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

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

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

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

ROBERT SANCHEZ

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

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

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

VLADIMIR COUFAL

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

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

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

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

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

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

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

JESSE LINGARD

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

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

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

MASON GREENWOOD

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

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

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

WILFRIED ZAHA

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

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

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

JAMIE VARDY

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

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

Jesse Lingard has opened up on how he pondered taking a break from football due to his struggles with mental health.

The attacking midfielder endured a difficult 2020 having fallen down the pecking order at Manchester United.

Off the pitch, Lingard's cared for his brother and sister while his mother – who has suffered with depression – received treatment in London.

Lingard spoke to entertainment show "Presenting" back in January, with the video released on Thursday, and he was asked if his personal struggles and those of his mother left him contemplating quitting football.

"Not quit football, just have a time out really," he said.

"I was going into games happy sitting on the bench and that's not me. I was telling my brother the other day: 'Remember when I was happy sitting on the bench and all this?'

"I didn't want to play because my mind wasn't there, I wasn't focused at all. I was thinking about other things and obviously bottling it all up; trying to play football, you can't do it.

"Through the years we had the help for her, but even just for me it's hard to bottle things up. It feels like you're not the same person. I felt like I wasn't Jesse Lingard.

"Even in football matches, I felt like the game was just passing me by, like I just didn't want to be there – it was crazy. So, I opened up to [Manchester] United and told them what I was going through, what my mum was going through and they're always there to help."

Lingard departed Old Trafford for West Ham on loan in January and he has flourished for David Moyes' Champions League hopefuls.

The 28-year-old has scored nine goals in 10 league games since joining West Ham, equalling his best return for a top-flight season set back in 2017-18.

Lingard also has three assists to his name, making him the quickest Hammers player in history to reach double figures for direct goal involvements, form that has seen him earn an England recall with the rescheduled Euro 2020 on the horizon.

He spoke about how the first national lockdown in the United Kingdom in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic helped to change his outlook.

"I could have easily quit in lockdown, been like: 'Nah I don't want to do it,'" he added.

"I could have easily given up but the fight in me always brings me back to life and in lockdown I was just smashing gym, doing runs. I wanted to get back to training fitter and faster than anyone else and I did that.

"I feel like lockdown has kind of transitioned me in a way. I watched my old games back and watched the World Cup games back and I thought: 'Yeah, that's the real Jesse Lingard.'

"The time that I had going a couple seasons back or last season, it just wasn't me at all and you can see that. My brother who lives with me, he could see that and he's got a video of me literally laying on the couch and I'm just staring for three minutes into thin air and he's just thinking: 'What is he going through? He's got the weight of the world on his shoulders.' And even he didn't know what I was going through at the time.

"I feel like with my mum and me I've learnt that when you open up you feel like a butterfly – you're in a cocoon and then you can spread your wings, you can fly. It's an amazing feeling and now I've got all that behind me and I can concentrate on football and my family."

"They are trying," said a weary Gary Neville. "This is it." 

The former Manchester United captain was responding to Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, who suggested the Red Devils might show a little more pluck during a miserable 2-0 defeat to Everton in April 2014. 

That game was the final straw when it came to the future of manager David Moyes. The limp performance against his old club meant the reigning Premier League champions could not mathematically finish in the top four. The embarrassment – and the loss of Champions League income – was too much to bear. 

On April 22, seven years ago, Moyes was sacked just 10 months into a six-year contract as Alex Ferguson's successor. His 34 league games in charge had yielded 17 wins, 11 defeats and a points-per-game average of 1.68, the lowest of any United manager in the Premier League era. In all competitions, he won just 27 of his 51 games in charge. 

It was a record-breaking season for all the wrong reasons. United finished on 64 points, their lowest full-season tally in the Premier League era and their lowest finish. At the time, it was the worst title defence of any Premier League side in history, and it meant they failed to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995. 

There was also a first home loss to Newcastle United since 1972, to West Brom since 1978 and to Stoke City since 1984. They were beaten home and away by Everton for the first time since 1969-70. Most damning of all was their return against the 'Big Six', as they won one of 10 of those games in 2013-14, losing home and away to the top two, Manchester City and Liverpool. 

