As always, there was plenty of drama as the Premier League continued on Sunday.

Ralf Rangnick made a winning start to life in the Old Trafford dugout as Manchester United saw off Crystal Palace.

Tottenham and Aston Villa, meanwhile, continued their resurgences under Antonio Conte and Steven Gerrard respectively.

Spurs enjoyed a commanding win over bottom side Norwich, with Villa coming from behind to defeat Leicester City.

And despite Patrick Bamford's last-ditch goal, Leeds United dropped more points from a winning position against Brentford at Elland Road.

With lots to reflect on, Stats Perform takes an in-depth look at the pick of Opta's post-match facts from Sunday's action…

Manchester United 1-0 Crystal Palace: Rangnick makes winning start

Fred's second Premier League goal of the season gave Rangnick the perfect start to life in the Old Trafford dugout.

Including caretakers, six of the last seven managers have now won their first game in charge of the Red Devils in all competitions.

Rangnick, though, became the first German manager to win his maiden Premier League match; succeeding where Felix Magath, Jurgen Klopp, Jan Siewert, Daniel Farke and Thomas Tuchel failed.

It also marked United's first clean sheet at Old Trafford in 16 attempts, having last kept out Granada in the Europa League back in April.

Leeds United 2-2 Brentford: Last-gasp Bamford denies Bees

Brentford were denied only a second league victory at Elland Road in 15 attempts as Bamford marked his return from injury with a dramatic 95th-minute equaliser.

Tyler Roberts' first home Premier League goal put Leeds on course for a ninth successive win over a promoted side.

But the Bees bit back. Shandon Baptiste became only the third Grendian to score in the English top-flight, before Sergi Canos completed the turnaround.

Bamford ensured a share of the spoils for the hosts, who have now scored three Premier League goals in the 90th minute or later this season – more than any other side.

Nevertheless, Marcelo Bielsa's men have now dropped 12 points from winning positions this term – already twice as many as they did in the whole of last season.

Tottenham 3-0 Norwich City: Three out of three for Conte

After Harry Redknapp and Ryan Mason, Conte became the third Tottenham manager to win his first three Premier League home games following a commanding victory over Norwich.

Son Heung-min scored and assisted in a single game for the 19th time since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015, with only Mohamed Salah (22) doing so more often during that time.

The South Korea international has been directly involved in 50 per cent of Tottenham's Premier League goals this season, with only Teemu Pukki (63 per cent) and Emmanuel Dennis (55 per cent) involved in a higher share of their side's goals.

There was also a rare goal for Davinson Sanchez. Indeed, it was 1,029 days since the defender last found the net in this competition; doing so against Leicester in February 2019.

Norwich became the first side since Arsenal in 2008-09 to name five players aged 21 or under in their starting 11 for the third time in a single season.

However, the Canaries remain bottom of the table following a 12th defeat in 13 Premier League games in London.

Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester City: Gerrard continues to revitalise Villa

Villa made it three wins in four games under Gerrard – as many as they managed in their first 11 matches of the campaign.

Though they took the lead, Leicester lost having scored first for only the second time in 13 Premier League away games.

Ezri Konsa was the unlikely hero for the hosts. In his 216th professional appearance in all competitions, the centre-half scored twice in a game for the first time.

He also became the first defender to score a brace for Villa in a Premier League match since Ciaran Clark against Arsenal in November 2010.

One of his goals was provided by Emiliano Buendia. It was the Argentine's 37th assist since arriving in England in 2018, with only Trent Alexander-Arnold (39) registering more in the top four divisions during that time.

Liverpool were in typically ruthless form on Saturday as they brushed aside Southampton 4-0 at Anfield.

The result meant Jurgen Klopp's men became just the second English top-flight team to score two or more goals in 17 consecutive games in all competitions, after Sunderland in 1927.

Elsewhere, rock-bottom Newcastle United's winless start to the Premier League season continued as they were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

Steven Gerrard secured his second consecutive win since taking over as Aston Villa boss, with his side sealing a 2-1 away win at Crystal Palace.

Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United played out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium, as did Norwich City and Wolves at Carrow Road.

Here, Stats Perform looks through the pick of Saturday's Opta facts…


Liverpool 4-0 Southampton:Jota at the double for rampant Reds

Liverpool have now scored 39 goals in their 13 Premier League games this season – their highest total at this stage of a top-flight campaign.

Diogo Jota got them on the way with their earliest goal in the Premier League (one minute and 37 seconds) since Naby Keita netted against Huddersfield Town in April 2019 (15 seconds).

Another from Jota and a strike from Thiago Alcantara put Liverpool 3-0 up at the break, before Virgil van Dijk rounded off the scoring early in the second half.

Netherlands international Van Dijk's goal was created by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who earned his 40th Premier League assist. Only Wayne Rooney (22 years and 200 days) and Cesc Fabregas (21y 188d) have reached such an assists total in the competition at a younger age than the Liverpool right-back (23y 51d).

