Pep Guardiola revealed Riyad Mahrez cut short his holiday following the Africa Cup of Nations, giving Manchester City a boost as Bernardo Silva dealt with an issue at West Ham on Saturday.

Mahrez captained Algeria to the AFCON title on July 19 but returned to start against West Ham in City's Premier League opener, providing two assists in a 5-0 win.

Guardiola was delighted to be able to call on the former Leicester City winger as he revealed Silva, a star of last season's title success, was left on the bench due to "little muscular problems".

"Riyad called me after they won [the AFCON]," Guardiola said. "He said, 'I need just 10 days. I want to come back soon. I want to play'. I like it. That's why I decide, 'Okay, I want to play him'.

"Bernardo had done nothing wrong, but there was some little muscular problems.

"I want them to know I trust all of them. That is the truth. After four seasons, I don't not like one player who is with us. I trust with them and they have to compete with opponents and with each other."

From West Ham's side, the post-match narrative involved complaints of City's apparent tactical fouling, with Manuel Pellegrini attributing this to his team's lack of creativity.

But Jack Wilshere had no issue with City's tactics, suggesting West Ham need to learn from such elite opponents.

"That's football," he said. "When you play against experienced players who understand the game, it's going to happen

"You can't get frustrated. They're clever players. A team like us who like to attack could learn from that. They do that counter press. They lose the ball and bang, they go straight away.

"They're going to make fouls. If you do get out of it, it happens so quickly and they bring you down."

Manuel Pellegrini accused Manchester City of tactical fouls in the Premier League champions' 5-0 thrashing of West Ham on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side started their title defence with an emphatic victory at London Stadium courtesy of goals from Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and a Raheem Sterling hat-trick.

Hammers manager Pellegrini felt his players were too "innocent", especially in the first half, as they conceded too many simple free-kicks when in promising positions.

"Every time we tried to arrive in their box they committed fouls. We were innocent in that regard," he said.

"If you review the game, that is why we didn't create too many chances in the first half. All our offensive moments of attacking ended in a foul. You can look at the statistics. They committed 13 fouls, we committed five. But that wasn't the reason why we lost."

According to Opta data, West Ham conceded six free-kicks to City's 13, but the visitors led 8-1 in terms of fouls committed by half-time.

Kyle Walker and Sterling were the only City players booked, with Mike Dean handing out those cautions in the 87th minute and three minutes into second-half stoppage time.

It is not the first time City have been accused of such a tactic. Last November, former Manchester United captain Gary Neville said Fernandinho in particular was happy to foul to stop counter-attacks, prompting Guardiola to respond: "Never have my teams been focused on doing something wrong against the opponents."

Guardiola was riled again in April when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested City would be happy to give away free-kicks to halt United in their tracks in the derby. "I never prepare a game in 10 seasons as a manager thinking about this kind of thing. Never," he said.

Pellegrini felt City's approach to stopping West Ham attacks was one of the main differences in a balanced first half, but he insisted he did not think it the only reason for his side's humbling defeat.

When asked if he might encourage his players to adopt the same tactic, he said: "We must be more intelligent though to know when to make [fouls], not use it as a system.

"If you review the game, we didn't create too many chances because many of our attacking chances were stopped by a foul.

"But I repeat, I don't think that is just the reason we lost 5-0."

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City made a stunning start to the defence of their Premier League title by hammering West Ham 5-0.

City watched last season's runners-up Liverpool romp to a 4-1 win over Norwich City on Friday and answered with an emphatic triumph of their own.

Saturday's top-flight action also saw Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion cruise to victories over Southampton and Watford respectively.

Crystal Palace and 10-man Everton played out a goalless draw, while Sheffield United grabbed a late equaliser to claim a point at Bournemouth.

Tottenham will host Aston Villa in the last game of the day.

STERLING GIVES CITY IDEAL START

Sterling's treble inspired a five-goal away win as City commenced their quest for a third straight league crown. The England star's goals all came in the second half after Gabriel Jesus prodded the champions ahead in the 25th minute of a one-sided affair.

