You could be forgiven for thinking the lines between reality and fantasy had blurred into one this week with the seemingly doomed experiment of the European Super League.

But fans of actual fantasy football can rest assured we have still scoured the best prospects to help you in your quest to top your private leagues and earn bragging rights among your pals.

With Premier League leaders Manchester City not in action due to playing the EFL Cup final against Tottenham this weekend, there are sure to be a few transfers needed in several teams.

That being said, take a look at our hand-selected picks, powered as always by Opta data…

ROBERT SANCHEZ

Brighton and Hove Albion have a poor record against teams in the Premier League's bottom three, winning only four of 24 such games – the 17 per cent win rate representing the lowest return of any team in the competition to have played a minimum of 10 such games.

However, Sheffield United are the lowest scorers in the division this season (17) and have failed to score in 18 different games, a league worst.

Moreover, Brighton's Robert Sanchez has eight Premier League clean sheets to his name in 2021. Only Ederson (10) has managed more.

VLADIMIR COUFAL

West Ham have won three of their last five home league encounters against Chelsea and another victory would significantly boost their chances of a top-four finish.

Hammers full-back Vladimir Coufal could well be a valuable source of fantasy points this weekend.

Coufal has four home assists in the Premier League this season, which represents the best in the division among defenders.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

Dropped by England manager Gareth Southgate for the latest round of international fixtures, Trent Alexander-Arnold has responded in impressive fashion.

The dangerous full-back has been involved in three goals in Liverpool's last three fixtures (two assists, one goal) – as many as he managed in his previous 24 games in the competition.

With Liverpool unbeaten in 24 home matches against Newcastle United, Alexander-Arnold is sure to feature heavily in many fantasy sides this weekend.

JESSE LINGARD

Another player for Chelsea to be extremely wary of this weekend, Jesse Lingard has been in the form of his life since moving to West Ham on loan from Manchester United in January.

The attacking midfielder has been involved in 12 West Ham goals so far in the Premier League (nine goals, three assists) to become a key component in their battle to qualify for the Champions League.

Only Mick Quinn (Coventry City), Les Ferdinand (Newcastle United) and Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) have had more goal involvements in their first 10 appearances for a club in the competition (all 13).

MASON GREENWOOD

Mason Greenwood has found form at an ideal time as he aims to be a part of Southgate's England squad for the rescheduled Euro 2020.

And fantasy football fans perhaps should be looking to make room for a player who has scored four goals across his most recent three top-flight appearances for Manchester United.

Not since Francis Jeffers in the year 2000 has a teenager managed to score in four consecutive Premier League games. Can Leeds United stop the Red Devils' own fox in the box?

WILFRIED ZAHA

Crystal Palace have beaten Leicester City eight times in the Premier League, earning more wins than they have achieved against any other side, while their four away victories against the Foxes is also a joint-high for them in the competition (also four at Everton).

Leicester are also a side who Eagles dangerman Wilfried Zaha has traditionally flourished against, so a trip to the King Power Stadium could be up his street on Monday.

The tricky forward has been involved in six goals in his last six appearances against Leicester (five goals, one assist). Palace won three of those games with Zaha scoring in each.

JAMIE VARDY

On the flip side, Leicester have their own reasons to be optimistic against Roy Hodgson's men.

Jamie Vardy's record against Palace is very favourable, with the experienced striker involved in six goals in his previous nine versus the Eagles (five goals, one assist).

David Moyes has urged West Ham to attack their dream of finishing in the Premier League top four, an achievement he feels would be his best as a manager.

West Ham are fourth in the Premier League ahead of hosting third-place Leicester City in a huge encounter on Sunday.

According to reports, Michail Antonio could miss the rest of the season and Moyes has confirmed the forward has a hamstring strain.

Declan Rice is also ruled out for West Ham, who face massive stakes in their eight-game run-in, which starts with the key clash against the Foxes.

Leicester were the last non 'big six' team to finish in the top four in 2016, ending an 11-year wait after Moyes was in charge of the previous team do it (Everton in 2005).

But Moyes thinks reaching the top four with West Ham would top that.

"I think it would be [even greater]," he said to Sky Sports.

"I'd been at Everton for three years by then so that would mean it would be a bigger achievement given we're already competing. 

"[European football] would not be something new for the club, but it would be new in the modern era of West Ham.

"I still feel the Premier League has an established order - there's a lot of teams knocking at the door to see if they can get in.

"A few of the big teams are worried about it because we see that in other situations and developments with talk of a new [breakaway] league.

"We are having a really good season at the moment, we are trying to stick with it and we are not hiding from the fact we believe we are outsiders. 

"But we also believe we have got a great opportunity so why do not we try to attack it full on?

"This time last year, we had to win games in order to stay in the Premier League so we're actually all feeling very light and not heavy.

