Rodri made a surprise return to the Manchester City starting line-up for Sunday's blockbuster Premier League clash against Liverpool, with Claudio Bravo replacing injured goalkeeper Ederson as expected for the champions.

Spain midfielder Rodri has not featured since suffering a hamstring injury during City's 5-1 Champions League win over Atalanta last month but makes an ahead-of-schedule return at Anfield, where leaders Liverpool are aiming to extend their six-point advantage over Pep Guardiola's side.

A fitness setback during this week's return versus Atalanta might have the greatest impact upon City's prospects, with Ederson's thigh problem heralding a first top-flight appearance since May 2018 for Chile international Bravo, who was sent off after being introduced as a substitute at San Siro on Wednesday.

Angelino is the other eyebrow-raising inclusion in the City XI, with fellow left-back Benjamin Mendy not in the matchday squad.

David Silva, who limped out of last weekend's 2-1 win over Southampton, makes the bench.

By contrast, Liverpool line up as expected – Dejan Lovren partnering Virgil van Dijk at centre-back in Joel Matip's continued absence, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's impressive Champions League outings have not been enough to dislodged either of Jordan Henderson or Georginio Wijnaldum in central midfield.

Fernandinho lines up at centre-back once more for Manchester City and, along with John Stones, the captain must lead the defensive effort to contain Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Raheem Sterling – against his former team – and Bernardo Silva will flank Sergio Aguero in the City attack, with the club's all-time record scorer still searching for a first Anfield goal.

Unai Emery reached the milestone of 50 Premier League matches in charge of Arsenal on Saturday in the 2-0 defeat at Leicester City, but an overriding sense of disappointment is all he has managed to establish at the club.

Emery arrived in 2018 as Arsene Wenger's replacement, with the Frenchman ultimately paying the price for going 14 years without winning the title.

In fairness to Wenger, spending at the club was significantly reduced in the wake of their move to the Emirates Stadium, particularly when compared to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool over the same period.

It was hoped Emery's introduction would bring a fresh approach and winning mentality after years of stagnation at Arsenal. However, despite his trophy successes in previous spells with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, some – justifiably – had doubts about the Spaniard's style of play and training methods often criticised as boring.

After reaching 50 Premier League games, it is difficult at present to see him lasting much longer and his record compared to the division's best highlights the gulf in class.

Going backwards after Wenger

Emery's Arsenal have averaged 1.74 points per game across his 50 matches in the top flight. Of those in charge of the traditional 'big six', that figure is only better than Mauricio Pochettino (1.7) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (1.30) over their 50 most recent Premier League games – though the latter's figures are obviously skewed by his spell at Cardiff City.

That's where the positives end in terms of points per game for Emery, however.

Jurgen Klopp (2.62) and Pep Guardiola (2.52) are way out in front over their past 50 matches, while Frank Lampard – who has only taken charge of 12 in the Premier League – has accumulated a respectable 2.17 points per outing.

Similarly, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has done significantly better, averaging 1.84 points per game across his last 50 matches in the Premier League with Liverpool and the Foxes.

But the real kicker is the comparison with the much-maligned Wenger, whose 1.76 average means he too collected more points over his final 50 games at Arsenal than Emery has in his first 50.

Way behind the most prolific scorers

Wenger's Arsenal also scored more than Emery's side. During the Frenchman's final 50 games, they scored 96 times, seven more than they have with the Basque coach.

City have set the bar in terms of scoring over the period in question, netting 130 times, 12 more than Liverpool.

Defensively it is the other way round. While City's record of 33 allowed is exceptional, Liverpool's is even better at just 31.

Arsenal's defensive woes have been well-documented under Emery, with Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Sokratis Papastathopoulos hardly convincing.

As such, they have conceded 68 times since the start of last season, more than double both City and Liverpool and four more than in Wenger's final stretch.

Emery's already had enough time to solve issues

Emery can at least point to the fact he has lost fewer matches (13) than Wenger (16) did over the periods highlighted, though it's a pretty hollow victory.

