Manchester United are in the market for a midfielder. 

With a long-rumoured target looking unlikely, United are shifting their gaze from one England midfielder to another. 

Could they prise another up-and-coming star from Leeds United? 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SHIFT SIGHTS TO PHILLIPS

Kalvin Phillips is Manchester United's latest target in an effort to shore up the midfield, the Daily Star reports. 

The Leeds star has gained favour at Old Trafford as United have given up hopes of adding West Ham's Declan Rice thanks to his reported £90million price tag.

Phillips, 25, is under contract at Elland Road through 2024 and reportedly is valued at £60m. 

 

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are still in pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt and are prepared to offer Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Memphis Depay to Juventus in a deal for the Netherlands defender, who is valued at €75m, according to Calciomercato.

– Franck Kessie has turned down Milan's latest contract offer and is eyeing a move to the Premier League, 90min reports, with United and Liverpool said to be interested. 

– Juan Mata is considering a move away from Old Trafford in January due to a lack of playing time this season, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

– Everton are considering loan deals with Real Madrid for Isco and Luka Jovic, claims Defensa Central.

– West Brom teen Reyes Cleary is drawing attention from Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim, says the Daily Mail. 

– Steven Nzonzi is nearing a move from Roma to Al Rayyan, Calciomercato reports. 

Manchester City showed exactly why they are the reigning champions as they overcame previously unbeaten Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.  

As for neighbours Manchester United, they suffered a damaging 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, who were good value for the victory, while Liverpool were held to a 3-3 draw by Brentford, despite another record-breaking goal from Mohamed Salah. 

Elsewhere, Michail Antonio's fine start to the season continued as his late goal helped West Ham overcome Leeds United. 

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at the key statistics from Saturday's most notable fixtures. 

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City: Jesus seals record-breaking victory for Guardiola

City bounced back from last weekend's surprise 0-0 draw with Southampton by ending Chelsea's unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign. 

Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal of the game, the Brazilian becoming the fifth player to score 20 or more match-winning goals for the club in the Premier League, after Sergio Aguero (48), Raheem Sterling (23), Yaya Toure (22) and David Silva (20). 

It was Jesus' 52nd Premier League goal, with City never losing a game in the competition in which he has scored in (P44 W42 D2) – extending the record for most games scored in without ever losing for a single side. 

The victory also allowed Pep Guardiola to set a new club record for most wins by a manager, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss moving past Les McDowall with a 221st victory. 

Chelsea, meanwhile, have lost their last two home Premier League games against the defending champions (also 0-2 vs Liverpool last season), after going unbeaten in each of the previous 13 such matches (W7 D6). 

Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa: Hause secures memorable win at Old Trafford

Manchester United suffered their first defeat of the Premier League season as Aston Villa sealed a first top-flight win over the Red Devils since December 2009. 

Kortney Hause grabbed the decisive goal in the 88th minute, the latest winner scored by an away team at Old Trafford in the Premier League since Patrick van Aanholt secured victory for Crystal Palace in the 93rd minute in August 2019. 

That goal meant United have now conceded in each of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, their longest top-flight run without a clean sheet on home soil since February 1972 (also eight games). 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side did have the chance to seal a point in stoppage time, but Bruno Fernandes blazed his spot-kick over the crossbar. That was only the Portugal international's second penalty miss in his 23 attempts for the club, the other coming against Newcastle United in the Premier League in October 2020. 

Brentford 3-3 Liverpool: Reds held by brilliant Bees

Premier League newcomers Brentford secured a memorable point against Jurgen Klopp's men in a pulsating match. 

The result marked the first time Liverpool had conceded three goals in a top-flight away game against a newly promoted side since January 2016 against Norwich City (a 5-4 win), while Brentford scored three goals in a top-flight game for the first time since January 1947 (4-1 against Wolves). 

Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal for the Reds, reaching that figure in 151 games – fewer than any other player in Liverpool's history. 

Indeed, only Alan Shearer for Blackburn (124 games), Harry Kane for Tottenham (138) and Sergio Aguero for Man City (147) have reached a century of Premier League goals for a single club in fewer appearances than Salah. 

Brentford have enjoyed an impressive start in the top tier, though. Their eight Premier League goals have been scored by seven different players – excluding own goals, only Chelsea (10) and Manchester City (nine) have had more different scorers in the competition this term. 

