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

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

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

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

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

REECE JAMES (Chelsea v Manchester United)

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

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

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

ANTONIO RUDIGER (Chelsea v Manchester United)

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

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

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

RAPHINHA (Brighton and Hove Albion v Leeds United)

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

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

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

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

RAHEEM STERLING (Manchester City v West Ham)

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

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

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

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Leicester City v Watford)

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

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

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

JOSE SA (Norwich City v Wolves)

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

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

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

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal v Newcastle United)

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

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

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

Manchester United should move to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager immediately rather than wait until the end of the season if he is their first choice, according to former Old Trafford hero Mark Hughes.

United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday in the wake of a humiliating 4-1 defeat to promoted Watford a day earlier, but the writing was already on the wall.

After an inconsistent start to the 2021-22 campaign, the beginning of the end for Solskjaer was arguably the 5-0 home loss to Liverpool on October 24.

That thrashing by Jurgen Klopp's side set several unwanted records, including United's largest margin of defeat against their fierce rivals at home and the first time the Red Devils had trailed by four goals at half-time in the Premier League.

Michael Carrick has been installed in temporary charge until United can hire an interim manager to guide them through to the end of the season, a somewhat peculiar and convoluted process that in itself has attracted criticism.

Numerous coaches have been credited with interest in the role, with Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino – strongly linked to United in the past – seemingly chief among them, and Hughes thinks the club need to have the courage of their convictions if the Argentinian is the man they want.

"In terms of resources, to be able to get a top manager out of a top club, clearly United are one of the few clubs that are able to do that," Hughes told talkSPORT. "I think for a long time United have coveted Pochettino.

"I think they've wined and dined him [in the past], I think he's been out with Sir Alex [Ferguson]. I think that was well documented a few years ago.

"I think he's well thought of within the corridors of United, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's the one they really want. Whether or not he's able to come to the club quickly, that's an issue for them.

"I think if he's the man, they should just go out and go get him. This interim-to-interim position doesn't seem to be the right way to go about it.

"But clearly, if they have to wait, they seem prepared to do that. I just feel it's Pochettino that they really, really want."

Former Tottenham head coach Pochettino has only been in charge at PSG since January, though there have been rumours of friction between him and sporting director Leonardo.

Speculation has suggested that PSG would be willing for Pochettino to leave, assuming a compensation package can be agreed and they have a replacement lined up.

Zinedine Zidane, also linked to United but said to have little interest in moving to England, has been mentioned as a likely candidate to replace Pochettino at PSG.

Pochettino is in Manchester this week as PSG face Manchester City on Wednesday in the Champions League – United begin the post-Solskjaer era away to Villarreal on Tuesday.

Manchester United have confirmed the departure of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Saturday's Premier League defeat to Watford.

The pressure has been building on Solskjaer throughout the season, but the 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road – their fifth defeat in seven league matches – proved the final straw.

The former striker's future was reportedly decided during a long board meeting after the match before a mutual agreement over his exit was reached, with Michael Carrick placed in temporary charge.

A club statement released on Sunday read: "Manchester United announces that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has left his role as manager.

"Ole will always be a legend at Manchester United and it is with regret that we have reached this difficult decision. While the past few weeks have been disappointing, they should not obscure all the work he has done over the past three years to rebuild the foundations for long-term success.

"Ole leaves with our sincerest thanks for his tireless efforts as Manager and our very best wishes for the future. His place in the club’s history will always be secure, not just for his story as a player, but as a great man and a Manager who gave us many great moments. He will forever be welcome back at Old Trafford as part of the Manchester United family.

"Michael Carrick will now take charge of the team for forthcoming games, while the club looks to appoint an interim manager to the end of the season."

Solskjaer survived the 5-0 hammering by Liverpool at Old Trafford last month and the 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester City, with a 3-0 win at an out-of-sorts Tottenham and a Champions League draw with Atalanta helping to placate the club's hierarchy.

However, the apathetic nature of the performance against Watford, who started the match just three points outside the relegation zone, was too much to overlook for United co-chairman Joel Glazer, the man who holds final say over the hiring and firing of managers.

The result left the Red Devils eighth in the table with just 17 points from 12 matches, as they failed to beat a promoted side for the fourth game in a row, something that last happened when Solskjaer was a United player back in September 1997. This was also the first time they had taken as few as four points from seven consecutive league matches since December 2001.

