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).

Milan moved to the Serie A summit as Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck late to hand them a pulsating 4-2 win over nine-man Bologna.

Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria scored either side of Adama Soumaoro's dismissal to give the Rossoneri a healthy advantage at the interval.

That was wiped out in the space of seven minutes at the start of the second period, however, with an Ibrahimovic own goal and a Musa Barrow strike restoring parity at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.

Bologna had a second man sent off before the hour mark, Roberto Soriano given a straight red card for a late challenge, and Stefano Pioli's Milan landed a memorable three points thanks to fine late strikes from Bennacer and Ibrahimovic.

Leao put Milan ahead in the 16th minute with a deflected strike, before Soumaoro was shown a red card for bringing down a clean-through Rade Krunic just outside the area four minutes later.

Milan took advantage of their numerical superiority in the 35th minute, Calabria lashing home a second from 15 yards.

The hosts stormed back at the start of the second period, though, with Ibrahimovic – making his first start since May 9 – heading into his own net four minutes after the interval to give Sinisa Mihajlovic's side hope.

Barrow then remarkably drew Bologna level in the 52nd minute, slotting past Ciprian Tatarusanu after being played in by Soriano.

Rossoblu captain Soriano was then given his marching orders after a VAR review six minutes later for an ugly challenge on Fode Ballo-Toure.

The hosts held firm until the 84th minute when Bennacer powered into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards, while Ibrahimovic added gloss to the scoreline with a whipped finish from the same distance six minutes later.

Phil Foden is enjoying playing as the focal point in Manchester City's star-studded attack and earned special praise from boss Pep Guardiola after inspiring his side to victory at Brighton and Hove Albion.

The City academy product started through the middle once again in Saturday's meeting at the Amex Stadium and scored just his second ever double in the Premier League in a 4-1 win.

Foden had eight shots, four of those on target, but he could not find a way past Robert Sanchez in the second half for a hat-trick.

The England international did set up substitute Riyad Mahrez late on for City's fourth, however, and he is thriving off the freedom of being used right across City's frontline this season.

"I'm enjoying it. I can drop deep and get the ball and pick the passes off. It's a new role for me and I can say I'm really enjoying it," he told Sky Sports. 

"It changes game to game. Sometimes I stay higher than normal, but this game they went man-to-man so I dropped a bit deeper and I thought we used the extra man well.

"On another day I could have scored three, but the main thing is the result and I'm just happy we got it today."

Foden has featured nine times for City this season, starting six of those games and playing a direct part in eight goals – only Mahrez (nine) has scored and assisted more for the club this term.

Guardiola agrees with Foden that he should have further added to his goals tally against Brighton, but the Catalan coach is pleased with the strides being taken by the 21-year-old.

"There are players that play in one position and there are players who play football. When you play football it means you can play any position, you understand the game," Guardiola said at his post-match news conference.

"In the final third he can play up front, has the quality to move and be aggressive one on one and arrive in the box. He can play as a false nine, a winger, wide right or wide left.

"He is a guy who is a midfield player with a big sense of the goal. He scored two and could have had more, but he is still young and still has a margin to improve."

Foden's double came after Ilkay Gundogan had opened the scoring as City raced three goals ahead inside 31 minutes.

Alexis Mac Allister pulled one back from the penalty spot nine minutes from time after Ederson took out Enock Mwepu, but Mahrez thumped home a fourth for the visitors late on.

The reigning champions are back to within two points of leaders Chelsea, who thumped Norwich City 7-0 earlier on Saturday.

Fourth-place Brighton had lost just one of their opening eight league games and Guardiola was full of praise for Graham Potter and his side.

"It was a really good result for us because I knew which team we face today," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"It was a good lesson as for 30 minutes they were better than us. This game must be played with the ball. We suffered and we'll be better for that in the future.

"This is a huge victory for us. To win here is a big compliment for the team.

"They are aggressive and when they have the ball they know what they have to do. They have all the mechanisms of a big team.

"They have courage. I admire them for that. They play like a top four or five team."

Phil Foden scored twice as Manchester City eased to a 4-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion to keep pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

Chelsea sent out a message with a thumping 7-0 win against Norwich City earlier on Saturday, but City responded with a convincing win of their own to close the gap on the leaders to two points.

Foden's double at the Amex Stadium came after Ilkay Gundogan opened the scoring as the visitors went three goals ahead inside 31 minutes in a dominant first-half showing.

Brighton improved in the second half and pulled back a deserved consolation nine minutes from time through substitute Alexis Mac Allister's penalty, though City had the final say when Foden played in Riyad Mahrez for a late fourth.

Lewis Dunk produced an acrobatic goal-line clearance to deny Gabriel Jesus early on, but Gundogan tapped in two minutes later after Robert Sanchez failed to take a routine catch and Bernardo Silva hooked the ball into his City team-mate's path.

Sanchez initially did well to keep the scoring down with a couple of good saves, only for Foden – under pressure from Brighton defender Dan Burn – to double his side's tally by converting Jack Grealish's unselfish pass at the end of a swift counter.

Foden was credited with the goal after some initial uncertainty over whether he or Burn got the final touch, and he had a second soon after, the England international getting in the way of a Jesus shot to help deflect it past a wrong-footed Sanchez.