Leeds United 1-2 West Ham: Hosts suffer late Antonio hammer blow

David Moyes' side left it late to wrap up back-to-back wins at Elland Road for the first time in their history. 

Raphinha had put the hosts ahead early on with his fifth Premier League goal from outside the penalty area, the joint-most of any player since he made his debut in the competition in October 2020, tied with Son Heung-min. 

A Junior Firpo own goal pulled the Hammers level, before Antonio sealed all three points in the 90th minute. 

That goal meant Antonio became just the third player to score a 90th-minute winner against Leeds at Elland Road in the Premier League, after Nolberto Solano for Newcastle in December 2001 and Scott Parker for Charlton in December 2002. 

Brazil have summoned eight Premier League players for October's World Cup qualifiers – and former Middlesbrough star Juninho is hopeful a deal will be struck to avoid more quarantine chaos.

Coach Tite called nine English-based stars for the last batch of internationals at the start of September, but none travelled, with top-flight English clubs refusing to release a number of players travelling to countries on the United Kingdom's travel red list.

Anyone returning from those countries would have been required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, regardless of vaccination status, which was an unacceptable situation for the clubs.

There are hopes that a deal can be struck to allow footballers to travel in bubble conditions, with Juninho pointing to talks involving the Premier League, world football's governing body FIFA and British government officials.

At one point last month it appeared the players who did not join their national teams could be obligated to miss club games, effectively as a punishment, but that threat eventually receded.

Some Premier League players did travel to their national teams, however, and Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, plus Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez, joined up with Argentina. They were then at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to stop the Selecao's game against Argentina proceeding.

Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

The English-based contingent selected by Brazil for October's games includes captain Thiago Silva, goalkeepers Alisson and Ederson, Fred, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino. Everton's Richarlison misses out due to a knee injury, but Leeds United's Raphinha and Tottenham's Emerson Royal are in the squad.

Juninho, now a co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, said the players were selected this time because of the belief a solution could be found.

"There have been several meetings with FIFA, the Premier League and the British government," Juninho said, quoted on Brazilian sport website Lance.

"We trust that next week there will be a resolution on these cases."

Brazil travel to play Venezuela on October 7 and Colombia three days later, before a home clash in Manaus against Uruguay on October 14.

The players are due to assemble in Bogota, Colombia, on October 4. Brazil's eight wins from eight have put them firmly at the front of the race to qualify for next year's finals in Qatar.

 

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Danilo (Juventus), Emerson Royal (Tottenham), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Gerson (Marseille), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Edenilson (Internacional); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Antony (Ajax), Raphinha (Leeds United), Gabi (Flamengo), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Defending champions Manchester City will travel to West Ham in the EFL Cup fourth round, while Arsenal host Leeds United.

Pep Guardiola's men are in search of an unprecedented fifth successive triumph in the competition and they will face Hammers, who beat City's rivals Manchester United 1-0 in round three on Wednesday.

Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 victory over League One AFC Wimbledon and they take on Leeds at the Emirates Stadium next after Marcelo Bielsa's side edged past Fulham on penalties.

There are five all-Premier League ties in total, with Leicester City pitted against Brighton and Hove Albion after being defeated at the weekend in the top flight by Graham Potter's men.

European champions Chelsea needed penalties to sneak past Aston Villa and they will host Southampton, who also required spot-kicks to defeat Sheffield United.

Burnley crushed Rochdale 4-1, but a much tougher task awaits them as they face Tottenham after their shoot-out triumph over Nuno Espirito Santo's former club Wolves, while Brentford meet Stoke City away from home in the next round.

Liverpool make the trip to Deepdale to do battle with Championship side Preston North End, who demolished Cheltenham Town 4-1 on Tuesday.

There will be at least one non-top-flight side in the last-eight stage as Sunderland face Queens Park Rangers after Mark Warburton's men upset Everton.

The fourth-round clashes are set to take place during the week commencing October 25.

EFL Cup draw:

Chelsea v Southampton

Arsenal v Leeds United

Stoke City v Brentford

West Ham v Manchester City

Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion

Burnley v Tottenham

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland

Preston North End v Liverpool

Pascal Struijk will serve a three-match ban after Leeds United were unsuccessful in their appeal against the red card shown following a tackle that left Liverpool's Harvey Elliott with a dislocated ankle.

Dutch defender Struijk was sent off in the second half of Leeds' 3-0 Premier League defeat on Sunday after 18-year-old Elliott suffered a nasty injury.

