The Premier League table continues to take shape as we approach matchday nine, with Liverpool versus Manchester United the headline clash of the weekend.

Mohamed Salah, a fantasy football favourite, will look to further his nine-game scoring run as the Reds travel to Old Trafford, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping the comeback win against Atalanta inspires his side.

Chelsea, whose defence continues to provide valuable clean-sheet points for many a fantasy line-up, face strugglers Norwich City and Manchester City – another clean-sheet machine – travel to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Whether it is the Blues' regimented defence or Jurgen Klopp's shot-hungry attack, Stats Perform uses Opta-powered data to pick out seven potential fantasy stars.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea v Norwich City)

Edouard Mendy was, arguably, the primary reason Chelsea collected all three points at local rivals Brentford last time out.

The goalkeeper produced six second-half saves as he left the Bees in disbelief with his various acrobatics to secure his 20th clean sheet in just 38 top-flight games.

With that many shutouts to his name, he boasts a clean-sheet ratio of 53 per cent – the highest of all keepers with 10-plus starts in Premier League history.

BEN CHILWELL (Chelsea v Norwich City)

Marcos Alonso may have been an early pick but Thomas Tuchel's wing-back roulette now seems to be favouring Ben Chilwell, who is in fine goal-scoring form.

The England left-back not only offers defensive returns, but he has also managed to score in his last three Premier League matches – having registered just two gaols in his first 26 Blues appearances in the competition.

Partnered with Mendy and against a shot-shy Norwich outfit, Chilwell is almost a certainty to provide some much-needed contributions from your backline.

JOAO CANCELO (Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City)

Joao Cancelo is the only one of Pep Guardiola's defenders to start all eight top-flight fixtures this term, after fantasy favourite Ruben Dias was surprisingly benched against Burnley.

The versatile full-back is yet to score but boasts the highest expected goals of any defender this term (1.3), while enjoying the most touches in the opposition box among the same category (22).

Only Shane Duffy (14) has attempted more shots than Cancelo (13), and the full-back should also be a shoo-in for clean-sheet bonus points, given no defender has kept more than his six shutouts this season.

MOHAMED SALAH (Manchester United v Liverpool)

By this point, if Salah is not present in your team then questions may need to be asked following his solo 'Goal of the Season' competition he has seemingly created in the last couple of games.

Since the start of March, the Egypt forward has been directly involved in the most goals, with his 18 (12 goals, six assists) two more than Leicester's Kelechi Iheanacho.

A premium but must-buy option for every fantasy outfit, Salah could wreak havoc on Sunday against a somewhat timid Red Devils defence at Old Trafford.

SON HEUNG-MIN (West Ham v Tottenham)

With an unusually out of form Harry Kane failing to deliver for Tottenham, and the majority of fantasy owners, Son Heung-Min has stepped up for Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

The South Korea international has scored four times and assisted once – those contributions worth eight points to Spurs, more than any player in the competition this campaign.

Son, up against West Ham, could provide further joy on Sunday if he is to carry Spurs seemingly single-handedly to victory once more.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal v Aston Villa)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been integral to Arsenal's early-season revival, finding the net in each of his last three top-flight games at Emirates Stadium.

In total, he has managed 42 Premier League goals at the Gunners' home ground, with only Robin van Persie firing in more (46).

Against a wounded Aston Villa defence, who shipped three late goals against Wolves in their last game, can Aubameyang continue his fine scoring run?

RAHEEM STERLING (Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City)

Again, err on the side of caution with this pick, given Guardiola's preference to rotate his wealth of playmaking riches regularly.

However, should Raheem Sterling start against Brighton – he could be an unlikely differential to source vital attacking gains in gameweek nine.

The England international has netted four times in four starts against the Seagulls, scoring a hat-trick on his last visit to the South Coast in July 2020.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson hailed Mohamed Salah following his record-breaking performance in the 3-2 Champions League victory at Atletico Madrid.

Salah made history by becoming the first Liverpool player to score in nine successive matches to earn the Reds a dramatic win away to 10-man Atletico in Madrid on Tuesday.

LaLiga champions Atletico had two-goal Antoine Griezmann sent off and a late penalty contentiously overturned in the Group B battle.

After opening the scoring in the eighth minute before Naby Keita made it 2-0 five minutes later, Salah converted a penalty with 12 minutes remaining to give Liverpool a five-point lead in the group.

With 31 goals, Salah – who has a 90 per cent penalty-conversion rate for the club across all competitions – is now Liverpool's all-time leading scorer in the Champions League as Alisson praised the in-form Egyptian star.