Salah reached 150 Premier League goal involvements by setting up Jota's second, reaching that total (108 goals, 42 assists) in just 171 games. Only Alan Shearer (148 games) and Thierry Henry (163) have got there in fewer games.

Southampton, meanwhile, have lost more away games (14) and conceded more away goals (47) than any other side in the Premier League side this calendar year.


 

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United: Gunners cruise against Howe's beleaguered men

The Gunners continued their fine home form under Mikel Arteta with a routine win against Eddie Howe's struggling side.

Since Arteta's first home game in charge in December 2019, only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have won more points at home in the Premier League than Arsenal (67).

Bukayo Saka got them on their way before Gabriel Martinelli added a second just 93 seconds after coming on as a substitute. It was just Martinelli's second Premier League goal at the Emirates Stadium and his first since January 2020 against Sheffield United.

The Magpies, meanwhile, became the sixth different team to fail to win any of their opening 13 games to a Premier League season, with four of the previous five sides suffering relegation (only Derby County in 2000-01 survived).

Crystal Palace 1-2 Aston Villa: Gerrard's winning start continues

This victory meant former Rangers boss Gerrard became only the second manager to win his first two Premier League games in charge of Villa, after John Gregory in February-March 1998.

Matt Targett scored the opener for Villa with his first Premier League goal in his last 75 appearances in the competition, the full-back having not netted since getting a late winner against Brighton in October 2019.

John McGinn then added a second, the Scotland international already equalling his best goal tally for a full Premier League season (three in both 2020-21 and 2019-20).

Marc Guehi pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was too late to prevent the Eagles suffering a first defeat in their last eight Premier League games (W2 D5), since a 3-0 away loss to Liverpool in September.

Norwich City 0-0 Wolves: Smith maintains unbeaten start

Dean Smith followed up a win in his first game in charge of the Canaries last weekend with a hard-fought point at home.

Norwich have now taken seven points from their last three Premier League games (W2 D1), more than they had in their previous 25 in the competition (W1 D3 L21).

The Canaries have also kept two clean sheets in their last four Premier League home games – as many as in their previous 26 at Carrow Road in the competition.

It is perhaps no surprise they could not find a way past Wolves, with only Chelsea (five) and Liverpool (four) keeping more away clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Bruno Lage's men (three).

Another day, another Kylian Mbappe rumour.

The Paris Saint-Germain and France forward has long been linked with Real Madrid.

Madrid's high-profile chase could be reaching a conclusion.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID'S MBAPPE PLAN

Real Madrid's plan to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe has been revealed, according to the front page of Saturday's Marca.

Mbappe is Madrid's top transfer target, with the PSG forward out of contract at the end of the season and both parties have made no secret of their admiration.

The recent report claims the offer is "unrejectable" as Madrid's interest dates back to Mbappe's time at Monaco in 2017.

Marca also reports Madrid are set for a busy January amid interest in other soon-to-be free agents – Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are negotiating a move for Manchester City forward Ferran Torres, though the Premier League champions are not interested in selling the Spaniard.

Bayern Munich could look to sign Barca goalkeeper and Germany international Marc-Andre ter Stegen in 2023, per El Nacional.

- Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo is wanted by Serie A rivals Juventus and Antonio Conte's Tottenham, claims Calciomercato.

Juve are eyeing Fulham star Aleksandar Mitrovic as an alternative should they miss out on in-demand Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic, according to Todofichajes. Vlahovic has been linked with City, United, Madrid, Barca, Bayern, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Inter and Tottenham.

- The Star says Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips will turn down a move to Old Trafford. Phillips has attracted interest from rivals Manchester United but the England international midfielder is unwilling to spark backlash from fans.

Chelsea host Manchester United in the headline game of the weekend in the Premier League, with Sunday's showdown at Stamford Bridge a lip-smacking occasion.

Will United put the misery of their five defeats in seven domestic league games behind them and start afresh after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking, or will it be the same old story for the Red Devils?

The threat comes from all quarters with Chelsea: Reece James and Antonio Rudiger may be as likely, if not more so, to score than Timo Werner, for example.

Leeds are boosted by the return from injury of Raphinha as they head to Brighton, while Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang face opponents against whom they have outstanding past records.

The pursuit of fantasy points is on, and here are suggestions for possible picks ahead of the weekend, powered by Opta data.

REECE JAMES (Chelsea v Manchester United)

Will Manchester United's Champions League victory at Villarreal be a spur for them to find a way back to winning ways in the Premier League? Not if Reece James can help it.

Chelsea's exciting right wing-back was sufficiently impressive last term to make England's Euro 2020 squad, but he has gone to another level this time around, and a midweek goal against Juventus just confirmed his progression.

In the Premier League, James has been directly involved in eight goals this season, three more than in his previous 56 appearances in the competition across the last two seasons (5 - one goal, four assists). His total of involvements is higher than any other defender in the league in 2021-22, and United will be wary of that danger. Whether they can stop it remains to be seen.

ANTONIO RUDIGER (Chelsea v Manchester United)

Another Chelsea defender who provides value as an all-rounder, Rudiger provides Premier League fantasy points possibilities at both ends of the pitch.

