Ralf Rangnick has been tasked with restoring the fortunes of struggling Premier League giants Manchester United.

His previous work at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga has sparked speculation regarding possible transfers.

That has led to talk regarding Amadou Haidara.

 

TOP STORY – HAIDARA WANTED AT OLD TRAFFORD

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick wants to make RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara his first signing, according to The Sun.

Rangnick has been appointed until the end of the season and talk of January incomings have already emerged.

The German brought Haidara to Leipzig during his time at the Bundesliga club and he is believed to be interested in reuniting with the 23-year-old star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Old Trafford and El Nacional reports United want Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, having rebuffed a proposal for Philippe Coutinho.

- Portuguese journalist Pedro Almeida claims Jose Mourinho's job as Roma head coach is in danger following another defeat, this time 3-0 to former club Inter in Serie A on Saturday. Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure amid just three wins in nine league games. Mourinho has also been linked with Everton as pressure mounts on Rafael Benitez.

Chelsea and Arsenal are both interested in Paris Saint-Germain forward Mauro Icardi, says Ekrem Konur. The Argentina international has been linked with Barca, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Juventus.

- According to The Sun, Ligue 1 giants PSG are lining up a bid for Wolves' left-back star Rayan Ait-Nouri.

- Widespread reports claim Leipzig are seriously considering the sacking of head coach Jesse Marsch, who only replaced Julian Nagelsmann at the start of the season. Leipzig have lost three consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time in their history.

After a grand total of one day without Premier League football, the action returned on Saturday and there was a change at the top of the Premier League.

That's right, Chelsea slipped up again and handed the initiative to Manchester City and Liverpool, both of whom were victorious later in the day.

There was also a change at the bottom as Newcastle United left the foot of the table – at least until Sunday – meaning there are three sides all on 10 points in the relegation places.

Without any further ado, let's look at the best of the day's action with a pick of Opta's post-match facts…

West Ham 3-2 Chelsea: Blues dealt Hammer blow

Chelsea are off the Premier League summit as a result of their defeat at London rivals West Ham, who continue to confound doubters under David Moyes.

They found themselves behind at the break but came on stronger in the second half, becoming the first team to beat Chelsea after the Blues had been leading at half-time since Wolves in December 2018 – that was a run of 48 games unbeaten when ahead at the halfway mark of a game.

Further to that, it was only the third time in Thomas Tuchel's 53 games in charge that Chelsea have conceded more than one goal in a game.

One of West Ham's goalscorers surely felt confident – after all, Manuel Lanzini's goal was his 11th in London derbies, or 48 per cent of his Premier League total (23), the highest ratio of any player in the competition's history with at least 20 goals scored.

There was also a first to celebrate. Arthur Masuaku opened his West Ham account in his 96th match, with the left-back's momentous goal also proving to be the winner.

The win moved West Ham to within six points of their visitors, with the Hammers fourth.

Watford 1-3 Manchester City: Hornets are cannon fodder

Even if Pep Guardiola's City did not arrive in fine form, few would have given Watford a chance here – and the match went just as most were expecting.

Watford's record against City was woeful at best already – now they've conceded 41 goals in 13 meetings with them in the Premier League, the most they have let in against any single side in the competition.

Similarly, the 3.2 goals per game they concede on average in this fixture is the most by one side against another among all Premier League fixtures played at least 10 times.

That one-sided nature also reflects on Guardiola, who has won all 10 of his managerial games against Watford in all competitions by an aggregate score of 42-4, his best 100 per cent winning record over any side.

City are now unbeaten across their past 19 meetings with Watford (W17 D2, all competitions), netting 62 goals in this run – they've only ever had a longer unbeaten run once before against a specific team (22 games against Norwich from 1965-1981).

Wolves 0-1 Liverpool: Origi comes up trumps as Reds steal it at the death… again

It wasn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but Liverpool got the job done to move above Chelsea and stay just a point behind new leaders City.

Only just, though.

Divock Origi spared Jurgen Klopp's blushes with a stoppage-time winner, the Belgian continuing his habit of being a decisive and useful option off the bench.

That was his 10th goal as a substitute in the Premier League for the Reds, a club record.

Liverpool have now scored the winning goal after the 90th minute on 39 occasions in the Premier League, at least 13 more than any other team.

There was also good news for Mohamed Salah – he didn't score, but his assist for Origi's winner ensured he's been involved in a goal in each of his last 13 top-flight appearances, a record only Jamie Vardy (15) has ever surpassed.

Newcastle United 1-0 Burnley: Howe's about that?