"I'm really happy for him, he's a fantastic player," Alisson said during his post-match news conference.

"He's showing on the pitch all the time, making really nice goals, not just easy goals. But he contributes a lot for the team as well – not only scoring but helping in the defensive phase, playing for the team.

"He is a hungry player, he's a hungry striker. I'm really happy for him. I hope that he continues that."

Liverpool beat Atletico for the first time in the Champions League (D2 L2), while the victory ended a five-game winless run in away games against Spanish sides in the competition (D1 L4).

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool led 2-0 after just 13 minutes – the earliest Atletico have ever been two goals down in a Champions League match before.

However, it was also the first time Liverpool have ever scored and conceded two or more goals in the opening half of a Champions League fixture.

"I believe the boss is a maestro in talking in the right moments, the right things," Alisson said of manager Klopp. "I think he brought us in the game again in the changing room and also our attitude changed a little bit in the second half.

"It is not easy when you are 2-0 up and then you concede a goal and you know that it will be hard. We came here, we knew that it wouldn't be easy to play against Atletico and the game shows it for everyone, for us and for everybody who watched the game.

"So, I'm happy that we could score the third goal and don't concede anymore and control more the situations, but there is a gap to improve as well when we have one player more than them on the pitch. You must create more chances but, as I said, it is not easy when they park the bus in front of the goal. We are happy for the three points."

Diego Simeone justified his decision to not shake Jurgen Klopp's hand by highlighting the contrasting cultures after Atletico Madrid were downed 3-2 by Liverpool.

Antoine Griezmann's brace drew Atletico level at 2-2 before the Frenchman was dismissed in the second half – the loanee becoming the first player in the competition to score two-plus goals and be sent off in the same match.

Mohamed Salah then converted from the spot to restore the Reds' lead before Simeone's side had a stoppage-time penalty overturned by VAR after Diogo Jota had allegedly shoved Jose Gimenez.

The Egypt forward's winner meant the LaLiga side conceded more than twice in a Champions League home game for the first time under Simeone, last doing so against Porto in 2009.

After the match, Simeone sprinted down the tunnel as he snubbed a full-time handshake with Klopp, but the Atleti head coach insisted there was no malice in the gesture.

"I don't normally greet after the game," he said.

"I do not like it and I think it is not healthy because there will always be someone who is not satisfied with the game.

"They have a different culture, which I do not share. If I see [Jurgen] Klopp now, I have no problem greeting him."

Klopp collected Liverpool's first win in five attempts against Atletico in the Champions League, while victory ended a five-game winless run against Spanish sides in the competition.

However, centre-back Felipe was left disappointed after the game as he explained his confusion with the overturned penalty decision, albeit the 32-year-old admitted his vision for the Griezmann sending-off was impaired.

"I don't know what the rule is but, for me, it is clear that it is a penalty," Felipe told Movistar.

"He [the referee] went to the VAR to look, then he went to go and look again – it is clear that he had doubts.

"The other way around [for Liverpool's penalty], it was a very fast decision. We have to fight our own battles, but it is a bit unfair.

"The play [by Griezmann] was for yellow and that's it because he's looking at the ball and trying to control it."

Jurgen Klopp said Diego Simeone's decision to not shake his hand following Liverpool's incredible 3-2 Champions League win over 10-man Atletico Madrid "was not so cool".

Simeone stormed down the tunnel at full-time in Tuesday's European classic at Wanda Metropolitano after a couple of big refereeing decisions went against Atletico.

Atleti had two-goal star Antoine Griezmann sent off for a contentious red card for a high boot with the game poised at 2-2 and saw a strong penalty shout overturned by VAR late on.

While not pleased with Simeone's snub, Liverpool manager Klopp could understand his opposite number's frustration on an evening of high drama in the Spanish capital.

"We don't like that but yes the situation is clear," Klopp told BT Sport. "I want to shake his hand. His reaction for sure, like mine, was not so cool. 

"The next time we see each other we will shake hands definitely. It's nothing. He was obviously angry, not with me but with the game. There is nothing else."

Griezmann netted his sixth Champions League double in Atleti colours to cancel out early strikes from Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita before being issued a straight red card.

He had his eyes on the ball and caught Roberto Firmino in the face with his boot, becoming the first player to score twice and be sent off in the same Champions League game.

Salah went on to score a second for the Reds from the penalty spot to put them in front, but more drama followed late on when Diogo Jota shoved Jose Gimenez in the box.

Daniel Siebert pointed to the spot, only to overturn the decision before substitute Luis Suarez could step up after the referee was asked by VAR to check the pitchside monitor.

