Tottenham's Europa Conference League clash with Rennes on Thursday has been called off because of a coronavirus outbreak at the Premier League club.

Antonio Conte confirmed on Wednesday that eight players and five members of staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result of the spiralling number of cases, Tottenham have shut their first-team training centre.

UEFA rules state that teams must fulfil a fixture in the competition if they have 13 players, plus a goalkeeper, available for selection.

But Conte said Spurs only have 11 players to choose from and the Group G showdown with Rennes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has now been postponed.

A new date for the fixture, which Tottenham may have to win to remain in the competition, has not yet been set.

A statement on Tottenham's official website read: "We can confirm that our UEFA Europa Conference League Group G home fixture against Stade Rennais will not take place tomorrow after a number of positive COVID-19 cases at the club. 

"Discussions are ongoing with UEFA and we shall provide a further update on this fixture in due course.

"Additionally, following discussions with the Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) and DCMS advisers, the club has been advised to close the first team area of its Training Centre at this time, in the interests of the health and safety of players and staff.

"All other areas of the Training Centre remain operational."

Tottenham's Premier League meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday is also believed to be in doubt.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday at a pre-match news conference, Conte said: "Eight players and five members of staff [have tested positive]. But the problem is that every day we're having people with COVID, people that yesterday weren't positive and today are and we're continuing to have contact with. It's a serious problem.

"Today another player and another member of staff positive. Tomorrow, who? Me? Another member of staff? I want to speak about football. This is not a good thing for you, the fans and staff.

"Everyone is a bit scared, we all have families. I ask why? Why? Yesterday we trained and two positives, today we trained and after another two positives. Who next? It's not right, we're going home to our families.

"We had 11 players available for the match and by the end of the training session today one of the players who would start tomorrow is now positive. It's scary. We're all having contact."

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has confirmed that there are currently 13 cases of COVID-19 at the club, including eight players.

Spurs are due to play at home to Rennes in their final Europa Conference League group game on Thursday, before travelling to Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Sunday.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of the Rennes clash, an emotional Conte revealed the extent of the outbreak at the club.

"Eight players and five members of staff [have tested positive]," Conte confirmed. "But the problem is that every day we're having people with COVID, people that yesterday weren't positive and today are and we're continuing to have contact with. It's a serious problem.

"Today another player and another member of staff positive. Tomorrow, who? Me? Another member of staff? I want to speak about football. This is not a good thing for you, the fans and staff.

"Everyone is a bit scared, we all have families. I ask why? Why? Yesterday we trained and two positives, today we trained and after another two positives. Who next? It's not right, we're going home to our families.

"We had 11 players available for the match and by the end of the training session today one of the players who would start tomorrow is now positive. It's scary. We're all having contact."

Conte had been scheduled to be joined by midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the news conference, but instead faced the media on his own.

"To speak about football today is impossible," the Italian added. "The situation is serious. There is a big infection.

"We prepare for the game against Rennes, but it is very difficult."

Tottenham currently sit second in Group G, and need to match or better Vitesse's result against NS Mura on Thursday to qualify, with Rennes having already won the group.

For so long, Paulo Dybala has been tipped to extend his Juventus contract.

However, Dybala is yet to put pen to paper as his current deal winds down.

Liverpool are reportedly monitoring the situation and are ready to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA EMERGES AS LIVERPOOL TARGET

Liverpool are interested in signing soon-to-be Juventus free agent Paulo Dybala, according to Calciomercato.

Dybala is out of contract at the end of the season and while there have been negotiations, the Juve star is yet to re-sign in Turin.

The situation has reportedly alerted Premier League giants Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- El Nacional claims Real Madrid are eyeing Rennes sensation Lovro Majer as the successor to fellow Croatian Luka Modric at the Santiago Bernabeu. Modric is out of contract at season's end and has been linked with Premier League champions Manchester City.

Ousmane Dembele wants to rebuild his career away from Barcelona, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Frenchman has been linked with Manchester United, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Chelsea.

- United forward Edinson Cavani is an option for Barca as they look to bolster their attack, says Mundo Deportivo. Basel's Arthur Cabral has emerged as a possible January option.

