Manchester City made something of a statement in their 1-0 win over potential title challengers Chelsea on Saturday, whereas Manchester United seemed to take another step back as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign stuttered again.

But Solskjaer is certainly not the only top-flight manager feeling the heat – Nuno Espirito Santo's honeymoon period as Tottenham boss is well and truly over, with the Portuguese now among the favourites to be the first Premier League boss sacked this season following a 3-1 defeat in the north London derby.

Without any further ado, here are some of the more curious facts and stats from across the Premier League this past weekend…

City defence putting the 'guard' in Guardiola

It may not have been the thrill ride neutrals were likely hoping for, but City's 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge was another impressive indicator of just how good Pep Guardiola's team is as a unit.

Of course, they won the Premier League only a few months ago, so saying City are "good" probably won't cut it for analysis – but what is really making people sit up and take note at the moment is how their unity and cohesion is translating into defensive solidity.

City have conceded just one goal in their six Premier League games this term, the fewest they've ever shipped at this stage of any league campaign.

Let's not forget that Chelsea had been widely praised for their own start to 2021-22, yet on Saturday they were prevented from having a single shot on target in a home league game since November 2012, which coincidentally was also against City.

But even more impressive from City's perspective was the fact Chelsea's expected goals (xG) value was just 0.2, the worst they've recorded in a home Premier League game since Opta records began in 2008-09.

While Chelsea fans will understandably be frustrated, it would seem their struggles on Saturday were more down to City being in a groove defensively.

They've only faced six shots on target this season, a record no Premier League has bettered over the first six matches in a campaign since at least 2003-04. If they keep this up, the title will surely be staying at the Etihad Stadium.

Fernandes' penalty miss not Man Utd's big issue

It was another day to forget for United on Saturday as they lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa.

They were presented with a great opportunity to equalise in second-half stoppage time, but Bruno Fernandes sent his penalty over the crossbar.

Much of the focus afterwards was on Fernandes and his miss, though it would be unfair to pin the blame on him – after all, of the 23 spot-kicks he has taken since his United debut, he's only failed to convert two.

In the same time period, Cristiano Ronaldo – seemingly Fernandes' main penalty rival now – has taken 22 and missed four. This is not a problem that United need to dwell on much.

Instead, they'd be wise to look into their glaring tactical inefficiencies, with Solskjaer's team sorely lacking identity, cohesion and a defined playing style. Too often they are bailed out by moments of individual brilliance, which is an unsustainable approach to solely rely on in a title challenge.

Against Villa, those instances of individual excellence never arrived, despite United mustering 28 shots. That was the most efforts attempted by United without scoring in a home league game since October 2016 (38 shots in 0-0 draw with Burnley).

They have now conceded in each of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, their worst such run in 49 years, and lost three successive home matches (all competitions) for the first time since 1962.

Norwich set new benchmark for worst start

With every match that passes, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to become ever dimmer for Norwich City.

A 2-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday leaves Norwich pointless and with a -14 goal difference after six matches – that makes their start to the season the worst after six matches in Premier League history.

Only twice before had a Premier League side begun a campaign without a single point from six games, the last of which was Frank de Boer's infamous Crystal Palace team in 2017-18 – the Dutchman was sacked after the fourth match in that sequence.

Norwich have at least been a little more patient than Palace, with Daniel Farke's record of overseeing two promotions seemingly ensuring he retains some good will at the club, even if he now has the highest loss percentage (75 per cent, 33/44) of any manager to take charge of at least 20 games in the Premier League.

Most would already consider Norwich to be doomed for relegation, though perhaps there is some reason for optimism.

There have only been nine teams to start a top-flight season (prior to 2021-22) with six or more successive losses, but four of them – including Palace – have avoided relegation.

Vardy joins exclusive club

Jamie Vardy ended up having a peculiar day when Leicester City drew 2-2 with Burnley on Saturday, the former England striker scoring three of the four goals.

It was his own goal that gave Burnley an early lead, while he also got both Leicester equalisers, including one late in the day.

That was his first own goal ever in 360 appearances for Leicester, while he became the first player to net at both ends for the club in a single Premier League game.

