Phil Foden is going to be "up there with the best in the world", according to former Manchester City striker Paul Dickov.

Foden has endured a stuttering start to the new term – playing just 195 Premier League minutes – due to a foot injury but impressed as he scored against Liverpool in Sunday's 2-2 draw.

Having scored in the previous two games against Jurgen Klopp's side, Foden's equaliser made him the youngest player (21 years and 128 days) to score in three consecutive top-flight appearances against Liverpool since Romelu Lukaku in November 2013 (20y 194d).

And Dickov, who was speaking exclusively to Stats Perform, used Foden's performance at Anfield as an example of why he could become the best in the world.

"People keep talking about [Foden] being the next big thing and one for the future," Dickov said.

"He is one for now he is already putting himself in the bracket of one of the best players in England, in Europe and is only going to get better.

"He is like a school kid in the playground that just wants to play football all the time. In that little bit, with his ability, with the talent that he's got with, a huge heart and his attitude.

"He is going to be up there with the very, very best in the world because he's, he's got absolutely everything, and he showed that yesterday [on Sunday against Liverpool]."

Foden, who was named as the PFA's Young Player of the Year last term, ranks third among City midfielders for chances created per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term (2.31).

He also sits second among the club's midfield ranks for Opta-defined 'big chances', creating 0.46 per 90 minutes, with only Kevin de Bruyne (0.87) bettering that total.

Indeed, the 21-year-old started ahead of Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez at Anfield but Dickov thinks Foden can continue to learn from Pep Guardiola's wealth of midfield talent.

"He can score goals and, the scary thing is, he's only going to get better than that the more games that he plays," Dickov continued.

"Being surrounded by players like Kevin De Bruyne and the fantastic players that Manchester City have got, that’s going to take his game to the next level.

"Phil wants to be there and he really wants to be the best in training, he wants to be the best player all the time.

"When you’re in an environment like Manchester City have got, where people are striving to win things all the time, it's only going to make him better and better.

"When you think how good he is now I think in three or four years it's going to be really scary about how good he can be. I just think he's got everything you want and that to be a top-class footballer."

Manchester City are the favourites to win the Premier League this year, according to former striker Paul Dickov.

Pep Guardiola's defending champions started off the new term with a 1-0 loss away at Tottenham but have embarked on a six-game unbeaten run to leave them third — two points behind leaders Chelsea.

City beat Thomas Tuchel's side 1-0 at Stamford Bridge last Saturday before battling for a well-deserved point against fellow title contenders Liverpool in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Anfield.

The latter result saw Liverpool extend their unbeaten run to 17 games but Dickov sees his former club's recent run of form as proof that they are the team to beat.

"Yeah, I think they have to be," Dickov responded to Stats Perform when asked if City were favourites to win the league.

"I think if you look at the week that they've just had you know there's probably three of the toughest away games in one week that is against three of the best teams in Europe — Chelsea, PSG and then Liverpool.

"The record has not always been great for Manchester City so for me, I look at the strength and depth in the Manchester City squad and that just edges it for me for them to be the favourites."

City conceded more goals against Jurgen Klopp's side (two) than in their previous seven top-flight games combined beforehand, but the draw means Liverpool have only managed to beat City on one of the last seven occasions in the Premier League.

Guardiola's team may have, perhaps understandably, felt hard done by to leave Anfield without all three points, but Dickov sees City's squad as the reason they will retain their title this campaign.

"I think the quality they've got in the squad, for me over the course of a very long, hard season in England, that's the thing that stands out for me," he continued.

"We look at the team [on Sunday] and they had Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez sitting on the bench.

"[There is] Ferran Torres or Ilkay Gudogan, who was possibly Manchester City's best player last season, coming back from injury.  [They have] Fernandinho, John Stones, I could just go on and on.

"That squad, that for me is the thing that's going to make the big difference over the course of the season because I don't feel the other teams are quite like that."

Premier League football takes a back seat again for the best part of a fortnight now as the international break arrives, but the past weekend gave us plenty to chew on in the interim.

Liverpool and Manchester City played out a belter of a match at Anfield on Sunday, as Mohamed Salah shone yet again on English football's biggest stage.

That contest provided further evidence of the gap between those two and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United, though Bruno Fernandes' latest achievement suggests the Norwegian should be doing better given the talent at his disposal.

Below, Stats Perform looks at some of the quirky Opta facts from the weekend…

Salah a double threat

Sunday's 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield was utterly engrossing, and Mohamed Salah played a key role in that.