Jose Mourinho's job at Roma is not in danger, according to Fabrizio Romano. Roma have only won three of their past nine Serie A fixtures.

- Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is still set to join Serie A champions Inter despite interest from Barca, per Romano.

- Former RB Leipzig head coach Jesse Marsch is an option to join Ralf Rangnick's coaching staff at United. Marsch was sacked by Bundesliga side Leipzig earlier this week.

Chelsea slipped from first to third in the Premier League over the weekend after a costly defeat at West Ham, which included a bizarre late winner for the hosts.

Divock Origi was told to "Be Divock" by Jurgen Klopp, so duly went and scored a 94th minute winner for Liverpool at Wolves, while Ralf Rangnick achieved something his fellow German didn't in his first game as interim boss at Manchester United.

Antonio Conte and Steven Gerrard also continued their positive starts to respective gigs at Tottenham and Aston Villa in a sentence that feels like it's straight from your favourite football management simulation game rather than real life.

With all that and more, here are some of the weekend's quirky stats from the Premier League...

 

Chelsea Hammered

Did he mean it? Arthur Masuaku says no but your West Ham supporting mates say yes.

Masuaku's kick of the ball in the 87th minute at the London Stadium flew past Edouard Mendy to inflict Chelsea's second league defeat of the season, toppling them from the summit of the Premier League.

It was the Frenchman's first Premier League goal in his 96th appearance for the Hammers, from his 29th attempt at goal, if you can even call it that.

The 3-2 defeat was Chelsea's first in the Premier League after leading at half-time since December 2018 against Wolves under Maurizio Sarri – they had been unbeaten in 48 league games when ahead at half-time before Saturday (W40 D8).

It is no time to panic for Blues fans, though. The future looks bright with all their talented young players, accompanied by Brazil's answer to Steve Buscemi with a skateboard over his shoulder.

Aged 37 years and 73 days, Thiago Silva became the oldest player to score for Chelsea in the Premier League, breaking Didier Drogba's record from April 2015 against Leicester City (37 years, 49 days).

The Late Late Show with Divock Origi

You could say there was an air of inevitability about it as Divock Origi arrived on the Molineux pitch in the 68th minute on Saturday.

The Belgian is a man who arguably deserves a statue more than a starting place at Anfield, having scored just once in the league prior to this game since the last day of the 2019-20 season, but who has famously bagged late goals just when his team has needed them.

His dramatic strike in the closing seconds of this game was Liverpool’s 39th winner scored in 90+ minutes in the Premier League, at least 13 more than any other side. It was also his 10th as a substitute in the Premier League for the Reds, with no player having netted more from the bench for the club in the competition.

It felt harsh on Wolves, though they had hardly done much to bother their opponents at the other end of the pitch, having just three shots in this game, their fewest in a Premier League match since March 2019 (two vs Chelsea).

One particularly sore loser will have been skipper Conor Coady. Although a former Liverpool player, he will have been hoping his heroic goal-line block of Diogo Jota's effort, with an xG of 0.604, would have at least secured a point for his team, particularly as the ball hit him square in the Divocks.

 

King Ralf

There had not been such anticipation about the future of Manchester United since that bloke Ole was at the wheel. Remember him?

United's interim gaffer Ralf Rangnick became the sixth German to manage in the Premier League as he stood in the Old Trafford dugout to see his new team beat Crystal Palace, and he was the first to win his debut game in charge in the competition (Felix Magath, Klopp, Jan Siewert, Daniel Farke and Thomas Tuchel all failing to do so before him).

Following the 1-0 success, six of the last seven managers (including caretakers) have won their first game in charge of the Red Devils in all competitions, with Louis van Gaal being the only exception (he suffered a 2-1 loss against Swansea City at Old Trafford in August 2014).

United also kept their first clean sheet at home in all competitions since April against Granada in the Europa League, having conceded in 15 consecutive home matches prior to Sunday.

Fred's impressive winner was his second goal of the season in 12 Premier League matches, as many as he scored in 76 appearances in his first three seasons in the competition beforehand.