Among Premier League defenders, only his Blues club-mates James (4) and Ben Chilwell (3) have scored more goals in the competition this season, while only Manchester City's Joao Cancelo (8) has registered more clean sheets than the German (7).

With Harry Maguire suspended and Raphael Varane injured, United seem likely to be susceptible to crosses from set-pieces, which is where Rudiger could come into his own.

RAPHINHA (Brighton and Hove Albion v Leeds United)

Leeds are hovering just above the bottom three, heading into the weekend, so to have Raphinha available will be a major boost to Marcelo Bielsa.

After missing the defeat at Tottenham last time out, the Brazil international is expected to be involved at Brighton this weekend as Leeds target a third win of the campaign.

They missed his creative influence in north London, with Leeds having won 45 per cent of their Premier League games in which Raphinha has featured (18/40) since his debut for the club in October 2020, They have won none of their six matches when he has been absent (D2 L4) and have averaged a measly 0.5 goals per game.

His 20 goal involvements in the league over the same period (11 goals, 9 assists) is second only at Leeds to Patrick Bamford (23 - 15 goals, 8 assists).

RAHEEM STERLING (Manchester City v West Ham)

Has Raheem Sterling played himself into form for City? Three goals in his last three appearances across all competitions suggests that is the case for a player who struggled in the early weeks of the season, in the wake of his exploits at Euro 2020 with England.

Now, assuming he keeps his place in Pep Guardiola's starting line-up, Sterling gets to face one of his very favourite opponents when West Ham visit the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling has been involved in 11 goals in his last eight Premier League games against the Hammers (6 goals, 5 assists), hitting a hat-trick when the teams met in London on the opening day of the 2019-20 season.

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Leicester City v Watford)

It was Emmanuel Dennis who inflicted the final blow to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, completing the rout as Watford whipped Manchester United 4-1 last Saturday.

The Nigerian appears to have been an outstanding acquisition from Club Brugge and Leicester will be wary of his menacing form ahead of a King Power Stadium tussle.

Dennis has scored four goals and assisted five more in just 11 Premier League appearances for Watford. Should he score in Sunday's game, he would become only the sixth player in Premier League history to reach both five goals and assists in 12 or fewer games, after Eric Cantona (11 games), Jurgen Klinsmann (12), Arjen Robben (11), Andrey Arshavin (10) and Bruno Fernandes (9).

JOSE SA (Norwich City v Wolves)

The handover of the Wolves goalkeeper job from Rui Patricio to fellow Portuguese Jose Sa has been seamless, and the new man between the sticks has been highly effective already in the Premier League.

Only Chelsea's Edouard Mendy (3.71) has prevented more goals in the PL this season than Sa (2.18). That is based on Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) metric, which assesses the quality of shots. On that basis, Sa would have been expected to concede 14.18 goals, but he has picked the ball out of the net just 12 times.

His 38 saves from 50 shots faced gives him a healthy 76 per cent success rate, beaten only by Mendy (88.57 per cent) and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsdale (78.95) so far this season. Norwich will do well to find a way past one of the most in-form glovesmen in the top flight.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal v Newcastle United)

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has not scored or had an assist in his last three Premier League games, creating just one chance in 270 minutes.

But if there is any team he is going to score against, Newcastle would be close to the top of the list, and not merely because Eddie Howe's team are bottom of the table.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker has been involved in nine goals in his eight appearances for Arsenal against Newcastle in all competitions (6 goals, 3 assists), scoring in each of his last five games against the Magpies.

Antonio Conte agreed with Tottenham fans who were angry with the team's display in the first half of their Premier League win over Leeds United on Sunday.

The former Chelsea boss celebrated his first victory since returning to England's top flight as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon completed a comeback in north London.

Dan James had given Leeds a half-time lead as Spurs became the first side since at least 2003-04 to go six consecutive halves of Premier League football without managing a shot on target.

Some supporters made their feelings clear and the home side duly responded, Hojbjerg levelling before Reguilon pounced after Eric Dier's free-kick hit the post to secure a 2-1 win.

"This win is very important because we struggled today," Conte told Sky Sports. "We played two different games and they beat us on the tactical aspect in the first half.

"To play against Leeds and against [Marcelo] Bielsa is not easy. We must be satisfied. This is only a point from which to start for the rest of the season.

"We celebrated the win because I think that it was difficult and we knew this. I read the stats of Leeds and they were the first to bring high intensity. In the first half, we struggled a lot because they played better than us, they won tackles and they led the game. We conceded possession too much.

"In the second half, we changed the plan tactically and we started to put pressure in every area of the pitch. We created chances to score and maybe we deserved to score more goals. For sure it's an important win because we needed this.

"After the first half, the fans weren't satisfied with the football and I agreed with them. In the second, we changed it totally. I changed the plan tactically but they then played well and with personality.

"We created difficulties for Leeds in the second half and to win in this way is good as I bring with me and my players two different situations – the first half and the second half."

The result lifted Spurs above Manchester United into seventh in the table, four points behind the top four and 10 adrift of leaders Chelsea.