It's happened to some of the best, though. He joins an illustrious list containing 11 others who have scored at least 100 goals but also put past their own goalkeeper, with Harry Kane, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney among them.

On top of that, Vardy is now only one of five players in Premier League history to score at least twice at the right end and an own goal in the same game after John Barnes (Liverpool v Spurs 1995), Niall Quinn (Sunderland v Charlton Athletic 2001), Rooney (Man Utd v Stoke City 2012) and Tammy Abraham (Chelsea v Wolves 2019).

But he is still doing more than his fair share at the other end, his brace in this game taking him to eight goal involvements in his past seven league games, which is 89 per cent (8/9) of Leicester's goals in that time.

Bad omens stacking up for Nuno

After three wins from his first three Premier League games in charge, everything was looking rather rosy for Tottenham boss Nuno.

Three matches and three defeats later, some will doubt whether he'll still be in charge this time next month, let alone this time next season.

Sunday's north London derby was his 10th in charge of Spurs and the 3-1 loss made him the first manager to lose as many as four of his first 10 matches at the helm of the club since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

Hoddle was also the last Spurs boss to conceded at least three goals in three consecutive league games in September 2003, and he was sacked after that run.

Nuno will probably make it to the next match but the last team to begin a season with three wins and then lost the next three (Everton, 1993-94) finish as low down as 17th.

His future arguably rests on getting something out of Kane, who's failed to score in five straight league games for the first time since August 2016, but things aren't looking great given Spurs' 35 open-play shots is the second fewest in the division and their expected goals (xG) total is just 3.2, only higher than three teams.

While a lack of quality chances might usually be masked by Kane's excellence, he's not bailing them out any longer – if that continues, it's difficult to see Nuno keeping his job for the long term.

Is the end nigh for Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford?
 
Wan-Bisakka joined Manchester United in a big-money deal in 2019 but the Red Devils are reportedly ready to replace the Englishman.
 
A talented RB Leipzig defender could be the team's next right-back.

 

TOP STORY – NEW RIGHT-BACK SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are eyeing RB Leipzig right-back Nordi Mukiele, according Fichajes.net.

United are reportedly keen to sign a replacement after losing patience with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be interested in Leipzig's 23-year-old star Mukiele.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Milan and Juventus are interested in United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Inter are willing to let Alexis Sanchez leave the Serie A champions, reports Calciomercato. Marseille, Real Betis and Sevilla are among the possible options for the 32-year-old Chilean.

Tottenham are weighing up a move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins, per Fichajes. It comes amid continued uncertainty over Spurs star Harry Kane, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as well as United.

 

Gary Neville claims Harry Kane is playing as though someone pooped his party after the Tottenham star drew a fifth successive blank in the Premier League.

The England skipper had not experienced such a league goals drought since August 2016, and his loss of form follows a turbulent period in his career when he looked set to leave Spurs.

Kane appeared destined for a move to Manchester City, but that transfer did not materialise as the Premier League champions could not prise him from the north London club's clutches.

He had five goal attempts in Sunday's 3-1 derby defeat to Arsenal but could not find a way past Aaron Ramsdale.

"He doesn't look happy," Neville said.

Pointing to Tottenham's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea in their previous game, Neville said: "Last week was a risk, I thought, shoving him out on the left wing. He was out on the left wing last week.

"Today I thought he did play higher, to be fair, but the balls played up to him were just long punts in the first 20 minutes.

"Harry doesn't look himself in terms of his body language. He looks like he's still carrying over the situation from over the summer.

"He could still have had two or three goals today and a penalty, so there's still a contribution, but he's just not himself. Neither is Son [Heung-min].

"Son and him look like they've had their balloons burst at a party as a kid. That's what it looks like."

Neville said Spurs have "good senior pros" in their ranks, as he sought an explanation for why their form has nosedived since starting the league campaign with three straight wins.

Rough losses to Crystal Palace, Chelsea and now Arsenal have seen them plummet from the top of the league and into mid-table.