Brighton recovered from two goals down to beat City 3-2 at this ground in May and they grew into the game in the second half, with Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard finally calling Ederson into action.

City could not hold on for a seventh clean sheet in nine league games this term as Ederson caught Enock Mwepu and fellow Albion substitute Mac Allister made no mistake from the penalty spot, but there was still time for Mahrez to lash in his seventh of the season at the other end when played in by Foden.


What does it mean? City keep pace with Chelsea

City may not have racked up the seven goals Chelsea managed against Norwich in Saturday's early kick-off, but Brighton are far stronger opposition than the doomed Canaries and this was a performance equally as impressive.

Brighton had lost just one of their opening eight games and entered this match only two points behind City, yet they were completely blown away by the reigning champions, especially in an incredibly one-sided first half.

The nine shots on target managed by City in the first half is the most by a team in a Premier League game before the interval this term.

Brighton rocked

City's lack of an out-and-out striker has been a topic of discussion since the moment the transfer window closed, yet once again that was not a problem as they made it 37 goals in 14 matches this season.

Each of City's five attackers – Silva, Gundogan, Jesus, Foden and Grealish – either scored or assisted a goal in the first half. Gundogan now has 13 Premier League goals this calendar year – only Mohamed Salah (16) and Harry Kane (15) have more.

Ed rush

City were closing in on another clean sheet when Ederson rushed off his line and took out Mwepu, allowing Mac Allister to convert from the penalty spot.

The Brazilian goalkeeper will be doubly disappointed as he even managed to get a hand to the penalty without keeping it out. He has now conceded 15 of the last 16 spot-kicks he has faced in the Premier League.

What's next?

Both sides are in EFL Cup last-16 action next Wednesday, with City travelling to West Ham and Brighton away at Leicester City.

Robert Lewandowski scored a stunning goal and Serge Gnabry also got on the scoresheet against his former club as Bayern Munich beat Hoffenheim 4-0 on Sunday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side were threatening from the off and Gnabry lashed in from an acute angle after making a good run into space in the box, but free-scoring striker Lewandowski stole the show, bending a powerful effort high into the net from long range to leave Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann with no chance.

Substitutes Eric Choupo-Moting and Kingsley Coman made the scoreline comfortable late on as the visitors succumbed to Bayern's relentless pressure.

The result keeps Bayern top of the Bundesliga, one point ahead of title rivals Borussia Dortmund with nine games played.

Lewandowski and Gnabry both came close to opening the scoring inside the first eight minutes, with the former dinking just wide from seven yards and the latter finding the net but seeing it disallowed following a VAR check due to a foul from Jamal Musiala in the build-up.

Not to be denied, Gnabry rifled a low shot into the bottom-left corner from a tight angle on the right in the 16th minute after being found by Musiala and Lewandowski unleashed a ferocious strike into the top-right corner from outside the box on the half-hour mark after good work from Thomas Muller. 

Bayern had several more good chances at 2-0 up, but did not find the net again until Andrej Kramaric's poor clearance ricocheted off the back of Dayot Upamecano and into the path of substitute Choupo-Moting, who slotted home in the 82nd minute.

Fellow Bayern substitute Coman added further gloss to the scoreline five minutes later, racing onto a long ball in behind and lashing emphatically past Baumann to make it 4-0.

Thomas Tuchel wants Chelsea's players to continue proving their quality after watching them run riot against Norwich City.

Shorn of the injured Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, Chelsea made light work of lowly Norwich at Stamford Bridge, with Mason Mount scoring a hat-trick in a 7-0 win.

It was the fourth time Chelsea have won a Premier League game by seven or more goals and the first time since December 2012 against Aston Villa (8-0), with only Manchester United netting seven or more goals in more Premier League games.

Mount opened and rounded off the scoring, with strikes from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, Ben Chilwell and an own goal from Max Aarons wedged in between.

Chelsea's win lifted them four points clear at the top for at least a few hours, and though pleased with the display, Tuchel wants the same level of performance when the Blues take on Southampton in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

He told BT Sport: "Yes, a good performance, we were sharp, put in a lot of effort.

"High-pressing, [we] played a high rhythm and created a lot of chances and we were very precise. It was a deserved win. To score seven you need a bit of luck and momentum, but a good game.

"This will not stop, this is only one game and the next one follows on Tuesday here, up for a challenge again and they will have to prove it again. All the credit, but it's only one game."

Mount had not scored since netting in a 2-0 Champions League win over Real Madrid in May, but he was the star of the show against the hapless Canaries, who also had Ben Gibson sent off.

He had more shots (five) and efforts on target (four) than any other player, while his tally of three key passes trailed only Mateo Kovacic (six).

Tuchel said: "It's good, because no matter what the coach says and how many good opportunities you have, how satisfied the coach is, the offensive guys need goals to feel fully happy, full confidence.

"He waited long, too long, and it was good that he got some goals today."

Tuchel had concerns about fatigue with Mount, and he added: "I don't think it was a matter of now he is fresh and yesterday he was tired. For now it's a process, we are still in between international breaks, I think it's normal. It's a status that will not change from one game to the other.

"I agree that today he looked fresh and it was good to put him on the pitch. We need to be careful with these players ... who play important roles in their national teams and have a lot of competitions."

