When Frank Lampard was questioned over Chelsea's poor defensive record in his tenure as manager, he suggested his goalkeepers were to blame.

Ahead of Tuesday's home game against Sevilla, which will kick off the Blues' Champions League campaign, it was put to Lampard that his side were conceding enough goals for him to rank him among the club's worst bosses ever in that category.

Indeed, Chelsea have conceded nine goals in their first five Premier League games this season – three coming in Saturday's 3-3 home draw with Southampton – and leaked 54 in the 2019-20 top flight, more than any other team to finish in the top 10.

"I'm aware of the stats and the other stat is we have conceded second least shots," said Lampard.

"That helps to narrow down the issue. It's something we are aware of with our recruitment and on the pitch with the players to make sure we set up well.

"We want to concede less, as do all teams at the moment."

As Lampard referenced with recruitment, Chelsea hope the signing of Edouard Mendy for around £22million from Rennes can solve their goalkeeping issues.

But is the statistic he cites correct and to what extent can the other keepers, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Willy Caballero, be blamed for the club's woeful defensive record? We have used Opta data to find out...

CHELSEA RANK HIGHLY IN PREVENTING SHOTS

Since Lampard took charge at the start of last season, Chelsea have conceded 89 goals in 62 games across all competitions, an average of 1.44 per game.

Of the 17 sides who played in the Premier League last year and this year, that puts Chelsea in the bottom half (11th of 17).

The best two records, by comparison, are held by the two Manchester clubs, with City (61 in 65) and United (63 in 67) both averaging 0.94 goals conceded per game. West Ham are the worst, with 1.58 (79 in 50 matches).

But, as Lampard suggests, there is a significant difference when it comes to shots faced.

Taking all competitions into account, the Blues have faced 590 shots across their 62 games, an average of 9.52 per game.

That ranks third of the 17 teams, only narrowly behind Manchester City (7.34 shots per game) and Liverpool (9.46), with Leicester City (9.76) the only other team facing less than 10.

Of the shots Chelsea have faced, 215 have been on target, an average of 3.47 per game which ranks fifth of 17. 

So, Chelsea have been reasonably effective in limiting the shots they face and the attempts their keepers have to save.

However, 15 per cent (89) of opposing teams' shots have resulted in a conceded goal and by that metric, Chelsea are worst of all 17 teams.

The best is Arsenal (eight per cent) and Manchester United also rank in single figures (nine per cent), so it seems Lampard has a point that his goalkeeping is the primary concern.

KEPA STATS MAKE ABYSMAL READING

Delving deeper into Opta's advanced goalkeeper metrics, we can look at expected goals and how their keepers rank in the goals prevented statistic.

Unfortunately, it makes abysmal reading for Kepa. 

There were 43 shot-stoppers who played a Premier League game since Lampard took charge of Chelsea and Kepa ranks last in goals prevented differential.

In his 36 league matches for Chelsea since Lampard took charge, Opta's expected goals system projects the Spaniard should have conceded 39.21 goals. The actual figure was 51, giving him a goals prevented ratio of minus 11.79.

For context, the next worst of those who played at least 25 matches in that time period, were England duo Nick Pope (minus 4.31) and Jordan Pickford (minus 4.17).

Caballero also has a negative differential (minus 3.73), conceding nine Premier League goals from his six matches when his expected figure was 5.27.

The best goalkeeping performance in that time has come from Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris (plus 9.87 goals prevented), closely followed by Martin Dubravka (plus 8.57), Dean Henderson (plus 8.35) and Vicente Guaita (plus 7.97) – with those four ranking well clear of the rest.

As a team, Chelsea have conceded 63 in the league since August 2019, while the expected figure is 44.74, their minus 18.26 differential being far and away the top-flight's worst.

Southampton are next worst at minus 9.91, while the best record is held by Sheffield United, who conceded 46 when they were expected to concede 56.59, giving them a plus 10.59 ratio.

The poor goalkeeping is highlighted further when looking at Chelsea and their big six rivals.

Chelsea (44.74), City (44.34), Liverpool (44.67) and United (46.61) all rank similarly for the Premier League goals they would have been expected to concede since the start of last season.

By contrast, Arsenal (62.73) and Tottenham (62.72) rank more poorly.

However, the actual figures show Chelsea (63) conceded the most of the big six, more than Arsenal (54) and Spurs (55), who were boosted by the positive differentials and fine performances of Bernd Leno, Emiliano Martinez and Lloris.

City (42) fared best, with Ederson (plus 4.47) ranking well, while Liverpool (46) United (48) finished up relatively close to their expected figures, all highlighting just how badly Chelsea have been let down between the sticks compared to their nearest competitors.

Chelsea will hope Mendy, once fully fit and settled, can resolve their goalkeeping woes, as it is clear the data backs up Lampard's statement.

Primoz Roglic goes into the Vuelta a Espana as favourite to defend his title, with Chris Froome among a strong group of challengers after the Briton was left out of the Tour de France.

Tadej Pogacar beat Roglic by 59 seconds to win the Tour last month as the Slovenian duo recorded a remarkable one-two for their country.

Roglic, who has reached the podium at all three Grand Tours, goes into the Vuelta as the man to beat, having won by two minutes and 33 seconds over Alejandro Valverde in 2019.

Froome, Valverde, Tom Dumoulin, Richard Carapaz, Thibaut Pinot and Enric Mas will all be hoping to challenge.

Ahead of the event, which starts with a stage from Irun to Arrate on Tuesday and runs until November 8 with the finish in Madrid, we take a look at the biggest talking points with the help of Opta data.

A DIFFERENT YEAR

As well as clashing with the conclusion of the Giro d'Italia, which runs until October 25, due to coronavirus-related rescheduling, this year's Vuelta has some other key differences.

For the first time since 1985 there will be fewer than 21 stages, with just 18 in the 2020 race across a 2,882-kilometre route.

Irun will host the start of the race for the time, while it was 1961 when La Vuelta last began in the Basque Country.

SPANISH DOMINANCE WANING

Historically, home riders have thrived at the Vuelta, with Spanish participants winning on 32 of the 74 occasions the race has been run. France and Belgium are the next best nations on nine and seven respectively.

However, a Spaniard has not taken the red jersey since Alberto Contador triumphed in 2014, the country's longest drought since 1992-1997 (six races).

The dry spell came after Spanish riders had won eight of the first 10 Vueltas in this century. Now, Contador's 2012 and 2014 wins are their only triumphs in the last 10.

On the plus side, a Spanish rider has won a stage at every Vuelta apart from in 1996.

THE CHALLENGE FACING ROGLIC

Roglic is looking to defend his crown, but no rider as achieved that at this race since Roberto Heras' triumphs between 2003 and 2005. The Team Jumbo-Visma star also faces some stiff competition. 

INEOS Grenadiers rider Froome is the last rider to have won multiple editions of La Vuelta, doing it so in 2011 and 2017 – the longest span between two wins among all riders with multiple titles. 