Not only did he set up Sadio Mane's opener with a brilliant run and pass, he then got Liverpool's second at the end of an incredible run that saw him evade most of the City defence.

That was the 20th time he has both scored and assisted during a single Premier League game, which is six more than anyone else in the top-flight since his Reds debut on 2017-18 — Son Heung-min is next with 14.

There is also no Liverpool player particularly close to him in that regard in the club's entire Premier League history, with Steven Gerrard second to Salah with 16 instances of getting a goal and assist in the same game.

Fernandes setting the pace

Manchester United may be erratic, but Bruno Fernandes certainly isn't when it comes to decisive moments in the Premier League.

He set up Anthony Martial with a lovely turn and throughball for the first goal in United's 1-1 draw with Everton on Saturday, that assist taking him to 50 goal involvements in 58 Premier League matches — only Andy Cole (43), Alan Shearer and Eric Cantona (both 54) reached that mark in fewer games.

But putting his achievement into modern-day context, Fernandes (30 goals, 20 assists) sits top of the pile for most involvements since his debut, his 50 being four more than Salah (34 goals, 12 assists).

The only other player on more than 40 in that time is Harry Kane (44 involvements, 30 goals, 14 assists).

The Premier League's deadliest attack… Sort of

So, you think you know which team is the most clinical in the Premier League this season? Well, you're wrong.

It's not Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City. It's certainly not Tottenham or Arsenal… It's Brentford. In a way.

When it comes to the amount of goals scored from their shots on target, the Premier League new boys have been the most clinical, netting 10 (or 45.5 per cent) of their 22 accurate attempts following the 2-1 win at West Ham.

Liverpool are the league's leading scorers with 17, but those goals have come from 53 shots on target, meaning only 32.1 per cent of their accurate efforts are beating the goalkeeper.

Norwich City prop up the table (11.8 per cent), with Spurs (18.8 per cent) and Arsenal (19.2 per cent) also in the bottom three.

Vardy almost the 'golden oldie'

Jamie Vardy's story is a familiar one these days. His journey to the top wasn't straightforward, but since getting there he's been absolutely devastating.

Of course, his 24-goal haul was essential in Leicester City's incredible title triumph of 2015-16, but he's continued at a great level, only recording under 15 Premier League goals in a single season once since.

He already looks well on track to better his tally of 15 from 2020-21 this season, with the former England man on six in seven league games, and now he's closing in on a record.

Vardy's goal against Crystal Palace at the weekend was his 90th in the top-flight since turning 30 in January 2017, with Arsenal great Ian Wright (93) the only player in the competition's history to score more after his 30th birthday.

What does the future hold for Erling Haaland?

The Borussia Dortmund forward is wanted across Europe.

However, Haaland could remain in Germany…

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND SET FOR DORTMUND STAY?

Erling Haaland is a player in demand but he is not certain to leave Borussia Dortmund, according to Sport Bild.

Haaland has been tipped to depart Dortmund at the end of the season amid links with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

But Norwegian pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft suggests Haaland could remain at the Bundesliga outfit for longer than many expect.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky Sports Italian claims Fiorentina chairman Rocco Commisso is concerned whether star forward Dusan Vlahovic intends to sign a new contract with Viola. Contracted until 2023, the Serbia international has been in talks regarding a new deal as the likes of City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Inter reportedly circle.

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

- Tuttomercatoweb reports Atletico have joined the race to sign Chelsea's Timo Werner, who has found himself behind Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge. Bayern and Dortmund are also reportedly eyeing Werner.

Madrid have been offered the chance to sign RB Leipzig Christopher Nkunku in 2022, says Mundo Deportivo.

Mohamed Salah maintained his magnificent form by scoring a stunning goal and setting up another in Liverpool's thrilling 2-2 Premier League draw with Manchester City.

City twice came from behind to secure a point as all four goals were scored in a pulsating second half at Anfield on Sunday, Sadio Mane and Salah on target for the Reds, with Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne finding the back of the net for the champions.

Brentford continued their great start to life in the Premier League with a 2-1 London derby win at West Ham, while Tottenham stopped the rot with a win over Aston Villa.

Crystal Palace fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Leicester City in another entertaining game in the capital.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at the key statistics from Sunday's games.

 

Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City: No stopping sensational Salah

Salah has now scored in seven consecutive matches in a row in all competitions, matching his best scoring run for the Reds that he also achieved in April 2018.

The Egypt forward has either scored (9) or assisted (3) in eight of his nine games in all competitions for the unbeaten Liverpool this season, having a direct hand in more goals so far in 2021-22 than any other Premier League player (12).