"We'll try to take a few risks, try to go for it and see if we can win them. The aim is to try to finish around the top end.

"I think most people will not expect us to make Champions League, so I hope we can try to do something very similar to what Leicester did when they went on to win the league. 

"Nobody thought they could win it."

West Ham are winless in five home matches with Leicester (D2 L3), losing 2-1 last season.

Ahead of the game, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers backed striker Jamie Vardy to emerge from a goalscoring slump that has seen him score just once in 17 matches.

"The team has still been winning," Rodgers said. "What's most important for Jamie is you have to continue to work, make runs and sometimes you just need that bit of luck.

"He has created a number of opportunities for us. We know his threat and he can score any time.

"Jamie has just been very unfortunate, between keepers making saves and blocks on the line and some chances that, maybe, he would have put away.

"He is always going to be there. He is such a threat, his sharpness and speed, he is such an important player for us."

West Ham are looking to record their first Premier League double over Leicester since the 1999-00 season under Harry Redknapp.

The Hammers have the second-best home record in the Premier League (28 points), while Leicester have the second-best away record so far this term (34 points). 

League leaders Manchester City are the team at the top in both categories.

Manchester City will be looking to stretch their record winning run to 20 matches when they welcome fellow in-form side West Ham to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this weekend.

Pep Guardiola's men are 10 points clear at the summit and two of their players feature among our Opta-fuelled fantasy picks, along with a couple of Everton men on the back of last week's long-awaited derby win at Liverpool.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester City players are also selected ahead of games against Chelsea, Burnley and Arsenal respectively.

 

EDERSON

There are many factors behind the leaders' winning run - not least an incredible defensive record, with goalkeeper Ederson more than playing his part.

The Brazil international has kept 15 clean sheets from 24 Premier League games this term, averaging one every 1.6 matches.

Only two keepers to have played at least 10 times have averaged fewer games per clean sheet across an entire season - Chelsea's Petr Cech (24 in 35 apps in 2004-05) and former Manchester United stopper Edwin van der Sar (21 in 33 apps in 2008-09).

JOAO CANCELO

Simply keeping out the opposition is not enough in the life of a modern day full-back, best epitomised by Cancelo at Man City.

On top of helping City to that formidable defensive record, he has also created the most chances (34) from open play among fellow Premier League defenders this season.

Cancelo may only have set up two goals in the top flight this season, but he has the highest number of expected assists (4.28) among defenders, just ahead of Manchester United's Luke Shaw (4.04).

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the news Digne had signed a new long-term deal with Everton this week and little wonder given the full-back's impact on the side.

No Premier League defender has more assists than the 27-year-old's six this season - level with West Ham's Aaron Cresswell and one more than Andy Robertson and Shaw.

Since Digne's debut for Everton in August 2018, only Liverpool pair Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (28) have assisted more goals than the Frenchman (17).

GYLFI SIGURDSSON

There was a point when Sigurdsson's time at Everton appeared to be up not so long ago, but the creative midfielder has more than proved his worth to the side of late.

He was been involved in six Premier League goals in 23 appearances this term - four goals and two assists - which is one more than he managed in 35 games last season.

That is a tally he will be confident of building on this gameweek, as the Iceland international has only scored more Premier League goals against Chelsea (six) than he has versus opponents Southampton (five).

 

MARCUS RASHFORD

In the week he celebrates the five-year anniversary since scoring twice on his United debut, Rashford takes on his favourite opponents in Chelsea.

The United academy product has scored five times against the Blues in all competitions and registered a couple of assists.

Only against Leicester City has he found the net as many times, while only against Newcastle United and West Ham (both seven) has he been directly involved in more goals.

HARRY KANE

If Rashford enjoys playing against Chelsea, the same is true of Kane against Tottenham's next opponents Burnley.

The England skipper has been directly involved in 10 goals in nine Premier League appearances against the Clarets, finding the net seven times and laying on three assists.

Burnley's defenders will not look forward to coming up against Kane, with Riyad Mahrez the only player to score against them more often (eight times) in their Premier League history.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Vardy's scoring record against the division's traditional top four is well known by now, particularly when it comes to facing Arsenal.

The Leicester striker has scored 11 goals in 12 previous Premier League appearances against the Gunners, including a late winner in the reverse fixture.

Those 11 strikes place Vardy behind only Wayne Rooney for goals scored against Arsenal in the competition, the United legend netting 12 times against the London club in his career.

Leicester City scored three goals in the space of seven minutes to stun Liverpool as the Premier League champions slipped to a 3-1 defeat in Jurgen Klopp's 300th match in charge. 

Mohamed Salah's carefully placed finish gave the visitors a 67th-minute lead at the King Power Stadium, yet from a position of strength they suffered a dramatic collapse to slip to a third successive loss. 