He will now look to join Heras (four wins), Tony Rominger (three) and Contador (three) among the Vuelta greats.

Valverde has finished on the Vuelta podium a remarkable seven times in 13 appearances (2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2019), the most of all time.

He has 10 top-five finishes, although 2009 was his only win. This will be the veteran's 14th participation, more than any other active rider.

Mas finished second in his last outing in 2018, when he also finished as best young rider.

The Movistar rider comes into the race with some form – he was fifth at the Tour and came second in the young riders classification behind only the yellow jersey winner Pogacar.

Pinot has been in the top 10 in each of the two Vueltas he has managed to finish, though he has abandoned in a Grand Tour seven times, which is more often than he has reached the end (six).

Dumoulin has been in the top 10 in each of the last five grand tours he finished, while Carapraz has two major top-five results to his name, though is yet to finish higher than 18th in Spain. 

POINTS JERSEY UP FOR GRABS

Roglic and Froome won the points jersey as well as the overall classification in their 2019 and 2017 triumphs – prior to those doubles, that feat had not been achieved since 2000.

Along with the challengers for overall glory, sprinters Sam Bennett and Pascal Ackermann are among the top contenders for that honour at this event.

Irishman Bennett has seven stage wins at Grand Tours, while German Ackermann won the points classification in the only previous Grand Tour he took part in, the 2019 Giro.

Another spectacular weekend in the Premier League always looked likely after Liverpool's thriller at Everton, and we weren't disappointed.

The champions lost Virgil van Dijk to injury and a winning goal to a Sadio Mane offside so marginal it seems VAR has now started dealing with measurements on the Planck scale.

Gareth Bale's return to action for Tottenham was warmly welcomed (mostly by jubilant West Ham fans) as a Jose Mourinho team once more produced a goal-fest, a sure sign that 2020 is truly losing its marbles.

Thankfully, we were also given a healthy dose of normality. Arsenal lost to Manchester City for the seventh time in a row, Jack Grealish was fouled so much you have to wonder if his tiny shin pads are shouting insults at every opponent, and Crystal Palace did their utmost to get a result against Brighton and Hove Albion without actually shooting.

Here are some of the more unusual takeaways from the past few days...

 

WHERE EAGLES (DON'T) DARE

Brighton out-shot Palace by 19 in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park, but it wasn't until the 90th minute through Alexis Mac Allister that they finally scored.

Palace had been leading 1-0 since the 19th minute, when Wilfried Zaha converted a penalty won by Michy Batshuayi. Remarkably, that was their only shot in the entire match; since Opta began collecting such data back in 2003-04, no other team has gone through a whole Premier League game in which their solitary attempt was from the spot.

Swansea City hold the Premier League record (at least since 2003-04) when it comes to the lowest number of shots for an entire season: they managed 339 in 2017-18. Palace, who have had 32 in their five games this term, might just have something to aim for – if aiming were their strong suit, anyway.

IT'S GUNNER CHANGE ONE DAY

Some degree of normality was restored at the Etihad Stadium, where Arsenal, who seem to love losing to Manchester City, lost to Manchester City.

Raheem Sterling's goal gave the hosts a seventh win in a row in the league over the Gunners, who last lost as many in succession against the same opponent at the hands of Ipswich Town between 1974 and 1977. If they lose the return fixture, they'll equal a club record of eight consecutive top-flight defeats to the same team, having last done so to Leeds United from 1972 to 1976.

The worst such run in England's top tier belongs to West Brom: they were beaten 15 times in a row by Chelsea from 1984 to 2011 before Gareth McAuley gave them a 1-0 win in March 2012.

 

JACK'S HACKS

Grealish might be struggling to win over England boss Gareth Southgate, but his opponents certainly seem to view him as a force to be reckoned with.

In Aston Villa's 1-0 win at Leicester City, Grealish won five fouls – nobody was fouled more often – to take his tally to 182 since the start of last season. Unsurprisingly, that's the highest number in the division.

According to Opta data, the most-fouled player in the Premier League since 2003-04 is former Bolton Wanderers striker Kevin Davies, who won 727 free-kicks. Grealish has some way to go before he can reckon with that figure, but at least he has double the number of England caps as Davies, who got one back in October 2010.

RED-FACED REDS

Conceding twice to Everton did more than sting Liverpool's local pride – it also took them to 13 goals conceded in five league games this season, the same number they let in after 15 matches in 2019-20. In fact, it's the most they have ever conceded in the first five league games of a season since shipping 13 back in 1953, when Winston Churchill was still prime minister of the United Kingdom.

If their average of 2.6 goals against per game continues, they will end the season having conceded at least 98 times. That would set a new club record in terms of their worst defensive displays across a campaign, surpassing the 97 goals they let in back in, you guessed it, 1953-54. How they would have hoped for better news on Virgil van Dijk's injury.

It could be worse, though: Manchester United conceded a quite spectacular 26 goals in the first five games of 1930-31, which remains a record in England's top flight. Churchill wasn't even in the government at the time.

 

UNBELIEVABALE

Spurs were cruising to a 3-0 victory when Bale came on against West Ham for his first appearance for the club in 2,707 days. What a moment for the fans watching at home.

Of course, it was the West Ham faithful who will have been jumping for joy in their living rooms by the end of the game, with Fabian Balbuena, a Davinson Sanchez own goal and an utterly magical hit from Manuel Lanzini snatching the most dramatic of 3-3 draws. Bale had earlier missed a great chance to make it 4-2, for good measure.

Still, welcoming back Bale after more than seven years will have been a special moment, although it doesn't quite match Wayne Rooney's Premier League record. His first appearance after rejoining Everton in 2017 came 4,837 days after his first in 2002, and he marked it by scoring the winner against Stoke City.

Tom Brady got the better of Aaron Rodgers in the most high-profile game of an NFL Sunday that also saw the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans move to 5-0.

The Seattle Seahawks are the only undefeated team remaining in the NFC after Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recovered from a poor start to earn an emphatic 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Pittsburgh crushed divisional rivals the Cleveland Browns, while the Titans needed overtime to win a wild encounter against the Houston Texans in an AFC South battle.

With all but two Week 6 games now played, we reflect on the best statistics from another thrilling slate.

Brady and Gronk connection is back

The Bucs defense played its part against the Packers, but it was also a decent game from Brady, who had a 104.9 passer rating (166 yards, two TDs).

Rob Gronkowski had a slow beginning to his 2020 NFL return, but he was targeted on eight occasions this time, hauling in five catches for 78 yards (47 per cent of Brady's total) and a touchdown.

Brady and Gronk have now combined for 91 TDs, including postseason play, with this score seeing them surpass Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for third on the all-time list for a QB-receiver pairing.

Steve Young and Jerry Rice (92) are next in their sights, though they have some way to go to catch Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114).

With starting tight end O. J. Howard out for the season, a resurgent Gronk in addition to star receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should keep Brady and the 4-2 Bucs firing.

