Gabriel Jesus scored four times as Manchester City kept the Premier League title race in their own hands by thrashing Watford 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Jesus netted twice within 23 minutes, with Rodri drilling home a stunning third after Hassane Kamara pulled one back for the Hornets midway through an entertaining first half.

The Brazilian celebrated twice more within eight minutes of the restart as relegation-threatened Watford collapsed, Jesus first winning and converting a penalty before sweeping home from Kevin De Bruyne's pass.

All eyes will now turn to Anfield on Sunday, where title challengers Liverpool will attempt to keep pace with Pep Guardiola's men by beating rivals Everton.

Jesus needed just four minutes to give City the lead, turning home Oleksandr Zinchenko's fierce left-wing cross after the Ukrainian latched onto Joao Cancelo's overhit ball.

City almost doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Ben Foster got down well to turn away Cancelo's left-footed shot, but Jesus was soon on hand to grab his second when meeting De Bruyne's excellent right-wing cross with a firm header. 

Watford briefly halved the arrears when Kamara raced through to power a left-footed drive into the bottom-right corner, but Rodri restored the two-goal cushion in stunning fashion after 34 minutes, unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard volley into the top-left corner.

Jesus then completed his hat-trick just four minutes into the second half, rolling home a penalty after chasing down a poor clearance and being felled by Foster, and helped himself to a remarkable fourth four minutes later when he converted from De Bruyne's cut-back.

Riyad Mahrez could have added a sixth when sending a wild right-footed volley over late on, as City saw out an incredible 15th consecutive victory over Watford. 

What does it mean? Reigning champions keep title destiny in their hands

City's dominant win meant they established a four-point lead at the Premier League summit ahead of Liverpool's Merseyside Derby against Everton on Sunday.

Their bid to retain the title is gathering steam at the perfect moment, with Guardiola's team now unbeaten in seven league games (five wins, two draws).

Jesus show downs Hornets

Having been linked with a move away from the Etihad in recent days, Jesus bettered his Premier League goals tally for the rest of the season (three) in less than an hour against the sorry visitors. 

Jesus also teed up Rodri's thunderous first-half strike, meaning he has contributed more Premier League assists than any other City player this term (eight).

City dominate favourite opponents again

City made history with Saturday's victory, becoming the first English league side in history to win 15 consecutive competitive games against a single opponent.

Meanwhile, Guardiola maintained the best 100 per cent record of his managerial career; he has now won all 11 of his meetings with Watford in all competitions by an aggregate score of 47-5.

What's next?

Guardiola's men must switch their attention to Europe as they host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday. Watford, meanwhile, host fellow strugglers Burnley next Saturday.

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are treating every fixture as a knockout game in their pursuit of a Premier League and Champions League double.

City hold a one-point lead over Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table with six matches to play ahead of a clash with Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

They will also have home advantage for a Champions League semi-final first leg against LaLiga leaders Real Madrid next Tuesday.

City's hopes of winning a treble were ended when they were beaten 3-2 by Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last weekend, but they have back-to-back Premier League titles and a first Champions League triumph in their sights.

Guardiola knows they cannot afford any slip-ups in the hunt for more trophies.

Asked if they are taking the mindset that each game is a knockout, the City boss told reporters on Friday: "Definitely. We can't drop points, but they [Liverpool] can't either.

"The players know it, we were in this position before. We played a final versus Brighton to be able to play another one. If we win we have a chance to play another.

"We try to recover injured players, be fresh in the mind. When we finish tomorrow, another [game] in three days in Champions League. Then Leeds. Be fresh, relax, ready for the moment of the game."

Guardiola says City are relishing the challenge of trying win more silverware.

"Of course we enjoy it, prefer to be in this position than don't have chance to make back-to-back titles," he said.

"After the game, remains six games, already qualified for Champion League, big success. Now we target the Premier League.

Guardiola revealed the fitness of defenders Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake and John Stones will be assessed ahead of the visit of Watford.

Second-bottom Watford will have to pull off a great to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, but Guardiola expects Roy Hodgson's side to pose a threat.

He said: "Roy Hodgson has incredible experience as manager, we struggled to break down Palace [when Hodgson was in charge].

"Every game is the of the same importance. Watford have their quality,,their physicality up front. We have to be ourselves and get three points."

City could be four points clear by the time Liverpool face Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

With Manchester City and Liverpool facing off in the FA Cup on Saturday, the Premier League's attention turned to the race for a top-four spot.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Manchester United beat Norwich City 3-2, with the Red Devils taking full advantage of 1-0 defeats for Tottenham and Arsenal against Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton respectively.

Elsewhere, Watford's slim survival hopes were dealt a blow as they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Brentford.  

Stats Perform takes a look at some key Opta facts from the day's games.