Atleti's players reacted angrily, but Klopp believes the officials got each of the big calls correct.

"I saw it and our penalty is a penalty. I think the other one [for Atletico] is not a penalty but I didn't expect it [to be overturned]," Klopp said. 

"I think it's the right decision. The red card was for sure unlucky but it is a red card. A foot in the face. It can happen."

Liverpool's victory at the scene of their 2019 Champions League final triumph against Tottenham brought an end to a four-game winless run against Atleti in the competition.

The Reds, who had lost their previous five games against Spanish opposition in UEFA's flagship club tournament, are five points clear at the top of Group B at the midway point.

In a game that had a bit of everything, including another record for Salah as he scored for a ninth Liverpool match running, Klopp was just happy to escape with all three points.

"It was a tough game. Honestly, how we win it, I couldn't care less! On a night like this, getting three points is really nice," he said.

"We did surprisingly well at the beginning. Did we expect it to be that defensive? Probably not. It was not so easy. 

"We scored two wonderful goals then played good football. It was 2-0 then obviously Atletico are not too bothered about having possession. 

"The first goal we gave away then the second, it was nice play but the gaps we had there...That was not alright. 

"At half-time I think everyone in the stadium thought it was only going one way and we thought 'let's give it a proper try again'.

"We played a really solid second half in a tough game with intense football from both teams. We got the penalty, then there was a red card and obviously it was in our favour."

Mohamed Salah made history by scoring in a ninth successive match for Liverpool to earn the Reds a dramatic 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid, who had two-goal Antoine Griezmann sent off and a late penalty contentiously overturned.

In-form forward Salah opened the scoring inside eight minutes in Tuesday's breathless Champions League tie before Naby Keita volleyed in a second five minutes later as the visitors took complete control at Wanda Metropolitano.

That was the earliest Atletico had gone two goals down in a Champions League match, though they hit back before half-time through Griezmann's double.

Griezmann was sent off early in the second half for a high boot on Roberto Firmino and Liverpool made the man advantage count when Salah scored a second of his own from the penalty spot.

Liverpool, who were given a late reprieve when a penalty awarded for Diogo Jota's shove on Jose Gimenez was overruled following a check of the pitchside monitor, now hold a five-point lead over Atletico and Porto at the top of Group B.

At 29 years and 130 days, Liverpool fielded their oldest starting line-up in a match since September 1953 and their experience showed in a fast start that saw them open the scoring early on.

Salah's left-footed shot from outside the box took a deflection on its way past Jan Oblak and was later credited to the Egypt forward after some initial confusion over who the final touch came off.

Atleti continued to be pushed back and they found themselves two goals behind soon after when Felipe's poor defensive header fell nicely for Keita to thump home with a dipping first-time shot from 18 yards.

But the home side soon settled and were back in the game thanks to a slight touch from Griezmann to help Koke's shot into the bottom-left corner, the goal allowed to stand after a lengthy VAR check for a possible offside in the build-up.

Griezmann was then denied by Alisson when played clean through on goal, but the France international made amends by taking Joao Felix's pass in his stride and coolly slotting past the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Alisson and Oblak continued to be called into action in a frantic end-to-end match, but momentum shifted back in Liverpool's favour with 52 minutes played with Griezmann's straight red card.

Jurgen Klopp's side made a spell of pressure count 12 minutes from time as Mario Hermoso barged into Jota inside the box and Salah, who missed a penalty against Milan in Liverpool's opening group match, buried the spot-kick.

There was still time for more drama in the Spanish capital, with referee Daniel Siebert pointing to the spot for Jota's challenge on Gimenez, but the decision was controversially overturned before substitute Luis Suarez could step up and take the penalty.

Mohamed Salah became the first player in Liverpool history to score in nine successive matches with his early strike in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.

The Egypt forward guided in a left-footed drive from just outside the box that was initially credited as a James Milner goal due to the shot taking a deflection on its way through.

However, the goal was later awarded to Salah and with that the 29-year-old broke yet another record as he extended his remarkable scoring streak.

Salah's run started with a penalty to help the Reds to a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on August 28 and he followed that up with goals against Leeds United, Milan, Crystal Palace, Brentford, Porto (two), Manchester City and Watford.

That impressive solo goal against Watford on Saturday made Salah the fourth Liverpool player to net in eight straight matches alongside Sam Raybould (1902-03), John Aldridge (1987-88) and Daniel Sturridge (2013-14).