Mount added: "Before the game I was putting pressure on myself to get on the scoresheet because it's been quite a long time since I did, and then three come around in the same game.

"I don't think I've ever scored more than one in a game for Chelsea, so it's obviously a massive moment for me to get three, I'll remember this for a long time.

"You put pressure on yourself. I was always getting in the positions to score, but I just wasn't putting it in the back of the net, and I just thought there'd be a game where it was going to come off and today was the day.

"It was my luck today, and obviously the team as well, not just me. The way we played today, I spoke before about intensity, an early kick-off, being at it from the beginning and we were like that today."

Carlo Ancelotti has urged his Real Madrid players to use any pre-Clasico nerves to their advantage when they take on Barcelona at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Madrid face Barca in a key early season showdown in LaLiga, with the visitors two points better off than their fierce rivals heading into the much-anticipated game.

Los Blancos thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in the Champions League in midweek, but they have taken just one point from the last six on offer in LaLiga.

After suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Espanyol three weeks ago, Madrid risk suffering back-to-back league defeats for the first time since the final two games of the 2018-19 season.

Ancelotti has experience of facing Barcelona as Madrid boss from his first stint in charge and is fully aware of the magnitude of the contest.

"Worrying is a normal emotion. Sometimes even fear – they are positive feelings," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"If you are not afraid, you face the lion thinking that it is a cat. I have a strong team, a team with real quality.

"Fear is not a bad feeling. Fortunately, I am never scared because I think there are worse things in life than to lose a game."

 

Ancelotti was responding to comments made by opposite number Ronald Koeman earlier on Saturday when insisting Barca's players do not fear Madrid.

Madrid have won their last three games against Barcelona in all competitions and are looking to win four in a row for the first time since a run of seven in 1965.

The Catalans may no longer have record all-time goalscorer Lionel Messi in their ranks, but Ancelotti does not doubt the quality of the opposition.

"I don't like evaluating the squads of others," the Italian said. "But they have maintained that identity of playing good football. There's no Messi, but their youngsters are fantastic.

"It is tough to say who arrives in this game in better shape because Barca have played good games lately. In this type of match, there can be no favourite."

This will be the first season since 2004-05 that neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will make a Clasico appearance, with many suggesting the fixture has lost some of its lustre.

But Ancelotti, who has not won any of his five away managerial games against Barcelona in all competitions, does not see it that way.

"This is a special match for those who experience it," he said. "The feelings are the same as when Cristiano and Messi were involved.

"You don't have to look at the individuals. You have to look at the teams because there will always be Barca-Madrid before those and after those who are here now."

 

Having lost both previous games at Camp Nou as Madrid boss, Ancelotti could become just the second Los Blancos chief to lose his first three away El Clasicos after Leo Beenhakker, who suffered four defeats in a row between 1987 and 1988.

"I have never won at Camp Nou and now is the time to do it," Ancelotti said when that fact was put to him. "That said, it is never easy.

"There are three points on the line and if we want to win the league then we have to target them."

Australia turned the formbook on its head to start the T20 World Cup Super 12 stage with a five-wicket victory over South Africa.

South Africa have lost just two matches across their three T20I series in 2021, while Australia have suffered defeat in each of their past five series.

But Australia's decision to put the Proteas in to bat proved an astute one, Josh Hazlewood (2-19) leading a seam attack that got plenty out of the pitch while spinner Adam Zampa took 2-21.

Aiden Markram (40) provided the most substantial contribution to South Africa's underwhelming 118-9 and it was he who set in motion an unexpected fightback that brought a tense finish.

Despite losing Aaron Finch (0) and David Warner (14) early, Australia looked to be cruising at 80-3, however, Markram's magnificent diving catch broke Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell's (18) partnership by removing the former.

Tabraiz Shamsi then bowled Maxwell for his 50th T20I wicket three balls later to give South Africa further hope, but timely boundaries from Marcus Stoinis (24 not out) got Australia over the line with two balls to spare and off the mark in Group 1.

 

Chelsea did not miss Romelu Lukaku or Timo Werner as the Premier League leaders made light work of 10-man Norwich City in a 7-0 rout, with Mason Mount scoring a hat-trick.

A side starting the day bottom of the league has not beaten the team at the top since February 2011, and Norwich never looked likely to halt that run at Stamford Bridge as Thomas Tuchel's side cruised to their biggest win of the season with ease.

Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi got things started with their first league goals of the campaign, with Ben Chilwell scoring for a fourth successive top-flight match after fellow wing-back Reece James got in on the act.

Max Aarons' own goal and Ben Gibson's red card made life even more miserable for Norwich, with Mount doubling his tally from the spot before rounding off his hat-trick in stoppage time.

It took Chelsea just eight minutes to take the lead, as Mount allowed Jorginho's lay-off to run across him before planting a firm strike into the bottom-left corner.

Mateo Kovacic's weighted throughball teed up Hudson-Odoi for a cool finish across Tim Krul 10 minutes later, with Mount turning provider for Chelsea's third, sliding a perfect ball through to James, who chipped in with aplomb. 

After making an error that allowed Milot Rashica to test Edouard Mendy, Chilwell quickly atoned at the other end, drilling in a low finish to continue his brilliant scoring form.

