EPL

Premier League data dive: Pogba and Fernandes run riot as Salah breaks opening-day record

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

Paul Pogba assisted four of Manchester United's goals as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side started their 2021-22 Premier League campaign with a 5-1 thrashing of Leeds United.

Bruno Fernandes netted three of them, with Mason Greenwood and Fred also getting in on the action as United issued a statement of intent.

Chelsea followed up that victory with a 3-0 win over Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge, while Liverpool rounded out the day by beating newly promoted Norwich City by the same scoreline.

Leicester City, Everton, Watford and Brighton and Hove Albion also claimed wins to get their seasons started in style.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the key statistics from across Saturday's fixtures.

 

Manchester United 5-1 Leeds United: Pogba and Fernandes leave Whites reeling

Pogba became the seventh player in Premier League history to assist four goals in a single game on Saturday, as he and Fernandes helped United seal a record 20th opening-day win. 

Dennis Bergkamp, Jose Antonio Reyes, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor, Santi Cazorla and Harry Kane had previously teed up four goals in a Premier League match.

Two of Pogba's assists were for Fernandes, whose hat-trick was the 10th scored on the opening weekend of a Premier League season, while the playmaker was the first United player to achieve the feat since Lou Macari in 1977.

Mason Greenwood benefitted from a sublime Pogba pass shortly after Luke Ayling's sensational equaliser – the full-back's first top-flight goal – and he is now the fifth-highest scoring teenager in the history of the competition with 18 goals.

United netted five goals in their opening game of a Premier League game for only the second time, after beating Fulham 5-1 in August 2006, while Leeds shipped five in an opener for the first time.

Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool: Records tumble as Salah stars

Liverpool might have relinquished their Premier League title last season, but Mohamed Salah picked up where he left off last term as he scored and provided two assists in Liverpool's 3-0 win at Norwich.

Salah teed up both Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino before netting himself in the 74th minute. It means he has scored on matchday one in all five of his Premier League seasons with Liverpool, while he is the first player in the competition's history to find the net on five consecutive opening weekends.

Norwich have now lost 11 successive top-flight games – only Sunderland have had a longer losing streak in the competition.

Firmino came on from the bench to score Liverpool's second. It was the 49th league goal scored by a substitute under Jurgen Klopp, the most of any side in the competition since the German joined in 2015, while the Brazil international also brought up the Reds' 8,000th league goal in the process.

Chelsea 3-0 Crystal Palace: Pulisic predictably punishes Eagles again

This trip to Stamford Bridge played out in painfully familiar fashion for Palace, who have lost more Premier League games against Chelsea (19) than versus any other side in the competition's history.

In a routine 3-0 opening-day victory, the Blues became the third team – after Tottenham (nine) and Liverpool (eight) – to win eight in a row against Palace in the Premier League era.

The nature of the first two strikes was predictable, too, with Marcos Alonso netting Chelsea's 50th direct free-kick goal in the competition – trailing only United (64) – before Christian Pulisic grabbed his fifth in five games against Palace, more than versus any other opponent.

The third was slightly more surprising, as centre-back Trevoh Chalobah's superb strike made him the second youngest Chelsea player to score on their Premier League debut for the club after Paul Hughes (22y 40d for Chalobah, 20y 274d for Hughes against Derby County in 1997).

Everton 3-1 Southampton: Benitez off to a winning start

Rafael Benitez was a contentious appointment at Everton but his tenure started with a 3-1 win over Southampton. It was the first time the Toffees have won a league match in which they trailed at half-time since September 2015.

On the other hand, since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over at Southampton in December 2018, they have lost 60 points from winning positions in the Premier League, more than any other side.

Adam Armstrong opened his Southampton account to put the visitors ahead at Goodison Park. Since the start of 2019-20, only Ivan Toney (55) has scored more goals in the top four tiers of English football.

Fresh from Olympic glory with Brazil, Richarlison scored the equaliser and has now netted in each of his last four league games against Southampton.

With Abdoulaye Doucoure lashing Everton ahead, Dominic Calvert-Lewin made it 3-1 with a diving header. He has now netted 12 headed goals in the league since the start of 2019-20, four more than any other player.

Elsewhere, Leicester City saw off Wolves 1-0 thanks to Jamie Vardy's first-half effort. The Foxes have lost just one of their last 25 home league games against the Midlands club.

Only Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Alan Shearer (all eight) have scored more goals on the opening weekend of Premier League campaigns than Vardy (seven).

Watford 3-2 Aston Villa: Ings on the spot but post-Grealish era starts in defeat

Watford have now lost their opening league match in just one of the past 15 campaigns (W8 D6), after the Hornets overcame Aston Villa 3-2.

Emmanuel Dennis became the fourth different Nigerian player to score on his Premier League debut to put Watford ahead, with Ismaila Sarr registering his 20th goal for the club before Cucho Hernandez became the first Colombian to net on his debut in the competition.

