Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool did their talking on the pitch as the reigning Premier League champions snatched a late 2-1 win over erstwhile leaders Tottenham.

The Reds moved three points clear of Tottenham at the summit while Southampton are up to third after drawing away to Arsenal, whose struggles under Mikel Arteta go on.

Arsenal's return of 14 points from 13 Premier League matches is their lowest tally at this stage of a top-flight season since 1974-75 when, adjusting to three points for a win, they had nine points.

West Ham and Crystal Palace also finished all square, as did Fulham against Brighton and Hove Albion, while Leeds United and Everton both picked up victories over Newcastle United and Leicester City respectively.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Wednesday's action in the Premier League.

 

Arsenal 1-1 Southampton: Walcott haunts ill-disciplined Gunners at Emirates

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended a run of 648 minutes without a league goal at Emirates Stadium but it was only enough to earn Arsenal a point against high-flying Southampton.

Former Arsenal man Theo Walcott put the visitors in front with his 38th Premier League goal at the ground - only Robin van Persie (46) and Olivier Giroud (40) have scored more.

It is now just one win in nine top-flight outings for the Gunners, who have conceded in 10 successive home league games for the first time since February 2002.

Arsenal perhaps could have taken more from the match but had Gabriel dismissed with an hour played - their seventh Premier League red card since Arteta took over on Boxing Day last year, which is four more than any other team in that period.

Another disappointing result in Arteta's 50th game in charge only increases the pressure on the Spaniard, the Gunners having won more cup matches (14 of 17) than league games (13 of 33) during his time at the helm.

 

Leeds United 5-2 Newcastle United: Hernandez makes huge impact for Bielsa's sharpshooters

Patrick Bamford was on target again for Leeds as they picked up a second win in seven Premier League matches, the Englishman overtaking Fernando Llorente (34) as the top-scoring player in Marcelo Bielsa's managerial career.

Rodrigo Moreno, Stuart Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison also netted as Leeds scored five goals in a home Premier League match for the first time since May 2001 when beating Bradford City 6-1.

Newcastle, who twice led at Elland Road thanks to goals from Jeff Hendrick and Ciaran Clark, had not previously conceded five goals against a newly promoted side in a top-flight match since August 1958 (5-1 vs. Blackburn Rovers).

Pablo Hernandez was only introduced in the 82nd minute but still set up two goals, becoming the oldest player - at 35 years and 249 days - to assist twice in a Premier League game for Leeds since Gordon Strachan in 1993.

Newcastle striker Wilson did not have much to celebrate but his assist for Hendrick's strike was the 10th goal he has been directly involved in for United in 11 Premier League games - one more than he managed in 35 games for Bournemouth in 2019-20.

Leicester City 0-2 Everton: Ancelotti continues dominance over Rodgers

Richarlison and Mason Holgate were on target in each half to inflict a fourth defeat on Leicester in seven home league matches this season - as many as they suffered in the whole of the last campaign.

It is the first time in nine Premier League away wins that Everton have won by more than a one-goal margin in a run stretching back to March 2019 when beating West Ham by the same scoreline.

The result would have come as little surprise to Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti as he has now won all four of his managerial meetings with Brendan Rodgers - twice with Real Madrid against Liverpool and now twice with Everton versus Leicester.

Holgate's goal was his first in the competition on his 69th appearance and came via a set-piece that Leicester failed to deal with, making it the seventh goal City have conceded via corner situations this term, two more than the entirety of 2019-20.

 

Fulham 0-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Goalless at Craven Cottage despite Dunk's best efforts

A first goalless home league draw since August 2011 was enough to take Fulham out of the bottom three, ending a run of 196 such games without a stalemate at Craven Cottage.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ademola Lookman went close to scoring but Fulham failed to find the net for the sixth time in the Premier League this term - only Sheffield United (7) have a worse record.

Brighton struck the crossbar through Ben White's header and fellow centre-back Lewis Dunk had five attempts at goal, which is the most by a defender in a Premier League game this campaign.

The draw ultimately does neither side much good, Brighton having now won just one of their last 11 league games and Fulham stuck on four wins from 25 Premier League matches in December.

Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham: Salah and Son maintain hot streaks as Reds prevail

Liverpool extended their unbeaten home league record to 66 games and inflicted a first defeat in 12 top-flight outings on Tottenham thanks to a late 2-1 victory at Anfield.

Mohamed Salah put Liverpool in front in the entertaining encounter with his eighth goal against Spurs in all competitions, making them the team he has scored joint-most against in European football along with Bournemouth and Watford.

Tottenham were back on level terms seven minutes later via another Son Heung-min strike as he equalled his 11-goal tally from 30 league matches last season inside just 13 appearances this time around.

Twenty of Tottenham's 25 league goals this season have now been scored by either Son (11) or Harry Kane (nine), though they could not hold on for a point as Roberto Firmino headed home in the 90th minute.

It means Spurs have now won just one of their last 27 Premier League away games against Liverpool, losing 18 of those, while Jose Mourinho is winless away to Klopp's Liverpool in six attempts in all competitions.

West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace: Benteke scores, sees red in derby draw

Sebastian Haller's stunning overhead kick earned West Ham a point from their London derby with Palace in a game that saw Christian Benteke score and get sent off.

Benteke opened the scoring with his 28th headed goal in the Premier League, placing him behind only Olivier Giroud (31) in that category since his debut campaign in 2012-13.

But Haller's seventh goal of the season in all competitions - three more than any team-mate - arrived 21 minutes later and Benteke was dismissed not long after for a couple of yellow card infringements.

Palace are now responsible for two of the last three players to have scored and been sent off in the same Premier League game, with Wilfried Zaha doing exactly that against Southampton in January 2019.

West Ham could not make the man advantage count but they have now avoided defeat on each of the last three occasions they have conceded first in a top-flight game, having lost 23 of the previous 25 instances.

