After an international break that seemed to go on for months rather than days, the Premier League was back with typical gusto this weekend.

Tottenham and Liverpool earned impressive wins over Manchester City and Leicester City respectively to sit top of the pile on 20 points, with Chelsea and the Foxes hot in their wake.

But away from the more obvious facts and figures there are always some hidden gems that you may have missed.

With help from the geniuses at Opta, we have delved into some of the quirkier things to emerge from the Premier League these past few days.


Reds pass the test

Diogo Jota made history by becoming the first Liverpool player to score in each of his first four home top-flight appearances for the Reds.

More impressively, his goal in the beating of Leicester came at the end of a sequence of 30 passes – the first time they have tallied so many in the build-up since Opta began collecting such data in the 2006-07 season.

In that same period, the most a team has had leading to goal was Tottenham when Nacer Chadli netted against QPR in August 2014 with a whopping 48 passes.

Manchester United (Juan Mata 45 versus Southampton), Manchester City (Ilkay Gundogan 44 versus Manchester United), Southampton (Morgan Schneiderlin 40 versus Newcastle United), and Manchester United again (Ashley Young 37 versus Blackburn Rovers) complete the top five in the metric.

Relief for Ole

A poor run of form had seen the pressure grow on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United but back-to-back Premier League wins has helped his cause a little.

Saturday's 1-0 win over West Brom – secured by Bruno Fernandes' second-half penalty – ended a run of 323 minutes without a Premier League goal at Old Trafford.

Only twice have United gone longer without celebrating at home in the competition, the longest being 361 minutes between March and August 2002, while they went 334 minutes between April and August 2007.

Worryingly for Solskjaer, he has another streak in the top five with United going 235 minutes without a Premier League home goal between January and February earlier this year.

Grim reading for the Steel City

Chris Wilder and his Sheffield United side have little to smile about right now as a 1-0 home defeat to West Ham on Sunday left them with just one point from their opening nine matches.

Only three teams have ever accrued such a paltry sum at the same stage of a Premier League season.

Coincidentally, Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday did so in 1999-00, while Manchester City are the other unfortunate side in 1995-96. In a potentially bad omen for the Blades, both sides went on to be relegated.

With Wednesday mired in relegation trouble of their own in the Championship, both sides of the Sheffield divide will hope for a boost in fortunes as we edge towards Christmas.

Own goal-woe for Fernandez and Evans

Come on admit it…we all love it when a player ends up with egg on their face and scores past their own goalkeeper. In fact, the more comical the own goal the better.

Over the weekend, two particularly luckless players continued their rotten luck in this regard.

Federico Fernandez was on the scoresheet for the wrong team as Newcastle United were beaten by Chelsea. Since his Premier League debut in 2014, no other player has more own goals than his five – level with Lewis Dunk.

Jonny Evans racked up a sixth Premier League own goal as Leicester City were outclassed by Liverpool. Only Richard Dunne (10), Jamie Carragher (7) and Martin Skrtel (7) have put more in their own net.

Fulham paying the penalty

There are never any guarantees that a penalty will bring a goal…just ask poor Fulham fans.

Ivan Cavaleiro's miss from 12 yards in the 3-2 loss to Everton on Sunday means the Cottagers have missed five of their past eight Premier League penalties, with three different takers in that time.

Both Arsenal and Leicester City have missed five in a row in the competition before (the Gunners between October 1992 and November 1993, and the Foxes August 1994 to September 1996).

The most recent example of a side failing with four in a row was Manchester City last season.

Liverpool made light work of Leicester City to move level on points with Premier League leaders Tottenham on a day that saw a couple of records broken at Anfield.

Inspired by another impressive Diogo Jota showing, the Reds eased to a routine victory to keep their positive momentum going at a time when their squad is getting more depleted by the week.

Merseyside rivals Everton were also victorious in Sunday's top-flight action with a narrow win at Fulham, while West Ham saw off Sheffield United and 10-man Arsenal were held by toothless Leeds United.