James Maddison equalised with a free-kick from a tight angle – the strike was initially ruled out for offside prior to a VAR check – before a calamitous moment between Alisson, at fault for two goals in last Sunday's 4-1 loss to Manchester City, and debutant Ozan Kabak gifted Jamie Vardy his first goal of 2021. 

With Liverpool still reeling, Harvey Barnes wrapped up a first win for Brendan Rodgers over his former employers since the end of his Anfield reign – and moved his current club six points clear of them in the table. 

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy will be out for "a few weeks" as he needs a hernia operation, manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed.

The 34-year-old has scored 11 goals in 18 Premier League appearances this season, with only Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah above him in the scoring charts.

Vardy has averaged a league goal approximately every 134 minutes, a rate that only six players can better this term, although he has not found the net in any of his past five appearances.

Rodgers is therefore confident Leicester's season will not be badly impacted by the loss of Vardy as they prepare for a run of matches that includes meetings with Everton, Leeds United, Wolves and Liverpool before the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Slavia Prague.

"Jamie Vardy will be out for a few weeks," Rodgers said on Friday. "As you know, we've been managing him over this last number of months, and he's been absolutely fantastic.

"We have a window now that allows him to have a minor operation on his hernia and then he'll be back within a few weeks. He'll be out for that period.

"It's one that doesn't keep him [Vardy] out for too long, but it's just a repair in and round that hernia area. It's one we feel he can't really put it off much longer.

"We were hoping to do it a few weeks back, but this is a window where we can get it done and that will obviously leave him with a good part of the season where he can be really influential for us."

Leicester, who are two points behind league leaders Manchester United, travel to Brentford in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

A familiar pairing helped Tottenham return to winning ways in the Premier League this weekend. 

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min were both on target as Jose Mourinho's side ended a four-match winless streak in the competition with a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Leeds United. 

Their rapport has been one of the defining stories of the season but, away from north London, several other games produced some interesting statistics.

With the help of Opta data, we take a look at some of the quirkiest stats from the weekend's action, with Leicester City's win at Newcastle United a source of a couple of fascinating facts.

 

Kane and Son combine again

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min's almost telepathic understanding was on show again in Tottenham's defeat of Leeds.

The South Korea international swept in Kane's pass to become the 18th Spurs player to score 100 goals for the club in all competitions on what was his 253rd appearance.

Kane has now assisted nine goals for Son in the Premier League, while the South Korean has laid on four for the England captain in the 2020-21 season – no two players have linked up more in a single season in the competition.

They have plenty of time left to leapfrog Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, who combined 13 times during Blackburn Rovers' 1994-95 title-winning season. 

Evergreen Vardy keeps on going

Jamie Vardy might be 33 but the Leicester striker is showing no signs of slowing down. 

His assist for James Maddison's opener in the 2-1 win over Newcastle at the weekend means he has been directly involved in 98 Premier League goals since turning 30 (80 goals and 18 assists). 

He leapfrogged Paolo Di Canio to move joint-sixth with Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs in the all-time list for most Premier League goal involvements aged 30-plus. 

He is now within touching distance of Gianfranco Zola (101) and Shearer (102), with Ian Wright in third with 110 involvements. 

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is second with 118, while Teddy Sheringham leads the way with 127 (77 goals and 50 assists).

Tierney waves tartan flag for Gunners

Arsenal do not have a rich lineage of Scottish players during the Premier League era, but left-back Kieran Tierney is doing his best to change that.

The former Celtic man became the first Scottish player to score an away Premier League goal for the Gunners in their thumping of West Brom and the first to do so in the top flight since Charlie Nicholas in March 1986. 

The 23-year-old cut inside from the left flank and curled a brilliant finish beyond Sam Johnstone to open the scoring, before then going on to tee up Alexandre Lacazette's second goal in the rout of Sam Allardyce's woeful Baggies.

Tierney – who has been tipped as a future Arsenal captain by boss Mikel Arteta – only needs one more goal to join Paul Dickov (three) as the Gunners' top-scoring Scottish player in the Premier League.

Carroll ends lengthy wait for Magpies goal

Newcastle tasted defeat against the Foxes but they could at least toast a return to the scoresheet after an almighty break for Andy Carroll. 

Only Wayne Rooney has had a longer gap between Premier League goals for the same club than Carroll, who netted for the first time of his second Magpies spell.

Carroll's goal was his first for Newcastle since he re-joined the club in 2019-20. The former Liverpool and West Ham forward had last netted for the Magpies on Boxing Day 2010, in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.

With a gap of 10 years and eight days between his strikes for Newcastle, Carroll is behind only Rooney for the largest stretch of time between two goals for the same club in the Premier League.