Rivers bounces back

Philip Rivers had made an underwhelming start with the Indianapolis Colts, so he needed a big performance and duly delivered one as his team rallied to beat the Cincinnati Bengals 31-27.

The 38-year-old recorded 371 passing yards and three touchdowns with one interception as receiver Marcus Johnson (five catches, 108 yards) enjoyed a big game.

It was the 30th time Rivers produced a 300-yard game with at least three TDs, only the sixth player to reach that milestone behind quarterback greats Drew Brees (67), Brady (51), Manning (46) and Rodgers (36).

Titans make history

The Titans' thrilling 42-36 win over Houston saw Ryan Tannehill throw for 364 yards (four TDs and one INT), while Derrick Henry rushed for 212 yards (two TDs), including an epic 94-yard score.

As a result, they became the first team in NFL history with a 350+ yard passer and a 200+ yard rusher in the same game.

Henry's 264 yards from scrimmage (he had 52 receiving yards) was a career-high and he became the first player to record a 200+ yard rushing game in three consecutive seasons.

He also equalled the record for rushing touchdowns of at least 90 yards (two), as well as drawing level with O.J. Simpson and Barry Sanders with five rushing scores of 70+ yards.

Only Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson (both seven) have more in that category.

Patriots stumble without Brady

Life after Brady was never going to be easy for the New England Patriots, but few would have expected them to lose 18-12 at home to the Denver Broncos.

They lost despite the returning Drew Lock throwing two poor interceptions in the fourth quarter, while the victorious Broncos did not score a touchdown in the game.

Lock became only the second QB to defeat the Pats under Bill Belichick in a road game while throwing multiple interceptions, joining Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who did so in Week 10 of the 2001 season when he won the MVP award.

New England dropped to 2-3, so are now below .500 through five games for the first time since 2001, the year Brady went on to win his first Super Bowl.

The Pats' streak of 18 straight seasons above .500 after five weeks of play had been the longest in NFL history.

Year of the comeback

The Colts' win saw them come from 21-0 down, while the Bucs were in a 10-point hole before recovering to beat the Packers.

Those games continued a 2020 trend of dramatic fightbacks and this is the first-ever NFL season where at least one team has won after being at least 16 points down in each of the first six weeks.

Nineteen games have seen comebacks of 10 or more points, tying the records set through Week 6 from the 2011 and 1987 campaigns.

The Colts' remarkable victory, though, was the first time since Week 1 of the 2016 season that a team has recovered from as many as 21 behind. 

The last occasion had seen the Kansas City Chiefs trail 24-3 before fighting back to win 33-27 in overtime against the Chargers, who then represented San Diego.

Gareth Bale's return to English football coincided with a Tottenham implosion against West Ham, as David Moyes' team earned a place in Premier League history. 

From 3-0 behind after 81 minutes, West Ham incredibly scrambled a 3-3 draw from their trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

No team in the Premier League had ever previously come from so far back, so late in a game, to avoid defeat. 

Burnley are now the only team without a point in the Premier League after Sheffield United and Fulham both got off the mark in a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane, while Brighton and Hove Albion had 20 times as many shots as Crystal Palace in their Selhurst Park battle but also finished in stalemate. 

Aston Villa, meanwhile, have joined early leaders Everton in sending a reminder to the 'big six' that they too were once giants of the English game, who might just be waking from years of slumber. 

Tottenham 3-3 West Ham: Hammer blow to Spurs

Was it the Premier League's greatest three-goal comeback, or simply the latest? Either way, the recovery from David Moyes' team was one they will not forget in a long time, while Tottenham and head coach Jose Mourinho may find it haunts them. 

Until the late twist there was a lot to enjoy for Tottenham and their supporters. 

Going 3-0 up in 16 minutes was the earliest they had held a three-goal lead in a Premier League game since facing Derby County in August 2007. They led 3-0 after 14 minutes and beat the Rams 4-0 that day, so surely three points were beckoning again here. In the most recent 87 Premier League matches where they had led by at least three goals, going back 19 years, Tottenham had won every time. 

Harry Kane's early double and assist for Son Heung-min took him to 23 direct goal involvements in his past 12 competitive games for Spurs, consisting of 15 goals and eight assists. 

The England captain has five goals and seven assists for his club this season, with those 12 involvements the most ever by a player in their opening five matches of a Premier League campaign. 

Had Tottenham convinced themselves the game was won by the time Bale came on in the 72nd minute, for his first Spurs appearance since May 2013? The chasm of seven years and 152 days since he last pulled on the shirt was the longest gap between appearances for the club by any player in the Premier League. 

After the game, Tottenham boss Mourinho said Moyes had found "his new Fellaini" in Tomas Soucek - alluding to Moyes' strong allegiance towards Marouane Fellaini, who he had at Everton and took to Manchester United. 

Fellaini was a nuisance in the air, particularly at set-pieces, and Soucek clearly has some of that in his armoury. The tall Czech has had the most goal attempts in the Premier League this season of players who have not scored. He has been luckless so far after 14 efforts at the target, six of which have been headers. 

Leicester City 0-1 Aston Villa: Red-hot Ross

Can anyone stop Villa? Ross Barkley's late strike gave the midfielder two goals in two games since joining from Chelsea. 

Barkley only got two goals in his last 42 Premier League appearances with Chelsea before accepting a season-long loan switch to Villa, so either he is overachieving or there is something about his new team that suits him. 

Perhaps combining with Jack Grealish is bringing the best out of Barkley. Grealish played more passes in the Leicester half (30) than any other Villa player, but Barkley was just three behind. 

After his hat-trick against Liverpool before the international break, Ollie Watkins could only manage a treble of a different kind this time. He was caught offside three times, more than any other player in the match. 

The signs are overwhelmingly good for Villa after a fourth successive win. The last time they began a season with such a string of victories was in 1930-31, when they went on to finish as runners-up to Arsenal in the old First Division. 

Sheffield United 1-1 Fulham: History a warning to Blades

Billy Sharp's penalty dug the hosts out of trouble and ensured these two shared the points in South Yorkshire, but there are worrying omens for the Blades. 

United are winless in five games, and their single point so far is worrying enough. The last time they failed to win one of their opening five league games, however, it was a precursor to relegation from the Premier League in the 2006-07 season and 12 ensuing years outside the top flight. 

Sharp's 85th-minute spot-kick ended their 368-minute Premier League goal drought at home, dating back to a surprise 3-0 win over Chelsea in July. 

While United prepare for consecutive fixtures against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, their visitors on Sunday might wish to address their own penalty-taking. 

Aleksandar Mitrovic missed from the spot in the second half before Ademola Lookman gave the west London side the lead. 

Fulham have only scored three of their past six Premier League penalties, while Mitrovic has failed to put away four of his last 10 across all competitions in English football. 