Klopp and Liverpool again set the standard here, having lost just one of their past 50 Premier League matches, though even Rodgers has been beaten fewer times than Emery over his 50 most recent games, losing 12.

The overarching issue for Arsenal and Emery is a complete lack of identity, something one can certainly argue they still had even in Wenger's latter days.

While these statistics highlight how far behind the Premier League's leading pair Arsenal are, their lack of a discernible style and direction is arguably the main problem, one Emery probably will not get much more time to fix.

After all, there is little doubt they have regressed under his stewardship.

Granit Xhaka has vowed to "keep fighting" at Arsenal amid rumours the club will look to sell him in January.

The Switzerland international has missed four matches and been stripped of the club captaincy following his angry response to being jeered by Gunners supporters during the draw with Crystal Palace in October.

Xhaka elected to skip Saturday's loss to Leicester City, according to Emery, and Arsenal's head coach has admitted to not knowing whether the midfielder will play for the club again.

However, the 27-year-old has now suggested he is prepared to re-enter the first-team fold in a bid to prolong his stay in north London.

"You can be sure that I'll keep fighting and putting myself out there in every training session," Xhaka told Swiss newspaper Blick.

"I feel that last week has been dealt with and I'm ready."

Several former Arsenal players, including Ian Wright and Emmanuel Petit, were critical of Xhaka for openly showing annoyance with how his substitution was received in the Palace match.

"You could say things have been a bit frantic," he said of the fallout.

"Last week in particular was a very special [and] emotional experience for me. But I'm doing very well again, I've trained well this week and am looking forward to my next assignments. In the club and of course on the national team."

Xhaka's statement in the aftermath of the outburst detailed how abusive comments he received on social media and at matches contributed to his behaviour.

While prepared to listen to criticism, the maligned former Borussia Monchengladbach man believes the flak he faced at Emirates Stadium "makes no sense" and only "weakens the team's spirit".

"When my shirt number lit up on the fourth official's panel and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard and really upset me. It was very hurtful and frustrating," he said.

"I can't understand a reaction like that even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me."

He continued: "Their criticism, when it's fair, makes you grow as an athlete, and the power and energy that they contribute to the game makes every athlete love football even more. I feel like I'm part of a big football family.

"But at a time [when] you are already experiencing a lot of hostility and your own football family insults you, it hurts a lot."

Arsenal's 2-0 loss to Leicester City could spell the end of Unai Emery's tenure.

The Gunners failed to win for the fourth Premier League match in succession on Saturday, testing the patience of club officials.

According to reports, contact has been made with Luis Enrique to assess his interest in the job.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL MAKE LUIS ENRIQUE ENQUIRY

It could be a case of one Spaniard out, another Spaniard in at Emirates Stadium.

El Confidencial's Kike Marin claims Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi has sounded out Luis Enrique about replacing Unai Emery as head coach.

The ex-Barcelona and Roma boss has been out of football since stepping down as Spain's head coach due to personal reasons in June, two months before the tragic death of his young daughter, Xana.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have joined the race for in-demand Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana, according to the Mirror. The Red Devils are also rumoured to be chasing Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, their former player.

- As rumours linking Eriksen to Old Trafford re-emerge, Tottenham are preparing to move for a former United man. The Mirror say Spurs are plotting a £50million bid for Memphis Depay, who has flourished since leaving the Premier League for Ligue 1's Lyon.

- The same British tabloid believes Chelsea could splash £70million on towering Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic if their transfer ban is lifted in January.

- Olivier Giroud could be leaving Chelsea for a fee of around £5million. The Daily Express say Antonio Conte's Inter and Major League Soccer side Vancouver Whitecaps are prepared to offer the France international an escape route.

- Giroud could depart Stamford Bridge for Italy and Mario Pasalic might remain there. The Chelsea-owned midfielder is on loan at Serie A outfit Atalanta, who are considering forking out the €15million required to keep him, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Here they are again: Liverpool and Manchester City. The Premier League's leading protagonists primed for another high-paced, highly important battle, both determined to make a statement ahead of an international break.

It is 10 months since these two previously lined up against each other in the league. Back on January 3, the Reds went into the fixture at the Etihad Stadium knowing a win would open up a double-digit lead at the summit.