A parting of the ways became inevitable, and United, three managers later, are still waiting for a meaningful shot at their 21st top-flight title. There were more problems for Moyes, too, at Real Sociedad and Sunderland. It makes his transformative work at West Ham, turning relegation-battlers into top-four contenders, all the more remarkable. 

It also begs the question: has history been unkind to Moyes? 

'You were the chosen one!' 

Few United sympathisers were arguing the case for Moyes to stay after Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas condemned them to defeat at Goodison Park – apart from Neville, who said the idea of sacking him in his first season was "foreign". 

Neville would later insist United had been the architects of their own mismanaged and relatively barren years since Moyes departed, with progress often fleeting at best. He's not wrong. 

Ferguson won 70.2 per cent of his 748 league games in charge at Old Trafford, and none of his successors have matched that record, with Jose Mourinho (66.2 per cent) and Louis van Gaal (66 per cent) closest. At 57.7 per cent, Moyes does not even boast the worst such ratio: that figure belongs to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (57.1 per cent), a man given substantially more patience by the United hierarchy than Moyes was. 

It's also often forgotten that their best performances under Moyes came in the competition in which he had no experience. United won five of their 10 Champions League games in 2013-14, a record bettered only by Mourinho (eight out of 14) among Ferguson's successors, as they reached the quarter-final stage – something they have only managed to do once since. 

The unenviable task of following Ferguson had the added complication of the squad not quite being up to standard. United's greatest manager had squeezed one more title out of a group of players whose best years were mostly behind them and who were buoyed by the singular brilliance of Robin van Persie, who plundered 26 goals and nine assists in 38 league matches in 2012-13. 

Under Moyes, Van Persie's output fell dramatically as injuries took their toll: he scored only 11 times and set up a further three in 18 games, while his chances created per 90 minutes plummeted from 2.05 to 0.98. 

With the old guard labouring and the squad overhaul poorly handled by new executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, it sometimes felt like Moyes was fighting a losing battle from the off. 

Real-ity bites 

In November 2014, Moyes was handed a breath of fresh air via an 18-month contract at Real Sociedad to succeed Jagoba Arrasate. Spain never quite suited him – perhaps living in a hotel didn't help – and he was sacked almost exactly a year later, after winning just 12 of 42 games in charge. 

However, Moyes was, to some extent, burdened with unfair expectation. La Real had won just two of their first 11 La Liga games in 2014-15 before he arrived and three points off the bottom. Moyes guided them to a safe, if not spectacular 12th-placed finish. That first campaign included a 1-0 win at Anoeta in January over Barcelona, who would go on to win the treble that term. Looking at the league table since Moyes' arrival in November 2014 until the end of that season sees La Real sit bang in the middle of the pile in 10th spot.  

Yet the demand for a return to European football was significant and, despite a strong transfer window that included the signing of Asier Illarramendi back from Real Madrid, Moyes could not inspire the performances he wanted. In the end, he became the second Real coach in a row to leave after only two wins in the first 11 league games of a season – and they were against the bottom two clubs. 

An ill omen 

It's perhaps not surprising that, when Moyes returned to the Premier League with Sunderland in July 2016, he sought to temper expectations. Sam Allardyce had led the Black Cats to survival – by just two points – the season before and it appeared Moyes wanted fans to be realistic. 

Unfortunately, his pragmatism came across as overly negative to a fan base desperate to see him build on Allardyce's work. A poor transfer window didn't help, either, as old Everton stalwarts such as Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe arrived looking well beyond their best and sizeable sums were spent on the likes of Papy Djilobodji, who was on the winning side just three times in 18 appearances in 2016-17. 

Two days after his first relegation as a manager was confirmed by a 1-0 loss to Bournemouth, Moyes resigned. He had lost 28 and won only eight of 43 games in charge; at the time, it was the worst return of any permanent Black Cats manager in the top flight aside from Howard Wilkinson, who won just 14.8 per cent of games from October 2002 to March 2003.  

Stop – Hammer time! 

It was a surprise, therefore, when West Ham turned to Moyes to keep them in the Premier League in November 2017. Eight wins – including his 200th in the division, the fourth man to achieve the feat – and nine draws in 27 matches was enough to secure their survival, if not a longer-term contract. 