United have now lost as many league matches this season as they did in their previous 43 games in the competition. Their two goals conceded in the first half against Watford took their tally this season to 11, the worst such record in the division.

Solskjaer took charge from Jose Mourinho initially on an interim basis and oversaw a marked improvement in performance while dispelling the toxic atmosphere that developed during the Portuguese's final weeks at the club.

He led United to sixth in his first half-season at the helm, before finishing third in 2019-20 and second in 2020-21, while his team enjoyed an English league record run of 29 away games without defeat.

However, he failed to win a trophy, reaching just one final, going down on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League last term.

Manchester United have confirmed the departure of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Saturday's Premier League defeat to Watford.

The pressure has been building on Solskjaer throughout the season, but the 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road – their fifth defeat in seven league matches – proved the final straw.

The former striker's future was reportedly decided during a long board meeting after the match before a mutual agreement over his exit was reached.

Saturday provided no shortage of talking points as the Premier League returned after the international break.

Manchester United suffered another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of Watford, and it will likely be one too humiliation too many for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

There was also a harsh dose of reality fed to Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, as they were given a bruising by Liverpool at Anfield.

But two new managers began their respective tenures with victories, as Aston Villa and Norwich City each hope to enjoy a prolonged 'new manager bounce'.

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

Watford 4-1 Manchester United: Writing's on the wall for Solskjaer

Another week, another humiliating defeat for United and Solskjaer – Watford were the latest side to toy with the Red Devils.

United's loss was their biggest league defeat to a promoted side since a 5-1 reverse to Manchester City in September 1989, and it took them to 20 goals conceded this season already.

Only in 2001-02 (11 games) have United conceded 20 or more after fewer than in 2021-22 (13 games), while this is the first time Watford have ever beaten them in successive home league games.

United were still in with a shout at 2-1 until Harry Maguire's first red card in 121 appearances for the club, but it all fell apart thereafter.

It looks set to be the result that costs Solskjaer his job.



Leicester City 0-3 Chelsea: Foxes intimidated by pacesetters again

Most would have expected Chelsea to get a proper examination of their title credentials here – who knows, maybe this was a real statement.

Either way, Thomas Tuchel's men saw off Leicester City with great authority, or so it seemed.

In reality, Leicester actually have a dreadful record against teams starting the day top of the table. Granted, the side at the summit is usually fairly handy, otherwise they wouldn't be setting the pace, but Leicester's run is particularly poor.

They are now winless in 17 league games against the team that started the day top of the table, conceding 40 goals at a rate of 2.35 per game.

In the process of winning here, Chelsea moved level with Tottenham and Manchester City with the most away wins (five) at the King Power Stadium in the top tier.

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: Gunners come crashing back to reality as Reds continue domination

Although Arsenal came into the weekend in good form, having not lost any of their previous 10 matches in all competitions, there was more than a hint of predictability about their Anfield defeat and the manner of it.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal (37) than any top-flight side has against another opponent since October 2015, which in itself is a fairly damning indictment of the Gunners' fall from grace.

Mohamed Salah got Liverpool's third goal of the game, which was also their 100th against Arsenal in the Premier League, a haul they can only better in meetings with Newcastle United (105).

It was the fifth time this season Arsenal have failed to score in a league game, with only Norwich and Watford (both seven) having a worse record.

The Gunners aren't "back" yet.

Aston Villa 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Gerrard off to winning start

Steven Gerrard began his tenure as Villa boss in positive fashion, seeing off Graham Potter's Brighton.

It was a largely unspectacular bow for Gerrard but Villa eventually got the job done with two goals late on, making the Liverpool legend only the club's third permanent manager to begin with a win in the Premier League.

Ollie Watkins was the man to get the first goal of the Gerrard era, taking his tally to a club-high 17 strikes since the start of last season in the top flight.

There was also a first assist of the season for Ashley Young, who set up a Villa goal for the first time in 10 years and 189 days.

Norwich City 2-1 Southampton: Smith lifts Canaries off the foot the table

The man who made room for Gerrard at Villa, Dean Smith, also began the latest chapter of his career with a victory.

Norwich initially trailed to Che Adams' goal, but they turned things around as the Canaries came from behind to win a Premier League game for the first time in five-and-a-half years, or 36 matches.