Success would not have secured the crown, of course, but it would have left their rivals with substantial ground to make up and with less than half a season remaining. City knew as much too, leading to a performance full of spirit to go with their undoubted skill.

"We knew that it was a final today, if we lose it is almost over," Pep Guardiola said after a hard-fought 2-1 triumph secured by Leroy Sane’s 72nd-minute goal.

For Jurgen Klopp's side, it was a first defeat in their 21st league outing. It also turned out to be the only one, yet they still could not end the club's long, agonising wait for title number 19.

So near, yet so far.

Victory in the Champions League final helped soften the blow to a degree, but the league is undoubtedly the trophy the fanbase craves the most. Their bread and butter, as the legendary Bill Shankly once so wonderfully described it. Liverpool have been starved of it since 1990.

They have gone close on three occasions to ending the drought in the Premier League era, finishing second to Manchester United under Rafael Benitez in 2009, then missing out again five years later during Brendan Rodgers' reign, City on that occasion pipping them to the post. Those second-place finishes offered hope, albeit history shows they were false dawns in terms of climbing back on their perch.

There were reasons for the pessimists to fear the same might happen again this season, too. International commitments led to a disjointed return to club duty - Sadio Mane did not make it back until August 5, four days before the opener against Norwich City – while the transfer window was all about trimming the fat from the squad, rather than making major additions.

But, if anything, the disappointment of coming up short just a few months ago has fuelled a determination among a group of players clearly inspired by their manager.

Familiarity has not led to a lack of focus. The heavy metal football may have been toned down, yet Klopp has ingrained in them a cold, steely edge. No cause ever feels lost - just ask Barcelona from last season's European semi-final second leg, as well as Leicester City and Aston Villa more recently. These Reds have developed a ruthless, relentless streak, something that will be required if they want to stay ahead in a gruelling race.

These are the same faces, only this feels different. Fabinho was a second-half sub at the Etihad at the start of the year, a big-money signing still bedding in. Now he is a key cog, the anchor surrounded by attacking intent. There are few - if any - better than the Brazilian in the defensive midfield role across Europe. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, was not involved. He is quickly getting up to speed again after his lengthy injury lay-off, adding an alternative option to slot into the engine room. As for the defence, Klopp has the kind of options available to him that his opposite number would welcome right now.

While there is still time for tiredness amid a crowded fixture list (enjoy the Club World Cup, everybody!) to kick in, this not-new-but-still-improved Liverpool have charged out of the gate with such ferocity that City are left trying to hang on to their coattails again. The going will get tougher, but a sizeable lead would give them some much-needed breathing space.

So, with a six-point cushion and with home advantage this time around, Klopp's warriors get a chance on Sunday to do something they could not quite manage at the start of 2019.

As was the case in Manchester, this weekend’s clash at Anfield will not decide the destiny of the trophy, despite the hyperbole surrounding it. While City have shown signs of vulnerability with two defeats on their record already, it should not be forgotten that they had also lost twice just prior to the previous meeting.

On that occasion, the fine margins that can define a football game amounted to 1.12 centimetres, the distance John Stones had to spare when clearing Sadio Mane's goal-bound effort with the score at 0-0.

This time, Liverpool will hope to get across the line against City. If they do, the early front-runners will become the firm favourites, even if there are still plenty of hurdles to clear.

Virgil van Dijk claimed Liverpool do not feel fear and have no interest in holding Manchester City to a draw in their top-of-the-table Premier League encounter.

Liverpool hold a six-point advantage over title rivals and defending champions City going into Sunday's highly anticipated showdown at Anfield.

Preserving that buffer would ordinarily be seen as a reasonable outcome but the Premier League leaders will be wary of repeating the missed opportunities of last season.

Liverpool earned a stalemate on Merseyside in October then lost 2-1 in the reverse fixture at the Etihad Stadium as City pipped the Reds to the title.

Now, with the chance to surge further clear in first, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are not entertaining the prospect of settling for a point.

"That's something we are not going to think about, or discuss now whether a draw is good enough," star defender Van Dijk told reporters.