At long last, every team in this season's Premier League now has at least a one in the wins column – Newcastle defeated Burnley at St James' Park to finally get off the mark.

Newcastle had not won any of their previous 15 matches in all competitions, losing seven and drawing the other eight.

Additionally, it was only their second clean sheet of the season, the other also coincidentally coming against Burnley in the EFL Cup back in August.

Of course it was also Eddie Howe's first win since being appointed by the club, with Callum Wilson – who also played under the manager at Bournemouth – delivering the goods.

It was Wilson's 43rd Premier League goal for Howe, a record only Joshua King (48) has bettered for him.

While it remains to be see if Howe is able to keep Newcastle up, there's no doubt he's got them playing on the front foot more, as they are averaging 15 shots (five on target) each game compared to 11 (three) prior to his arrival in 2021-22.

Southampton 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Saints give it up

Just when Southampton thought they had the points in the bag, Brighton pulled it back.

Brighton were down to 10 men, having had Leandro Trossard taken off injured after using all their substitutes, but Neal Maupay struck deep into stoppage time to seal a draw.

That was Brighton's fourth (of eight) away Premier League goal to have been scored in the 89th minute or later this term, and the third netted by Maupay.

Brighton remain winless in 10 league games, their longest top-flight run since 1983, but they celebrated it like a win – for Southampton, it felt like a defeat.

Saints have now dropped 71 points from winning positions in the league under Ralph Hasenhuttl, 15 more than any other team since his December 2018 appointment.

Jurgen Klopp described Diogo Jota as "an incredible package" as the Liverpool striker prepares for a birthday return to Wolves.

Portugal international Jota was acquired by Liverpool in a deal worth up to £45million in September 2020, with his arrival bringing instant competition for Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Firmino is sidelined for now and in his absence Jota has been enhancing an already strong case to be a preferred pick to the Brazilian, delivering hard-working and goalscoring performances.

As he celebrates his 25th birthday on Saturday, Jota will be back at Molineux with Liverpool, facing the club where he made his name in the Premier League.

Jota has already been back once to his old stomping ground, scoring the only goal as Liverpool won 1-0 at Wolves back in March.

After hitting nine goals already this season, Jota will fancy inflicting another blow on his former employers. He and Mane are both one away from double figures for the campaign, while Salah is one shy of reaching the 20 mark already.

Jota leads the way among Liverpool's forwards for ball recoveries (50), managing marginally more than Salah (49) and Mane (48) despite playing fewer minutes (Jota - 1,205; Mane - 1,457; Salah - 1,661). This is also an area where Firmino excels (29 recoveries in 515 minutes), with Klopp demanding hard work from his front players.

Asked about Jota in a news conference on Friday, Liverpool manager Klopp said: "He's an incredible package. From a personality point of view, he's a really incredible boy, really smart, really organised.

"I remember when I saw him for the first time, I thought he could be a player for me. The intensity he puts in makes a real difference, because at our level all the players are technically of incredible quality.

"You can make a difference with your attitude. That's what I was most excited about with Diogo."

Jota hit 13 goals in 42 games in his final year at Wolves, then repeated that haul in just 30 games for Liverpool last season.

He is firmly on course to beat that total this term, and after accumulating his 2019-20 haul for Wolves at an average of one goal every 205.4 minutes, Jota has gone from netting at a rate of one every 135.6 minutes last season to one per 133.9 minutes in 2021-22.

Klopp was always sure being a prolific goalscorer was in Jota's armoury, with Raul Jimenez having been the focal point of Wolves' attack and the Portugal international deployed in a wider role during their time as team-mates.

"People will say he didn't score an awful lot of goals," Klopp said of Jota, "but the problem is Wolves had probably the most intense style of play for wingers.

"He was very young then. For us, it was clear he would make the next steps with us and that's what he did."

Jurgen Klopp warned his Liverpool team they can throw away all hopes of Premier League title glory if they show signs of weakness over Christmas.

A strong start to the season has seen Liverpool gain a firm foothold in the title race, even if Klopp refuses to see it as such a battle at this relatively early stage of the campaign.

After 14 games, Liverpool have a healthy 31 points and sit two points behind leaders Chelsea and one shy of Manchester City, with fourth-placed West Ham seven points further back.

It looks like a long run to the finish line for the top three, and Reds manager Klopp wants his team to keep their focus during a testing run of games, starting with Saturday's trip to Wolves.

A healthy start to December saw Liverpool win 4-1 at struggling neighbours Everton on Wednesday, and Klopp hopes to be in a position later in the season where his team remain firmly in the hunt.