Foden (21 years and 128 days) is the youngest player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances against Liverpool since Romelu Lukaku in November 2013 (20y 194d).

City conceded more goals on Merseyside than in their previous seven top-flight games combined beforehand (1).

Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa: Spurs end losing streak

Spurs had been smarting from three consecutive defeats in the Premier League, but they edged out Villa.

Tottenham have won 11 of their past 13 top-flight games against Villa, scoring at least two goals in each of those victories.

Harry Kane was unable to find the back of the net, though, and the England captain has not scored in any of his past six Premier League matches - his longest scoreless streak in the competition since failing to net in his first six games of the 2015-16 campaign.

Villa suffered their 72nd away Premier League defeat in London; only Newcastle (81), Everton (79) and Southampton (74) have lost more in the capital.

West Ham 1-2 Brentford: Bees provide a sting in the tail

Brentford are sitting pretty in seventh spot in their first Premier League campaign after Yoane Wissa stunned the Hammers with a last-gasp winner.

West Ham have lost four of their past seven home Premier League matches, as many as they lost in their previous 20 at London Stadium (W11 D5 L4).

Brentford's Bryan Mbeumo has scored five goals in his past seven away league matches (excluding play-offs) – he had only scored six in his first 40 on the road for the Bees.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Leicester City: Battling Palace thwart Foxes

Palace are unbeaten in the Premier League at Selhurst Park since Patrick Vieira took charge (P4 W1 D3). The Frenchman is the first Eagles manager to avoid defeat in his first four home games in the competition.

Leicester failed to win a Premier League game in which they were ahead at half-time by two or more goals for the first time since October 2003 (4-3 defeat v Wolves).

Foxes striker Jamie Vardy has scored 90 goals in the Premier League since turning 30, just three fewer than Ian Wright (93) as the player with the most goals in the competition after his 30th birthday.

Pep Guardiola made clear James Milner should have been sent off during Manchester City's 2-2 draw with Liverpool, adding how his side may not have been so lucky in the same situation.

Having already received a booking in the first half, Milner escaped a second yellow card when he appeared to foul Bernardo Silva.

The incident occurred in the second half with the score at 1-1 and, not long after the reprieve, Liverpool's right-back, filling in for the absent Trent Alexander-Arnold, was involved in his side's second goal, scored by Mohamed Salah.

While Kevin De Bruyne scored an equaliser to make sure the Premier League champions claimed a point, Guardiola was in no doubt referee Paul Tierney had erred in not dismissing Milner.

"It's a yellow card," the City boss, who argued his case to fourth official Mike Dean during a game in which he also received a yellow card, told Sky Sports.

"But it's Anfield, like it's Old Trafford. In this situation, for City and it's our player he is sent off, 100 per cent.

"It's too clear. There are interpretations some time, but it was a second yellow card."

Milner had also been involved in a major incident in the first half too, appearing to clip Phil Foden as he moved into the penalty area. No foul was given then either, while the former City player was eventually replaced by Joe Gomez in the 78th minute.

City were on top in the first 45 minutes and while unable to maintain their dominance, Guardiola was delighted with how his team played, particularly coming after tough games against Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.

"I know how difficult it is, against these players, this manager. I'm a big fan of Jurgen, every time it's a big challenge for us," Guardiola said.

"But the way we played, especially at Stamford Bridge, the way we played in Paris and then today again, in these three games we show we are a great team.

"We lose the way we played in Paris, then today, okay we didn't lose, but we draw — it is good.

"It's impossible that players like Salah, Mane, Firmino and Jota don't take chances. It's impossible. The first half they didn't have one chance, for the second half we spoke about how it was going to be different.

"But how we reacted in every circumstance, when suffering, was brilliant."

Jurgen Klopp acknowledged it was a tale of two contrasting halves for Liverpool after they fought out a pulsating 2-2 draw with Manchester City at Anfield.

City, the reigning Premier League champions, were the dominant team before the break, Phil Foden twice denied by Alisson while Kevin De Bruyne wastefully headed over.

Pep Guardiola's side had a strong claim for a penalty when Foden was clipped by James Milner, but some half-time words from their manager helped Liverpool finally come alive after the interval.

The home team twice went ahead, Sadio Mane opening the scoring before Mohamed Salah's wonderful solo strike made it 2-1, but Klopp felt a point was "completely fine" after City pegged them back on each occasion.

"Thank god a football game has two halves. We are really happy about the second and not so happy about the first, for obvious reasons," Klopp told Sky Sports.

"We did a lot of things wrong in the first half and City did a lot of things right, that result we could see. We never got really into the game, never played enough football. 