"We want to win every game that we play and so it is Sunday of course, and they want to win as well. So we will see.

"I have no fear. You should not have fear when you go out on the pitch. That's not something that we feel.

"We know we have the quality to win games, but we have to be more than at our best at times, and hopefully for the full 90 minutes, and try to grind out games as well.

"I think we have been doing it in some games this season."

Liverpool bounced back from last season's domestic disappointment by claiming a sixth European crown with their triumph over Tottenham in the Champions League final.

Netherlands international Van Dijk believes both events have helped forge a stronger Liverpool side.

"A lot of experience we had last year, winning the Champions League, getting so close to the Premier League, it's always going to benefit us in a good way," the centre-back said.

"Winning the Champions League can get you up in the clouds but the manager, the staff, the players have the right mentality at the moment that we want to do it again, like other teams.

"Everyone knows how difficult it is but we are just going to go for it and see where it brings us at the end of the season.

"If it doesn't bring us what we want it to be, we will just try again next year. That's the mentality we have."

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City will not feel like underdogs heading into Sunday's Premier League blockbuster against Liverpool.

City amassed 198 points over the course of their title triumphs in each of the past two seasons.

Their bid for three in a row has been compromised by Liverpool's unbeaten start this time around and Guardiola's men head to Anfield six points behind the leaders.

Goalkeeper Ederson joined influential defender Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, David Silva, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Rodri in the treatment room this week, but their manager insists he is not contemplating defeat on a ground where City last won in 2003.

"What does it meant to be an outsider? For the people in the media and the people outside [the club] saying you are outsider or not outsider; you are underdog or you are not underdog," Guardiola said.

"I never went into one game feeling like an outsider or feeling I am not going to win the game. I never felt it. Never.

"But, of course, the position is six points ahead and they are playing fantastic all season and in previous seasons. We have many problems in some departments of the players.

"I am not going to take a bus on Sunday to Anfield thinking I am going to lose the game. I never have in my career.

"Always I have to think that, if we do some special things we have planned to do, we have the chance to win."

Asked whether City would need their best performance of the season to prevail, Guardiola agreed.

"We know it. To win these kinds of games you have to be at the top level, definitely. We cannot be half-half," he said.

"The way Liverpool play they demand in 90 minutes an incredible attention to all the details.

"I am pretty sure that if there is a chance to win in Anfield it is when you believe you are going to win the game.

"The only chance we have is to play like we are and try to create chances to score goals. That is the only way I believe we can do it – not just in Anfield but in all the stadiums around the world."

City had only 51 per cent possession during the corresponding fixture last season, with Riyad Mahrez's late penalty miss meaning the game finished goalless.

That is an unusually low number for a Guardiola side, with similar statistics returning as the Premier League champions won the Community Shield on penalties in August, when Liverpool had 52.8 per cent of the ball.

"It is not adapting, it is because they are good," Guardiola said, having also flagged up a 3-0 win over Jurgen Klopp during their respective spells at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, when the former Barcelona boss was forced to adopt a direct, counter-attacking approach.

"Normally in my career at the clubs I was at, all the time we control the possession. We believe when you have the ball you can create more and concede less.

"When that happened [having less possession] it's the same [reason]. Dortmund in that period was a good team and Liverpool is a good team. In the way they play they have the quality to do that."

Unai Emery is remaining calm despite coming under pressure at Arsenal, insisting he can turn things around because he has done so before.

Arsenal were beaten 2-0 at Leicester City on Saturday to leave them eight points adrift of the top four.

The result means it is Arsenal's worst start to a top-flight season since 1982-83, with the Gunners only having 17 points and a goal difference of negative one.

Arsenal barely troubled Kasper Schmeichel at all and were arguably lucky to only lose 2-0, yet Emery remains convinced he can get their campaign back on track.

"I am speaking with the club to stay strong and recover," he told reporters after the match. "We also have young players who are growing up with us.

"I know we are receiving criticism, but I have done before and I have recovered.

"I accept all the criticism. It is normal. Today we did one step forward, being better defensively."