Nuno Espirito Santo may have a big job on his hands in turning Spurs back into a winning side, and Neville suspects some players are pining for a coach in the mould of former boss Mauricio Pochettino.

"Those players to me look like they want a high-pressing, Pochettino-style coach that plays out from the back and gets the centre-backs on the six-yard line, rather than one that sits behind the ball and counter-attacks," former Manchester United captain Neville said on Sky Sports.

With the derby defeat, Nuno became the first Spurs boss to lose as many as four times in his opening 10 fixtures since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

Kane attempted just four passes in the first half at Emirates Stadium and was successful with only five of his 11 passes across the 90 minutes.

He has also failed to get a goal in back-to-back games against Arsenal for the first time in his Tottenham career.

Former Spurs captain Ledley King said of his old team-mate: "He cares, but there's no doubt he's out of shape at the moment. He's out of form. He's a big part for the club so when he's not playing well we struggle."

Nuno Espirito Santo knows Sunday's north London derby against Arsenal is a "special" occasion, as Tottenham look to return to form by defeating their rivals.

Spurs have lost their past two top-flight games 3-0, with both matches being London derbies. They have never lost three consecutive league games by three or more goals in their entire history.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have recovered from losing their first three matches of the season by an aggregate score of 9-0 by beating Norwich City and Burnley, winning 1-0 on each occasion. The Gunners last won three in a row without conceding in July 2020, while they last had three consecutive 1-0 victories in August 2008.

Heading into the September international break, Arsenal were bottom and Spurs were at the summit for the first time in top-flight history, though the rivals will be on level points should Mikel Arteta's team win at Emirates Stadium.

Just one of the previous 10 Tottenham managers to take charge in a north London derby has won their first top-flight meeting against Arsenal, though it was Jose Mourinho in July 2020, and Nuno is relishing the biggest match of his tenure so far.

"It is not another game. It is a special game," he told a news conference on Friday.

"It is a special game for us, a special game for our fans. It is going to be a tough match and it's a different game.

"It is a special moment for us. The attendance will be 66,000 people. That is huge.

"We have to compete, we have to play. We have to compete well. Give everything that we can and play well.

"Finding the right balance. Improvements have to be made, but we had a lot of positives that we take from the previous games."

Harry Kane is the all-time highest goalscorer in competitive meetings between Arsenal and Tottenham, with 11 goals. He failed to score against Arsenal in their last meeting in March, but has never gone without a goal against the Gunners in back-to-back games.

However, the England captain has had a stuttering start to the season and is yet to score a Premier League goal after opting to stay at the club.

It is the first time Kane has failed to score in his first four Premier League appearances of a season since 2015-16, while he has attempted just four shots so far.

"He always looks forward to playing [against Arsenal]," Nuno said of Kane, whose tendency to drop deep has been the subject of some criticism in recent weeks, especially after the defeats to Crystal Palace and Chelsea.

Pressed on Kane's role, Nuno added: "What I look more is to create the best for the team. What do you want is to create a situation where our players work well in positions that they feel more comfortable.

"It is up to the team. What we are looking for is how we can build the team so all our players feel natural to play in the best positions they can do it.

"I think that we are improving. We have a lot of problems and situations to improve and get better for the mistakes that we make but the recent performances are getting better. I am confident that we will be much better."

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.

Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo moved to ease the pressure centered on Harry Kane after his goalless start to the new Premier League season.

Kane has had limited impact for Spurs since returning to the line-up in the league after regaining match fitness along with his drawn-out transfer saga with Manchester City.

After Spurs had won their opening three games including a 1-0 win over champions Manchester City, they have lost their past two matches 3-0, going down to Crystal Palace and Chelsea.

Kane, who has now had three league starts, has had less touches inside the box this season than Chelsea and Liverpool defenders Marcos Alonso and Joel Matip, leading to criticism of the England forward and his positioning and movement on the field.

"No, the realisation that we are not able to build enough situations is the problem that we have," Nuno told reporters. "All individual situations that happen with the players – touches, actions – are a product of the team.

"[In the] previous game, Harry started on the left, really high and things went good. Unfortunately we were not able to score. We had chances to do so.