He moved outright first in that list with his goal at Wanda Metropolitano, with that strike also meaning he has scored in each of his last six away games for Liverpool in the Champions League.

Only Sergio Aguero has scored in more successive away matches in the competition for an English club, the now-Barcelona striker finding the net seven games on the spin for Manchester City between 2017 and 2019.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

He has starred for club and country, but Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Aleksandar Isak has also impressed.

Isak could be lured to Barcelona if Haaland is not available.

 

TOP STORY – ISAK WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona are lining up a move for Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak if they are unable to sign in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Diario AS.

Haaland is wanted by Barca and Europe's elite, with the Norwegian linked with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

With competition fierce, LaLiga outfit Barca are looking close to home and at Isak as an alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ekrem Konur claims City are considering Barca sensation Ansu Fati as a possible replacement for Raheem Sterling should the England international depart the Premier League champions. Barca are reportedly interested in Sterling on a loan deal.

Dortmund want Ajax's Sebastien Haller to succeed Haaland at the Bundesliga outfit, reports Calciomercato. Former Eintracht Frankfurt forward Haller has starred for the Eredivisie giants.

Juve's objective is to sign Monaco and France star Aurelien Tchouameni, says Calciomercato. Tchouameni is also a target for United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juve, Milan and Tottenham are eyeing PSG's Mauro Icardi.

The Champions League group stage reaches the halfway point this week and Tuesday provides another set of tasty fixtures.

Liverpool travel to Atletico Madrid seeking revenge two seasons on from their last-16 exit to Diego Simeone's side in the pick of the games.

Real Madrid and Manchester City are each looking to respond to defeats last time out when they take on Shakhtar Donetsk and Club Brugge respectively.

Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain host RB Leipzig and two of Europe's great entertainers in Ajax and Borussia Dortmund face off in Amsterdam.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data ahead of some key contests.

 

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool: Reds face bogey side

Following their last-16 exit to Atletico two seasons ago, Liverpool are winless in four Champions League meetings with the LaLiga champions – only Basel have they faced as many times without winning in Europe's top competition.

The Reds have also lost six of their past seven games on Spanish soil in the tournament since beating Real Madrid in the 2008-09 last 16, though they were victorious at the Wanda Metropolitano against Tottenham in the 2018-19 final.

Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in that meeting with Spurs and he has more recently scored in each of his past five away games for Liverpool in the Champions League – the longest-such streak by a Reds player in the competition.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid: Will Ancelotti be Los Blancos' lucky omen?

Shakhtar beat Madrid home and away in the group stage last season and could become just the third side to win three in a row against Los Blancos in the competition after Bayern Munich and Juventus.

While Madrid's recent record against the Ukrainian outfit is poor, head coach Carlo Ancelotti has won all four of his previous Champions League games against Shakhtar – only against Bayern (six) and Liverpool (five) has he won more often.

Prior to their shock defeat at the hands of Sheriff last time out, Madrid beat Inter 1-0 at San Siro in their opening Group D contest. However, not since 2014-15 have they won their opening two Champions League away games.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig: History not on Germans' side

After netting in PSG's win against Manchester City three weeks ago, Messi is looking to join Neymar (2017), Alex (2012) and George Weah (1994) in scoring in his first two home games for the club in the competition.

PSG have a great record against German opponents, having won seven of their eight meetings with Bundesliga clubs on home soil, though the exception in that run was in April this year when Bayern won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes.

The Ligue 1 side do not tend to slip up at home in the group stage, losing just one of their past 28 such games – against Manchester United in October 2020 – and netting 2.7 goals per game on average.

Club Brugge v Manchester City: Pep seeking response to Paris pain

Ahead of this first ever meeting with City, Brugge are winless in 12 matches against English opponents in all European competitions since beating Chelsea in the Cup Winners' Cup 26 years ago.

The Belgian champions are unbeaten in their past four home group matches in the Champions League, though, picking up eight points across that run – only once have they gone five in a row without defeat (a run of six that ended in October 2019).

But Pep Guardiola will be confident of City getting their campaign back on track following defeat in Paris, the Catalan coach having lost successive away games in the competition once previously when in charge of Bayern in 2014-15 (against Porto and Barcelona).

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Borussia Dortmund

2 - Dortmund have won their previous two major European matches in the Netherlands, both in the Champions League. Their last defeat on Dutch soil was in the 2002 UEFA Cup final against Feyenoord.

3 - Ajax are aiming to win their opening three games to a Champions League campaign for the first time since 1995-96 under Louis van Gaal, the season in which they last made it all the way to the final.