Aarons' deflection on Hudson-Odoi's cross-shot did for Krul, who spilled over his own line, before Gibson – only 10 minutes after he had first been cautioned – dived in late on James.

Mathias Normann's handball handed Chelsea a spot-kick and, though Krul initially saved Mount's effort, the goalkeeper had come off his line, and Norwich's goalkeeper was unable to keep out the second attempt.

There was time for one more, Ruben Loftus-Cheek beating the offside trap and cutting back for Mount to slot in his third.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman acknowledged the importance of Sunday's showdown with Real Madrid but insisted he does not feel under any additional pressure to win the match.

Barca head into the first Clasico of the season on the back of victories over Valencia and Dynamo Kiev in LaLiga and the Champions League respectively.

It is the first time this season the Catalans have won successive games and has eased the pressure on Koeman, who has the public backing of president Joan Laporta.

But Koeman's side are paying for a slow start to the campaign as they are down in seventh, two points behind Madrid and five off leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand.

The Dutchman is no stranger to arguably the most famous fixture in football, having enjoyed a hugely successful stint at Barca as a player, and is aware of the magnitude of Sunday's clash.

"I'm not under any more pressure. Being a Barca coach, I know the importance of what is ahead," he said at Saturday's pre-match news conference.

"I have lost and won Clasicos as a player. It is my first as a coach with an audience, which makes it different. I'm hopeful of winning the game.

"Winning is important as it would help us continue to build confidence with all the changes we made and the youngsters that are emerging.

"We work together to improve on the field. I don't feel like this is an exam for us, but it is a Clasico and we have to prove ourselves."

 

Laporta said ahead of the 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid on October 2 that Koeman deserved time to turn things around in what is just his second season at Camp Nou.

Asked if he still feels the support of his president, Koeman said: "I don't have to be told every day that I will continue in the job.

"I feel supported but I know everything depends on results. It's not about a single game, though this is an important week ahead of us and we must be prepared.

Barca have not won any of their last four LaLiga games against Madrid and have lost the last three Clasicos in all competitions – not since 1965 have they lost more in a row.

The Catalans could find themselves five points behind Madrid with a defeat, though a victory would see them overtake their bitter rivals.

"We enter the game in a good mood thanks to two victories," Koeman said. "There is a lot of enthusiasm to play and show our fans we want to win.

"A win in a Clasico can make a lot of difference between the good or bad. We know it's one of the most important games, but there is a long season still ahead.

"We can show we are on the right track, making a positive result very important. We have to play without fear and show our desire to win from the start."

While results have improved for Barca, Madrid have collected just one point from their last two league matches and risk losing successive LaLiga games for the first time since 2018-19.

"I'm a Barca coach, so it is difficult to answer, but I don't see a clear favourite," Koeman said when asked if there is anything to separate the two heavyweights.

"There is a difference in terms of experience, but we also have some experienced players in our squad, while they have some young players, so we are more or less the same.

"There are areas in which they are better than us and others in which we are better than them. We are playing at home and can have no fear. We want to show we're a good team."

Koeman confirmed Jordi Alba is available for selection despite sustaining a knock against Dynamo Kiev, but Pedri, Ronald Araujo, Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele are not part of the squad.

Even in an age where the passing game is king, the best teams in the NFL can still fall victim to a dominant rushing performance.

Derrick Henry proved as much on Monday Night Football in Week 6, putting the Buffalo Bills to the sword with a 143-yard, three-touchdown performance as the Tennessee Titans claimed a thrilling primetime win.

It was Henry's fifth successive 100-yard game and his third this season with three touchdowns.

Unsurprisingly, the man who has won the rushing title in each of the last two seasons again leads the league in yardage on the ground.

More noteworthy, however, is the fact Henry is on pace to comfortably break Eric Dickerson's record for most rushing yards in a single season.

Dickerson's mark of 2,105 has stood since 1984, but Henry critically has the benefit of a 17th game in which to make NFL history.

But is Henry's pace sustainable? And, beyond writing one of the most incredible chapters in the NFL record books, what would it mean if Henry does surpass Dickerson?

Henry's potentially historic average

Following his dominant showing against Buffalo, Henry is averaging 130.5 yards per game, putting him on track for 2,219.

Such a gaudy average would be unsustainable for most backs. However, Henry has the exceptional skill set to again prove as the exception.

He finished last season with similar numbers, putting up 126.7 yards per game while leading the league with 378 carries – Dalvin Cook was second with 312 –  as the Titans star surpassed 2,000 for the first time in his career.

And his frightening combination of his size and speed has allowed Henry to display durability beyond most players at his position.

Henry has missed only one game across the previous two seasons, a period in which he carried the ball a league-high 681 times, with his 6ft 3in and 247lb frame and his explosiveness ensuring it is opposing defenders who typically come off worst in collisions.

A favourable schedule

Speaking to that explosiveness is Henry's 2021 yards before contact per attempt average of 3.01. That figure is comfortably above the league average of 2.40 and the difficulty in stopping Henry once he bursts to the second level of the defense is reflected by his number of big-play runs.

Henry leads the league with 19 rushes of 10 yards or more while he is the only player in the NFL with two runs of at least 50 yards.