Manchester United 3-2 Norwich City: Ronaldo racks up yet another treble

Ralf Rangnick's side delivered another disjointed performance at Old Trafford, yet they did enough to secure a 13th win in their past 16 Premier League games against the Canaries.

Ronaldo was the star of the show, the Portuguese superstar plundering the 60th hat-trick of his professional career for club and country.

The 37-year-old has now scored 20 or more goals across all competitions in each of his past 16 seasons at club level – a run that started in the 2006-07 campaign during his first spell at United.

His first goal was teed up by Anthony Elanga, who is 17 years and 81 days younger than Ronaldo. It is the greatest age gap between a United goalscorer and the player who assisted him in Premier League history.

Teemu Pukki had given Norwich hope of a memorable result when he pulled the visitors level at 2-2 from 2-0 down, the Finland international becoming the first Canaries player to score 10 or more goals in two different Premier League campaigns (11 in 2019-20 and 10 in 2021-22).

As is so often the way, though, Ronaldo had the last word.

Tottenham 0-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Seagulls leave it late to edge out blunt hosts

Spurs missed the chance to strengthen their grip on fourth position as they suffered a third home defeat in their past six home Premier League games – as many as in their previous 14 on home soil.

Despite starting with the in-from trio of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski in attack, Spurs did not manage a single shot on target. It was the first time they had failed to do so in 21 Premier League games, since November last year against Everton.

Brighton's winner came in the 90th minute through Leandro Trossard, who has now scored six goals in the top flight this season – his best-ever season return in the competition.

Graham Potter's side have now won consecutive away league games for the first time since September 2021 and are unbeaten in three Premier League games, winning the last two, after losing each of the six before that.

Southampton 1-0 Arsenal: Wasteful Gunners punished by Saints

Arsenal missed the chance to pull level on points with Tottenham after a third consecutive Premier League defeat, having lost just two of their previous 13.

The Gunners dominated at St Mary's, taking 23 shots and enjoying 76 per cent possession. There have been 11 instances of a team failing to score having taken 20 or more shots in a Premier League match this season, with Arsenal responsible for three of those.

They were undone by Jan Bednarek's goal on the stroke of half-time, the first they have conceded from a corner situation in the top flight this season.

Bednarek has now scored four goals in 27 Premier League games this season, which is one more than he scored in his previous four campaigns combined (three in 100 appearances).

Watford 1-2 Brentford: Hornets' miserable home run continues

Pontus Jansson's 95th-minute winner for Brentford meant Watford became only the third team to lose 10 consecutive top-flight home games in a row, after Birmingham City in February 1986 and Sunderland in August 2005.

Alongside Birmingham, they are only the second to do so within a single season.

That run means Hornets boss Roy Hodgson is the first manager to lose his first five home Premier League games in charge of a club since Chris Ramsey with QPR in 2015.

Brentford, meanwhile, have won five of their last six Premier League games (L1) and have won three top-flight games in a row for the first time since September 1946.

Manchester City remain the likely Premier League champions and are on course to pip weekend opponents Liverpool to the title as the race reaches its home straight.

The top two each have eight games remaining and the first comes on Sunday when they go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium in what many are billing a title decider.

That is hyperbole of course, but for City it is the last time they will face a team currently in the top five, so by that logical reasoning it is the game where they are most likely to slip up.

Arsenal are the team likeliest to snatch fourth place and a Champions League ticket for next season, while at the foot of the table it is almost too close to call between Everton and Burnley for the third relegation place, with Leeds United now standing just a 12.2 per cent chance of sliding down to the Championship.

Stats Perform AI analysis has given us a strong sense of how the standings might look come the season's final whistle on Sunday, May 22, but the figures also show us there remains plenty to play for.

PEP TO WIN THE TITLE BATTLE AGAIN?

Pep Guardiola's City head into the crucial contest with a one-point advantage over a Liverpool side who have been closing the gap since trailing by 14 points on January 15, albeit with Jurgen Klopp's Reds having played two fewer games at that time.

It is clear this remains a title race that could yet go either way, but City stand a 65.6 per cent chance of carrying off the trophy for a second season in a row, with Liverpool, their lone rivals for silverware, having a 34.4 per cent opportunity.

Diego Simeone described City as "an extraordinary rival" after Atletico Madrid's 1-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, and the second leg of that Champions League tie follows three days after the Liverpool game.

City's Premier League opponents for the remainder of the campaign will then be, in order: Brighton (home), Watford (home), Leeds United (away), Newcastle United (home), West Ham (away) and Aston Villa (home), with a trip to Wolves also to be arranged for a date to be confirmed.

Liverpool, also with Champions League commitments and an FA Cup semi-final against City to come, have what looks a more daunting Premier League run-in after this weekend, beginning with two huge Anfield games: Manchester United (home), Everton (home), Newcastle (away), Tottenham (home), Aston Villa (away), Southampton (away), Wolves (home).

