Manchester City sent a message to the Premier League with an 8-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday, but Liverpool claimed victory at Chelsea to ensure they maintained the lead in this season's title race.

The Reds held their nerve in the wake of City's emphatic performance, taking a first-half lead at Stamford Bridge and withstanding a late wave of Chelsea pressure to emerge with a 2-1 win.

While the top two attempt to outstrip each other, Tottenham and Arsenal are lagging behind and there were mixed fortunes for the North London rivals in matchweek six.

After a thrilling weekend of top-flight action, the Opta data sheds light on the important details.

 

REDS SET RECORD AS FLYING START CONTINUES

Liverpool's 2-1 win at Chelsea made them the first team in top-flight history to win the opening six matches in two consecutive seasons.

Goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino helped maintain the European champions' unstoppable league form as they clinched their 15th consecutive domestic victory.

Even champions Manchester City have been unable to keep pace with the Reds this season, but Pep Guardiola's men remain the only team in top-flight history to have achieved a longer winning sequence (18 wins between August and December 2017).

It was Jurgen Klopp's 92nd victory in his 150th Premier League game in charge of the Reds, and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho (105 wins) is the only manager who can boast a better return from his first 150 matches in the competition.

Blues manager Frank Lampard is still without a home win after taking charge of four matches in all competitions at Stamford Bridge, making him only the second Chelsea boss to start with such a long winless run after Bobby Campbell in 1988.

RECORDS TUMBLE AS CITY RUN RIOT

With the champions determined to return to winning ways after last weekend's shock defeat to Norwich City, poor Watford never stood a chance against Guardiola's rampant side.

The records tumbled as City recorded their biggest ever victory in the English top-flight and inflicted the Hornets' heaviest ever defeat in the top four tiers of English football.

David Silva's opener after just 52 seconds was the fastest goal in the Premier League this season, while City's five goals in just 18 minutes made them the fastest team to go 5-0 up in the competition's history.

Not only did Sergio Aguero bring up 100 Premier League goals at the Etihad Stadium with his early penalty, he also became the first player to score in seven consecutive Premier League appearances since Romelu Lukaku in December 2015.

SPURS LET LEAD SLIP AGAIN AT LEICESTER

Tottenham's stuttering season continued at the King Power Stadium as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat to Leicester City despite Harry Kane's goal giving them a 1-0 lead at half-time.

Ricardo Pereira equalised in the 69th minute before James Maddison struck the winner five minutes from time, condemning Spurs to a third consecutive Premier League away game in which they led at half-time but failed to win – their first such run since March 2008.

Maddison's goal was his first in the Premier League since he scored against Huddersfield Town in April, ending a frustrating run of 31 shots without finding the net as he clinched three impressive points for the Foxes.

There were some positive stats for Kane, who has scored more goals (14 in 13 games) against Leicester than any other side in his professional career and more away goals (13) than any other Premier League player since the start of last season.

But those figures will feel meaningless to the England man after his side lost for the second time in four league games.

GUNNERS PULL THROUGH AFTER MAITLAND-NILES SEES RED

Arsenal were 1-0 down at home to Aston Villa when Ainsley Maitland-Niles was sent off for a second bookable offence but Unai Emery's men prevailed 3-2 after an impressive second-half performance with 10 men.

It was the ninth time in Premier League history that a team had won a match after having a man sent off while trailing and Arsenal had Nicolas Pepe, Calum Chambers and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to thank for finding the net.

Aubameyang scored the winner in the 84th minute and his goal-scoring record stands at 16 in his past 16 games in all competitions for Arsenal, including goals in each of his last four outings.

Maitland-Niles, meanwhile, became the first Arsenal player to be sent off more than once in the Premier League in the same calendar year since Laurent Koscielny in 2013 (both players sent off twice).

The Premier League has had an established 'six of the best' for the past three seasons, but in 2019-20 it looks like being Liverpool, Manchester City and the rest. 

Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea all fell to defeats over the weekend and the chances of one or more of that trio - or Arsenal - finishing seventh or lower for the first time since 2015-16 appears very real. 

Few expected anyone to realistically challenge champions City and Liverpool - the closest pursuers last term - for the title this time around, but few expected the other heavyweights to look so punch-drunk by late September either. 

Tottenham, Champions League finalists only three months ago, slipped to a 2-1 loss to Leicester City on Saturday - throwing away a lead for the second time in four days after a 2-2 draw with Olympiacos in the Champions League. 

The purse strings may have finally loosened in north London in the close season but Mauricio Pochettino's increasingly agitated demeanour suggests something is amiss - as does one win in five and a residency in seventh spot. 

Things are even more dire at Old Trafford, where United's woeful away form continued with a 2-0 loss to West Ham on Sunday. 

Jose Mourinho's assertion he didn't "see any improvements" from the side he managed last term may have had an ulterior motive but it is hard to argue with its validity, particularly with Marcus Rashford now potentially facing a lengthy absence. 

It was common knowledge United are way behind their two biggest rivals but the gap is seemingly growing wider by the week. 

Chelsea, handicapped by a transfer ban, always looked the most vulnerable to slip out of the top six prior to the season, and for all the plaudits thrown the way of Frank Lampard and his young charges, the reality is the Blues are in the bottom half of the table, below Bournemouth, Burnley and Sheffield United. 

The Blues pushed Liverpool hard in a 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge but are now 10 points adrift of Jurgen Klopp's table-toppers after six games. 

And then there's Arsenal, fourth in the table, but flattering to deceive once more. 

Yes, the Gunners came from 2-1 behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with 10 men but the manner in which they were dominated for long spells - after toiling against woeful Watford seven days earlier - should be concerning to those rooting for Unai Emery's side. 