Besiktas v Sporting CP

4 - Sporting have failed to win a European match on Turkish soil, drawing three times and losing once, with that loss coming against Istanbul Basaksehir in February 2020 in the Europa League. Besiktas, though, have won just once in 11 home Champions League games, beating RB Leipzig 2-0 in September 2017.

3 - Sporting lost their opening two group matches, against Dortmund and Ajax, and are at risk of losing three in a row for the first time in the current group-stage format.


Porto v Milan

6 - Porto have kept a clean sheet in six of their past seven games in the group stage of the Champions League, though they did concede five times in their last outing in the competition against Liverpool.

7 - Including qualifying matches, seven of Milan's eight away matches in UEFA competitions in Portugal have ended as a draw, with their only win coming against Porto in March 1993 courtesy of a Jean-Pierre Papin goal.


Inter v Sheriff

- Inter have failed to score in their previous three home Champions League games (the last two group games in 2020-21 and against Madrid this term). They have never previously gone four major UEFA European home games without scoring.

- Sheriff are looking to become just the third team this century to win their first three games in the Champions League, after Leicester City in 2016-17 and Malaga in 2012-13.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is not a fan of Atletico Madrid's style of play but says he has nothing but admiration for "results machine" Diego Simeone.

Klopp questioned Atleti's defensive tactics after the Spanish side knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage in the 2019-20 season.

Speaking after his side's 3-2 defeat, seeing them crash out 4-2 on aggregate, Klopp said he "does not understand with the quality they have why they play this type of football".

The two teams face off at Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday and again at Anfield two weeks later in a couple of crucial games in Group B.

Liverpool have taken six points from six so far, leaving them two points above second-place Atletico after the LaLiga champions followed up a stalemate against Porto with a late win at Milan.

Klopp praised opposite number Simeone ahead of Liverpool's trip to the Spanish capital, the Argentinian having won eight trophies during his decade in charge of Atletico, while also reaching two Champions League finals.

"I was angry and disappointed about a lot of things when I said what I said after the last game," Klopp said at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"We played against a team full of world-class players and they defended with all they have. That's probably the reason I said those things.

"I couldn't respect more what they do. Do I like it? Not a lot, but that's me. I like a different style of football. But it just has to be successful and Atletico have been that, for sure.

"Simeone is the current Spanish champion. He's been there for a long time and has been very successful.

"They play a different system now but they are still the results machine they were before. How Simeone keeps them on their toes with the fight they show I don't know.

"They did well with their signings and have a proper team that looks like possible champions again this year in LaLiga. That's incredible.

"So yeah, what I said before was definitely influenced by my mood on that specific day."

Liverpool beat Watford 5-0 at the weekend to remain second in the Premier League, one point behind leaders Chelsea.

The Reds have scored at least three times in all eight away matches this season, a run that includes a 5-1 win at Porto in their most recent European outing.

Klopp's side have 33 goals to their name this term in all competitions – only Bayern Munich (52) have more among teams from Europe's top five leagues – but the German coach is not expecting a high-scoring affair against Atletico.

"We don't think about the amount of goals we've scored," he said. "We never make the difference between home and away games, though we do enjoy home games more.

"Scoring three goals again, with Atletico next, doesn't sound too likely.

"We know if we win both games against them it's very likely we will go through the group.

"The last time we played there we scored early and had lots of possession, but did not create enough chances. We learned a lot between those two most recent games.

"Hopefully we can use the things we've learned, even if they have changed a lot since then."

Liverpool have failed to win any of their four Champions League matches against Atletico, drawing two and losing two – only Basel have they faced as often without winning in their European Cup history.

Reds defender Virgil van Dijk played a full part in the last-16 double-header two seasons ago but insists that extra-time heartbreak will not be in his thoughts on Tuesday.

"We don't need any extra motivation," he said. "We are playing in the Champions League, the most prestigious cup in Europe. We want to go out there and show our qualities. 

"It's a game we're looking forward to and we know we can get a good result there. It's always a good feeling to play at a full stadium."

Diego Simeone was typically curt when asked about Jurgen Klopp's 2020 criticism of Atletico Madrid's style of play ahead of the teams' reunion on Tuesday.

Atletico progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2019-20 thanks to a 4-2 aggregate win over Liverpool, which was aided by a remarkable turnaround in the second leg.

Atletico found themselves 2-0 down early on in extra time, but two goals from Marcos Llorente before the halfway mark of the additional 30 minutes quickly turned the tie on its head, and Alvaro Morata sealed Liverpool's elimination right at the end.