They are 64.7 per cent likely to finish as runners-up, the Stats Perform prediction shows, and 0.9 per cent likely to be caught by Chelsea for second place. City are 0.3 per cent likely to throw it away and finish third. Now that would be some story.

Of all teams in the top flight, third-placed Chelsea are the most likely to finish in their current position. That is calculated as a 94.5 per cent probability.

GO FOURTH AND PROSPER?

The last Champions League qualifying berth is the prize that looks to be a slug-off between north London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, who will meet in a May 12 derby.

Both sit on 54 points heading into this weekend, with Tottenham fourth for now but Arsenal having played one fewer game.

Momentum could change considerably, but for now Arsenal are predicted to have a 59.1 per cent chance of taking fourth spot, with Tottenham given a 31.9 per cent shot (50.8 per cent to be fifth).

Who else might take fourth and secure the riches that come with Champions League involvement? Well, Chelsea are reckoned to have a 4.0 per cent prospect of slipping there (and a 0.3 per cent chance of nose-diving to fifth), while Manchester United are three points adrift of Spurs and the Gunners, sitting in seventh ahead of a weekend trip to struggling Everton, and are given a 4.2 per cent hope of finishing so high.

That would be a massive boost to United's next boss, but it remains a slim hope. In fact, United's most likely finishing position, according to the predictor, is sixth place (46.1 per cent).

Former Red Devils boss David Moyes has probably seen his West Ham side's hopes of a top-four finish slip away. The Hammers are also just three points behind Tottenham and Arsenal but have played more games than both and are given a trifling 0.7 per cent chance of coming home fourth.

GOING DOWN WITH THE NORWICH?

The Canaries of Norwich are so far down the relegation pit of despair they can surely smell Championship gas. They stand a 1.3 per chance of survival, and are 81.3 per cent likely to finish rock bottom.

Second-bottom Watford are given an 18 per cent chance of staying up by the predictor, and home games against Leeds, Brentford, Burnley, Everton and Leicester City mean that door to survival should be considered just slightly ajar.

Leeds could yet plummet, but if Norwich and Watford are the likeliest two sides to exit the Premier League, then Burnley and Everton are the two most obviously jostling to avoid joining them.

For now, after a bruising 3-2 defeat at Burnley on Wednesday, Everton are rated 49.4 per cent shots to finish inside the bottom three, compared to 53.2 per cent for Sean Dyche's Clarets.

It is knife-edge stuff, hardly the end of the table where Frank Lampard is at his most comfortable.

Come the final day, Lampard's Everton might need something from a trip to Arsenal, who in turn might need points in that fourth-place battle.

HOW THE NUMBERS ARE WORKED OUT

Stats Perform's League Prediction model simulates the outcomes of the remaining matches to estimate the likelihood of teams finishing in each position.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) from the latest available betting market odds data or, when not available, by using an internal win probability model that is powered by historical team strengths.

Based on these probabilities, the results of the remaining matches can be simulated. The outcome of the season is simulated 10,000 separate times in order to estimate the likelihood of each team finishing in each league position.

James Maddison's importance to Leicester City is of little debate, but the Foxes are considering selling the playmaker.

Though the 25-year-old's sole senior England cap came in 2019, he has provided 13 goals and eight assists in 41 appearances across all competitions this season.

However, Maddison's sale might be required to facilitate the Foxes strengthening in other areas.

 

TOP STORY – MADDISON SALE TO FUND LEICESTER REVAMP

Leicester are weighing up the prospect of Maddison's sale in order to make new signings, the Daily Mail has reported.

Manager Brendan Rodgers wants three new additions to propel the Foxes up the Premier League following a season in which they have plateaued.

Leicester will reportedly back Rodgers, but the impact of coronavirus on their finances would likely mean outgoing as well as incoming transfers, and Maddison holds one of the higher market values at the club.

The 25-year-old's £50million price tag would provide serious flexibility in the transfer market, while the club also has to make decisions on Caglar Soyuncu and Youri Tielemans.

ROUND-UP

–  Barcelona want to confirm a contract extension for Ronald Araujo , who has received an offer from Manchester United, according to Sport, but the 23-year-old has viewed this club's pursuit of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen with caution.

–  Arsenal and Tottenham are keen to sign Lautaro Martinez , but Inter will only sell if they meet a transfer demand in excess of €80million (£67.3m), per Calciomercato.

– The Sun is reporting Newcastle are preparing a £20million offer for Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, while also showing interest in Watford's Ismaila Sarr.

–  Manchester United target Manuel Akanji wants to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and is considering a move to the Premier League, according to Sport1.

With the final international break of the season done and dusted, it was back to Premier League action on Saturday as teams prepare for the all-important run-in.