While he considers them at a disadvantage, Conte sees no reason why his side cannot mount a challenge for a Champions League place over the remaining 26 games.

"For sure we want to fight and try to improve the position in the table," he said. "I must be honest and say that in England the league is very difficult and every game is tough. You can lose points against all the teams.

"At the moment, there are four teams that for many reasons – working with the same coaches or having invested a lot of money – there is a gap to four teams but I'm not scared about this.

"I trust in my players and in this squad. We want to fight to stay close and fight for the Champions League. Then, if there is one team that slips in this season or makes mistakes, we must be there to try to do our best."

Tottenham came from behind to beat Leeds United 2-1 and get their first win under new head coach Antonio Conte.

After starting his second spell in the Premier League with a goalless draw at Everton, the former Chelsea boss saw his side fall behind at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday before half-time through a Dan James strike.

However, Spurs produced an encouraging display in the second half, levelling via Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg before Sergio Reguilon reacted quickest in the box to tap in the winner.

Leeds, without a Premier League away win over Spurs since February 2001, started the match on the front foot and had Hugo Lloris worried by shots from Stuart Dallas and Joe Gelhardt.

Conte's men offered little threat of their own, and they went into the break behind when James raced in to convert Jack Harrison's low cross from the left. It meant Spurs became the first side since at least 2003-04 to go six straight halves of play in the competition without managing a single shot on target.

They responded within 30 seconds of the restart, Harry Kane's effort squirming off the base of the right-hand post after Illan Meslier's block, before Lloris just denied James a second.

Son Heung-min's deflected strike crashed off Meslier's crossbar, and the Spurs forward then had penalty shouts waved away after a challenge by Kalvin Phillips, but the breakthrough finally came 58 minutes in when Hojbjerg's scuffed shot bounced through a crowded box and into the bottom-right corner.

Spurs' were then rewarded for their improved efforts 11 minutes later, Reguilon left with a simple finish after Eric Dier's free-kick came back off the base of the post.

 

What does it mean? Conte breathes life into Spurs

After a listless first-half performance, Spurs showed significantly more endeavour in the second to claim the three points and move above Manchester United into seventh in the table.

The result also means Conte has registered at least one win against all 54 sides he has faced as a coach in Serie A and the Premier League.

Reguilon looks the part

Conte's success with wing-backs is well documented, and Reguilon could prove another key component to his plans.

The Spain international delivered six crosses from open play down the left, created a goalscoring chance and helped himself to the winner.

Leeds look in trouble

Leeds produced one of their best first-half displays of the season but simply could not raise their performance to match Spurs after the break.

With just two wins from 12 and two points keeping them outside the drop zone, Marcelo Bielsa needs to stop the rot quickly.

What's next?

Spurs head to Mura in the Europa Conference League on Thursday before a league visit to Burnley next Sunday. Leeds are next in action at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on November 27.

International football is officially over for another year. *Pauses for cheers or jeers*

With the November international break done with, we turn our attention back to domestic football, with a hectic period set to begin in the Premier League.

More fantasy points will be available over the next seven weeks or so than at any other period in the season, such is the jammed nature of the schedule, and there's no better time to get ahead of the curve.

Stats Perform has delved into the Opta data to pick out seven picks for this week, hopefully giving you the edge...

EDOUARD MENDY (Leicester City v Chelsea)

Leicester City may represent a tricky opponent for any team, particularly given their good options going forward, but if anyone can keep them at bay, it's Mendy.

Not only has the Senegal international conceded the joint-fewest goals (four, excluding own goals, minimum of three appearances) in the Premier League, he also leads the way with 3.4 goals prevented, according to expected goals on target data.

In terms of form goalkeepers this season, Aaron Ramsdale runs him close, but Mendy is the outstanding candidate.

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City v Everton)

City's versatile Portuguese full-back enjoyed an exceptional 2020-21, but he seems to have stepped things up even further this term.

In 17 games in 2021-22 across all competitions, Cancelo has already reached seven goal involvements (two goals, five assists), just one fewer than his haul of eight in 43 outings last term.

He has been hugely influential at City, while it would also hardly be a surprise if they keep a clean sheet against an out-of-sorts Everton.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Liverpool v Arsenal)

Liverpool's right-back became something of a scapegoat – fairly or not, that's a discussion for another day – in 2020-21. It is safe to say his critics are rather quieter at the moment.

Only Bruno Fernandes (37) can better Alexander-Arnold's 30 chances created in the Premier League this term, while no defender has more than his four assists.

A resurgent Arsenal could cause Liverpool issues, so a clean sheet is no guarantee, but there is no defender more likely to nab you an assist or two.

CONOR GALLAGHER (Burnley v Crystal Palace)

On-loan Chelsea youngster Gallagher has been a revelation for Palace this season, with his all-action style proving a great addition to Patrick Vieira's team.

He has also provided plenty of quality in the final third, having a hand in a team-high six goals (four goals, two assists).