Elliott attempted to lead Liverpool on a counterattack but Struijk halted the move, lunging in and hooking the ball away.

While the tackle initially appeared to be a clean one, with referee Craig Pawson not even awarding a foul, Elliott could quickly be seen clutching his left ankle after his left tangled awkwardly with Struijk's.

The nearby Mohamed Salah desperately ushered medical staff on to the pitch before play was stopped, the Egyptian then recoiling and walking away seemingly in a state of shock.

Teenager Elliott required lengthy medical attention before being carried off on a stretcher and then taken to hospital.

Elliott acknowledged later in an Instagram comment that the injury was a "freak accident" and the tackle was undeserving of a red card, while Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani suggested even a yellow would have been harsh on Struijk.

Yet, Leeds confirmed on Wednesday their appeal has been unsuccessful, meaning Struijk will miss Premier League clashes with Newcastle United and West Ham either side of an EFL Cup game against Fulham.

It just had to be, did it not? Cristiano Ronaldo, back at Old Trafford, of course he would get on the scoresheet.

Ronaldo netted not once, but twice in United's 4-1 defeat of Newcastle United on Saturday, announcing his return to the Premier League in style.

Meanwhile, a player who has established himself as one of the possible heirs to the Ronaldo (and Lionel Messi) throne at the pinnacle of the game reached a century of goals in the competition.

And after their worst start in generations, Arsenal finally found a way to win.

Here are some of the more curious Opta facts from the latest round of games.


Age is just a number for evergreen Ronaldo

Aged 36 year and 218 days, Ronaldo became the oldest player to score a Premier League double in over a decade.

The last player of more advancing years to do so? Well, another of the league's greats, of course. That being Graham Alexander of Burnley, who scored twice in a match against Hull City in April 2010 at the age of 38 years and 182 days. 

On the same day as Alexander was leading Burnley to a 4-1 win over the Tigers, Ronaldo played his second LaLiga Clasico. Real Madrid lost 2-0, following on from Barcelona's 5-0 victory earlier in the season.

Back to Old Trafford on Saturday, where Newcastle's dismal run continued. They have only managed one win at the Theatre of Dreams in their last 27 league attempts, while Steve Bruce, a former United stalwart, has lost 12 of his 13 games at his old stomping ground as a visiting manager, with his teams scoring just six goals over that run.

Ronaldo's gap of 12 years and 124 days between goals is the second-longest between two strikes by the same player in Premier League history, after Matt Jackson, who went 13 years and 187 days in between netting for Everton and Wigan Athletic respectively.

The Portugal superstar also broke Damien Delaney's record (11y 155d) for the biggest gap between Premier League appearances, with Ronaldo turning out for Manchester United again 12 years and 118 days since his previous game in May 2009.

Paul Pogba stands out on his own at the top of the assist charts with seven to his name already. He is the only player to have recorded as many as 10 assists in the Premier League in 2021, while his tally across the opening four games is the most any player has registered in the first four games of a Premier League season.

Mo moves into the 100 club

Liverpool's 3-0 win over Leeds United was somewhat marred by a horrid injury for Harvey Elliott. But the Reds were nevertheless convincing winners, with Mohamed Salah opening the scoring with his 100th Premier League goal.

Salah has reached his century in 162 games, with only four players getting there quicker. His team also moved onto a century in terms of attempts on goal across their four league games so far this season.

Their tally of 30 shots was quite remarkable, though Jurgen Klopp will want an improvement on the 10 per cent conversion rate. 

Sadio Mane had a game-leading 10 shots, yet only two of those hit the target – the Senegal star finally scoring in second-half stoppage time. It was the most attempts he has ever had in a Premier League game, and more than any other player has managed in any match so far this season (Romelu Lukaku having had eight for Chelsea against Arsenal last month).

Villa left reeling by Rom yet again

There must have been a collective sigh of relief around Villa Park when, as Aston Villa were preparing for life back in the top flight, Lukaku left the Premier League to join Serie A giants Inter.

But now the Belgian has returned to England and, as he has a knack of doing, back to finding the net against the poor old Villans.

He scored twice in Chelsea's 3-0 win on Saturday, his first goals at Stamford Bridge for any team, in what was his 15th appearance at the ground.

Lukaku has now scored in each of his last six Premier League appearances against Villa (eight goals) – only against West Ham has he had a longer run of scoring in consecutive games against a specific opponent in the competition (seven, between 2013 and 2016).