They are one of a quartet of flawed teams that no longer belong in the same bracket as City and Liverpool, who once more displayed their title credentials with victories. 

Pep Guardiola's side bounced back from their shock loss to Norwich City with an 8-0 drubbing of Watford. Meanwhile, Liverpool made it six wins from six this term - responding in style to their own defeat to Napoli in the Champions League in midweek. 

Leicester - champions in 2015-16 - and Southampton are the only non-big six clubs to finish in the top six since Everton managed it in 2013-14. 

Liverpool and Manchester City may be assured of the top two spots again, but the early indications are that the rest of the established order is crumbling. 

Chelsea are seen as the new model for the benefits of youthful exuberance but it is Manchester United who have, on average, fielded the youngest starting XI in the Premier League this season.

It is United, too, who have not won a single competitive match away from home in over six months.

That despite a demand from David de Gea leading into an excursion south to right the wrongs of previous ventures outside Manchester and of last season's 3-1 loss at the London Stadium.

Instead, the venue became the scene of another miserable road defeat as West Ham earned a relatively routine 2-0 victory over the Red Devils on Sunday.

De Gea, newly committed to a four-year contract, implored his team-mates to be "much more switched on" than they were in the September 2018 defeat,  which condemned the club to its worst league start in 29 years.

It was obvious the goalkeeper's words had not been heeded when Mark Noble was gifted a lifetime to find Felipe Anderson on the edge of the area moments before half-time.

The Brazilian in turn fed Andriy Yarmolenko and his intelligent finish dashed United's chances of recording what they hoped would be a first clean sheet in 11 games in all competitions.

Hope, more than anything, appeared to be United's recipe for success.

Solskjaer's men mustered a paltry two shots in a sleep-inducing first half, equal to the number they managed in a 1-1 draw at Wolves last month.

Attacking options might be sparse - this is, of course, a team that happily parted with Romelu Lukaku - but an adventurous spirit in challenging environments is not purely the domain of Manchester City or Liverpool.

Indeed, Chelsea have won admirers this term as much for the three goals netted at Carrow Road and five at Molineux as the ages of the players doing the scoring.

Youth is supposed to bring a sense of free-wheeling fun to proceedings but all it has done for United is expose a set of directionless players to repeated Roy Keane reprimands.

The former captain's criticism arrived as to be expected after the final whistle, De Gea having not long earlier failed to keep out an Aaron Cresswell free-kick, which compounded the loss of Marcus Rashford to injury.

It must surely be more empowering and emblematic of 'The United Way' for the club's emerging prospects to be educated first and foremost to attack the opposition as often as possible.

Yet whether in London or the Midlands or on the south coast, Solskjaer's side seem scared to indulge in risk.

Away days will continue to be their undoing for as long as less glamorous opponents are afforded the opportunity to settle in familiar surrounds, as West Ham did all too easily.

There will be unfamiliar sights for fans of the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, as their teams begin regular-season games without Eli Manning and Drew Brees respectively.

Manning has been benched as the Giants' starting QB, with Daniel Jones called up in his place, while a thumb injury has ruled out Saints veteran Brees.

The New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins have, like the Giants, begun the season with back-to-back defeats and each face stern tests in Week 3.

We look at some of the key Opta facts for seven of Sunday's games.

 

New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With rookie Jones' promotion, the Giants will start a quarterback other than Manning for just the second time since the start of the 2005 season. Manning has made a franchise-record 232 starts and missed only one game at Oakland on December 3, 2017. The Giants have won six of the last seven meetings with the Buccaneers, including a 38-35 home victory on November 18, 2018. Saquon Barkley rushed for 142 yards and totalled three TDs in that game.

New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks

For just the fourth time in the last 14 seasons, the Saints will play a game in which Brees does not start under center – two of the previous three were Week 17 contests in which Brees was rested in anticipation of the postseason. Anticipated starter Teddy Bridgewater (17-12 career record) will look to become the first Saints QB other than Brees to win a game since 2005. The Seahawks are 2-0 for the first time since 2013, when they won their first four games en route to a victory at Super Bowl XLVIII.

Miami Dolphins @ Dallas Cowboys

The beleaguered Dolphins have been outscored by 92 points across their first two games (102-10), the worst points differential through two contests since the New Orleans Saints in 1973 (also -92). This weekend they face an unbeaten Cowboys side who are gaining 7.62 yards per play in 2019, the best in the NFL. Dallas have also won five of their last six games against Miami, including the most recent three.

Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs

This will be the first game in the Super Bowl era featuring two teams averaging 30+ points and 450+ yards per game (a minimum of two games into the season). The Chiefs have scored at least 25 points in an NFL-record 23 straight games, while Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson last week became the first player in NFL history with 250+ passing yards and 120+ rushing yards in the same regular-season game, achieving the feat against the Arizona Cardinals.

Atlanta Falcons @ Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are 14-2 all-time against the Falcons, the best record by any active franchise against a single opponent (with a minimum of 15 games played). However, this will be the first meeting between the two sides since 2011, when the Falcons won 31-7 in Indianapolis. Atlanta have lost 10 of their last 11 games against AFC teams, including their Super Bowl LI collapse against the New England Patriots.

New York Jets @ New England Patriots

The Jets have lost 10 consecutive games at New England, the longest road losing streak in Jets' history. Overall, the Patriots are 14-2 against the Jets since 2011, the best record by any team in a divisional match-up. Since Week 15 of the 2006 season, Tom Brady is an incredible 64-2 in regular-season home games against AFC opponents.

Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals

Carolina are trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2010, the year before Cam Newton was drafted. Newton is out of this game with a foot injury, meaning Kyle Allen will start at quarterback. The Cardinals are 1-7-1 at home since the start of last season. Kyler Murray has joined Newton and Kirk Cousins as the only active QBs to throw for 300+ yards in each of his first two NFL starts. No quarterback in the Super Bowl era has thrown for 300+ yards in each of his first three career starts.

