While Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to record-breaking levels with an easy win over Southampton, the battle beneath them for places in the top four heated up.

The Reds thumped the Saints 4-0 at Anfield to open up a 22-point gap over Manchester City - the biggest lead any team has ever held at the top of the English top-flight - and Pep Guardiola's men lost 2-0 in a chaotic game at Tottenham a day later.

Fourth-placed Chelsea looked set to narrow the gap to Leicester City above them when they took the lead at King Power Stadium but the Foxes fought back in a 2-2 draw, while Sheffield United briefly moved up to fifth before Spurs' win after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Two sides just outside the European qualification places, Manchester United and Wolves played out a goalless draw at Old Trafford but there was no shortage of goals at West Ham or Watford.

The weekend's Opta data tells the story of 15 goals across four of the most entertaining clashes of matchweek 25, with fortunes affected at both ends of the table.

BUTTERFINGERED FOXES FRITTER LEAD AGAINST BLUES

Leicester City came from behind to lead 2-1 against Chelsea but the trend that has seen them regularly drop from winning positions continued.

Antonio Rudiger, who opened the scoring after 46 minutes, became the first defender to score twice for Chelsea in a Premier League match since John Terry against Fulham in April 2013 to ensure the points were shared.

Leicester have dropped eight points from winning positions in their last four league outings, more than they had in their previous 59 matches since the start of the 2018-19 campaign (six).

Chelsea have failed to win six of the games in which they have scored the first goal this season (D5 L1), pegged back as they were by Harvey Barnes' third goal in three league games and Ben Chilwell's 64th-minute strike.

Those goals took the Blues' tally of goals conceded on the road to 22 in 13 games, and manager Frank Lampard must address his side's defensive frailties if they are to keep their place in the Premier League top four.

CHERRIES EXPLOIT VILLA'S PROBLEMS ON THE ROAD

Back-to-back victories have moved Bournemouth up to 16th and they leapfrogged Aston Villa after beating Dean Smith's men 2-1 at Vitality Stadium.

Prior to their wins over Brighton and Hove Albion and Villa, the Cherries had only won two of their previous 17 Premier League matches but Eddie Howe's side took advantage of a defence that does not travel well to make it two wins from two.

Villa are the only side in the division yet to register a clean sheet away from home this season and they fell behind when Phillip Billing scored his first league goal for Bournemouth in his 23rd appearance for the club.

Nathan Ake extended Bournemouth's lead before Mbwana Samatta scored Villa's first headed Premier League goal in almost four years.

The consolation strike came on Samatta's league debut, making the Tanzanian attacker Villa's first first player to score on his league bow since Rudy Gestede scored against Bournemouth in August 2015.

JOY OF SIX FOR MOURINHO AFTER BERGWIJN'S DEBUT DELIGHT

Jose Mourinho enjoyed his sixth victory over Pep Guardiola after goals from Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min helped Tottenham beat the champions at home.

Mourinho has now beaten Guardiola's sides with Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Spurs, with Sunday's victory Tottenham's first over City in the Premier League since they won by the same scoreline in October 2016.

City had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off as they slipped to a sixth Premier League defeat of the season - their joint-most in a single campaign under Guardiola (six in 2016-17).

Bergwijn became the Premier League's 13th Dutchman to score on his debut and the competition's 250th player to do so, before Son scored his fifth goal against City in all competitions since the start of 2016-17 - only Jamie Vardy (six) has scored more against them in that period.

 

HAMMERS IN THE DROP ZONE AFTER POINTS SHARED IN THRILLER

West Ham were 2-0 up at half-time against Brighton but left London Stadium still winless in the Premier League against the Seagulls, who fought back to draw 3-3.

The Hammers have drawn three and lost three of their six Premier League clashes with Brighton and this was not the first time they have dropped points from a winning position this season.

In fact, David Moyes' team have lost more points from winning positions than any other top-flight team this season (19) but the last time they failed to win a game in which they led by two goals was back in October 2017 when they drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace.