"I was really happy, perhaps I was the most happy in my career about the half-time whistle. It was never planned that we played like this.

"We needed half-time and we used half-time, then played a really good second half."

He added: "Man City with the ball is a proper team. There are ways to defend it – you have to close down the spaces, and to do that you have to step out in specific moments.

"I'm not sure I've seen many games where City can pass so easily through the half spaces. They had chances, but they didn't score from that.

"We had long balls, which didn't make sense. All these things we changed in the second half immediately. You could see how we set up – we were higher, more aggressive.

"The message was to play the extra pass, which we didn't do that in the first half at all. I'm really happy. Do we want to win a game like this? Yes. But we have to admit today, because the game has two halves, the point is completely fine."

Foden cancelled out Mane's goal and while Salah put Liverpool back ahead, ending a glorious run with a right-footed strike from a tight angle, Kevin De Bruyne levelled matters again, his attempt getting beyond Alisson after taking a deflection off Joel Matip.

Liverpool appeared set to go back ahead once again when Fabinho was presented with an empty net, only for Rodri to make a crucial block with goalkeeper Ederson out of position.

"I think the biggest chance we didn't take. I have to see it back, but I've no idea how he blocked the ball. For me the ball was in," Klopp continued.

"For our first goal, top passing, top movement. Goal number two, individual quality which you only see when you're really lucky.

"If Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo scores that goal, the whole world says, yes, because they are world-class. Mo Salah scores that goal, it's because he's world-class.

"He's one of the best players in the world, that's how it is."

In the past four seasons, only Manchester City and Liverpool have won the Premier League title. In the past four seasons, only City and Liverpool have even come close.

For all the talk of a 'big four', including European champions Chelsea and Cristiano Ronaldo's Manchester United, leaving Arsenal and Tottenham behind, these are the two teams to beat. When they meet, it tends to be special. Sunday's 2-2 draw was no different.

James Milner may not wish to watch the game back, though. For the same reasons, Pep Guardiola is unlikely to reflect fondly on a point that leaves City third, a point behind Liverpool and two shy of Chelsea.

The champions trailed twice but will feel they should have ended an 84-year wait for consecutive league victories against Liverpool, having won at Anfield last season for the first time in 18 attempts.

It was little wonder City players were bent double even before the full-time whistle was blown, this game coming at the end of a brutal week that took in trips to Stamford Bridge and Paris Saint-Germain's Parc des Princes before another Anfield epic. On top for much of all three matches, Guardiola's men might have taken nine points from nine across the Premier League and Champions League but instead had to settle for four.

Without a striker signing, the lack of a ruthless touch in the final third was in evidence again on Merseyside, in stark contrast to Liverpool and Mohamed Salah, as the Reds — and Milner, in particular — were somehow allowed to escape a punishing first half unscathed.

A pair of Alisson errors in last season's meeting had teed up City's 4-1 win, but the goalkeeper played a key role in keeping his side in the game this time.

City had briefly hinted at an alternative approach to last week's relentless pressing of Chelsea — which included a season-high 17 pressed sequences — this time allowing 46.5 per cent of the action to play out in their own third in the first five minutes as Liverpool initially took control.

But the visitors, with one notable exception, soon found their feet and exposed Liverpool's obvious flaw: Milner.

Phil Foden had started through the centre at Chelsea but moved to the left, trading with Jack Grealish, and thoroughly enjoyed himself up against makeshift right-back Milner, whose woeful start was only matched by fellow stalwart Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool captain completed only 50 per cent of his first-half passes and gave up possession with 46.7 per cent of his touches.

Henderson epitomised Liverpool's first 45 minutes, but Milner was the real victim of his inability to keep the ball.

When Bernardo Silva pounced on a slack touch in the middle of the pitch, beat Henderson twice, did the same to Andy Robertson and then squeezed between Fabinho and Virgil van Dijk, leaving the latter in a tangle, he spotted Foden racing in behind Milner. Out came Alisson for a vital save.

Again and again, Foden ran at Milner. An apparent foul on the border of the box went unpunished, then the England man swung over a deep cross to find a team-mate unmarked in front of goal. Unfortunately for City, it was Kevin De Bruyne, the one man uncharacteristically matching Henderson's mishaps stride for stride. De Bruyne stooped and headed over, one of four attempts before the break, none of which hit the target.

Next, Foden was successful in drawing a foul from Milner and a yellow card. The veteran midfielder did not learn and was caught out by an outrageous Ederson pass that required Alisson to advance again, reading Foden's intentions as he attempted to round the goalkeeper.

