Any hopes of Paul Pogba remaining at Old Trafford appear to be fading. 

The Manchester United stalwart has halted contract talks with the club. 

Multiple European clubs are said to be interested in the 28-year-old. 

 

TOP STORY – POGBA ENDS MAN UTD TALKS

Paul Pogba has ended talks over a potential new contract at Manchester United amid an apparent row with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Sun reports. 

The France international will be out of contract in June and appears likely to move on. 

The Sun reports he apologised to his team-mates but did not speak to Solskjaer after being sent off 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool. 

His former club Juventus could be an option, while Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have shown interest. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona would prefer to have Jurgen Klopp take over whenever they sack Ronald Koeman, says Sport. Klopp is under contract with Liverpool through 2024. 

- Newcastle United are prepared to offer Alex Ten Hag £6million a year after taxes if he leaves Ajax for St. James' Park, reports the Mail. 

- Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in Barcelona's Spain international Sergi Roberto, says Fichajes. 

- Inter have had talks with Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby's agent over a potential move, claims Calciomercato. 

- River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is drawing interest from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Aston Villa, says Calciomercato. 

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal laid down a marker for how he wants his side to play in their dominant 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Friday.

The Gunners snapped a run of three successive defeats to Villa in the Premier League, moving up to ninth place thanks to goals from Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal were two goals ahead at the end of a first half that saw them register 14 shots to Villa's none – the first time they have managed to stop their opponents from getting a shot away before half-time in the league since May 2018 against Burnley. 

The win extends Arsenal's unbeaten run to six matches in the top flight since kicking off their campaign with three straight losses and Arteta was delighted with what he saw.

"The way we started the game and the way we continued was good," he told BBC Sport. "We attacked them really aggressively, we won every duel. We were creative, a threat. I'm proud of the team, they played really well.

"This is how we have to play. This is when we are good, when we play with real desire, real commitment and can have clear ideas of how to attack them. We are closer together as a team. Our decisions were good. We have good players."

Arsenal had an Aubameyang goal rightly ruled out and hit the crossbar through Partey's strike before the latter found a way through with his first goal for the club on his 40th appearance in all competitions.

It looked as though Arteta's side would only have that one goal to show for a dominant first half, but they were awarded a penalty just before half-time after a lengthy VAR review for a Matt Targett foul on Alexandre Lacazette. 

Aubameyang's spot-kick was saved by Emiliano Martinez, but the Gabon international beat his former team-mate from the follow-up as he scored a home league goal for the fourth game running.

Star man Smith Rowe went on to put Arsenal out of reach early in the second half, before Jacob Ramsey's late consolation, but Arteta admitted he was concerned his side's profligacy may have cost them before the second goal went in.

"That was the worry," he said. "That [Aubameyang] goal was really helpful. We deserved many more. Villa are a really good side. When they had a little bit of the ball in your half they can cause problems.

"It was really impressive what they did, especially Nuno Tavares. This was his first start. To play with courage, credit to the boy. We reviewed the Crystal Palace game, how we started and why we weren’t consistent in the game. We put it right today."

Smith Rowe pulled the string for Arsenal from midfield by playing a game-high four key passes, including the assist from a corner for Partey's opener, which he added to with a deflected strike of his own to round off a counter-attack.

"Emile was terrific," Arteta told Sky Sports. "He's scoring goals, but I feel it was more about the team today. Scoring should be a habit and he should demand that in his game as he's capable of doing it. He's developing more in other areas.

"The other night against Crystal Palace, he wasn't 100 per cent fit but he wanted to step forward with the injury he had. 

"He's changing his ways in terms of the eating habits that he had and I thought he was superb. This was an example of why we wanted to keep him and we're very happy with him."

Arsenal returned to winning ways and moved into the top half of the Premier League with a well-earned 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta's side had been held in back-to-back games but Friday's win never seemed in doubt after Thomas Partey deservedly headed them in front with his first goal for the club.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a second just before half-time from a rebound after Emiliano Martinez had saved his penalty, which was awarded after VAR intervened.