Arteta finally gets off the ground

The pressure might well have been too much had bottom-of-the-pile Arsenal failed to beat Norwich City on Saturday, but fortunately for Mikel Arteta, his Gunners side came up with the goods.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed a 1-0 win in a match that saw Arsenal have 30 attempts, the most they have had in a league game since producing 33 against Manchester United in December 2017.

Remarkably, with Liverpool also having 30 shots against Leeds, the record from last season (29, set by Manchester City against Leeds in April) has already been surpassed twice.

This is Norwich's worst ever start to a league campaign after four games (zero points, -10 goal difference) and just the third time they have started a season with four league defeats.

Aaron Ramsdale, meanwhile, became the first English goalkeeper to make a Premier League appearance for Arsenal since David Seaman way back in May 2003.

Are Barcelona set to make a splash in 2022?

After losing Lionel Messi on a free transfer due to their crippling debt, Barca are busy planning for next season.

Franck Kessie and Youri Tielemans are believed to be on the radar at Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYEING PAIR

Barcelona are targeting Milan star Franck Kessie and Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans, according to reports.

Kessie is out of contract at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at Milan amid links with Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Mundo Deportivo claims LaLiga giants Barca are considering a move for the Ivory Coast international, as well as Tielemans – who is reportedly wanted by the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fichajes says Premier League champions Manchester City are plotting a bid for Leeds United and England star Kalvin Phillips.

Real Madrid are interested in Lyon's Rayan Cherki as a long-term replacement for Karim Benzema, per Fichajes. It comes as Madrid continue to pursue PSG's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus are considering a move for Madrid left-back Ferland Mendy.

United are ready to rival Barca, Juve and Bayern Munich for RB Leipzig attacker Dani Olmo, according to Marca.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed Harvey Elliott suffered a horrific ankle injury in Liverpool's win over Leeds United, as Virgil van Dijk promised the youngster all of the club's support.

Elliott, who has made a bright start to the season for the Reds, suffered the injury in a challenge with Leeds defender Pascal Struijk midway through the second half at Elland Road on Sunday.

Liverpool were leading 2-0 at the time thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Fabinho, with Elliott receiving lengthy treatment on the pitch before being transferred to hospital.

Struijk, who got the ball with his sliding challenge, was given a straight red card by referee Craig Pawson, with Liverpool going on to cap off a fine performance with Sadio Mane adding a third late on.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Klopp said: "Harvey Elliott is in hospital, a bad ankle injury for sure. It looked like it was dislocated, the medical department put it back.

"Massive pain, shock for him, for us and we don't know more. We have to wait."

Klopp went onto the pitch and also talked animatedly to the fourth official while Elliott was receiving treatment, though he insisted he was unconcerned with whether Struijk would see red.

"I couldn't care less [if it was a red], it is not my business," he continued. "It is a serious injury, definitely for an 18-year-old boy. The red card is not important. Two or three weeks we can play on, Harvey will not.

"We played a really good game until Harvey had to go, the whole team was shocked and we lost rhythm. That is normal, human.

"We played as good as we can against Leeds. You have to be ready for brutal intensity. The crowd was there and an exciting football game with us as the deserved winner.

"I spoke to the boys afterwards, we have to speak a little bit about the football but Harvey overshadows it. I like intense football so I probably liked the game."

Klopp was also emotional in his interview with Sky Sports.

"Do I want such a young boy to have this experience in his career? No. We will play football without him, but we will wait for him as well because he is a top player," he said.

"I saw the situation. I could see his foot was not in the right place. That is why we were all shocked."

Last season, Liverpool's Van Dijk suffered a similarly serious injury when he sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage due to a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The injury kept Van Dijk out for the rest of the campaign as Liverpool relinquished the Premier League title they won for the first time in 2019-20.

"First and foremost all of our thoughts and prayers are going to Harvey, hopefully he recovers quickly and as good as possible from it," Van Dijk told Sky Sports.

"We have no idea of the diagnosis of it but obviously it looks bad. For the moment it happened I think you saw Mo [Salah] already shouting to the side that it was really serious, then you look at the reaction of Harvey, you know that it’s really serious."

Asked if his personal experience will mean he can provide support to Elliott, Van Dijk replied: "Yes, 100 per cent.

"I've experienced all the players, staff, everyone around Liverpool, the fans had my back and were there for me in difficult times too. I'm sure we will all be there for him and the club will be there for him no matter what."