Jurgen Klopp seemed particularly irritated by the defeat because of Atletico's methods, telling BT Sport at the time that he could not "understand, with the quality they have the football they play", suggesting they had the ability to "play proper football" but chose not to.

Indeed, Liverpool had 71 per cent of the ball and 34 shots, which translated to an expected goals (xG) value of 3.5 – Atletico's 10 attempts equated to 1.1 xG, meaning they scored almost three times as many goals as the average team would ordinarily expect given the quality of those chances.

Jan Oblak undoubtedly played a part, with his saves adding up to a full goal prevented in xG terms, while at the other end, Adrian was deemed a weak link and his goals prevented figure was -0.7, suggesting he should have done better.

The two teams will meet for the first time since then at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday and Simeone was unsurprisingly asked for his opinion on Klopp's comments – his response was perhaps to be expected.

"Nothing," he replied with a massive grin, a brief awkward silence following.

But soon after he was queried on his perception of Liverpool, and the Argentinian coach was glowing in his appraisal.

"Chelsea, [Manchester] City, Liverpool are all fantastic, but watching Liverpool is a real pleasure," he continued.

"They press high, play a high line, they have no fear of leaving spaces at the back. They have very quick players to go on the break. With [Virgil] van Dijk now [back from injury], they have improved their solidity in defence, which is very important even for a team like Liverpool.

"I don't expect anything other than a team who will make things very difficult for us. We will try and find a way to hurt them, we need to match their intensity and will look to create our own chances."

Atletico captain Koke played in that previous tie with Liverpool and was also asked about Klopp's comments – his conclusion was that Simeone's team will never change.

"Every manager has their own way of playing and their own way of dealing with the press, for example," Koke said.

"We are going to keep on playing our style, which is to try and compete and win and that is never going to change.

"Every team has different mentalities and different ideas about what the best football is. We just try to play the best way to get a victory, it doesn't matter if we have more or less passes."

Liverpool have lost six and won none of their past seven away Champions League matches in Spain since beating Real Madrid in 2008-09 – though they did win the 2018-19 final at the Metropolitano as a neutral ground.

After nearly two weeks off due to the international break, Premier League football was back this past weekend and it was as intriguing as ever.

A new era began at St James' Park, though the outcome of the match was arguably as familiar as ever for Newcastle United fans, while similar could be said of Watford as they began Claudio Ranieri's tenure by being battered by Liverpool.

That game saw Mohamed Salah spectacularly edge closer to Liverpool history, while their next opponents – bitter rivals Manchester United – continued their dreadful run by conceding four to Leicester City.

But Harry Kane got himself back among the goals and Wolves pulled off what of the most unlikely comebacks the Premier League has seen.

Below, Stats Perform delves into some of the quirky Opta facts from the weekend…

Salah on verge of historic achievement

The early frontrunner for individual end-of-season awards in the Premier League is undoubtedly Salah, who has made a scintillating start to 2021-22.

He somehow reached a new level of spectacular on Saturday in the 5-0 dismantling of Watford, his incredible solo goal showcasing the kind of improbable dribbling one would expect to see in an unrealistic football film or naff television advert – only this was real.

But more than the sheer audacity of the goal, it was the eighth goal in a row that Salah has scored in for Liverpool – not only was that a personal best for him, it equalled a club record set by Daniel Sturridge.

If Salah scores in his next appearance, which will presumably be either against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday or United at the weekend, he will become the first Liverpool player to net in nine successive outings.

Newcastle, the Premier League's pressing anomaly

Sunday ended up being something of a reality check for Newcastle. While most fans will have turned up to St James' Park with a sense of optimism for the first time in years, all will have left at full-time with the realisation that – Saudi money or not – this is a team that could conceivably be in the Championship next season.

But one area that they are seemingly proving quite efficient is with regards to their pressing leading to goals.

Now, it's worth saying that Newcastle aren't among the most intense teams when it comes to their off-the-ball setup, as their 47 high turnovers is only more than four clubs in the Premier League.

However, three of those situations have led to a goal, which is more than anyone else in the division and speaks to an impressive level of efficiency.

That probably won't come as much of a consolation if they do get relegated, though.

Kane at home on the road

What with all the furore surrounding Newcastle heading into the weekend, Kane's Premier League woes for this season seemed to take a backseat in the build-up.

Whether that played a role in him finally getting his first Premier League goal of the season is impossible to prove, but his clever finish in Spurs' 3-2 win did highlight just how reliable Kane has been as an away striker over the years.

It was his 88th away goal in the competition, taking him past Alan Shearer and to within six of the record holder, Wayne Rooney. But Kane's haul comes from just 128 away games.