But if they were going to end that run against anyone, the Saints would have been a good bet – since Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge in December 2018, they have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League (67).

Grant Hanley got Norwich's winner, his first Premier League goal in nine years and 324 days since netting for Blackburn Rovers against Manchester United in December 2011.

Bruno Fernandes has refused to single Ole Gunnar Solskjaer out for blame following Manchester United's humiliating 4-1 defeat against Watford on Saturday, insisting it is a collective failure.

Josh King, Ismaila Sarr, Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Bonaventure helped themselves to goals against the Red Devils who had Harry Maguire sent off after receiving a second yellow card.

The result means United have won just once in their last six Premier League games, losing four and conceding 12 goals in that run, with pressure intensifying on Solskjaer's position as manager. Indeed, a board meeting is rumoured to have taken place in the wake of the loss.

Fernandes however, instead directed the blame for the side's poor form at the team as a collective unit.

"It's everyone's fault," Fernandes said to beIN Sports after the game. "It's not the coach, it's not one player or two, it's everyone. Everyone has to take responsibility because everyone has to do better, everyone. Not one of us can say 'I'm doing well'."

Fernandes feels United only turned up for one half of the game and described the first half as "sloppy", while also highlighting the Red Devils' defensive issues.

"We [played like a wounded animal] but just for one half and that is not enough in these kinds of games in the Premier League," Fernandes continued. "It's not enough playing just for one half.

"Watford are a good team, they are aggressive, they have quality up front, and if you give them chances, you will concede goals. That has been a problem for us for many games and I think the attitude in the second half was there but in the first half, it was too sloppy from everyone.

"We didn't go on the front foot, we didn't tackle, we didn't win our duels and against these teams, you have to do that. You have to try to keep the same intensity as them and after that, show your quality, show why you play for Manchester United."

David de Gea once again apologised to supporters following Manchester United's "nightmare" display against Watford and accepts his side's current form is not acceptable.

United fell to a fifth defeat in seven Premier League matches with a 4-1 reverse at the hands of lowly Watford on Saturday, piling further pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The defeat at Vicarage Road was United's heaviest against a newly-promoted side since a 5-1 loss to Manchester City in September 1989.

Solskjaer's side have now conceded 29 goals in all competitions this season – only Norwich City and Leicester City (both 30) have shipped more among Premier League clubs.

De Gea, who saved two penalties and was United's best player on the day despite conceding four goals, admits after the latest defeat that a big turnaround is needed.

"There's not much to say – it was embarrassing to see Man United play like we did today," he told Sky Sports. "It's not acceptable – the way we were playing and doing things. 

"The first half was embarrassing – we could've conceded four goals in 45 minutes. It was hard to watch the team playing today – it was nightmare after nightmare. 

"It's not acceptable. We are trying to give our best and fight for the team but for sure something is very wrong. 

"You can see in the games – it's very low level, very poor. Sorry to the fans, once again."

United struggled to cope with high-pressing Watford and were two goals down at half-time through strikes from Joshua King and Ismaila Sarr, who earlier had two penalties saved by De Gea.

Kiko Femenia converted the rebound from the first of those but the spot-kick had to be retaken due to encroachment, with De Gea again equal to the second attempt.

Substitute Donny van de Beek pulled one back five minutes after being brought on, but United then lost Harry Maguire to a second bookable offence with 69 minutes played.

That was Maguire's first sending-off for United on what was his 121st appearance for the club in all competitions, capping what has been a tough month for the centre-back at club level.

The Red Devils enjoyed a spell on top without making it count, before Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis sealed an emphatic win for Watford, who started the day in 17th place.

Solskjaer held his hands up towards United's travelling supporters at full-time and appeared to wave, but De Gea insists the players should take the blame.

"It's easy to blame the manager or the staff but sometimes it's the players. We need to show much more than we are doing," he said.

"I've been in difficult moments and always believe in myself but there are difficult moments we have to be strong in mind and body. 

"We are paid to play for United and to do better than that. This is not Manchester United or the way we ought to play – it's difficult to say more than that.

"It's been very bad for a long time – a club like Man United we have to be fighting for trophies and fighting for big things and to be honest we are far from that. 