More capital chaos for Canaries

After their 3-0 defeat at Tottenham, Norwich City have now lost 12 of their past 13 Premier League games in London (W1), conceding 29 goals and scoring just three.

Antonio Conte became the third Spurs manager to win his first three Premier League home games, after Ryan Mason and Harry Redknapp, but will be hoping that Kane will start to find the net again soon, with the England captain having only scored once in 13 league games this season.

Norwich manager Dean Smith felt his team were hard done by, and perhaps he had a point when you consider how close the xG of the contest ended, with Norwich's 1.33 only just behind Spurs' 1.52. It was little surprise that Conte's men were more deadly in their finishing though, particularly with Son Heung-min about.

The South Korea forward has been directly involved in 50 per cent of Tottenham’s league goals this season (six goals, two assists), with only Teemu Pukki (63 per cent) and Emmanuel Dennis (55 per cent) being involved in a higher share of their side's tally.

Son both scored and assisted in a single Premier League game for the 19th time. Since 2015-16, only Mohamed Salah (22) has done so more often in the competition.

 

Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, seems management isn't hard

Doing a stellar job at Rangers is one thing, but Steven Gerrard's management capability was really going to come under the microscope when he moved south to the Premier League.

It is still early days of course, but so far, the former Liverpool and England midfielder must be wondering what all the fuss was about as he saw his Aston Villa side win again with a 2-1 victory against Leicester City and his former boss Brendan Rodgers.

Having only won three of their first 11 Premier League games of the season under Dean Smith (D1 L7), Villa have since won three of their first four under Gerrard, with the only failure coming in the narrow 2-1 defeat at home to champions Manchester City.

Gerrard emphasised on his arrival that he wanted to improve the defence, but Ezri Konsa must have thought he meant at the other end as he bagged a brace on Sunday. In his 216th professional appearance in all competitions, Konsa scored twice in a game for the first time. In doing so, he was the first defender to score a brace for Aston Villa in a Premier League match since Ciaran Clark against Arsenal in November 2010.

Leicester, meanwhile, are now the first side to both score and concede a goal in 15 consecutive away games in England's top flight since Burnley from April 1961 to March 1962 (16 in a row).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucas Moura senses Tottenham are building a formidable mentality under Antonio Conte after recording their third straight Premier League win.

Spurs leapfrogged rivals Arsenal to move fifth in the table following a commanding 3-0 victory over bottom side Norwich City.

Lucas got the ball rolling with his first league goal of the season courtesy of a thunderous 25-yard strike, while Davinson Sanchez and Son Heung-min sealed the points.

Conte became only the third Tottenham boss to win each of his opening three home Premier League games in charge – after Harry Redknapp and Ryan Mason.

Brazilian Lucas, whose goal was only his second from outside the box in the league since arriving in 2018 from Paris Saint-Germain, believes the club’s upturn in fortunes is testament to the Italian's influence.

"I'm very happy that I finally managed to score my first goal in the Premier League this season," Lucas said. "What a goal, what a feeling!

"It's very natural for me; I tried to dribble and when I found space, I decided I was going to shoot.

"I think with Tottenham, it's in my top three [goals]. I don't score many goals like Son or Harry, but I've scored some nice goals. I'm happy to help the team."

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Lucas said: "It was a solid performance. I think we are building a very good mentality and just need to keep going this way. Every day, we work very hard and try to put on the pitch what Antonio asks of us.

"I think our style of play is very clear; we are very aggressive with a lot of intensity and I think we are doing very well."

Lucas Moura's wonder goal sent Tottenham on the way to a routine 3-0 win over Norwich City.

The Brazilian opened the scoring with a thunderbolt in the 10th minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Second-half strikes from Davinson Sanchez and Son Heung-min sealed the victory as Antonio Conte's side leapfrogged Arsenal into fifth in the Premier League table.

Spurs are unbeaten in four Premier League games under Conte and trail fourth-placed West Ham by two points in the race for Champions League football. Norwich remain bottom following their first defeat under Dean Smith.

Unbeaten in four Premier League games, the Canaries had the first chance inside three minutes; Teemu Pukki drawing a smart save out of Hugo Lloris from point-blank range.