Brighton have avoided defeat after trailing by two goals on three occasions, the first two coming in September 2018 when they drew 2-2 with Fulham and Southampton.

Liverpool opened up a whopping 22-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League as four second-half goals saw them cruise past Southampton 4-0 at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds were lucky to not be behind at the break after a chaotic first half, but normal service was resumed after the interval as they racked up a 16th consecutive top-flight triumph.

Merseyside rivals Everton, meanwhile, came from two goals down to edge past Watford 3-2 in a thrilling game at Vicarage Road.

Antonio Rudiger scored twice as Chelsea and Leicester City played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium, while there were wins for Sheffield United and Bournemouth over Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively.

Brighton and Hove Albion came from two goals down to draw 3-3 at West Ham, while bottom side Norwich City held Newcastle United to a goalless draw at St James' Park.

SALAH AT THE DOUBLE FOR RELENTLESS REDS

Mohamed Salah scored twice as runaway leaders Liverpool produced a second-half surge to seal a comprehensive victory over Southampton.

Jurgen Klopp's world champions secured a 24th win from 25 top-flight games this season, with Salah striking twice in the last 18 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 47th minute against his former club, unleashing a low drive past Alex McCarthy, before Jordan Henderson doubled their lead on the hour mark.

RUDIGER HEADS BRACE IN LANDMARK MATCH

Rudiger marked his 100th appearance for Chelsea with an unlikely brace but Frank Lampard's side were unable to secure maximum points.

Chelsea went ahead a minute into the second half at the King Power Stadium when Rudiger nodded in Mason Mount's corner.

Their lead lasted less than 10 minutes, Harvey Barnes drawing Leicester level with the aid of a deflection off Reece James to give Willy Caballero - picked ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga - no chance.

Ben Chilwell put the hosts ahead with a cool finish in the 64th minute, but the Blues claimed a share of the spoils to stay eight points behind third-placed Leicester when Rudiger headed home his second 19 minutes from time.

TOFFEES STING HORNETS WITH LATE STRIKE

Everton's Theo Walcott scored in the 90th minute to complete a remarkable turnaround against Watford.

Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra had put the Hornets 2-0 up, but defender Yerry Mina scored twice in first-half stoppage time to haul Carlo Ancelotti's side level.

Everton's hopes of sealing all three points looked to be over when Fabian Delph was dismissed 13 minutes from time for two yellow cards, but Walcott steered home after a quick break to send the travelling faithful into raptures.  

How close did Gareth Bale come to reuniting with Tottenham on transfer deadline day?

According to reports, the Premier League club went so far as to send representatives to Spain in an audacious attempt to lure the Wales international back to north London.

But even Jose Mourinho's backing could not force the deal over the line on Friday.

 

TOP STORY - SPURS INVESTIGATED AUDACIOUS BALE BID

Tottenham's interest in re-signing Bale prompted chairman Daniel Levy to skip across Europe for talks with Real Madrid counterpart Florentino Perez, according to the Times.

Spurs reportedly believed a "breakthrough" had been made in the hours before the window closed and had "growing confidence" a deal could be agreed.

But, per the Daily Mail, Bale's reluctance to take a pay cut on his £600,000-per-week wages meant negotiations came unstuck.

The report claims head coach Mourinho was "fully behind" the ultimately fruitless attempt to pull off what would have been a statement of intent.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham's near misses did not end with Bale. Sky Sports say Spurs and Antonio Conte's Inter attempted to sign Odion Ighalo before the Nigerian striker sealed his last-gasp loan switch to Manchester United.

- Serie A champions Juventus are certain to maintain their interest in United star Paul Pogba and Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, claims CalcioMercato.

- Arsenal made two January additions but boss Mikel Arteta still wants a holding midfielder to arrive before next season, reports The Athletic.

- Crystal Palace called off their deal for Nathan Ferguson after the West Brom defender's medical revealed a knee issue, according to the Evening Standard.