Having not had any changes of leader since the turn of the year, it was a novelty to see it change twice in one day, albeit with a familiar look at the end as Liverpool and Manchester City both recorded wins.

Something far less routine happened at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were clobbered by Brentford, while there was also a win for Wolves against Aston Villa and draws at Brighton and Hove Albion, Leeds and Manchester United.

Stats Perform takes a look at some key Opta facts from a selection of the day's games…

Liverpool 2-0 Watford: Jota the slotter strikes again

It was a nervy afternoon at Anfield as Liverpool looked to leapfrog City to the top of the table.

Despite a determined performance from Roy Hodgson's Hornets, a first-half header from Diogo Jota and a late penalty from Fabinho secured the three points for the Reds.

It sent Jurgen Klopp's men to the top of the Premier League for the first time since December, albeit they were back to second later on after City's own win.

Liverpool are back in the title race after having won 10 consecutive Premier League games, becoming just the second side to embark on such a run on five separate occasions after City (also five).

It was another goal for Jota, his 20th of the season, and since making his Liverpool debut in September 2020, the Portugal international has scored more headed goals (nine) than any other player for a Premier League club in all competitions.

Burnley 0-2 Manchester City: Citizens retain top spot

Despite being displaced by their rivals, City eased to victory against Sean Dyche's side to take back their top spot just a couple of hours after losing it.

First-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan saw Pep Guardiola's men to the win, continuing their exemplary record against Burnley.

This made it 14 wins from their last 15 games against the Clarets in all competitions (D1), winning each of their last 10 by an aggregate scoreline of 34-1.

City are the only side yet to drop a single point from a winning position in the Premier League this season, winning all 23 games in which they have led. No side has ever gone through an entire Premier League campaign without dropping points when ahead before.

Aymeric Laporte made his 100th Premier League appearance, picking up his 82nd win – the most wins by a player in their first 100 games in the competition's history.

Chelsea 1-4 Brentford: Tuchel's men toppled

It has been a turbulent time for Chelsea off the field, but until now they had kept their on-field form in check.

Brentford had other ideas at Stamford Bridge as they came from 1-0 down to ease to their first victory in nine meetings against the Blues in all competitions since a 3-1 away win in the top-flight in February 1939.

Chelsea went ahead thanks to an Antonio Rudiger piledriver from 39.6 yards, which was Chelsea's longest range Premier League goal since Frank Lampard against Wigan in January 2007 (45.1 yards).

However, goals from Vitaly Janelt (two), Christian Eriksen and Yoane Wissa turned things around to make it just the second time Chelsea have conceded four or more goals in the Premier League at home to a newly promoted side (also under Thomas Tuchel in the 5-2 defeat against West Brom in April 2021).

Eriksen scored his first Premier League goal since December 2019. He has now been directly involved in eight goals (three goals, five assists) against Chelsea in the competition, with all three goals arriving at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United 1-1 Leicester City: Ronaldo-less Red Devils' top four hopes dealt another blow

It felt like an ominous sign for United when Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out of their game against Leicester through illness.

Ralf Rangnick's side ultimately rescued a draw having fallen behind to Kelechi Iheanacho's header, with Fred following in from a Bruno Fernandes shot, but it was still two points dropped in the race for the top four.

United have now won just one of their last six games in all competitions (D3 L2), after winning four and drawing three of the seven before that.

Fred is the seventh player to score on their 100th Premier League appearance for the Red Devils, and the first since Marcus Rashford did so, also against Leicester, in February 2019.

James Maddison laid on the assist for Iheanacho, and has now been directly involved in 21 goals in all competitions this season (13 goals, eight assists), four more than any other Leicester player; only in 2017-18 with Norwich has he been involved in more goals in a single campaign (26 – 15 goals, 11 assists).

Jurgen Klopp knows his team must continue winning to keep the Premier League title race alive after recording a 10th consecutive league victory against Watford.

The Reds briefly went top of the Premier League after the 2-0 victory at Anfield thanks to a first-half header from Diogo Jota and a late penalty from Fabinho.

Klopp acknowledged that any question about moving ahead of Manchester City by two points would be null and void after discovering Pep Guardiola's men had already taken the lead at Burnley before he had even started his post-game media conference. The reigning champions, who host Liverpool nextwent on to win 2-0 at Turf Moor.

Klopp told reporters: "No, you can't give an inch, but it's nothing to do with being on top of the table, I didn't think about that in the moment, I was just happy to win the game and having now 72 points.

"To keep it a title race we have to win our football games, otherwise it will be really tricky. And the next Premier League game obviously is a big one [against City], we do not hide from that. It's all good. But now we have a Champions League game to play, which is as important, and three days' time to prepare that. Then we go from there."

Liverpool were not at their best against the Hornets but secured the three points and another clean sheet, meaning they have now kept five consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League for a second time under Klopp, previously doing so in January 2020 (a run of seven).