Leicester moved up to second with their victory and Emery is conscious of the gap between the Gunners and those at the top.

But he reminded detractors that Arsenal have time to turn things around.

"We are distant from them now, but we will take time to prepare and improve and take the balance in the team," he said.

"Manchester United and Tottenham are also behind us, so it is an equal competition. But we have time to reduce the gap on Leicester."

Leicester City have produced better performances this season.

Saturday's 2-0 win over Arsenal saw the Foxes show flashes of their best, but in reality they could have humiliated their visitors had they been as good as they can be.

That's a damning indictment of the standard this Arsenal team is playing at.

Brendan Rodgers' men wasted some fine opportunities, lacking perhaps the clinical nature that often typifies them in attack, while defensively Arsenal were afforded few chances of their own.

But Arsenal's incompetence saw them unable to raise their level to Leicester's. In the end, a 2-0 defeat ultimately flattered the Gunners.

Early positivity dissipates

Emery came under fresh criticism after their previous Premier League game, a 1-1 draw with Wolves, for getting his tactics completely wrong, setting the team up narrowly despite Nuno Espirito Santo's penchant for playing with plenty of width.

This week Emery could be spared such criticism, with the line-up seeing him appear to give in to the fans' desires - there was a back three, two wing-backs offering much-needed width and more attacking intent. There was Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi in midfield too, plus Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all started.

But there was precious little to be encouraged about by the performance. After a bright start, they failed to match Leicester in any department.

Gunners have lost their identity

Arsenal had a total of eight shots over the course of the contest, albeit just two in the second half. Only one hit the target and Lacazette was guilty of a woeful miss in the same move that Wilfred Ndidi was fortunate to escape unpunished when handling in the box.

Even suggestions of defensive solidity before the break could only be put down to Leicester's wastefulness. On another day, the Gunners could have been trailing by at least two at the interval.

Emery's inability to project an identity on this Arsenal team has fans still clinging on to the days when they were renowned for their eye-catching style as the Premier League's pass-masters.

Those days are long gone – this Leicester is the team Arsenal think they should be.

Foxes like the Arsenal of old

In Ndidi, Leicester have an impressive midfielder who effectively shields the defence while also proving reliable in possession. The Nigerian won 61.9 per cent of his 21 duels, conceded just one foul and completed 90 per cent of his attempted passes.

Youri Tielemans was excellent once again. Perhaps criticised for his inability to dictate matches, his influence in attack was undeniable. Of his 62 passes, 51 were in the Arsenal half, while he created three chances and set up Jamie Vardy's opener.

And then there is James Maddison. His finish for the second goal was sublime, but again he was a creative force, crafting three opportunities and playing a vital role in Vardy's goal with an outrageous flick.

Even Leicester's defenders were impressive on the ball, a hallmark of previous Arsenal backlines. Caglar Soyuncu completed 86.5 per cent of his passes in the visitors' half while Jonny Evans' success rate was 82.8, comfortably better than all three of the centre-backs in the opposing XI.

But away from statistics, there is an incisiveness and flow to Leicester's play – especially in the second half on Saturday – that is akin to some of Wenger's most entertaining Arsenal teams.

Their first goal was particularly notable in that respect, as Ricardo Pereira played the ball into Maddison, he flicked it to Tielemans, whose first-time pass picked out Vardy to sweep home and round off a fluid move.

Right man in the wrong dugout?

Rodgers has managed to implement his style impressively despite only taking charge in February. Emery has been at Arsenal for considerably longer, yet it is still difficult to work out what he has changed for the better.

Arsenal were linked with Rodgers when they hired Emery, but they ultimately went for the man who had won trophies with Paris Saint-Germain, with reservations over the former's time at Liverpool hanging over him.

But, if the decision-makers at Arsenal had the idea of playing up-tempo football similar to Wenger's peak years after the Frenchman departed, the choice of Emery is a baffling one. Rodgers, for his 'philosophy', would have made a more natural replacement. 

Now it appears Rodgers' Leicester are the real deal, while Emery's Arsenal are a real dud.