Rooney's 94 was from 243 matches on the road, Shearer needed 219 for his total. For Kane to reach such a figure so soon is a truly astonishing accomplishment.

Wolves' turnaround a comeback for the ages

Is there anything in football that matches the sheer joy of a late comeback? You go from being resigned to defeat, then having a little hope and ultimately becoming overwhelmed with emotion as the turnaround is complete. It's a rollercoaster.

Most fans know what it's like to see something similar, but what Wolves supporters witnessed on Saturday was even more remarkable because due to the speed at which everything unfurled.

They were 2-0 down at local rivals Aston Villa in the 80th minute, but then Romain Saiss, Conor Coady and Ruben Neves scored in the final 10 minutes to earn a 3-2 win.

Only once before has a team comeback from two or more goals down later than the 80th minute in the Premier League (Reading against West Brom in 2013), which puts Wolves' feat into historic context.

Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of time at Old Trafford?

Manchester United are already five points off the pace in the Premier League and pressure is mounting.

United, though, are believed to be firmly in favour of sticking with their manager.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER WANTED AT THE WHEEL

Manchester United are still backing under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

United slumped to a 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City at the weekend, which has left the Red Devils with just two wins from their past seven games across all competitions.

As pressure mounts on Solskjaer, United still reportedly have faith in the Norwegian amid links with the likes of Antonio Conte, Zinedine Zidane and Erik ten Hag.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Serie A champions Inter are ready to battle Arsenal for Madrid forward Luka Jovic. The Serbia international has struggled for form and fitness in the Spanish capital.

PSG want to swap Mauro Icardi for Barcelona's Sergio Aguero, claims El Nacional. The reports says Lionel Messi wants to reunite with countryman Aguero, who left Manchester City for Barca, only for Messi to join PSG.

- Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel, Denis Zakaria of Borussia Monchengladbach and Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch are among Juventus' transfer targets as they look to add options in midfield, per Tuttosport. Tchouameni has also been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United, Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City, while Roma have been eyeing Zakaria.

The race is on to sign Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland, who might be set to make a move in mid-2022.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are all interested in the Norwegian goal machine, but could Newcastle United also be a factor?.

Haaland netted 41 goals from 41 games last term for Dortmund and already has 13 this season.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENTER HAALAND RACE

Newcastle are the latest club to enter the race to sign Borussia Dortmund's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland, reports AS.

The report claims Real Madrid are losing their grip as favourites to sign Haaland, with Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and now Newcastle potentially in contention.

The Magpies' move is said to be "not out of the question" following the club's takeover by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund who appear set to make a splash in the transfer market in January. 

ROUND-UP

- Mohamed Salah's agent has arrived in England for contract talks with Liverpool over a £500k-per-week deal, according to the Mirror.

- ESPN reports that Premier League trio Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are tracking Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, rivalling Real Madrid. United's interest is said to be based around whether Paul Pogba departs.

- Dusan Vlahovic will follow Federico Chiesa's lead and reject a new Fiorentina contract offer in favour of a move to Juventus, ignoring Premier League interest from Tottenham and Liverpool, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Barcelona are interested in Manchester United's Nemanja Matic, claims The Sun. The Serbian has a little over 18 months remaining on his United deal so Barca believe they could sign him next off-season on a cut-price deal.

- Goal Germany reports that Bayern Munich are making a move to sign Salzburg talent Karim Adeyemi, with the player's agent and father reportedly holding talks with the Bavarian club on Saturday.

Manchester United suffered a torrid second-half spell to succumb to defeat against Leicester City in Saturday's headline Premier League clash.

Failure at the King Power Stadium places further questions over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tenure ahead of a daunting schedule but neighbours Manchester City did not experience similar problems as the defending champions cruised to yet another victory over Burnley.

City's fellow title contenders Chelsea made London derby history as they battled past Brentford after Liverpool's fearsome front three had comfortably dispatched Claudio Ranieri's new Watford side.

In the other fixtures, Wolves shocked Aston Villa to overturn a two-goal deficit and Norwich City fought for a goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion, while Southampton registered their first win over a depleted Leeds United.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the fixtures from the day.

Watford 0-5 Liverpool: Mane hits century as Salah continues scoring run

Roberto Firmino became the first Brazilian to score more than one hat-trick in the Premier League as Ranieri fell to defeat by the biggest margin of any manager in their first home game with a new club in the competition.

Firmino's first two goals followed Mane's opener as the Senegal international hit his 100th Premier League goal, without scoring a penalty, with only Les Ferdinand (149) and Emile Heskey (110) previously achieving such a feat.