But the hosts took the lead in emphatic fashion seven minutes later. Lucas skipped away from a couple of challenges and played a neat one-two with Son, before drilling a stunning 25-yard effort into the top corner.

Despite losing Sergio Reguilon to injury, Spurs went close to adding a second before half-time.

Ben Davies was just unable to turn the ball home from a free-kick, while Harry Kane's ambitious chip from distance was not too far wide.

Looking to win consecutive Premier League games in London for the first time since 1992, Norwich squandered a great opportunity to equalise just before the hour mark.

Brandon Williams cut the ball back for Pukki, whose mishit shot was deflected wide from close range by Adam Idah.

It proved costly as Spurs doubled their lead in the 66th minute when Sanchez lashed home after Son's corner ricocheted kindly into his path.

Son then got in on the act as he put the icing on the cake 13 minutes from time. Receiving the ball from Davies in the box, the South Korea international skipped away from a challenge and fired beyond Krul and into the bottom-left corner.

Ralf Rangnick has been tasked with restoring the fortunes of struggling Premier League giants Manchester United.

His previous work at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga has sparked speculation regarding possible transfers.

That has led to talk regarding Amadou Haidara.

 

TOP STORY – HAIDARA WANTED AT OLD TRAFFORD

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick wants to make RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara his first signing, according to The Sun.

Rangnick has been appointed until the end of the season and talk of January incomings have already emerged.

The German brought Haidara to Leipzig during his time at the Bundesliga club and he is believed to be interested in reuniting with the 23-year-old star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Old Trafford and El Nacional reports United want Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, having rebuffed a proposal for Philippe Coutinho.

- Portuguese journalist Pedro Almeida claims Jose Mourinho's job as Roma head coach is in danger following another defeat, this time 3-0 to former club Inter in Serie A on Saturday. Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure amid just three wins in nine league games. Mourinho has also been linked with Everton as pressure mounts on Rafael Benitez.

Chelsea and Arsenal are both interested in Paris Saint-Germain forward Mauro Icardi, says Ekrem Konur. The Argentina international has been linked with Barca, Newcastle United, Tottenham and Juventus.

- According to The Sun, Ligue 1 giants PSG are lining up a bid for Wolves' left-back star Rayan Ait-Nouri.

- Widespread reports claim Leipzig are seriously considering the sacking of head coach Jesse Marsch, who only replaced Julian Nagelsmann at the start of the season. Leipzig have lost three consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time in their history.

Football is never "an easy game" and Harry Kane should have known better.

Football is a game that takes even the most level-headed through the emotional wringer and Harry Kane can be forgiven.

Take your pick, but it was not so much tempting fate as giving fate a firm kick in the nethers when Kane suggested he was on easy street on this very same weekend last year.

Of course, fate was bound to kick back, but what a vengeance it has taken.

Spurs sat giddily on top of the Premier League after a 2-0 north London derby win over Arsenal on December 6, 2020. It was their first game back in front of fans, albeit just 2,000 of them, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium since the pandemic struck in March.

Talk was of a sustained title tilt, Jose Mourinho had a glint back in his eye and seemed to have his magic touch back, and the Harry Kane and Son Heung-min combination was poised to break all records.

"They are working like animals, with all due respect to animals, I love animals," Mourinho said of his front two.

A year on, so much has changed.

What happened that day

The basics are these: Kane created a glorious 13th-minute opener with a pass through for Son, the finish a delight. England captain Kane netted a similarly impressive second on the stroke of half-time following a pass from Son. Arsenal had almost 70 per cent of possession but could not make it count.

Kane became the all-time leading scorer in derbies between the teams, with his 11th goal against Arsenal taking him past Emmanuel Adebayor and Bobby Smith in the history of the rivalry. The goal was the 250th of his career at club and international level, with 202 of those having come for Spurs, 32 for England, nine for Millwall, five for Leyton Orient and two for Leicester City.

Spurs could celebrate having won consecutive derbies against Arsenal for just the third time in the Premier League, after a 1992-93 season double and wins in April and November of 2010.