"Is it already a title race? I don't know. It's a very, very good, highest-quality league. It's unbelievable how good you have to be to win a single football game in this league," Klopp said in a news conference on Friday.

"We cannot win the league in November or December, but you can lose it, maybe. That's possible. You have to be around, you have to keep contact and be up there.

"That means we have to chase everybody, each player from each team we face from all directions, and just make sure we are this one goal better in pretty much all the games.

"I can't see it already in this moment as a title race, but it's exciting, obviously."

From December 19 to January 2, Liverpool must face Tottenham, Leeds United, Leicester City and Chelsea in the Premier League, and they also host the Foxes in the EFL Cup in that time. That testing run of games could go a long way to defining how their season plays out, with Klopp reminded of the agony he felt when Vincent Kompany fired Manchester City to the brink of the 2018-19 title after a thrilling race that saw Liverpool miss out on the silverware despite posting 97 points.

Liverpool of course made amends by streaking to the title the following year, before City were again top dogs last season.

"I think everybody knows I watched the Leicester game when they played Man City and Kompany scored that screamer," Klopp said.

"It's not that I'm watching City and Chelsea games [at the moment] and thinking, 'It'd be good if they lose' or whatever. Most of the time I don't know if they played or when they played, but hopefully it will happen at some point in March or April.

"That would be great and would mean we're still around, but between now and then obviously there are a lot of games to play and let's focus now on the next one."

Klopp has won all six of his Premier League games against Wolves, his best 100 per cent winning record against any opponent in his top-flight managerial career, so that bodes well for the trip to Molineux.

Indeed, Wolves have won just one of their 14 Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D2 L11), a 1-0 success at Anfield in December 2010. They have lost their last nine against the Reds in the competition by an aggregate score of 20-2.

Liverpool have not lost any of their last eight away league games against Wolves (W5 D3), with their most recent league defeat at Molineux coming in the days of the old First Division, a 1-0 loss back in August 1981.

In former Wolves forward Diogo Jota, who turns 25 on Saturday, Liverpool also have an attacker in form. The Portuguese talent has nine goals already this season and has created 23 chances for others.

Jota could become just the third player to score a Premier League goal on his birthday against a side he previously played for in the competition, after Emmanuel Adebayor for Tottenham against Arsenal in 2012 and Juan Mata for Manchester United versus Chelsea in 2019.

Klopp still finds English football's routine of playing through the winter hard to justify, given the heavy workload players face through December and January.

Two years ago he labelled it "a crime", and it is a refrain as familiar as any Christmas carol to hear Klopp chirping away in December about the harsh nature of the Premier League calendar.

"It's crazy. It was always crazy and will always be crazy, I think," he said. "Everything's fine until you reach Christmas time. To play on the 26th and 28th, it's still not right.

"We have to accept that, and we do that, and it's a tradition, and I get all that, but it's really tough. Generally it's not getting better. We have now two months ahead of us that will be really difficult to deal with."

Denis Zakaria looms as an attractive signing, with his contract due to expire.

The Borussia Monchengladbach star is not short of admirers.

Liverpool and Barcelona are reportedly vying for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – ZAKARIA TO LIVERPOOL OR BARCA?

Liverpool lead Barcelona in the pursuit to sign Borussia Monchengladbach star Denis Zakaria, according to El Nacional.

Zakaria is available on a free transfer at the end of the season and the Switzerland international has been heavily linked with Jose Mourinho's Roma.

He has also reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, however, Premier League giants Liverpool and LaLiga powerhouse Barca are believed to be set to battle it out.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Anfield and Fichajes claims Liverpool have joined the race to prise Adama Traore from Wolves. Traore has also been linked with Barca and Juventus.

Paul Pogba is unlikely to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club abroad, says The Athletic. Pogba's United contract expires at the end of the season and Frenchman has been tipped to join either Real Madrid, Juve or Paris Saint-Germain.

- Premier League champions City are working to re-sign Riyad Mahrez, per The Sun. PSG are reportedly eyeing the Algeria international, who is contracted to City until 2023.

Newcastle United are set to make a move for Donny van de Beek, according to El Nacional. Van de Beek has found his chances limited at Manchester United and Newcastle are ready to pounce.

- After appointing Ralf Rangnick until the end of the season, The Times claims United's interim manager is targeting RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara.

Liverpool were in typically ruthless form on Saturday as they brushed aside Southampton 4-0 at Anfield.

The result meant Jurgen Klopp's men became just the second English top-flight team to score two or more goals in 17 consecutive games in all competitions, after Sunderland in 1927.