- MLS expansion side Nashville are set to capture West Ham defender Winston Reid on a six-month loan, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Manchester United left it very, very late, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the extra striker he wanted in the form of Odion Ighalo.

With a move for Bournemouth's Joshua King dead in the water, the Red Devils focused their efforts on a loan deal for the 30-year-old, who has been playing for Shanghai Shenhua since last February.

Ighalo's deal, which Omnisport understands does not include a purchase option, will give Solskjaer another option up front during the injury absence of Marcus Rashford.

He is expected to travel to England in the coming days before United publicly announce the signing.

Ighalo was far from the only major deal to be concluded late in the transfer window, though, as West Ham just managed to finalise the signing of Jarrod Bowen from Hull City for a reported initial fee of £22million.

Aston Villa also announced a new striker signing about 10 minutes before the window closed, Borja Baston joining on a free transfer from Swansea City.

Elsewhere in England, Tariq Lamptey took the decision to leave Chelsea and sign for Brighton and Hove Albion on a contract until 2023. The Seagulls have also brought back Alexis Mac Allister from Boca Juniors, where he was on loan.


LOANS GALORE

Sheffield United had a busy end to the window, securing the arrival of Panos Retsos - initially on loan but with the option of a permanent deal - from Bayer Leverkusen, while Ravel Morrison has been sent on loan to Middlesbrough, having made one Premier League appearance this season.

Leicester City have loaned Ryan Bennett from Wolves, with Filip Benkovic allowed to leave for Bristol City for the remainder of the campaign with a view to earning regular game time.

Everton have sent Jonas Lossl back to Huddersfield Town on loan, while Connor Wickham is also heading to the Championship, the Crystal Palace striker moving to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

Wolves have secured the signing of Luke Matheson, who famously scored at Old Trafford in September as a 16-year-old, and loaned him back to Rochdale for the remainder of the season.

Leverkusen have also brought in a signing for the future, with Edmond Tapsoba arriving from Vitoria SC for a fee said to be between €16m and €18m.
 

SERIE A FLURRY

Italy's window closed a little earlier than some others and there was a flurry of deals around the deadline.

Marko Pjaca will get the chance to kick-start his career with Anderlecht, Juventus having allowed the winger to leave on loan for the remainder of the season as he looks to earn regular first-team football.

Milan have signed Alexis Saelemaekers, a highly rated 20-year-old from Anderlecht who arrives on loan with the option of a permanent move.

Fiorentina have had a busy end to the window. Kevin Agudelo has joined the Viola from Genoa on an 18-month loan deal, while Valentin Eysseric has been sent to Hellas Verona until June.

Maya Yoshida secured a switch to Sampdoria from Southampton, while Gaston Pereiro's move from PSV to Cagliari was ratified. He will be joined in Sardinia by Alberto Paloschi, with Alberto Cerri heading the other way to SPAL.

Gervinho, meanwhile, has taken another step in his nomadic career by moving to Al Sadd from Parma, who brought in Vasco Regini on loan from Samp.
 

BUSY BARCA

Barcelona will give new €10m signing Matheus Fernandes for time to acclimatise to LaLiga, spending the rest of 2019-20 with Real Valladolid.

Barca have also sent Moussa Wague on loan to Nice, who have the option of a €10m permanent deal, while Ligue 1 rivals Lyon have signed Camilo Reijers de Oliveira for €2m.

Kevin-Prince Boateng was a shock signing for Barca 12 months ago and the experienced forward is on the move again, this time heading to Besiktas on loan from Fiorentina.

Leganes bolstered their attacking depth with two loan deals, bringing in Roger Assale from Young Boys and former player Miguel Angel Guerrero from Olympiacos.

Getafe have landed Erick Cabaco on a permanent deal, the defender joining from Levante, Granada have signed Gil Dias on loan from Monaco, and Real Sociedad have sold Ruben Pardo to Bordeaux.