They were on a high, and the fanfare was loudest about the Kane and Son combination.

Their spectacular start to the 2020-21 season had seen them register an astonishing 11 direct combinations for goals – where one of the pairing has the assist and the other scores – in the opening 11 games of the season. That took them to 31 goal combinations in total during their time together at Spurs, just five short of the Premier League era record, held by Chelsea greats Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. They had overtaken Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Robert Pires (29), Manchester City's David Silva and Sergio Aguero (29) and Tottenham's own Teddy Sheringham and Darren Anderton (27).

Kane's assist was his 10th of the season, and no player has ever reached double figures for Premier League assists in fewer games from the start of a Premier League season. The only player to match Kane in that regard has been Mesut Ozil for Arsenal in the 2015-16 season.

These were dizzying heights and Kane, speaking on Sky Sports, said of his Son alliance: "When I'm passing him through and he's cutting inside and whipping them into the top bins it is an easy game for me."

What could possibly go wrong?

Between them, Kane and Son were making Mourinho's job look easy. A haul of 24 points from 11 games meant Spurs led Liverpool on goal difference. They had taken seven points from their previous three games: against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

In January, the deadly double act reached 13 direct combinations for the season when Kane crossed for Son to put Spurs 2-0 up during a 3-0 win against Leeds, and that matched a Premier League record set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton in Blackburn Rovers' 1994-95 title-winning campaign.

The record fell outright in March when Son crossed for Kane to put the seal on a 4-1 home win over Crystal Palace.

Since then? Just two more direct combinations for goals have been recorded by the pair. The once red-hot connection between Kane and Son has gone cold.

Mourinho was sacked in April and Tottenham plodded in seventh, the rot having set in with a grim toll of seven defeats in the 13 league games that followed the victory over Arsenal.

They spluttered through the opening stages of the 2021-22 campaign too, with Mourinho's supposedly permanent successor Nuno Espirito Santo shown the door after only 17 games and four months at the helm. A 3-1 defeat to Arsenal hardly helped his cause.

It has taken the appointment of Antonio Conte, on a reported £20million-a-year deal, to right the good ship Spurs, with back-to-back wins over Leeds United and Brentford lifting the team to sixth going into the weekend, surprisingly within touching distance of West Ham in fourth.

So what now? Can Conte revive former glories?

Kane and Son are edging closer to that Lampard and Drogba record, but their progress towards the target has been more sloth-like than swashbuckling.

They have 35 direct goal combinations now (Son to Kane 18 times, Kane to Son 17 times), and there remain flickers of life in that partnership.

It was Kane's probing forward pass that freed up a sprinting Sergio Reguilon to centre for Son to slot Spurs' second goal in the 2-0 win over Brentford on Thursday. That was Son's 75th Premier League goal.

Since the table-topping delirium after the Arsenal game last season, Son has managed 12 goals and eight assists in 38 Premier League games, while Kane has 16 goals and five assists in 36 appearances in the top flight.

These are modest totals by their standards, given that in Son's previous 38 Premier League games, up to and including that December 2020 derby, he managed 19 goals and 13 assists, while Kane's previous 36 league matches saw him grab 23 goals and 12 assists.

Son is outperforming his expected goals (xG) in the Premier League this season, scoring five goals from an xG score of 3.8, which is a good sign, but Kane's solitary strike from an xG of 3.1 must worry those with affections towards Spurs.

Kane unable? That's not what the numbers say

Kane has had an enigmatic 2021 by any standards, with doubts cast over his long-term commitment to Tottenham at one point as he looked eager to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. He has more recently stressed how "excited" he is about the chance to work under Conte, a proven winner as a manager.

With England, the goals have certainly flowed for Kane this year, a team-record 16 taking him to 48 in his international career, the same number as Gary Lineker achieved.

This season alone he has scored 10 in World Cup qualifiers for England, while with Spurs in 2021-22 he has hit six goals in the Conference League, including qualifying games for that third-tier UEFA competition, one in the EFL Cup and only one in the Premier League, against bottom-of-the-table Newcastle United.