Ireland have never made it past the quarter-final stage of a Rugby World Cup, but on Sunday Joe Schmidt's side proved they should not be discounted this time around.

A blistering first-half display was enough to topple Scotland 27-3, arguably Ireland's toughest rivals in Pool A, though hosts Japan will be no pushovers.

Heading into the tournament as the world's number one side seemed somewhat undeserved based on Ireland's performances, with Schmidt's side having failed to impress in a poor Six Nations campaign, while they were hammered by England - among the favourites to challenge holders New Zealand - in a warm-up match last month.

Successive victories over Six Nations champions Wales showed the talent was still there, even if this World Cup may have come a year too late for the men in green.

But with Schmidt determined to end his tenure on a high and the quality in his squad evident, Ireland - inspired by brilliant performances from stalwarts Johnny Sexton and Rory Best - made their case in emphatic fashion in a rainswept Yokohama.

SEXTON REIGNS SUPREME

Sexton's injury at World Cup 2015 ultimately proved a decisive blow, with the fly-half missing the quarter-final defeat to Argentina in Cardiff.

He has struggled with injuries throughout 2019, having been taken off with a head injury in Ireland's Six Nations clash with Scotland in January before missing much of the World Cup preparation due to a thumb injury.

Assistant coach Matt Taylor promised the press Scotland would "smash" the World Rugby Player of the year, but Sexton showed no signs that warning had got to him, putting in a superb display, organising Ireland's defence and entrusting the forwards to do the rest.

The 34-year-old did, however, sustain a thigh injury, with Conor Murray taking over kicking duties and - should Ireland manage to beat Japan - Schmidt may be tempted to wrap his star man, who was subbed off before the hour, in cotton wool for the rest of the pool stage.

RORY BACK AT HIS BEST

Rory Best's captaincy has come under scrutiny in the build-up to the World Cup, though the 37-year-old - who will retire after the tournament - proved that there is still plenty of life in this old dog.

His 12th-minute try, a typically powerful drive following a lineout, cast aside any doubts over Ireland's approach and the skipper, aided by Sexton, led by example throughout at the International Stadium.

He became the fourth Irish captain to score in a World Cup match, while Best is also the fourth oldest player, behind Diego Ormaechea, Fakahau Valu and Nick Easter, to go over in the history in the tournament.

NEW BLOOD AT THE BACK

"Their enthusiasm is something that's contagious, their ability to get themselves into the game," Schmidt said of Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale, who were selected to make their World Cup debuts.

Without experienced duo Keith Earls and Rob Kearney, who were not risked as they recover from injuries, Schmidt had no doubt over the ability of his new-look back-line and his confidence was not misplaced.

All three players were composed in possession and in the ruck, with Conway adding further gloss when he raced over for a bonus-point securing try just before the hour.

City derbies, with their heady blend of familiarity and ferocity, can make enemies of neighbours and friends at the best of times.

In Saturday's Derby della Madonnina, Inter ultimately secured the bragging rights through an authoritative 2-0 win, but midway through the first-half their wing-back Danilo D'Ambrosio was likely ruing Gianluigi Donnarumma's pre-match words.

"With D'Ambrosio, I have a beautiful relationship," the Italy and Milan goalkeeper told DAZN. "He is my compatriot and he also lives near me."

Best mates with the opposition are we, Danilo? Probably best not to hit the post from three yards out with the goal gaping in that case.

In truth, it was a slice of fortune Donnarumma earned on a day when longevity and goalkeeping greatness were a focus in Serie A.

Gianluigi Buffon played his 902nd club match earlier on Saturday as Juventus battled to a 2-1 home win over Hellas Verona, matching the mark set by Milan great Paolo Maldini.

Donnarumma entered senior football as a fully formed teen sensation, already dubbed Buffon's heir. He was also on the books at Milan from the age of 14, steeped in the history of a club defined by one-club men like Maldini. They were big gloves and boots to fill.

Still only 20, he has travelled plenty of road since then. For a long time, none of it felt particularly smooth.

Mino Raiola's typically bombastic attempts to engineer more money and a blockbusting transfer for his client drove a wedge between Donnarumma and the Milan faithful. Then there was the steady drip, drip, drip of errors that threatened to become a deluge.

When Inter beat Milan 1-0 11 months ago, Mauro Icardi – another man well-versed in player-fan relations – scored the winner after a wretched misjudgement from the Rossoneri keeper. On this occasion, it often felt like Donnarumma and his 6ft 5in frame was the only realistic bridge between a yawning gulf in class.

His first big save came in the 18th minute, thwarting Romelu Lukaku after Lautaro Martinez's cute pass played in his strike partner.

Donnarumma's stop to deny the impressive Martinez was stunning three minutes later, with D'Ambrosio on the rebound seemingly one of those briefly distracted.

There was no suggestion of a neighbourly favour when the Inter man propelled himself skywards for a thumping overhead kick. Again, Donnarumma saved and an offside verdict meant Martinez converted the rebound in vain.

A cruel deflection from Marcelo Brozovic's speculative 49th-minute strike felt like the only way Donnarumma was likely to be beaten at that stage, although Inter's 100 per cent start to the Serie A season scarcely seemed under threat from that point.

A bustling Lukaku is brimming with confidence and directed home a fine header to seal victory. Antonio Conte has always felt his best teams operated near their peak with a "point of reference" striker. Inter have that in Lukaku and he might just take them all the way to the Scudetto.

Milan's aims under Marco Giampaolo must be more modest after they managed a solitary shot on target over the course of the 90 minutes – the exciting front two of Krzysztof Piatek and Rafael Leao too frequently isolated as playmaker Suso faded to the margins.