Part of the backline today was Joe Gomez, making just his second league start of the season, and Klopp was pleased with the 24-year-old's efforts filling in at right back.

"He did really well and he could have set up a second goal in the second half, the cross was an incredible one as well.

"Defensively we don't have to talk, offensively some really good moments and some not-so-good moments because you see the positioning against a deep-sitting opponent, it is not so easy to find the right position in these moments and we are usually a bit more flexible, but it’s all fine.

"Joe is an outstanding football player and he will play a lot of games during his career, 100 per cent, he will play here a lot of games definitely. This season was tricky so far for him, but who knows how these things can change. He is obviously ready to use the opportunity when he gets it."

Gomez's accurate ball in the 22nd minute found the head of Jota, who grabbed his 20th goal of the campaign.

The Portugal international also had words of praise for Gomez, telling Liverpool's official website: "I spoke with Joey before the game, I said: 'You are going to get an assist today!' I remember against Nottingham [Forest] he had a few crosses that I couldn't get on the end of, but I was confident for today and fortunately for us it happened.

"It's the first time in my career that I reach 20 [goals], so just keep on going because we still have plenty to play for."

No player has scored the opening goal in more Premier League games this season than Jota, with Liverpool going on to win all six games in which he has opened the scoring for them.

Liverpool moved above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win over Watford in Saturday's early kick-off at Anfield.

The Reds knew that victory would see them leapfrog City, who face Burnley later in the day, for the first time since November 27 – even if only for a matter of hours.

Diogo Jota headed in from a Joe Gomez cross after 22 minutes to open the scoring and substitute Fabinho sealed a battling win with a penalty in the final minute.

Liverpool have now won 10 league games in a row ahead of next weekend's huge showdown with City, who are two points worse off with their game at Turf Moor to come.

Watford more than held their own in the early stages of the game and would have been in front if not for a good stop from Alisson to deny Juraj Kucka.

That proved a huge save as, a little over 30 seconds later, right-back Gomez – filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold – whipped in a cross for Jota to turn in from four yards. 

Jota nearly made it 15 league goals for the season shortly after, only to be denied by Ben Foster when he had Jordan Henderson screaming out for the pass alongside him.

Watford, in action for the first time in three weeks, continued to cause Liverpool problems as Joao Pedro fired wide in plenty of space once played in by Ismaila Sarr.

Jota saw a couple of headed chances come and go but Fabinho made certain of the win when thumping in a late penalty, awarded for Kucka dragging down Jota in the box.

What does it mean? Reds set up tantalising showdown

Liverpool were never at their best but got the job done to become the second club, after City, to record five different runs of 10 or more victories in the Premier League era.

The Reds have kept eight clean sheets during that incredible run and will head to the Etihad Stadium next weekend with wind in their sails.

They have now won 13 of their 14 home league games against Watford, who remain in the relegation zone and are running out of fixtures to drag themselves out of danger.

Gomez fills Trent void

No player has scored more opening goals in the Premier League this season than Jota (six), who had a brilliant Gomez cross from the right to thank for his latest headed goal.

That was Gomez's first assist in the top flight since December 2017 and means Liverpool have had 22 players involved in league goals this term, two more than any other side.

Salah's off day

Salah had previously been directly involved in 11 goals in seven league games against Watford, averaging a goal involvement every 57 minutes, but he was off the pace here.

He suffered World Cup qualifying heartbreak with Egypt in the week and that perhaps told as he failed to find the target from any of his three attempts.

What's next?

Liverpool travel to Benfica for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, while Watford host Leeds United on their return to league action in a week's time.

Jurgen Klopp is confident Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will deal with their international rivalry "in the right way" after Senegal beat Egypt to World Cup qualification.

The Reds boss also condemned fans for targeting Salah with laser pens as he skied Egypt's first spot-kick in their penalty shoot-out loss, with Senegal qualifying for Qatar after a 1-1 aggregate draw in the African play-offs.

Tuesday's defeat represents the second time this season that Salah has been bested by his club team-mate on spot-kicks after Senegal accomplished the same feat to win the Africa Cup of Nations in February.

Salah and Mane have hit a combined 32 Premier League goals this season, with the Egyptian scoring 20 and the Senegalese forward netting 12.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Watford, Klopp, while condemning the laser pens, expressed his pride for Mane's achievement and backed the duo to move on in the correct manner.

"I'm obviously really happy for Sadio that he could make it, and I'm obviously very disappointed for Mo," Klopp said.

"I don't think that the situation around the penalty and the laser was particularly cool, so I feel for him [Salah]. But I'm happy for Sadio as well, that's football. 

"It's different when two mates are in such a big game, playing against each other, but they are both top professionals, very emotional people as well, but I'm pretty sure they will deal with it in the right way. 