When the Hammers turned to Moyes again in December 2019 to replace Manuel Pellegrini, many saw it as another fire-fighting job, a panicked move by the owners to stave off fears of the drop. It's proven to be so much more. 

This season, West Ham are averaging 1.72 points per game, the best return of Moyes' career in England's top flight – better even than the Tim Cahill-inspired Everton side in 2004-05 that finished fourth. The Hammers find themselves in that position in the table with six games to go and, according to Stats Perform's league predictions, they have an almost 26 per cent likelihood of finishing in the top four – more than double Tottenham's chances.

New ground is being trodden under Moyes once more, but in far brighter pastures. Against Arsenal, Wolves and Leicester City, they scored three goals in three consecutive top-flight games for the first time since 1928. They have scored at least three in a league game 15 times since Moyes' return; only Manchester City (19) and Manchester United (16) have done so in league games more often in that time. 

In Moyes' first 50 games in charge during his second spell at London Stadium, West Ham won 75 points, the most over that number of matches in 13 years. Indeed, in 2021, only Manchester City (17) have won more Premier League games than Moyes' men (10), who have earned 32 points from a possible 45 since the turn of the year. 

Perhaps it's fitting that Moyes' most recent star performer is another who was cast adrift at United. Jesse Lingard has scored eight goals in nine league games since joining on loan since January, equalling his best return for a top-flight season set back in 2017-18. Lingard also has three assists to his name in those nine outings, making him the quickest Hammers player in history to reach double figures for direct goal involvements. Like Cahill at Everton 16 years ago, Lingard is proving an unlikely talisman in West Ham's charge towards upsetting the top order. 

Moyes has walked a long road to redemption since his United dismissal. However West Ham's season finishes, he deserves to be held in a little higher esteem. 

France, Spain or Germany?

Eduardo Camavinga has admirers following his exploits for Rennes in Ligue 1.

Some of Europe's biggest clubs are interested, but could he be set for Bavaria?

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA WANTED IN GERMANY

Bayern Munich are hoping to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to France Football.

Camavinga is unwilling to extend his Rennes contract and the 18-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Florian Neuhaus is also on Bayern's list, though the Bundesliga champions reportedly feel Camavinga could be better value for money.

 

ROUND-UP

- Who will permanently replace Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach following his sacking on Monday? Football Italia claims Spurs have contacted former Juventus, Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. The Daily Mail, however, reports RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann is Tottenham's top candidate.

- La Razon says West Ham are leading the race to sign Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, who has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

PSG are the most likely suitors for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, according to Sport. Bellerin is likely to leave the Gunners and he has been linked to Barcelona.

- Sport says Barca's plans depend on Lionel Messi's future. Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, but president Joan Laporta is keen to re-sign the superstar amid reported interest from PSG and Manchester City. It comes as Barca target Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with rivals Real Madrid, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus. Lyon captain Memphis Depay, City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly wanted at Camp Nou.

Sunday's announcement of a long-feared European 'Super League' raised the possibility of unprecedented change in football, with the 12 founding clubs seemingly at threat of being kicked out of other competitions as a result.

The Premier League's so-called "big six", Spanish giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and Serie A trio Juventus, Milan and Inter have broken ranks and agreed to the formation of the breakaway competition.

Sunday's uniform announcement from most of the clubs involved confirmed the Super League will be made up of 15 founding clubs – with three to be added to the initial 12 – and unconfirmed guest teams.

It will run as a midweek tournament alongside the teams' respective domestic leagues and guarantees the founding clubs a share of €3.5billion "solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic".

But, pre-empting the announcement following widespread media speculation, UEFA released a statement co-signed by the national associations of England, Spain and Italy, and those countries' respective top-flight leagues. It reiterated a threat to ban players and teams involved from competing in other competitions.

While that is a debate that will rage on for some time, with the legality of such measures unclear for the moment, it raises the possibility of a Premier League without its "big six", a LaLiga missing Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Serie A expelling Juve, Milan and Inter.