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

 

Fulham 2-3 Everton: Calvert-Lewin at the double as Toffees inflict more capital punishment

Dominic Calvert-Lewin maintained his impressive scoring run with a couple of goals as Everton returned to winning ways in the early kick-off at Craven Cottage.

The England international scored after just 42 seconds – the earliest league goal Everton have netted since April 2017 – before Bobby Decordova-Reid's temporary leveller.

That made it goals in back-to-back home league games for Decordova-Reid for the first time since April 2018 when he was playing in the Championship with Bristol City.

Calvert-Lewin restored Everton's lead for his 10th league goal in nine outings this term, Lucas Digne setting up both that goal and Abdoulaye Doucoure's six minutes later.

Since making his competition debut in August 2018, only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson (both 26) have more assists among defenders than Digne's 15.

A struggling Fulham side wasted a chance to get back into the game when Ivan Cavaleiro became the latest player for the south London side to miss from the penalty spot.

They have missed five of their past eight top-flight penalties, including the previous three, which have each taken by different players (Aleksandar Mitrovic, Ademola Lookman and Cavaleiro).

Ruben Loftus-Cheek did pull one back but Everton, who have conceded twice or more in six straight league games for the first time in 12 years, held on for a third straight league win in London – their best such run since April 1987.

Sheffield United 0-1 West Ham: Blunt Blades still seeking first victory

Sebastien Haller scored from outside the box for the first time in his top-flight career, on what was his 190th such appearance, to earn West Ham a slender victory at Sheffield United.

The striker, who has also previously played in the Eredivisie and Bundesliga, scored from range after 56 minutes for his sixth goal in all competitions this season – double the number of any other West Ham player.

United were unable to respond and are now without a win in 13 games in all competitions, making this their worst run since October 2013.

Chris Wilder's men have lost four top-flight matches in a row and are only the third side in Premier League history to pick up one point or fewer from their opening nine games, after Manchester City in 1995-96 and Sheffield Wednesday in 1999-2000.

West Ham are now unbeaten in their past 12 Premier League games against sides starting the day bottom, winning five in a row, and they are the first London club to win at Bramall Lane in the competition in 12 attempts since October 2006.

Leeds United 0-0 Arsenal: Hot-headed Gunners fire another blank

Arsenal failed to score for the fourth time in five Premier League outings as they played out a stalemate with Leeds at Elland Road.

Firing blanks has become the norm for Arsenal but there was nothing usual about the scoreline from Leeds' perspective – only their third goalless draw in 101 league games under Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds now have 41 clean sheets across those 101 matches, not including play-offs, which is more than any other side in the top four tiers of English football in that period.

The Gunners have scored just nine league goals in the same number of league games in 2020-21 – their lowest tally at this stage since 1986-87 when scoring six times.

Mikel Arteta's side had to play almost an entire half with 10 men after Nicolas Pepe was given the first red card of his career in Europe's top five leagues, this being his 146th such appearance.

That was the fifth red card Arsenal have received in the league since Arteta took over in December 2019 – at least two more than any other club.

A point can be considered a good result on the balance of things given Leeds had 25 shots – the third most a team has managed in the Premier League this term, behind only Manchester United v Newcastle United (28) and Leeds v Aston Villa (27).

Liverpool 3-0 Leicester City: Rampant Reds win again at fortress Anfield

A lot has been made of Liverpool's depleted backline but makeshift centre-back pairing Fabinho and Joel Matip withstood everything Leicester chucked at them, the Reds keeping a fourth clean sheet in seven games and conceding only three times in that run.

Jonny Evans' own goal after 21 minutes put Liverpool on their way – the sixth time the former Manchester United defender has put into his own net in the Premier League, which is behind only Richard Dunne (10), Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel (both seven)

Jota doubled the hosts' advantage before half-time against his favourite opponents to become the first Liverpool player ever to score in his first four home top-flight league appearances.

It was a special goal in more ways than one, too, as it came after a sequence of 30 passes – the most in the build-up to any goal by the reigning champions since Opta started collecting data in 2006-07.

Jurgen Klopp's side added a deserved third goal to their tally late on through Roberto Firmino, who has now scored in two of Liverpool's five home league matches this term, compared to one in 19 such outings in 2019-20.