Gallagher has already beaten his combined tally (two goals, two assists) from 2020-21 when he was on loan at West Brom, and he won his first England cap against San Marino earlier this week.

BRUNO FERNANDES (Watford v Manchester United)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have seemingly hobbled from 'crisis' to 'crisis' this season, and while Fernandes arguably has not been as impressive as last season, he is still essential to the Red Devils.

He leads the way with the most chances created (37) in the league this term, and that fits into his wider excellence ever since joining United, a period that has seen him supply the most assists (22) and craft the most goal-scoring opportunities (162) of anyone in the competition.

Additionally, only Mohamed Salah (55) has been involved in more goals than Fernandes (52) in the same period. Regardless of perceptions of his form, the Portugal star is a must-have, particularly given United will fancy their chances of bouncing back at Vicarage Road.

GABRIEL JESUS (Manchester City v Everton)

While he may not be playing in the striker role many might have expected before the season started, instead featuring largely as a right-sided winger, Jesus has made a strong start to 2021-22.

With the South American World Cup qualifiers not extended to a triple-header this month, Jesus is also less of a selection risk than he was after the international breaks in September and October.

But above all, he loves playing Everton. In eight Premier League games against them, Jesus has scored eight times, or roughly one every 69 minutes, and he will be aiming to give the Toffees plenty to chew on yet again this weekend.

SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Leeds United)

Among the players Antonio Conte will be hoping to get more out of after a slow start to the season, Son is surely near the top of the list.

Since the start of last season, no player has outperformed their expected goals (xG) tally by a greater margin than the South Korean (8.2), with 21 goals from 12.8 xG.

Obviously that can suggest a degree of unsustainable fortune on Son's part, but we all know he is an exceptional player capable of the extraordinary. Leeds are a side who let other teams play, and that might be just what the doctor ordered for Son and Spurs.

This weekend sees Manchester United host Manchester City in a derby that feels like it may play a pivotal part in where each teams' season heads, and there is an outside chance that the match-winner might not even be Cristiano Ronaldo.

Elsewhere, there is a certain Egyptian King who will be worth consideration for the handful of people who for some reason do not already own him in their fantasy team, along with a Newcastle player who could prove a useful differential.

There is also a former fantasy football favourite at Wolves who could be due a run of form.

Below are Stats Perform's weekly suggestions for fantasy football players, powered by Opta data...

 

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester United v Manchester City)

Try to predict the potential difference-maker ahead of the Manchester derby and you will likely say Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden, unless you expect United to win in which case you will probably say Cristiano Ronaldo or… Cristiano Ronaldo.

How about another Portugal international, though?

Manchester City's Joao Cancelo has been involved in more shot-ending sequences of play (66) than any other full-back in the Premier League this season, while he also leads all players in his position for the total xG of the sequences that he has been involved in (6.96).

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of fit defenders, there may be plenty of space for Cancelo to maraud into at Old Trafford on Saturday.

 

AARON RAMSDALE (Arsenal v Watford)

This feels slightly unimaginative as we also tipped Ramsdale last week, but in fairness the former Bournemouth and Sheffield United stopper was sensational in Arsenal's 2-0 win at Leicester City.

Ramsdale made eight saves against the Foxes and deservedly took home the man of the match award, and may well be called upon to shine again this weekend.

Watford showed in their recent 5-2 thrashing of Everton that they can attack well on the road, having 20 shots at Goodison Park and hitting the target eight times.

Only Edouard Mendy (90 per cent) has a better shot save percentage than Ramsdale's 85.7, and given the Gunners continue to allow several shots against, he could put plenty of points on your board as well as his own team's.

 

MATT RITCHIE (Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United)

It will be a tough game for moneybags Newcastle down at Brighton, with Graham Potter's men starting the season superbly, culminating in a well-earned draw against Liverpool at Anfield last time out.

You are never entirely sure what to expect with the Seagulls, though, especially defensively, and the Magpies may fancy troubling their opponents in the battle of the bird nicknames on the south coast.

Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (26) has created more chances among defenders than Newcastle's Matt Ritchie (24) in the Premier League this season. Ritchie, however, does jointly lead all players in the competition this term for chances created from set-plays (13), along with Alexander-Arnold.

With Callum Wilson back and scoring goals, you could look to Ritchie as a potential differential before he is inevitably replaced by a £60million player in January.

 

JAMES WARD-PROWSE (Southampton v Aston Villa)

The Friday night football from St Mary's promises to be an enticing clash between two teams that cannot decide if they are good or not.

Aston Villa have lost four in a row in the league, and the very last thing they will want to see is James Ward-Prowse lining up against them.

Ward-Prowse has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Villa than he has versus any other side in the competition (5 – 2 goals, 3 assists). These five goal involvements have come in his last five games against them, with three coming in Southampton's 4-3 win at Villa Park last season.

 

RAPHINHA (Leeds United v Leicester City)

Having the fans back at Elland Road this season was supposed to be the not-so-secret weapon for Leeds to push on after an impressive first year back in the Premier League.

That has not quite been the case so far as the Yorkshire side have only won two of their six home games, but with the impressive Raphinha at his disposal, boss Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping to make it three against Leicester.