Villa substitute Jacob Ramsey pulled one back late on after Emile Smith Rowe had further extended Arsenal's lead, as the Gunners stretched their unbeaten league run to six matches and condemned their opponents to a third loss on the bounce.

 

Aubameyang had a goal rightly ruled out for an Alexandre Lacazette foul in the build-up and Partey turned a shot against the crossbar in a dominant start from Arsenal.

The hosts deservedly took the lead with 23 minutes played, when Partey got away from John McGinn and guided Smith Rowe's corner past Martinez.

Former Arsenal keeper Martinez produced a fine save to deny Bukayo Saka from a one-on-one on the half-hour mark, but he was beaten for a second time from the penalty spot right at the end of the first half.

After being asked to check the pitchside monitor, Craig Pawson adjudged Matt Targett went through the back of Lacazette to win the ball and Aubameyang fired past Martinez at the second attempt after his former team-mate kept out the initial spot-kick.

Villa squandered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 against Wolves last week, but any hopes of a comeback of their own were extinguished by a Smith Rowe strike that deflected in off Tyrone Mings.

Ramsey curled a delightful shot past Aaron Ramsdale eight minutes from time following some nice play from fellow substitute Leon Bailey, though that proved nothing more than a consolation.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey has been confirmed to be in contention to feature in the Aston Villa line-up against Arsenal on Friday, having returned to full training earlier this week.

Clarets boss Dean Smith has, however, insisted that the team will be cautious with the winger based on the fact that he was out of action for several weeks. 

Bailey, who moved to Villa Park on a transfer from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen this summer, had an impressive cameo for the club against Everton a few weeks ago, setting up one goal and scoring another.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field soon after scoring with a thigh injury.  Smith has revealed that the speedy winger has since recovered.

"Leon Bailey and Bertrand Traore have both trained over the last couple of days and both will be available for the squad down at Arsenal,” Smith said in the team’s pre-match interview.

"But we have to be aware that Bailey's had a thigh injury for four weeks so we have to assess how much of a risk we take with him,” he added.

“We are building up their fitness, they will be in the squad, but we’ll have to assess where they are. They have both been out injured for a few weeks, so they are lacking minutes.”

The injury also caused Bailey to miss his national team’s previous round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The Premier League table continues to take shape as we approach matchday nine, with Liverpool versus Manchester United the headline clash of the weekend.

Mohamed Salah, a fantasy football favourite, will look to further his nine-game scoring run as the Reds travel to Old Trafford, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping the comeback win against Atalanta inspires his side.

Chelsea, whose defence continues to provide valuable clean-sheet points for many a fantasy line-up, face strugglers Norwich City and Manchester City – another clean-sheet machine – travel to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Whether it is the Blues' regimented defence or Jurgen Klopp's shot-hungry attack, Stats Perform uses Opta-powered data to pick out seven potential fantasy stars.

EDOUARD MENDY (Chelsea v Norwich City)

Edouard Mendy was, arguably, the primary reason Chelsea collected all three points at local rivals Brentford last time out.

The goalkeeper produced six second-half saves as he left the Bees in disbelief with his various acrobatics to secure his 20th clean sheet in just 38 top-flight games.

With that many shutouts to his name, he boasts a clean-sheet ratio of 53 per cent – the highest of all keepers with 10-plus starts in Premier League history.

BEN CHILWELL (Chelsea v Norwich City)

Marcos Alonso may have been an early pick but Thomas Tuchel's wing-back roulette now seems to be favouring Ben Chilwell, who is in fine goal-scoring form.

The England left-back not only offers defensive returns, but he has also managed to score in his last three Premier League matches – having registered just two gaols in his first 26 Blues appearances in the competition.

Partnered with Mendy and against a shot-shy Norwich outfit, Chilwell is almost a certainty to provide some much-needed contributions from your backline.

JOAO CANCELO (Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City)

Joao Cancelo is the only one of Pep Guardiola's defenders to start all eight top-flight fixtures this term, after fantasy favourite Ruben Dias was surprisingly benched against Burnley.

The versatile full-back is yet to score but boasts the highest expected goals of any defender this term (1.3), while enjoying the most touches in the opposition box among the same category (22).