With that in mind, we looked at what those three divisions would look like in the – admittedly unlikely – event that the 12 Super League clubs are expelled and results involving them are expunged…

Premier League

Who'd have thought in 2013 when he was appointed as Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United that David Moyes' first Premier League title would come as West Ham boss?

Well, if the "big six" were expelled and their results were void, it would be the Hammers sitting at the top of the pile – and by some distance.

Moyes' men would be on 49 points from 21 matches having suffered just two defeats.

Curiously, the exclusion of the Super League clubs would seemingly harm Leicester City, as they have lost just three matches to them in 2020-21 – West Ham have been beaten seven times by "big six" opposition.

Nevertheless, Leicester would still be on course to get back in the Champions League. Leeds United (1.8) and Everton (1.6) would appear to be the favourites to join them, by virtue of their better points-per-game record than Aston Villa (1.5).

LaLiga

Fair play to Real Betis, who have already embraced a future without Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona by deleting them from the Liga table that sits on their website.

Unfortunately for Betis, that same table now has their bitter rivals Sevilla sitting pretty at the summit.

In fact, Sevilla probably shouldn't be ruled out of the real title race just yet given they are actually only six points behind leaders Atletico and still have to face Zinedine Zidane's Madrid.

In our LaLiga table excluding the "big three", Sevilla have 60 points from 26 games, giving them a 13-point lead over Villarreal.

It also highlights just how bad Los Nervionenses' record against Madrid, Barca and Atletico is, as they have taken just four points from them this term.

Rounding off the top four would be Betis in third and Real Sociedad in fourth.

Serie A

Juventus' stranglehold on Serie A looks set to end regardless of any action from UEFA and the league. Having won each of the previous nine Scudetti, the Old Lady have been dire under Andrea Pirlo for much of the season.

So, helping establish a new semi-closed competition under the guise of needing better opponents is the logical step…

While Atalanta would sit top of a Serie A without Juve, Inter and Milan, technically it's Lazio who would be on course for title success.

The Biancocelesti have played a game less than Atalanta but would only be behind them on goal difference – their points-per-game record is 2.24, slightly more than the Bergamo side's 2.15.

Napoli (2.12) and Roma (1.96) would remain in the running as well were the "big three" to be dumped out of the competition.

Scotsman David Moyes has little interest in protecting Jesse Lingard for England duty but allayed fears of an injury after he was substituted in West Ham's 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United.

Lingard has been in sensational form since joining the Hammers on loan from Manchester United, forcing his way back into the Three Lions set-up.

His goal at St James' Park on Saturday was his ninth for West Ham, already his best tally in a single Premier League season.

But seven minutes after that penalty strike, by which time Newcastle had restored their lead against the visiting side who were reduced to 10 men, Lingard went down and required treatment.

The midfielder had to be substituted, concerning supporters of both West Ham - who have come to rely on their loan star - and England.

But manager Moyes said: "I think it was just cramp. I've not had the chance to speak to the physio about it, but I don't think it was anything serious, to be honest."

Lingard had a team-high four shots against Newcastle but was less effective than in previous weeks, besides the spot-kick which looked to have completed a stunning second-half fightback.

Moyes is not worried West Ham are running Lingard into the ground ahead of Euro 2020, though. England will play Scotland in the group stage of the tournament on June 18.

"I think the one thing about Jesse is he is a really fit boy," Moyes said. "I think Jesse wants to play.

"I think I push all my players hard - I've never done anything else but push them hard - and I pushed them hard today to go out and play better and try to give ourselves a chance.

"Jesse is no different. He won't get any favoured treatment - certainly not for a Scotsman going into the Euros this year.

"Overall, we're really pleased with him. He does a lot of good things.

"He was quieter today, I have to say. I know he got us the goal, but he was a bit quieter because we just didn't play well enough playing into the forward players and around them."

Awful defensive errors had given Newcastle a 2-0 lead on Tyneside.

First, Craig Dawson - already on a booking - lunged in on Joelinton following a heavy touch. Play continued and Allan Saint-Maximin's shot was turned into his own net by Issa Diop.

Dawson was credited with an error leading to a goal but was also sent off, his first red card in 345 English league appearances.