Jurgen Klopp rushed down the tunnel at half-time but did not rush to make changes. Out came the same team again, Milner up against Foden again.

Crucially, however, Liverpool were able to keep the ball away from the versatile forward for a time and instead focused their attention on moving in the opposite direction down the same flank. Joao Cancelo may be a more natural full-back, but he also looked uncomfortable against Salah.

So it proved just before the hour, when Salah skipped past his opponent and suddenly had City on the back foot for the first time. They had faced only two shots to that point, but Salah's pass found Sadio Mane with space beyond Ruben Dias and able to steer in a scarcely deserved opener.

That should have given Liverpool the belief to go after Guardiola's men again, and City certainly wobbled for a time, but the introduction of Raheem Sterling for Grealish — at odds with Klopp's unerring faith in his first XI — gave the Reds something new to think about and distracted from Foden, who subsequently found space again and rifled in a superb leveller with Milner unable to recover.

Milner did not last much longer, but he should have been sent off before he was subbed off. It was at this point that Guardiola's frustration boiled over. With his side in the ascendancy, Silva's dancing feet beat Milner and he was brought down. The former City man inexplicably evaded a second card and, with Guardiola fuming on the touchline, gesturing towards fourth official Mike Dean, slumping in his chair and then hopping up to remove his jacket, Klopp quickly made plans to replace his ailing man.

Inevitably, Joe Gomez was still waiting to come on when Milner won a throw-in deep in City territory and Liverpool built another attack. Curtis Jones fed Salah, who turned away from Cancelo, left Silva on his backside and danced past Aymeric Laporte to lash in from a tight angle. The predictable response from those of a City persuasion prompted bookings for both Guardiola and Silva.

Yet Foden had stolen the show in this fixture last term and was not about to be undone. Unperturbed by Gomez's presence in place of Milner, he created space for a cutback that rolled away from Kyle Walker but not De Bruyne, this time a little more accurate but still benefiting from a deflection en route to the net.

There was still time for a remarkable Rodri block as Salah's cross gave Fabinho an open goal, but the apparent promise of another twist faded as legs became heavy. The international break would do these players the world of good if not for their national team commitments.

Sloppy in the first half, sublime in the second, Liverpool and City showed both why they are the best around and how they can be beaten. Whether anyone else in the league can stay with them long enough to get a good look at those weaknesses is another matter.

While Liverpool floundered last year and City the season before, this rivalry remains on a knife-edge. The return fixture could yet prove pivotal.

Manchester City twice rallied to secure a 2-2 draw against Liverpool after a pulsating encounter between the previous two Premier League champions at Anfield.

Kevin De Bruyne's left-footed shot pegged back the Reds for a second time after a sensational solo Mohamed Salah effort had put Liverpool ahead again, the Egyptian holding off Joao Cancelo before moving beyond Bernardo Silva and Aymeric Laporte to rifle in a right-footed drive from a tight angle.

Uncharacteristically passive in the first 45 minutes despite playing towards the Kop, Liverpool went ahead when Sadio Mane slotted home Salah's throughball, only for Phil Foden to respond for City.

Fabinho appeared set to put the Reds ahead once again only for a brilliant Rodri block to prevent him from slotting into an unguarded net, meaning a point apiece for both teams.

All the drama after the break was in stark contrast to a first half that saw City dominant. Foden was twice denied by Alisson and also felt he should have been awarded a penalty when clipped by James Milner, who was then fortunate to avoid a second yellow card for a foul after the break.

The closest Liverpool went to scoring in the first 45 minutes came when a Ruben Dias back pass nearly caught out Ederson, but Jurgen Klopp's half-time words worked a treat as the hosts came alive after the interval.

Diogo Jota finally tested Ederson before Salah's run and throughball allowed Mane to slot home his 99th Premier League goal.

Foden’s response was emphatic, his left-footed strike flashing beyond Alisson, yet Salah appeared to have landed a knockout blow in the heavyweight battle with a glorious run and finish.

City, however, climbed off the canvas to make sure they avoided a knockout defeat, the scorecard finishing level thanks to De Bruyne, whose first-time attempt from the centre of the penalty area clipped Joel Matip on the way in.

Jordan Henderson believes it is Manchester City who set the standards in the Premier League and Liverpool will have to keep up with Pep Guardiola's men if they are to stand of chance of winning back the title.

Liverpool welcome City to Anfield on Sunday in what Henderson feels is undoubtedly the biggest match of the season so far for Jurgen Klopp's men.

The Reds can return to the summit with a win after Chelsea knocked them off top spot by beating Southampton 3-1 on Saturday.