Elsewhere, rock-bottom Newcastle United's winless start to the Premier League season continued as they were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

Steven Gerrard secured his second consecutive win since taking over as Aston Villa boss, with his side sealing a 2-1 away win at Crystal Palace.

Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United played out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium, as did Norwich City and Wolves at Carrow Road.

Here, Stats Perform looks through the pick of Saturday's Opta facts…


Liverpool 4-0 Southampton:Jota at the double for rampant Reds

Liverpool have now scored 39 goals in their 13 Premier League games this season – their highest total at this stage of a top-flight campaign.

Diogo Jota got them on the way with their earliest goal in the Premier League (one minute and 37 seconds) since Naby Keita netted against Huddersfield Town in April 2019 (15 seconds).

Another from Jota and a strike from Thiago Alcantara put Liverpool 3-0 up at the break, before Virgil van Dijk rounded off the scoring early in the second half.

Netherlands international Van Dijk's goal was created by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who earned his 40th Premier League assist. Only Wayne Rooney (22 years and 200 days) and Cesc Fabregas (21y 188d) have reached such an assists total in the competition at a younger age than the Liverpool right-back (23y 51d).

Salah reached 150 Premier League goal involvements by setting up Jota's second, reaching that total (108 goals, 42 assists) in just 171 games. Only Alan Shearer (148 games) and Thierry Henry (163) have got there in fewer games.

Southampton, meanwhile, have lost more away games (14) and conceded more away goals (47) than any other side in the Premier League side this calendar year.


 

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United: Gunners cruise against Howe's beleaguered men

The Gunners continued their fine home form under Mikel Arteta with a routine win against Eddie Howe's struggling side.

Since Arteta's first home game in charge in December 2019, only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have won more points at home in the Premier League than Arsenal (67).

Bukayo Saka got them on their way before Gabriel Martinelli added a second just 93 seconds after coming on as a substitute. It was just Martinelli's second Premier League goal at the Emirates Stadium and his first since January 2020 against Sheffield United.

The Magpies, meanwhile, became the sixth different team to fail to win any of their opening 13 games to a Premier League season, with four of the previous five sides suffering relegation (only Derby County in 2000-01 survived).

Crystal Palace 1-2 Aston Villa: Gerrard's winning start continues

This victory meant former Rangers boss Gerrard became only the second manager to win his first two Premier League games in charge of Villa, after John Gregory in February-March 1998.

Matt Targett scored the opener for Villa with his first Premier League goal in his last 75 appearances in the competition, the full-back having not netted since getting a late winner against Brighton in October 2019.

John McGinn then added a second, the Scotland international already equalling his best goal tally for a full Premier League season (three in both 2020-21 and 2019-20).

Marc Guehi pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was too late to prevent the Eagles suffering a first defeat in their last eight Premier League games (W2 D5), since a 3-0 away loss to Liverpool in September.

Norwich City 0-0 Wolves: Smith maintains unbeaten start

Dean Smith followed up a win in his first game in charge of the Canaries last weekend with a hard-fought point at home.

Norwich have now taken seven points from their last three Premier League games (W2 D1), more than they had in their previous 25 in the competition (W1 D3 L21).

The Canaries have also kept two clean sheets in their last four Premier League home games – as many as in their previous 26 at Carrow Road in the competition.

It is perhaps no surprise they could not find a way past Wolves, with only Chelsea (five) and Liverpool (four) keeping more away clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Bruno Lage's men (three).

This weekend sees Manchester United host Manchester City in a derby that feels like it may play a pivotal part in where each teams' season heads, and there is an outside chance that the match-winner might not even be Cristiano Ronaldo.

Elsewhere, there is a certain Egyptian King who will be worth consideration for the handful of people who for some reason do not already own him in their fantasy team, along with a Newcastle player who could prove a useful differential.

There is also a former fantasy football favourite at Wolves who could be due a run of form.

Below are Stats Perform's weekly suggestions for fantasy football players, powered by Opta data...

 

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester United v Manchester City)

Try to predict the potential difference-maker ahead of the Manchester derby and you will likely say Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden, unless you expect United to win in which case you will probably say Cristiano Ronaldo or… Cristiano Ronaldo.

How about another Portugal international, though?

Manchester City's Joao Cancelo has been involved in more shot-ending sequences of play (66) than any other full-back in the Premier League this season, while he also leads all players in his position for the total xG of the sequences that he has been involved in (6.96).

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of fit defenders, there may be plenty of space for Cancelo to maraud into at Old Trafford on Saturday.