As well as scoring 40 per cent of Leeds' Premier League goals so far this season (4/10), the Brazilian has created the most chances (18), had the most shots (32) and completed the most dribbles (26) of any player for the Whites so far this term.

 

MOHAMED SALAH (West Ham United v Liverpool)

It may not be the most ambitious shout in the world, but you would need to have a very good excuse to not have Mohamed Salah in your fantasy team right now.

The Egyptian is averaging a goal or assist every 56 minutes in the Premier League this season; the best ratio of any Liverpool player in a campaign in the competition with at least 10 appearances.

He has also scored nine goals in eight games against the Hammers since joining Liverpool, the joint-most he has scored against any Premier League team apart from Watford (also 9).

RAUL JIMENEZ (Crystal Palace v Wolves)

It was a delight to see Jimenez return at the start of this season after nine months out with a fractured skull. Prior to the injury, the Mexican striker was a talisman at Molineux, and he is starting to look like he might be ready to return to form.

Although his strike in the 2-1 win against Everton last week was only his second of the campaign, he is still making a big difference for his team.

His two goals and two assists have been worth seven points to Wolves in the Premier League this season – only Michail Antonio (9) and Son Heung-min (8) have been more valuable to their sides through goals and assists.

The list of candidates to replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona is already forming.

Koeman was dismissed after Wednesday's 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano which left them ninth in LaLiga.

Barcelona are battling financial challenges and have struggled since Lionel Messi's exit in August.

TOP STORY – XAVI OFFERED BARCELONA JOB

Barcelona have offered their vacant head coaching role to club legend Xavi, reports Goal.

The Catalans have acted fast with Koeman sacked late on Wednesday.

Xavi is currently coaching Qatari outfit Al Sadd but has an exit clause in his contract, although Barca are prepared to pay any fee required.

The 41-year-old long-time Barcelona midfielder retired from playing in 2019, with his final on-field stint at Al Sadd before moving into coaching.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are in the box seat to sign Leeds United's England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips, according to the Daily Star. Phillips, who is contracted with Leeds until 2024, has been linked with Manchester United too, but the report claims Liverpool are his first choice and the deal would be worth around £60million.

- Manchester United have conceded that agreeing a new deal with Paul Pogba is impossible and are prepared to lose the France international on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, reports ESPN. Pogba has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain , Juventus and Real Madrid .

- Manchester United's Amad Diallo is interested in going out on loan to Dutch club Feyenoord, according to Feyenoord TM. The 19-year-old Ivorian winger has not played this season.

- TEAMtalk claims that PSG have joined the pursuit of Leeds United's Brazil international Raphinha. PSG is the current home of Raphinha's Brazilian team-mates Neymar and Marquinhos.

- Chelsea are preparing for Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen's exit by lining up moves for Sevilla's Jules Kounde and Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt, reports Eurosport.

Eddie Nketiah said he will continue to knuckle down at Arsenal to force his way into Mikel Arteta's Premier League plans.

The 22-year-old striker scored Arsenal's second in a 2-0 win over Leeds United in the EFL Cup fourth round on Tuesday, which took his tally to seven goals in eight appearances in the competition.

Nketiah, who had three shots with two on target in the match, has yet to feature in the league this season for the Gunners and is eager to press his claims with head coach Arteta.

"It is always nice to play, it’s obviously been a while," he told Sky Sports.

"I’ve been working hard, waiting for this opportunity. I was confident and ready and it’s always nice to score and help your team.

"We’re on a good run at the moment and it’s about continuing to work hard. We push each other every day in training and the results come in the match.

"I'm happy for the boys and it’s nice to get involved and contribute."

Nketiah said all of Arsenal's fringe players have to take their chance whenever they get them, especially given their recent upturn in form, which has seen them go eight games unbeaten in all competitions.

"That’s what we’re trying to do," Nketiah added.

"The manager picks the starting line-up but we have to work our hardest in training, and when we get the opportunities, we perform like we did today. I think everyone should be proud of themselves."

Arsenal's opening goal was scored by Calum Chambers who headed home just 24 seconds after he had come on as a substitute following an injury to Ben White.

The defender sprinted to celebrate with the Arsenal bench and one person in Arteta's backroom staff in particular after the ball was deemed to have crossed the line by goal-line technology.

"Our set piece coach Nico told me, 'you’re going to score from your first touch', so that’s why I went running over to him. It was a nice moment," Chambers said.

"I was pretty confident it went over, I saw the ball over the line so I was just waiting for the referee to give it. Luckily he did.

"It's always going to be tough against Leeds. They're a very unique team in the way that they play so you have to be on it, you have to be at it and we knew that going into the game. 

"We stood up to the test and came out with a win."

Chambers claimed Arsenal's players are determined to go as far as they can in the EFL Cup, which they last won in 1993, even though it is down the list of priorities for other clubs.

"Every competition is very important for Arsenal," he said, with the draw for the quarter-finals on Saturday.