The former Newcastle United striker also fouled Jack Robinson to hand Sharp his spot-kick opportunity. That made Mitrovic the first player to both miss and give away a penalty in the same Premier League game since Mikel Arteta did so for Arsenal against Fulham in November 2012. 

Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Zaha makes hosts' one shot count

Wilfried Zaha's early penalty gave Palace the lead, but there was little doubting Brighton deserved at least a point in south London, so their 90th-minute equaliser was hard earned. 

With 65.7 per cent of possession and 20 shots to Palace's one, it was really a wonder that Brighton took only a point from this fixture. 

Zaha's penalty means he has scored seven goals versus Brighton now - more than against any other opponent - while Palace kept up their lethal record from the spot. That is now 15 consecutive spot-kick conversions in the Premier League from the Eagles. 

At least there was some reward for Brighton for their great efforts, with Alexis Mac Allister getting his first Premier League goal for the club on his 10th appearance in the competition. 

It made the Argentinian, at 21 years and 299 days old, the second-youngest Seagulls player to score in the Premier League. 

The 2020-21 Premier League season is on course to smash the record for the most goals in a campaign if teams can continue the stunning free-scoring start to the term. 

Through 46 games, there have been 171 goals scored at incredible average of 3.72 per match.

If that extraordinary rate continued, this season would see teams net 1,414 goals between them in England's top flight.

It is comfortably leading the average for most goals per game in the Premier League era and is on track to top 2018-19, which saw 2.82 goals per match for a total of 1,072.

The other top-scoring seasons have been similar, with an average of 2.81 goals per game in 2011-12 and 2.80 in each of 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2016-17.

Of the matches played so far this season, 12 have seen six goals or more, including Aston Villa's 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool and Tottenham's 6-1 win at Manchester United before the international break.

The weekend saw Southampton and West Ham come from behind to draw six-goal thrillers at Chelsea and Tottenham respectively.

West Ham produced an epic late comeback, started by Fabian Balbuena's 82nd-minute goal and capped off with Manuel Lanzini's 94th-minute stunner.

"I can't quite work it out if the quality of the forwards are so good, probably being a defender myself I'm looking at it from the other side and it's a lack of good defending," West Ham manager David Moyes told Sky Sports, discussing why games were so open this season.

"I do think we're probably seeing an awful lot more goals than we've seen for a while. Whether that's to do with the crowds, or whatever that may be, I'm not sure. I can only put it down to not very good defending.

"There's more risks taken, I think we're seeing the games played at one end and then the other, the way it's going at the moment. I think it's exciting, it's good, but if you're a purist you want to see good defending as well.

"I've always said the best teams in the league will have the best defence and the best defensive record. If you're wanting to do well, you've got to have a good defence."

The early season signs prove Moyes right. Aston Villa have conceded just twice in four Premier League games and are the only team with a perfect record after Sunday's late 1-0 win at Leicester City.

Everton are a point clear at the top after four wins and a draw from their opening five games, although they have conceded seven goals.

Tottenham fans got to see Gareth Bale don the famous shirt once more in Sunday's Premier League clash with West Ham.

The Wales star came off the bench at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for his first appearance in England's top flight since May 2013, but it proved a frustrating outing.

From 3-0 up when Bale was introduced in the 72nd minute, Tottenham were pegged back as the game finished in a 3-3 draw.

The 31-year-old, who previously played for Spurs between 2007 and 2013, joined Jose Mourinho's side on loan from Real Madrid after winning four Champions Leagues with Los Blancos.

Bale had only 25 goal involvements (17 goals, eight assists) across his final two seasons with Madrid, having managed 61 (38 goals, 23 assists) in his last two campaigns with Tottenham.

Players returning to clubs where they enjoyed great success is nothing new, but are the second acts ever as good as those we witness first?

DIEGO MARADONA - BOCA JUNIORS

One of the world's greatest players, Maradona completed a dream transfer from Argentinos Juniors to Boca in 1981, going on to score 28 times in 40 league games for the club he supported as a boy. With the lure of Europe, a world-record transfer to Barcelona followed, but Maradona finished his career back in Argentina with Boca. However, by that point he was a shadow of his former self, scoring just seven times in 30 appearances from 1995 to 1997.

Key stat: Maradona played in 10 Primera Division seasons in his home country, though he would win just one piece of silverware - the 1981 Metropolitano - in his first stint at Boca.

ROBBIE FOWLER - LIVERPOOL

Known as 'God' at Anfield, Fowler was the homegrown hero who led the line for the Reds for much of the 1990s. He was sold to Leeds United in 2001, having had a difficult relationship with manager Gerard Houllier, who preferred Michael Owen and Emile Heskey in attack. After a spell at Manchester City, Fowler returned to Liverpool on a free in 2006, but the three league goals he scored in 2006-07 were all penalties.

Key stat: Fowler remains Liverpool's all-time leading scorer in the Premier League having netted 128 times in 266 games.

WAYNE ROONEY - EVERTON

Another talented Merseyside youngster, Rooney made a memorable breakthrough at Everton with a brilliant winner against Arsenal in 2002, though his relationship with fans of his boyhood club soured when he joined Manchester United, for whom he became the club's record scorer. Relations thawed over time and Rooney came 'home' for 2017-18 - but he was often deployed in a deeper midfield position in his second spell.

Key stat: Rooney scored 10 times in the Premier League during his second stint at Goodison Park - the only time he reached double figures for Everton in a league campaign.

KAKA - MILAN

The Brazilian enjoyed a fruitful six years at San Siro, winning the 2007 Ballon d'Or, a Serie A title and a Champions League while scoring 70 goals and providing 48 assists in 193 league games. Kaka never truly hit those heights again as a Real Madrid Galactico and returned to Milan for 2013-14, though he was unable to rediscover his magic.

Key stat: The forward averaged a goal involvement every 131 minutes in his initial spell with Milan, but that fell to 219 minutes second time around.

MARIO GOTZE - BORUSSIA DORTMUND

A product of BVB's youth academy, Gotze, like his team-mates Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels, was eventually lured to rivals Bayern Munich. The midfielder, who scored the winning goal for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, struggled at times for form and fitness during three seasons with Bayern and that continued back at Dortmund, where he spent four more seasons before leaving earlier this year. Gotze has since joined Dutch giants PSV.

Key stat: Gotze scored 22 goals at a rate of one every 263 minutes in his first four-season spell with Dortmund. During his second stint, he scored 13 at a rate of one every 351 minutes.

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC - MILAN

Of course it is the enigmatic Swede who proves things can be just as good second time around. Ibrahimovic enjoyed a brilliant two-season run at Milan between 2010 and 2012 - scoring 42 times and providing 17 assists in 61 Serie A games. Ibrahimovic returned to Milan in January and, in 20 Serie A games so far, he has scored 14 goals and assisted five more.

Key stat: Ibrahimovic's minutes-per-goal involvement stood at one every 91 minutes in his first Milan spell, and this time around on average he has played a part in a goal every 81.3 minutes.