"There's no doubt about it, at the moment, Senegal are the best team in Africa, and Egypt did really well to take them twice to the wire, twice to a penalty shoot-out.

"Senegal have an extremely talented squad and Egypt did really well. I'm not sure they can see it like this exactly, but from my point of view they should.

"They got unlucky with the draw, against pretty much all other [African] teams, Egypt would have qualified for the World Cup."

No player has scored the opening goal in more different Premier League games this season than Mane (six), while Salah has scored the joint-most winning goals in the competition this term (also six).

Salah has now faced penalty heartache twice this calendar year with Egypt, but Klopp claims the 29-year-old's international disappointment will simply spur him on at club level. 

"There's no doubt about it, Mo wants to win everything he can," Klopp added. "That's why he was very disappointed about the fact they couldn't win the [AFCON] tournament or qualify for the World Cup.  

"That's different competitions, his desire will be bigger now, and he's a very smart person who sees the difference between all these things. 

"We didn't speak about it in detail, to be honest, but he knows that Senegal are a tough team. Mo was unlucky in moments, especially with the penalty shoot-out, but nobody has to worry about him."

Salah has been directly involved in 11 goals in just seven Premier League games against Watford, scoring nine and assisting two.

He averages a goal or assist every 57 minutes against the Hornets, the fourth-best ratio any player has against a club in Premier League history having played a minimum of 600 minutes against that opponent.

Jurgen Klopp made an impassioned plea to Liverpool supporters to create the best atmosphere possible during Saturday's clash with Watford to build momentum ahead of next weekend's crucial trip to Manchester City.

The Reds are back in action for Saturday's early kick-off, hosting Watford at Anfield with all eyes on the Premier League table ahead of a massive few weeks.

Liverpool head into that game a point behind leaders City having played the same number of games, meaning victory over Roy Hodgson's Hornets will put the Reds top, even if only temporarily with Pep Guardiola's men facing Burnley soon after.

The two title challengers' results on Saturday take on greater importance given they will go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium the following Sunday in a contest that could have a decisive say in where the Premier League title goes.

As such, Klopp is not taking any chances against Watford and is calling on fans to create the kind of raucous atmosphere that he seemingly does not usually associate with early kick-offs.

"It's a good example of how important it is to be top of the league at 14:30 on a Saturday when everyone is playing after… It's not too important," Klopp told reporters.

"Most of the time City play before us, and I couldn't care less what is after that. It's just how well we prepare for the 12:30 kick-off situation, because we face a Watford who won the last game, smells the chance to stay in the league.

"Obviously [Watford have] a very experienced manager with the way they set up, very well organised, a lot of individual talent. When you watch in the Premier League to analyse, you see they are good here, there, here, but then they don't have many points.

"It's just because of the quality in the league, but individual talent in the group is really good, that's what we need to be aware of.

"But what we need for this game is a sensational, the best 12:30 atmosphere ever. Not nervous, not tense… if you can’t shout and sing or whatever then stay at home and give your ticket to someone else, please.

"Really, we need all you have.

"The boys have come back from all over the world, played completely different systems and we have one session to make sure they are reminded on what we do.

"Then we go against a well organised Watford team and we need each voice for that."

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard's quality after both scored in a thrilling 3-2 win at Watford.

Saka and Odegaard netted terrific first-half goals before Gabriel Martinelli added a third after the break, although replies from Watford's Cucho Hernandez and Moussa Sissoko ensured a nervy ending for the Gunners.

Arsenal, who are chasing a first top-four finish since 2016, have won four consecutive Premier League games, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Saka and Odegaard, who combined for the Norwegian's opener.

Saka has now posted 13 goal contributions in the Premier League this season (eight goals and five assists). Among players aged 21 and younger in the five big European leagues, only Bayer Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz, with 17, has more than the England man.

Although Arteta was frustrated with Arsenal's defensive lapses at Vicarage Road, he was keen to highlight how the duo's understanding has impacted the Gunners' attacking displays.

"We were really good going forward, and we had all the right intention and the energy to do it," Arteta said. "We scored three magnificent goals, but we didn't have the same energy and commitment defensively. When that happens, you're going to suffer."

Arteta is impressed by how Arsenal are moving the ball and finding reliable links between key personnel.

He said: "The speed of the movement, the timing of it is much better, the position that we get [into], the threat and the sense of having the capacity to create the chances that we have done is much better, and we have to keep developing that."

Arteta also highlighted Saka's penalty shootout miss in the Euro 2020 final last July as a key moment in the winger's development, as the England star continued his fine campaign with a superb strike against the Hornets.

"Bukayo had an experience in the summer that not a lot of players would ever have, and I think it was great for his career, because the football world showed how much they like him and how much they respect him," Arteta said.