John McGinn scored his second goal in the space of four league appearances, as many as he had in his previous 55, to pull one back, before Danny Ings converted a late penalty.

He is the 24th player to score on his Premier League bow for Villa, while his spot-kick was the 2,000th penalty scored in Premier League history.

Meanwhile, Burnley are now winless in their last 11 home league games (D5 L6) since beating Villa 3-2 in January, equaling their longest run without a win at Turf Moor, after Brighton came from behind to win 2-1.

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    A stoppage-time clanger from goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare meant Ivory Coast could only draw 2-2 with Sierra Leone at the Africa Cup of Nations.

    Sangare attempted to prevent a late corner but shockingly let the ball squirm from his grasp and Steven Caulker was able to capitalise, crossing for Alhaji Kamara to scramble home.

    It was the second costly major error from Ivory Coast who squandered a 12th-minute penalty when Franck Kessie saw his kick pushed away by Mohamed Kamara, after Wilfried Zaha was sent sprawling by Umaru Bangura.

    Kamara was the hero of Sierra Leone's opening goalless draw against Algeria, but he was beaten here in the 25th minute when Zaha's excellent pass found Sebastien Haller, and the Ajax man took a touch before rifling into the bottom-right corner.

    Sierra Leone surprisingly drew level in the 55th minute when Musa Kamara produced some outstanding footwork to drive into the penalty area and send a left-footed strike into the top-left corner.

    Ivory Coast restored their lead with a delightful team goal in the 65th minute, the ball being worked swiftly from left to right before Nicolas Pepe drove a low 20-yard shot beyond the Sierra Leone goalkeeper. Yet there was a sucker-punch to come in the third minute of stoppage time, Sangare left embarrassed and injured in the process of conceding the dramatic equaliser.

  • Tunisia 4-0 Mauritania: Khazri nets brace as Eagles of Carthage soar past the Lions Tunisia 4-0 Mauritania: Khazri nets brace as Eagles of Carthage soar past the Lions

    Wahbi Khazri scored twice as Tunisia boosted their hopes of progressing to the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages with a commanding 4-0 win over Mauritania.

    The Saint-Etienne forward struck in each half, while Hamza Mathlouthi and Seifeddine Jaziri were also on target as the Eagles of Carthage secured their first points in Group F.

    After defeat in their opener against Mali, Tunisia were aiming to avoid losing four successive Africa Cup of Nations matches for the first time in their history.

    However, they made the perfect start; striking twice inside the opening 10 minutes at Stade Municipal de Limbe. First, Mathlouthi drilled in his first international goal, while Khazri slotted home soon after.

    Any faint hopes Mauritania had of getting back into the game were dashed in the 64th minute, when Khazri brilliantly dummied Ali Maaloul's ball before finishing the return pass from Ghaylene Chaalali.

    He then turned provider two minutes later with a perfectly timed throughball for Jaziri to neatly finish.

    Youssef Msakni squandered the chance to make it five in the dying moments. His penalty came back off the post, meaning Tunisia have now missed their last three spot-kicks in the competition.

  • Klopp thrilled to see Liverpool 'full of desire' Klopp thrilled to see Liverpool 'full of desire'

    Jurgen Klopp saluted the patience and desire demonstrated by Liverpool during their 3-0 win over Brentford.

    Goals from Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino lifted the Reds above Chelsea to reach second place in the Premier League table.

    Despite enjoying 74 per cent of possession and registering 12 shots before the break, Klopp's side had to be patient for the breakthrough against stubborn opponents at Anfield.

    It arrived just before half-time as Fabinho headed in from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner, and they pressed home their advantage after the break with two goals in eight minutes sealing the points.

    Klopp was pleased by the way his players were able to adapt to the challenges posed by the Bees.

    "It's extremely uncomfortable to play against Brentford, to be honest," Klopp told BBC Sport. "They usually play differently, but the way they play against us is really difficult.

    "There were so many moments where the ball was in the air and the moment it was on the ground, we had to start playing football.

    "It was not always fluent, but that's how it is very often – the set-pieces can be the opener. That was the case today. We could have scored maybe before, but then the next two goals were outstanding.

    "You need patience. You cannot lose focus or get sloppy. You have to stay full of desire even when you don't find direction. We had to switch sides, play it quick and all these kinds of things. We really controlled it in the second half."

    Fabinho got the ball rolling with his third goal in as many games, having netted twice in the FA Cup win over Shrewsbury Town last weekend.

    "We needed these three points and a good performance, so it was nice to do it in front of our fans," the Brazilian midfielder said. "It will be good to grow our confidence.

    "It's always nice to score here at Anfield. When I can help the team in the offensive part of the pitch, it's always important for me as well.

    "The team played really well with the ball. We created a lot of opportunities to score. It is a chance for everybody to show their quality and step up. We did that today."

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