 

AARON RAMSDALE (Arsenal v Watford)

This feels slightly unimaginative as we also tipped Ramsdale last week, but in fairness the former Bournemouth and Sheffield United stopper was sensational in Arsenal's 2-0 win at Leicester City.

Ramsdale made eight saves against the Foxes and deservedly took home the man of the match award, and may well be called upon to shine again this weekend.

Watford showed in their recent 5-2 thrashing of Everton that they can attack well on the road, having 20 shots at Goodison Park and hitting the target eight times.

Only Edouard Mendy (90 per cent) has a better shot save percentage than Ramsdale's 85.7, and given the Gunners continue to allow several shots against, he could put plenty of points on your board as well as his own team's.

 

MATT RITCHIE (Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United)

It will be a tough game for moneybags Newcastle down at Brighton, with Graham Potter's men starting the season superbly, culminating in a well-earned draw against Liverpool at Anfield last time out.

You are never entirely sure what to expect with the Seagulls, though, especially defensively, and the Magpies may fancy troubling their opponents in the battle of the bird nicknames on the south coast.

Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (26) has created more chances among defenders than Newcastle's Matt Ritchie (24) in the Premier League this season. Ritchie, however, does jointly lead all players in the competition this term for chances created from set-plays (13), along with Alexander-Arnold.

With Callum Wilson back and scoring goals, you could look to Ritchie as a potential differential before he is inevitably replaced by a £60million player in January.

 

JAMES WARD-PROWSE (Southampton v Aston Villa)

The Friday night football from St Mary's promises to be an enticing clash between two teams that cannot decide if they are good or not.

Aston Villa have lost four in a row in the league, and the very last thing they will want to see is James Ward-Prowse lining up against them.

Ward-Prowse has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Villa than he has versus any other side in the competition (5 – 2 goals, 3 assists). These five goal involvements have come in his last five games against them, with three coming in Southampton's 4-3 win at Villa Park last season.

 

RAPHINHA (Leeds United v Leicester City)

Having the fans back at Elland Road this season was supposed to be the not-so-secret weapon for Leeds to push on after an impressive first year back in the Premier League.

That has not quite been the case so far as the Yorkshire side have only won two of their six home games, but with the impressive Raphinha at his disposal, boss Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping to make it three against Leicester.

As well as scoring 40 per cent of Leeds' Premier League goals so far this season (4/10), the Brazilian has created the most chances (18), had the most shots (32) and completed the most dribbles (26) of any player for the Whites so far this term.

 

MOHAMED SALAH (West Ham United v Liverpool)

It may not be the most ambitious shout in the world, but you would need to have a very good excuse to not have Mohamed Salah in your fantasy team right now.

The Egyptian is averaging a goal or assist every 56 minutes in the Premier League this season; the best ratio of any Liverpool player in a campaign in the competition with at least 10 appearances.

He has also scored nine goals in eight games against the Hammers since joining Liverpool, the joint-most he has scored against any Premier League team apart from Watford (also 9).

RAUL JIMENEZ (Crystal Palace v Wolves)

It was a delight to see Jimenez return at the start of this season after nine months out with a fractured skull. Prior to the injury, the Mexican striker was a talisman at Molineux, and he is starting to look like he might be ready to return to form.

Although his strike in the 2-1 win against Everton last week was only his second of the campaign, he is still making a big difference for his team.

His two goals and two assists have been worth seven points to Wolves in the Premier League this season – only Michail Antonio (9) and Son Heung-min (8) have been more valuable to their sides through goals and assists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salah on verge of historic achievement

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

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

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

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

Newcastle, the Premier League's pressing anomaly

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

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

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

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

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

Kane at home on the road

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

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

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

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

Wolves' turnaround a comeback for the ages

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

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

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

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

A lot can change over the course of the international break – Newcastle United have gone from losing 2-1 at Wolves to becoming the world's richest football club, in a sense.

It's all change at St James' Park and you can guarantee a charged atmosphere for the first match of a potentially exciting period for a club that has underachieved for years, with Tottenham the visitors on Sunday.

A couple of Newcastle players might be worth your consideration, while Leeds star Raphinha – who would ordinarily be an easy pick – this week represents something of a risk.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform picks out seven players for your consideration.

AARON RAMSDALE (Arsenal v Crystal Palace)

His signing was scoffed at by many in pre-season, probably partly due to the significant £24million fee Arsenal spent, but Ramsdale has enjoyed an encouraging start after dislodging Bernd Leno for the Gunners.

He has featured four times in the Premier League and conceded just once, giving him the best minutes-per-goal-conceded ratio in the division (one every 360 mins).