Diop's own goal was West Ham's fourth of the season - a league high - yet their defensive woes did not end there. Five minutes later, Lukasz Fabianski dropped a routine corner for his own error leading to a goal as Joelinton tapped in.

Newcastle appeared reluctant to push for a third, though, and a Diop header - making him the second player, after team-mate Tomas Soucek, to score at either end in a game this season - gave West Ham hope 17 minutes from time.

Lingard then punished Ciaran Clark's handball from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go, before Joe Willock was introduced from the restart and quickly nodded the winner.

Moyes' Champions League-chasing side are still fourth despite the defeat, but have played a game more than Chelsea and Liverpool, one and three points behind respectively.

"It was an opportunity for us to take three points," Moyes said. "We like to talk about the Champions League - we love the sound of that - but we're realistic.

"The quality of the teams who are around us and below us have been over this course many more times than us.

"The way the players are playing is fantastic. Today we made a couple of mistakes which probably cost us the game."

Declan Rice may be looking to make a move to Manchester United from resurgent West Ham. 

The 22-year-old midfielder talked to United players during last month's international break as England won their opening three World Cup qualifiers.

The Red Devils could be in need of midfield help if Paul Pogba leaves at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY - RICE TO RED DEVILS

England international Declan Rice is interested in swapping West Ham for Manchester United, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

During the recent international break, he spoke with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about the atmosphere at the club. 

Rice is under contract with the Hammers through to 2024 but could be prised away for the right price. 

David Moyes has said Rice could net £100 million for the London club. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona have made prolific Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland their primary transfer target, according to Marca. Barca are willing to wait until the end of next season to get their man.

- Brest defender Romain Perraud has the attention of Leeds United and Lyon, according to the Daily Mail. Perraud would shore up the defence of either club while serving as a potential asset going forward; he has three goals and six assists this season.

- Goal reports Jesse Lingard is yet to decide whether he wants to make West Ham his permanent home as he continues to enjoy a stunning spell on loan from Manchester United.

- Lyon center back and Danish international Joachim Andersen, currently on loan to Fulham, is drawing interest from Tottenham and Manchester United, B.T. reports, with Chelsea, Leicester City and Crystal Palace also potential destinations.

Charles De Ketelaere may be on the move from Bruges, with Milan and Atalanta both potential landing spots, according to Calciomercato. 

Jesse Lingard has been in blistering form during his six-month loan spell at West Ham.

As a result, speculation is rife over the 28-year-old England international's future.

Lingard is contracted with parent club Manchester United for one more season.

 

TOP STORY - EUROPEAN GIANTS CIRCLE FOR LINGARD

European powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Inter are all interested in Lingard, claims ESPN.

Lingard has scored eight goals in nine games for the Hammers, who are surprisingly sitting fourth in the Premier League.

ESPN reports those clubs are monitoring Lingard's situation, with West Ham keen to sign him permanently and the player yet to declare a preference, although it is believed he wants to play  Champions League football.

 

ROUND-UP

- Serbia international Sergei Milinkovic-Savic has garnered interest from European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The midfielder is contracted with Lazio until 2024.

- Manchester United may have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho last off-season but they are set to revive their interest, says the Manchester Evening News.

- Calciomercato reports that French winger Ousmane Dembele is open to joining Juventus from Barcelona in the next transfer window.

- Tottenham are making their move to sign off-contract Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng, reports Sky Germany.

- Arsenal have joined the race to sign Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, alongside Leicester City, according to the Telegraph.

- Tuttosport says Torino's Italy international forward Andrea Belotti is being courted by Chelsea, Everton, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid.

- Fiorentina want to hire Gennaro Gattuso from Napoli as their next coach, claims Sky Sport Italia. Gattuso is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season.

Mason Greenwood emulated a feat last achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo and Jesse Lingard's astonishing purple patch continued in another enthralling weekend of Premier League action.

Greenwood came off the bench to play a big part in second-placed United's 3-1 victory at Tottenham on Sunday.

Lingard also starred in London earlier in the day, scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Leicester City to keep West Ham on course to defy the odds and seal a Champions League spot.

Leeds United shocked champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while Alexandre Lacazette brought up a half-century of goals in Arsenal's 3-0 success at rock-bottom Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at some quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches.