Rooney scored on the opening day of the 2017-18 season for Everton, 13 years and 121 days after his last goal for the Toffees in the 2003-04 season.

Bruno Fernandes became the first Portuguese player to score 10 goals in a Premier League season since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008-09, but it was not enough to seal a win for Manchester United at Leicester City.

Fernandes, who teed up Marcus Rashford's opener at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day, thought he had secured the points for United when he struck home after latching onto Edinson Cavani's pass with 11 minutes remaining.

It took Fernandes onto double figures in league goals for the season.

That made him the first player from Portugal to score 10 or more in a single campaign in England's top-flight since former United star Ronaldo did so in 2008-09, when the winger netted 18 times.

Fernandes has had a direct hand in over half of United's Premier League goals since his debut (31/60), scoring 18 and assisting a further 13.

Cavani, meanwhile, has now been directly involved in five top-flight goals as a substitute this season (three goals and two assists), two more than any other player. 

However, United, who were looking to match Chelsea and Manchester City's record of 11 consecutive away Premier League victories, were pegged back for a second time in the 85th minute – Jamie Vardy sweeping in via a deflection from Ayoze Perez's cross.

The strike looked set to take Vardy onto 44 Premier League goals since Brendan Rodgers took over at Leicester – more than any other player in the league in that time.

Indeed, only Luis Suarez (54) has scored more times under the Northern Irishman than Vardy has managed so far.

However, Vardy did not get the goal, with the dubious goals panel officially putting it down as an Axel Tuanzebe own goal, albeit the Foxes forward expected that decision to be made.

"I don't think I'll get that goal, it might have just been going wide but at the end of the day it's got us a point that we thoroughly deserved," Vardy told BT Sport as the 2-2 draw ensured Leicester stayed in second.

"It's all about patience, you can't score with every single attack. It's about being patient, keeping the ball and making sure we get into the best opportunity possible and hopefully be in a position to be on the end of a cross at the end of it.

"I think you could tell that nobody wanted to lose, everyone was going out for the win, but we played really well against a really good team, defended really well so to get the point at the end of it, we’ll be happy with that.

"We're a bit disappointed to only get the draw, I think their [first] goal was a bit lucky but it's about reacting. We reacted brilliantly with [Harvey] Barnes' finish and it was all about doing more of the same to keep probing."

Manchester United's 10-game winning streak away from home in the Premier League came to an end as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Leicester City on Saturday. 

United looked like they would equal Chelsea and Manchester City's record of 11 consecutive victories when Bruno Fernandes put them ahead 11 minutes from time after Harvey Barnes had earlier cancelled out Marcus Rashford's opener. 

Jamie Vardy ensured a share of the spoils five minutes from time, though, turning home via a deflection off substitute Axel Tuanzebe. 

The result means United remain one point behind second-place Leicester and four behind leaders Liverpool, who play West Brom on Sunday.

The festive season is here once more and that means a full round of Premier League action in the days following Christmas.

There are distractions aplenty, with presents to wrap and food to prepare, but do not let your fantasy team fall by the way side.

Our Opta-powered picks should see you safe once more this weekend.


EMILIANO MARTINEZ

Aston Villa are at home to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and looking for a fourth consecutive Premier League clean sheet for the first time since February 2010.

Martinez is the obvious pick to make the most of this hot streak in a chilly December, having kept more clean sheets (seven) than any other top-flight goalkeeper this season.

That tally has already matched Villa's total for the 2019-20 campaign.


TYRONE MINGS

Why stick to one Villa man when you can have two? Mings has been just as important as Martinez to their defensive form.

Indeed, the England centre-back has played the full 90 minutes in all seven of those clean sheets.

Mings, who also has two goals and an assist this season, only had six clean sheets in the entirety of the previous campaign.


ANDY ROBERTSON

Capable of delivering the goods all year round, back Robertson to perform again this Christmas.

Robertson leads all Premier League defenders in assists (five), chances created (26) and touches in the opposition box (44) this season.

Any fantasy player who has so far resisted the urge to call up the Scotland captain might consider struggling West Brom's trip to Anfield on Sunday.


BRUNO FERNANDES

The curtain is coming down on a year that has belonged to Fernandes, signed by Manchester United in January.

Since his debut the following month, the Portugal playmaker has been involved in 29 goals (17 scored, 12 assisted) in the Premier League, more than any other player.

In fact, Fernandes has either netted or created half of United's 58 goals and should be heavily involved again in Saturday's Christmas cracker at Leicester City.


JAMES WARD-PROWSE

Southampton visit Fulham on Boxing Day, with Ward-Prowse again set to be at the heart of their midfield as they aim to bounce back from a narrow defeat to Manchester City.

With four goals and three assists this season, his seven involvements are already the third-most he has managed across a campaign in his Premier League career.