But in Donnarumma they have a young man who has weathered a storm, partially of his own making, and is back on the road to superstardom. He and Milan might yet enjoy a beautiful relationship of their own.

Kevin De Bruyne dazzled and Bernardo Silva hit a hat-trick as Manchester City put Watford to the sword 8-0 on Saturday.

The victory is City's biggest in a top-flight match – a fitting landmark to reach on the weekend the club marked their 125th anniversary.

But huge winning margins have become something approaching the norm in the Pep Guardiola era, with this latest rout the 11th time in all competitions since the start of the 2017-18 campaign City have scored six or more in a match. Six of those have come in 2019 alone.

From lower-league cup opponents unfortunately out of their depth to Champions League rivals and European trophy winners, a variety of clubs have felt City's wrath.

Spare a thought for Watford, who account for three entries on the list below – including last season's FA Cup final.

Six of the best, seventh heaven and more – City's big wins under Guardiola

2017-18

Watford 0-6 Manchester City (Premier League, 16/09/17)
Manchester City 7-2 Stoke City (Premier League, 14/10/17)

2018-19

Manchester City 6 -1 Huddersfield (Premier League, 19/08/18)
Manchester City 6-1 Southampton (Premier League, 04/11/18) 
Manchester City 6-0 Shakhtar Donetsk (Champions League, 07/11/18) 
Manchester City 7-0 Rotherham United (FA Cup, 06/01/19) 
Manchester City 9-0 Burton Albion (EFL Cup, 09/01/19) 
Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea (Premier League, 10/02/19)
Manchester City 7-0 Schalke (Champions League, 12/03/19)
Manchester City 6-0 Watford (FA Cup final, 18/05/2019)

2019-20

Manchester City 8-0 Watford (Premier League, 21/09/2019)

The good news for Watford is, in the league at least, they do not have to face Manchester City again until next May.

The 6-0 defeat against Pep Guardiola's side in last season's FA Cup final was a truly humbling experience but, frankly, it almost looked respectable by comparison when City scored their fifth inside the opening 18 minutes on Saturday, on the way to an 8-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

Records were set and Bernardo Silva went home with the matchball after grabbing a hat-trick on an afternoon when City celebrated their 125th anniversary.

City have seen few football games quite like this one when, in truth, things could have been even worse for poor Watford.

Here is how the game unfolded:

0:52 – Watford's task quickly became one of the steeply uphill variety when David Silva was on hand to convert a delightful Kevin De Bruyne cross from close range to make it 1-0 inside a minute. City's opener is the quickest goal scored in the Premier League this season.

3:29 – If such a contest can have a 'Sliding Doors' moment, this was it. Gerard Deulofeu embarrassed Nicolas Otamendi by skipping around the Argentina defender's challenge and Ederson was on hand with excellent reaction to preserve City's lead.

6:17 – There was not so much to enjoy about the goalkeeping at the other end a few moments later. Ben Foster needlessly felled Riyad Mahrez, and Sergio Aguero converted a penalty to make it 2-0 with his 100th Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium.

11:20 – Mahrez got in on the act by sending a free-kick past Foster courtesy of a deflection off Tom Cleverley. The midfielder stood apart from the edge of the Watford wall and diverted the ball into his own net with his face for 3-0.

14:07 – When Bernardo Silva scores an unmarked, stooping header from a corner, it's a sure fire sign your afternoon has gone awry. Watford's defenders appeared to have no interest whatsoever in marking the Portugal playmaker when he extended the lead to 4-0 from Otamendi's flick-on.

17:04 – No team has ever taken a quicker 5-0 lead in a Premier League game. Watford switched off as David Silva took a quick free-kick and Aguero squared for his fellow Argentinian Otamendi to slide home.

26:32 – De Bruyne unlocked the Hornets again and Aguero rattled a shot against the post from the edge of the area.

32:48 – Spare a thought for Dimitri Foulquier – the Watford debutant who was unceremoniously hauled off. During the time it took City to score five goals, he completed two passes.

43:12 – A combination of the post and Foster denied Aguero. Inevitably, De Bruyne supplied the ammunition.

45:00 (+3) – Half-time. Three minutes of added time meant City were 5-0 up at the interval having not scored for half an hour.

47:59 – City left-back Angelino came on for his Premier League debut at the break and it was soon 6-0. Will Hughes' poor defensive header and cute work from David and Bernardo Silva left the latter with a simple finish.

53:24 – Joao Cancelo replaced Kyle Walker. Sure, why not bring on the most expensive right-back of all time?

59:46 – De Bruyne's cross for 7-0 was so good Bernardo Silva could clumsily tread on the ball and still complete a maiden career treble. City now had Manchester United's Premier League record 9-0 win over Ipswich Town in their sights.

65:21 – Mahrez charged in at the back post to plant a header from Angelino's cross against the crossbar.

84:01 – Fittingly, given how he masterfully orchestrated proceedings, De Bruyne's fabulous strike into the top corner capped Watford's punishment at 8-0 – the biggest top-flight win in City's history and the Hornets' heaviest league defeat.

87:47 – City's brilliant Belgian, De Bruyne, probably should have equalled the Premier League record but dragged his shot wide at the end of a slaloming solo run.

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero brought up 100 Premier League goals at the Etihad Stadium when he dispatched an early penalty against Watford on Saturday.

Since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2011, the 31-year-old has firmly established himself as a crowd favourite on the back of countless superb displays and one goal in particular.

He is City's all-time record scorer with 239 and scored 21 in the Premier League last season, as Pep Guardiola's side made it back-to-back league titles.

The Argentina international is the third player in Premier League history to bring up a century at a single venue after Thierry Henry and Wayne Rooney at Highbury and Old Trafford respectively.

As Aguero eyes further honours this season, we look back some of his best Premier League goals on home turf in Manchester.