Sterling's well-worked first goal came six minutes after the interval and though a VAR review found he was offside before Jesus tapped in, City did get their third when he struck 15 minutes from time.

The former Liverpool player could have added the third from the spot after Issa Diop fouled the excellent Riyad Mahrez but he gifted the penalty to Sergio Aguero. The substitute's initial attempt was saved before he converted a re-take due to VAR showing Declan Rice encroached before clearing the rebound.

Sterling was not to be denied the match ball, though, as he raced clean through to convert a pass from Mahrez in added time.

MISERABLE STARTS FOR SAINTS AND WATFORD

Ashley Barnes' double was key as Burnley scored three times in the space of 12 second-half minutes to stun Southampton in a 3-0 win at Turf Moor, Johann Gudmundsson's impressive solo goal putting the icing on the cake.

New signing Neal Maupay, who arrived for a reported £20million, scored on his debut to help Brighton defeat Watford by the same scoreline at Vicarage Road.

The former Brentford striker followed fellow substitute Florin Andone by netting in the second half, Abdoulaye Doucoure's dreadful own goal after 28 minutes having set Graham Potter's new side on their way.


SHARP GRABS LATE POINT FOR BLADES

Substitute Billy Sharp finished off a goalmouth scramble with two minutes remaining to earn newly promoted Sheffield United a 1-1 draw away to Bournemouth.

Chris Mepham had earlier put the hosts in front when he converted a close-range rebound, but Sharp ensured the Blades got something from their first Premier League game since 2007.

There was also a draw as Crystal Palace held Everton at Selhurst Park, with the visitors having Morgan Schneiderlin sent off with 14 minutes remaining.

The midfielder picked up a second yellow card for a high foot Luka Milivojevic, while Wilfried Zaha - who reluctantly had to stay at Palace having been heavily pursued by Everton in the transfer window - played the last 25 minutes after coming off the bench.

Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City and hat-trick scorer Raheem Sterling have room for improvement following the 5-0 thrashing of West Ham.

The Premier League champions cruised to a resounding victory in their season opener at the London Stadium on Saturday, shifting through the gears at will in a four-goal second half.

Star forward Sterling grabbed three and looked in irrepressible form, while new signing Rodri and the returning Riyad Mahrez shone in possession.

"In terms of five goals, it is the perfect start, yes," Guardiola told a news conference.

"But the performance of the first half was far away from where we want to be. The other [half] is normal.

"We are still not in the top condition and I knew that we missed and lost a lot of simple balls, so it's so difficult to have a good tempo of our game.

"Today Raheem scored and Bernardo [Silva] is going to score and it was an incredible performance today from Riyad Mahrez, an incredible level.

"I think in all of the pre-season games [Sterling] scored goals from the beginning, so every single game he scored a goal.

"But in the first half, he can do better."

Gabriel Jesus scored City's first in the 25th minute and would have had a brace had Sterling not strayed offside by the barest of margins in the lead-up, an indiscretion spotted by VAR.

Technology also played a part in allowing Sergio Aguero to retake and convert a spot-kick that was initially saved, while the visitors were made to wait for confirmation of Sterling's second goal following prolonged analysis.

Guardiola said players and fans alike will have to adapt during VAR's debut season in the Premier League.

"In that period where you are celebrating, you have to be calm and be strong," he said.

"It is going to change the dynamic not just for the team but for the spectators. The spectators were quiet, and after [Jesus' goal was disallowed], they were looking and thinking 'oh, we can celebrate'.

"It will be a good lesson for our future, but it is what it is."

The good news for West Ham is Manchester City's visit to London Stadium is over and done with.

Raheem Sterling starred with a hat-trick as Pep Guardiola's reigning champions began their quest for a third consecutive Premier League title with an imposing 5-0 victory.