The set-piece expert has played just 14 matches but could match his best ever tally with another goal or assist this festive season.


KEVIN DE BRUYNE

It is a little late for last-minute shopping, but City's De Bruyne still has time to get his wish this year.

The midfielder has 15 Premier League assists in 2020, three short of his record for a calendar year (18 in 2017).

He will welcome the visit of Newcastle United then, having provided five assists in seven league games against the Magpies, along with a pair of goals - including one of the strikes of the season at St James' Park in 2019-20.


JAMIE VARDY

Like Santa and Rudolph, Vardy and Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers make quite the team.

The striker has scored more goals (43) than any other Premier League player since Rodgers took charge, while only Luis Suarez (54) has netted more times under the former Liverpool boss in the competition.

Do not bet against Vardy ruining United's Christmas; he remains an obvious choice.

Brendan Rodgers has declared striker Jamie Vardy fit for Leicester City's Boxing Day clash with Manchester United.

Vardy was substituted late on in Sunday's 2-0 win over Tottenham as Leicester climbed to second in the Premier League, a point above United having played a game more.

He netted from the penalty spot at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to make Premier League history, becoming the first player to score away to an opponent at three different grounds following previous goals at White Hart Lane and Wembley Stadium.

It took the 33-year-old's tally for the season to 11 goals in 13 outings, placing him behind only Mohamed Salah in the Premier League scoring charts - the Liverpool forward scoring 13 times in the same number of appearances.

Vardy has also now scored 43 goals since Rodgers' first game in charge of Leicester in March 2019, more than any other player in that time.

And Rodgers is expecting to have Vardy available for the visit of United as Leicester aim to improve on a return of five losses in six Boxing Day fixtures since their promotion in 2014.

"Vardy will be fine for the game, it's just a bit of soreness. It will be pretty much the same squad," the manager said at a pre-match news conference on Tuesday.

"[Caglar] Soyuncu may be close. If not for Saturday, he could be ready for Monday [away to Crystal Palace]."

Leicester have lost more games (19) and conceded more goals (60) against United than they have versus any other side in the Premier League.

United enter the game on the back of a 10-match winning run away from home in the Premier League, one short of the record jointly-held by Chelsea and Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was under intense pressure following elimination from the Champions League earlier this month, but Rodgers has praised the work being done by his opposite number.

"I think Ole's doing a fantastic job," he said. "They'll be disappointed to go out of the Champions League because it's a competition they have history in.

"Ole has reshaped the club in terms of the values, and he's looking to develop young players. I think he's done a very good job. They've got big quality."

Liverpool put seven past Crystal Palace and Manchester United brushed aside Leeds United with six goals on a bonkers weekend of Premier League action.

Reigning champions Liverpool are the first side to sit top of the tree at Christmas in three successive years since last achieving the feat themselves between 1978 and 1980 under Bob Paisley.

While a couple of scorelines stood out, it was business as usual for Jamie Vardy as he scored for the 11th time this season in Leicester City's 2-0 win at Tottenham, making some history in the process.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at some of the more unusual stats to have emerged over the weekend.

Palace plundered as rampant Reds cut loose

There was a magnificent seven for Liverpool at Selhurst Park in the early kick-off on Saturday, the reigning Premier League champions running up the score to move further clear at the summit.

It was the first time Liverpool have scored seven in an away game in the top flight since March 1991. Roberto Firmino bagged two of them, a year on from his last league brace for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Poor Palace, then. They had not conceded more than five at home in any competition since a 6-1 defeat to the Reds in August 1994.

They were 3-0 down at home by half-time for only the sixth time in the Premier League era. However, three of those occasions have come against Liverpool (also in August 1994 and October 2016).

Vardy starts the Christmas party early

Vardy likes Tottenham. Maybe not as much as certain alcopop drinks and kicking corner flags at Bramall Lane, but the striker does seem to relish a trip to Spurs.

His goal in Leicester City's 2-0 triumph on Sunday means he has completed the set when it comes to Spurs, having now scored against them at White Hart Lane, Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

He is the first player in Premier League history to score away to a specific opponent at three different grounds.

A Toby Alderweireld own goal made sure of all three points for the Foxes, who will be in the top two places of the table at Christmas in consecutive seasons for the first time in their history.

Next up for Brendan Rodgers' side: third-place Manchester United at home on Boxing Day.

Red Devils put on a (first-half) show

Man United and cross-Pennine rivals Leeds served up a pre-Christmas treat at Old Trafford in a game that saw Scott McTominay score the Premier League's quickest ever brace inside just 170 seconds.

A further three goals followed before half-time, making it the fourth game in the competition this season to see as many as five goals scored in the opening 45 minutes, along with Liverpool v Leeds, Aston Villa v Liverpool and Man United v Tottenham.