Conte said in the wake of the win over Brentford: "I'm very pleased with the way that he's playing. I know the striker wants to score but we want to give him many chances to score. I think we're on the right path to do this type of situation."

Across the whole of 2021, taking all competitions and commitments into account, Kane has scored 41 goals at one every 123 minutes, which shows that he still knows the way to goal, even if there is unusually no sign of him on this campaign's Premier League top scorers' list.

Spurs' Italian boss may be capable of digging into the root cause of Kane's slump at club level, but it may take forensic examination and soul-searching to reach the eureka moment.

Or perhaps it will take a home game against lowly Norwich City. That is next on the agenda for Tottenham, this Sunday, and Kane has scored five goals in three Premier League games against Norwich, netting a penalty in all three matches.

No player in Premier League history has scored a penalty in four consecutive appearances against a specific opponent before. A penalty might be considered a cheap way for Kane to get back to scoring ways with his club, but Conte is looking for upticks in whatever form they might come.

It has been a rough old year for the Kane-Son combination, a long time since the "easy game" remark.

Perhaps the pressure of the Lampard and Drogba record is weighing heavily. Or just maybe it is high time they took it upon themselves to smash through the glass ceiling and consign the narrative of these last 12 months to history.

New Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte reassured he is "very pleased" with Harry Kane despite the striker's lean spell of scoring form.

Spurs cruised to a 2-0 win over Brentford in the first ever top-flight meeting between the sides on Thursday, though Kane could not get on the scoresheet and has just one Premier League goal to his name so far this season.

The England international did, however, record a game-high three key passes in a creative performance that was typified by his usual preference to drop deep and look to link-up play.

As Conte prepares to host Norwich City, who the Italian has never faced before in the league, he once again gave his backing for goal-shy Kane.

"First of all, I'm sure Harry is happy if we win and he doesn't score," Conte said of Kane, who has scored five goals in three top-flight matches against the Canaries.

"Tottenham is the first thought for us and Harry. As I said yesterday, Harry played a very good game, he was in the situation that we scored and he had a good chance to score.

"It is important to have chances to score and we're improving a lot in this aspect. I'm sure Harry is going to score many goals.

"I'm sure he’s going to have a good performance in the same way he had against Brentford against every team we play.

"I'm very pleased with the way that he's playing. I know the striker wants to score but we want to give him many chances to score. I think we're on the right path to do this type of situation." Conte has won both of his opening home games in the league – only Ryan Mason and Harry Redknapp have started with three wins in the club's Premier League history.

Despite only being in charge for a short period, Conte has partly resolved some of Spurs' issues and one of his next tasks will be to sort a new contract with skipper Hugo Lloris, whose deal runs out at the end of the season.

"Yeah but I've just arrived," he responded when asked about negotiations with Lloris. "Only one month. At this moment, for sure, we have many situations to solve.

"Hugo is the captain of this team, captain of France and we're talking about a top goalkeeper. He's very focused now. He knows very well now we're trying to do our best.

"Me as a coach, Hugo as goalkeeper and every player has to perform at a high level, but for sure we'll have time to speak about him and I consider him an important player for his experience.

"He's a good goalkeeper first of all and has showed great commitment to the club over a number of years."

Having only just finished an exciting batch of midweek games, the Premier League returns with the potential for more drama, goals, and perhaps some fantasy points to boot.

Everton boss Rafael Benitez will be hoping to arrest his team's downturn in form when Arsenal come to Merseyside, but despite defeat at Manchester United on Thursday, the Gunners have a couple of form players to keep an eye on.

Antonio Conte will be looking to continue a promising start at Tottenham as they host Norwich City, and it will be no surprise to anyone if one of his wing-backs ends up having a decisive impact again.

Another electric wing-back has returned for Brighton and Hove Albion in recent weeks; Manchester City boast one of the form players in Europe; and the bottom, two teams look to their star strikers for much-needed points.

Plenty of fantasy teams are just as desperate for points, so here are Stats Perform's suggestions for possible picks ahead of the weekend, powered by Opta data.

AARON RAMSDALE (Everton v Arsenal)

Aaron Ramsdale has been rather busy since his arrival from Sheffield United, and he faced another ten shots on target from United on Thursday.