Everton and Liverpool played out a thrilling and controversial Merseyside derby on Saturday, while Pep Guardiola brought up his 500th managerial win.

Mohamed Salah and Dominic Calvert-Lewin both continued their scoring streaks in a dramatic encounter at Goodison Park, which finished 2-2 in contentious fashion.

Manchester City then saw off Mikel Arteta's Arsenal 1-0, after Chelsea had been pegged back to a 3-3 draw by Southampton, with Manchester United bouncing back from their 6-1 defeat to Tottenham with a comprehensive 4-1 win at Newcastle United in the late match.

Here, using Opta data, take a look at the key stats from Saturday's games.

Everton 2-2 Liverpool: Salah reaches century as Calvert-Lewin keeps on scoring

The reigning champions were humbled against Aston Villa before the international break, though Jurgen Klopp's side responded in force at Goodison Park.

Yet their efforts were not enough to claim a win over their rivals, who had Richarlison sent off late on, with Jordan Henderson's late strike contentiously disallowed by VAR.

Salah netted the 100th goal of his Liverpool career in his 159th appearance to put Liverpool 2-1 up – only Roger Hunt and Jack Parkinson have made it to the century in fewer appearances for the club. 

Salah's partner in crime Sadio Mane opened the scoring early on. It was the Reds' fastest ever goal in a Premier League derby, though Everton have done it quicker in the fixture , with Olivier Dacourt scoring after just one minute in April 1999.

Andrew Robertson provided the assist, the full-back's 14th since the start of the 2018-19 season. Only Kevin De Bruyne (21) has managed more in the English top flight, yet the lead did not last for too long, Michael Keane heading in James Rodriguez's delivery, with the Colombian having set up three league goals for the Toffees so far.

Calvert-Lewin got Everton's second and what proved to be the encounter's final goal, with his 12th headed goal in the top flight since the start of last term.

Having also struck on his England debut, the forward continued his fine start to the campaign, becoming the first Everton player to score in the first five league games of a season since Tommy Lawton, way back in 1938-39. 

Chelsea 3-3 Southampton: Walcott back with a bang

Kai Havertz's first Premier League goal looked set to be enough to secure a 3-2 win for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but Jannik Vestergaard snatched a point for Southampton.

Though Timo Werner and Havertz broke their Premier League ducks, becoming the fifth and sixth Germans to score for Chelsea in the competition in the process, Frank Lampard's defensive issues once again came to the fore.

With Danny Ings and Che Adams having already capitalised on defensive lapses, Theo Walcott, making his first Saints appearance in 14 years and 276 days, lashed in a stoppage-time shot which Vestergaard headed in.

It means Southampton have lost just one of their last eight away Premier League games (W4 D3) after losing two in a row directly before that in February.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have conceded an average of 1.5 goals per game in the Premier League under Lampard (63 in 43 games), the Blues' worst rate under any boss to oversee more than one game in the competition.

In the process of getting off the mark in the Premier League, Werner has now scored 30 league goals since the start of last season – only Robert Lewandowski, Ciro Immobile and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more goals in Europe's top five leagues.

Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal: Sterling brings up Pep's 500th win

Raheem Sterling's fourth goal in his past three games got Manchester City back to winning ways, and sealed a landmark victory for Guardiola in the process.

Sterling sat out England's recent matches with a hamstring issue but was back in action to score midway through the first half in Manchester.

Guardiola has now won 500 games in all competitions as a manager (including Barcelona B), winning 172 as City boss.

City are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League encounters with Arsenal (W8 D2), since a 1-2 loss in December 2015, though Arteta did guide the Gunners to a win in last season's FA Cup semi-final.

Arsenal are winless in their last 29 Premier League away games against "big six" opponents (D10 L19), however, and have lost each of their last seven top-flight games against City, their longest such run against an opponent since losing seven in a row to Ipswich Town between 1974-1977.

Ederson has kept 53 clean sheets in the Premier League since his debut in August 2017; 15 more than any other goalkeeper in this time, while Sterling has been directly involved in each of City's last five goals in all competitions (four goals, one assist).

Newcastle United 1-4 Manchester United: Fernandes strikes again despite penalty miss

After their dismal defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford, United needed a response, though matters looked bleak when Luke Shaw's early own goal put them behind at Newcastle.

However, Harry Maguire – after a tumultuous time with England – struck back, with Bruno Fernandes missing a penalty before scoring a wonderful goal to restore United's lead.

Fernandes' penalty miss was his first for United on what was his 11th spot-kick since his debut on February 1, with those 11 six more than any other Premier League player has taken in that time.

However, with his goal and subsequent assist for Marcus Rashford, who added a fourth after Aaron Wan-Bissaka had made it 3-1 in emphatic fashion, Fernandes has been directly involved in 20 goals in his 18 Premier League appearances for United (11 goals, nine assists).

Newcastle conceded four goals at home in the Premier League for the first time since April 5, 2014, also against the Red Devils.

United enjoyed their 10th comeback win against Newcastle in the Premier League, the most by any side against a single opponent in the competition, while Steve Bruce's side are now without a clean sheet in seven top-flight games, their longest such run without a shut-out on home soil since February 2014.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have been awarded 17 penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season, five more than any other side in the competition (12 scored).

With his brilliant strike, Wan-Bissaka became the 116th different player to score for United in the Premier League in what is his 38th league appearance for the club, as Rashford registered three goal involvements in a top-flight match for the third time.

For the first time since January 2016, Milan is red and black. For the first time in eight seasons, the Rossoneri might just be in a title race.

Saturday's 2-1 victory over Inter ended a nine-game winless run in Serie A away games against their city rivals, who had won each of the previous four derbies. It was also Milan's 1,400th victory in the top flight, a tally only previously reached by Inter and Juventus.

But this was all about the present, about a Milan side who look capable at last of at least returning to the Champions League. They are vibrant, spirited and clinical – everything a modern team needs to be. It just so happens that their star performer turned 39 two weeks ago.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in three minutes at San Siro to put Milan on their way. He won a penalty after driving beyond Aleksandar Kolarov and drawing a foul and was then alert enough to turn in the rebound after Samir Handanovic saved his spot-kick. He struck again 16 minutes in, an emphatic first-time finish at the end of a swift break that left Inter on their knees. He now has eight goals in this fixture, six for Milan and two for the Nerazzurri, and is only four behind record-holder Giuseppe Meazza. He tested positive for coronavirus three weeks ago.

Milan rode their luck from there, it's true. Romelu Lukaku, who pulled back a goal in the first half, could conceivably have scored four. He spurned a free header, won a penalty only for VAR to intervene with an offside call, and he prodded wide when it seemed harder to miss. The man who had scored with every 1.7 shots in Serie A this year looked suddenly without poise in front of goal.

But this is a mark of this Milan, Stefano Pioli's Milan, a team who have scored in 24 league games in a row, taken 57 points in 2020 and won their first four league matches of a season for the first time since 1995-96: after years in the relative wilderness, they are not pushovers any more. They make you falter.