Historically Liverpool boast a good record against City, having not lost consecutive home games against them since 1937 and losing just one of their past 18 meetings at Anfield.

But that solitary defeat came via a 4-1 thrashing in February as City cruised to the title, and although Liverpool are on the longest unbeaten run (16) in the top four tiers of English football, City's quality is not lost on Henderson

Writing in his programme notes, Henderson said: "There's no doubt that this game is our biggest of the season so far. The Premier League table tells us this, recent history and the aims of the two clubs tells us this.

"As an opponent, Manchester City are as strong as they come and we welcome them to Anfield in the knowledge that having got a great result at Chelsea last weekend they will be looking for another one today.

"City's record under Pep Guardiola speaks for itself. From a Liverpool perspective, they set the standards that we had to live up to before we could become champions and any team which wants to win the league this season will know that their chances of doing so will be maximised if they finish above City.

"They are the reigning champions and someone will have to take their crown because City won't be handing it over."

Henderson then turned his attention to talk of "respect", which could possibly be seen as a veiled message to supporters after Guardiola pleaded for Liverpool fans to not attack the City bus, eager to avoid a situation similar to that prior to their Champions League clash in 2018.

"There is a lot of talk about the rivalry between our two clubs, but for the most part this is built on respect and competition," he added. "You can't slug it out as we have in recent seasons and not have a rivalry, that wouldn't make sense.

"But by the same token, if you go toe-to-toe with a team like City it would be ridiculous if you didn't recognise their quality and respect them for it.

"Yes, there will be headlines, stories and flashpoints because all of this is part and parcel of elite sport in which one team is vying with another, but I can guarantee that when the game kicks off the overriding factor will be respect.

"It is only by having this kind of approach that you give yourself the best possible chance of being successful on the day. If you don't know how good the opposition are and respect that, how can you possibly beat them?"

The Liverpool captain also spoke of his bemusement at some of the criticism directed at City earlier in the season, and he felt there were similarities with the reaction to the Reds' shock 3-3 draw with Brentford last weekend.

"The mad thing is it's only a couple of games ago that reactionary questions were being asked of City after a home draw against Southampton," Henderson continued. "Honestly, that baffles me. This Man City are without question one of the most consistently successful teams of the modern era.

"But it is the world we live in now I suppose. A result and performance in isolation is analysed to death, ignoring wider context.

"The flip-side to that sort of reaction is it speaks volumes about the standards being set. It was similar for us last weekend when we drew at Brentford. Was it the perfect result? No. Did we want a better one? Of course.

"But the reality is that every team will play games throughout the season when points will be dropped against opponents whom you're supposedly favourites to beat, because that is just what the Premier League is like.

"There were positives, but these were undermined by individual and collective shortcomings at key moments and this cost us two points. This is why it was so important that we responded in the manner that we did against Porto in midweek. It is one thing to have an off-day, it is another thing to allow it to turn into two or three."

Could Darwin Nunez be the next Benfica star to make a big move?

Portuguese sensation Joao Felix swapped Benfica for Atletico Madrid in a club-record deal in 2019.

Now, Uruguay international Nunez is attracting interest from across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – CITY FRONT OF QUEUE FOR NUNEZ

Manchester City are leading the race to sign Darwin Nunez from Portuguese giants Benfica, according to the Daily Star.

Premier League champions City are desperate to sign a forward amid links with Tottenham's Harry Kane, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Fiorentina forward Dusan Vlahovic.

Nunez has also reportedly attracted interest from BarcelonaLiverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

– United forward Edinson Cavani could join Real Madrid in January, claims Mundo Deportivo. It comes as Cavani finds himself battling Cristiano Ronaldo for regular game time at Old Trafford, where the club's hierarchy are concerned amid their form under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

- The Daily Star reports Arsenal are weighing up a move for out-of-favour City forward Raheem SterlingBarca are also believed to be interested in Sterling, according to The Sun, as they face the prospect of missing out on Leipzig's Dani Olmo. The Spain international has been linked with United, Juventus and Bayern.

Liverpool are eyeing Pogon Szczecin midfielder Kacper Kozlowski, says the Mirror. The 17-year-old has been linked with Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, RB Leipzig and Salzburg.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp likened players and people refusing the coronavirus vaccine to drink-drivers amid a reluctance to receive the COVID-19 jab.

Klopp discussed the COVID-19 vaccination ahead of Liverpool's blockbuster showdown with Premier League champions Manchester City at Anfield on Sunday.