However, he has broadly impressed in Mikel Arteta's side, and ranks third in the Premier League this season for goals prevented (2.57).

He is also set to face an Everton side fresh off a chastening Merseyside derby defeat, and who have scored only four times over their past six league games, the joint-fewest of any side in the division with Wolves.

 

SERGIO REGUILON (Tottenham v Norwich City)

Conte's new Tottenham side are unbeaten in their opening three league games, the Italian head coach utilising a three-man defence again after successes with Chelsea and Inter.

Sergio Reguilon has been the main beneficiary of the change in system, with the left wing-back directly involved in a Spurs goal in each of his last two league games, scoring against Leeds United before assisting against Brentford last time out.

The Spaniard next faces strugglers Norwich, who have scored the fewest goals of any side in the Premier League this season (eight), while conceding the second-most (28).

 

TARIQ LAMPTEY (Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion)

Tariq Lamptey played an integral part in Brighton snatching a late equaliser against West Ham as he crossed in for Neal Maupay's acrobatic brilliance in the closing minutes.

The Englishman was brought on with 20 minutes to go and, as an impact sub, did exactly what he was asked to ensure Graham Potter's men did not return south empty-handed.

The right wing-back ranks fourth for chances created per 90 minutes among defenders in the English top flight this season, creating 2.4 opportunities on average as he prepares to face Southampton.

BERNARDO SILVA (Watford v Manchester City)

Pep Guardiola hailed Bernardo Silva as the best player in the league after the Portugal international nailed an expert first-time volley in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

The 27-year-old, who reportedly wanted a move away in the previous transfer window, has scored four goals in his last seven league games for City, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.

With the reigning champions perhaps a striker short still, Silva will continue being of central importance for City's attacking returns as they travel to Watford.

 

EMILE SMITH ROWE (Everton v Arsenal)

Emile Smith Rowe may have converted in bizarre circumstances at Old Trafford, but as many fantasy players will tell you: they all count!

The England international has had a hand in eight goals in his previous 11 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal (six goals, two assists), with only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bettering that total this season (nine).

He heads to Benitez's Everton, who have conceded more goals than any other team in the league over their last six games (15).

 

TEEMU PUKKI (Tottenham v Norwich City)

There is one man for the job of keeping Dean Smith's Norwich away from the Championship and that is Teemu Pukki, a budget fantasy favourite for the Canaries.

The Finland goal poacher has managed three goals in his last four top-flight outings, as many as he had in his previous 24 appearances.

Indeed, if Norwich can breach Tottenham's resurgent defence, it is likely to be Pukki, who has scored five of his side's eight goals this term.

 

CALLUM WILSON (Newcastle United v Burnley)

In similar fashion to Pukki, Newcastle United's attacking hopes largely rest on the shoulders of Callum Wilson, who converted from the penalty spot in his last game against Norwich.

Another cheaper option compared to the likes of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Bournemouth man has scored 17 Premier League goals for the Magpies.

That is more than twice as many as any other player for Newcastle since he joined the club at the start of last season, and Eddie Howe will be hoping his main man can deliver once more.

Cashed-up Newcastle United are currently sitting last on the Premier League table, without a win with the season into December.

As a result, the Magpies are expected to be busy when the transfer window opens in January.

Newcastle are the only team yet to win a Premier League game this season.

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE TARGET ENGLISH SEXTET

The Telegraph claims that Newcastle United have six English players on their January shortlist, including Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, Tottenham's Harry Winks, Chelsea's Ross Barkley and Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier.

According to the report, the club will hand over a blank cheque to manager Eddie Howe to land players who can make an instant impact.

Newcastle's owners are confident they can act swiftly in January despite their ongoing search for a sporting director. Burnley's James Tarkowski and Liverpool's Nat Phillips are also on their radar.

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror reports that Arsenal are tracking Everton's England international forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a view to an end-of-season move, as Alexandre Lacazette's replacement.

- Manchester United's veteran Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani wants to join Barcelona next season claims The Times.