Only Shane Duffy (14) has attempted more shots than Cancelo (13), and the full-back should also be a shoo-in for clean-sheet bonus points, given no defender has kept more than his six shutouts this season.

MOHAMED SALAH (Manchester United v Liverpool)

By this point, if Salah is not present in your team then questions may need to be asked following his solo 'Goal of the Season' competition he has seemingly created in the last couple of games.

Since the start of March, the Egypt forward has been directly involved in the most goals, with his 18 (12 goals, six assists) two more than Leicester's Kelechi Iheanacho.

A premium but must-buy option for every fantasy outfit, Salah could wreak havoc on Sunday against a somewhat timid Red Devils defence at Old Trafford.

SON HEUNG-MIN (West Ham v Tottenham)

With an unusually out of form Harry Kane failing to deliver for Tottenham, and the majority of fantasy owners, Son Heung-Min has stepped up for Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

The South Korea international has scored four times and assisted once – those contributions worth eight points to Spurs, more than any player in the competition this campaign.

Son, up against West Ham, could provide further joy on Sunday if he is to carry Spurs seemingly single-handedly to victory once more.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal v Aston Villa)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been integral to Arsenal's early-season revival, finding the net in each of his last three top-flight games at Emirates Stadium.

In total, he has managed 42 Premier League goals at the Gunners' home ground, with only Robin van Persie firing in more (46).

Against a wounded Aston Villa defence, who shipped three late goals against Wolves in their last game, can Aubameyang continue his fine scoring run?

RAHEEM STERLING (Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City)

Again, err on the side of caution with this pick, given Guardiola's preference to rotate his wealth of playmaking riches regularly.

However, should Raheem Sterling start against Brighton – he could be an unlikely differential to source vital attacking gains in gameweek nine.

The England international has netted four times in four starts against the Seagulls, scoring a hat-trick on his last visit to the South Coast in July 2020.

Mikel Arteta has refused to rule out a new contract for Alexandre Lacazette and says he has no concerns about the striker's motivation amid uncertainty over his future.

Lacazette came off the bench to score a late equaliser in the Gunners' 2-2 Premier League draw with Crystal Palace on Monday.

The 30-year-old forward's contract expires at the end of this season and he will be able to speak to clubs outside of England about a pre-contract agreement in January.

However, Arteta insisted the Frenchman remains a key member of the squad, praising his display against Palace and leaving the door open for fresh terms to be offered.

In all competitions at Arsenal, Lacazette has scored three goals (behind only Aubameyang) and registered one assist in just 185 minutes of football, recording the best minutes-per-goal ratio at the club with 61.67.

"[I want Lacazette to] keep doing what he’s doing, he had a good impact as well against Brighton," Arteta said ahead of the Gunners' match with Aston Villa on Friday. 

"Since I've been here he’s played a lot and been important and he will continue to be important.

"I think he was able to transmit that energy [against Palace] and that was contagious for the rest of the team and for the stadium.

"He created a different atmosphere straight away with his energy, with his quality as well and the determination that he showed to change the result. [He had] that belief in himself that he could do it.

"I had no doubts about [his motivation] and if I did I would probably have decided to do something different in the summer if the motivation was just his financial future. It's not the case with Laca and he's a really important player for us.

"Anything is possible [regarding a contract extension]."

The Arsenal boss bemoaned the fact his side dropped off after going ahead instead of attempting to extend their advantage and believes that is a mentality the Gunners need to change.

"After scoring the goal and after hitting the level of performance that we were hitting in the first part of the game, we just need to make sure that we go for the second [goal] and we continue to play with the same fluidity, with the same intention and we don't start to defend something that we have because the game is really long," Arteta added.

Bukayo Saka was forced off at half-time after being kicked in the calf by Palace midfielder James McArthur and Arteta says he has not trained ahead of the upcoming Premier League fixture.

The Gunners boss believes the offending player should have been sent off instead of being shown a yellow card and does not understand why the VAR did not step in.