Shortly after full time, Elliott posted a message to his official Instagram account.

"Thank you for all the messages guys," the post read. "Road to recovery. YNWA."

Pascal Struijk's tackle that resulted in a horror injury for Harvey Elliott did not even deserve a yellow card, according to Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani. 

Elliott suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury following a tackle from Struijk as he raced away on the right wing, with Mohamed Salah frantically calling for the physios to provide treatment. 

The Leeds defender was shown a straight red card for the tackle in the 60th minute, while Elliott was carried off on a stretcher. The Liverpool teenager soon posted on Instagram: "Thanks for all the messages. Road to recovery. YNWA." 

Radrizzani regretted that Elliott had suffered a potentially serious injury but did not feel referee Craig Pawson made the right decision by sending Struijk off. 

"Obviously, the accident, it was hard for him [Elliott] and I wish the boy a full recovery, I hope we can get that soon, but this is part of football," Radrizzani told Sky Sports. 

"To be honest if you watch the video, you'll see that Strujik is lying with the left foot on him and it's accidental, so it was not a premeditated tackle so I think the valuation of the tackle was wrong from the referee. 

"It's really difficult to take a red card like that and for me it wouldn't even be a yellow, but I really feel sorry for the boy and the injury could be difficult for him." 

Asked if he understood that Struijk's tackle had endangered Elliott, Radrizzani replied: "Yes, I understand. We can't control the kind of injury you get on the pitch, because it's part of the game. 

"But if you watch the video enough times you understand it is accidental. Strujik gets the ball, but obviously I'm sorry for him that this has happened." 

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was confident there was no malice in Struijk's tackle but was upset to see Elliott hurt. 

"I regret dearly what happened, I wish it did not happen. For that to happen to any player is saddening. For a young player playing at a high level even more," Bielsa told the BBC. 

"I am sure my player did not have the intention to harm him in any way. Perhaps what happened after he recovered the ball caused the injury. 

"The tackle was clear but clearly the acceleration of how our player moved caused it. In no way did he intend to cause any harm to the opponent." 

Mohamed Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal as Liverpool cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win at Leeds United on Sunday, but the victory was marred by a horrific injury suffered by Reds talent Harvey Elliott.

Leeds were already trailing by two goals when Pascal Struijk was dismissed for his – seemingly accidental – role in Elliott's second-half injury, which required several minutes of medical attention and for a stretcher to carry him away.

The 18-year-old, who has slotted seamlessly into the Liverpool team this season following a bright loan spell at Blackburn Rovers, was left clutching his left shin after what initially appeared an innocuous collision and Struijk was sent off.

It put a dampener on an otherwise fine day for Liverpool, who had opened the scoring through Salah's milestone goal in England's top flight and effectively sealed the win early in the second period through Fabinho, before Sadio Mane's late third at a subdued Elland Road. 

Leeds had been the first to threaten, but Rodrigo Moreno blasted straight at Alisson when teed up on the edge of the box five minutes in.

The Reds swiftly established control after that and deserved their 20th-minute breakthrough as Salah tucked in a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross – the right-back subsequently turned to Leeds fans and cupped his ear less than a minute after chants suggested he was just a poor man's Kyle Walker.

Leeds were fortunate to not concede more as Elliott had two good efforts blocked in quick succession, an off-balance Mane smashed over from close range and Virgil van Dijk made a mess of a free header.

An inevitable second did arrive shortly after the break, however. A Van Dijk header was blocked to Fabinho and, although his initial effort hit a defender, he hammered home on the rebound.

But the match was soured just before the hour. Struijk appeared to hook the ball away as Elliott tried to spring a counter, but the teenager's leg was trapped awkwardly beneath them – the nearby Salah desperately ushered medical professionals on before the referee could even stop play and he quickly turned away in shock having seemingly seen the damage caused.

The incident led to a forgivable lull in proceedings but Liverpool eventually secured a scoreline befitting their dominance as Mane rifled home late on to round off a straightforward – if overshadowed – win.
 

Harvey Elliott was taken off on a stretcher after suffering an apparently serious leg injury as Liverpool faced Leeds United at Elland Road on Sunday. 

The 18-year-old midfielder was racing down the right flank when he was caught by a dangerous challenge from Pascal Struijk on the halfway line and immediately went down in agony. 

Elliott clutched his lower left leg as Mohamed Salah rushed to his side, beckoning Liverpool physios onto the pitch. 