Playing their home games at the venue that hosted the 2012 Olympic Games has plenty of benefits for West Ham, but hosting City is not one of them.

Guardiola's men now boast an aggregate advantage of 22-1 in their games in Stratford. Here we look back at some painful hammerings for the Hammers.

January 6, 2017 - West Ham 0 Manchester City 5 (FA Cup)

City were faltering midway through their first season under Guardiola but they swatted aside Slaven Bilic's West Ham, with Yaya Toure opening the scoring from the penalty spot. Havard Nordtveit's own goal and David Silva's tap-in made it 3-0 before half-time, leaving Sergio Aguero and John Stones to complete the rout

February 1, 2017 – West Ham 0 Manchester City 4 (Premier League)

A month later, City were back at London Stadium and still licking their wounds from a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Everton. They remained too strong for Bilic's men as Kevin De Bruyne established a 17th-minute lead and orchestrated a blistering attacking display, with Silva also on target before Gabriel Jesus scored his first City goal. Midway through the second half, Toure again made no mistake from 12 yards.

April 29, 2018 – West Ham 1 Manchester City 4 (Premier League)

Far from the uncertain outfit West Ham had a look at the previous year, City were already crowned Premier League champions for 2017-18 and in full flight on this occasion. Leroy Sane's effort and an own goal from former City favourite Pablo Zabaleta had City in control and, although Aaron Cresswell pulled it back to 2-1, Jesus restored the two-goal cushion before Fernandinho wrapped up victory as Guardiola's men hungrily chased down their historic 100-point haul.

November 24, 2018 – West Ham 0 Manchester City 4 (Premier League)

This was a tale of usual suspects for ex-City boss Manuel Pellegrini as Silva and Sterling scored from close range. Sane joined Silva on three goals at London Stadium by full-time – a stunning piece of skill leaving Fabian Balbuena prone to make it 3-0. Sane's second in injury time did not stop Guardiola describing his team as "quite lucky"

August 10, 2019 – West Ham 0 Manchester City 5 (Premier League)

City were similarly patchy in Saturday's first half, which was illuminated by Jesus' clever near-post finish after Riyad Mahrez and Kyle Walker cut West Ham apart down the right. De Bruyne was a familiar provider to set Sterling on the way to a fine treble. VAR seemed to be the England winger's most capable adversary, while technology also granted Aguero a second go at beating Lukasz Fabianski from the penalty spot.

Raheem Sterling says the correct use of VAR in Manchester City's crushing win over West Ham negated the frustration over foiled goal celebrations.

City star Sterling scored three times as the Premier League champions commenced their title defence with an eventful 5-0 victory on Saturday.

The England international would also have registered an assist had the newly introduced technology not found him to be in a marginally offside position when squaring for an unmarked Gabriel Jesus in the second half.

VAR later worked to the away side's benefit, enabling Sergio Aguero to score from a retaken penalty after Declan Rice encroached into the area to clear following Lukasz Fabianski's save from the initial attempt.

"It's a bit difficult during the game because you want the goal to stand," Sterling told BT Sport when asked about Jesus' disallowed strike.

"But at the end of the day, as long as the decision is right, that's all that matters."

Sterling has now tallied four goals in his two competitive appearances this term, having netted against Liverpool during last weekend's Community Shield.

The 24-year-old believes his superb start is the product of a dedicated focus on finishing in training.

"It's something I'm trying to improve on," Sterling said. "With the players we've got here - Gabriel, Sergio, Riyad [Mahrez] - there's competition in training every day.

"It's just a joy to put the ball in the back of the net and everyone here is trying to do that to help the team.

"It was quite difficult in the first half to get the cobwebs off.

"The breathing was heavy so some of the touches were sloppy, but once the team got into a rhythm you can find the passes easier and once that second goal went in things went a lot smoother and a lot more chances came."

And so it begins. Where is the game? Has it gone already?

After a ragged first-half showing punctuated by Gabriel Jesus' superbly crafted opener, Manchester City were hitting their stride at London Stadium.