 

Greenwood sets high sub standard

As cameo appearances go, Greenwood's short time on the field against Spurs was right up there.

The 19-year-old replaced Marcus Rashford after 72 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the game in the balance at 1-1.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could surely not have wished for a bigger impact from the forward, who laid on a goal for Edinson Cavani before sealing all three points by finding the back of the net himself deep into stoppage time.

Greenwood became the first teenager to score and assist as a substitute for United in a Premier League match since the legendary Ronaldo did so against Portsmouth in November 2003.

Lethal Lingard outfoxes Leicester

On the subject of big impacts, Lingard has been a revelation for the Hammers since his loan move from Manchester United in January.

The England forward can do no wrong at the moment and helped himself to a first-half double in a huge victory over the Foxes, moving David Moyes' men back up to fourth.

Lingard has now scored in four consecutive games for the high-flying London club, taking his tally in the Premier League to eight.

That equals his best goalscoring return in a top-flight campaign and he has only made nine appearances. Lingard also netted eight times for his parent club in the 2017-18, but that was from 33 matches.

Manchester United kept up their extraordinary form for coming from behind as they defeated Tottenham in Sunday's big Premier League match.

Earlier, West Ham continued their push for a Champions League spot with a second straight 3-2 victory, this time over fellow top-four contenders Leicester City.

In the late match, Arsenal moved up to ninth thanks to a routine 3-0 dispatching of lowly Sheffield United.

Meanwhile, at the bottom, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin returned to boost Newcastle United to a potentially crucial 2-1 win at Burnley, and we take a look at the best facts from Sunday's games, courtesy of Opta data.

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United: Super-sub Saint-Maximin snatches vital points

Newcastle picked up their first win in eight Premier League games – since beating Southampton 3-2 at the start of February – as they came from behind to beat Burnley.

Matej Vydra's third goal in his last five league appearances, as many as he had across his previous 53 appearances in the competition beforehand, put Burnley ahead, but Saint-Maximin proved the difference after the break.

Coming on in the 57th minute alongside the returning Wilson, Saint-Maximin swiftly set up Jacob Murphy's equaliser – all three of the winger's league strikes have come away from home.

Saint-Maximin scored himself five minutes later, becoming only the fifth player to both score and assist a goal as a substitute in a Premier League match for Newcastle, and first since Rolando Aarons against Tottenham in May 2016.

In all competitions, Newcastle have failed to win any of the four matches in which neither Wilson nor Saint-Maximin have featured.

With both of them playing, Newcastle have six wins from 13 matches, while without at least one of their star attacking duo, the Magpies have registered just two victories.

West Ham 3-2 Leicester City: Lingard at the double as Hammers knock at the door

West Ham have recorded their first Premier League double over Leicester since the 1999-2000 season, after Jesse Lingard inspired them to a 3-2 victory at London Stadium.

Leicester have suffered consecutive league defeats for the first time since November, when they lost to Liverpool and Fulham, with Kelechi Iheanacho's double not enough to inspire a comeback.

Iheanacho has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season, equalling his best tally in a single campaign; the Nigerian scored 14 for Manchester City in 2015-16.

However, the damage was already done for Leicester, with Lingard's first-half double making him the first West Ham player to score in four consecutive Premier League appearances since Michail Antonio in September 2016.

In only his his ninth Premier League appearance for West Ham, Lingard reached double figures for goals and assists combined (eight goals, three assists). It is the quickest a Hammers player has ever done so, with Paul Kitson previously reaching double figures the fastest (12 games in 1997).

Jarrod Bowen scored what was ultimately the decisive goal, putting West Ham 3-0 up early in the second half at the culmination of a slick attack in which Lingard and Tomas Soucek combined.

In 2021, only Man City (16) have won more Premier League matches than West Ham (10), who have picked up 32 points from a possible 45 this calendar year (W10 D2 L3).

Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United: Greenwood closes in on Rooney record as Spurs give up another lead

Jose Mourinho is now winless in his last five home matches in all competitions against sides he has previously managed (D2 L3), having won 12 such matches in a row between 2002 and 2018.