- Milan and Internazionale are both lining up bids for Manchester United's Brazilian full-back Alex Telles according to The Sun.

- The Sun claims that Chelsea loanee Saul Niguez is unhappy at the club and wants a switch in January after joining the Blues on loan from Atletico Madrid in August. However, Saul cannot join a third European club this season, complicating matters.

- Talks between Barcelona and Ousmane Dembele have failed to progress, putting in doubt his future at the club, reports Sport.

Antonio Conte said Tottenham learnt a lot after their surprise defeat against NS Mura following a dominant Premier League win over Brentford.

Spurs suffered late heartbreak in the Europa Conference League in a 2-1 loss to the competition's lowest-ranked team Mura, but bounced back with a 2-0 victory on Thursday.

Sergio Canos' own-goal gifted Spurs the lead in the first ever top-flight meeting between the two sides, the right wing-back becoming the 25th Spaniard in the Premier League to turn into his own net.

Son Heung-min doubled Tottenham's advantage after the interval, the South Korea international's 75th top-flight goal for Spurs and fifth this season, no team-mate has scored more than two.

But head coach Conte pinpointed their failures in Slovenia as a crucial learning curve for the success at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and to further build upon.

"The difference was that today we won, in Slovenia, it was a really bad defeat for everyone," former Inter boss Conte told reporters after the game. 

"I think you can learn a lot more about a loss than a win but for sure the defeat hurt us against Mura. Today was a good win, to get three points is not easy against Brentford who are organised and good at set-pieces.

"But we showed a great desire to get three points and win. We fight to win the tackles and we were very concentrated. 

"For sure we can improve and we have a lot of space for improvement in possession. Without the ball we did well and we put pressure on them and I want to see this to make it difficult for our opponent to play the ball. We'll continue to work to improve."

Conte also reserved special praise for Oliver Skipp, who he feels he can develop during his time in London.

"He's very young, there's a lot of space for improvement," Conte responded when asked about Skipp.

"He played with a lot of heart and soul. For me he doesn't care if he is 21-years-old. 

"Today he played well but I think I can improve him a lot in possession technically, but we are talking about a very important prospect and I am happy for him and now we need to continue to improve him.

"Without the ball, he works very hard. For sure, the part he has to improve is on the ball but in one month I have seen a lot of improvement about Skippy. 

"He's a player who wants to improve The present and future depends on him. He can be a top midfielder, but he has to continue to work. He has this will and desire to become an important player."

Tottenham have won all three of their home matches under Conte in all competitions, with the Italian the fourth consecutive Spurs boss to start his tenure with wins in each of his first three home games in charge (also Jose Mourinho, Ryan Mason and Nuno Espirito Santo), with Mauricio Pochettino in 2014 the last to fail to do so. 

Tottenham recorded a dominant 2-0 win over Brentford as Antonio Conte made it three games unbeaten in the Premier League on Thursday.

Spurs took the lead in their first top-flight meeting with Brentford in fortuitous fashion as Sergio Canos deflected into his own net after 12 minutes, the Bees' first ever own goal in the competition.

Thomas Frank's side did not manage a shot on target until the 63rd minute, though that proved in vain when Son Heung-Min doubled the lead two minutes later.

Conte's side – who are unbeaten in 12 matches against London rivals Brentford in all competitions, dating back to 1948 – move up to sixth and are within touching distance of the top four.

Alvaro Fernandez denied Lucas Moura in the opening stages, but Spurs were soon ahead when Pontus Jansson headed Son's cross against team-mate Canos, who turned into his own net by no fault of his own.

Bryan Mbeumo responded by sending a speculative long-range volley wide before Sergio Reguilon looped a header off target and Fernandez pushed Son's low effort away.

Harry Kane raced through one-on-one after the interval but was thwarted by Fernandez, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg inexplicably prodded wide following the England captain's low delivery.

Ivan Toney then drilled tamely into Hugo Lloris' hands before Spurs doubled their advantage as Son tapped in Reguilon's cross to cap an expert counter-attack started by Kane.

Frank's side rarely troubled Spurs' goal in the closing stages as Conte oversaw his second league victory in as many games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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