Kevin De Bruyne's typically immaculate throughball allowed Raheem Sterling to double the advantage for Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions and West Ham were cut to ribbons once more as David Silva and Sterling left Gabriel Jesus with a tap-in.

But wait… what?

As both teams prepared to restart, referee Mike Dean was informed Sterling – or, more accurately, the tip of Sterling's left shoulder was offside. No goal.

What followed was an example of the ripples we might expect to see, now VAR has been dropped into the Premier League pond – the choppy waters caused now largely becalmed in Europe's other major leagues.

In the final analysis, City coasted to a leisurely 5-0 win, but in the immediate aftermath of the disallowed goal, their composure deserted them.

Television replays showed Sterling telling Dean exactly what he thought of the call and a home crowd, who were operating at a hush moments earlier, roared West Ham forward.

Issa Diop saw his header drop on to the roof of the City goal, in which Ederson made a stunning double save to maintain a two-goal advantage.

Contentious decisions changing the momentum of games by affecting the composure of those involved is nothing new in football. But those moments normally come through a sense of injustice due to anger at an officiating mistake.

City's second-half wobble jarred because it was caused by a decision correct to the millimetre after an incident that prompted no complaint from any of the 22 players on the field.

This did not feel like the game being made better by technology. The same could be said for Sterling's lengthy wait to have the second goal of his hat-trick confirmed, nor Sergio Aguero getting a second go at beating Lukasz Fabianski form the penalty spot due to Declan Rice encroaching and clearing the rebound.

"It's a bit difficult during the game because you want your goal to stand," Sterling told BT Sport. "But at the end of the day, if the decision's right, that's all that matters."

The Premier League must hope fans are just as magnanimous. They shouldn't hold their breath.

Saturday's early game did not even delve into the murky world of interpretation – foul or no foul – which is where you'd have expected the fun to begin.

The decisions Dean had assistance with were absolutes, a matter of lines and where players stood in relation to them.

But, even though this should be simple – like whether a tennis serve is out or an lbw call in cricket has pitched outside leg stump – football has never operated to such degrees of accuracy.

VAR is subjecting the laws of the game to a scrutiny they were never designed to withstand and, if technology is to be accepted by fans, this is where changes should be.

"It looked level", "borderline" and other such accepted vagaries have to be obliterated along with all other shades of grey.

Perhaps, in terms of offside, there should be a move to drawing the line where "daylight" appears between opponents, as opposed to any part of the body a player can use to score – the factor that did for Sterling.

But defenders would be entitled to argue this skews the balance further in favour of attackers, who have been shown to get the benefit of repeatedly replayed penalty incidents and hardline interpretations of the handball rule.

The technology is only as effective as the rules it is being used to help implement. Right now, those do not feel up to standard.

Raheem Sterling's hat-trick inspired a 5-0 rout of West Ham as Manchester City commenced their quest for a third straight Premier League title in style in a contest where VAR played a prominent role.

The England star struck a sublime second-half treble after Gabriel Jesus prodded the champions ahead in the 25th minute of a one-sided affair at the London Stadium.

Sterling's well-worked first goal came six minutes after the interval and though a VAR review found he was offside before Jesus tapped in, he did find the net again 15 minutes from time to put City beyond the Hammers' reach.

He could have added the third from the spot after Issa Diop fouled Riyad Mahrez but gifted the spot-kick to Sergio Aguero, which the substitute converted on a re-take, awarded following another VAR intervention.

Sterling was not to be denied the match ball, though, as he raced clean through in added time to compound an embarrassing eighth straight defeat for West Ham in competitive meetings with Pep Guardiola's men.

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has become the first Premier League player to have a goal ruled out by a VAR review.

Jesus opened the scoring before half-time against West Ham at London Stadium, with Raheem Sterling putting Pep Guardiola's defending champions 2-0 to the good on the opening weekend.