All eyes were on Old Trafford for Saturday's Manchester derby, though the 0-0 draw was ultimately a rather duller affair than many expected.

But at the very least, the draw actually took them a point closer to one of the title favourites in Chelsea, who suffered a shock defeat to an Everton side who had been struggling badly in recent weeks.

Newcastle United piled on the misery for West Brom with a late winner, while Aston Villa claimed a trademark – yes, that's right, and you'll soon understand why – victory at Wolves to continue their fine campaign.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

Everton 1-0 Chelsea: The pupil downed by the master

In recent weeks there has been plenty of talk about Chelsea being not just title challengers, but maybe even favourites. Such chatter will have been a little quieter after this.

Frank Lampard came up against one of his former Chelsea managers at Goodison Park, with Carlo Ancelotti arguably the coach to get the very best out of the former England international.

After all, Lampard scored 32 times in 60 Premier League appearances under the Italian – by comparison, he netted 49 in 140 matches for Jose Mourinho.

Nevertheless, Lampard will have undoubtedly been frustrated on Merseyside. This was his second defeat in 12 managerial games across all competitions against his former bosses, the other loss coming against Manuel Pellegrini last season.

It was a somewhat limp and unimaginative performance by the Blues, who failed to even register a single shot on target after the 28th minute despite having 72 per cent of the possession.

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Derby fails to live up to expectations

Neutrals always expect fireworks from the Manchester derby, but sadly on this occasion it was something of a damp squib and just the fifth goalless draw between the two giants in 47 Premier League meetings.

It was the third home league game this term in which United have failed to score, already one more than in the whole of last season.

City's lack of activity in front of goal – compared to their usual standards – was particularly notable, as Pep Guardiola's side managed just nine shots in total. Three of their previous four instances of attempting fewer than 10 shots in a Premier League away game have been at Old Trafford.

The stalemate also meant Raheem Sterling's remarkable record against United continued. In 17 Premier League meetings with the Red Devils, he is still yet to score – that is over 10 more games than he has faced any other team in the competition without finding the net.

Wolves 0-1 Aston Villa: Villans doing the business on the road

Aston Villa's brilliant form on the road shows no sign of stopping, with their 1-0 win at local rivals Wolves taking them to four away victories out of five this season.

Their 12 points picked up away from Villa Park is already one more than they managed in the entirety of last season, and they still have another 14 trips to make.

But let's not get carried away with this latest one – it wasn't pretty. There were a total of 38 fouls in this game (23 Wolves, 15 Villa) and the visitors' winner came right at the end.

Anwar El Ghazi got it in stoppage time, making it the fourth time they have scored a winner in the 90th minute or later since the start of last season. No other team has done so more than twice.

As for Wolves, Adama Traore's difficult spell stutters on. He was facing one of his former teams, but his inability to get a goal or assist means it is 19 league games since his last goal involvement, having contributed to nine in the 19 top-flight matches before that.

Newcastle United 2-1 West Brom: Magpies making the most of every minute

Steve Bruce's Newcastle may not be the most thrilling of sides to watch, but they cannot be accused of lacking spirit in the dying embers of matches.

They left it late against the Baggies on Saturday, with Dwight Gayle getting the winner eight minutes from time, the eighth time this term Newcastle have netted in the final quarter-of-an-hour of games.

That equates to 57 per cent of their 14 Premier League goals and, as you might expect, it is the highest proportion of a team's total in England's top flight in 2020-21.

But, impressively, Newcastle aren't just leaving it until the end. Miguel Almiron opened the scoring on Saturday after just 19 seconds. That's their second-fastest Premier League goal ever after Alan Shearer required only 10 seconds against Manchester City in January 2003.

There is little to be positive about for West Brom, however, as Slaven Bilic's men became the first team to concede 25 goals in the Premier League this season.

Aston Villa's clash with Newcastle United has become the first Premier League match this season to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak within one of the teams.

Newcastle say there are "several" players and staff members self-isolating after returning positive tests in recent days.

The club's training ground has been closed in an effort to contain the outbreak, which has hampered the squad's ability to train and prepare for Friday's game at Villa Park.

Newcastle lodged a request with the Premier League to have the game moved, which was accepted on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Premier League Board said it agreed that Newcastle were "unable to train and adequately and safely prepare for their match on Friday".

The statement added: "The decision has been taken in consultation with Newcastle United and Aston Villa, and following extensive consultation with PHE [Public Health England] and Premier League medical advisors, with the health of players and staff the priority.

"All players and training ground staff will be re-tested this week and another meeting between the club, PHE and the Premier League will take place to assess the test results.

"The Premier League wishes those with COVID-19 a safe and speedy recovery and will rearrange the postponed fixture against Aston Villa in due course."

Newcastle said: "The match, which was set to kick off at 8pm (GMT) on Friday evening, will now be rescheduled and a new date and time will be confirmed in due course. Newcastle United would like to thank Aston Villa Football Club for its understanding.

"Newcastle United was one of the first clubs in the country to close its training ground prior to the first national lockdown in March and the club introduced comprehensive COVID-19 protocols in line with Premier League and government guidance to protect its players and staff ahead of Project Restart.

"While the club has continued to ensure strict adherence to these protocols, and despite previously experiencing only a very small number of isolated COVID-19 cases, positive test results have risen sharply in recent days."

Newcastle are 13th in the table, a point behind Aston Villa, who have played a game less.

With coronavirus restrictions to be eased and fans allowed back into (some) stadia next month, matchday 10 will hopefully be the last of this season's Premier League where every game is behind closed doors.

With that in mind, this weekend is likely to become something of a cut-off point in 2020-21 in terms of assessing how players and teams are faring, and whether the absence of fans has helped or hindered.

In other words, if anyone likes playing in front of empty stands, this will be their last chance to really enjoy themselves – and rack up some fantasy football points for the discerning manager.