There is no doubt Claudio Bravo has the full backing of his manager ahead of Manchester City's clash with Liverpool.

"Why should I doubt any player in my team? Why do you ask these questions?" a spiky Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

"It's a team game and sometimes you make a mistake; sometimes you make a good save and sometimes not. But why should I not have any confidence with one player in my team? He wouldn't be here otherwise."

It was a staunch defence of a player whose errors in his first season in England were highly scrutinised, before he then lost his place to £35million man Ederson.

Bravo came on against Atalanta after Ederson sustained an injury, but his outing only lasted 36 minutes until a rash run from goal ended in a red card.

Still, with Ederson not fit to start at Anfield, Guardiola will be turning to Bravo again on Sunday. He insists he has no doubts about the former Barcelona man, who was the hero in the Community Shield penalty shoot-out win over Liverpool in August. But should he?

EDERSON IS STILL THE SHOT-STOPPING SUPREMO...

Exploring what might be called the basic elements of goalkeeping, there is little to argue against Ederson having the edge over Bravo.

The Brazilian has made 85 Premier League appearances, keeping 41 clean sheets – almost one every two games. Bravo, in 24 games, has managed six shut-outs, or one in four.

Ederson, of course, has been playing behind a stronger defence than Bravo did in 2016-17, when he made all but three of those appearances. Dig deeper, though, and the numbers are still not on Bravo's side.

The Chile international has faced 64 Premier League shots on target, saving 37 of them, giving him a save percentage of 57.8. Ederson, with 145 saves from 202 shots on target faced, is at 71.8 per cent.

 

...AND HE IS DEFYING EXPECTATIONS

Going further, Ederson outperforms Bravo when it comes to Expected Goals on Target Conceded (xGOT) – Opta's measure of the quality of a chance created by a team, and therefore a good indicator of how many goals a keeper can reasonably be expected to have conceded.

Excluding own goals, Ederson has conceded 57 times in the Premier League, with an xGOT rating of 62.9. Bravo, who has conceded 27 times, has an xGOT of 19.9.

In other words, Ederson should realistically have conceded six more goals than he has in England's top flight, given the quality of chances his opponents created. As for Bravo, he has let in seven more goals than he should. 

 

KLOPP'S RIGHT – EDERSON CHANGES HOW CITY PLAY

Speaking to Sky Sports, Klopp said this week: "If he wouldn't play then [City's game plan] would change, because Ederson is an important part of their game, 100 per cent. Bravo can do similar things, but exactly the same? Nobody can do [that]. That's how it is."

Although he didn't specify what makes Ederson so crucial to City, it's reasonable to assume Klopp was referring to his sweeper-keeper tendencies. And he has a point.

Ederson is a critical part of City's possession play. He boasts a passing accuracy of 84.7 per cent, and he has completed 26.2 per cent of all passes ending in the final third – a hugely important ploy when it comes to escaping the Liverpool press.

He also has a massive 'keeper sweeper' accuracy of 95.1 per cent. Opta defines a keeper sweeper as any time that a goalkeeper rushes out at least to the edge of his area, under some pressure from an opposing forward racing to the ball, in which he reacts quickly and reads the play.

As for Bravo, his passing accuracy is down at 74 per cent, with his 'keeper sweeper' accuracy at 79.3 per cent. As for those long passes into the last third, he has completed only one in 10. Klopp does not need telling that those are significant drops.

To give Bravo his due, though, perhaps Guardiola is right not to be worried about the risk of mistakes, at least. Bravo has only twice committed an error leading to a shot or goal in the Premier League. Ederson has done so nine times.

Leicester City moved into second in the Premier League as goals from Jamie Vardy and James Maddison downed Arsenal 2-0 to cap a dominant display at the King Power Stadium.

Heading into Saturday's encounter in search of a fourth successive league win, Leicester failed to capitalise on some basic errors from Arsenal prior to Vardy's well-worked 68th-minute strike - his 11th of the season.

Wilfred Ndidi had previously gone the closest to breaking the deadlock, hitting the crossbar early in the second half, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a goal rightly ruled out for offside at the other end.

