EPL

Greenwood emulates Ronaldo, Lingard goes from strength to strength - the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk April 12, 2021

Mason Greenwood emulated a feat last achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard's astonishing purple patch continued in another enthralling weekend of Premier League action.

Greenwood came off the bench to play a big part in second-placed United's 3-1 victory at Tottenham on Sunday.

Lingard also starred in London earlier in the day, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Leicester City to keep West Ham on course to defy the odds and seal a Champions League spot.

Leeds United shocked champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while Alexandre Lacazette brought up a half-century of goals in Arsenal's 3-0 success at rock-bottom Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at some quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches.

 

Greenwood sets high sub standard

As cameo appearances go, Greenwood's short time on the field against Spurs was right up there.

The 19-year-old replaced Marcus Rashford after 72 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the game in the balance at 1-1.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could surely not have wished for a bigger impact from the forward, who laid on a goal for Edinson Cavani before sealing all three points by finding the back of the net himself deep into stoppage time.

Greenwood became the first teenager to score and assist as a substitute for United in a Premier League match since the legendary Ronaldo did so against Portsmouth in November 2003.

Lethal Lingard outfoxes Leicester

On the subject of big impacts, Lingard has been a revelation for the Hammers since his loan move from Manchester United in January.

The England forward can do no wrong at the moment and helped himself to a first-half double in a huge victory over the Foxes, moving David Moyes' men back up to fourth.

Lingard has now scored in four consecutive games for the high-flying London club, taking his tally in the Premier League to eight.

That equals his best goalscoring return in a top-flight campaign and he has only made nine appearances. Lingard also netted eight times for his parent club in the 2017-18, but that was from 33 matches.

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    Is Mohamed Salah the best player in the world? Jamie Carragher has no doubt after the Liverpool forward's stupendous goal at Watford drew immediate comparisons with Lionel Messi. 

    Former England striker Gary Lineker compared the wonder strike to a Lionel Messi special after the Egyptian put Jurgen Klopp's Reds 4-0 up at Vicarage Road, on the way to a 5-0 win. 

    Salah received the ball on the edge of the Watford penalty area and was surrounded by home defenders, but he showed supreme close control to weave a path beyond Craig Cathcart, Juan Hernandez and Juraj Kucka before whipping a clinical finish into the far corner. 

    It was a goal that had the hallmarks of a Messi or Diego Maradona masterpiece, with Salah's astonishing footwork leaving the defenders powerless to stop him extending Liverpool's lead. 

    "My, my. Mo has morphed into Messi," Lineker wrote on Twitter. 

    The goal means Salah has now scored in each of his past eight games for Liverpool; the longest run of scoring in consecutive appearances for the club since Daniel Sturridge in February 2014, also a run of eight matches. 

    Carragher's instant verdict was: "Best player in the world right now." 

    The former Liverpool defender's excitement was matched by all-time Reds top scorer Ian Rush, who used an Arabic term of approval to describe Salah's goal. 

    "Mashallah @MoSalah The best!" Rush tweeted. 

    Alan Shearer, the Premier League's record scorer, described the goal as "brilliant", and Liverpool's own Twitter match commentary enthused about the Salah strike. 

    It came two weeks after his majestic goal against Manchester City, with Salah said by some on social media to be putting together his own goal of the season competition. 

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    The flow of goals from Liverpool amounted to dismal news for Watford's new boss, Claudio Ranieri. Roberto Firmino grabbed a hat-trick and Sadio Mane also scored, netting in the Premier League for the 100th time. 

    Liverpool tweeted: "Words escape us, but we'll try... Salah shows incredible quick feet to escape the attention of three Watford defenders inside the box, before turning Cathcart and sending a curling effort into the far corner." 

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    Firmino profited from poor Watford defending to find the net either side of half-time, tapping in from James Milner's pass after the home defence had been carved open, before pouncing on a loose ball from a badly defended cross.

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    Ronald Koeman had Sergio Aguero and Ansu Fati on his mind ahead of Sunday's clash with Valencia as the under-pressure Barcelona boss seeks the wins he admits his team urgently need.

    Former Manchester City striker Aguero – the Premier League champions' record scorer – has yet to play a competitive game for Barcelona since joining in the close season, due to a calf injury.

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    It remains to be seen whether that comes on Sunday or in the Champions League game with Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday, or even in the Clasico against Real Madrid next weekend.

    Three home games in eight days for Barcelona could go a long way to determining whether Koeman has a future at Camp Nou, with a Champions League defeat to Benfica and a LaLiga loss to Atletico Madrid before the international break having ramped up pressure on the Dutchman's position.

    Assessing Aguero, Koeman said on Saturday: "He has improved a lot lately. He played 20, 25 minutes in Wednesday's [practice] game and it is going well.

    "But he lacks the rhythm of the games and a certain physique. He will get that with games. There is a possibility that he will be on the squad list. His quality is not questioned, he can give a lot to this team. Especially up front."

    Barcelona have taken 12 points from their opening seven games in LaLiga, meaning they have ground to make up already on the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico and Real Sociedad, who each stood on 17 points from eight games coming into this weekend, albeit Koeman's men have a game in hand.

    Teenage forward Fati is being eased back into the first team after his long-term knee injury absence, with Koeman determined not to rush the young Spain international, while at the same time aware his qualities could be hugely helpful to this Barcelona team.

    The shot conversion rate by Barcelona in LaLiga so far this season is 13.6 per cent, their lowest in a single campaign in the top flight since 2007-08 (13.5 per cent).

    "Every day he is doing better because he has been away for a long time," Koeman said of Fati. "You have to think with Ansu that there are three games this week and he cannot play the entire three games. We must decide what is best for him and the team."

    Koeman was backed by president Joan Laporta before the Atletico game, but he needs results and knows it.

    "I always try to be calm, which isn't easy," Koeman said. "The important thing is to put your energy where you have an influence. Winning games and points is what counts."

    The former Ajax and Everton boss will hope Barcelona's reasonably strong recent record against Valencia can continue. They have just lost one of their past 10 LaLiga games against Valencia (W5 D4), a 2-0 setback in January 2020 under Quique Setien.

    A flurry of goals would seem likely, given the recent history of this fixture. Valencia are the away team with the most goals at Camp Nou in LaLiga since 2013-14, netting a remarkable 14 goals in eight games and scoring at least twice in six of those.

    Koeman would presumably take a win by any means, whether a scrappy 1-0 or a dramatic and high-scoring affair. A defeat is almost unthinkable, given it would be a third straight loss for the Blaugrana.

    Asked about his position and the pressures that come with it, Koeman said: "I am used to it. Don't worry, in a big club there are always things with the coach. Last year they also talked about the coach.

    "The president has defended me and supported me. Things are fine as they are, in spite of the fact that every coach has to win games to continue."

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