While Klopp said "99 per cent" of his squad are fully vaccinated, many Premier League clubs are reportedly yet to reach half of their players receiving both jabs.

"I didn't have to convince the players, it was more a natural decision from the team," Klopp told reporters. "I cannot remember really talking to a player in a one-on-one situation and explaining to him."

"It sounds like we are not allowed to give people advice," Klopp added. "Where did I get the knowledge from that I think it makes sense to get the vaccine? I called doctors that I've known for years and I asked them: 'What should I do?'

"That's how I usually work: when you don't know, you call a specialist and the specialist tells you. That's why I took the vaccination because I am in an age group [54] where it is not that easy anymore, the virus could be tricky, and I was really happy when I could get it. The specialists out there say the vaccination is the solution at the moment.

"If I say I am vaccinated, other people say: 'How can you tell me I should be vaccinated?' It is a little bit like drink-driving. We all probably were in a situation where we had a beer or two and thought we still could drive but, [because of] the law, we are not allowed to drive so we don't drive. But this law is not there for protecting me when I drink two beers and want to drive, it's for protecting all the other people because I'm drunk and we accept that as a law.

"I don't take the vaccination only to protect me, I take the vaccination to protect all the people around me. I don't understand why that is a limitation of freedom because, if it is, then not being allowed to drink and drive is a limitation of freedom as well.

"I got the vaccination because I was concerned about myself but even more so about everybody around me. If I get [Covid] and I suffer from it: my fault. If I get it and spread it to someone else: my fault and not their fault."

Liverpool – the only side still unbeaten in the Premier League this season – can return to the top of the table with victory at home to Pep Guardiola's City on Merseyside.

The Reds have not lost consecutive league games against City since a run of four between 1935 and 1937, going down 4-1 the last time the sides met in February.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 16 league games (W12 D4) – the longest current run without defeat in the top-four tiers of English football. However, Klopp's men conceded more goals in their 3-3 draw at Brentford last time out than they had in their previous eight league games combined (two).

Guardiola has lost more games against Klopp in all competitions than he has against any opposing manager in his career (eight). Meanwhile, of sides he has faced at least 10 times in all competitions, the Spaniard's lowest win rate is against Liverpool (30.8 per cent - W4 D4 L5).

"All these kind of feelings have to be there - excitement, nervousness, pressure, emotions," Guardiola said. "If you don't have those feelings in important games, like the previous ones or for the biggest ones, this business is not for you.

"Maybe you don't sleep better the day before, or sleep good when it's over or not if the performance is not good, but this is how you live this life.

"I still have it before the games. If you don't feel that you are not for the business. You have to feel it."

Paul Pogba has been the subject of constant speculation over the past 12 months.

Manchester United's French midfielder is into the final year of his contract.

Pogba has been in excellent early season form, with seven assists in the league already.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MOVE LOOMS FOR POGBA

Real Madrid are Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba's most likely destination at the end of this season, claims El Nacional.

The France international is out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of this season and could leave on a free transfer.

Pogba's agent Mino Raiola is trying to persuade Pogba to join Madrid, despite interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool target Karim Adeyemi is being chased by German pair Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, reports Sport Bild. RB Leipzig are also monitoring the 19-year-old Salzburg striker.

Marco Asensio appears destined to leave Madrid given his current role, with Sevilla hoping to sign the midfielder, according to El Gol Digital.

– Fichajes reports that Milan are plotting a January move for out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek.

– The Sun claims that Tottenham have revived their interest in West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone as they seek a successor to Hugo Lloris.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho wants to reunite with Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele by signing him, reports Calciomercato.

– Marca claims that Manchester City are considering tabling an offer to sign Villareal forward Pau Torres .

With another international break almost upon us, fantasy football players will be able to rest easy for a couple of weeks at the start of October.

But first, there are plenty of important points to be had.

With Liverpool hosting Manchester City, Chelsea eager to get back to winning ways and Arsenal preparing for a tricky test at Brighton and Hove Albion, there is plenty of value to be had with some wise selections.

Allow Stats Perform to lend a guiding hand, with the help of Opta data...

 

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea v Southampton)

Back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Juventus have somewhat derailed Chelsea's good start to the season, and Thomas Tuchel will expect a response against Southampton.

Saints have failed to score in their past three league matches and, in Edouard Mendy, they will be facing the goalkeeper with the best save percentage in the division this season (90 per cent), out of those to have played more than once in the competition.

Mendy is conceding just once every 225 minutes on average, a stat likely to worry winless Southampton but bring encouragement to fantasy football players.