"The way we are working is to find solutions, try to reinvent, recreate situations which can improve our football and our game and Harry is part of the team. It's the partnerships, the complicity, the way we do things, everyone has to be involved."

He continued: "I would like to see all our players. If I can put our players, six, seven in the box is where games are decided, I will do so."

Nuno brushed off the question that Kane may be frustrated following his transfer saga with City.

"That's the past," he said. "Nothing that we can say or do now or in the future will change the past. What we have to do with the past is put it behind our heads and focus in the present."

The Portuguese, who won the Premier League Manager of the Month for August, said he understood the criticism of Spurs after back-to-back defeats.

"We are aware that we have problems we have to improve on," Nuno said. "The energy is exactly the same.

"Of course when things are well, you smile, you're happy. This is life. But my energy? It's always the same."

Tottenham are away to North London rivals Arsenal on Sunday as they look to stop their losing run in the league, although they face Nuno's former club Wolverhampton in the EFL Cup prior to that on Wednesday.

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.

It's a funny old game, but it might take gallows humour to raise much of a smile around north London this season. 

Tottenham's season-opening streak of three straight 1-0 wins bought Nuno Espirito Santo substantial early goodwill as the Portuguese began his reign as head coach, yet there was plenty that did not sit right. 

Spurs were riding their luck, out-shot 25-8 by Wolves at Molineux and beaten on the expected goals count there too. Similar applied to the fantasy start to the season when they edged out champions Manchester City. 

But Wilfried Zaha and Crystal Palace were ruthless interlopers to Nuno's honeymoon in early September with their 3-0 Selhurst Park demolition, and now Chelsea have repeated the trick, scoring freely in the second half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

Chelsea also won 3-0 but might easily have had five or six. Sixty years have passed since Tottenham Hotspur were English champions. It might be a matter of months before Chelsea can describe themselves as such again. 

It was glaringly obvious this was not the game in which to put on a show, much as Tottenham wanted to pay homage to Jimmy Greaves, whose "funny old game" catchphrase has become part of the immemorially cliched lexicon of the English game. 

Greaves netted 220 league goals for Spurs and is their all-time record scorer, but he also plundered 124 in the old First Division for Chelsea, and his allegiances for this game would have been split. 

On the day his death at the age of 81 was announced, and a host of Spurs greats turned out to pay tribute, it was Greaves' first club who showed they are light-years ahead in London. 

As Tottenham and Arsenal prepare to confect a battle perhaps for fifth or sixth place this season, Chelsea have the title in their sights and the second-half exhibition in this space-age stadium was one that Greaves would have surely quietly admired. 

Thomas Tuchel watched his team fail to hit the target in the first half, but he struck bullseye with a substitution at the break, hauling off Mason Mount and introducing N'Golo Kante. 

The game changed absolutely from that point on, Chelsea finishing 10-2 ahead in the shots-on-target stakes, at times queueing up to score against a lamentably dire Spurs. 

As Chelsea's game took off, Spurs flatlined. Harry Kane, who said last month he would be "100 per cent focused on helping the team achieve success" this season, must be wondering what form that success might take. He and Son Heung-min were deadly in the early stages of last season; here, they played almost like strangers, the intuitive chemistry that defined their partnership woefully absent. 

Kane had two shots, a free-kick into the wall and a 22-yard grass-cutter that Kepa Arrizabalaga clutched fuss-free. Of course he will score again for Spurs, and add to his 166 Premier League goals, but Greaves' club record should be safe for a good while on this evidence. He has scored just once in his last nine league games against Chelsea now. 

Spurs won 65.4 per cent of the first-half duels and Tuchel, whether he had that exact data or not, realised what was wrong. 

"We lacked energy and we lacked being more relentless in duels, to decide 50-50 balls for us," Tuchel told Sky Sports. "I had the feeling we wanted to impress by pure skills." 

He told his players they would get reward by showing aggression and getting on top of those 50-50s. 

"We spoke clearly about it at half-time," Tuchel added. 

Thiago Silva was "outstanding" for Chelsea, Tuchel noted, and the Brazilian's header in the 49th minute gave Chelsea the breakthrough. 