"Let's see – we have to keep working hard and stick together. We always say the same things but it's the truth – we have to look at ourselves and see where we can improve."

Harry Maguire was sent off as Manchester United suffered their fifth defeat in seven Premier League games, a humbling 4-1 setback at Watford.

First-half goals from Joshua King and Ismaila Sarr, who had an earlier penalty saved, piled pressure on struggling United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Vicarage Road.

Substitute Donny van de Beek pulled one back for United, who had captain Maguire dismissed for two bookable offences.

But Claudio Ranieri's home team made sure with stoppage-time strikes from Joao Pedro and Emmanuel Dennis, earning a second win in seven matches to move four points clear of the relegation zone.

Watford were handed a great opportunity to take the lead in the sixth minute; Jon Moss pointing to the spot after Nemanja Matic's reckless slice at the ball culminated in Scott McTominay bundling over King.

Kiko Femenia slammed home the rebound after Sarr's penalty was saved, but the goal was disallowed for encroachment in the box and the spot-kick ordered to be retaken, with David de Gea coming to the rescue once again.

But the United goalkeeper was helpless as the hosts took the lead in the 28th minute; King slotting home against his former club from Dennis' cutback.

Watford doubled their advantage just before the break; an unmarked Sarr taking a touch before drilling past De Gea from a tight angle.

Solskjaer introduced Van de Beek at the break, and the former Ajax midfielder immediately responded by heading home within five minutes of his introduction.

Foster then did brilliantly to deny Cristiano Ronaldo as the visitors turned up the pressure.

They continued to threaten after Maguire received a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Tom Cleverley in the 70th minute.

But their hopes were dashed as Watford struck twice in stoppage time; Pedro and Dennis drilling low shots past De Gea from a tight angle.

Mason Greenwood has been left out of Manchester United's matchday squad to face Watford and is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

Greenwood has played 799 minutes across 10 Premier League appearances for United so far this season, scoring four goals - level with Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes as the club's top scorers in the competition.

The youngster also leads his club in the league for shots taken (31) and has scored his four goals despite recording an expected goals value of 2.06, with only Ronaldo (4.32) and Fernandes (2.36) managing higher figures.

United's head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed the reason for the youngster's absence before his side's clash with 17th-placed Watford.

"Mason has got COVID, unfortunately," Solskjaer told the club's official website ahead of the game. "He's tested positive, so we'll wait for him to get back."

In Greenwood's absence, fellow Englishmen Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have been handed starts as Solskjaer returns to a back four after losing 2-0 to rivals Manchester City in their last league outing.

Eric Bailly and Fred have also been dropped to the bench from that game, with Nemanja Matic taking the latter's place alongside Scott McTominay in midfield.

United have lost four of their last six leagues games, as many as they had in their last 40 matches in the competition, to leave them in sixth - 11 points behind leaders Chelsea.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims Donny van de Beek will soon "reap his rewards" at Manchester United.

Van de Beek joined from Ajax for a reported £40million last season, but chances have been sparse for the 24-year-old at Old Trafford.

The midfielder has started just four games for United in the Premier League, his last coming against Wolves in May, while appearing just 21 times in the top-flight for his 528 minutes.

United supporters greeted Van de Beek's introduction off the bench against Manchester City two weeks ago with rapturous applause, highlighting the faith they have in the Netherlands international.

Solskjaer joined in with the praise for Van de Beek as the Norwegian pinpointed his work ethic ahead of Saturday's clash with Watford.

"I think our fans can see a top professional and a very good player," Solskjaer said. "And Donny is one that has never ever let himself or his team or his family down by his attitude.

"His approach to the game and training is spot on. I can't fault him, and he knows that.

"I keep in contact and I speak to him and communicate with him because it's not easy when players are not playing as much as they think they should do, and Donny thinks he should be playing more and he will be involved.

"I can't say anything other than he's another example of what to do when you're not in the team and he'll reap his rewards."

Van de Beek was looking to feature at Vicarage Road as United attempted to bounce back from four losses in six league games, as many as they had in their previous 40 matches in the Premier League.

But the Red Devils were expected to be without Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, who has a tendon injury.

"Unfortunately he felt something in one of the last sessions before City and he had to pull out of the game because he didn't feel right. We've got to give him time to feel right," Solskjaer added.