Simply put, being in the path of this behemoth when he breaks into the open field is the most difficult position for an NFL defender to be in, and he will face plenty of defenses vulnerable to run during the remainder of the season.

On Sunday, the Titans face a Kansas City Chiefs defense ranked 30th in rush yards per attempt allowed (5.15), with six of the last 11 weeks of the season seeing Tennessee meet a team ranked in the bottom half of the league by that metric.

The blend of Henry's proclivity for big gains and a schedule that should present a plethora of opportunities for displays akin to his devastating effort in Week 6 is a perfect recipe for the former Alabama star sustaining his current pace and shattering Dickerson's record, which would be significant for several reasons.

Destined for Canton?

The magnitude of Henry breaking the rushing record cannot be overstated.

At present, it is only the advent of the 17th game that would make his current pace enough for him to surpass Dickerson, who averaged an astonishing 131.6 yards across 16 games.

Yet that would not detract from the scale of Henry's achievement, with that potential piece of history standing as a monument to his consistency.

In addition to claiming a record that has long since seemed unbreakable, Henry would become the first player in NFL history to record multiple 2,000-yard seasons, doing so in successive years.

Putting that into context, no player in NFL history has even posted back-to-back 1,900-yard seasons, with Dickerson the sole player to go over 1,800 yards in consecutive years, his record-breaking 1984 following a 1983 campaign he finished with 1,808 yards as a rookie.

Henry may only be in his sixth season as a pro but, should he maintain his pace and make NFL history, he can surely look forward to a place in the Hall of Fame.

The argument could be made that he would require a longer spell of dominance to secure a spot in Canton. However, Henry is on course for an unmatched two-year run at a time where the unstoppable bell-cow running back is considered a thing of the past.

This is the era of committee backfields, one where any running back taken in the first round can be viewed as a reach, and yet Henry is producing at an unprecedented rate amid a workload that would physically break many tailbacks and carrying the Titans to victories that have helped establish a two-game lead in the AFC South as they look for back-to-back division titles.

Tennessee's flaws on defense will likely prevent the Titans from seriously contending for a deep playoff run this year, but Henry has the distinct opportunity to make sure this season is memorable for entirely different reasons that would be worthy of him being immortalised and receiving a gold jacket after an increasingly astounding career comes to a close.

Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah has the ability to match the sustained level of performance Cristiano Ronaldo has managed to achieve.

Salah's Liverpool visit Ronaldo's Manchester United in the Premier League's headline fixture on Sunday.

The Egypt forward has been in sensational form this season, scoring 12 goals in all competitions, with seven of those coming in eight top-flight matches.

Salah's tally includes brilliant individual goals against Manchester City and Watford in his last two Premier League outings and, while Ronaldo hit the ground running in his second spell at United in terms of goalscoring, the 36-year-old has been part of a disjointed Red Devils attack.

At this moment, Salah's all-round game seems to be at its peak. He has provided four assists from 25 chances created and has outperformed his expected goals (xG) value by some way (12 goals from an xG of 9.0).

 

Klopp insists he has never thought to compare Salah and Ronaldo, though he believes the professionalism and commitment of the duo is one area in which the players are very similar.

Asked if Salah could hit the levels of continued success that Ronaldo has enjoyed late into his career, Klopp said: "You need luck, because things can happen with injuries and so on, but I think the professionalism of both Mo and Cristiano is the one thing you can compare 100 per cent.

"It is probably the same. Mo is incredibly professional. He is really the first one in and very often the last out of all the players.

"He is constantly interested in all the things he can do and has to do to keep or improve the standard. I think he still has a lot to give, 100 per cent.

"It helps him for sure and the team he is playing for then as well and I hope it is for us [in the future]."

Salah scored another fantastic individual goal in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid in midweek, becoming the first player in the club's history to score in nine consecutive matches across all competitions.

"It's true that I have been blessed with incredible players during my time but, no, when the ball went over all players in that situation and Mo had to already run pretty quick to get it before the sideline and then he turns, it didn't look for me like a proper goalscoring opportunity to me," Klopp added.

"But challenge by challenge it developed into that. That's the situation and that is the difference between a moment when momentum is not on your side and when momentum is on your side.

 

"It is all about the quality of Mo in this moment to do it, to try it and you can imagine how much all the players of Atletico knew about this ability and wanted to defend it desperately and still couldn't do it.

"That is pretty special, pretty special. I am really happy and more than fine with the players I could watch during my time, and being quite positive when they got the ball, that something special will happen."

Salah scored three goals in his two away games against United last season (two in the FA Cup, one in the Premier League) – no Liverpool player has ever scored in three consecutive games at Old Trafford.

Liverpool head to Manchester unbeaten in 18 league games, the longest current run in the top four tiers of English football (W13 D5).

Away from home, Liverpool have scored at least three goals in each of their last five Premier League games (17 in total), with only United last season having a longer such run in the competition (six).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often seems destined to fail at Manchester United, and this season the stakes appear higher.

With media scrutiny mounting, Solskjaer's future looked bleak at half-time against Atalanta on Wednesday, with United 2-0 down and staring at a fifth defeat in eight games across all competitions.

"There is pressure all the time. There is pressure on me of course but we've been through this before and come through it stronger as a team and as individuals," Solskjaer said before that match.