Kante's 25-yard strike bounced off the left shin of Eric Dier and left Hugo Lloris flat-footed as Chelsea moved 2-0 in front, before the team in royal blue got the third they deserved as Antonio Rudiger scored in stoppage time. 

Spurs are a work in progress, of course they are. But this was ultimately a heavy loss against a Chelsea side who won handsomely despite Romelu Lukaku performing in a low gear throughout. 

Steve Perryman, Martin Chivers, Glenn Hoddle. They all watched on as Spurs were humbled. 

'Greavsie' joined Spurs shortly after they won that last league title all those years ago, and it might be decades more before they seriously challenge again. Kane said Spurs would "hopefully put in a great performance in his honour", but perhaps that tribute will have to wait seven days. 

It's the derby against Arsenal next Sunday as the two north London giants, both lurching somewhere between transition and turmoil, duke it out. 

Perhaps parochial bragging rights will be the zenith of their achievements this season, as this excellent Chelsea side go after the prizes that matter. 

Thomas Tuchel expected Harry Kane to sign for Manchester City before the transfer window closed but finds it "nice" that the striker ended up staying at Tottenham.  

Blues boss Tuchel stated late last season that he would relish the chance to work with Kane as speculation over the England captain's future rumbled on.  

Kane opted to remain at Spurs after it had appeared the prolific striker would be on his way to Premier League champions City at one stage, while Chelsea smashed their transfer record to bring back Romelu Lukaku. 

Chelsea travel to Tottenham for a London derby on Sunday and, ahead of the fixture, Tuchel made clear how he never pushed for Kane's arrival at Stamford Bridge. 

Asked how far down the line the European champions got in making a move for the player, the Chelsea boss replied: "I never had a list with his name and I never went to Marina [Granovskaia, Chelsea director] to tell her to buy him.  

"But I think the club sorted out the situations. There are many people around players; there are agents and advisors and people in between, so we had some information from these people, but it was never that close that we had to experience the rivalry.  

"We know about the rivalry, but I have a feeling it was never that far."

Tuchel says he would not have been worried if Kane had ended up joining City, as Chelsea do not fear any of their rivals in the Premier League. 

"I thought that it was going to happen [Kane joining City] and I was not scared, but if it would have happened, I would have been very interested how it would have maybe changed City's style of play," said the German. 

"We are not afraid of anybody; we accept any other team. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, they are the teams with strong, strong squads and these are the guys [such as Kane] you want to compete and it's normal they fight for the best players. 

"I thought this was going to happen. On one side, I was happy he stayed because it's nice it exists in football that players play for one club only. 

"I have absolutely nothing to do with Tottenham obviously, but if you think about Tottenham you think about Harry Kane, if you think about [Lionel] Messi you think straight away about Barcelona. 

"It's very hard that he plays for another club and that's the same with Harry Kane. From that side I like it and part of my personality is still a fan, so from that point I like it and I also think it's nice that Romelu is back at Chelsea. Some things are a good fit and should not be changed." 

Nuno Espirito Santo insisted he was only interested in "amazing" Harry Kane when the Tottenham boss was asked to compare his star striker to Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku has made a flying start to life back at Chelsea, who Spurs face on Sunday, with the Belgium international scoring four goals in as many games.

Kane, meanwhile, had a stuttering start to the season after a move to Manchester City failed to materalise.

The England captain has managed just two shots in his first three Premier League appearances this season and his lean spell continued as he failed to score against Rennes in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.

The last time Kane had two or fewer attempts across a three-match span in the Premier League was back in October 2014, but he did not start any of those outings against Sunderland, Southampton and Newcastle United, which produced a total of one effort at goal.

Lukaku, on the other hand, has scored three times from 12 shots for Chelsea in the top flight this term, registering an attempt every 8.5 touches and a goal every 34 touches.

Asked to compare the two forwards, and if he would swap Lukaku for Kane, Nuno told a news conference: "Harry's an amazing player.

"I only speak about Tottenham players. I don't even consider [swapping Kane and Lukaku] because it's something I don't think about, for me it doesn't make sense."