The routine home win makes it 64 home league matches without defeat for Liverpool – now officially the longest run in the club's history, with 53 of those games ending in victory.

It was another unhappy reunion with Liverpool for their former boss Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, as he has lost all three league encounters with the Reds since taking charge of Leicester, conceding nine goals in the process.

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.

Frank Lampard praised Hakim Ziyech's start to his Chelsea career as "remarkable" after the forward's starring role in the 4-1 win over Sheffield United.

The Blues recovered after conceding for the first time in 459 minutes in all competitions through David McGoldrick's ninth-minute effort to keep pace at the top of the Premier League table.

Goals from Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva and Timo Werner ensured a victory that puts Chelsea a point behind leaders Southampton and second-placed Liverpool.

Ziyech had a hand in three of the goals at Stamford Bridge, supplying two assists, and creating a game-high six chances.

The former Ajax man created the most chances of any player in the league this season, and Lampard is particularly impressed with how he has adapted given the 2019-20 Eredivisie season was abandoned back in April.

"We played against [Ziyech] in the Champions League last year - he's a top-class player," Lampard told Sky Sports. "He impresses you even more when you work with him.

"The Dutch league finished a long time ago, then he had an injury so to hit the ground running like he has, he has been remarkable.

"He will be a big player for us. I need players who can come in and lift the level. That's hard. The midfield were great with their driving runs."

Chelsea boss Lampard was impressed with his side's response to going behind, adding: "Sheffield United are a really strong team.

"They are really good at putting you under pressure. We didn't deal with it brilliantly but the reaction from the team for the rest of the game was spot on."

Chelsea kept pace at the top of the Premier League as they came from behind to beat Sheffield United 4-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues had kept clean sheets in each of their last five matches, but saw their goal breached in the ninth minute by David McGoldrick.

However, Tammy Abraham equalised and Ben Chilwell gave Chelsea a lead they would not relinquish as their defensive solidity returned thereafter.

Thiago Silva's first goal for Chelsea made sure of the victory before Timo Werner made the margin of triumph even more comfortable. 

The win means Frank Lampard's men are a point behind leaders Southampton and second-placed Liverpool, who have a game in hand. The winless Blades are bottom with one point from eight games.

 

Christian Pulisic will not return for Chelsea until after the international break as he continues to struggle with a hamstring problem.

Frank Lampard revealed in midweek that a scan had only shown "very minor" damage for the United States international, who sustained the injury in the warm-up ahead of last weekend's 3-0 win over Burnley.

The Chelsea boss was initially positive about Pulisic's recovery but confirmed on Friday he had stopped training this week due to ongoing discomfort.

Pulisic will consequently be unavailable for Saturday's meeting with Sheffield United in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, and his absence means Chelsea will be without one of their most potent attacking weapons.

Since football returned in June, Pulisic has attempted more shots (28) and completed more dribbles (19) than any other Chelsea player in the top flight. He has also been involved in a team-high six goals (four scored, two assisted) in the competition, level with Olivier Giroud and Willian.

"Pulisic is not fit to play. He's still suffering with his hamstring. He's not [training] at the moment," said Lampard.

"To be clear, he trained at a low level in midweek when I made those quotes and he wasn't comfortable, so we have to keep looking for the right solution."

Lampard confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga will be in the squad this weekend as he continues to recover from a shoulder problem.

"He [Kepa] has recovered, he's still getting a slight bit of pain but he's in the squad for tomorrow," said the Blues boss.

Timo Werner replaced Pulisic in the starting line-up for the Burnley game and the Germany international has played more minutes for Chelsea this season than any other player.

Lampard hopes to be able to grant Werner – who has been involved in four goals in his past three Premier League games – a rest soon and would not clarify if that will come against the Blades.

"I'm not going to give the team away, but I think it was clear with the Burnley game I was planning on giving him a rest. It was more because I had options and the journey to Russia and back," said Lampard.

"Timo's played a lot of games, but at the beginning there's always a balance in my job of players that are playing well and enjoying it, finding their way in the team and making relationships and feeling the league if they're new to the league, and I think that's been a big deal for Timo.