"I can't give you a timescale if it's tomorrow or Tuesday or Chelsea. We'll see how he is, that's important."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes being under pressure at Manchester United is normal and vowed his players would produce a strong response against Watford.

United travel to Vicarage Road in the Premier League on Saturday amid huge speculation over Solskjaer's job security.

Demoralising home defeats against main rivals Liverpool and Manchester City have increased criticism of the United manager, with his team already nine points behind leaders Chelsea after 11 matches.

But asked if he felt safe in his job, Solskjaer replied: "Yeah, the players, the staff, myself, the club - we are working to one goal which is to improve and get better results.

"When you lose a game you are always disappointed and under pressure – we have been communicating openly and honestly. 

"The fans are still supporting the team and the club, they have been through this period and backed the team through the rebuild.

"There is one game that matters and this week has been really good for training.

"Form and performances haven't been good enough. We can do better, should do better and it's down to performances on the day. I am sure we will see a reaction."

Solskjaer believes a lack of confidence is hindering United but reminded his players that consistent runs of form are not too far in the rear-view mirror.

Watford have lost 12 of their 14 Premier League matches versus United - against no side have they lost more – and Solskjaer is optimistic going into the latest meeting.

The 48-year-old added: "We've been through periods like this before. Our away form, we have just gone 30-odd games and lost one. 

"Last season we turned it around and went on a run of 20-odd games and one defeat and that is the kind of run we need to get back.

"Human beings, sometimes you hit the post and it goes out, sometimes it goes in. That can affect the mood and atmosphere.

"We have got to focus on getting the start of the match right. It has been a very determined and focused group this week."

Solskjaer revealed he had spoken with the club hierarchy during the international break but stressed that was normal.

He added: "Of course, I've been in contact and communicated with the club as I do all the time anyway.

"It has been a long international break but it's one that we've utilised to our benefit, we feel it's been a good response from the players and we are ready for the Watford game.

"We have had a chance to work with a lot of players on quite a few things because of how many international drop-outs we had.

"The players love playing football and winning. When we left each other 13 days ago no one was happy when they left Old Trafford. But then there is another game."

Injured France duo Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane will be out for some time, but Solskjaer was optimistic about the rest of his squad.

"I've got to say this week has been really positive," added the Norwegian. "Of course, there are a couple of doubts with illnesses and small niggles.

"Paul is out still for a while, Raphael is out for a while still but apart from that, players will be coming back, call it in the near future - some this weekend and some during the week." 

Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford have been involved in training this week, while Edinson Cavani is doubtful to feature.

United are winless in three Premier League matches against promoted teams after drawing against West Brom, Leeds and Fulham last season. Not since 1997 have they gone four such games without a victory.

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

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

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

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

EDOUARD MENDY (Leicester City v Chelsea)

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

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

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

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester City v Everton)

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

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

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

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Liverpool v Arsenal)

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

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

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

CONOR GALLAGHER (Burnley v Crystal Palace)

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

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

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

BRUNO FERNANDES (Watford v Manchester United)

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

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

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

GABRIEL JESUS (Manchester City v Everton)

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

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

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

SON HEUNG-MIN (Tottenham v Leeds United)

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

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

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

Mikel Arteta described his players as "the most honest" after Claudio Ranieri accused them of a lack of respect following Arsenal's 1-0 win over Watford at Emirates Stadium.

The Watford head coach was unhappy that Arsenal did not give the ball back after it had been put out for an injury in the move that led to Emile Smith Rowe's decisive goal.

The result extended the Gunners' unbeaten run to 10 games across all competitions and marked Arteta's 100th game as Arsenal boss with a win.

Arteta issued a staunch defence of his squad's conduct, revealing that, if anything, he feels his side can occasionally be too honest.

"If I have to define my players, my team and my club, I would say that they are the most honest - all of them," Arteta said. "At some stages, we can even become naive.

"But still, if [Ranieri] feels like that towards our club, our team, I have to apologise if that's the case but, for sure that was not the intention to take any advantage."


Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed his second consecutive Premier League penalty, having missed only two of his first 11 in the competition, but Arteta still retains confidence in his skipper's ability from the spot.

"[Aubameyang] will stay on penalties if he is happy to do so," Arteta continued. "You will miss if you take penalties, that is part of your career and the job."