His players came good. Goals from Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose arrival seems to have presented more questions than answers regarding Solskjaer's tactical set-up, rescued a vital three points in the Champions League, but Sunday brings an altogether different challenge, with Liverpool in town.

How the managers match up

Prior to the clash with Atalanta, Solskjaer had taken charge of 162 games at United, with Jurgen Klopp having hit that figure at Liverpool back in September 2018.

Four months earlier, Liverpool had slipped to a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Strengthened by the arrivals of Alisson and Fabinho, they would go on to win the European trophy in 2019 – Klopp's first piece of silverware at Anfield. A Premier League title followed in 2019-20.

Yet looking back over the pair's first 162 matches at the helm, it is Solskjaer who can boast the better win percentage (54.9 compared to 53.1).

While Klopp recorded fewer defeats in those games (31 to 37), Solskjaer won 86 times, three more than the Liverpool boss managed.

Klopp did, however, take Liverpool to two finals in his first half-season in charge, only to lose both, in the EFL Cup and Europa League. His third final, and the last within his first 162 games, was the defeat to Madrid in Kiev.

Solskjaer, comparatively, has reached just one final – United going down on penalties in the Europa League showdown against Villarreal at the end of last season.

United scored 299 goals under Solskjaer before Wednesday, from an expected goals (xG) value of 269.6, suggesting the level of chances they have created has not quite matched the finishing. That xG figure outperforms Liverpool's xG of 259.9, though the Reds netted 327 times.

Defence has been a major cause for concern this term, but overall Solskjaer's United kept 59 clean sheets in 162 games prior to tackling Atalanta, conceding 168 goals.

An expected goals against (xGA) of 185.2 suggests United's goalkeepers had plenty to do, though Liverpool only kept 62 clean sheets in the same amount of matches under Klopp, conceding four more goals (172).

Alisson's signing in July 2018 has certainly proved key, given Liverpool's xGA from Klopp's first 162 games was 135.3, suggesting goalkeeping may have been responsible for some of the Reds' issues.

On the right track?

"We've progressed over the years since I was [first here for] half a season. Sixth, third, second. You can see the progress, development and improvement. This season we still want to improve. We've signed players that have raised expectations," Solskjaer said before the Atalanta game.

While the underlying metrics may back up Solskjaer's point, digging deeper presents a more worrying picture.

United's goal tallies have improved, yet Solskjaer's crux is clearly in defence. His team allowed 685 shots last season, 70 more than in 2019-20 from the same number of games (61), with their xGA leaping from 59.2 to 71.5.

Klopp's side, on the other hand, managed to get Liverpool's defeats down from 12 to nine (in both 2016-17 and 2017-18) to seven in his third full season.

As Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah hit their stride, Liverpool's goal totals ticked up, from 87 to 92 to 129, and their highest xGA value in this period was 49.5, way down on United's worst figure.

While there may be similarities in results, Klopp used the first half of his Liverpool spell to implement a style of play, and lay the groundwork for European and domestic triumphs.

Solskjaer will insist he has a vision of what his incarnation of United should be, and though his record against other 'big six' Premier League sides is decent (W13 D10 L10), Liverpool are unbeaten in 18 league games, the longest current run in the top four tiers of English football.

Away from Anfield, they have scored at least three goals in each of their last five Premier League games. United have not kept a clean sheet at home in nine top-flight matches and, despite the calibre of players brought in during Solskjaer's tenure, the old rivals look worlds apart.

Over the past 17 years or so, few – if any – fixtures in world football have been more synonymous with drama, chaos and, above all, the world's best players than El Clasico.

In a way, we probably came to take it for granted what El Clasico meant in terms of entertainment and quality.

Of course, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo became the star attractions of the contest, El Clasico almost becoming its own side story in the wider narrative of their Ballon d'Or rivalry.

Ronaldo's 2018 departure took away one element, and some might even suggest it impacted Messi negatively as well, as he failed to have a hand in a single Clasico goal after his old nemesis moved on.

Now both are gone, with Sunday's Clasico at Camp Nou the first of an era in which neither Messi nor Ronaldo will play any part.

The last season that didn't have either Messi or Ronaldo make a Clasico appearance was 2004-05, and as such there are many people who feel LaLiga has lost some of its lustre, even with Karim Benzema showing the kind of productivity that is unrivalled across the top five European leagues.

 

That's perhaps partly – along with the slow re-establishment of the tourism industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – reflected by the fact there were still 52,000 tickets available for the match as of Tuesday morning.

But that's not to say these squads aren't worth watching. El Clasico may be at the start of a transitional period itself, but there are talents in both teams who look capable of defining this fixture for the next 10 to 15 years.

AN ARCHETYPAL BARCA MIDFIELD

Would Ronald Koeman be putting so much faith in younger players were it not for Barca's financial troubles? Even when you consider the club's history with La Masia, that's debatable.

But here we are, eight matches into the 2021-22 LaLiga season and only two clubs in Spain's top flight have a younger average starting XI age than Barca (26 years, 174 days). That highlights the significance of their squad replenishment since 2017-18, when their average starting XI age was 28 years, 36 days old – the fifth oldest in the division.

 

Nowhere in the Barca team is that more noticeable than in midfield, where youngsters are being forced to mature very, very early.