Celta Vigo, meanwhile, have loaned Emre Mor to Olympiacos, while a late, late deal that saw Nicolas Gaitan sign for Lille for the rest of the season was completed in time.

Jarrod Bowen landed a deadline-beating move to West Ham as the Premier League strugglers raided Hull City for the Tigers' biggest asset.

The in-demand 23-year-old forward has signed a five-and-a-half year deal with the London club for a fee reported to be in excessive of £20million.

Bowen has scored 16 Championship goals and produced seven assists for Hull this season, and West Ham were not the only top-flight club linked with a move for the former Hereford player.

Newcastle and Crystal Palace were both said to be admirers of Bowen, who was also strongly linked with a move to Leeds United.

Bowen showed flashes of his potential in the FA Cup fourth-round match against Chelsea last weekend and he has been one of the standout performers in the Championship.

He joins a team who have plummeted towards the Premier League relegation zone, with David Moyes identifying Bowen as a player capable of adding some fire to his attack ahead of their survival battle.

Bowen netted 15 goals in the 2017-18 season before breaking the 20-goal barrier last term, and this campaign has been one of continuing progress for a player who can play in wide or central roles.

Moyes said of his new recruit: "We are delighted to welcome Jarrod to West Ham United. I think he could be a big success.

"He's probably what you’d call a wide forward these days, or perhaps an old-fashioned inside-right. He has played a couple of games as a second centre forward or as a number 10..

"When you score goals like he does, and in the numbers he does, in the Championship, it will give you a great chance of scoring goals in the Premier League.

"We were attracted to the goals he has scored over the years; not just in one year, but over the last three years."

Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool were short of their best in their 2-0 victory over West Ham, producing what he described as a "normal performance" at the London Stadium.

The Reds sauntered to three points as Mohamed Salah scored a first-half penalty before setting up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for his second Premier League goal of the season after the interval.

Manuel Lanzini missed clear chances for the Hammers in either half amid some sloppy Liverpool defending, though Klopp opted not to criticise his players and insisted the result was all that mattered.

"We could have done a lot of things better but there was only one team who deserved to win," the Liverpool boss told Sky Sports.

"We could have passed better, defended better. Who cares? These players played outstanding football so often, it was a normal performance.

"We never had 100 per cent rhythm, it is tough to play against such a defensive-orientated team."

Liverpool's players left the pitch to the sound of travelling supporters singing confidently about becoming Premier League champions, though Klopp is still refusing to get too carried away despite holding a 19-point lead at the summit.

"They can sing whatever they want," the German said. "Singing it doesn't mean you are it."

Defeat leaves West Ham still teetering above the relegation zone, with only their marginally superior goal difference keeping them above 18th-placed Bournemouth.

After the game, Hammers boss David Moyes discussed the arrival of Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Soucek on loan from Slavia Prague, describing the 24-year-old as "a big, athletic midfield player who has scored a lot of goals".

Moyes indicated that the club could yet make more additions before the January transfer window closes, adding: "I would like to bring in players who can help the team. If we can add, we will."

Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored the goals as Liverpool moved 19 points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at West Ham.

The Reds completed the full set of top-flight scalps – they have now beaten every team in the division this season – even though Jurgen Klopp's side were nowhere near their best at London Stadium on Wednesday.

While they dominated possession and frustrated their hosts for long periods, the Reds still allowed Manuel Lanzini chances in either half that a forward with more confidence may well have taken.

Still, all the swagger came from Liverpool, who took the lead when Salah lashed home a penalty in the 35th minute. They then put paid to West Ham's hopes of a second-half recovery when Oxlade-Chamberlain netted in a one-on-one situation with Lukasz Fabianski.

Manuel Lanzini fired wide with only Alisson to beat after 14 minutes and, though an offside flag was raised against the Argentina international, Liverpool looked momentarily rattled.

The visitors only began to threaten when Andrew Robertson beat Fabianski with a delicate chip, but his effort lacked accuracy and the hosts, working hard to stay on terms, cleared their lines.