Ibrahimovic is at the heart of that. He exudes authority and demands success, even now, less than a year out from his 40th birthday. Only Silvio Piola has scored twice in four separate Serie A games after turning 38 other than the Swede, and there is no doubt Ibrahimovic will do so again. The man who scored 14 goals in 29 games to fire Milan to their last Scudetto in 2010-11 is dragging them into another title race few would have expected 12 months ago.

How Inter boss Antonio Conte would have wished for such displays from his own veterans. This was not a game that reflected well on his insistence on signing experienced heads over exuberant talent.

Kolarov distributed well as part of the back three, completing 39 of 49 passes, but looked every inch a converted full-back who turns 35 in November as even Ibrahimovic ran beyond him. Arturo Vidal, a Conte stalwart from their Juventus days, was a midfield wrecking ball who was taken off before he was sent off. Alexis Sanchez and Christian Eriksen were thrown on in hope more than expectation, as Inter ended the second half with just one shot on target.

Inter's title credentials may have taken a hit, but Milan's are only getting stronger. Four wins from four, nine goals scored and one conceded is form to be reckoned with, however early in the season it may be.

The Kansas City Chiefs added another high-profile player to their offense this week, signing Le'Veon Bell to a one-year deal.

Bell arrives in Kansas City having been released by the New York Jets, who had attempted to trade the running back.

He joins a backfield that has endured a difficult start to the season despite the Chiefs taking running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with their first-round pick in the draft this year.

Here we assess Edwards-Helaire's performance to this point, if the Chiefs need Bell and whether he can turn their running game around.

EDWARDS-HELAIRE STRUGGLING TO MEET EXPECTATIONS

Much was expected of Edwards-Helaire when the LSU star was selected by the Chiefs with the final pick of the first round.

It was a move seen by many as stacking the deck further in the favour of the most explosive offense in the NFL.

Edwards-Helaire's debut performance did little to dispel that notion as he rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening win over the Houston Texans.

However, he is averaging under four yards a carry in the last four games, providing scant indication he has improved the running game.

METRICS MAKE DIFFICULT READING

Edwards-Helaire's struggles are illustrated by his performance in Rushing Yards Over Expected (RYOE).

RYOE is an NFL NextGen Stats metric that measures the difference between actual rushing yards and expected rushing yards on a play or series of plays.

The rookie is average minus 0.15 RYOE per attempt and is facing eight-man boxes on 14.81 per cent of his carries.

To contextualise that, Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers leads the NFL with 2.94 RYOE per attempt and has faced eight-man boxes on 20.59 per cent of his carries. 

In other words, teams are more frequently loading up to stop Mostert, a former undrafted free agent, than they are Edwards-Helaire and the Niners starter is still gaining over three yards RYOE more than the Chiefs rookie.

Much of Mostert's success in that regard is because of his speed. He leads all running backs in yards before first contact per attempt with an average of 5.4.

Edwards-Helaire is not blessed with the same pace, with his game much more reliant on evading defenders and breaking tackles.

Yet Edwards-Helaire has not really excelled at shrugging off defenders either, he is 16th among qualifying players with 2.4 yards after contact per attempt and averages a broken tackle every nine carries (13th in the NFL).

It is early, but at this stage Edwards-Helaire has not lived up to the billing. So, will Bell's arrival help?

BELL FAILS TO TAKE FLIGHT

When he elected to sit out the entire 2018 season after being franchise-tagged by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell was regarded as one of the best and most versatile running backs in the game.

His star has fallen considerably since then. Bell's spell with the Jets could hardly have gone worse and he averaged minus 0.41 RYOE per attempt in 2019.

Bell also ranked last among 47 qualifiers in yards before contact per attempt with a paltry 1.2 and was 32nd in yards after contact (two yards per attempt).

The two-time All-Pro would probably make the case that his struggles were as much down to the lack of talent around him on the Jets' offense as his own standard of play.

There is credence to that argument. The Jets ranked 29th in total offense last year and things have declined further in that regard this season.

Even if Bell is not the running threat he once was, the numbers suggest he can provide the Chiefs with yet another weapon in the passing game.

PASSING GAME UPSIDE

Edwards-Helaire has lived up to expectations in terms of being a valuable receiving threat out of the backfield.

The rookie has caught 17 of his 27 targets from Mahomes for 169 yards, an average of 9.9. yards per reception.

While Bell has seemingly experienced a steep decline since his exit from Pittsburgh, he too remains a threat as a pass-catcher.

He caught 66 of his 78 targets in 2019 for 461 yards and a touchdown, posting an impressive average of seven yards per reception in his sole full season in New York.

The pass-catching prowess of Edwards-Helaire and Bell gives the creative mind of Andy Reid the option of using both as receivers out of the backfield, adding another potential string to the bow of one of the league's most diverse offenses.

DO THE CHIEFS NEED A RUNNING THREAT?

Given the proficiency of the Chiefs' passing attack and Mahomes' ability to lead them back from almost any deficit, some may question whether they even need a viable running game.

Mahomes led Kansas City back from three successive double-digit deficits during their playoff run to Super Bowl LIV glory last season.

However, it should not be forgotten that key to their success was running back Damien Williams, who was in the Super Bowl MVP conversation for his efforts in the 31-20 win over the 49ers.

Williams was fifth in the NFL with 0.75 RYOE per attempt in 2019 and tied Derrick Henry for the NFL lead with 3.2 yards after contact per carry.

He opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns and, through five games, the Chiefs do not look like replacing his impact.

Bell's brief time with the Jets did little to suggest he can help in that regard but, on a short-term deal, it is worth the Chiefs taking a low risk to see if he can rediscover some of his Steelers form and provide the crucial support to help Edwards-Helaire's career take off.

A goalscoring milestone, a red card (and maybe another that should have been), a key player off through injury and four goals. Oh, plus a late and controversial VAR call, too. 

Yes, the 237th Merseyside derby pretty much had it all. 

An early kick-off following an international break may have raised concerns of a sluggish return in the Premier League, yet it soon became apparent that there would be no easing back into domestic duties at Goodison Park. 

Liverpool scored early through Sadio Mane but lost both Virgil van Dijk and their advantage not long after. Mohamed Salah did put the champions back ahead with a notable strike in the second half, but Everton once again responded to grab a draw. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin's towering 81st-minute header was far from the end of the drama, though. 

The hosts had Richarlison sent off before Jordan Henderson appeared to have won it for the Reds, albeit with a helping hand from Jordan Pickford, whose earlier challenge on Van Dijk had ended the Dutchman's involvement, with the goalkeeper not punished due to an offside call. 

Yet, by the barest of margins, Mane was adjudged offside in the build-up when the play was checked at Stockley Park. No goal, then, meaning a point apiece and plenty of talking points and a host of interesting Opta facts. 