Tottenham led in Sunday's headline fixture – Son Heung-min becoming the first player to score three or more goals against United in a single Premier League campaign since Sergio Aguero in 2014-15.

Edinson Cavani had a goal harshly disallowed after a VAR check prior to Spurs' opener, but the Red Devils hit back in the second half. Spurs have dropped 18 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, second only to Brighton (20).

Mason Greenwood proved decisive, coming on from the bench to set up Cavani and then score one himself after Fred had restored parity.

Only Wayne Rooney (15) has scored more Premier League goals for Manchester United as a teenager than Greenwood (13).

United have gained 28 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season – in the competition's history, only Newcastle in 2001-02 (34) and United themselves in 2012-13 (29) have earned more points from such positions.

Meanwhile, in English top-flight history, United's current 23-game unbeaten run away from home in the league (W15 D8) is bettered only by a 27-game run from Arsenal between April 2003 and September 2004.

Sheffield United 0-3 Arsenal: Lacazette at the double as Gunners hunt Europe

In Premier League history, only Chelsea (42) have beaten the side starting the day bottom of the table more than Arsenal, with this win the Gunners' 37th such victory (alongside Spurs).

It was a comfortable win for Mikel Arteta's team, with Sheffield United having suffered their 25th league defeat of the season, the most by a non-newly promoted side since Huddersfield Town in 2018-19 (28). 

Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last four away games in the Premier League (W2 D2), their longest such run of the season. Indeed, the Gunners have earned more victories on the road (seven) than they have at the Emirates this season (six).

Paul Heckingbottom has seen his Blades side concede 10 goals during his three Premier League games in charge, the joint-most after a manager's first three games in the competition, alongside David Moyes (2002, Everton) and Christian Gross (1997, Spurs).

Gabriel Martinelli's strike was his first Premier League goal of the season for Arsenal, and his first in 446 days since netting against Chelsea in January 2020.

It came in between Alexandre Lacazette's double. He is the sixth Frenchman to score 50 Premier League goals for a single club, with four of the six doing so for Arsenal.

England international James Maddison was one of three Leicester City stars dropped for the 3-2 Premier League defeat at West Ham on Sunday after breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Perez were absent for disciplinary reasons, with the Telegraph reporting the trio were left out by manager Brendan Rodgers for attending a party last weekend.

Speaking after the game, Rodgers said he was "bitterly disappointed" with their breach of the rules but said the players would be back in contention for the FA Cup semi-final against Southampton next weekend.

He said in a press conference: "My objective coming into Leicester City was to create a standard on and off the pitch. The standards fell way below what we'd expect and particularly at this time of the season, when we're challenging and fighting to finish off a really exciting season.

"That standard and the values we have as a club, they fell well below that. The guys that weren't involved in the squad today would have been, but as a consequence of their behaviour, they weren't.

"I could easily fine players and it's a drop in the ocean now and everything is right, but then the dynamic isn't quite right in the squad. I had to deal with that throughout the week, the players are bitterly disappointed.

"They are good boys, they knew what the consequence was, they wouldn't be involved in this game and now we draw a line under it. They will rejoin the squad, train next week and get ready for next weekend."

Leicester said in a statement: "The club has made its expectations around adherence to COVID-19 protocols abundantly clear to all its personnel.

"It is extremely disappointing, therefore, to learn of a breach that had the potential to undermine the efforts of club staff to protect the environments in which our teams train and play. Appropriate measures have been taken to prevent our team bubbles being compromised.

"We wholly expect our people to behave in a way that reflects the national effort and the sacrifices made by our communities to control the spread of the virus. Those involved have apologised for their poor judgement.

"Our response to the matter will be concluded internally."

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo?

Mbappe has been heavily linked with Real Madrid, while Ronaldo's future at Juventus is far from certain.

A possible switch to the Spanish capital could reportedly impact Ronaldo.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE OUT, RONALDO IN AT PSG?

Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo could join Paris Saint-Germain if Kylian Mbappe leaves for Real Madrid, according to Tuttosport.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid, who have been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and Inter forward Romelu Lukaku.

