EPL

Liverpool trio achieve competition first while De Gea finally saves a penalty – the Premier League weekend's quirky facts

By Sports Desk September 20, 2021

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

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

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


Premier League first for Reds trio

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

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

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

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

Dave saves... finally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veteran Silva helps give Spurs the blues

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

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

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

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

Super-sub Bailey bursts Benitez's bubble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    David Warner returned to form with a blistering half-century after Adam Zampa put Sri Lanka in a spin as Australia cruised to a seven-wicket T20 World Cup win.

    Warner's place in the side had been called into question due to a lack of runs, but the opener silenced his critics a day after his 35th birthday as Australia made it two wins out two in the Super 12 stage.

    Sri Lanka posted 154-6 after Aaron Finch won the toss and opted to field at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, Kusal Perera and Charith Asalanka making 35 apiece before Bhanuka Rajapaksa added an unbeaten 33.

    Spinner Zampa flummoxed the Sri Lanka batters, taking 2-12 from his four overs, while Mitchell Starc (2-27) and Pat Cummins (2-34) also did damage.

    Josh Hazlewood played a big part with the ball once again without reward and Australia made light work of chasing down their target.

    Warner was dropped on 18 but made 65 from 42 balls, and he and captain Finch (37 from 23) laid the platform with an explosive opening stand of 70 from only 6.5 overs.

    Wanindu Hasaranga took 2-22, but Australia eased to their target with three overs to spare to join leaders England on four points in Group 1, Steve Smith making 28 not out and Marcus Stoinis unbeaten on 16.

     

    Zampa bamboozles Sri Lanka after promising start

    Sri Lanka were going along nicely at 53-1 at the end of the powerplay, but they lost their way after the excellent Zampa had Asalanka caught on the sweep by Smith.

    The guile of Zampa also saw the back of Avishka Fernando after Starc cleaned up Kusal with a searing yorker, as Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 16 runs.

    Rajapaksa added some much-needed late runs, with Stoinis expensive, but Australia were left with a smaller chase than they might have been expecting.

     

    Warner grateful for late Kusal gift

    Warner had been dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League and came into this game having scored only 17 runs in his previous five innings.

    His frustrating spell would have continued if Kusal had not put down a simple catch behind the stumps and the powerful left-hander made him pay, hitting 10 fours to set his side well on their way to victory.

    Finch was also due some runs and looked in ominous touch – bad news for Australia's rivals – as he cleared the rope twice before playing on to Hasaranga.

  • Lukaku 'completed himself as a striker' under Conte after Man Utd misery Lukaku 'completed himself as a striker' under Conte after Man Utd misery

    Antonio Conte drew the best out of Romelu Lukaku at Inter after showing him support that felt lacking at Manchester United, the striker's agent has claimed.

    As Conte emerges as a possible candidate to become the next United manager, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue to struggle, his credentials as a coach who helps players to achieve their potential have been underlined by remarks from Lukaku's representative Federico Pastorello.

    When Lukaku joined Inter from United in August 2019, it was on the back of a disappointing second year at Old Trafford in which he scored 15 goals in 45 games – 32 were starts – at a rate of one every 201 minutes.

    That was the fewest goals he had managed in a full season since establishing himself in the Premier League during a loan spell at West Brom in 2012-13. Lukaku was owned by Chelsea during his time with the Baggies. He saw little action for the Blues first time around, but his Premier League career has come full circle this year after he returned to Stamford Bridge following two prolific years with Inter in Italy.

    Four strong seasons at Everton were followed by a 27-goal first campaign with United, before the team's fortunes nosedived in the final months of Jose Mourinho's tenure, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking over midway through the 2018-19 campaign.

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    But Pastorello said Lukaku still needed the assurance he was central to a manager's plans, and he found that at San Siro under Conte, a former Chelsea boss who wanted to sign the striker during his stint in west London.

    "Two years of work with Mr Conte helped him. He can score left, right, head. He has completed himself as a striker working with Mr Conte. He also had the opportunity to improve himself personally," Pastorello told Sky Sports News.

    "He felt wanted. This is what he was not able to feel at Man United. That happens."

     

    Across two years in Italy, Lukaku hit 64 goals in 95 games, at one every 121 minutes. He bettered his expected goals tally of 57.73 and created 133 chances, having carved out just 82 in 96 games for United.

    According to Pastorello, Thomas Tuchel showed a compelling desire to make Lukaku a prize asset at Chelsea, making "a fantastic speech" that convinced the Belgian striker a second spell at Stamford Bridge was the right switch.

    "He gave him the feeling that he really wanted him, that he was the perfect last piece in the puzzle," Pastorello said, recalling Tuchel's words to Lukaku before the reported £97.5million transfer. "It's very crucial for a player to decide to go in a team with a coach that really wants him."

    After making a fast start at Chelsea, with four goals in his first four games across all competitions, Lukaku finds himself on a seven-goal barren run, with Tuchel saying the striker is mentally fatigued. He is also currently injured, with no clear indication yet of when he might return.

    Despite the brouhaha surrounding his early impressive performances, Lukaku's goals in this spell for Chelsea have now come at an average of one every 208 minutes, albeit these are just the early stages of the campaign. The fact Chelsea sit top of the Premier League has eased the pressure on Lukaku to hit another scoring streak.

    "Rom's brain and his mind is very focused with Chelsea," Pastorello said. "He will rest a little bit, but he'll be back with more will to win trophies."

    Lukaku has missed Chelsea's last two games due to a minor injury sustained in last week's Champions League win over Malmo.

  • Koeman sacked by Barcelona: Pedri 'will always be grateful' to Dutchman Koeman sacked by Barcelona: Pedri 'will always be grateful' to Dutchman

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    Barca confirmed the departure of Koeman on Wednesday shortly after a 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano that leaves them ninth in LaLiga with 10 games played.

    The Dutchman lasted just 14 months in the job after replacing Quique Setien in August 2020, during which time he won just 58.21 per cent of his 67 games in charge. 

    Koeman had more success when it came to nurturing young players into the first-team fold, though, with Ronald Araujo, Oscar Mingueza and Pedri breaking through last season.

    And with Barca's financial issues well-documented, Koeman made further use of the academy this term by giving Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez and Yusuf Demir chances.

    None of those players have had as big an impact as Pedri, who made the fourth-most appearances under Koeman (56 games), despite this season's injury issues.

    Pedri's form last season saw him rewarded with a call-up to the Spain squad ahead of Euro 2020, where he started all six of his country's matches in their run to the semi-finals.

    After a memorable 12 months for club and country, the 18-year-old has personally thanked Koeman for giving him a chance to shine.

    "I'm sorry things didn't turn out the way we wanted, mister," he posted on his personal Instagram account on Thursday. 

    "I will always be grateful to him for everything he has done for me: for giving me his trust from the first moment and for the opportunity to fulfil my dream at Barcelona.

    "I wish you the best both personally and professionally."

     

    Sergio Busquets was the most used played during Koeman's tenure, featuring 63 times in total – one more than Frenkie de Jong – with 56 of those being starts.

    The experienced midfielder also paid tribute to his departing boss on social media on Thursday, posting: "Thanks for everything, mister. Good luck in the future."

    Koeman's win percentage is the lowest of all coaches to have taken charge of Barca since Pep Guardiola left in 2012, the next lowest being Setien (64 per cent).

    The 58-year-old is also the only Barca boss to average fewer than two points per game in LaLiga (1.96 PPG), again comfortably behind the next worst in Setien (2.21 PPG).

    Barca announced on Thursday that Sergi Barjuan will take interim charge while a permanent successor for Koeman – expected to be club great Xavi – is found.

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