"We want to be competing for silverware, so as I said it's good for players like us who want to prove a point and get back in the team and when we do, we need to take it. Every competition is important to us."

Arsenal booked their place in the EFL Cup quarter-finals after a 2-0 win over Leeds United thanks to goals from Calum Chambers and Eddie Nketiah.

Chambers headed Arsenal in front 10 minutes into the second half just moments after he had come on to the pitch as a substitute.

Nketiah scored Arsenal's second 14 minutes later when he capitalised on a weak ball back to Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

Leeds, who had chances of their own in the first half, were unable to find a response as Mikel Arteta's side saw out the game without further alarm.

Arsenal showed the early intent with Nketiah's shot going just wide while Sead Kolasinac struck the side netting with a low angled attempt.

Leeds weathered the spell of pressure and then had two chances of their own before the half hour; Daniel James tamely shot at Bernd Leno when sent clear before the German produced a superb diving save to keep out Jack Harrison's rasping half-volley.

Leno was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the remainder of the half as he saved a low deflected shot from James, and was relieved to see a Tyler Roberts shot fly wide.

Arsenal were dealt a blow shortly after the interval when Ben White limped off injured, but they soon had reason to celebrate when his replacement Chambers scored with his first touch.

A corner from Smith Rowe was nodded back across by Nicolas Pepe to Chambers who saw his header blocked by Meslier but goal-line technology deemed the ball had crossed the line.

Nketiah added a second with just over 20 minutes left when he latched on to a backward header from Liam Cooper, nudged the ball over the outrushing Meslier before he shinned it into the empty net.

The goal stifled any hope of a Leeds comeback as Arteta's men saw out the remainder of the game and secured their spot in the last eight.

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).

Raphinha declared it would be difficult to top the euphoria he felt after scoring twice in Brazil's 4-1 win over Uruguay in World Cup qualifying.

The Leeds United forward made his first start for the Selecao one to remember, netting the second and third goals of a clinical victory.

Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa also got on the scoresheet in Manaus, with Uruguay's reply coming from Luis Suarez.

Raphinha said: "Tonight will be hard to beat, it will be difficult to forget tonight, it never had to end.

"I'll go back and be focused on what made me get here, the good work in Leeds, I'll do my job well to come back other times.

"I don't think there's any way to explain the happiness I'm feeling, this match with the goals and the victory couldn't have been more striking for me."

Quoted in Globo, Raphinha added: "I'm making my childhood dream come true, not only to wear the national team's shirt, but also to represent the national team. Being able to help with goals is very gratifying."

 

Raphinha has a close family association to Brazil great Ronaldinho and was asked what he thought the former Barcelona and Milan star would have made of his impressive display.

"[He would] just congratulate me for the match, not only him but other people," said Raphinha. "The most important thing is that I'm managing to represent the community I came from, my family and friends.

"I'm from Restinga, from Porto Alegre. It is where [former Brazil international] Tinga came from and where there is a lot of lost talent, thank God I'm managing to represent the community."

Raphinha became the first Leeds United player to score for Brazil, and the 24-year-old admitted it helped to have Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar as a team-mate, to guide him through such a game.

"Playing with Ney is very easy. I'm a big fan," Raphinha said. "I'm very inspired by him, in his way of playing, in his way of attacking his opponent. I watch many videos of him. To be playing with him is a dream come true."

Fabinho praised the impact made by Raphinha since arriving in the Premier League and says he expected the Leeds United winger to join Liverpool earlier this year.

Raphinha has starred for Leeds since arriving from Rennes for a reported £17million (€20m) in October 2020 and was rewarded with his first cap for Brazil last week.

The 24-year-old further enhanced his reputation with two goals, while also winning a penalty, in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory against Venezuela.

He also featured as a second-half substitute in Brazil's stalemate with Colombia and is in contention to play a part in Thursday's clash with Uruguay.

Fabinho, who played a full the full 90 minutes in those two previous matches, has been particularly impressed by what he has seen from his international team-mate at club level.

"Since he arrived in the Premier League, has been performing and standing out very well at Leeds," Fabinho told reporters.

"Even in the summer transfer market, there was some talk that he could go to Liverpool. I even expected that to happen, but he stayed at Leeds."

Indeed, Raphinha's agent Deco has confirmed Liverpool showed an interest in the winger during the most recent transfer window without making a formal move.

"He's an important player," Deco told Brazilian outlet O Globo. "There are certainly several clubs that like him, and Liverpool do like him.

"There were approaches, but nothing official. Leeds wanted to keep him for another season."

That interest from Liverpool came on the back of a debut campaign in English football that saw Raphinha score six goals and assist nine more in the Premier League.

Only five others assisted more goals in the division last term, and while he has yet to set up a goal this campaign, his expected assists return of 1.81 ranks him among the top five players.

The ex-Sporting CP attacker already has three league goals to his name in 2021-22, coming from 24 shots, while only four others in the league have attempted more dribbles than his 37 – a list topped by Wolves' Adama Traore (61).