If Mbappe makes the move to the Santiago Bernabeu, it could send Ronald to Paris as Juve look to reduce their wage bill in Turin.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Athletic reports Harry Kane will ask to leave Tottenham if they do not qualify for next season's Champions League. The Spurs star has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Madrid.

Barcelona are eyeing Tottenham defender Davinson Sanchez, claims Mundo Deportivo. The LaLiga giants are not rumoured to be interested in Bayern Munich's Jerome Boateng, who is set to depart Bavaria at season's end.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are interested in signing Barca star Pedri, who reportedly has a release clause around £70million (€81m).

United have been warned West Ham will not accept an offer to include Jesse Lingard as part of a deal to prise Declan Rice to Old Trafford, claims The Sun. United are also keen to bring back Sam Johnstone from West Brom if David de Gea or Dean Henderson leave.

- Bild says Liverpool are entering the final stages of a deal for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Premier League rivals United have also been linked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Nobody thought they could win it."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not alone in facing a conundrum as he decides on who will play in goal for Manchester United against Tottenham.

Fantasy football players across the globe may also be wondering who to back between the sticks this weekend. Well, we might just be able to settle the debate.

As the Premier League season enters its decisive final weeks, we've got a handful of suggestions to give you the edge when it comes to your fantasy leagues, and one or two may just surprise you.

Without further ado, here are our picks for matchday 31, based on Opta data.

 

DEAN HENDERSON

Since taking over the number one spot with United while David de Gea was on parenting duties, Henderson has given little reason to suggest he should be dropped.

The England man might only have made four appearances in the top flight in 2021 but, of the 11 shots he has faced, he has saved all but one of them. That gives him a save percentage of 91, the best in the competition among keepers to play at least twice.

He could well be entrusted to keep Harry Kane and company at bay when United face Tottenham.

ANDY ROBERTSON

Even during a much more difficult season at Liverpool, Robertson continues to offer value as a defender given his undiminished attacking proclivities.

Only Aaron Cresswell (seven) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals among defenders this season than Robertson (six).

The Scotland left-back has had 80 touches in the opposition box, by far the most for a defender this term. He's an attacking threat to rely on.

 

JOHN STONES

Not only has Stones won back his place in Pep Guardiola's first-choice defence, he's even started proving a menace in the opposition box this year.

The centre-back has scored four goals in 2021, the most of any Premier League defender, having only managed one in his first 170 games in the top flight.

Given he already has eight clean sheets this year, behind only Cesar Azpilicueta (nine) among defenders, he should practically walk into fantasy teams at present.

JESSE LINGARD

He's been talked about pretty much every week since joining West Ham on loan – and for good reason.

Since his league debut for the Hammers in February, Lingard has been directly involved in nine goals (six scored, three assisted), matching Kane (seven scored, two assisted) for the most involvements of any player in the competition in that time.

West Ham face a tough test against Leicester City on Sunday, but Lingard has good recent memories of facing the Foxes: he scored the second goal when Manchester United won 2-0 at the King Power Stadium on the final day of last season.

 

RAPHINHA

Patrick Bamford has enjoyed a strong first Premier League season for Leeds United, but few would deny that Raphinha has been their standout attacking performer.

No Leeds player has created more chances (55) or provided more assists (six) than the Brazilian, who has also scored six goals of his own in 2020-21, most recently in the 2-1 win at Fulham on March 19.

If anyone can cause problems for Manchester City on Saturday, it's him.

DANNY WELBECK

Welbeck is enjoying a decent run of form for Brighton and Hove Albion, with goals in his previous two games against Newcastle United and boyhood club Manchester United.

The 30-year-old hasn't managed to score in three in a row in the Premier League since January 2014, but Everton might just be the ideal opposition for him to do just that.

Welbeck has more direct goal involvements (eight – four scored, four assisted) against the Toffees than he does against any other top-flight team. His goals have come for three different teams, too: United, Arsenal and Sunderland.

 

AYOZE PEREZ

Perez is another man with fond memories of his coming opponents.

The forward has managed three goals and three assists in his previous seven league games against West Ham, making them his most profitable opponents after Southampton.

Kelechi Iheanacho is the man in form at Leicester City, but Perez could well be a safe bet to make a decisive impact against the Hammers.

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