Using Opta data, we've come up with our latest weekly selection, which might give some of you an edge heading into the festive period...

 

KARL DARLOW

Newcastle United fans might not be fully behind Steve Bruce, but one most can agree on is that goalkeeper Karl Darlow is enjoying career-best form.

The 30-year-old has filled in admirably for Martin Dubravka this season, making more saves (41) than any other Premier League goalkeeper. In fact, only Edouard Mendy (87.5 per cent) has a better save percentage than Darlow (72.2 per cent).

Goals are usually at a premium when Newcastle play Crystal Palace – only seven have been scored in the previous seven meetings – so a Darlow clean sheet could well be on the cards.

 

MATT DOHERTY

Matt Doherty is one of only three defenders to have scored and assisted four Premier League goals since the start of 2019-20.

The Tottenham man has had 98 touches in the opposition box in that time, a tally bettered only by Andy Robertson when it comes to defenders.

However, nobody beats Doherty for shots on target over that time frame (17). As a defender for a resolute Tottenham side, he's always worth including.

 

MICHAEL KEANE

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been plundering the goal trail this season, but Michael Keane might just be Everton's most clinical finisher.

No Premier League defender has scored more than Keane (three goals) since June 2020, and those goals have come from only seven shots, giving him the best conversion rate (42.9 per cent) among defenders to score more than once in the competition in that time.

Everton have struggled for clean sheets lately but Keane at least could offset those defensive issues if he nets against Leeds United.

RIYAD MAHREZ

Burnley do not like playing Manchester City. They've won once in 12 Premier League meetings and lost the previous six in all competitions by an aggregate score of 23-1.

They are also sick of the sight of Riyad Mahrez, who has scored four goals in his most recent three league games against the Clarets. They are his second favourite opponents, behind Watford (he has seven goals against them).

Pep Guardiola could well rotate his side as the schedule continues to pile up, and Mahrez will be eager to impress.

 

BRUNO FERNANDES

Where would Manchester United be without Bruno Fernandes? Well, they'd be winless this season - he's scored the winning goal in each of their four league victories in 2020-21.

In fact, Fernandes has been involved in more Premier League goals (24 – 14 scored, 10 assisted) than any other player since his debut. In the same period, only Kevin De Bruyne (74) has created more chances than the Portugal star (56).

Facing Southampton away is a tough challenge for any side at the moment, so a decisive Fernandes display could be crucial for United.

DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN

Dominic Calvert-Lewin leads the way for goalscoring this season, with 10 in nine games.

If he scores against Leeds United, he will become only the second player to score more than 10 in his side's first 10 games, after Les Ferdinand, who hit 13 in 1995-96.

Leeds will be no pushovers, but Calvert-Lewin will take some stopping.

 

TAMMY ABRAHAM

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham is looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since last September.

Abraham has actually scored twice as many goals (18) as any other Blues player since the beginning of last season.

Frank Lampard has plenty of attacking riches at his disposal, but Abraham is out to prove a point to his boss.

Pole position in this unpredictable Premier League season changed hands twice on Saturday as Jose Mourinho's Tottenham moved to the summit.

Leicester City – not in action until Sunday – started the day on top of the pile, but victories for Chelsea and then Spurs saw the Foxes nudged down to third.

Elsewhere, Manchester United belatedly got up and running at Old Trafford, while Brighton and Hove Albion also triumphed.

We reflect on another topsy-turvy day of top-flight action with the aid of Opta data.

 

Newcastle United 0-2 Chelsea: Tammy and Timo team up

Chelsea had taken top spot in the day's early fixture thanks to a 2-0 success at St James' Park, their 26th Premier League win over Newcastle United.

It was a familiar sinking feeling for Newcastle and Federico Fernandez, who put through his own net for the opener. The former Argentina defender has scored a joint-high five own goals since his 2014 top-flight debut, while this was the Magpies' fifth home defeat in seven.

Tammy Abraham wrapped up victory with his 23rd goal in all competitions since the start of last season, 11 more than any other Chelsea player.

Timo Werner could not get on the scoresheet despite a host of chances but teed up Abraham's strike, his 11th goal involvement in his past 10 appearances in all competitions.

Edouard Mendy was scarcely troubled at the other end and kept his seventh Chelsea clean sheet in nine games. The Blues have three in a row away in the Premier League.

 

Aston Villa 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: More Welbeck woe for hosts

Brighton landed their second Premier League win of the season and just their fifth in 27 attempts as Aston Villa went down 2-1 at home.

It should have come as no surprise to see Danny Welbeck break the deadlock, however, as he netted his fifth top-flight goal against Villa, a career high. Only Robbie Fowler (five) has more Premier League strikes at Villa Park as a visiting player than Welbeck's four.

Ezri Konsa responded, a league-high ninth set-piece goal conceded by Brighton this term, before Solly March's fine strike earned the points despite Tariq Lamptey's late red card.

England's Jack Grealish was the subject of praise during the international break and of Brighton's attentions on Saturday. He was fouled seven times and has earned at least one foul in each of his past 102 league appearances.

 

Tottenham 2-0 Manchester City: A night for Spurs to savour from the summit

Tottenham finished a day on top of the Premier League for the first time since August 2014 after beating Manchester City 2-0 at home.

And not since January 1985 had Spurs enjoyed the view from the summit overnight in the top flight after at least nine games of a season.

They were set on their way by Son Heung-min's fifth goal in his past five games against City in all competitions, arriving after just four minutes and 19 seconds – the earliest City have conceded in the Premier League since Theo Walcott netted after four minutes and six seconds in December 2016.

The second – created by Harry Kane's ninth assist of the campaign – came courtesy of Giovani Lo Celso, just 35 seconds after his arrival as a substitute. The only other Tottenham player to score within a minute of coming off the bench in the league since 2006-07 was Lucas Moura in August 2019, also against City.