"I've been happy with that point. As we look forward, I will try to manage those minutes to keep him as fresh as I can, but at the minute he's going well, so we'll see."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says his time as a manager of Barcelona "is over" as he ruled out any chance of a return to his former club.

The 49-year-old is into the final year of his City contract and has been linked with a return to Camp Nou, where he won 14 trophies during his time in charge between 2008 and 2012.

Victor Font, who is in the running to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu as Barca president, this week laid out his plans to reunite Guardiola with Lionel Messi in Catalonia.

However, Guardiola reiterated on Friday he is "incredibly happy" at the Etihad Stadium and has now stated he has no desire to manage the LaLiga giants for a second time.

"My period as a manager of Barcelona is over," he told BT Sport. "In life you do things once.

"There are incredible people who can be in charge. Ronald Koeman, for example, is an incredible manager. It's over.

"I will come back to watch a game, but I am happy here. I have the desire to do well and this is the most important thing."

Bartomeu and the entire Barcelona board stepped down on Tuesday ahead of an expected vote of no confidence, with an interim board now in place until March's elections.

Guardiola added: "Hopefully they can choose the right person and the right board to maintain the club as it is, at the highest level."

City picked up their fourth win in five outings on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Sheffield United, Kyle Walker scoring the only goal on his 100th Premier League appearance for the club.

It was the 53rd Premier League goal City have scored from outside the box under Guardiola - more than any other team since the start of 2016-17.

Walker's celebration was muted against his former side, but Guardiola acknowledged the importance of the 28th-minute strike - one of eight shots that City managed on target at Bramall Lane.

"I know maybe he is not so happy to score against a club he loves a lot, but for us, it was so important," Guardiola said at his post-match news conference.

"We played really well. We struggled to score goals for the chances we created. But they had one clear chance, no more than that, and I'm incredibly satisfied. It's so important."

Kyle Walker admitted the fear of incurring the wrath of his parents was behind his low-key reaction to scoring the winner against Sheffield United. 

The full-back marked his 100th Premier League appearance for Manchester City with a decisive 28th-minute strike from outside the box against his former club at Bramall Lane. 

Having come through the Blades' academy, Sheffield-born Walker's mother and father still live in the city and he did not want to risk angering them. 

"My mum and dad live here, so if I'd celebrated I'd have got a lot of stick," he told BT Sport after Saturday's 1-0 win. "I'm a Sheffield United fan, so I couldn't celebrate. 

"I'm happy to get on the scoresheet and obviously happy to get the three points, which was the main thing coming up here.

"They're well-drilled. Everyone knows their position and they're a tough team to break down, but luckily enough I came up with the goal." 

The visitors were dominant but had to settle for just the one goal, with Aaron Ramsdale in fine form, making seven saves. 

Despite lacking that clinical edge in the absence of Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, Walker took the positives. 

"I'm enjoying my football. We don't sit back and defend," he said. "We want to score three or four, but it's great to get the clean sheet on the board as well. 

"Defensively we've done fantastically well, especially Ruben [Dias] since he's come in. Whoever steps in, they're all going to put in top performances. 

"There was always going to be a hangover [from last season]. It's just what we're dealing with at this moment in time." 

The win alleviates some of City boss Pep Guardiola's frustrations over their league form, with the eight-point yield from the previous five top-flight games representing his worst start to a season. 

Opposite number Chris Wilder's woes deepened, though, as United have now gone seven games without a win at the start of a season for the first time since 1991-92. 

It leaves Wilder still stranded on 99 wins at the helm, having not tasted victory in his last 11 games in all competitions – his longest such streak in management. 

Kyle Walker's goal against his hometown club secured a 1-0 Premier League victory for Manchester City over struggling Sheffield United.

Pep Guardiola, who had suffered his worst five-game start to a season after taking just eight points, saw his team's domestic frustrations alleviated by Sheffield-born Walker's 28th-minute strike at Bramall Lane.

City, buoyed by Tuesday's 3-0 Champions League win in Marseille, were on top from the outset and only a fine display from Aaron Ramsdale limited the damage.