The Brazil international appeared to have settled the contest when David Silva and Sterling unpicked the Hammers to leave him with a tap-in.

But referee Mike Dean was informed Sterling's left shoulder was fractionally offside when he darted on to Silva's pass, leading to roars from the home crowd and disbelief among the City players.

City were infamously denied in similar circumstances against Tottenham during last season's Champions League quarter-finals – Sterling thinking he had won the tie deep into stoppage time at the Etihad Stadium before replays showed Sergio Aguero's heel was just offside during the build-up.

Manchester City's record signing Rodri has been named to make his Premier League debut as the champions begin their title defence against West Ham.

The Spain international joins Kevin De Bruyne and new captain David Silva in midfield but fellow new arrival Joao Cancelo has to settle for a place on the bench.

Rodri, 23, started the Community Shield triumph over Liverpool and seven members of that team have held their places.

The serious knee injury Leroy Sane suffered last weekend opens the door to Gabriel Jesus, who wins a spot in the XI ahead of Sergio Aguero.

Riyad Mahrez has been cleared to play and replaces Bernardo Silva on the flank opposite to Raheem Sterling.

City left Mahrez out of their Community Shield squad as they had been unable to establish whether he inadvertently ingested a banned substance while on international duty with Algeria at the Africa Cup of Nations.

West Ham, meanwhile, have included their own record acquisition, striker Sebastien Haller, for Saturday's clash at the London Stadium.

Manuel Pellegrini's men will attempt to reverse a seven-match losing streak against City in all competitions.

 

David Silva has been named the new captain of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

The experienced former Spain international, who signed from Valencia in 2010 and has won 10 major trophies at the Etihad Stadium, takes over the armband from Vincent Kompany, who joined Anderlecht as player-manager at the end of last season.

In June, Silva announced 2019-20 will be his last with City.

Guardiola said the 33-year-old playmaker, who was elected by team-mates, will be supported by vice-captains Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.

"A captain has to be what he is," the City manager said ahead his side beginning their quest for a third consecutive Premier League title at West Ham. "It's an incredible, big respect from his mates. The decision they have to take is the best thing for the club.

"David has to be himself, make decisions for the team. Normally, it depends what the captain is like when [in] the locker room. They are nice guys, they know each other, they laugh a lot. It will not be a problem. He will be a good captain."

Champions City are likely to hand a Premier League debut to club-record signing Rodri on Saturday, although the match comes too soon for Joao Cancelo, whose move from Juventus in a part-exchange deal involving Danilo was only confirmed on Thursday.

"Cancelo is not going to play, not yet," Guardiola said. "He's going to settle good, he has experience, especially in Turin with a very important team.

"Rodri, every day I'm more convinced that this deal we have done with him will be one of the best this club has done in the last years. He will be an incredible holding midfielder."

City will also have Aymeric Laporte back from a knock, and Riyad Mahrez is available after he skipped the Community Shield clash with Liverpool due to concerns that medicine he took while on international duty with Algeria could complicate a doping control test.

Guardiola is expecting a difficult test against a side managed by former City boss Manuel Pellegrini, especially given the Hammers' form towards the end of last season, when they claimed three consecutive wins over Tottenham, Southampton and Watford.

"Last season, they finished well," he said. "Manuel has quality in identifying the way he plays. At the start, it was not easy: they lost the first three of four games. But he's a calm person and the board supported him. He made good results at the end of the season.

"The quality in his teams and the quality of the players up front, they've got many good players. It's the first game. Playing away is tricky but we are ready."

Leroy Sane is facing around seven months on the sidelines with his anterior cruciate ligament injury, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

The Germany international was forced off after just 13 minutes of the Community Shield clash with Liverpool at Wembley last Sunday after a challenge with Trent Alexander-Arnold.

City confirmed this week that Sane will require surgery on his right ACL, although the club did not put a time frame on his recovery.

Guardiola, though, does not expect the winger to be available until at least February next year.