City lacked the same clinical touch and have lost consecutive games against Spurs without scoring despite attempting 41 shots across the two fixtures.

 

Manchester United 1-0 West Brom:  Home comforts return for Red Devils

United were aided by penalty controversy as they defeated West Brom 1-0 to finally win at home in the Premier League this season, their first such victory in seven attempts going back to last term.

An apparent foul on Conor Gallagher looked to have given the Baggies a chance from 12 yards, but that decision was overturned on review and United instead had a spot-kick following a handball. Bruno Fernandes' attempt was saved, only for a re-take to be granted and dispatched.

That strike was United's first home league goal in 324 minutes – since Fernandes' penalty against Tottenham – and proved enough for a much-needed success.

It was perhaps inevitable a spot-kick should provide the Red Devils' salvation, as 16 per cent of their Premier League goals since the start of last season – including seven of Fernandes' 14 – have been penalties.

West Brom had not been beaten on their previous two trips to Old Trafford but have now failed to win any of their opening nine games to a league season for the first time since 1985-86.

N'Golo Kante is playing like a midfield boss again for Chelsea and Frank Lampard could not be happier for the two-time Premier League winner.

The midfield dynamo, who played a big part in Leicester City's title success before repeating the feat with Chelsea, has shaken off ankle and muscle injury strife to shine this season.

He captained the side in a comfortable 2-0 win at Newcastle United on Saturday, as Chelsea at least briefly went to the top of the table.

It was a frustration to Lampard that Kante missed large part of the 2019-20 campaign, because the manager knows the World Cup winner brings proven quality and valuable experience.

Kante is playing a key role for a Chelsea side that are unbeaten in nine games across all competitions, winning five in a row.

Lampard said: "I'm really, really happy with how he’s playing.

"Last year he missed 50 per cent of the games with injuries, he had a tough time for different reasons and we are working very hard on that to get him as fit and fresh [as possible]. 

"Now we are managing his training and game time, but his levels of performances are really high."

Lampard sees Kante as not so much an organiser and a disrupter of play, which are clear strengths, but as a footballer with a broad, under-rated range of qualities.

"I keep saying every time I get asked about N'Golo that I have so much faith in him and the top midfield player that he is in world football," said the Chelsea boss. "Not just at breaking up and winning balls back, as we know that is a huge quality of his, but his passing and supporting in midfield and playing in that deeper role now."

Kante made four tackles and three interceptions against Newcastle, which were both team-highs. He played 75 passes - 70 short and five long - and had 93.8 per cent accuracy with his 48 passes inside the Newcastle half.

Such data draws perhaps less attention than the goals and assists Chelsea will also require to sustain a challenge at the top of the table, but Lampard appreciates the significance.

Another title tilt is something that the manager is reluctant to talk about, but should Kante stay fit then it might be a realistic ambition.

Lampard knows Chelsea are better off with the 29-year-old in their team, which is why he has been starting almost every game this term, and the Blues certainly hope the worst of Kante's injury troubles are over.

“I don't want to tempt fate because at the minute he is going well," Lampard said. "We have had a better period of him to get him in a place where we are really happy."

For Chelsea, it is a case of ensuring Kante does not over-stretch himself.

Nobody ran further in Chelsea's team than Kante's 11.33 kilometres at St James' Park, and the impact of his exertions is closely monitored.

"We're very aware and we keep check on his training and his numbers and how much distance he travels, because every time you train and allow him off the leash in training he makes ridiculous output because that’s the way he plays," Lampard said.

"We are very careful with that and at the minute we are in a good place and hopefully that continues."

Chelsea shrugged off the early Saturday start that Frank Lampard wants scrapped as they cruised to a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United in the Premier League.

An own goal from Federico Fernandez and a second-half finish from Tammy Abraham gave the visitors a comfortable win against opponents who barely threatened.

Victory took Chelsea to the top of the Premier League, for a few hours at least, as they returned from the international break with a lively display at St James' Park.

A stumbling Fernandez turned in a cross from Mason Mount for the opener in the 10th minute, with the largely quiet Abraham striking midway through the second half.

Karl Darlow made a sharp early save from Timo Werner's low shot and the goalkeeper excelled for a second time when he touched Abraham's powerful header over the bar after an excellent cross from the left by Hakim Ziyech.

The Newcastle goalkeeper did not get near a whipped cross from Mount moments later, though, when the ball came in from the right and Fernandez put the ball into his own net.

Newcastle, weakened by the absence of injured leading scorer Callum Wilson, had won five of their last seven Premier League home games against Chelsea.

But Werner should have doubled Chelsea's lead in the 30th minute only to slip the ball wide and half-chances continued to come the way of the visitors, who had 78.9 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes and played 439 passes against a meagre 109 from Newcastle.

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles took a blow late in the first half and was replaced by Fabian Schar for the second 45 minutes, with the replacement soon caught napping by Werner who yet again ought to have scored.

The Germany international raced in from the left and had only Darlow to beat, but he tried to give Ziyech an easier finish and made a mess of his pass.

Abraham's goal essentially ended the contest, as he rifled home off the inside of the right post from Werner's pass, with Sean Longstaff denied a stunning consolation when his strike bounced off the bar.

Werner was denied by an offside flag after rounding Darlow to net, but two was enough for Chelsea.

Frank Lampard insists Christian Pulisic can be hugely influential for Chelsea once the club solve the hamstring problem that hangs over the American winger.

The United States international missed the start of the season but was looking set for a run in the Chelsea side until he suffered a twinge in the warm-up before the October 31 match at Burnley.

A hamstring injury ended Pulisic's involvement in August's FA Cup final against Arsenal, after he scored the game's opening goal, and he continues to be troubled in that area.

The £58million signing from Borussia Dortmund has been ruled out of Saturday's trip to Newcastle United, three weeks after his Turf Moor setback was described by Lampard as "very minor", and it remains to be seen when he will be next available for selection.