Ramsdale will be confident of continuing that theme on Monday against Crystal Palace, whose open-play expected goals (xG) of 5.2 is better than only five teams this term.

MATT RITCHIE (Newcastle United v Tottenham)

Now, selecting a Newcastle defender might ordinarily be considered something of a risk, but it's fair to suggest there may be a slightly more positive aura around the team – for obvious reasons – when Spurs visit.

If the feel-good factor at the club following their takeover does translate into a strong performance, the early signs this season would have you believe Ritchie will be influential.

The converted left-back's 21 chances created is second just to Bruno Fernandes, while only Trent Alexander-Arnold (2.6) and Mason Mount (2.1) have better expected assists (xA) records than Ritchie (2.0) – he's also played the third-most amount of passes into the box out of everyone in the top flight (63).

KIERAN TIERNEY (Arsenal v Crystal Palace)

Another left-back who is pretty effective going forward is Tierney, who has widely been considered one of few consistently solid performers for Arsenal during his time at the club – when he's fit, that is.

As mentioned previously, Arsenal's next opponents Palace aren't among the league's most threatening team, so there's undoubtedly potential for clean-sheet points, though Tierney also provides plenty in attack.

Among defenders yet to score or assist, only Everton's Lucas Digne (17) has recorded more than Tierney's 15 shot involvements (shots and key passes), while the Scotland international is third among defenders for chances created (nine, two less than Alexander-Arnold).

RAPHINHA (Southampton v Leeds United)

Admittedly, this one's a bit of a gamble. With Raphinha away with Brazil for their World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on Thursday night (early Friday morning UK time), roughly 36 hours prior to Leeds facing Southampton, Marcelo Bielsa has already acknowledged Raphinha's status is at the very least unclear.

But he's looked exciting in his Brazil cameos so far, and his form in 2021-22 would leave few doubting Raphinha has the ability to have a decisive impact on Saturday even if just playing as a substitute.

Currently, he tops the rankings among Leeds players for goals (three), shots (24), chances created (14) and passes into the box (59) – he's surely too important for Bielsa to leave out entirely.

JESSE LINGARD (Leicester City v Manchester United)

After a brilliant few months at West Ham, Lingard is still waiting for a proper run of games this term at United, but he's already chipped in with a couple of goals in just three league appearances.

The second of those came against the Hammers, and up next is another of his former loan teams: Leicester.

He already boasts a great record in meetings with the Foxes, having been involved in six goals (three goals and three assists) against them – that's a joint-personal best (also six versus Arsenal).

ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN (Newcastle United v Tottenham)

If there's one member of the Newcastle squad who promises to be the most buoyed by the club's new situation, it's surely the one who wouldn't look out of place in a team of expensively assembled superstars.

Saint-Maximin is box office – he's an entertainer and always looks like he's having a rollicking good time on the pitch, but this season the Frenchman has added a little more substance to his play as well.

With two goals and three assists already in 2021-22, he has an involvement every 126 minutes, massively improved on 2020-21 (one every 224 mins). In front of new owners, few would bet against Saint-Maximin dazzling as he looks to prove he'll be right at home in the new era.

RAUL JIMENEZ (Aston Villa v Wolves)

Back from a serious head injury, Jimenez did not have much luck during his first five Premier League appearances of the season, not getting a single goal or assist despite attempting 14 shots and delivering 15 key passes.

But since then, the Mexico international has been involved in all of Wolves' three most recent goals.

Jimenez has been something of a double-threat under Bruno Lage, with his shot involvements tally of 36 bettered by only Bruno Fernandes (47), Mohamed Salah, Michail Antonio and Raphinha.

Wolves manager Bruno Lage is optimistic about Adama Traore penning a new contract with the club following off-season interest from Tottenham.

The 25-year-old Spanish winger, who moved to Molineux Stadium in 2018, has less than two years remaining on his current Wolves deal.

Traore and Wolves have been in discussions about a new deal although Lage would not be drawn on a specific update, but admitted he was hopeful a deal would be struck.

"I don’t know anything, what I know is the club want to make a new contract with him," Lage said. "From what I can see every day, Adama is happy to stay here and happy with his team-mates.

"Sometimes these kind of things take time and I think in the end it will be good for both. I’m very happy with what we have in our wingers because we have the competition we want and the players with a different profile.

"A player like him is very important. He’s a good guy and knows what he needs to improve.

"He’s working hard to improve his inside game. He started the season very well and I’m very happy with what he’s doing at the moment."

Tottenham made a move for Traore during the off-season, with former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo now at the helm at Spurs. Spurs' bid for Traore was well below Wolves' valuation.