Swansea City: August 15, 2011

A club-record signing following his reported £38million arrival from Atletico, Aguero announced himself with a stunning substitute cameo in City's opening game of the 2011-12 campaign. Having slid in at close range to double the advantage granted by Edin Dzeko's opener, he inventively set up David Silva's third before saving the best until last. Aguero collected Yaya Toure's flicked pass 30 yards from goal and arrowed a venomous, dipping long-range strike into the corner. It was love at first sight for the City faithful.

QPR: May 13, 2012

An unforgettable moment replayed countless times, both era-defining for the league and career-defining for its central figure, it is easy to forget what a technically brilliant piece of centre-forward play Aguero's heroic intervention during the dying seconds of the season against QPR was. As the seeming formality of Premier League title glory slipped ever closer to the clutches of rivals Manchester United, the Argentine mimicked many of his country's great attackers by dropping into midfield.

Taking possession from Nigel de Jong, an alert Aguero picked out Mario Balotelli with his back to goal. As with much before and after the eccentric Italian's time at the Etihad Stadium, what followed was not simple, but Balotelli managed to complete a return pass while on his backside. Aguero touched the ball into space beyond Taye Taiwo's lunging challenge, keeping his balance as the QPR defender clipped him. "I hit the ball as hard as I could and hoped for the best," Aguero recalled. Cue bedlam.

Liverpool: February 3, 2013

City's title defence the following season stuttered as their talisman grappled with fitness niggles but he was at his awe-inspiring best to snatch a draw against Liverpool. Five minutes after a trademark long-ranger from Steven Gerrard put the Reds 2-1 ahead, Aguero scampered after Gareth Barry's raking ball into the right channel and found visiting goalkeeper Pepe Reina hurtling off his line. The City man got there first and hooked home from an improbable angle out on the wing.

Manchester United: September 22, 2013

Aguero set the tone for a rampant City derby display and a season of contrasting fortunes for the Manchester clubs, who were each under new management in the form of Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes. Samir Nasri's backheel found Aleksandar Kolarov and the overlapping left-back fizzed over a fierce cross that Aguero contorted himself brilliantly to convert with a left-footed volley. He claimed a second in a 4-1 win and City would finish the campaign as champions, with United in seventh and Moyes out of a job.

Newcastle United: October 3, 2015

The Buenos Aires native's insatiable appetite for goals has never been more clinically demonstrated than when he put an overmatched Newcastle to the sword. City won 6-1 and Aguero scored five of them, all in the space of 20 minutes. Half-time did at least give Steve McClaren's men respite after their tormentor cancelled out Aleksandar Mitrovic's opener, but a brutal evisceration followed. Aguero's third was his best, when he applied a delicate dinked finish on the end of an irresistible passing triangle featuring Silva, Fernandinho and Kevin De Bruyne.

Burnley: January 2, 2017

Aguero was due to spend the opening fixture of last year recuperating on the bench but Fernandinho's rash lunge on Johann Gudmundsson forced a re-think from Guardiola, who sent on his leading marksman at the break despite the hosts being reduced to 10 men. Gael Clichy gave City a 58th-minute lead and the Blues sprung forward again four minutes later, only for Raheem Sterling to go down under a challenge from Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton. Aguero was alive to the slim possibilities and got to the ball ahead of a sprawling Heaton, but the angle was very much against him. Nevertheless, he unleashed a powerful strike that clipped the near post and faintly brushed Matthew Lowton on its way into the net. Lowton and fellow Clarets defender Michael Keane were left to look at one another in perplexed fashion on the line.

Leicester City: February 10, 2018

Already with the match ball in the bag, Aguero had one more thunderous trick up his sleeve in last year's 5-1 thrashing of Leicester. Phil Foden picked out City's penalty box animal outside his natural habitat 25 yards from goal. Nevertheless, there was only one thing on Aguero's mind as he touched the ball forward and larruped a strike past Kasper Schmeichel that crashed against the underside of the bar and bounced up into the roof of the net.

Liverpool: January 3, 2019

Given City won the 2018-19 Premier League title by just a single point ahead of Liverpool, their 2-1 win over Jurgen Klopp's side at the turn of the year was pivotal. As is often the case in big games, Aguero came to the fore. He took one touch from Bernardo Silva's cross before unleashing a rasping left-foot strike into the roof of Alisson's net to give his side the lead. 

New Zealand were far from perfect in their Rugby World Cup opener, but a six-minute spell of breathtaking brilliance showed why the two-time defending champions remain the team to beat.

While the All Blacks are understandably many people's favourites to prevail in Japan, it is fair to say their status as rugby's dominant nation has come under more questioning than usual in recent months.

South Africa won this year's Rugby Championship, in which Steve Hansen's men suffered a stunning 47-26 defeat to Australia - albeit one they avenged the following week with a 36-0 thumping of the Wallabies to retain the Bledisloe Cup.

The All Blacks have also been displaced by Ireland at the top of World Rugby's rankings and the likes of Wales and England have been tipped to mount strong challenges for glory over the coming weeks.

For 20 minutes on Saturday, any doubts over New Zealand's strength were heightened as South Africa started superbly in a blockbuster Pool B opener in Yokohama that could well serve as a dress rehearsal for the final at the same venue on November 2.

Throughout the first quarter, the Springboks dominated territorially, their ferocious line-speed causing no end of problems.

However, one misplaced pass from Faf de Klerk - with South Africa leading 3-0 - triggered a sudden shift in momentum as the All Blacks demonstrated a ruthless streak no other team can match.

The Boks initially got off lightly when De Klerk's wild pass from a ruck was pounced upon by Richie Mo'unga, who kicked ahead before being halted just short of the line. Makazole Mapimpi was penalised for not releasing the number 10, but the wing avoided a yellow card and the All Blacks merely picked up three points to level the score when a try had appeared highly likely.