There is no doubt the situation is frustrating to all concerned at Chelsea, with the club's medical staff working to help Pulisic back to full strength.

"With Christian, we're still searching," said Lampard. "He's in a position at the moment where he's had a problematic injury.

"Christian had a history before coming to us of some muscular injuries and he's had them again.

"Everything about Christian and how he is around the training ground, and how he prepares and how much he wants to play, is perfect.

"We need to try to find the right balance between playing and resting and maintenance during the week to try to get the best out of him.

"He's a young player still. It's not abnormal and we will find a solution. I don't want to make more of it than it is, because we want as many games out of Christian as we can possibly get because of his ability.

"But at the minute he's injured so in the short term it's a work in progress.

"But we have a great medical team here and we're very much joined up in the idea of getting the best of Christian, to get him fit as much as we can."

HOW IMPORTANT HAS PULISIC BEEN SO FAR?

Given the stop-start nature of his Chelsea career, it could be some time before we get the full picture of what the 22-year-old will bring to the Blues.

He has made just three Premier League appearances in the 2020-21 campaign, while last season's figures illuminated his threat but were inconclusive in a wider sense.

Although Pulisic scored nine goals in 25 league outings, of which just 19 were starts, Chelsea's results were stable whether he was in Lampard's XI or not.

Of those 19 games that he started, Chelsea won 10, drew three and lost six, and their record was identical for the 19 games that Pulisic either sat out or appeared as a substitute.

With him in the starting team, Chelsea scored 32 times and conceded 26, while without him from the first whistle they netted 37 goals and shipped 28.

Pulisic has great attributes, with his pace, dribbling and eye for a strike, but Chelsea are the Premier League's top scorers with 20 goals this term and he has not contributed to that tally, or had an assist.

He did score in the Champions League win at Krasnodar, after coming off the bench, but injury struck three days later.

Lampard naturally wants the USA star back in his matchday ranks, but Chelsea have found a way to flourish without him.

WAS IT ALWAYS THIS WAY WITH PULISIC?

As Lampard says, Pulisic is no stranger to an injury, but Chelsea plainly bought a class act. Opta data tells us that Dortmund were more prolific with Pulisic than without him in 2018-19, his final year at the club.

When he started in the Bundesliga - albeit just nine times in that season - they averaged 3.0 goals per game compared to 2.2 without him in the line-up, while their goals against figure held steady at 1.3 whether he was selected from the off or not.

In the games where Pulisic started, the numbers of shots and crosses per game, as well as passing accuracy in the opposition half, all climbed.

In the 20 games in which he played a part, Dortmund won 14, drew four and lost twice for a points-per-game average of 2.3, while that dipped to 2.1 when he was absent.

Frank Lampard has warned that the Premier League is undermining its own product by asking Chelsea to travel to Newcastle United for an early Saturday kick-off straight after the international break.

The Chelsea boss is amazed league chiefs expect his players to return from duty with their countries, some flying in from different continents, and then face another sapping journey before their feet have barely touched the ground.

Chelsea have a curiously poor recent record at Newcastle, having lost on five of their past seven visits to St James' Park (W1 D1), and their hopes of improving on that have not been helped by the timing of this weekend's game.

A 12:30 GMT start on Saturday is distinctly unhelpful, Lampard believes, at a time when he feels the Premier League should be doing all it possibly can to guide clubs through the difficult pandemic period.

He said Chelsea have been training with just four first-team players while their leading lights have been away with their countries over the past fortnight. They also have a Champions League trip to Rennes next week on their busy agenda.

"The majority of our squad have been travelling. Some are travelling just now, just landed now, they will travel again to fly up to Newcastle, they'll travel back from Newcastle, they'll fly to Rennes on Monday and they'll fly back from Rennes," Lampard said.

He struggles to see the sense in having the 12:30 match slot at all.

"When you look at the scheduling, for me it's just a common sense factor of the broadcasters have never had as many slots as they have now. That 12:30 slot, how much does it need to be there?" Lampard asked.

"It's absolutely not the optimum way to have players preparing for a Premier League game, which is an incredible brand all around the world.

"You want the best of the brand and it's very difficult for us to prepare for this game anywhere near where we are preparing to our best. I want us to play to our best but it's very difficult circumstances."

He sees injury tolls mounting as clubs and players struggle with an increased workload after the later than usual start to the season, adding to his argument.

"I'm concerned because it's across the Premier League. The injuries are going up - muscle injuries are going up and the numbers are there if the Premier League want to look at them closely," Lampard said.

"So it's clear. It's game after game after game, zero pre-season, the schedule is tighter, throughout the season there'll be these really busy patches, and if we want to handle them the best we can, if we want to look after the players and get the product as well as we can, change the time from 12:30.

"That's not a difficult conversation for me to have. The amount of things we changed due to COVID and Project Restart, and now in this season we had to change because these are incredible times, then we have to look for the best way to change it. So the answer is stop talking and act upon it."

Lampard also said Premier League clubs should band together to insist on being allowed to make five substitutions, as was permitted in the closing weeks of the coronavirus-disrupted 2019-20 season.

That has been denied them this term, with only three substitutes allowed to be used in each game, but Lampard says for the sake of player welfare that should go back up to five.

"I don't want anyone to cry their eyes out for players because we know how lucky we are to do this job," he said.

"But everywhere else in Europe, and the world it seems, have five subs and we at the moment don't and we have to revisit that in my opinion."

Sheffield United fans can be forgiven for fearing the worst after Saturday's 3-1 reverse at Chelsea left Chris Wilder's men still rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table.

The Blades confounded expectations to finish ninth last season having gained promotion from the Championship in the 2018-19 campaign.

But the defeat against Frank Lampard's Blues means the men from the Steel City have just a solitary point through eight matches this time around, and only on four occasions have teams had such a record at the same stage of a Premier League season.