 

ANDY ROBERTSON (Liverpool v Manchester City)

Since the start of last season, Andy Robertson has provided eight Premier League assists. The only defender with more is, you guessed it, Liverpool team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold (nine).

The England right-back is also the only defender since last September with more passes into the box and chances created than Robertson, who has managed 329 and 52 respectively.

With Alexander-Arnold ruled out by Jurgen Klopp due to injury, Robertson could play an even more pivotal role for the Reds against the reigning champions.

 

JOAO CANCELO (Liverpool v Manchester City)

If you are looking for value in both boxes, Joao Cancelo may well be your best bet.

No Premier League defender has had more touches in the opposition box (16), while only Cancelo and team-mate Ruben Dias can boast five clean sheets in the competition in the 2021-22 season so far.

With 10 shots and one assist to his name, Cancelo will be another full-back to watch with interest at Anfield.

WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace v Leicester City)

Leicester could be vulnerable after a Thursday Europa League trip to Poland, especially with Palace having gone three home games without defeat while conceding just once.

The Foxes also happen to be among Wilfried Zaha's favourite opponents. The Ivory Coast international has six goals and two assists against them in 12 games, more than he has against any other side.

It is perhaps also worth mentioning that, as a player, Palace boss Patrick Vieira played 11 times against Leicester and never lost.

 

ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN (Wolves v Newcastle United)

Aside from being one of the most fun players in the top flight, Allan Saint-Maximin is also Newcastle's greatest goal threat.

With two scored and three assisted, he has been directly involved in 71 per cent of all the Magpies' league goals this season and has had a hand in at least one in each of his past four appearances.

Newcastle have only won one of their most recent nine league encounters with Wolves, who themselves have not beaten their next opponents at home since April 1993. Perhaps Saint-Maximin is the man to tip the balance.

 

NEAL MAUPAY (Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal)

Speaking of key players, Brighton owe half of their eight league goals this season to Neal Maupay, who is looking to score in three consecutive top-flight matches for the first time in a year.

Arsenal are one of his preferred opponents, too: he has scored the winner in two out of three league meetings with the Gunners.

Mikel Arteta's side should be feeling positive after their derby win, but the Seagulls have won three of their past four home matches in the league, as many as they had managed in their previous 22.

 

ROMELU LUKAKU (Chelsea v Southampton)

After drawing a blank in his previous four outings in all competitions, Romelu Lukaku will be keen to get back among the goals.

Chelsea's record signing will be glad of his next opponents, then: he has nine goals in 12 previous Premier League games against Southampton and has never scored more against a single side in the division.

The Blues have scored six first-half goals in 2021-22 – only Liverpool can match that tally – so an early Lukaku strike may well be on the cards.

Pep Guardiola is "happier than ever" with the way Manchester City are playing and says Liverpool are just one of "many" Premier League title contenders ahead of Sunday's clash at Anfield.

City were beaten 2-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday following an impressive 1-0 win at Chelsea last weekend.

The champions could go top of the table if they beat leaders Liverpool on Merseyside, where they won 4-1 last season to end a run of 17 away games without a league win over the Reds.

Guardiola feels his side, who trail the Reds by only a point after six games, are in great shape despite their setback in the French capital.

Asked about the importance of keeping pace with the leaders, the City boss said: "I never thought about this.

"Ten games is so important to not be far away from the leader. The year we won the second league [title] in a row back-to-back [in 2018-19), we were seven points behind Liverpool in January and we won the league.

"I'm not going to make a step back the way we're thinking, just improve is what we have to do. We can be better in some departments. In general, [with] the team I am more happy than ever the way we behave and play.

"We played in Chelsea as a great team, a real team. This is what I like. We are trying, this is my job."

He added: "I start to see the table after 10-15 fixtures. Now to be one point ahead or down is not important. it's the way we play."

The top six teams in the Premier League are separated by just a point and Guardiola believes City have plenty of competition in their battle to retain the title.

Asked if Liverpool are contenders along with Chelsea, the Spaniard said: "And United, no? Liverpool since I arrived here, the first year maybe not, after the year we won 100 points Liverpool always was there.

"Last season they had many problems in the same position. Otherwise it would have been different, and we were excellent again.

"The last four years all the time we were both there. It's the biggest compliment both clubs were there. In the Premier League there are not just one, two, there are many teams who can fight for the league."

Ilkay Gundogan and Oleksandr Zinchenko will miss the trip to Anfield, but Guardiola says the duo return from injury after the international break.

City will be looking to secure back-to-back league victories at Liverpool for the first time since January 1953 against a Reds side that are unbeaten in 16 top-flight matches.

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