New Zealand had found their mojo, though, and in a matter of minutes they took complete control with two stunning tries in quick succession.

Hansen's decision to start Beauden Barrett - widely viewed as the world's finest fly-half - at full-back in order to accommodate Mo'unga has prompted much debate, but the presence of two playmakers was certainly influential as the All Blacks hit top gear.

Mo'unga's cross-field kick to Sevu Reece started the move that led to the first try. Reece promptly skinned the out-of-position Mapimpi before working the ball through Aaron Smith to a galloping Ardie Savea. From the next phase, Barrett surged through a gap from second receiver and laid on a simple finish for George Bridge.

Barrett was also heavily involved in the passage of play that led up to the All Blacks' second score, which was finished by namesake Scott Barrett after Anton Lienert-Brown had dazzlingly weaved past five defenders.

Having been 3-0 down and on the rack, New Zealand were suddenly 14 points to the good and their opponents understandably appeared somewhat stunned for the remainder of the half.

To their credit, the Springboks did battle back gamely after the interval, but they had been left with too much to do.

It has been 12 years since the All Blacks last lost a World Cup fixture. Their magical six-minute blitz on Saturday suggests it will take something special to deny them another title.

Having spent much of his time as Manchester United manager promising to do so, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally unleashed the kids in their Europa League opener against Astana.

Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes were all given their first starts of the season, while Axel Tuanzebe lined up in defence after making only one substitute appearance since returning from a fruitful loan spell.

As a contest, it certainly was not as straightforward as Solskjaer would have hoped, as United made hard work of overcoming the Kazakh champions.

Yet Solskjaer's experimenting was just about vindicated by Greenwood getting the only goal of the game 17 minutes from time - the forward bailing out his more experienced team-mates on a frustrating evening at Old Trafford.

Nevertheless, it was still a mixed outing for United's youngsters. We assess how they fared.

 

Mason Greenwood

United's next great hope was making his first start since the 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City on the final day of last season, though this contest will have felt like small fry compared to his only previous European outing, a substitute appearance in the famous 3-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain last term.

Operating initially from the right, he went extremely close to opening the scoring in the 16th minute after Marcus Rashford's clever flick, drilling a fierce left-footed strike just wide of the top-left corner. Solskjaer said Greenwood was one of the best finishers he has ever seen on Wednesday – it would have been easy to see why had he buried that opportunity.

However, Solskjaer's need for Greenwood – as United's only back-up striker – to prove a point and get a goal arguably spared the teenager from being taken off instead of Gomes in the second half, having failed to meet expectations.

The Norwegian's faith ultimately paid off.

For once, a United player didn't just do the obvious. Greenwood twisted and turned in the area and coolly slotted between the goalkeeper's legs for his first official senior goal, which will surely be a weight off his shoulders.

 

Angel Gomes

Almost two-and-a-half years on from his United debut, Gomes was finally awarded a first senior start and he looked eager to impress, dazzling a defender in the first minute before then winning a foul with a clever turn just a few moments later.

In the first half, Gomes looked the most likely to make something happen creatively, his quick feet winning a couple of free-kicks and providing the only defence-splitting pass just before the half-hour mark when releasing Diogo Dalot, whose subsequent cross was dealt with.

Gomes' ability in tight spaces continued to look like providing a potential route to goal in the second period – the attacking midfielder drawing fouls and creating space, but United refused to use him as often as they should have.

In the end, he was somewhat unfortunate to be taken off after generally justifying his selection. The fans will definitely be hoping to see more from Gomes in the coming weeks.

 

Tahith Chong

After looking bright as a substitute against Leicester City, it was not a huge surprise to see Netherlands youth international Chong make the starting XI.

While his display was a little braver than Greenwood's before the break, Chong did show he is still the rawest of the three youngsters in attack.

His touch was far too heavy on several occasions, while he lacked the power to really trouble the Astana defence, one early run aside.

He was unsurprisingly withdrawn for Jesse Lingard in the second half, having been largely disappointing.

 

Axel Tuanzebe

Following a solid season on loan at Aston Villa, Tuanzebe has moved well up the pecking order at Old Trafford and was a commanding presence on his first start for the club since May 2017.

The 21-year-old showed an effective blend of physicality and technical ability, one first-half moment typifying that when he recovered to outpace and outmuscle Dorin Rotariu, before taking the ball back and dribbling forward after the Romanian had flicked the ball over his head.

Otherwise Tuanzebe had little defending to do, with the centre-back often stepping forward into midfield given United's dominance, but his solidity was highlighted by the fact he won 75 per cent of his 16 duels.

 

It may not prove to be the case in the long run, but New Zealand feel a little vulnerable going into the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Having failed to win this year's shortened version of the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks are no longer the top-ranked side prior to the tournament in Japan.

Admittedly, they have not suffered a World Cup defeat since 2007, when they were stunned by France in a quarter-final in Cardiff. Their pedigree, plus their strength in depth, means Steve Hansen's side deserve to be considered the favourites.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope for the rest of the rugby heavyweights. The question is: who is best placed to dethrone the champions? 

 

1. SOUTH AFRICA

Could the Springboks be peaking at just the right time? They won the Rugby Championship for the fourth time this year and, after a shocking start against Japan, came as close as any nation to ending New Zealand's march towards a second straight World Cup in 2015. An early crack at the All Blacks in their Pool B opener will give them the chance to land a potentially telling blow. Also, the Boks ruled the world in 1995 and 2007. Now, 12 years on from their previous success, will the trend be repeated? They deserve to be viewed as the main contenders to the defending champions.