Mohamed Salah played an exquisite pass for Mane's landmark goal but the Egypt forward also found the net as he danced through Watford's defence to become the joint-top scoring African – level with Didier Drogba (104) – in the history of the competition.

His left-footed curler also made him the first Liverpool player since Daniel Sturridge in 2014 to score in eight consecutive games in all competitions as Jurgen Klopp's side became the first top-flight side to ever score three-plus goals in seven consecutive away games across all competitions.

Leicester City 4-2 Manchester United: Foxes end Red Devils record away run

Mason Greenwood edged United ahead with his fifth strike from outside the box in 21 Premier League goals – only David Beckham and Nani have managed a higher share of goals for the club from in such a fashion of those to score 20 times.

However, just 54 seconds split Marcus Rashford's equaliser for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to make it 2-2 and Jamie Vardy putting the hosts 3-2 to the good.

Patson Daka then became the first Zambian scorer in the Premier League, with 105 different nations now having a goalscorer, as Leicester won three consecutive games in all competitions against the Red Devils for the first time since 1901.

Not only did the Foxes, who have conceded in seven straight top-flight games under Brendan Rodgers, make history they also ended the visitors' record run as 30 games without a loss on the road came to an abrupt end.

Brentford 0-1 Chelsea: Blues make history in the capital against unlucky Brentford

Ben Chilwell's third goal in three games – as many as in his last 33 appearances in the league – inspired Chelsea to a record-breaking seventh consecutive away win in London derbies.

Thomas Tuchel's men have conceded just three goals this term – the fewest they have conceded at this stage since 2010-11 (two) – as the Blues won their 15th game against new top-flight opposition in 16 attempts.

Meanwhile, Brentford – who were stifled by Edouard Mendy's 20th clean sheet in 38 games – remain winless in seven matches against Chelsea, losing each of their last three by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0.

Manchester City 2-0 Burnley: Guardiola's men maintain dominance over the Clarets 

City cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory at Etihad Stadium, meaning they now boast a 32-1 aggregate scoreline over Burnley in their last nine games across all competitions.

Pep Guardiola's side have now kept clean sheets in six of their eight league games this term – more than any other side – as Kevin de Bruyne netted for consecutive top-flight games for the first time since July 2020.

The Clarets, who are on the longest winless run in England's top four tiers (11), are Bernardo Silva's favourite opponent, the Portugal international directly involved in seven goals in eight games.

Jurgen Klopp has insisted Mohamed Salah is the best player in the world right now following another outstanding performance from the Egyptian in Liverpool's 5-0 win over Watford.

Salah moved level with Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African player in Premier League history with a superb solo goal, whilst also producing a fabulous pass for Sadio Mane to net the opener.

The incisive showing is a continuation of Salah's blistering form so far this season, with the winger managing 10 goals and four assists from just 10 appearances across all competitions, including another stunning goal and assist in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City before the international break.

Reds boss Klopp feels the evidence is overwhelming in support of his argument that Salah stands on his own right at the top of the game right now.

"[Salah's] performance was massive today," Klopp told BT Sport. "It was absolutely outstanding. The first goal, super pass, but then his goal was absolutely exceptional.

"He was in the mood to try it in the box. He tried it a couple of times, no problem, strikers can do that. He did it. He scored the goal. Long may it continue. We obviously need the boys in this kind of shape to achieve what we are dreaming of.

"[He ranks] top. We all see it. Who is better at the moment than him? We don't have to talk about what Messi and Ronaldo have done for world football and how long they were really dominant.

"But in the moment, I think it's clear there's nobody better than him. It's not only since yesterday, he has been in this shape for a while, but he's young enough to keep this shape a while longer." 

Salah, who leads Liverpool in all competitions for both goals and assists, was keen to stress the importance of the collective, rather than focusing on his own achievements.

"I think we didn't want to start like the City game so we talked in the dressing room about starting the game well and that's what we did," Salah said. 

"All the goals were very important. Bobby [Firmino] did a great job scoring a hat-trick so congratulations to him and Sadio also scored a nice goal.

"Every time I'm in the box I'm trying to give the ball to someone to score or score by myself, so it's always about the team and playing for the team. The most important thing is we scored good goals, and all of us up front scored, so hopefully, we can carry on like that.

"I don't know [if I'm in the best form of my career]. Sometimes I don't have the luck to score goals but every time I am always trying 100 per cent to help the team. I am confident at the moment, I feel like I'm scoring goals and helping the team win points which is the most important thing." 

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