Traore has played all six of Wolves' league games this term but is yet to score or provide an assist. Lage's side have only managed three goals this Premier League season, ahead of only bottom side Norwich City (2).

The Premier League table already looks to be taking shape, with a thrilling title race potentially in store.

Two of the favourites meet early on Saturday, as Chelsea welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge.

At the same time, Manchester United – joint-top alongside the Blues and Liverpool – host Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

With the season really kicking into gear, so are the title races in fantasy leagues. So, to avoid getting left behind, take heed of our Opta-powered picks for matchday six...

 

DAVID DE GEA (Manchester United v Aston Villa)

Despite their EFL Cup defeat to West Ham on Wednesday, United remain unbeaten in the league and moved onto 13 points thanks to some late drama last Sunday, also in a match against David Moyes' Hammers.

Jesse Lingard came off the bench to score against the club for whom he starred on loan last term, but West Ham were awarded a last-gasp penalty and a chance to rescue a draw. However, substitute Mark Noble, with his first touch, saw his penalty saved by David de Gea.

It ended a run of 40 penalties without a save from De Gea, who has now this season prevented more goals (2.5) than any other keeper in the Premier League, according to expected goals on target data.

SHANE DUFFY (Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion)

Has Graham Potter's luck at Brighton and Hove Albion finally changed? His team have impressed over the past few seasons, yet a clinical edge was often missing. Now, though, the Seagulls have won four of their five games and sit pretty on 12 points.

A key figure in their strong start has been Shane Duffy. The centre-back's career looked to be petering out after a poor loan spell at Celtic last season, but he has come back strong this term.

No Premier League defender has had more shots (10) or scored more goals (one) than Duffy so far this season, while only Man City have faced fewer shots on target than Brighton in 2021-22.

REECE JAMES (Chelsea v Manchester City)

Reece James is of course an expensive option for fantasy players, though it is an investment worth making, given his ability going forward and the fact he plays for one of the competition's strongest teams.

Despite only playing 158 minutes so far in the league, James has been directly involved in three goals, more than any other defender.

He has scored once and provided two assists, averaging a goal involvement every 53 minutes.

BRUNO FERNANDES (Manchester United v Aston Villa)

Given the hype around Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford, it would be understandable if many fantasy players had elected to sacrifice his compatriot Bruno Fernandes in order to free up funds for the former Real Madrid and Juventus superstar.

But Fernandes is still one of the most reliable players in the league when it comes to accumulating fantasy points, and he would have had an assist in the win over West Ham had Ronaldo's initial effort gone in before he netted the rebound.

Fernandes has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances against Villa, with all three of his goals coming from the penalty spot. Only one player has scored more goals against an opponent with 100 per cent of them being penalties in the competition – Troy Deeney against United (four). No player has more goal involvements (49) than Fernandes since he made his debut in February 2020.

DEMARAI GRAY (Everton v Norwich City)

Rafael Benitez's unbeaten start at Everton came to an end at Aston Villa last week, before the Toffees then crashed out of the EFL Cup in midweek, with James Rodriguez's departure to Qatar completing a difficult few days.

Benitez, a contentious pick as Everton manager, could do with a win on Saturday against Norwich City, who are on a 15-match losing streak in the Premier League.

With Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison likely to miss the game through injury, Everton need Demarai Gray to carry on his fine form. He has scored three goals so far this season from just three attempts on target. Only in 2018-19 has the winger scored more goals in a single top-flight season (four).

RAUL JIMENEZ (Southampton v Wolves)

After winning at Watford to finally get their first points on the board, Wolves went down 2-0 at home to 10-man Brentford last time out.

Wolves have played some exciting football under new boss Bruno Lage, but they need to start converting their chances, and Raul Jimenez coming back into form would be key to doing just that.

Although he has yet to score or assist in the Premier League this season, Jimenez has been directly involved in 29 shots (14 shots, 15 chances created). Only Mohamed Salah (37) and Sadio Mane (31) have been involved in more. The Mexican has created the most chances without an assist and taken the joint-most shots without a goal, so surely his luck will change soon. 

JAMIE VARDY (Leicester City v Burnley)

It has not been a flying start to the season for FA Cup holders Leicester City, who have had some inconsistent results and performances to match.

They lost to Brighton last week, going down 2-1, with Jamie Vardy scoring his 150th goal in all competitions for the Foxes.

Vardy has been directly involved in six goals in his past six Premier League games (five goals, one assist), with these involvements accounting for 86 per cent of Leicester's total goals in that run (six of seven).