So, are Sheffield United – who have scored just four top-flight goals so far – already doomed for the drop?

Well, history suggests perhaps not. Below, we remember some of the Premier League's worst starts to decipher whether the Blades can recover from their perilous position.


Manchester City 1995-96

Points after eight games: 1

Relegated? Yes (18th)

This was back in the days when City still resided at Maine Road and the Abu Dhabi fortunes were years away from arriving. Alan Ball described taking on the manager's job as the "envy of millions" but few were looking on with green-eyed jealousy as City took until their 12th game to register a league win. Although a bleak situation improved and back-to-back 1-0 wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa gave City a fighting chance heading into the final day, a 2-2 draw at Liverpool saw the Citizens relegated on goal difference.


Southampton 1998-99

Points after eight games: 1

Relegated? No (17th)

A 5-0 loss at newly promoted Charlton Athletic was a miserable low, the second of five straight defeats to start the season under Dave Jones for a Saints side who looked like marching straight out of the top flight. A first three points did not arrive until the 10th attempt, against Coventry City, and Southampton had just 14 points from 20 games. Although they continued to be plagued by inconsistency, three wins and two draws from their final five matches ensured survival at the expense of Charlton.


Sheffield Wednesday 1999-00

Points after eight games: 1

Relegated? Yes (19th)

The Blades do not have to look too far for warning signs about abysmal starts, with derby rivals Sheffield Wednesday enduring misery two decades ago. The Owls scored just three goals and shipped a whopping 23 in their opening eight matches, including an 8-0 hammering at Newcastle United in a game where Alan Shearer scored five. A 5-1 win against Wimbledon proved a false dawn as Wednesday spent the majority of the campaign in the bottom three, sacked manager Danny Wilson in March, and eventually succumbed to the drop after failing to beat Arsenal in their penultimate game.


Sunderland 2013-14

Points after eight games: 1

Relegated? No (14th)

A torrid start saw Sunderland struggling in the drop zone but a 2-1 win over fierce rivals Newcastle United in October finally brought some joy to the Stadium of Light. Unfortunately for Paolo Di Canio, he had already departed by then and successor Gus Poyet looked in trouble as the Black Cats hit another bleak spell in the second half of the campaign. But a surprise 2-2 draw at eventual champions Manchester City was followed by a shock 2-1 win at Chelsea – the first of four straight wins that helped to a seal an eventual 14th-place finish.


Tottenham 2008-09

Points after eight games: 2

Relegated? No (8th)

If the Blades really want an optimistic outlook they can point to this Tottenham season. A shoddy start under Juande Ramos, which yielded a measly two points from eight games, led to the appointment of Harry Redknapp, who steered Spurs to an eventual finish of eighth and an EFL Cup final where they were beaten by Manchester United on penalties.


Sunderland 2016-17

Points after eight games: 2

Relegated? Yes (20th)

Sorry Sunderland fans, but if your team appears on this list twice the chances are one of them is likely to end in tears. Such was the case in the 2016-17 season as a return to the second tier beckoned. Sam Allardyce had engineered a great escape the campaign before but did not return to continue the job and a season of despair followed under David Moyes. A run of four wins in seven games between November and December was about as good as it got and there were just two league victories after the turn of the year.


Newcastle United 2018-19

Points after eight games: 2

Relegated? No (13th)

Newcastle's second season back in the top flight under Rafa Benitez did not initially make for pretty reading. Indeed, it took until November to register a first league win, but that sparked a run of three in a row. Things particularly improved from mid-January as Newcastle won eight games to finish comfortably away from the bottom three.


Cardiff City 2018-19

Points after eight games: 2

Relegated? Yes (18th)

Sadly for Cardiff City, it was a different story under Neil Warnock – a well-loved figure at Bramall Lane incidentally – in that same season. Blades fan Warnock had earned Cardiff promotion back to the top flight the campaign before but they were beaten eight times in their opening 11 league games. Ultimately, Cardiff finished only two points shy of safety, having impressively won 2-0 at Manchester United in their final game, but it was an immediate drop back into the Championship.

Southampton defeated Newcastle United 2-0 on Friday to move to the top of the Premier League for the first time in their history.

Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong struck in each half at St Mary's to seal a straightforward victory for Ralph Hasenhuttl's men.

The win - Southampton's fifth in eight matches this term - takes them above Liverpool on goal difference to the summit of the English top flight.

It is the first time the Saints have been top of the pile at the end of a day since September 1988.

"It's amazing what my team is doing," Hasenhuttl told Sky Sports. "Congratulations to everybody around the pitch and the team. It's amazing. 

"Everybody was on the highest level. It is a little scary what we are doing at the moment to be honest but not surprising when I see what we are working on.

"I just told the guys in the dressing room that we invested so much in this together. We made so many big steps forward. We are now a strong side. That is not a coincidence."

There is one more weekend of Premier League action to go before the final international break of the year and some mouthwatering fixtures lie ahead.

Faltering Everton look to get their season back on track at home to lowly Manchester United on Saturday, while the previous two champions Manchester City and Liverpool do battle on Sunday.

But who can you trust to deliver fantasy points in these mammoth clashes? Use our Opta-powered weekly guide to find out.


HUGO LLORIS

The brilliance of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale has prompted title talk at Tottenham, but keeping goals out is just as important. For that, they – and you – can rely on Lloris.

Of Premier League goalkeepers to have played at least 500 minutes since the start of last season, the Spurs captain has the best save percentage at 75.8.

Lloris ranks second in that time, behind Dean Henderson, for goals prevented. He has conceded just 28 (excluding own goals) from shots worth 40.6 xG, a difference of 12.6.

CONOR COADY

When selecting players for a fantasy team, the first guarantee you might look for is that they will indeed play. There are no concerns in that regard when it comes to Coady.