When asked if he had an estimate on Sane's recovery time, Guardiola said: "No, I don't know. I'm not a doctor or physio. Normally this type of injury is six, seven months; hopefully February, March he can come back with us."

Sane has been heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich, with head coach Niko Kovac even forced to apologise in July for publicly stating he was confident of a deal for the former Schalke star.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic refused to say whether Sane's injury meant Bayern's interest in the player was over on Thursday.

Guardiola, for his part, has few doubts over Sane's future and is simply frustrated to see another of his players struck down by an ACL problem, with Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy each having suffered similar injuries during his City tenure.

"I didn't think about him leaving," he said. The player didn't tell me 'I want to leave'. I always thought he was our player. Unfortunately, it's incredibly bad news because in three seasons we had three ACL [injuries].

"He is a young player. He will hopefully recover well. He's in the best hands possible. The people here will try to help him."

The Premier League transfer window has closed ahead of the start of the new season and managers up and down England will now take stock.

Have the rest of the top six done enough to catch Manchester City? Are the promoted sides suitably stocked to secure top-flight survival?

We will soon find out but, in the meantime, we pick out five signings that look pretty shrewd.

 

5. Pablo Fornals (West Ham)

At a reported fee of £24million, West Ham made what looks like being a clever addition.

Fornals' form fell away a little last season but he was generally a brilliant attacking threat for Villarreal after initially impressing with Malaga in LaLiga.

The relatively modest fee means he will likely have to do little to repay West Ham's faith and they could expect a huge increase on that fee if he does enough to impress an elite suitor in the coming seasons.

 

4. Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)

Arsenal quite desperately needed defensive reinforcements, but it took until deadline day to get them over the line.

Tierney, at least, should be worth the wait. A consistent performer for Celtic, the Gunners have done well to bring in the Scotland full-back for a fee in the region of £25million.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon mentioned Aaron Wan-Bissaka's £50m move to Manchester United when talking up Tierney's potential price, so to pay half that sum to solve the left-back problem is a huge coup for Unai Emery's side.

3. Rodri (Manchester City)

How do you improve the treble-winning champions? Well, Pep Guardiola has finally brought in a player in an area they had long seemed light.

Fernandinho is now 34 and City struggled to replace the Brazilian when he was out of action last season. That will no longer be an issue with Rodri's arrival.

The former Atletico Madrid midfielder looks to be an excellent long-term replacement for Fernandinho and has hit the ground running, impressing in the Community Shield win over Liverpool.

2. Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham)

Tottenham did not make a single signing last season but they secured one of the best deals of the new campaign when Ndombele arrived in London.

Spurs' lack of depth in the centre of midfield was far more concerning than City's last term, with Victor Wanyama called in from the cold to partner Moussa Sissoko for stretches of their Champions League run.

Ndombele will now look to link up with Sissoko and Harry Winks in a potentially dominant midfield.

 

1. Moise Kean (Everton)

Juventus have attacked the transfer market again this year and this led to Kean being the odd man out despite an outstanding end to the 2018-19 season.

The 19-year-old scored six Juve goals from March onwards, while also netting twice for the senior Italy team in that sensational run to establish himself as a star name.

With Everton's numerous creative players, Kean should be a success at Goodison Park and belatedly replace Romelu Lukaku in the central striking role.

Andy Carroll has returned to Newcastle United on a free transfer, eight and a half years after leaving the club in a British record deal.

The striker departed his hometown club for Liverpool in a £35million move in January 2011, having scored 33 goals in 91 games for Newcastle.

Carroll, then an England international, failed to fulfil his potential at Anfield and moved on to West Ham. He spent seven years in London, including an initial loan.

But injuries further rocked Carroll's progress and he was released by West Ham this close season after starting just three Premier League matches last term.

Talk emerged of an unlikely return to Newcastle and a one-year deal was sealed on Thursday ahead of the transfer deadline.

"It feels very good. My friends and family are here, and it's the club that I support – it is home," Carroll told the club's website.