However, West Ham's game plan faltered when Issa Diop was judged to have fouled Divock Origi in the six-yard box and Salah rammed the ensuing penalty into the net, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Lanzini fluffed another golden chance to score early in the second half and his miss paved the way for Liverpool to double their lead. On a counter-attack from a West Ham corner, Salah's pass with the outside of his left boot put Oxlade-Chamberlain through on goal and the midfielder applied a cool low finish to beat Fabianski.

Declan Rice powered through the Liverpool defence and stung Alisson's palms with a fierce drive before Trent Alexander-Arnold inadvertently hit his own post from the rebound.

Salah shook the frame of the West Ham goal at the other end with a sweetly struck first-time shot in the closing stages but two goals were more than enough for Liverpool to continue their title charge.

West Ham have completed the signing of Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Soucek from Slavia Prague.

Soucek, 24, has initially joined on loan, with West Ham holding an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season.

David Moyes' side confirmed the deal on Wednesday ahead of their home match with Premier League leaders Liverpool.

"We are delighted to welcome Tomas to West Ham United," Moyes said of Soucek, who has 25 international caps.

"He gives us a lot of different qualities, but most importantly he fits the profile of the player we want to bring to the club. He is young and hungry but with an established pedigree and proven talent."

Soucek has scored 12 goals this season, including strikes against Inter and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

He netted on 18 occasions last season as he helped Slavia to a league and cup double on his way to being named the Czech top-flight's Player of the Year.

Moyes added: "He was captain of Slavia Prague, he's played as a defensive midfielder but he's scored a lot of goals as an attacking midfielder as well. 

"At the moment he ticks a lot of boxes. We need to give him the opportunity and time to settle in but we are confident he will prove to be a strong addition to the squad."

Soucek is West Ham's second signing of the January transfer window after the addition of goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

Jurgen Klopp defended his decision to rest players and not take charge of Liverpool's upcoming FA Cup fourth-round replay with Shrewsbury Town, insisting he is taking a stand for the good of English football.

Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw by Shrewsbury at the New Meadow on Sunday, meaning the League One side will play a lucrative replay at Anfield next week.

But that match is due to fall within the Premier League's inaugural mid-season break, when Klopp had promised his senior players they would be afforded time off to recover before the campaign's final push.

Klopp received criticism for his decision, with some suggesting he was disrespecting the FA Cup and others calling him "lazy", but the German will not renege on his promises.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Premier League meeting with West Ham, Klopp launched a lengthy and impassioned defence of his plans.

He said: "I have to make decisions based on the situation we are in, some people made other decisions before the season. Whoever it was – and okay, the FA tried to do something with moving games to midweek to decrease intensity – but it came out and whoever was involved, if someone from our club was involved and forgot to say no, I don't know exactly how it was discussed.

"The situation ends up, we are given two weeks [off]. In the first moment I thought, okay, two weeks, but it was not clear which week you get, and then we started going a bit into it and then we saw if we get the second week we probably get a Champions League game in that week.

"We cannot make then a week off and say there are two days to prepare for Atletico Madrid in this case, so the other week was the first week, for the Champions League teams it's the better week as there's no Champions League games.

"And then it came up, 'Oh, there could be a potential [FA Cup] replay.' Because we plan in the long term, I cannot plan like this [at short notice], especially in a really decisive period of the season coming up, so I decided we will have a mid-season break, based on a letter [from the FA] that we got in April 2019 when we were asked to respect a mid-season break.

"I know how it sounds now and I don't want to be in the middle of all discussions, I'm not a revolution guy or trying to show the whole world how strong I can be or whatever, it's not the reason. If people think that I'm lazy because I'm not here [for the match], I cannot change that.

"People can name me whatever, I'm not too interested in that because the only responsibility I have is for my players, and for all the [Premier League] players as well.

"If we react now in the way we always react, like, 'We have to sort it somehow, we'll be here and find a way to do it,' then nothing will change. I think all people in football agree that something has to change, and people have to speak.