Gavi had only ever played two league games for Barca's second team before this season, and despite having just five LaLiga outings under his belt, he became Spain's youngest ever international earlier this month.

But the key thing to remember is, the talent – and seemingly attitude – is there. Gavi and Nico have made the step up this season to join Pedri, which could feasibly be Barca's long-term midfield trio, such is the ability and skillset the three teenagers have so far demonstrated.

Sadly, Pedri is likely to miss the Clasico this weekend due to injury, but the remarkable ease to which he took to LaLiga last season provided every shred of evidence needed to consider him a genuine key figure already. The maturity he showed at Euro 2020 only cemented that.

 

Pedri performed an integral function in Luis Enrique's team as he complete more final-third passes (177) than any other player at the Euros, the teenager proving to be hugely dependable when it came to helping keep Spain in possession and on the front foot in those tighter areas of the pitch.

Of course, the way Spain play means their players are likely to have more passes than others, but the fact he fitted in so quickly speaks volumes. Andres Iniesta comparisons have never been far away, even while he was still at Las Palmas, and it's his excellence in this kind of facilitator role that lends further credence to it.

Pedri was involved in 4.2 shot-ending sequences per 90 minutes last season, which was only bettered by five players who ordinarily play in central midfield roles – Frenkie de Jong (5.0) ranked highest. While Iniesta averaged 5.1 each game back in his prime in 2015-16, that dropped to 2.9 in his final season, highlighting how Pedri is absolutely on the right track in terms of influencing Barca's build-up play.

But the beauty of the options Barca have coming through at the moment is that Pedri can realistically expect to have plenty of assistance when it comes to managing the side's considered, possessional style.

 

Gavi has a particularly interesting profile. While he's undoubtedly comfortable on the ball with respect to both passing and dribbling – his nifty turn to spin around Paul Pogba before getting a shot away in the Nations League final was proof of that – he's also a feisty individual.

He's engaged in 14.5 duels per match on average this season. Going back to the start of 2020-21, the only Barca players (minimum of 300 minutes played) to be more involved in that respect are Messi (14.9) and Ilaix Moriba (17.4).

Of course, it's worth pointing out he still has a lot of room for growth here. Gavi's already got four yellow cards across all competitions this season, and his tendency to go flying into tackles a little recklessly was notable during the Nations League, but if this side of his game is nurtured properly then it will be a real asset to Barca's midfield. It's easy to see why Luis Enrique said Marco Verratti is the teenager's idol.

The other potential long-term pillar of Barca's midfield is Nico, the son of former Deportivo La Coruna title-winner and Spain international Fran. Of the three of them, Nico's probably still got the furthest to go to nail down a regular spot, but the promise is there.

In Barca's B team he carried out various midfield functions but really came into his own once deployed as a pivot, the Sergio Busquets role, if you will. It's in this position that his strengths really shine through, as he is comfortable at receiving the ball under pressure because he's so good at using his physicality in conjunction with a delicate appreciation of the ball at his feet.

The similarities with Busquets in that sense are quite striking, though he still has work to do to get a prolonged chance in that position under Koeman, who called Nico out for a lack of defensive awareness in the defeat to Atletico Madrid. He was blamed for letting Thomas Lemar run clear for the first goal.

Nevertheless, there's a lot to like about Nico, particularly his satisfying comfort on the ball. Although not especially quick, his dribbling ability is going to really help him stand out. Sure, it's early days in the season and he's not played a huge amount of football, but so far he is completing 73 per cent of his dribble attempts, which won't surprise those who have been raving about him for a while now.

If given the opportunity to progress and develop, this trio could be Barca's next iconic midfield.

TWO MESSIS?

When Messi's exit was swiftly followed by the announcement of a then injured Ansu Fati taking the number 10 jersey, there were surely plenty of people wondering if it was too much, too soon for him.

Those doubts will not have stemmed from his ability, but rather concern for the mental toll such expectation could have on someone who – let's not forget – is still only 18.

But after 10 months out with a serious knee injury, he returned to the pitch against Levante last month and dazzled in a brief cameo, which included an excellent goal as he spun away from a defender and fired home from distance. It was the kind of reintroduction that suggested he was going to relish his new senior role rather than be cowed by it.

He made his first start of the season last weekend at home to Valencia and only needed 13 minutes to get Barca on the scoresheet. He came off the left flank, played a one-two with Memphis Depay and whipped a clinical effort into the bottom corner from 20 yards. Had it been off his left foot, there would have been more than a hint of Messi to it.

That took him to 11 LaLiga goals in 1,059 minutes since the start of February 2020. In that time, only Alex Fernandez (37.5 per cent) boasts a better conversion rate among LaLiga players with at least five goals than Fati (29 per cent).

Those 11 efforts come from a 4.5 expected goals (xG) value, which is of course a massive overperformance. Ordinarily one would be inclined to think such form is unsustainable, but Fati is clearly special. After missing the best part of a year, he's come back and looked extremely sharp.

One area Barca will hope for improvement is his ability to fashion chances for others because, not only did Messi score more than anyone else at Barca, he also created the most chances.

Fati's 1.7 key passes per 90 mins since the start of last season isn't bad, but Messi was at 2.6 in 2020-21. Of course, it would be unfair to expect anyone to rival Messi's output in terms of goals and creativity, but in an ideal world, Barca will pick up the slack somehow and Fati looks likely to be their next big hope, hence the new six-year contract with a €1billion release clause.