"We had communication with the referees and the associations to try to explain why they didn't intervene [when McArthur kicked Saka] when the explanation at the start of the season is that they would when there's an obvious error," Arteta continued. 

"They had to take action and they didn't and there are actions that determine a football match and the result. For me, it's not acceptable."

Arsenal face Villa at the Emirates Stadium on October 22 as they look to close the three-point gap between themselves and the top six.

Newcastle are making plans for the January transfer window following their Saudi ownership takeover.

The Magpies are currently 19th in the Premier League, with three points from eight games and no wins.

Newcastle have been linked with a host of top players at the start of a new era for the club.

 

TOP STORY – OZIL ON NEWCASTLE'S SHORTLIST

Newcastle have shortlisted former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil as one of their transfer targets, according to Ekrem Konur.

Ozil is currently playing in Turkey with Fenerbahce after moving from the Gunners in January.

The Magpies have made no official offer yet, but they see Ozil, along with Fenerbahce goalkeeper Altay Bayindir in their plans.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports that Argentina international Paulo Dybala is set to agree to an extension with Juventus , securing his future with the Turin club until 2026.

- Roma have reignited their interest in Aston Villa's Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi,  according to Football Insider. Villa are ready to let him go in January for £18million (€21m) if Jose Mourinho's side meet their asking price.

- Netherlands international defender Matthijs de Ligt is unhappy with his role at Juventus and his agent has held talks with Barcelona about a potential move, claims Sport.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Spain international Yeremy Pino, who turned 19 on Wednesdayis set to agree a new five-year deal with Villarreal.

- Mundo Deportivo reports that Ansu Fati is close to renewing with Barcelona, with an in-principle agreement set to tie him down until 2026.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey could return to action for English Premier League club Aston Villa against Arsenal next week after failing to return to the line-up on Saturday.

A few weeks ago, the player had a smashing impact for the Claret and Blue, coming off the bench to provide an assist for one goal before smashing the other into the roof of the net in a 3-0 win over Everton.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field after picking up an injury soon after and has not returned to the line-up since.

Bailey also missed out on the latest round of World Cup qualifiers for his country Jamaica.  Villa boss Dean Smith confirmed that the player has come up short ahead of Saturday’s encounter against Wolverhampton.

“Leon Bailey’s hasn’t ticked all the right boxes for the medical staff yet. We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the Arsenal game,” Smith said.

Aston Villa went on to lose the match 3-2 after surrendering a two-goal lead.  The Jamaicna joined the club this summer following the departure of talisman Jack Grealish who made a big-money move to Manchester City.

Arsenal spent almost £150million on new recruits during the last transfer window.

But the club are reportedly set to let Alexandre Lacazette go, leaving them short in experienced attacking options.

Manager Mikel Arteta is known as a meticulous planner and wants to be ready for Lacazette's departure.


TOP STORY – GUNNERS SET SIGHTS ON DCL AND WATKINS

Arsenal have Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins in their sights as they plan for Lacazette's exit, so say The Sun.

Lacazette is in the final year of his contract and the Gunners are unlikely to offer him a new deal, meaning he will depart either in January or at the end of the season as a free agent.

Arteta wants back-up to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and has the England forwards on the club's shortlist.

 

ROUND-UP

– Cash-strapped Barcelona have €16m to spend in the January transfer window according to Mundo Deportivo, with the publication also claiming Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling is among their top targets, potentially on loan given their financial challenges.

Robert Lewandowski appears to have had a change of heart and will renew his deal with Bayern Munich, reports Fichajes. The star striker had been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga champions.

– MilanNews.it reports that Milan are in negotiations with head coach Stefano Pioli about extending his contract following a bright start to the season.

– Man City are keeping an eye on Barcelona's 19-year-old midfielder Nico Gonzalez, according to Fichajes.

Mohamed Salah maintained his magnificent form by scoring a stunning goal and setting up another in Liverpool's thrilling 2-2 Premier League draw with Manchester City.

City twice came from behind to secure a point as all four goals were scored in a pulsating second half at Anfield on Sunday, Sadio Mane and Salah on target for the Reds, with Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne finding the back of the net for the champions.