Maddison settled the game with a fantastic second, making sure Brendan Rodgers' side continued their sparkling form and, temporarily at least, slot in behind former employers Liverpool in the table.

Matteo Guendouzi was fortunate to get away with a pull on Caglar Soyuncu early on, while Alexandre Lacazette should have done better with a close-range attempt at the culmination of an Arsenal counter.

Unai Emery's side proved to be their own worst enemy with consistently sloppy play, and Ayoze Perez should have done better after latching onto Hector Bellerin's slack pass.

Ndidi looked sure to open the scoring four minutes after the restart only to lift his effort against the crossbar. While Aubameyang had no problem locating the net, a flag for offside came to Leicester's aid.

There was no hint of doubt when Vardy broke the deadlock, however, with Leicester's striker turning home after wonderful build-up play involving Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans.

Bernd Leno denied Vardy a second, though Arsenal's goalkeeper was left helpless to prevent Maddison picking out the bottom-right corner of his goal with a superb first-time strike, the Foxes wrapping up a deserved win in style.

Moussa Sissoko is at a loss to explain Tottenham's lacklustre Premier League form after Mauricio Pochettino's men laboured to a 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United.

Son Heung-min's 58th-minute opener looked to have been swiftly cancelled out after David McGoldrick netted for the Blades but a marginal VAR call went against John Lundstrum earlier in the move.

Spurs could not make the most of that reprieve as George Baldock netted a deserved 78th-minute leveller, extending the north London club's winless run in the Premier League to five matches.

"In the league we are struggling since the beginning of the season. Why? I don't know because we are trying our best but it is not working," France midfielder Sissoko said.

"We see today it was a difficult game against a good team. We were winning 1-0 but didn't keep the score. We have a lot of frustration but need to keep going.

"We have to stick together, like we said every time, and try to work hard."

It will be almost two months since their previous Premier League victory when Tottenham return from an international break Sissoko hopes will serve as an opportunity to reset.

"Every team can have some difficult moments," he added. "We are struggling in the league and that's football.

"We must keep working, give our best every day until everything turns around

"We will fight until the end. We know we can do better

"Now we are going away with the international teams and we have to come back stronger."

Sheffield United shrugged off being on the sharp end of more VAR controversy to claim a deserved 1-1 draw at Tottenham.

Son Heung-min, back in action after his three-match ban for the tackle that left Everton midfielder Andre Gomes with a badly broken ankle was overturned, gave Spurs the lead against the run of play following an Enda Stevens error in the 58th minute.

David McGoldrick saw an equaliser ruled out after John Lundstram – who hit the post during the first half – was adjudged to be offside during the build-up.

But Chris Wilder's men impressively retained their composure and George Baldock's 78th-minute cross zipping into the far corner was a touch of fortune they richly deserved.

Tottenham's Paulo Gazzaniga was the busier of the two goalkeepers early on, holding a testing low drive from John Fleck after tipping Oliver Norwood's deflected second-minute strike over.

Harry Kane was unable to turn in Serge Aurier's 15th-minute cross at the near post but it proved a rare moment of encouragement for Spurs during an opening half hour that concluded with Lundstram thumping against the upright left footed.

United resumed on the front foot after half-time, Lys Mousset romping into the box and twisting around Davinson Sanchez before pulling his effort agonisingly wide.

Son was increasingly Spurs' lone outlet and gave visiting keeper Dean Henderson his first significant piece of work, arrowing a shot towards the bottom corner after Dele Alli's raking pass.

A more precise ball into the South Korea star's path led to the opener – only it came inadvertently from United defender Stevens, who gave Son an opportunity he was never likely to pass up.

McGoldrick thought he had an instant response but, after a VAR review lasting almost four minutes, Lundstram was shown to be offside by the barest of margins earlier in the move.

Justice was done as another methodical Blades move got wing-back Baldock in position in the right channel, his sliced delivery evading Eric Dier and Gazzaniga to edge Wilder's men up to fifth in the table.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard commended Reece James' handling of Wilfried Zaha on the right-back's first Premier League start in Saturday's 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

James, 19, spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic and gained rave reviews for his performances, earning himself a place in Chelsea's squad for Lampard's first campaign at the helm.