To put that into some context, five or more goals were scored in the first half of just three matches in the whole of 2019-20. 

The rampant hosts added another couple of goals to their tally in the second half, including a strike from Daniel James to end a 33-game wait since his last Premier League goal, a run spanning some 16 months.

James was also - harshly, in the view of boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - booked for simulation, making him only the second player in the Premier League this season to be cautioned for diving, along with Wolves' Adama Traore.

A bit of Mina time

Mikel Arteta's woes continue following an eighth defeat in 14 Premier League matches for Arsenal this season, this most recent setback coming at the hands of the under-fire manager's former club Everton.

Carlo Ancelotti's side took the lead through a Rob Holding own goal, the centre-back becoming the first Arsenal player to put into his own net in this Premier League fixture since, of all people, Arteta in April 2014.

That is the third own goal Arsenal have scored in the top flight this term - only in 2002-03 (four) and 2011-12 (five) have they scored more in a single season.

Nicolas Pepe temporarily levelled up for the Gunners from the penalty spot, only for Yerry Mina to head in what proved to be the winner in the 45th minute.

The timing of the goal should come as little surprise given that the last four league goals scored by the ex-Barcelona man have come in that exact minute, including stoppage time.

Only Chris Eagles has scored as many consecutive goals in the same minute before, notching four times in the 90th between 2007 and 2011.

Manchester United claimed just their second home win of the Premier League season in emphatic fashion as they swatted aside Leeds United 6-2.

Marcelo Bielsa's team have gone toe-to-toe with most teams this season, but came off on the wrong side of a rout in an encounter which saw 43 attempts on goal.

United leapfrogged Tottenham to move into the top four, with Jose Mourinho's side going down 2-0 to Leicester City earlier on Sunday.

Sam Allardyce got his West Brom tenure off to a losing start, while Brighton and Hove Albion denied Sheffield United their first victory of 2020-21.

Manchester United 6-2 Leeds United: McTominay sets the tone

Sunday's headline fixture wasted no time in serving up the entertainment. Man United shared the points with Manchester City in a dismal derby in their previous home match, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side mustered 26 attempts as they thrashed Leeds this time out.

Scott McTominay got things up and running with a quickfire double – his opener coming after just 66 seconds, with the midfielder then doubling his tally with a tidy close-range finish.

McTominay's efforts put Man United 2-0 within 170 seconds, the quickest a team has scored twice from the start of a Premier League game since Arsenal netted two inside 164 seconds against Newcastle United in February 2011, a 4-4 draw.

The double also made McTominay the first player in Premier League history to score twice in the first three minutes of a match, and Bruno Fernandes drilled in to make it 3-0 in the 20th minute, the earliest the Red Devils have scored three times from the start of a top-flight game since August 2006.

Goals from Victor Lindelof and Daniel James, combined with a penalty from Fernandes, saw United score six times in a Premier League game for the first time since their 8-2 win over Arsenal in 2011.

United have played more home Premier League games against Leeds without losing than against any other club (P13 W9 D4), while it is the first time a club side managed by Bielsa have conceded six goals in a competitive match since his Newell's Old Boys team lost 6-0 to San Lorenzo in the Copa Libertadores in February 1992.

Since his debut in February, Fernandes has both scored and assisted a goal in seven different Premier League games – only Matt Le Tissier in 1994 (eight) and Mohamed Salah in 2018 (nine) have done so on more occasions in a single calendar year in the competition's history.

Tottenham 0-2 Leicester City: No more Mourinho woe for Rodgers

Tottenham suffered a second straight Premier League defeat as Leicester returned to winning ways in style, with Brendan Rodgers claiming his first victory in all competitions against a Mourinho team.

Leicester's opener came from the spot, with Jamie Vardy lashing in his sixth penalty of the season after Serge Aurier's foul on James Justin was spotted by the VAR in first-half stoppage time. The Ivory Coast full-back has conceded four penalties in the Premier League since 2017-18, second only to David Luiz (five).

Vardy has now been directly involved in seven goals (five goals, two assists) in seven Premier League away games against Spurs, with the 33-year-old becoming the first player to score an away goal against an opponent at three different venues in the competition (White Hart Lane, Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium).

James Maddison had a goal disallowed by the VAR for a marginal offside, but Vardy was involved again as Leicester got their second midway through the second half, his header diverted in off Toby Alderweireld, who has scored three own goals for Spurs in the Premier League, a joint-high with Harry Kane.

The victory moved Leicester into second place, and the Foxes will be in the top two places of the top flight at Christmas in consecutive seasons for the first time in their history.

West Brom 0-3 Aston Villa: No Big Sam bounce for Baggies

A 1-1 draw at Manchester City was not enough to keep Slaven Bilic in the hot seat at West Brom, but his successor got off to a dismal start.