"I think that was a big boost for him to realise in difficult moments that people are going to give him support. Then it's about leaving him that space [to develop]. What he is already doing is phenomenal and he needs that room, you know? Don't read too much, do what you do."

Saka, along with team-mates Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe, is one of three Gunners players aged 21 or younger to have hit five or more Premier League goals this campaign.

That is a single-season feat for a team which has only been accomplished by three others in the competition's history: Chelsea in 2019-20, Leeds United in 1998-99, and Manchester United in 1995-96.

Arsenal boosted their Premier League top-four hopes with a 3-2 win at Watford, as Bukayo Saka starred in a match containing five terrific goals.

Martin Odegaard opened the scoring when he capped a scintillating move on five minutes, before Watford's Cucho Hernandez went one better with a fantastic overhead kick after 11 minutes.

The lively Saka finished into the top corner after half an hour, before Gabriel Martinelli wrapped up the three points by finishing sweetly from outside the area after the break – although Moussa Sissoko's late response did keep the Gunners on their toes.

Prior to Manchester United's derby against Manchester City later on Sunday, Arsenal moved up to fourth in their pursuit of Champions League qualification for the first time since 2016.

Watford had the ball in the net after just 17 seconds in a frantic opening, but Emmanuel Dennis was narrowly offside and the visitors took an early lead instead, with Odegaard finishing neatly on his left foot after playing a superb give-and-go with Saka.

The Hornets needed just six minutes to respond, however, as Hernandez met Kiko Femenia's right-wing cross in acrobatic style to give Aaron Ramsdale little chance.

After Ramsdale almost spilled Dennis' shot to Joao Pedro, Arsenal reclaimed the lead when Saka bent a shot into the top corner from Alexandre Lacazette's backheel.

Arsenal must not take anything for granted in their bid to qualify for the Champions League, according to Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners face Watford this weekend and sit sixth in the table, but with three games in hand over both Manchester United and West Ham.

Coupled with a more favourable run-in, on paper at least, Arsenal are arguably the favourites to seal a top-four berth come the end of the season.

However, Arteta has stressed his team will take it step-by-step.

"I think it's positive because that's where we want to be playing," Arteta told his pre-match press conference on Friday. "The reality is we are not fourth but sixth still.

"We have to win those games. We know what we have to do. There's a long way to go and the only aim is to win against Watford."

Since losing consecutive games against United and Everton at the start of December, Arsenal have dropped only five points over their last nine games in the Premier League.

It has been a feat bolstered by the impressive performances of Ben White, with the defender shrugging off his reported £50million price tag to emerge as the backbone of the Gunners defence.

Arteta had nothing but praise for the England international, saying: "I think what he's done, how quickly he's adapted, how he's handled the pressure of the price we paid and what we demand him to do at his age is very impressive."

White will hope to help steer Arsenal to yet another victory over Watford, with the Hornets having taken just seven points across 15 Premier League meetings with them over the years.

Arteta's opposite number Roy Hodgson meanwhile was won only one of his last dozen matches against the Gunners, way back in 2008 when he was in charge of Fulham.

Time is ticking down on the 2021-22 Premier League campaign – and indeed on your chances of making up those valuable points in your fantasy football league.

While certain players are a must for any manager with serious prospects of finishing top of the pile (hello, Mohammed Salah), others often go under the radar.

And with a real rarity of all 10 gameweek 28 fixtures taking place across the same weekend – at the time of writing, at least! – it is important you get your selection spot on.

So why not let Stats Perform, led by Opta data, pick out four players – one for each position – that can help propel you up the standings. Come on, trust us.

FRASER FORSTER (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Five games without defeat, including back-to-back victories over Everton and Norwich City at St Mary's, have helped propel Southampton back into the top half of the division.

What makes those successive home wins all the more impressive is that Saints kept two clean sheets, having failed to record a single shutout in their previous 13 league matches.

Forster was in goal for both games and, while he only had to make one save across the 180 minutes, he has prevented the fourth-most goals in the Premier League this term.

Having conceded only 10 times, excluding own goals, from shots worth 13.5 expected goals on target, he has limited opponents to 3.5 goals fewer than expected.

Only Aaron Ramsdale (4.0 goals prevented), David de Gea (7.5) and Jose Sa (7.8) have fared better in that regard in the English top flight this term.

MATT DOHERTY (Tottenham v Everton)

Tottenham may be struggling for consistency, but right wing-back Doherty finally appears to be finding his feet under Antonio Conte – in the league, at least.

The former Wolves defender scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time in Tottenham's most recent outing in the competition against Leeds United.

Doherty now has three goal involvements in his past five league games, also supplying an assist at Leicester City, where he created four chances.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Okay, okay – we know we have already selected Southampton goalkeeper Forster, but hear us out here.

By putting Aston Villa midfielder Coutinho in your side, you are hedging your bets, because if the Villans are to score then they need their Brazilian playmaker on top form.