The full-back suffered ankle ligament damage in August that prevented him from making much of an impact during the early stages of the season.

Lampard took the opportunity to test him and rest Cesar Azpilicueta for the visit of Palace and he put in an accomplished display, coping well with Zaha and showing his ability on the ball.

The Blues boss was impressed but also stressed the importance of first-choice right-back Azpilicueta.

When asked about informing Azpilicueta of his decision to play James, Lampard told reporters: "It's part of my job.

"It would be a tougher call if I was speaking to Azpilicueta when he is having a difficult time and I am bringing a kid in to say this is a decision I am making. It is actually a decision [I've made] when Azpilicueta is playing really well for us.

"He's a leader and a driver, but Reece and the way he is playing, I thought with the opportunity to give him minutes in a game today was one I had to take. It gives me options going forward.

"Azpi is such a great personality and character that he is easy to speak to. He feels for the club and wants the best, that shows how much I value him now and going forward.

"It might give me some selection problems for sure, but I want the best for the team. It is a nice problem.

"I thought Reece was fantastic against one of the best wingers in the league one-v-one, a real threat and on the counter-attack.

"Reece dealt with most of those situations and he also joined in the attack. You can see how comfortable he is with the ball and his delivery and passing, so I was pleased.

"I trust in Reece and, out of all of the younger players who have been getting chances this year – he has had his injury earlier in the season – he has got fit that little bit later.

"But he has been training at a level and coming on at a level where he deserves his minutes today. He did brilliantly."

It was put to Roy Hodgson that Zaha was a disappointment, but the Palace boss hit back at the suggestion.

"You're asking me now to comment on individual performances, in every game of football," Hodgson said. "They have just won the game, Chelsea. So, if you want Frank to give individual assessments of players then he will probably say, 'He was fantastic, another not so good.'

"Wilf is doing what he needs for the team, he is working hard for the team. Against Arsenal he had an incredible game, and against Leicester. Perhaps today he wasn't at his very best, but that is what football is, unfortunately.

"They are human beings. You can't legislate people sometimes having a really good game the way you'd like, but what you can legislate for is the work they are putting in and adhere to the team's play and plan, and in that respect, I thought Wilf was as good as anybody out there."

Frank Lampard has called on Tammy Abraham to look up to England team-mate Harry Kane after the Chelsea striker joined Jamie Vardy at the top of the Premier League scoring charts.

Abraham opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge against Crystal Palace on Saturday, tucking home from close range to take his league tally this season to 10.

The 22-year-old's opener was followed up by a header from the in-form Christian Pulisic, as the Blues - temporarily at least - moved second with a 2-0 win.

Asked if Abraham can offer serious competition to Kane for an England starting spot, Lampard said the youngster still has a long way to go but believes the Tottenham star sets a perfect example.

"Harry Kane's an incredible player," Lampard told BBC Sport. "What he's done in recent years and his career is amazing, so Tammy needs to look up to that and if he can keep reproducing and scoring goals at that kind of level, that's the next stage for Tammy. 

"What he's shown in these first few months is that there are so many parts to his game. 

"[There was] not much space today because of how Palace play but I told him at half-time just to stick with it, it's one of those games that forwards will have where they work a lot for not much, but maybe a goal and he did that."

Lampard named Chelsea's youngest starting XI in a Premier League match for Saturday's encounter, as the Blues went on to secure a sixth successive top-flight win.

Lampard has now tasked his side with replicating their form over the course of the campaign.

"We certainly deserved to win the game. The first half was frustrating because we had all of the game, had some chances but not enough clear-cut ones, let the tempo drop slightly," he said.

"As soon as we picked it up in the second half I thought we got a deserved win with two clinical goals and a clean sheet.

"They are [consistent] because we're on a good run and with the older players the balance is pretty good, the older players help the younger ones. The young ones have to realise very quickly what this level is, and it's tough.

"But they're working very hard, improving. It's still early days in a way, so can we replicate it through a longer period is the next test."

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