Allardyce's team went down 3-0 to Aston Villa, with captain Jake Livermore seeing red as goals from Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore claimed the points.

Villa's return of 22 points after 12 games is their best in the Premier League since 2001-02, when they finished eighth, while West Brom have only one win 14 games into a league season for just the third time, after 1985-86 and 2004-05.

It was only the second time Allardyce lost his first Premier League game in charge of a side (W5 D1), the previous occasion coming against West Brom as Sunderland manager in October 2015.

Allardyce has plenty of work to do. In England's top four tiers, only Southend United (-20) have a poorer goal difference than West Brom (-19).

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Sheffield United: Ten-man Blades made to wait

Chris Wilder's Sheffield United looked set to clinch their first victory of the season, only to be denied late on by Danny Welbeck, who snatched a 1-1 draw for Brighton.

The Blades had John Lundstram sent off in the first half, but Jayden Bogle's goal on his Premier League debut put them ahead – three of the full-back's four league goals have come away from home.

Bogle joins Brian Deane (1992), Willie Falconer (1993), Rob Hulse (2006) and Billy Sharp (2019) in netting on his Premier League bow for the Blades.

Brighton, meanwhile, are winless in their past 11 league home games – only once in their league history have they gone longer without a win at home (12 games between October 1997 and February 1998).

United sit bottom on two points from 14 games. It is the lowest total by an English top-flight side at this stage of a campaign (counting three points for a win).

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho refused to blame Serge Aurier for conceding an "out of context" penalty during their 2-0 home defeat to Leicester City on Sunday.

Spurs are now six points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after following up a late loss at Anfield with a lacklustre display and a damaging defeat.

Aurier was at fault in first-half stoppage time as his shove on Wesley Fofana was rightly punished with a penalty that Jamie Vardy converted.

After James Maddison had a second-half effort ruled out by VAR for offside, Vardy saw a header inadvertently deflected in by Toby Alderweireld to double Leicester's lead.

Tottenham were unable to find a way back into the game and there will be scrutiny on the transgression of Aurier, who has developed a reputation as a mistake-prone defender.

Aurier has given away four penalties since the start of the 2017-18 Premier League campaign. Only David Luiz (5) has conceded more in that time.

Yet Mourinho said in a media conference: "Is it a problem? Let's focus on today.

"It was a mistake but it was a mistake in minute 45 or 46. Then we had players making mistakes in other areas. I can't blame players for making a mistake.

"The penalty is not a penalty created. It is a penalty that we commit. It's not something that was created, that comes in a sequence of something great, and for me comes out of context as at the time was our best period of the half.

"We started bad. The first 20 minutes was a poor performance. Some empty spots in space, pressing, attitude and I didn't like at all.

"Then we change and adapted and had a period of domination and chances. Then the penalty, which was out of context."

The win for Leicester was Brendan Rodgers' first against one of Mourinho's sides at the eighth attempt.

Leicester are now second, four points behind Liverpool, having won six of their seven away games in the league.

Of their away form, Vardy told Sky Sports: "It obviously shows we're doing something wrong in our home games - we need to get these performances going in week, week out, get the consistency going and hopefully pick up some more wins.

"We've come here with a gameplan and we've absolutely nailed what we wanted to do. It's set us on the way to get the three points that we think we deserved.

"We wanted to get about them, we didn't want to give them much time but we knew we could let them bring it in their first third.

"As soon as they got towards the halfway line, we knew we could put the press on, get the ball back, keep it, find the spaces and create some chances."

Jose Mourinho has given his full backing to "great professional" Steven Bergwijn after the forward was subjected to abusive messages on social media in the wake of Tottenham's 2-1 loss to Liverpool.

Netherlands international Bergwijn missed a couple of promising opportunities in Wednesday's top-of-the-table showdown at Anfield as Spurs relinquished control of first place in the Premier League.

He had just 26 touches of the ball during his 76 minutes on the field - fewer than any other player to have started the match - and attempted 11 passes, which was one fewer than fellow winger Lucas Moura, who was brought on in the second half.

Bergwijn had to limit the amount of comments on his Instagram account because of a number of negative comments but the Dutchman has the support of Mourinho, who has urged everyone involved with the club to stick together.

"I don't know what I can do apart from the player knowing that in this club we are all together," he said at a pre-match news conference on Friday. "We lose, we win and we draw all together. He has us and we have him.

"He's one of my boys. Period. There's no point for me to individualise. He's a good professional and he gives everything he can for the team."

The midweek loss to Liverpool was Tottenham's first in the top flight since the opening weekend of the Premier League season and saw them slip three points off the pace.