He has four direct goal involvements in six games since returning to the Premier League in January – only Harry Kane (six) and Bruno Fernandes (seven) can better that return.

That should be of particular concern to Southampton as Coutinho has been involved in as many Premier League goals against them (five – four goals, one assist) as against any other side.

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Watford v Arsenal)

Long gone are the days of Watford being unable to keep a clean sheet for love nor money – the Hornets are now shutout kings under that up-and-coming boss Roy Hodgson.

Well, not quite, but Watford's three Premier League blanks since Hodgson's first game is the joint-most of any side, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and, eh, Burnley.

Now they just need to work on becoming more prolific at the other end of the field, and in Dennis they have a player potentially capable of firing them to safety.

The Nigeria international has scored nine goals and assisted five more in the Premier League this term – only five other players have been directly involved in more.

It was another frustrating day for Manchester United against Watford on Saturday, while their rivals – and next opponents – Manchester City left it late at Everton.

Watford were, of course, the team that inflicted the defeat that cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job at United in November, and Ralf Rangnick will have been similarly frustrated, even if he is safe in the knowledge that he will not be getting the sack.

The same cannot be said for Marcelo Bielsa, however, who looks destined to see his stay at Leeds United brought to an end after a crushing defeat to Tottenham.

Following Saturday's Premier League action, Stats Perform delves into the key Opta facts from some of the day's games.

Manchester United 0-0 Watford: Red Devils revert to type

Man Utd's 4-2 win at Leeds United last week was a little more tense than Ralf Rangnick would have liked, at least for a while, but it was also a rare example of them getting a big goals haul.

It seemed to say more about Leeds than it did United, however, as Rangnick saw his side struggle in front of goal once again despite dominating visitors Watford.

 

Chances weren't an issue: they had 22 shots, but only three were on target. Their opportunities amounted to 2.7 expected goals (xG), just no actual goals.

That was the highest xG accumulated by any side who failed to score in a Premier League game this term, and the biggest negative differential between goals and xG recorded in 2021-22.

It was the fifth time United have failed to score in 14 Premier League home games this season, their worst record since 2013-14 (six).

Up next? The Manchester derby.

 

Everton 0-1 Manchester City: Champions breathe sigh of relief as Toffees' points tally makes grim viewing

Phil Foden rescued City at Goodison Park on Saturday, scoring eight minutes from time to seal a 1-0 win over Everton.

That goal ensured Liverpool can only cut the gap behind City to three points if they win their game in hand, with Pep Guardiola undoubtedly relieved.

He surely always had faith, however, as Guardiola had won each of his previous nine games against Everton – this victory took him to 10 on the bounce, making it his joint-longest winning run against a single opponent in his managerial career.

Everton's outlook is rather bleaker.

Defeat leaves them with just 22 points from 24 Premier League games this term. It is their lowest tally at this stage of a league campaign (if we assume three points have been awarded throughout history) since 1929-30 (also 22), when they were relegated from the top tier.

Frank Lampard's men certainly showed enough spirit at times in this game to suggest their fate will not be the same, but their nine points since the start of October is the fewest of every team in the Premier League.

Leeds United 0-4 Tottenham: Defensive woes leave Bielsa on the brink

It would seem Marcelo Bielsa could well be on his way out at Leeds after another grim defeat, this time at the hands of Spurs.

This loss took Leeds to 20 goal concessions in February, which is the most any Premier League team has ever let in during a single calendar month and worst since any top-flight side since April 1986 (Newcastle United – 21).

As such, they became only the second side in Premier League history to three or more goals in five successive games – four of those have been defeats, making it their worst such run in the top tier since December 2003-February 2004.

For Spurs it was a welcome change of pace after losing to Burnley in midweek, a defeat that led to an emotional outburst from Antonio Conte that made it seem the Italian's days at the club were numbered.

A major highlight for them saw Harry Kane and Son Heung-min combine for the 37th time in the Premier League, overtaking Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard as the duo with most goal combinations in the competition's history.

 

Brentford 0-2 Newcastle United: Bees' woes continue but Eriksen return puts struggles into perspective

The form of Brentford and Newcastle could not be much more different.

Brentford are now winless in eight Premier League games, seven of which have been defeats – Newcastle are unbeaten in seven, their best such run since 2011 (14 games).

Josh Dasilva's red card certainly did not help matters for the home side, with his 11th-minute dismissal the second-earliest in a Premier League game this term after Newcastle's Ciaran Clark (ninth minute against Norwich City in November).

But the match did give all fans and neutrals a reason to smile as Christian Eriksen made his return to the football pitch.

The playmaker suffered a cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark at Euro 2020, and he came on in the second half for his first competitive appearance since his medical emergency.

It was also marked his return to the Premier League, having last appeared in the competition 766 days earlier for Tottenham.

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