Brentford continued their great start to life in the Premier League with a 2-1 London derby win at West Ham, while Tottenham stopped the rot with a win over Aston Villa.

Crystal Palace fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Leicester City in another entertaining game in the capital.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at the key statistics from Sunday's games.

 

Liverpool 2-2 Manchester City: No stopping sensational Salah

Salah has now scored in seven consecutive matches in a row in all competitions, matching his best scoring run for the Reds that he also achieved in April 2018.

The Egypt forward has either scored (9) or assisted (3) in eight of his nine games in all competitions for the unbeaten Liverpool this season, having a direct hand in more goals so far in 2021-22 than any other Premier League player (12).

Foden (21 years and 128 days) is the youngest player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances against Liverpool since Romelu Lukaku in November 2013 (20y 194d).

City conceded more goals on Merseyside than in their previous seven top-flight games combined beforehand (1).

Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa: Spurs end losing streak

Spurs had been smarting from three consecutive defeats in the Premier League, but they edged out Villa.

Tottenham have won 11 of their past 13 top-flight games against Villa, scoring at least two goals in each of those victories.

Harry Kane was unable to find the back of the net, though, and the England captain has not scored in any of his past six Premier League matches - his longest scoreless streak in the competition since failing to net in his first six games of the 2015-16 campaign.

Villa suffered their 72nd away Premier League defeat in London; only Newcastle (81), Everton (79) and Southampton (74) have lost more in the capital.

West Ham 1-2 Brentford: Bees provide a sting in the tail

Brentford are sitting pretty in seventh spot in their first Premier League campaign after Yoane Wissa stunned the Hammers with a last-gasp winner.

West Ham have lost four of their past seven home Premier League matches, as many as they lost in their previous 20 at London Stadium (W11 D5 L4).

Brentford's Bryan Mbeumo has scored five goals in his past seven away league matches (excluding play-offs) – he had only scored six in his first 40 on the road for the Bees.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Leicester City: Battling Palace thwart Foxes

Palace are unbeaten in the Premier League at Selhurst Park since Patrick Vieira took charge (P4 W1 D3). The Frenchman is the first Eagles manager to avoid defeat in his first four home games in the competition.

Leicester failed to win a Premier League game in which they were ahead at half-time by two or more goals for the first time since October 2003 (4-3 defeat v Wolves).

Foxes striker Jamie Vardy has scored 90 goals in the Premier League since turning 30, just three fewer than Ian Wright (93) as the player with the most goals in the competition after his 30th birthday.

Nuno Espirito Santo cut a relieved figure after seeing Tottenham end their losing streak by beating Aston Villa 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, the Portuguese coach thrilled with the team's character.

Spurs went into the match having lost three on the bounce in the top flight and another defeat would have seen them hit a 17-year low.

Unsurprisingly, Nuno's future has been called into question lately as a result of their struggles, with Spurs' performances largely underwhelming even when they have won.

Prior to the weekend, Spurs' 56 shots in the Premier League was the lowest of all clubs, yet they managed 17 against Villa, the most Tottenham have attempted in a single game this term.

Nuno will be able to rest a little easier over the international break because of this win and he was much more satisfied with the performance in general, particularly their reaction to being pegged back by Ollie Watkins' equaliser.

Asked if he was happy with Spurs' mentality, Nuno told reporters: "Definitely, yes. It's something we've improved from previous games. The reaction was really, really good.

"Definitely a better reaction. Much better. Previously we became a little bit flat and today was immediately reacting.

"After that moment we continued to create chances and I honestly believe there were more goals there for us today.

"But the production and the way we produced, the way we created was much, much better."

Son Heung-min was the key man for Spurs, the South Korea international setting up Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's opener before then playing the decisive pass for Matt Targett's own goal shortly after Watkins had levelled.

His assist for Spurs' first goal took Son on to 11 goal involvements in his last 12 home league matches, but Nuno was reluctant to shower any individual with much praise.

"All the players are very important, all the players," he continued. "Not only Sonny did a good game, overall the team did very well.