The result leaves Chris Wilder's side still winless, while providing a confidence boost for a City outfit whose next top-flight clash is at home to champions Liverpool.

Ferran Torres' glancing header from Joao Cancelo's cross forced a fine early stop from Ramsdale, who also saw Aymeric Laporte steer a close-range effort just past his near post.

Rodri's ferocious 25-yard strike was too hot to handle as the goalkeeper parried it over the crossbar in slick conditions amid heavy rainfall in Sheffield.

The Blades continued to rely on their last line of defence when Ramsdale thwarted Torres after the Spaniard slid in to connect with Raheem Sterling's cross.

Walker, a product of the Bramall Lane academy, forced the breakthrough with a low, skidding shot that nestled in the keeper's bottom-right corner.

The hosts, who have never beaten City in the Premier League, remained firmly on the back foot in the second half, living dangerously as Kevin De Bruyne's attempt flashed narrowly wide.

Ramsdale was to the fore again soon after, tipping Riyad Mahrez's free-kick wide, while substitute John Lundstram fired over at the other end in a rare opening for the home side.

 

What does it mean? A timely triumph for City

With top-flight games against Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton still to come in 2020, City needed this Halloween treat of three points.

The trick now will be to discover the kind of consistency usually so common to them and manager Guardiola, who will still have concerns about his side lacking a clinical edge.

Without Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, the final scoreline failed to reflect City's dominance, with the visitors having out-shot (16-4) and out-passed (709-369) their hosts with ease.

Blunt Blades all toil and no trouble

Heading into this match, United's shot tally of 409 and on-target total of 131 were the lowest of all 17 ever-present Premier League sides since the start of last season.

On Saturday they managed to add just four shots, with one on target. A long season lies ahead for Wilder's charges, with United having last gone seven games without a win at the start of a campaign back in 1991-92.

Ramsdale's busy shift

It may have ended in defeat, but this was a performance of which Ramsdale can be proud.

Not since their opening 2-0 loss to Wolves have United been beaten by more than one goal, and in this instance that was firmly down to Ramsdale.

He made seven saves, in stark contrast to the solitary stop from Ederson at the other end.

What's next?

After the midweek visit of Olympiacos in the Champions League, City tackle Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday in an early test of both sides' title credentials. The Blades, firm bystanders in that particular race, travel to Chelsea the day before.

Pep Guardiola is "incredibly happy" at Manchester City and is hopeful of prolonging his stay at the club amid fresh links with a return to Barcelona.

Barca presidential candidate Victor Font stated this week he intends to lure Guardiola back to Camp Nou should he succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu, who stepped down along with the entire board on Tuesday ahead of a vote of no confidence.

Guardiola won three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns during a trophy-laden spell in charge of the Catalan giants between 2008 and 2012.

The 49-year-old is into his fifth season with City - more than he has managed at any previous club - but is due to be out of contract at the conclusion of the current campaign.

Despite not yet opening talks with the club over fresh terms, however, Guardiola has insisted he is open to staying on at the Etihad Stadium beyond the end of 2020-21.

"I'm incredibly happy here," he said at Friday's news conference when asked about Font's comments. 

"I'm delighted to be in Manchester and hopefully I can do a good job this season to stay longer."

City have had a largely mixed start to the campaign, most recently following up a 1-1 Premier League draw at West Ham with a 3-0 victory at Marseille in the Champions League.

They have failed to score more than once in their past three top-flight outings but Guardiola denied suggestions his side are lacking motivation with games coming thick and fast.

"With this amount of matches we play, if the manager has to motivate players he is over," he said ahead of Saturday's trip to Sheffield United. 

"They come from inside the desire to play good, help the team, to feel important, to be decisive in every game. This comes from inside themselves. 

"We suggest ideas but playing every three days I can't make a speech to motivate them. They love football to be part of the competitions."

Kyle Walker has started every game for City this season, plus three internationals for England, and was arguably the best player on the field in the win away to Marseille.

He gained possession more times than any other player on the field (10) and no-one made more than his 112 touches, level with team-mate Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Guardiola feels the versatile defender, who was signed from Tottenham for an initial £45million in July 2017, is playing the best football of his career.