"I enjoyed the time I spent here, and hopefully I can carry on where I left off. When I left eight and a half years ago, I was scoring goals and I was enjoying my football.

"It's been a pretty tough time since then and I just want to get back to that.

"I know it's home. I've played here, I've spoken to the fans, I am a fan, and my family is here. For me to get back to where I was, I think this is the only place for me."

It is reported past fitness concerns have seen Carroll agree to lower wages, with big bonuses for appearances and goals.

The 30-year-old is likely to provide back-up to record £40m buy Joelinton.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have sent winger Jacob Murphy to Sheffield Wednesday on a season-long loan.

Jurgen Klopp's complaint over the Premier League start date is sure to infiltrate the season opener when Liverpool entertain Norwich City on Friday.

A combination of Copa America and Africa Cup of Nations commitments robbed Klopp of several stars for much of pre-season, leading the Reds boss to call for the English football calendar to be pushed back.

As the minutes tick down to that first whistle at Anfield, managers will be monitoring the condition of their players and making calls on fitness.

Do those in charge of globe-trotting squads have reason to fear sluggish starts, or can players push past heavy legs to set the league alight in the early weeks?

To consider the question, we have mined the Opta data to assess how three high-profile stars fared at the outset of the two seasons either side of last year's World Cup.

 

No concern over Kane

Harry Kane recently told reporters he feels as sharp as he has "for a long while" after a rare, relaxing off-season, which some view as the gateway to a fast start for the Tottenham striker.

Yet even in the aftermath of last year's long and emotionally exhausting run to the semi-finals in Russia, the England captain seemed to have no trouble getting right back up to speed for Spurs.

Kane scored five times over the course of the opening seven games last season, second only to a player he faced in the third-place play-off at the World Cup: Eden Hazard.

The haul was one fewer than he managed in the same period in 2017-18, which followed a tournament-free off-season.

Fitness did become an issue for Kane as a long 2018-19 campaign wore on and his workload for club and country warrants close inspection, but a longer holiday did little to boost his numbers at the beginning of the season.

Of course, not every player returned from the World Cup in the same psychological state as the tournament's Golden Boot winner.

De Gea better for the break?

David de Gea was simply not himself last season.

Confidence sapped by a poor World Cup, the Spain star dipped well below his usually impeccable standards back at Old Trafford and might have lost the number one shirt had Sergio Romero not suffered ill-timed injuries.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ultimately kept faith with Manchester United's first-choice keeper and can reasonably expect a rejuvenated De Gea to make the kind of solid start to the season he enjoyed in 2017-18.

Then, the former Atletico Madrid man posted a league-high save percentage of 88.2 through to the end of September.

Fast forward 12 months and, with international matters perhaps still on his mind, De Gea did not rank in the top 10 for that statistic across the same period.

Poorer save percentages plagued other Premier League goalkeepers in the immediate aftermath of attending the World Cup.

Manchester City's Ederson, Mat Ryan of Brighton and Hove Albion and Leicester City mainstay Kasper Schmeichel all failed to meet their respective averages after travelling to Russia.

The latter, like De Gea, failed to claw his way into the Premier League's top 10 over the first seven games last term.

Silva sets elite standard

As other players endure peaks and troughs, David Silva simply gets on with sustaining a level of excellence even in his advancing years.

The experienced midfielder started in Manchester City's triumph over Liverpool in the Community Shield last weekend and deserves a good deal of attention when the champions travel to London Stadium on Saturday.

Silva started the 2017-18 season in sublime style, registering a league-high six assists in the space of seven games and creating 23 chances in total – only team-mate Kevin De Bruyne (24) managed more.

He went on to win the title, attended the World Cup, and eased back into the Premier League by creating 20 chances before the end of September last season, more than any other player. All without real time to pause.

Could the 33-year-old help City set the pace yet again? West Ham would be safe to assume so: Silva has scored in four of his past five matches against them in all competitions.

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