 

But perhaps Yusuf Demir can share some of the burden in future as well – after all, he was nicknamed the 'Austrian Messi' prior to joining Barca on an initial loan back in July.

The 18-year-old has been used sparingly since starting successive league games last month, but hopes for him are high. The Messi comparisons, perhaps rather obviously, come from the fact he's fairly small, left-footed and likes to dribble in off the right flank.

He's only five games into his Camp Nou career and undoubtedly raw, but Demir had been highly rated long before Barca took their opportunity to bring him in during pre-season.

At Rapid Vienna last season, Demir may have started in just six of his 25 Austrian Bundesliga outings (825 minutes), yet he amassed a respectable seven goal involvements, which averaged out at one every 117.9 minutes – of the players to feature for at least 825 minutes, only 10 had a better record.

 

Only one of those involvements was an assist, but that doesn't quite tell the whole story about his creativity as Demir was a regular creator when he did play, which is evidenced by the fact his 2.7 key passes per 90 was the sixth best among those to play at least 825 minutes.

But probably his most notable skill, and the one that inspires some of the Messi comparisons, is his dribbling. A dynamic and explosive player, Demir attempted 6.3 dribbles every game on average last term. No player (minimum 108 minutes) matched that. His 3.8 successful dribbles was also a league high, and it's that flair that has seen him find his way to Catalonia.

It remains to be seen what kind of an impact Demir can have at Barca this season, but there's every chance he and Fati could be terrorising LaLiga full-backs together for years.

FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR LOS BLANCO

Barcelona's reliance on youth this season has been greater than Real Madrid's, for obvious reasons. But in Vinicius Junior they have one of most in-form players aged 21 or younger in world football, and Eduardo Camavinga joined in pre-season after developing into a serious talent at Rennes.

Camavinga remains something of a mystery regarding his long-term role and even suitability at Madrid, given he has only played five league games, but his promising beginning at Rennes offers plenty to be optimistic about.

For starters, he regularly featured in a midfield trio for Rennes and at least for the time being that will be the case in Madrid, but he also offers a nice blend of explosive flair and defensive work rate.

Only five players in Ligue 1 last season won more tackles than Camavinga (59) and all of them played at least 492 minutes more than him across the course of the season, while he also completed 66.2 per cent of his 65 attempted dribbles. Of the players to try at least 45, only six boasted a better success rate.

Obviously at a club like Madrid, Camavinga will expect to do less defensive work because they'll spend more time on the ball, but knowing they have someone in that number 8 role who is both effective in possession and without it can only be a good thing.

But while we wait for Camavinga to truly make his mark (he has only played 197 minutes in LaLiga), Vinicius is enjoying something of a coming-of-age campaign.

 

He's always looked exciting but so often there have been doubts over his decision making and decisiveness. For example, he only scored three goals in LaLiga last season from an xG value of 6.5 – he couldn't be counted on to make the difference.

But the strides he has made this season have been significant. The Brazilian is attempting more than twice as many dribbles each game (7.0) compared to 2020-21 (3.1), yet his success rate has improved (41.1 per cent to 44.6) as well.

In front of goal he's no longer wasting chances he should be converting – in fact, he's actually been clinical with five goals from 3.5 xG, his shot conversion rate going up from 7.5 per cent to 23.8.

For starters, this suggests he's picking his opportunities better, but the fact he's already at 3.5 xG highlights that he's getting himself into better positions as well.

Vinicius has rarely appeared to lack confidence, but now that seems to be translating into extra attacking responsibility and he's embracing it. He's carrying the ball more and across greater distances, but more importantly than that, it's leading to an increase in Madrid's output in the final third, with Vinicius' shot involvements from ball carries improving to 2.9 this term from 1.1 (per 90 minutes) in 2020-21.

Suddenly he's looking like the future superstar many thought he was destined to be when he left Flamengo, with his wonderful brace against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday a prime example of his new-found clinical nature.

Few would bet against him having a similarly decisive impact in El Clasico, but even if he doesn't, there will be enough young talent on display to highlight why this could be the start of an exciting new era in Spanish football's most watched fixture.

Australia won their fifth consecutive game after opening their end-of-year tour with a 32-23 win over Japan on Saturday.

Not since October 2015 had the Wallabies enjoyed a five-game winning streak but they ended that drought by holding off Japan in Oita.

Despite a disappointing second half, Australia snapped their run of five straight Tests without a win away from home, having outscored Japan five tries to two.

The Wallabies – winners of all five previous encounters against Japan by an average of 39 points per game – raced out to a 14-3 lead on the back of tries from Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia before Lomano Lemeki hit back for the hosts.

Taniela Tupou added to Australia's lead early in the second half and after Lemeki landed himself in the sin bin for a shoulder charger, Robert Leota also crossed over to make it 27-13 with 28 minutes remaining.

Just as Dave Rennie's men looked as if they would run away with victory, Japan closed within a converted try in pursuit of their first win over the Wallabies.

But Australia – who benefited from two conversions and a penalty from Quade Cooper – withstood some immense pressure on the road to stretch their unbeaten streak.

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