 

MANE STRIKES BUT HOSTS KEANE TO RESPOND 

Liverpool showed no signs of a delayed hangover from the stunning 7-2 loss to Aston Villa last time out, Mane - who had missed that game - getting the opener after two minutes and 15 seconds. 

It was the Reds' fastest ever goal in a Premier League derby, though Everton have done it quicker in the fixture - Olivier Dacourt scored after just one minute in April 1999 (though they went on to lose 3-2 at Anfield). 

Andrew Robertson provided the assist, the full-back's 14th since the start of the 2018-19 season; only Kevin De Bruyne (21) has managed more in the English top flight.

Yet the lead did not last for too long, Michael Keane heading in James Rodriguez's delivery for his third goal of the season in the 19th minute, making it the earliest both teams had scored in a derby clash since November 2013. 

SALAH REACHES CENTURY IN STYLE 

Salah scored in the 72nd minute, the 100th goal of his Liverpool career in his 159th appearance - only Roger Hunt and Jack Parkinson have made it to the century in fewer appearances for the club. 

The Egyptian's instinctive finish when a loose ball fell into his path had Jurgen Klopp's side on course for all three points but, while they are unbeaten in their last 23 meetings against Everton in all competitions - their longest run against a single opponent in history, they were unable to hold on in their neighbours' backyard. 

Calvert-Lewin climbed high to nod in Lucas Digne's deep cross, his 12th headed goal in the Premier League since the start of the 2018-19 season. No other player has managed more than that total. 

Having also struck on his England debut, the forward continued his fine start to the campaign, becoming the first Everton player to score in the first five league games of a season since Tommy Lawton, way back in 1938-39. 

Everton have now scored 322 headed goals in the Premier League, more than any other club. If Calvert-Lewin is on target again next time out, with Everton up against Southampton, he will match Sergio Aguero's scoring streak of six matches, which the Manchester City striker managed at the start of 2019-20. 

RICHARLISON SEES RED IN EVENTFUL FINISH 

If Pickford was saved from being sent off by a technicality, there was no sparing Richarlison after he lunged in on Thiago Alcantara. 

The Brazilian stayed down injured for a short while after the tackle, but treatment only delayed the inevitable. His red card is the 22nd in Premier League meetings between the Merseyside clubs, unsurprisingly the most in the competition. Everton, by the way, have accounted for 15 of those dismissals. 

Liverpool appeared to have capitalised on the advantage of having an extra man when Henderson's rather weak first-time finish was only palmed beyond the line by Pickford, only for the use of technology to wipe out what appeared to be a last-gasp winner. 

The VAR call denied the visitors, though Klopp will also be aware this was a fourth league game in five without a clean sheet. They have conceded 13 goals at the start of their title defence – they did not leak that many in the previous campaign until 15 games in. 

The potential absence of Van Dijk will not help in the quest to tighten up at the back, particularly with goalkeeper Alisson also sidelined through injury. 

As for Everton, they remain unbeaten and while their 100 per cent record is no more, there are positive signs for boss Carlo Ancelotti and the fans for the months ahead. They still have not led in any of their last 14 Premier League matches against their rivals, but are now unbeaten in four derbies at home, all of which have finished as draws. 

Liverpool are heading into a packed run of fixtures potentially without two of their most important players.

Goalkeeper Alisson, still battling a shoulder injury, missed the Merseyside derby with Everton and it remains unclear how quickly he will return.

Virgil van Dijk was then forced off early in the match at Goodison Park after a reckless challenge by Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford, who was fortunate that an earlier offside flag meant his lunge on the Liverpool defender went unpunished.

Jurgen Klopp will doubtless be concerned by the prospect of Alisson and Van Dijk being sidelined as he prepares for six games in the next three weeks.

We look back at Liverpool's fortunes under Klopp in the league without Van Dijk and Alisson in the side...

 

PILLARS

Van Dijk, of course, has only missed one league match since making his Liverpool debut following a £75million move from Southampton in January 2018. That was a 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town in the very month he arrived.

Similarly, Klopp's men have only failed to win twice in the 11 games Alisson has missed in the top flight, and one of those was Saturday's draw at Everton.

Of course, you would not expect either player to sit out matches lightly. They cost a combined fee of close to £150m and their arrivals helped to transform a previously suspect defence.

It's also undeniable that Liverpool were a far stronger side across the board by the time Van Dijk and Alisson arrived two years ago, with Klopp having had two to three years to implement his ideas and strengthen the collective unit, so any consideration of their form before those signings must be tempered.

But that's not to say there are not some worrying signs.

KLOPP'S BRICK WALL

Under Klopp, Liverpool have played 70 league games with Alisson and Van Dijk in the starting line-up. They have won 56, drawn 10 and lost four, giving them a win rate of 80 per cent – a truly remarkable figure.

By contrast, in 92 games without those two involved, Liverpool have won 49 times, drawn 27 and lost 16, their win rate dropping to 53.3 per cent and their points per game slipping to 1.9 from 2.5.

As mentioned, the Liverpool of October 2015 to January 2018 and the Liverpool since are two different animals, so we should explore things more deeply.

It's no surprise that, without Alisson and Van Dijk, Liverpool have conceded 110 goals – 1.2 per game – compared to just 51, or 0.7 per game, when they have played. But there is negligible difference in terms of their average shots faced per game: it's 8.3 with them and 8.8 without. That tells you the importance of a shot-stopper of Alisson's quality.

Indeed, Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in five league games in 2020-21 this season, the same number they let in after 15 matches last term and the most they have shipped in the first five of a campaign since 1953-54. Nine of those goals have come in the past two games, which Alisson missed.

 

ENGINE OF THE RED MACHINE

Not only do Alisson and Van Dijk control the back line, they dictate the way Liverpool operate.

The Reds average 62.9 per cent possession in league games with those two playing compared with 60.2 per cent without. Their passing accuracy in the opposition half also climbs by nearly three per cent to 79, despite the fact their number of passes into the final third on average drops from 75 to 68 when Alisson and Van Dijk play.

Those numbers indicate that not only do they bring an extra dimension to the attack with a proclivity for line-splitting passes, but they also help Liverpool assume control of games to an extent that their number of attempted forward passes diminishes.

Add to that the fact they win fewer fouls per game (8.2 compared with 9.4) and concede fewer per game (8.4 compared with 10.3) and the measure of authority they bring to these matches becomes clearer. Their absences, for however long, will be keenly felt.

Mohamed Salah's goal in Saturday's Merseyside derby took on added significance for the Liverpool star.

Salah's effort at Goodison Park marked his 100th in all competitions since joining the Reds in 2017.

He has emphatically shaken off the tag of Premier League flop following his failed spell at Chelsea and is now of European football's top forwards.

Here, using Opta data, we break down his century of Liverpool goals in all competitions.

 

A DEADLY DEBUT SEASON

Salah hit the ground running in his first season with the Reds, scoring 44 goals and providing 14 assists in all competitions.