The Wolves skipper is one of just four outfielders in the Premier League to play every minute of every match since the start of last season.

This helps Coady regularly collect points for clean sheets, too, managing more (17) than any other outfielder over the same stretch.

KURT ZOUMA

Chelsea's vastly improved recent defensive form makes a Blues defender an obvious selection, so why not opt for a man who also does the business at the other end?

Zouma has three Premier League goals already this season, the best return of any defender.

And that makes this already the Frenchman's most prolific campaign in the competition, trumping his two in 2018-19 – although he also weighed in with a pair of assists that season.

MOHAMED SALAH

Sometimes it's worth just going for the obvious option.

Diogo Jota might be Liverpool's man of the moment, but Salah has also netted in each of the Reds' past three games and has proven he can sustain this form over an extended period.

Indeed, since moving to Anfield in 2017, Salah has a competition-high 80 Premier League goals in 115 games, nine clear of next best Harry Kane over the same period.

BRUNO FERNANDES

Consistency is another key component in fantasy football, allowing you to transfer a player in and not have to worry about moving him out again the following week.

In this regard, Fernandes is surely king. The Manchester United midfielder has been involved in 12 goals (scored eight, assisted four) in his nine away games so far in the Premier League.

In only one of those nine matches – the 2-0 win at Crystal Palace in July – has Fernandes failed to register either a goal or an assist.

TIMO WERNER

Interest in Werner might have dimmed after he failed to record a goal or assist in his first four Premier League games, but the Chelsea man is now showing he was worth sticking with.

Werner has three goals and an assist over his past three games, suddenly finding his feet in England.

After netting a brace from the spot in Chelsea's midweek Champions League game, the German also looks to now be the Blues' penalty taker, ensuring more fantasy points.

CALLUM WILSON

Reliable Southampton scorer Danny Ings might be out injured, but Friday's opponents Newcastle United have another man steadily supplying the goals.

Wilson struggled as Bournemouth were relegated last season but has already proven invaluable to the Magpies and a host of fantasy managers.

With six strikes in seven league games this term, the forward has netted more than he managed in his final 30 Bournemouth matches (five), while his goals have been worth six points to Newcastle.

Arsenal have endured a frustrating run at Old Trafford in recent times, but they ended a 13-game winless streak in Premier League visits to the stadium on Sunday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a penalty to secure a 1-0 win over Manchester United.

Gareth Bale got off the mark in his second spell at Tottenham to earn the points against Brighton and Hove Albion, and there were also wins for Southampton and Newcastle United.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the key facts from Sunday's four Premier League fixtures.

 

Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal: Aubameyang ends Gunners' Old Trafford hoodoo

Aubameyang's second-half penalty was enough to clinch the points for Arsenal against United, as the Gunners clinched their first Premier League victory at Old Trafford since September 2006.

It was also the first time Arsenal have won away at a 'big six' Premier League side since January 2015, when they beat Manchester City 2-0 – a run of 29 games.

Only Chelsea (18) have won more Premier League games against United than Arsenal, with Sunday's win being their 16th victory in meetings with their old rivals.

Though United thrashed RB Leipzig 5-0 at Old Trafford in midweek, there has not been much in the way of home comfort for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side in the Premier League as of late, and they have failed to win any of their opening four top-flight games at the Theatre of Dreams for the first time since 1972-73.

They finished 18th in a 22-team First Division in that campaign, while their haul of seven points from six Premier League games so far this term is their lowest tally at this stage since 2013-14, when David Moyes was in charge.

Arsenal's spot-kick – conceded by Paul Pogba – was the fifth United have given away in their last seven home league matches; the previous five penalties they had conceded at Old Trafford in the competition came over a period of 101 games.

Pogba has now conceded three penalties in the Premier League under Solskjaer – no other United player has committed more than one foul leading to a spot-kick.

Tottenham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Bale is back

Seven years and 166 days after scoring on his farewell appearance for Tottenham against Sunderland, Bale struck his first Spurs goal since embarking on his second spell at the club.

The 31-year-old scored with his second touch, just 200 seconds after coming on against Brighton, to secure a 2-1 win which sent Jose Mourinho's side into second place.

Bale's winner came after a contentious equaliser from Tariq Lamptey, whose goal was allowed to stand after a long VAR check for a possible foul from Solly March.

Pascal Gross played a neat pass into young full-back Lamptey, and the German has now assisted 16 Premier League goals for Brighton, double that of any other player at the club.

Spurs, who have now won four of their six Premier League games since their opening-day defeat to Everton – their joint-longest unbeaten run under Mourinho – hit the front through Harry Kane's early penalty.

Their second-place finish to the day is the highest spot they have achieved since February 2019, under Mauricio Pochettino.

At the other end of the table, only the current bottom three sides have lost more games in the Premier League this season than Brighton, while only league leaders Liverpool (15) have conceded more goals than Graham Potter's side.

Aston Villa 3-4 Southampton: Ward-Prowse into Saints' record books

Southampton were 4-0 up heading into the final half-hour at Villa Park, though Dean Smith's side rallied to give the visitors a late scare.

Jannik Vestergaard put Southampton in front after 20 minutes, heading his second goal in as many league away games as he connected with James Ward-Prowse's cross.

Ward-Prowse had Southampton three goals to the good by half-time, scoring two superb free-kicks. The midfielder, who also netted in the win over Everton last time out, is the ninth player in Premier League history to score directly from two free-kicks in a game, and the first since Christian Eriksen for Tottenham in 2015.

Birthday boy Ward-Prowse, who turned 26 on Sunday, has also now overtaken Matt Le Tissier as the player with the most free-kick goals for Southampton in the Premier League, with eight.

Danny Ings made it 4-0 in the 58th minute, and the former Liverpool striker has now netted 27 Premier League goals since the start of 2019-20, with only Jamie Vardy (29) having scored more, while no player has netted more from outside the box in the same period.