"I don't know who was there [at the FA meeting to discuss the mid-season break], I know the FA said all the clubs agreed, but no sports-responsible people were there. There was not a manager or a sporting director there, that's what we need, that must change as well, otherwise next year we have exactly the same.

"I made a decision and now it looks like people want something different from me, so I cannot do what all the people want. Could I be here for the game? Of course I could, but that's again a complete misunderstanding of managing and coaching.

"The mid-season break is now something that has to be settled for the next years and all the different parties need to find a solution, so it will not be like this year again, where it's possible that you have one [a break], but you may not.

"We do it to make a clear standpoint, and again, if people call me lazy or disrespectful to cup competitions, it's all not true.

"Every year we are trying to find our way through the season and it's absolutely okay, it's our job, but if then part of these long-term plans is a mid-season break, then it has to be a mid-season break and you cannot get it [taken] away a week before you have it. That's not possible."

Jurgen Klopp has confirmed forward Sadio Mane is likely to miss Liverpool's next two matches with a small muscle tear.

Senegal international Mane pulled up in the first half of Liverpool's 2-1 win at Wolves last Thursday with a hamstring complaint.

The 27-year-old was absent for the 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday and will miss the Premier League trip to West Ham on Wednesday.

However, Klopp only expects Mane to miss one other match - a home clash against his former club Southampton on Saturday - as the damage is not as bad as first feared.

"Sadio will not be involved for West Ham and probably not Southampton," Klopp said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"Afterwards he should be fine, then the week after that should be perfect for him to get back on track. 

"He has a small muscle tear, which is serious enough to rule him out, but we've been a little bit lucky with the injury as well so it's not that serious. 

"But when you have three games in a week it means he's out for three games."

Mane has started 21 of Liverpool's 23 Premier League matches this season and has been used 31 times in all competitions.

Real Madrid have long been touted as favourites to tempt Kylian Mbappe from Paris.

Mbappe idolises Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, who has made no secret of his desire to sign the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

But should Liverpool splash the cash, Mbappe could reportedly find himself at Anfield.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OPEN TO REDS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe would be open to joining Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool, according to journalist Julien Laurens.

Mbappe has long been tipped to eventually swap PSG for LaLiga giants Real Madrid, where he is coveted by fellow Frenchman and head coach Zinedine Zidane.

However, Laurens claims Liverpool could be an option, should the English side meet PSG's demands.

 

ROUND-UP 

Manchester United want Alexis Sanchez to return to the club at the end of the season, says the Daily Star. On loan at Serie A outfit Inter following a horror spell in Manchester, the Red Devils have decided to give the Chilean forward another chance to prove himself.

- West Ham have offered €40million (£33.7m) to Cagliari for Uruguay international Nahitan Nandez, reports Tuttomercatoweb.

- With Carles Perez edging closer to Roma, Barcelona could also sell Ivan Rakitic. According to Marca, Juventus are keeping tabs on the experienced midfielder.

- Sky Sport Italia claims Roma have contacted Chelsea over veteran forward Pedro, who is out of contract at season's end.

Flamengo have agreed terms with Inter to sign Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa on a permanent basis, reports ESPN Brazil, Globoesporte and Sportitalia.

Juventus are still pondering a swap deal that would see full-back Mattia De Sciglio move to PSG in exchange for Layvin Kurzawa, according to Gianluca Di Marzio.

Tottenham appear set to soften Christian Eriksen's exit by making their second January signing.

Almost two weeks after landing Gedson Fernandes on loan, the Premier League side are reportedly on the cusp of capturing Steven Bergwijn from PSV.

The impending transfer has caused unrest in Eindhoven, where there is said to be animosity towards Spurs.

 

TOP STORY - SPURS TO SIGN BERGWIJN

Tottenham are closing in on the €30million (£25.3m) acquisition of Dutch winger Bergwijn, according to the Guardian.

The 22-year-old, capped nine times at international level, has reportedly travelled to London to finalise the deal.