"I want to thank the club for bringing him here - it was an incredible signing," Guardiola said. "Today the top players can play every three days and not get injured. 

"Before you sign a player you have to look at his injury history and ability to play and play. Kyle is an example of that. Now this is the best Kyle we have ever seen. 

"He's one of our captains and important in the locker room. In the last game against Marseille, he had a really good game and hopefully he will tomorrow, too."

City head to Bramall Lane looking to win four consecutive league games against Sheffield United for the first time since March 1930.

Guardiola revealed Sergio Aguero is still not back in training following his latest injury setback, while Gabriel Jesus and Nathan Ake "are getting better" and will be assessed on Friday.

After two Premier League games without a victory, champions Liverpool returned to winning ways on Saturday courtesy of a 2-1 triumph against Sheffield United. 

The win – courtesy of Diogo Jota's second-half header – extends Jurgen Klopp's side's stunning home record over recent seasons, while the winless Blades remain in the relegation zone after another disappointing day. 

Debutant Edinson Cavani, meanwhile, could do little to help Manchester United correct their wayward home from as they played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Old Trafford.

West Ham maintained their recent strong form to hold Manchester City to a 1-1 draw in London, while Fulham's dreadful start to the new campaign continued with a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.

Liverpool 2-1 Sheffield United: Reds march on at Anfield as Jota continues bright start

Liverpool extended their unbeaten run at Anfield to 62 games in the Premier League with a hard-fought win over Sheffield United but they did not have it all their own way against Chris Wilder's spirited side. 

Sander Berge's early penalty means the Premier League champions have conceded 14 goals in their first six games this season; it took them 15 games to ship the same amount last season. 

Diogo Jota sealed the win with the second half's only shot on target, making him the first player to score in each of his first two Premier League home games for Liverpool since Sadio Mane in September 2016. 

He was teed up by Mane for his 64th-minute header, which took the Senegal international to five goal involvements (four goals, one assist) in his past four Premier League games. That is more than he achieved in his previous 10 games in the competition (four goals).

Defeat for Sheffield United, meanwhile, means they are winless in nine Premier League games – the longest current run of any side in the competition.

Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea: Red Devils still searching for home comforts

They secured a memorable Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain in midweek but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not resolve his side's patchy Premier League form against Chelsea at Old Trafford. 

Following defeats to Crystal Palace and Tottenham, the dour draw against Frank Lampard's side means the Red Devils have now failed to win any of their first three home games of a league campaign for the first time since the 1972-73 season.

United also failed to win either of their final two home games last season, which means they are on their longest run without a league victory at Old Trafford since February 1990 when they went six games without tasting success. 

A dire second half saw just one shot on target, Edouard Mendy clawing away Marcus Rashford's whipped effort in stoppage time. 

That save means Mendy is the first Chelsea goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in both of his first two Premier League games for the club since Petr Cech in August 2004, while he became their first shot-stopper to keep a top-flight clean sheet at Old Trafford since Thibaut Courtois in December 2015. 

One bright spot for United was the late introduction of Edinson Cavani, who joined on a free transfer earlier this month. The 33-year-old Uruguayan's appearance meant he became United's oldest Premier League debutant since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in August 2016.

West Ham 1-1 Manchester City: Lucky charm Foden saves Pep's stuttering side

Manchester City's indifferent start to the season continued in a 1-1 draw at West Ham in the early game, increasing their points total to just eight after five matches – their lowest since managing the same tally in 2014-15.

West Ham, who have now lost just two of their past 10 league matches, were on course for victory after Michail Antonio's spectacular opener.

The winger-turned-forward has 11 goals since June – second only to Harry Kane in the Premier League – and continued his record of netting each of his top-flight strikes from inside the box. He now has 39, with only City's Gabriel Jesus (42) scoring more while never notching from outside the area of current players.

City had to turn to Phil Foden to rescue a point, the substitute scoring and continuing his record of never having lost after netting in all competitions for City, although this was his first draw in 16 such matches.