Struijk was sent off for the lunge by referee Craig Pawson, with lengthy on-pitch treatment for Elliott resulting in a five-minute break in play in the Premier League game. 

The exciting Reds youngster, who spent time on loan at Blackburn Rovers last season, left the pitch to applause from spectators of both teams, with the stricken Elliott responding from his stretcher by clapping the fans. 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expressed his confusion over England starting Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield against Andorra.

Alexander-Arnold occupied a first-half midfield position for Gareth Southgate's men in the 4-0 win before reverting to his usual full-back role in the second half.

The right-back has created more chances than any other player in the Premier League this season (15), while no player has provided more successful open-play crosses (six) than the 22-year-old.

As Liverpool look to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches when they take on Leeds United on Sunday – the second-longest streak in England's top four tiers after Brentford - Klopp questioned if the shift was necessary.

"If you watch our games, Trent's position already changed when possible," Klopp responded at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"[There is] no need to make him a midfielder now. It's a shame we talk about this in 2021, good players play everywhere, Trent plays right-wing, everywhere.

"Some people think he could be more influential in midfield. How is it possible to be more influential than Trent Alexander-Arnold? We use him as good as we can.

"But why would you make the best right-back in the world a midfielder? I struggle to understand how you can think that."

The Liverpool academy product admitted post-match that he found the switch difficult against Andorra, recording 81 per cent passing accuracy, which increased to 87.1 by the end of the second half in his usual position.

He also produced a game-high six crosses and two key passes – only bettered by Jude Bellingham (three) – suggesting his performance was not as bad as his self-reflection hinted at.

Jurgen Klopp hinted that Liverpool will be without Roberto Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho for the trip to Leeds United on Sunday.

Firmino misses out through a hamstring injury sustained against Chelsea but the availability of Alisson and Fabinho remains in doubt after Brazil called on FIFA to suspend the players from playing this weekend.

Brazil requested the governing body to take action after the Premier League clubs agreed to not let their players travel to South America, amid quarantining fears on their return subsequently causing them to miss fixtures.

When asked for an update on the situation, Klopp told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference: "I know Bobby [Firmino] will not be available because of injury. About the rest, no.

"It’s a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs and players, especially.

"We should not forget the players wanted to play, the clubs wanted to let players go but it was not possible.

"It looks like the real punishment is on the players because they can't play and, of course, the clubs as well.

"That's really not okay, we didn't decide that the players could not go.

"Brazil played 1.30am this morning [UK] time, they won all 3 games and still there is a complaint.

"Before the last break I met [Arsene] Wenger and he showed me World Cup plans. In that moment I got the message from our guys 'no exemptions from government for our players'.

"Now we have that situation, we still don't know who we can line-up at the weekend.

"I've no idea when I can expect a solution, we will see. I don't know what moment I have to make the decision. I want to play them on Sunday but we will see."

Klopp's side travel to Elland Road on the second-longest unbeaten run in England's top four tiers (13), also winning seven of their last eight Premier League matches on the road.

Leeds are winless in their last eight top-flight meetings with the Reds, though they held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road last season.

Jurgen Klopp hinted that Liverpool will be without Roberto Firmino, Alisson and Fabinho for the trip to Leeds United on Sunday.

Firmino misses out through a hamstring injury sustained against Chelsea but the availability of Alisson and Fabinho remains in doubt after Brazil called on FIFA to suspend the players from playing this weekend.

Brazil requested the governing body to take action after the Premier League clubs agreed to not let their players travel to South America, amid quarantining fears on their return subsequently causing them to miss fixtures.

When asked for an update on the situation, Klopp told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference: "I know Bobby [Firmino] will not be available because of injury. About the rest, no.

"It’s a really difficult situation and really tricky for all the clubs and players, especially.

"We should not forget the players wanted to play, the clubs wanted to let players go but it was not possible.

"It looks like the real punishment is on the players because they can't play and, of course, the clubs as well.

"That's really not okay, we didn't decide that the players could not go.

"Brazil played 1.30am this morning [UK] time, they won all 3 games and still there is a complaint.

"Before the last break I met [Arsene] Wenger and he showed me World Cup plans. In that moment I got the message from our guys 'no exemptions from government for our players'.

"Now we have that situation, we still don't know who we can line-up at the weekend.