Asked what Kane needs to work on to get back to the form that saw him win the Premier League Golden Boot last season, Nuno added: "I think he has to improve, we are on this process to find the best levels of fitness, but his dedication has been huge."

Spurs will be hoping Kane's early season slump came to its nadir last Saturday, in the 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

For the first time in his Premier League career, Kane went a full game without having an attempt on goal or a single touch in the opponent's area, while he had just 37 touches – fewer than any other Tottenham outfielder who played the full game – and lost possession 16 times without recovering it once.

Nuno may need Kane on top form against a Chelsea team who look well set to challenge on all fronts this season.

The European champions are unbeaten in five games across all competitions, taking 10 points in the league – one more than Spurs – and getting their Champions League title defence off to a winning start against Zenit, with Lukaku on target in that victory.

"Very good team, and Thomas [Tuchel] is doing an amazing job," said Nuno.

"They have an amazing squad, talented players, they play good football, they are organised, they are intense. They are European champions, so we must be wary of that. But on Sunday we will compete, that's a promise.

"Thomas already did an amazing job at Borussia Dortmund, a fantastic job at Paris Saint-Germain. He and his coaching staff have enormous quality so I'm not surprised by the work of Thomas. For me it is not a surprise because you can see how well they play."

Slow starts are nothing new to Harry Kane. Not until 2018 did the England captain score a Premier League goal in the month of August, by which point he had twice won the Golden Boot.

But there is added focus on Kane this year in the aftermath of his failed move from Tottenham to Manchester City.

And through three appearances – including two starts – in the opening four games of the 2021-22 campaign, the striker has attempted just two shots without scoring.

The last time Kane had two or fewer attempts across a three-match span in the Premier League was back in October 2014, but he did not start any of those outings against Sunderland, Southampton and Newcastle United, which produced a sole effort combined.

Since establishing himself as one of Europe's elite forwards, Kane has not endured such a lean league spell.

Chelsea, against whom Kane has scored just once in his past eight Premier League encounters, are up next, with a more effective display clearly required from Tottenham's talisman.

Nuno not helping

Nuno Espirito Santo oversaw three straight wins to start the league season, but Kane is not alone in suffering from the new coach's safety-first approach.

Spurs are averaging 9.5 shots per game this term, their lowest rate in a season since at least 2003-04, while only Watford (2.3) and Leicester City (3.4) have a lower expected goals total (3.7).

Tottenham also now have the sixth-lowest average possession in the division at 43.1 per cent.

Although this more conservative set-up has been in place for a little while now – Spurs last season started their sequences 39.7 metres from their own goal and have this term jumped slightly forward to 41.4m – it has only become more entrenched under Nuno.

A far cry from Mauricio Pochettino's pressing team, in which Kane thrived, Tottenham have had just 41 pressed sequences (fourth fewest) and 24 high turnovers (joint-fifth fewest) in 2021-22 so far and prefer instead to play on the counter, moving the ball 1.72 metres upfield per second (joint-third fastest).

This suits speedy fellow forwards Steven Bergwijn, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura far better than it does Kane, who is neither notably quick nor regularly carrying the ball – 7.3 carries per 90 minutes this season rank him ninth among the 11 Spurs outfielders to feature in 100 or more minutes.

With Tottenham relying on these rapid attacks, rather than patiently playing through the thirds and allowing Kane to get into dangerous positions, the 28-year-old has made only eight touches in the opposition box.

Deeper and deeper

Of course, as shown previously for Spurs and England, Kane can be effective in dropping deeper and picking out the runs of those faster team-mates.

And it's not as if Kane has not still been involved in Tottenham's play, having a role in 31.4 open play sequences per 90 – just shy of last year's rate of 31.8, which had leapt up from 25.7.

But just 3.2 of these sequences per 90 are ending in a shot, while Kane has not been involved in any open play sequences leading to a goal this term – a metric he unsurprisingly led (36) in 2020-21 when he topped the charts for Premier League goals and assists.

Kane is still creating chances – his four so far this season arriving every 49.5 minutes or every 22.8 touches – but Spurs would surely sooner have their main man on the end of such opportunities.