PSV's interim head coach Ernest Faber claimed Bergwijn asked to be left out of Sunday's 1-1 Eredivisie draw against Twente, telling reporters: "It's his choice. We only need players who are 100 per cent focused on PSV."

The former Ajax youth player later clarified his version of events in a video uploaded to his Instagram account, where he insisted he was not a "rat" and that Faber had given his blessing to the switch.

Bergwijn was linked to Bayern Munich in 2019.

 

ROUND-UP 

- It could be Bergwijn in, Eriksen out to begin the week for Spurs. Sky Sport Italia says the Denmark international will ink his Inter contract after undergoing a medical on Monday. 

- LaLiga side Sevilla are working to sign Milan winger Suso on an initial 18-month loan deal, claims CalcioMercato. 

- Could former Newcastle United and Paris Saint-Germain enigma Hatem Ben Arfa finally be about to find a new home? The 32-year-old, a free agent since leaving Rennes, is on the verge of joining Real Valladolid, reports Mundo Deportivo. 

- Crystal Palace have rejected a bid from PSV bid for £9m-rated left-back Patrick van Aanholt, says the Daily Mail.

- West Ham and Burnley are monitoring Sampdoria's ex-Leeds United midfielder Ronaldo Vieira, according to the Athletic.

Liverpool's march towards the Premier League title shows no sign of slowing down, as the Reds claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wolves.

Manchester United are clinging to a top-six position after they slid to a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, the latest in a string of wretched results this season that have sparked an angry reaction from supporters.

While United toil, neighbours Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win at Sheffield United that continued their resurgent league form, with a winning combination delivering the goal for Pep Guardiola's side.

Leicester City might have expected a challenge from the big clubs behind them by now, but the Foxes continue to sit pretty in third place, and a 4-1 win over West Ham continued to make them look immovable from the top four this season.

The midweek Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, revealing a string of telling trends and match facts.

 

MANE INJURY DOES NOT DERAIL LIVERPOOL'S CHARGE

Liverpool lost Sadio Mane to injury during the first half in Thursday's clash with Wolves, yet Roberto Firmino struck late on to claim the win as the Reds became just the fifth side in English Football League history to go 40 straight matches unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp's side have amassed 67 points from a possible 69 in the Premier League this season; this is at least five more than any side in English top-flight history has ever previously had after as many games of a campaign.

Raul Jimenez drew Wolves level after Jordan Henderson's opener, and the Mexican's header ended a run of 725 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Richarlison scored for Everton at Anfield in December.

Jimenez also became the third Premier League player to net 20+ goals in all competitions this season, after Sergio Aguero (21) and Raheem Sterling (20).

Since the start of last season, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 Premier League goals, at least five more than any other player, with 10 of those coming from dead balls, also a league-high.

Firmino, meanwhile, has scored six goals in his last eight games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 32 appearances for the club, and all of his 10 Premier League strikes this season have come away from home.

UNITED IN TURMOIL AS CLARETS PUT NEGATIVE SPIN ON OLE REIN

Manchester United may sit fifth, but in terms of points tallies Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's are closer to 14th-placed Newcastle than they are to fourth-placed Chelsea after 24 games.

The league standing is highly vulnerable, given Tottenham, Wolves and even Sheffield United are breathing down United's necks.

Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Burnley means United now have a negative Premier League win-loss record since manager Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis in March.

They had impressed during his caretaker spell, but since Solskjaer went from being a stand-in to the chosen one, their record shows 11 wins and 12 defeats in the Premier League.

United's Old Trafford setback followed their 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield, meaning they have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the second time under their Norwegian boss.

Burnley looked to be in freefall just days ago and relegation was becoming a serious concern, but wins over United and Leicester City have lifted them to 30 points - just four adrift of the Red Devils.

PASSPORTS AT THE READY, LEICESTER LOOK BOOKED IN FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURN

Catch them if you can! Leicester City had a wobble with defeats to Southampton and Burnley, but Brendan Rodgers' men now sit 14 points clear of fifth place and surely their destiny is a second season in the Champions League.