2. ENGLAND

It cannot possibly go any worse than four years ago, right? Eddie Jones – who was in charge of the Japan team that upset the Boks in Brighton in 2015 – is at the helm and the schedule has aided their campaign, as they have Tonga and the United States in their opening two fixtures in Pool C, giving them a chance to iron out any issues before they round out the stage by facing Argentina and France. The talismanic Owen Farrell is the key – and not just because of his outstanding kicking off the tee.

3. WALES

Warren Gatland could finish his spell in charge by doing a Six Nations Grand Slam and World Cup double. The Kiwi reached the semi-finals in 2011 and then the quarters four years ago. The reason they are not rated higher, however, is the list of absentees. Flanker Taulupe Faletau and fly-half Gareth Anscombe are missing due to injuries, scrum-half Rhys Webb is unavailable due to selection rules and attack coach Rob Howley has returned home over an alleged betting breach.

4. IRELAND

Like several of his counterparts, Joe Schmidt's tenure comes to an end with the World Cup. His final Six Nations did not go quite to plan, but Ireland top the world rankings, defeated New Zealand less than a year ago (in a game where the mighty All Blacks failed to score a try) and have plenty of experience in their squad. Much will depend on the form and fitness of fly-half Johnny Sexton - can he help the team recapture the form they displayed in 2018? While Pool A looks to be plain sailing, they face the prospect of New Zealand or South Africa in the last eight.

5. AUSTRALIA

The beaten finalists from four years ago will be relying on experience to go one better than 2015. Michael Cheika has often seemed on the brink as their head coach, but he raised hopes by beating New Zealand 47-26 in Perth in August. Still, they lost the rematch 36-0 on the road and are minus their leading strike weapon in Israel Folau, who is locked in a legal dispute with the Australia Rugby Union following his sacking for comments on social media. Without him, they will be more workmanlike than eye-catching in attack. 

6. SCOTLAND

Scotland are in a pool that, apart from Ireland, looks softer than some of the alternative options. They will not take hosts Japan for granted in their final round-robin fixture and, if they do progress, will have to cause an upset against either New Zealand or South Africa in the next round. Gregor Townsend has plenty of World Cup experience from his playing days, but this is his first in charge of the national team - expect the Scots to be in some highly entertaining contests but the last four looks a long shot.

7. ARGENTINA

Los Pumas languish outside the top 10 in the rankings but have made the semi-finals at two of the last three World Cups. The reason they are listed so low here, though, is their group. Only two can progress and having been drawn alongside England and France, Argentina face a challenge to make the quarters. Mario Ledesma's squad is dominated by players from Jaguares, who reached the Super Rugby final for the first time this year, but will lean on the Stade Francais' Nicolas Sanchez to provide control.

8. FRANCE

There was a time when France were the team you wanted to avoid in the knockout stages (just ask New Zealand 12 years ago, while they only won the 2011 final 8-7 against Les Bleus). Yet this current bunch are not living up to previous versions, with a distinct lack of flair put down to a domestic game now dominated by big-name overseas recruits occupying key positions. Sure, France have turned it on for the big occasion in the past, but the 2019 squad should concentrate first on making it out of their pool.

AND THE REST...

Japan have improved since 2015. Italy? Not so much. The hosts can justifiably think a quarter-final slot is within reach, but the Azzurri look doomed in Pool B alongside the All Blacks and the Boks. Currently placed inside the world's top 10, Fiji will likely have to beat one of Australia or Wales just to make it out of their group. The other nations will hope for damage limitation against the big boys and aim to take points off each other in their remaining fixtures. 

Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs will each have a second opportunity to reach the NRL's preliminary finals in this week's semi-finals.

The Storm finished the regular season top of the ladder but were upset at home by Canberra Raiders in last week's qualifying finals.

The Rabbitohs likewise came up short as they were beaten by rivals Sydney Roosters, who advanced to the final four.

Melbourne must overcome Parramatta Eels, who enjoyed an outstanding 58-0 win over Brisbane Broncos in the elimination finals.

Manly Sea Eagles, having come past Cronulla Sharks, are next for the Rabbitohs.

We take a look at the key Opta facts behind the two huge fixtures in the NRL Finals this week.


Friday

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Manly Sea Eagles

- The past six NRL matches between the Rabbitohs and the Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium have seen each team pick up three wins, although the most recent three were all won by South Sydney.

- Manly have conceded 31 penalties in the NRL this season for being offside inside the opposition 10-metre zone, the joint-most of any team (also Newcastle Knights).

- The Rabbitohs' Damien Cook has gained more metres (1,862) scooting out of dummy-half than any other player this term, 320 more than the next best (Cameron Smith – 1,542).


Saturday

Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels

- The Storm have won seven of their past nine NRL matches against the Eels (L2), including the most recent three in succession. They have not won more consecutive matches against Parramatta since a four-match span across 2006 and 2007.

- The Eels have made the most offloads (343) of any team in the NRL this year, 125 more than Melbourne (218).

- Storm great Cameron Smith has kicked the most goals (102) of any player in NRL 2019. This has been the first NRL season of his 18-year career in which he has kicked 100 or more goals.

Chelsea and Liverpool never take each other lightly and on Sunday both sides will attempt to put Champions League defeats behind them.

Liverpool's winning start to the season came to an abrupt half in a 2-0 defeat at Napoli, while Chelsea suffered their first home reverse of the season when Valencia won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

It is little over a month since Tammy Abraham's penalty miss handed Liverpool a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory after a 2-2 draw in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul, and Frank Lampard will be desperate for revenge now he has settled into his role as head coach.

Lampard is a central figure in the rivalry between Liverpool and Chelsea, having faced the Reds in three Champions League semi-finals and helped the Blues to 15 victories and four draws in the 31 Premier League matches he played against the Anfield club.