It was enough to ensure Pep Guardiola still has not lost to West Ham in 10 games – this was also his first draw. He has only faced Athletic Bilbao (14 games) and Burnley (11) more often without losing.

Meanwhile, David Moyes earned a first Premier League point against City since March 2013, prior to his appointment as Manchester United manager.

Fulham 1-2 Crystal Palace: Zaha consigns Cottagers to worst ever start

Fulham are enduring their worst ever start to a top-flight season after they failed to add to their single point so far in their sixth game of the campaign, a 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace.

Palace's victory was their third in a row against Fulham in the league - their best run since 1930 – and the points were secured by Jairo Riedewald, netting his first Premier League goal in his 33rd game, and Wilfried Zaha, who has five in his past six – as many as in his previous 41 combined.

Zaha has now been directly involved in 65 Premier League goals for Palace (41 goals, 24 assists), over twice as many as the next best tally (32 for both James McArthur and Jason Puncheon), and his effort made Tom Cairney's stoppage-time strike a mere consolation.

Of managers to oversee at least 15 Premier League games, only Jan Siewert (80 per cent) and Brian Laws (78 per cent) have lost a higher percentage of their games than Fulham boss Scott Parker, who has lost 75 per cent of the 16 games he has taken charge of.

Jurgen Klopp believes Diogo Jota will get even better for Liverpool after his winner against Sheffield United in the Premier League on Saturday.

Jota headed in a 64th-minute winner at Anfield, where the champions came from behind, needing Roberto Firmino to cancel out Sander Berge's early penalty.

Signed from Wolves in September for a reported £41million, Jota became the first Liverpool player since Sadio Mane in 2016 to score in each of his first two Premier League home games for the club.

Klopp started Jota and his usual front three – Mane, Mohamed Salah and Firmino – and the Liverpool manager was happy with the 23-year-old.

"He's such a likable person. It's so easy to like him and it makes everything and the player is quick here," he told reporters.

"It's the physicality, really strong, can be as good in the air and the ground. A lot of good things [from him]. So that is exactly the quality we need and that helps a lot."

Klopp added: "Jota scored a super goal and was really involved in the game, and he can be much better 100 per cent and that's good news."

The win saw Liverpool end a two-game winless league run and join rivals Everton, who top the table, on 13 points.

And while Jota impressed, Klopp said the Portugal international's display came as no shock.

“Not sure surprised. He still adapting so a lot of things at the moment that we do are not natural to him, but it's only because he was placed different," he said.

"But a lot of things that he did for Wolves are exactly what we want him to do. So yes, that he is that close already, it's just a sign of how good a player he is.

"And yeah, if he stays fit, he's 23, the future's bright, let me say like this. And we will need his quality and I'm really happy that he settled nicely so far."

Liverpool are back in Champions League action at home to Midtjylland on Tuesday before hosting West Ham four days later.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says his players have earned some easier victories after a hard-fought 2-1 Premier League win over Sheffield United on Saturday.  

After two top-flight games without tasting success, the champions returned to winning ways after Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota overturned Sander Berge's early penalty for Chris Wilder's side, who remain winless so far this season.  

The result extended the Reds' unbeaten run at Anfield in the Premier League to 62 games and Klopp - who disputed the decision to award the Blades a spot-kick for Fabinho's challenge on Oliver McBurnie - praised the relentless nature of his side.  

"You always have to work hard against Sheffield United. It's hard to take for Chris Wilder," he told BBC Sport. 

"The penalty was not even a foul. We have had an injustice and we have had to go again. I love these games, as you earn all of the rest. You earn the easier games when it all goes your way on nights like this. 

"We struggled with McBurnie in the first half but we changed our positioning and won the second balls. We were dominating at 2-1 and had some really good football but then they came back. 

"They never give up, I respect that so much. They go and go and go. Chris is doing a wonderful job." 

With the injured Virgil van Dijk absent for the first time in 95 Premier League games, Liverpool never looked completely comfortable at the back and allowed the Blades 13 shots on goal.  

Captain Jordan Henderson conceded the champions were far from their best but took encouragement from their ability to carve out a positive result. 