In the absence of anything approaching a charge from teams outside the top four, it would take a spectacular collapse for the Foxes to miss out, with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday emphasising their quality.

Leicester have racked up eight wins in 12 Premier League home games so far, their best record at this stage of a season, and the 52 goals they have banged in amounts to their most in the top flight from their first 24 games since the achieved the same tally in 1930-31.

Rodgers and West Ham boss David Moyes were once rivals on Merseyside, in charge of Liverpool and Everton respectively.

While Rodgers eyes success towards the top of the table, Moyes has taken on a relegation battle with a West Ham side who are outside the bottom three on goal difference alone.

Since the start of October 2019, no team have gained fewer points (11) or lost more games (11) in the Premier League than West Ham, and it gets no easier: Liverpool are their next opponents.

At least that game is a home fixture for the Hammers. Moyes' away record in matches against teams starting the day in the Premier League top four is diabolical, winning just one of 50 such games.

KEVIN KEEN TO HELP - DE BRUYNE IS KING OF THE ASSISTS

When Sergio Aguero turned in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne to give Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United, it was more than merely two Premier League greats combining to deadly effect.

History, in fact, was made in that motion, with De Bruyne becoming the first player in the Premier League era to provide 15 or more assists in three different seasons.

The Belgian had 18 in 2016-17, 16 the following season, and after an injury-wracked 2018-19 campaign he already has 15 from 23 appearances this term.

The scale of De Bruyne's achievement can be better appreciated by considering the likes of Ryan Giggs, Cesc Fabregas, Dennis Bergkamp and his own City colleague David Silva have been unable to produce at that level so consistently.

Former Wolfsburg playmaker De Bruyne has entered the top 20 of all-time assist providers in the Premier League, and there is no keeping Aguero down either.

Aguero has been directly involved in 43 goals in 43 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams - scoring 35 goals and assisting in eight more.

It took City until the 73rd minute to make their breakthrough at Bramall Lane, and a lot of the credit for the hosts' resilience went to goalkeeper Dean Henderson, whose first-half penalty save from Gabriel Jesus means he has stopped four of the last eight spot-kicks he has faced in English league football.

Jamie Vardy gave Leicester City an injury scare before Ayoze Perez proved himself a capable deputy in Wednesday's 4-1 win over West Ham.

Harvey Barnes tapped in Ricardo Pereira's cross to give Leicester a 24th-minute lead, but the Foxes suffered a potentially major blow shortly before half-time when Premier League top scorer Vardy went off with what looked like a hamstring injury.

There was time for a second Leicester goal prior to the break, with Barnes darting in from the left and teeing up Pereira, returning the earlier favour and allowing his team-mate to thunder a shot beyond Darren Randolph.

Mark Noble slotted in a 50th-minute penalty to revive West Ham's hopes after Wilfred Ndidi fouled Sebastien Haller.

However, when Angelo Ogbonna caught Kelechi Iheanacho Leicester were awarded a spot-kick of their own and Perez fired the ball high and emphatically into the net to make the home win a certainty.

Perez rifled in a clinical late fourth for Brendan Rodgers' third-placed hosts, who coped admirably without Vardy but will nevertheless hope his absence is brief.

West Ham goalkeeper Roberto has signed for Deportivo Alaves on loan for the rest of the season after a disappointing first six months in the Premier League.

The 33-year-old was brought to London Stadium on a free transfer at the end of May as a back-up to established number one Lukasz Fabianski, signing a two-year deal.

But an early hip injury for Fabianski handed Roberto his opportunity in the first team.

The Spaniard played eight times in the league but was at fault for a number of goals during a slump in form and was eventually replaced by David Martin.

Fabianski suffered another injury earlier this month, yet West Ham have brought back Darren Randolph from Middlesbrough in a reported £4million transfer.

Roberto has subsequently been allowed to return to LaLiga on a temporary deal.

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