Having peaked with a shot every 16.8 minutes or every 6.9 touches in 2017-18, Kane's early-season form has seen an attempt every 99 minutes or every 45.5 touches.

Given he attempted 61.3 per cent of his shots last season from inside the box, despite renowned ability from long range, this primitive decline should come as no surprise.

Just 8.8 per cent of Kane's touches have been taken in the opposition box. That career-low mark continues a downward trend into a fifth straight season, but it may now have reached a point where it is harmful to his chances of scoring.

Since Yaya Toure's sublime 2013-14 season from midfield, every Premier League player to notch 20 goals in a season has taken at least 10 per cent of their touches in the opposition box.

Few would write off Kane's chances of a sixth career 20-goal campaign at this stage, but he should expect competition for his Golden Boot from Sunday's opponent Romelu Lukaku.

A picture of efficiency, Lukaku has scored three times from 12 shots for Chelsea this term, registering an attempt every 8.5 touches and a goal every 34 touches.

If Tottenham are to be successful this season, they need Kane to be hitting similar marks.

Whether that means a tweak to his role or a change in the entire system, something has to shift, for Lukaku could very easily show Nuno just what he is missing.

Harry Kane's attempt to leave Tottenham did not go according to plan before the transfer window closed.

Despite interest from Manchester City, Kane remains in London with Spurs.

Kane could be prepared to sign another contract at Tottenham…

 

TOP STORY – NEW DEAL FOR KANE?

Tottenham star Harry Kane is open to a contract extension if the offer includes a release clause, according to Eurosport.

Kane wanted to leave Tottenham in the off-season, but a move did not materialise, despite interest from Premier League champions Manchester City.

The England striker, though, could be willing to re-sign on one condition.

Paris Saint-Germain, JuventusReal Madrid and Barcelona have previously been linked with Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

Juventus could face competition from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for City forward Gabriel Jesus, reports Calciomercato. Juve are keen to bolster their attack following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit but face a battle should Robert Lewandowski leave Bayern. Lewandowski has been linked with the likes of City and Madrid.

- Fabrizio Romano claims United are planning to offer Luke Shaw a new contract at Old Trafford. However, United are prioritising new deals for Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.

Liverpool are among the contenders to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, says 90min. Haaland has been linked with United, City, Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, Juve and PSG but 90min claims Liverpool have held talks with his agent Mino Raiola.

Lionel Messi will be the highest-rated player on FIFA 22 after EA Sports revealed the upcoming game's top 22.

The latest edition of the long-running title will be released at the start of October and will see Messi representing a team other than Barcelona for the first time.

Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain in August and will give gamers the chance to line up with him, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all in the same front three.

With a rating of 93, Messi will be the game's best player, excluding icons and special Ultimate Team cards.

 

The ratings of Neymar and Mbappe were also among those revealed on Monday, with the pair among five players on 91 – the other three are Cristiano Ronaldo, Jan Oblak and Kevin De Bruyne.

Of course, the game will give Manchester United fans the chance to include Ronaldo in their Red Devils side after he completed his return to the club following a 12-year absence.

Messi aside, the only other player to be rated higher than Ronaldo is Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

He broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 Bundesliga goals in a single season in 2020-21 as he netted 41 times en route to the title.

 

But it was not enough to topple Messi.

Even in a season that was largely underwhelming for Barcelona, Messi still managed to score 30 LaLiga goals and he set up another nine – only four players had more assists.

This perhaps goes some way to explaining why the six-time Ballon d'Or winner just pips Lewandowski to top-billing despite the latter's historic campaign.

FIFA 22's top 22 players:

Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain – 93

Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich – 92

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United – 91

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Harry Kane, Tottenham – 90

N'Golo Kante, Chelsea – 90

Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich – 90

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 89

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Paris Saint-Germain – 89

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid – 89

Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 89

Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich – 89

Son Heung-min, Tottenham – 89

Alisson, Liverpool – 89

Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid – 89

Casemiro, Real Madrid – 89

Ederson, Manchester City – 89

Sadio Mane, Liverpool – 89

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.