Tottenham now switch focus to the visit of Leicester City, who are one point worse off in what is shaping up to be a tight title race with a number of outsiders in contention.

Mourinho has never lost in seven meetings with Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers in all competitions, winning five and drawing two.

That is Rodgers' longest run against any manager without winning but the 47-year-old is excited to reunite with Mourinho, whom he worked with at Chelsea at the start of his coaching career.

"It was a great step for me at that time, the opportunity for me to go to a big club," Rodgers said.

"He was charismatic, had a great way with the players, and was very open in his communication. I was in a pole position for learning.

"He has set up Tottenham very well. They're very good on the counter-attack and are well organised. They have talents in [Harry] Kane and Son [Heung-min] that can cause you problems. They look like Jose's team now."

Kane's 128 Premier League goals since the start of 2015-16 is the most of any player, while Leicester's Jamie Vardy is next on the list with 108.

Vardy has 10 goals in 12 appearances this term and Mourinho is wary of the 33-year-old striker.

"He is so, so dangerous. A team when he plays, if it is with Claudio [Ranieri] or Brendan or with other coaches, never forgets the qualities that the specific player has," Mourinho said.

"He is incredible. I just feel sorry for him in the sense of he arrived in the Premier League too late. He should arrive a few years before and his career would be even longer, with more goals more history at the national team too.

"He's a fantastic player. If I was a defender I wouldn't be happy to play against him because he is very dangerous."

It was a Premier League weekend when fans returned to grounds and witnessed victories full of swagger for potential title contenders.

Table-topping Tottenham are starting to look like they might go the distance under Jose Mourinho after the prolific partnership between Harry Kane and Son Heung-min made Arsenal's forward line look second rate.

Liverpool returned to winning ways with a confident victory over Wolves at Anfield, this time video technology working in their favour when a penalty given against Sadio Mane was overturned at a key moment.

Manchester City strung together back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season, against Fulham, in Pep Guardiola's 250th match in charge of the club while Chelsea briefly went top of the table as Frank Lampard got the better of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United.

Manchester United once again showed their ability to come from behind, as yet again they claimed an away-day victory after trailing. Even Paul Pogba managed to get on the scoresheet.

Away from the major topics of discussion to emerge over the past few days, we use Opta stats to pinpoint some of the quirkier talking points.

 

Jose's big-game counter-attack plan

Mikel Arteta blamed the lack of cutting edge from his Arsenal players up front as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in the north London derby where Mourinho's side counter-attacked to great effect.

The Gunners certainly saw plenty of the ball during the match (69.8 per cent to Spurs' 30.2), however, this was the 11th time a Mourinho-led side has had 35 per cent possession or lower in a Premier League match.

Mourinho has won nine of those 11 games, although interestingly the two matches he has not claimed have also come in particularly high-profile encounters when he also tried to sit back and hit on the break.

As United manager in 2017, the Red Devils drew 0-0 with Guardiola's City and in 2020 as Spurs head coach he suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool.

Gini enjoys home comforts

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum's contract situation might be uppermost in the thoughts of many Anfield regulars, given his love of a goal on home turf.

Wijnaldum has scored 26 Premier League goals, and 23 have come at home (88.5 per cent), the highest ratio scored on home soil of any player with 20-plus goals in the competition's history.

Another midfielder, retired former United star Michael Carrick, is next on that list behind the Dutchman with 20 of his 24 goals scored at home at the rate of 83.3 per cent.

But which player is better on the road? Well, former Sunderland and Leeds United forward Michael Bridges tops that list with 15 of his 22 Premier League goals (68.2 per cent) scored away from home.

Sterling pound for pound the best penalty winner

Kevin De Bruyne confidently converted Manchester City's second goal from the penalty spot in a 2-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, but he possibly only gave a brief thought for the player who won it.

When Raheem Sterling was upended by Fulham's Joachim Andersen, he became the first player to win 20 penalties in the Premier League.

The next player behind Sterling is Leicester City's Jamie Vardy – who has won 19 penalties. But with Vardy aged 33 and Sterling eight years' younger at 25 it looks like the Manchester City man be good to win a few more spot-kicks in years to come.

Manchester City are currently ranked seventh in the Premier League for penalties won having been awarded 124 spot-kicks.

Solskjaer's super subs love a fightback

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was synonymous with inspiring United fightbacks as a player, often coming from the bench to do so, so it should be no surprise he gets calls right with substitutes as a manager.

All three of United's substitutes (Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Juan Mata) were directly involved in a goal in their 3-1 win over West Ham.

This is just the second time this has happened for the Red Devils in a Premier League game – previously in August 2017 versus Leicester (Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini).

The Red Devils have also now won more points from losing positions than any other team in Premier League history (385), ahead of Tottenham (383), Arsenal (356), Liverpool (336) and Chelsea (335).

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