With Raphinha poised to feature for Brazil some 36 hours before Leeds' meeting with Southampton, however, Marcelo Bielsa faces being without his most influential attacker this weekend.

"There is no doubt that it's a short turnaround," Bielsa said at his pre-match news conference on Thursday. 

"The options he has to participate in the game on Saturday depends on whether he plays this final game tonight, how many minutes he plays, how he finishes the game after participating in it and how efficient his rest in the next 36 hours is.

"Considering that a third of those hours he will spend on a flight and if there is any risk that fatigue could cause injuries, then we won't risk it. There are so many aspects to consider that I can't offer you any certainty either way."

A lot can change over the course of the international break – Newcastle United have gone from losing 2-1 at Wolves to becoming the world's richest football club, in a sense.

It's all change at St James' Park and you can guarantee a charged atmosphere for the first match of a potentially exciting period for a club that has underachieved for years, with Tottenham the visitors on Sunday.

A couple of Newcastle players might be worth your consideration, while Leeds star Raphinha – who would ordinarily be an easy pick – this week represents something of a risk.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform picks out seven players for your consideration.

AARON RAMSDALE (Arsenal v Crystal Palace)

His signing was scoffed at by many in pre-season, probably partly due to the significant £24million fee Arsenal spent, but Ramsdale has enjoyed an encouraging start after dislodging Bernd Leno for the Gunners.

He has featured four times in the Premier League and conceded just once, giving him the best minutes-per-goal-conceded ratio in the division (one every 360 mins).

Ramsdale will be confident of continuing that theme on Monday against Crystal Palace, whose open-play expected goals (xG) of 5.2 is better than only five teams this term.

MATT RITCHIE (Newcastle United v Tottenham)

Now, selecting a Newcastle defender might ordinarily be considered something of a risk, but it's fair to suggest there may be a slightly more positive aura around the team – for obvious reasons – when Spurs visit.

If the feel-good factor at the club following their takeover does translate into a strong performance, the early signs this season would have you believe Ritchie will be influential.

The converted left-back's 21 chances created is second just to Bruno Fernandes, while only Trent Alexander-Arnold (2.6) and Mason Mount (2.1) have better expected assists (xA) records than Ritchie (2.0) – he's also played the third-most amount of passes into the box out of everyone in the top flight (63).

KIERAN TIERNEY (Arsenal v Crystal Palace)

Another left-back who is pretty effective going forward is Tierney, who has widely been considered one of few consistently solid performers for Arsenal during his time at the club – when he's fit, that is.

As mentioned previously, Arsenal's next opponents Palace aren't among the league's most threatening team, so there's undoubtedly potential for clean-sheet points, though Tierney also provides plenty in attack.

Among defenders yet to score or assist, only Everton's Lucas Digne (17) has recorded more than Tierney's 15 shot involvements (shots and key passes), while the Scotland international is third among defenders for chances created (nine, two less than Alexander-Arnold).

RAPHINHA (Southampton v Leeds United)

Admittedly, this one's a bit of a gamble. With Raphinha away with Brazil for their World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on Thursday night (early Friday morning UK time), roughly 36 hours prior to Leeds facing Southampton, Marcelo Bielsa has already acknowledged Raphinha's status is at the very least unclear.

But he's looked exciting in his Brazil cameos so far, and his form in 2021-22 would leave few doubting Raphinha has the ability to have a decisive impact on Saturday even if just playing as a substitute.

Currently, he tops the rankings among Leeds players for goals (three), shots (24), chances created (14) and passes into the box (59) – he's surely too important for Bielsa to leave out entirely.

JESSE LINGARD (Leicester City v Manchester United)

After a brilliant few months at West Ham, Lingard is still waiting for a proper run of games this term at United, but he's already chipped in with a couple of goals in just three league appearances.

The second of those came against the Hammers, and up next is another of his former loan teams: Leicester.

He already boasts a great record in meetings with the Foxes, having been involved in six goals (three goals and three assists) against them – that's a joint-personal best (also six versus Arsenal).

ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN (Newcastle United v Tottenham)

If there's one member of the Newcastle squad who promises to be the most buoyed by the club's new situation, it's surely the one who wouldn't look out of place in a team of expensively assembled superstars.

Saint-Maximin is box office – he's an entertainer and always looks like he's having a rollicking good time on the pitch, but this season the Frenchman has added a little more substance to his play as well.

With two goals and three assists already in 2021-22, he has an involvement every 126 minutes, massively improved on 2020-21 (one every 224 mins). In front of new owners, few would bet against Saint-Maximin dazzling as he looks to prove he'll be right at home in the new era.

RAUL JIMENEZ (Aston Villa v Wolves)

Back from a serious head injury, Jimenez did not have much luck during his first five Premier League appearances of the season, not getting a single goal or assist despite attempting 14 shots and delivering 15 key passes.

But since then, the Mexico international has been involved in all of Wolves' three most recent goals.

Jimenez has been something of a double-threat under Bruno Lage, with his shot involvements tally of 36 bettered by only Bruno Fernandes (47), Mohamed Salah, Michail Antonio and Raphinha.

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