Nuno Espirito Santo demanded patience with Tanguy Ndombele as Tottenham defeated Wolves 3-2 on penalties following a 2-2 draw in Wednesday's EFL Cup clash.

Harry Kane and Ndombele had opened a two-goal lead but strikes from Leander Dendoncker and Daniel Podence, who profited from Ndombele's concentration lapse, sent the third-round tie to penalties.

Dendoncker then saw his effort saved by Pierluigi Gollini, with both Conor Coady and Ruben Neves missing as well to hand Spurs a place in the fourth round for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.

Despite the shoot-out win, Nuno focused on Ndombele as he insisted the France midfielder needs time to regain confidence and settle in.

"Let's try to avoid as much as we can individual analysis," Nuno responded to reporters post-match when asked about the mistake for Wolves' second goal.

"We will do it and we will do it amongst ourselves and I think we have to be patient with Tanguy because of all that happened in pre-season and this is his third game and already we've had however many games we've played so far.

"So let's be patient with all our players and patient with the time that they need to get to the level that I truly believe their talent can allow."

Kane, who has still not scored in the Premier League this term, was also on target and Nuno used his captain as another example for why patience is required with his players.

"In terms of the squad and in terms of the preparation of the squad we have players who have 65, 70 [training] sessions and we have players who have 15 sessions," he continued.

"Until we can balance everything, I think that will be the moment the players improve and get better. Harry [Kane] did a very good game, I think he has much more to give and it's about the team improving and growing together."

Wolves missed three penalties to hand Tottenham a 3-2 shoot-out victory following a 2-2 draw in Wednesday's EFL Cup third-round clash.

Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Kane fired Tottenham into a two-goal lead inside 23 minutes but Leander Dendoncker responded for Bruno Lage's men before the interval.

Daniel Podence levelled things up 13 minutes after the break following a mistake from Ndombele, but penalties were required at Molineux as neither side could find a late winner.

Pierluigi Gollini managed to save from Dendoncker and with both Conor Coady and Ruben Neves faltering, Spurs marched into the fourth round despite Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg missing.

Ndombele opened the scoring with 14 minutes gone, getting the better of Coady before drifting inside Willy Boly and slotting through John Ruddy's legs.

The visitors doubled their advantage nine minutes later, with Dele Alli carving open the Wolves defence before Kane drilled into the bottom-left corner.

However, Dendoncker halved Spurs' lead as he climbed the highest from Rayan Ait Nouri's outswinging corner to head into the top-right corner.

Alli and Kane attempted to link-up once more after half-time, but Ruddy was on hand to deny the former before Ndombele was at fault for Wolves' equaliser.

The France midfielder was caught in possession by Hwang Hee-chan, with Dendoncker subsequently finding Podence, who curled into the bottom-right corner to level.

Kane's header almost restored Spurs' lead but Ruddy's reflex save kept the scores level before Neves' deflected strike clipped the crossbar as the tie headed towards penalties.

Neves blasted over the fifth spot-kick after the first four had all converted before Dendoncker saw his low effort saved by the Spurs goalkeeper diving to his right.

Hojbjerg could have won it for the visitors but Ruddy denied the Denmark midfielder. However, that did not matter as Coady smashed into the crossbar to hand the away side their place in the fourth round.

Central and South American players who were barred from travelling to World Cup qualifiers by their Premier League teams will be available this weekend after their countries backed down from a request to ban them under FIFA rules. 

Players from Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay are cleared to play as their national federations agreed late Friday to waive a measure that would have compelled the players to sit out after their clubs refused to release them for international duty. 

Premier League teams last month decided to prevent players from nations on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 "red list" to participate in Qatar 2022 qualifiers, citing the UK's requirement that people who have travelled to those countries quarantine for 10 days upon their return. 

There had been some indications earlier Friday that the players might be available, but official word did not come down until shortly before midnight London time. 

Brazilians now available to their clubs Saturday include Ederson and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City, Chelsea's Thiago Silva and Manchester United's Fred. 

Among players from other nations involved, Wolves can use Mexico's Raul Jimenez on Saturday, while Newcastle will have Paraguay's Miguel Almiron available, and Watford can play Chile's Francisco Sierralta 

Liverpool will be most relieved, with Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino cleared to face Raphina and Leeds on Sunday. 

Earlier Friday, Jurgen Klopp said at a news conference that he hoped a solution could be reached for the benefit of all parties involved. 

"It is a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs, and the players especially," Klopp said. "We should not forget at this moment that the players wanted to play these games, the clubs wanted to let the players go but it was not possible."

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