"It was hard as expected," he said. "They are a good side who work really hard. We knew it would be difficult and we are delighted to get the points. 

"McBurnie was very good in the air so it was hard for the lads at the back, but they coped and worked it out better in the second half. We should have killed the game off with another goal or two. 

"I am only interested in the mentality in our changing room and I see hunger, resilience, character to dig in and win if you are not playing at your best. We showed we can dig in and see results out." 

Liverpool returned to winning ways in the Premier League as Diogo Jota's second-half goal secured a 2-1 win over Sheffield United at Anfield on Saturday.  

A controversial draw with Everton last time out followed a 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Aston Villa before the international break and Jurgen Klopp's side looked set for more disappointment when a Sander Berge penalty put the Blades ahead after 13 minutes.  

Robert Firmino's first of the season drew them level ahead of the interval, though, before Jota sealed all three points in the 64th minute with his second goal for the club following his move from Wolves last month. 

The result moved Liverpool up to second, level on points with leaders Everton, while Chris Wilder's side - who have failed to win so far this season - remained in 19th.  

Liverpool almost went ahead inside the opening five minutes but Aaron Ramsdale backtracked well to tip over Trent Alexander-Arnold's audacious free-kick from 45 yards.  

The hosts then conceded their first penalty at Anfield in the Premier League since October 2018 when Fabinho was deemed to have brought down Oliver McBurnie just inside the area, with Berge stepping up to coolly slot past Alisson.   

The Liverpool goalkeeper kept out Ben Osborn's powerful volley soon after as Wilder's side threatened to double their advantage.   

It was the hosts who scored next, though, Firmino slotting home four minutes before the break after Ramsdale parried Sadio Mane's header. 

George Baldock and Mohamed Salah exchanged half-chances at the start of the second period before the latter saw a fine effort ruled out for offside shortly after the hour mark. 

The Reds' disappointment did not last long, however, with Jota superbly heading home Mane's left-wing cross to put the hosts ahead. 

Salah clipped an effort against the post with 10 minutes remaining but it mattered little as Klopp's men ultimately held on with the minimum of fuss to extend their unbeaten Premier League run at Anfield to a whopping 62 games. 

Jurgen Klopp is confident centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip will have little issue forming an effective partnership in the absence of Liverpool talisman Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk is set to miss at least the majority of the current campaign after suffering knee ligament damage in a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during last week's Merseyside derby.

Matip missed the midweek win over Ajax, meaning Fabinho stepped into defence, but Klopp's options are limited moving forward.

Dejan Lovren left at the end of last season, leaving Gomez and Matip as the club's only remaining natural centre-backs.

Klopp expects the duo to adapt and "fight together", although they are yet to start alongside each other in this role due to Van Dijk's dominance.

"The reason for that is because I think Virg played pretty much all the games and one of them was injured," Klopp said.

"As long as Dejan Lovren was still here and Dejan was in that moment fit, [he could play].

"I didn't know they had never played together, I didn't know that, but they can play together – not a shadow of a doubt.

"As I said for the Fabinho and Joe pairing, they need to get used to each other and the full-backs need to get used to them. The more stability you have in this line, the better.

"We never had that really – especially one position was always with a lot of changes.

"They will fight together, there is no doubt about that. It is football and it didn't become rocket science overnight. We can help them with information but then they will get tested every three days – that's the situation."

Meanwhile, Klopp was asked for his thoughts on Marcus Rashford's work campaigning to end child hunger.

The Manchester United forward spent Friday promoting offers of free meals from restaurants around the United Kingdom on his social media pages after the government voted against maintaining a scheme to serve this purpose through school holidays.

"It's just nice to show in a time when obviously a lot of people who are really in charge of something and don't show any sign of proper leadership, that a boy grown up in difficult circumstances, blessed with a sensational talent obviously, never forgot his roots and where he is coming from," Klopp said.

"That he has to do it then is a bit of a shame but is wonderful as well. I hope his mother is really proud of him. I don't know him but even I am.

"He plays for United, which makes it really tricky. But it's really an absolutely wonderful, wonderful thing."

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