Smith Rowe's second-half strike earned Arsenal the three points, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles - starting in midfield in the absence of the injured Thomas Partey - put in an impressive performance as Arsenal extended their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions.

The 24-year-old was strongly linked with an exit in the most recent transfer window, even posting a message on social media indicating his desire to leave in search of regular minutes.

However, the Englishman was retained and Arteta is glad to have kept hold of the versatile Hale End graduate, saying he has seen a great deal of improvement from Maitland-Niles.

"First of all, I see a different player in terms of [Maitland-Niles'] urgency, his commitment, clarity in his play, his purpose," Arteta said. "We made a decision. I was clear, with what I was seeing, that I wanted him to stay because he was going to be useful.

"He has a huge talent which is that he is versatile enough to adapt to almost any position on the pitch. When I see him in training sessions, when I see how he prepares, when I see the questions he's asking, his level of attention - everything you talk through, his response is immediate.

"He's a really clever boy, a really intelligent boy and I think he has come a long way."

Emile Smith Rowe has praised the spirit in Arsenal's squad to recover from a slow start to the season and climb into fifth place heading into the November international break.

The Gunners kicked off the 2021-22 campaign with three league defeats in a row without scoring for the first time in their history.

Since losing 5-0 at Manchester City on August 28, however, Arsenal have gone eight without defeat in the top flight – their best run since another eight-game spell that ended in March 2020.

Mikel Arteta's men are also unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions thanks to Sunday's 1-0 win over Watford at Emirates Stadium.

Smith Rowe, who scored the only goal of the game against Watford with a second-half strike after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had an earlier penalty saved, insists he always had full faith in his side's ability to bounce back.

"We have been working really hard. It was really important we got three points today," he told Sky Sports.

"I think we always believed in ourselves and each other. It was just about coming together as a team and we are such a family."

Smith Rowe has now scored in three successive Premier League games, making him only the fourth Arsenal player to do so aged 21 or under after Nicolas Anelka, Jose Antonio Reyes and Cesc Fabregas.

That goal came from one of 14 shots Arsenal managed in a game they largely dominated against Watford, who had Juraj Kucka sent off late on for a second bookable offence.

"It was a difficult game for us today. Watford are a strong team, so I'm [glad] we got the three points," Smith Rowe said. 

"I am happy to score. I have been practising during training. It's really special and doing it at home and in front of our fans is even better."

Smith Rowe has five goals this season – already his best in a single campaign – but his form has yet to be rewarded with a call-up to the England senior squad.

Asked if he is disappointed not to be part of Gareth Southgate's squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers, Smith Rowe said: "It's important I just keep my head down and work hard."

Emile Smith Rowe scored for a third Premier League game running to extend Arsenal's unbeaten run as they beat Watford 1-0 in Mikel Arteta's 100th game in charge.

Arsenal's breakthrough came after a frustrating first half that saw a Bukayo Saka goal ruled out for offside before Ben Foster saved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's penalty.

Foster was in inspired form but could not keep out Smith Rowe's drilled shot with 56 minutes on the clock, with that proving to be the only goal of Sunday's clash at Emirates Stadium, where Juraj Kucka was sent off late on for Watford.

Arsenal are now eight league matches without defeat – winning six of those – making this their best such run in the competition since another eight-game spell ended in March 2020.

Saka thought he had opened the scoring early on when Aubameyang's heavy touch ran to the winger in front of goal, but he was stood beyond Foster and identified as offside by a VAR review.

Arsenal continued to dominate and were awarded a penalty when Danny Rose clattered into Alexandre Lacazette. However, Aubameyang's attempt from the spot lacked precision and Foster saved with a combination of his arm and leg down to his right.

Although Foster was then equal to Gabriel's header, the Gunners had scored at least once in all 14 previous Premier League meetings with Watford and keep that run going here.

Smith Rowe picked up the ball following a positive run from Ben White and swept a first-time finish away from Foster to make it five goals for the season in all competitions.

Substitute Martin Odegaard was then denied when his goalbound effort was tapped in by an offside Aubameyang at the back post.

That set up a slightly nervy finish as Joshua King fired into the side-netting following a lapse in judgement from Aaron Ramsdale, but Kucka's second yellow card for a wild swipe at Nuno Tavares effectively ended Watford's hopes of snatching a point.

Page 1 of 3
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.