"I've no idea when I can expect a solution, we will see. I don't know what moment I have to make the decision. I want to play them on Sunday but we will see."

Klopp's side travel to Elland Road on the second-longest unbeaten run in England's top four tiers (13), also winning seven of their last eight Premier League matches on the road.

Leeds are winless in their last eight top-flight meetings with the Reds, though they held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road last season.

Domestic football returns this week after the international break, and with it being the first set of matches since the transfer deadline passed, there are some new faces to consider.

Though one of them will be very familiar to everyone – Cristiano Ronaldo is back at Manchester United and an interesting option for fantasy teams.

Newcastle United are the visitors at Old Trafford in what many may be predicting to be a one-sided encounter, though Ronaldo's by no means the only threat to Steve Bruce's men.

Stats Perform has picked out seven players potentially in action over the weekend who could be worth signing up to give your fantasy team a boost.

HUGO LLORIS (Crystal Palace v Tottenham )

Spurs have enjoyed a solid start to their new era under Nuno Espirito Santo, winning all three league games to make themselves early leaders.

They've also not conceded a single goal, with Hugo Lloris the only goalkeeper in the division to already have three clean sheets.

Up next is a trip to Crystal Palace, and while you can never guarantee anything in football, Patrick Vieira's men have struggled during the early weeks of 2021-22. Lloris is surely a strong shout for a clean sheet.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Leeds United v Liverpool )

The international break saw Alexander-Arnold become a hot topic of conversation again as his England career continues to stall – this time his performance in midfield attracting criticism.

Nevertheless, at club level there's little question that he'll return to his usual right-back berth, where he has excelled so far this term.

Leeds should offer the Reds stern opposition, but their style of play means Liverpool could be afforded a lot of space – if anyone can exploit that, it's Alexander-Arnold, given he has created five more chances (15) than any other player in the league and his six successful open-play crosses is a joint-high.

REECE JAMES ( Chelsea v Aston Villa)

If you're the type of fantasy football manager who loads their team with full-backs in the hope of the goal involvement/clean sheet double-threat, then you've probably already got James in your team.

But if you haven't, you may want to consider it.

The Chelsea wing-back is already on three goal involvements (one goal, two assists), the most among defenders and anyone in Thomas Tuchel's squad, and is part of a team that wouldn't expect to concede regularly.

ILKAY GUNDOGAN (Leicester City v Manchester City )

Leicester City have often been seen as a bit of a bogey team for Manchester City, so perhaps this is a bit of a wildcard choice.

However, Gundogan's enjoyed a stellar 2021 to date. His 12 Premier League goals is second only to Harry Kane (14) and has become an influential player in City's attacks over the past year.

He's probably not in the conversation to be anyone's captain, but his goals haul makes him a strong contender to at least get in your XI.

BRUNO FERNANDES ( Manchester United v Newcastle United)

Man Utd have averaged 2.9 goals per game over their previous 14 Premier League home matches, and with Newcastle taking just 10 points from the past 15 away games, the omens look good for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

With that in mind, the man usually behind many of United's goals is Fernandes, who is just two goal involvements from reaching 50 – only three players will have hit that mark quicker than him if he gets a couple against Newcastle.

Similarly, since the start of 2020-21, Fernandes' 10.3 expected assists (xA) is the highest in the Premier League and his 12 actual assists haul is level with Kevin De Bruyne as the most among midfielders.

IVAN TONEY ( Brentford v Brighton and Hove Albion)

He was the man who propelled Brentford into the Premier League with his goals, so when Toney got off the mark in the Premier League last out time out against Aston Villa, many will curiously wait to see if the floodgates now open.

That took him to 56 league goals (excluding play-offs) since the start of 2019-20, more than anyone else in the top four tiers of English football.

Granted, those came in lower divisions, but others before him have adapted to the Premier League – why can't Toney be the next Jamie Vardy?

CRISTIANO RONALDO ( Manchester United v Newcastle United)

Solskjaer's already said Ronaldo hasn't return to United to sit on the bench, so there's every chance the Portugal captain could make his second debut as a starter against Newcastle.

If he does, he will complete a formidable frontline for the Red Devils, regardless of who he's joined by, and given the mauling they handed out to Leeds United on matchday one, they certainly have big wins in their locker.

It's also worth noting that Ronaldo scored his very first club hat-trick against Newcastle back in 2008 – he couldn't do it again, could he? Either way, Ronaldo as captain this weekend looks a smart choice.

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