Tyrone Mings pulled one back from Jack Grealish's cross, with Ollie Watkins netting his fourth Premier League goal with a penalty before Grealish, Villa's captain, made it 4-3 in the final minute.

Southampton have picked up 13 points from their opening seven Premier League games – that is the Saints' most at this stage of a campaign since 2014-15 - while Villa have lost consecutive Premier League games for the first time since July.

Newcastle United 2-1 Everton: Wilson double inflicts Ancelotti's second straight defeat

Without key men James Rodriguez, Richarlison and Lucas Digne, Carlo Ancelotti named a makeshift team against Newcastle, and his Everton side were not up to the task.

Having gone eight games unbeaten in all competitions at the start of the season, the Toffees have now lost their last two after Callum Wilson's double secured the points for the hosts at St James' Park.

Wilson scored from the penalty spot before tucking in his second from close range – the ex-Bournemouth forward has now scored six goals in his first seven Premier League appearances for Newcastle, with only Les Ferdinand having reached that tally in fewer games (six) for the Magpies in the competition.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin pulled one back for Everton late on and, though it could not inspire a comeback, the 23-year-old has scored more top-flight goals against Newcastle (five) than he has against any other opponent.

Newcastle have won two of their last three league matches at home, as many as Steve Bruce's side had managed in their previous 11 such matches (D4, L5).

Ancelotti, meanwhile, has lost successive league games for the first time since September 2014, when his Real Madrid side went down 4-2 and 2-1 to Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid respectively.

Jordan Pickford was also dropped to Everton's bench for the first time in the Premier League, after the England goalkeeper had started 120 successive games.

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has been "rested" by Everton for their trip to Newcastle United, Carlo Ancelotti said.

Pickford was a surprise omission from the Everton line-up on Sunday, taking his place instead among the substitutes with new signing Robin Olsen brought in for a Premier League debut.

Pickford's form has come under increasing scrutiny this season after a series of errors and a rash challenge on Virgil van Dijk that caused a long-term injury to the Liverpool defender.

The former Sunderland keeper had started 120 consecutive league games since joining Everton in 2017, but Ancelotti insisted there was "no technical reason" for the decision.

The Everton manager assured Pickford would return for their next match.

"There is no technical reason," Ancelotti told Sky Sports. "I just want to give him a rest for this game, just to give the opportunity to Olsen to have minutes.

"Jordan will be back for the next game against [Manchester] United."

Pickford has committed 25 errors leading to goals since joining Everton, one of those coming at St James' Park in the 2018-19 season as the Sunderland supporter also conceded a penalty against the Black Cats' rivals Newcastle in a rash display.

Since the start of last season, only Pickford and injured Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka have had as many as five errors leading to goals.

Everton are also missing Seamus Coleman and James Rodriguez to injury on Tyneside, with Lucas Digne and Richarlison suspended.

Digne was sent off last week against Southampton as Ancelotti complained the fury following Pickford's challenge on Van Dijk contributed to the decision.

Richarlison was dismissed in the Merseyside derby after Pickford had escaped censure.

It is that time of year again - Halloween is here!

October 31 is a date synonymous with apple-bobbing, costume parties, carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating. And football, too, of course.

This Saturday sees three Premier League fixtures take place, so can we expect to see plenty of ghouls - sorry, goals - during proceedings?

Manchester City host Sheffield United in the early kick-off, Chelsea travel to Burnley and the schedule concludes with champions Liverpool welcoming West Ham to Anfield.

With help from Opta, take a (scary) trip down memory lane with a look at Halloween through the years in the English top flight, including some be-witching scoring feats and those left having nightmares.

 

HAT-TRICK TREATS

Three players have scored a Premier League hat-trick on the final day of October, the most recent being Demba Ba in a 3-1 win over Stoke City for Newcastle United nine years ago.

Newcastle were responsible for another of the trebles, with Kevin Nolan finding the net three times in a famous 5-1 win over, fittingly, the Black Cats – their bitter rivals, Sunderland – one year beforehand.

The other three-goal haul came via Aruna Dindane for Portsmouth against Wigan Athletic in 2009. A spook-tacular feat, indeed!

 

THE UNLUCKY 13

It is perhaps somewhat appropriate that 13 red cards have been dished out on Halloween down the years.

Stuart Pearce had a nightmare in Newcastle's meeting with West Ham in 1998 in the first of those incidents, the Toon going on to lose that match 3-0.

Liverpool have had more players dismissed on October 31 than any other Premier League side, with Jason McAteer, Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher all seeing red.

Kenwyne Jones, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Radoslav Kovac, Carlos Cuellar, Geovanni, Jlloyd Samuel, Titus Bramble and, most recently Russell Martin and James Collins in 2015, are the others to be given their marching orders on Halloween.

OG HORRORS

Arguably the biggest horror show a player can endure is scoring for the opposition, something only four players have done on this day since the Premier League was incepted.

Alfie Mawson could not mask his misery in Swansea City's 3-1 loss to Stoke City in 2016, turning Ramadan Sobhi's shot into his own net.

Craig Short did likewise for Everton against Manchester United 22 years ago, while Gary McAllister and Ian Brightwell – both in 1992 – complete the set.

LONG LIST OF GHOUL-SCORERS

Halloween is not all about chills, though - there are the occasional thrills, too!

Eighty-eight different players can hold claim to scoring on the spookiest day of the year, 17 of those bagging more than once.

As well as the aforementioned hat-trick heroes, the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Philippe Coutinho, Robin van Persie, Odion Ighalo and Ian Wright have scored multiple times.

Ighalo and Mahrez are two of six current Premier League players to have found the net on Halloween, along with Branislav Ivanovic, Olivier Giroud, Christian Benteke and Jamie Vardy. 

But Christian Benteke has the special honour of being the only one of those 88 goal-scorers from whose name you can create the words 'trick' and 'treat'.

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