But this Liverpool team could eclipse the achievements of any faced by Lampard in his playing career, and the Opta data shows just what Chelsea can expect from Jurgen Klopp's title hopefuls.

 

STAMFORD BRIDGE A HAPPY HUNTING GROUND FOR KLOPP

If Liverpool claim all three points on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp will become the first Liverpool manager to have secured three Premier League victories at Stamford Bridge.

The omens appear to be in his favour, with none of Chelsea's last six managers having won their first league game against Liverpool, Carlo Ancelotti being the last Blues boss to triumph in his first encounter against them in 2009.

Indeed, Chelsea have won just one of their last nine league games against the European champions (D5 L3) and that came in May 2018 when Olivier Giroud scored in a 1-0 home victory.

They entertain a Liverpool side in the midst of the club's longest unbeaten run in the Premier League era (22 games), with Klopp's men having lost once in their last 44 top-flight outings.

But Chelsea at the Bridge are not a side to write off and they will not be daunted by the visit of Klopp's table-topping side: the Blues have beaten the team who topped the Premier League at the start of the day 18 times – three more than any other side.

HEAD TO HEAD: ROBERTO FIRMINO V TAMMY ABRAHAM

Abraham has buried the memory of his night to forget in Istanbul by scoring seven goals in his last three Premier League appearances - including a hat-trick against Wolves last time out - and on Sunday he is gunning for a record held by former Liverpool favourite Luis Suarez.

The only player to score at least twice in four consecutive Premier League appearances was Suarez, who achieved the feat in December 2013, and all eyes will be on Abraham as he aims to extend his streak.

In contrast, Roberto Firmino heads to the capital having scored just two league goals this season, despite playing 400 minutes compared to Abraham's 331.

Firmino has attempted more shots (19) than Abraham (15), and had more touches in the opposition box (36 v 21), but Liverpool have relied on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (4 goals each) for firepower.

In terms of creativity, however, Firmino is having a fine season, contributing three assists and creating five big chances, whereas Abraham has yet to register an assist and has carved just one big chance this term.

FORM GUIDE

Liverpool head to West London with a 100 per cent record in the Premier League this season, having brushed Norwich City, Southampton, Arsenal, Burnley and Newcastle United aside with very little fuss.

Chelsea have not had it so easy, suffering a 4-0 drubbing against Manchester United in their season opener before labouring to draws at home against Leicester City and Sheffield United.

But Lampard's men played some of their best football under his management in their 5-2 demolition of Wolves last weekend and a first home league win of the season against Liverpool would be a huge statement from a young Blues team.

Mason Mount sustained an injury against Valencia and is a doubt, but even without his dynamism in attack Chelsea will be confident of finding the net.

Liverpool have kept just one clean sheet in the Premier League this season, in their 3-0 win at Burnley, although they have only conceded four goals – joint lowest in the division alongside Manchester United and Leicester City.

HISTORY SAYS…

Liverpool have visited Stamford Bridge 27 times in the Premier League and only managed one victory in their first 16 of those trips.

But the Reds' last 11 games at Chelsea have been far more fruitful, delivering five victories, three draws and three defeats.

History says there will be goals in this one: Liverpool have scored in all but one of their last 10 league games against Chelsea, while the Blues have failed to score in only one of their last 20 clashes with Liverpool in all competitions.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday after suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb against the Los Angeles Rams last week.

The injury – to his throwing thumb – is a blow to a Super Bowl-hungry team and the veteran's absence could go a long way toward shaping the NFC playoff picture. He is expected back within eight weeks after the Saints opted not to place him on injured reserve.

Before the thumb issue, Brees had missed just one game to injury in his 19-year NFL career. Now, he will miss the next six, at least: against the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals before the 40-year-old and the team hope he returns against the Atlanta Falcons, after the Saints' Week 9 bye.

Brees' backup — either Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill or a mix of the two after head coach Sean Payton refused to commit early this week — will be faced with a stout first challenge visiting Seattle and things will not get easier when the Saints return home to host the star-powered Cowboys.

New Orleans should survive the next two weeks against Tampa Bay and Jacksonville before maybe even leaving Chicago with a win if Mitchell Trubisky is limited. The Cardinals could also be beaten as they continue to get comfortable with first-year duo Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury.

But even when Brees does return, there is no guarantee the 12-time Pro Bowler will return to his record-breaking form which made a case for MVP last season before he was outshined by Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes. And, while he is building his strength back after his procedure, teams around the league will be getting stronger, as well.

The Saints are not the only NFC South team struggling, as Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is also dealing with an injury and Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston is still establishing himself. So, the Falcons will certainly look to take advantage with the hope of creating another space ahead of New Orleans that the Saints will not be able to catch them down the road when Brees is back.

Compared to the Brees-less Saints, it could be argued that other NFC contenders like Los Angeles and Dallas have lighter schedules during that period. The Green Bay Packers, on the other hand, have some tough opponents and no bye until Week 11.

Rams: Browns, Buccaneers, Seahawks, 49ers, Falcons, Bengals, Bye
Cowboys: Dolphins, Saints, Packers, Jets, Eagles, Bye, Giants
Packers: Broncos, Eagles, Cowboys, Lions, Raiders, Chiefs, Chargers

The Rams have the most to gain from the Saints' loss, while the Cowboys have a shot at a top-two seed. Then there are the San Francisco 49ers, who could potentially secure an NFC wild-card spot under Jimmy Garoppolo if Brees cannot quite bounce back.

The Saints could struggle with Bridgewater at quarterback given he was reliable yet unimpressive Sunday as he substituted for Brees, finishing 17 of 30 for 165 yards with no touchdowns. Then again, it was just his seventh time seeing action in a game in the last three seasons, so there are still some kinks to work out.

After all, it is hard to forget the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII with Nick Foles filling in for injured starter Carson Wentz.

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