He has never come close to matching that tally - scoring 27 and 23 in the last two campaigns - with his minutes per goal ratio of 93.6 from 2017-18 comfortably the best of his Liverpool career.

The Egypt forward averaged 160.6 minutes per goal in his second season and a goal every 176.3 in 2019-20.

PROWESS IN THE BOX

Exceptional with the ball at his feet, Salah has the ability to weave around defenders at will.

However, long-range individual efforts have not been a prominent feature of his goalscoring exploits since joining Liverpool.

Indeed, 10 have come from inside the box, including 11 penalties. As many as 80 of his goals have been scored with his left foot compared to just 16 with his right, while he has netted four headers.

FIRMINO THE FULCRUM

The creative fulcrum of Liverpool's front three, Roberto Firmino has been the most frequent provider for Salah.

Firmino has assisted 16 of Salah's goals, with Sadio Mane playing the key final pass on nine occasions.

Liverpool's full-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold (six) and Andrew Robertson (eight) have combined to set up the former Chelsea and Roma forward 14 times. 

SALAH FULL OF VITALITY

Anfield is obviously Salah's happiest hunting ground, he has found the net 63 times at his home stadium.

Away from Merseyside, the Vitality Stadium is the ground where he has been most prolific, with Salah scoring five goals in three games at that venue.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Bournemouth are among his favourite opponents. 

Salah has scored eight times against the Cherries, a tally he has only matched against Watford.

KANE HIS CLOSEST CHALLENGER

Since August 2017, no Premier League player has scored more than Salah's 100 goals in 159 appearances.

Harry Kane is closest with 97 in 130 appearances, putting him on track make it to 100 in much quicker time.

Salah is the fifth player in Europe's top five leagues to reach a century in that time, joining Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile.

However, he does not come close to matching Lewandowski's goalscoring prowess, the Bayern Munich forward scoring 140 goals in 146 games.

Inter will be hoping to equal records when they meet Milan in the first derby of the 2020-21 season on Saturday.

The Nerazzurri have won the past four Serie A meetings with their city rivals and have only twice managed to win five in succession, in both 1979 and 1983.

They are also unbeaten in nine home league games against the Rossoneri, winning six and drawing three. Stretching that run to 10 would equal another club record.

Meanwhile, Antonio Conte is bidding to become the first Inter coach in history to win his first three derbies in all competitions and, given they won two and drew one of their first three games in 2020-21, it would take a brave soul to bet against them.

A brave soul is just who Milan have leading the line.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, now cleared to play after missing four games in all competitions following a positive coronavirus test, has reasons to feel confident against his old club.

The veteran has been involved in five goals (four scored, one assisted) in four league games for Milan against Inter, even though three of those fixtures ended in defeats.

Among active players, nobody can match his goal tally in this Serie A fixture: four with Milan, and two with Inter. A particularly profitable outing at San Siro would get him closer to the all-time record of 12, held by the esteemed former striker Giuseppe Meazza.

Beyond the goal threat, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma says Ibrahimovic's mere presence makes the prospect of facing Inter – a team they have not beaten in the league in almost five years – less intimidating.

"We all wanted him to be part of the match and that is the case. With Ibra on the pitch, Inter are less scary," the 21-year-old said.

"He is excited for the derby and will help us. Doing well in the derby would give us a lot of strength in terms of the championship; we are still at the beginning but it can give us strength."

Ibrahimovic certainly has a head for the occasion. Since his return to the club in January, only Edin Dzeko (23) and Andrea Belotti (20) have attempted more headed shots than Ibrahimovic (19), while no player has scored more headed goals (4).

Inter might be favourites, particularly given the form of Romelu Lukaku, who boasts league-leading figures of a goal for every 1.7 shots in Serie A this year among players to have at least 15 attempts on target. But there is no denying that, in 2020, Milan have found their groove.

Only Atalanta (56) have taken more points this year in Serie A and Stefano Pioli's men are on a 23-game scoring streak in the league, their best since 1973. Indeed, since the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, no teams have scored more goals than the giants of Lombardy's capital, who have each hit 42.

Milan are also chasing league win number 1,400, a tally only Inter and Juventus have previously reached. What better occasion to hit that milestone?

Roberto Firmino's importance to Liverpool is undoubtable.

Ahead of Saturday's Merseyside derby against Everton, manager Jurgen Klopp again defended the forward over his lack of goals, with Firmino yet to find the net for the Premier League champions this season.

And for good reason. As Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane dominate the headlines and the goals, Firmino plays a key role for Liverpool.

Using Opta data, we take a look at how Liverpool go with and without Firmino, plus his output.

 

No doubt over Firmino importance

His output constantly questioned, Firmino's importance to Liverpool has often been highlighted on the rare occasions he has been absent for the Reds.

The data shows the same. Since Firmino's arrival from Hoffenheim for a reported £29million in 2015, Liverpool have played 194 Premier League games.

Klopp's side have a win percentage of 64.8 when the durable Firmino has played, compared to 53.3 in the 15 games they have been without him. They also collect more points per game (2.2 to 1.9) with Firmino.

While Liverpool have scored slightly more without Firmino (2.2 average goals for to 2.1), they have more shots, possession, crosses and passes into the final third with the Brazil international, highlighting his link-up ability and movement. Both passing accuracy and accuracy in the opposition half is slightly higher, too.

With Firmino having scored 29 of his 57 Premier League goals away from home – Liverpool have also been completely dominant at Anfield – their winning percentage on the road in the league without him is just 37.5, compared to 58.4 with him.

Firmino provides balance

Salah and Mane have been two of the Premier League's best attackers in recent seasons, so it is no surprise Firmino's goal involvements are below his star team-mates. Since their respective arrivals at Anfield, Salah has an incredible 106 in 112 games and Mane has 86 in 130, with Firmino (57 goals and 37 assists) contributing 94 in 179.

A key factor to that has been Firmino's inability to convert as well as his team-mates. Salah was the last of the trio to arrive at Liverpool, joining Firmino and Mane with his move from Roma in 2017. Since then, Firmino's big chance conversion sits at 41.3 per cent, compared to Salah (49.5) and Mane (46.2), although he also gets far fewer opportunities. The Egyptian has had 1.02 big chances per 90 minutes, more than both Mane (0.85) and Firmino (0.65).

And while Salah has enjoyed a spectacular Liverpool career, Firmino's goal involvements have also been consistent at and away from Anfield. Since the trio came together, Firmino has been directly involved in 31 goals in 58 away league games, similar to his 28 in 55 at home. On the road in that time, Salah has 39 in 54 games, while Mane's drops off to 25 in 50.

Plus, Firmino balances out the front three. He has a considerably better dribble success rate (61.1) than both Mane (52.3) and Salah (51.5) since the dynamic trio formed their partnership, while he can also drop deeper, providing 3.7 passes into the final third per 90 minutes, compared to Mane's 3.1 and Salah's 2.2.

Liverpool may need more goals from Firmino, but there is no doubt about his importance to Klopp's side.

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