' shoot-out defeat. 

The 30-year-old did keep out a Jordan Ayew penalty in last September's league meeting with Palace, but that was retaken and scored by Wilfried Zaha after De Gea was deemed to be off his line. 

Veteran Silva helps give Spurs the blues

Aged 36 years and 362 days, Thiago Silva became the second-oldest Chelsea player to score in the Premier League behind only Didier Drogba, who scored against Leicester City aged 37 years and 49 days in April 2015, when the Brazilian headed Thomas Tuchel's side ahead at Tottenham.

N'Golo Kante's deflected effort made it 2-0. The midfielder scored for the first time in 49 league appearances, having last found the net against Man City in November 2019. Three of his last four top-flight strikes have come from outside of the box.

Antonio Rudiger condemned Spurs to a second successive 3-0 defeat; they have lost consecutive Premier League matches by a 3+ goal margin for the first time since their opening two games of the 2011-12 campaign.

Harry Kane, meanwhile, cut a forlorn figure up top for Nuno Espirito Santo's side. He has failed to score in his first four Premier League appearances of a season for the first time since 2015-16, attempting just four shots so far.

Super-sub Bailey bursts Benitez's bubble

Everton's unbeaten start under Rafael Benitez came crashing to a halt as Leon Bailey starred with a blistering cameo in Aston Villa's 3-0 win.

Bailey came on from the bench and had an instant impact. With Matty Cash's first Premier League goal having put Villa ahead, the Jamaica forward whipped in a corner that Lucas Digne turned into his own net.

Digne has now scored three own goals in the Premier League, level with Younes Kaboul for the French player to have done so on the most occasions.

Villa were not finished there, however, and Bailey burst clear to lash home his first Premier League goal. Moments later, he went off with an apparent thigh injury, becoming only the second Villa player to come as a substitute, score, and then be substituted in a Premier League match, after Julian Joachim against Derby in September 2000.

Farke's losing streak rolls on, Toney at the top

Ivan Toney scored and assisted another as Brentford defeated Wolves 2-0 on Saturday.

Since the start of last season, Toney is the outright leading goalscorer in the top four tiers of English football (excluding play-off matches), with 33 strikes to his name.

Another promoted club, Norwich City, suffered their fifth defeat of the campaign. In total, the Canaries have now lost each of their last 15 Premier League games, meaning Daniel Farke is the manager with the longest losing run in top-flight history.

Mick McCarthy (14) was the last manager to go close to almost as long as Farke without a top-tier win, though that was back in 2005.

Thiago Silva, N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger struck in the second half as Chelsea cruised to a 3-0 derby victory over Tottenham on an emotional Sunday in north London. 

Tributes were paid to Jimmy Greaves, Spurs' record goalscorer following a prolific spell with Chelsea, before kick-off at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after the legendary striker died aged 81. 

It was fitting that two clubs Greaves served so magnificently met on the day of his passing – and it was Chelsea who came out on top courtesy of a storming start to the second half. 

After Silva headed Thomas Tuchel's side in front, Kante's deflected shot doubled their lead and Rudiger fired home in stoppage time, sending the Blues top of the Premier League, though they are level on 13 points with Liverpool and Manchester United. 

Spurs were on top in the opening stages following a rapturous minute's applause for 1966 World Cup winner Greaves, but it was Chelsea who had the first real opportunity. 
 
Tottenham were caught out by a blistering break but Mason Mount's shot was well blocked by Emerson Royal after the England midfielder had played a one-two with Romelu Lukaku. 
 
The alert Rudiger prevented Sergio Reguilon from picking out Giovani Lo Celso for a tap-in and Son Heung-min's touch let him down when he was played through during an entertaining first half, although the fit-again forward may have been offside. 

Kante replaced Mount before the resumption and Chelsea went ahead four minutes after the break, Marcos Alonso whipping in a corner that Silva met with a downward header. 

The European champions were dominant, Eric Dier clearing a close-range volley from the unmarked Alonso off the line after Cesar Azpilicueta had picked his fellow wing-back out. 

Chelsea doubled their lead in fortunate fashion after 57 minutes, though, with Kante's shot taking a huge deflection off Dier to give Lloris no chance. 

Timo Werner wasted a chance to add a third Chelsea goal when he got the ball stuck under his feet after Lukaku slipped him in, before the Germany forward was denied by Lloris amid panic in the Spurs area. 

Mateo Kovacic failed to beat Lloris from a tight angle with Spurs on the ropes, but Rudiger did add insult to injury in stoppage time, firing home Werner's pass with his right foot. 

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