"Sonny, the way he took the team forward and the way he imbalanced them in one-on-one situations was very important, but all the team, there were a lot of good individual performances and when this happens the team plays better, it is natural, so I am pleased."

Emerson Royal was another Spurs player to catch the eye, the Brazilian right-back working tirelessly on the flank as he won 66.7 per cent of his 15 duels – a total bettered only by Harry Kane (25) among the Tottenham team – and making a match-high four interceptions.

But again, Nuno was keen to not go overboard with any praise, adding: "I think we have to be very patient with all the players. I honestly think he has to improve.

"He had a good game. He was stable, especially in the way that he controlled the width. He was really good going forward. I think he had moments when he should have decided better when he was in the box, but not only Emerson."

Nuno also confirmed his South American internationals will join up with their national teams as normal next week despite potential quarantine restrictions upon their return in England, though he expects minimal disruption to training due to the club's onside accommodation.

"I can update, they will go and they will return and they will return on different situations," Nuno said. "They will have to isolate, but we are fortunate enough to have the Lodge [Tottenham's training base] and work normally with the team."

Tottenham ended a three-match Premier League losing streak with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa, Son Heung-min playing a decisive role with two assists.

Spurs had lost their previous three league games by an aggregate scoreline of 9-1 and another defeat would have seen them reach a 17-year low, but Nuno Espirito Santo's men got the job done despite the temporary disappointment of being pegged back by Villa.

Harry Kane was unable to end his dry spell despite going close from the halfway line, meaning he has gone six league games without a goal for the first time in six years.

But Son set up Hojbjerg for the first-half opener before providing the ball that Matt Targett turned into his own net under pressure from Lucas Moura for the winner, with Ollie Watkins having equalised for the visitors.

After a lively start without threatening the Villa goal, Spurs first troubled Emiliano Martinez in the 22nd minute as Kane spotted him off his line from about 50 yards, the goalkeeper forced into a desperate save.

Martinez was helpless soon after, though.

Villa squandered possession in midfield and Spurs broke with Son, who passed across the edge of the box to Hojbjerg, the Dane placing his effort into the bottom-right corner.

Chances arrived at both ends early in the second half, but Cristian Romero made an important block to thwart Matt Targett and Son volleyed just over following fine work by Emerson Royal.

Watkins made Spurs pay for not making the most of their superiority, the striker tapping in from Targett's pass.

But Spurs got the winner four minutes later, Son cleverly beating his man before firing across goal for Lucas, whose presence forced Targett to put into his own net.

 

Trepidation has been a common feeling among Manchester City fans when it comes to the adaptation of new signings under Pep Guardiola.

That's not necessarily down to doubts over the players generally, or Guardiola, but rather how those two factors will come together.

After all, it's been noted for a while now just how common it seems to be for Guardiola's signings to perhaps underwhelm in their first season at City, only to then kick on and really make an impact in their second season.

While it's hardly an exact science, numerous players fit into that category; Riyad Mahrez, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva are certainly among them, and there's even a case to be made that Ferran Torres could qualify given he's made a solid start to 2021-22 after an up-and-down 2020-21.

Jack Grealish probably wouldn't have had too many supporters concerned, though you could argue the pressure on him to succeed straight away was far greater and that in itself might've been a burden.

Yet his transition from key man at Aston Villa to a similarly central figure has been impressively seamless.

If it ain't broken…

Much of the focus around Grealish's £100million move to City centred on where he would be deployed by Guardiola.

There were a lot of suggestions that he was actually set to be tried in more of a central position, perhaps with the idea being to make the most of his ball-carrying abilities.

While Grealish's name has seemingly been spotted in various starting positions on line-up graphics and the like, he's still unmistakably been more prominent out on the left flank – 73 per cent of his actions have been localised to the left side of the pitch in the opposition's half, up from 51 per cent at Villa last term.

Of course, at City he is in a team that spends more time on the front foot and in possession than Villa in 2020-21, so such an increase isn't exactly a surprise, but it does suggest Guardiola hasn't tried to make major changes just yet.

Instant influence

Tuesday's 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain was probably Grealish's trickiest game yet for City – as one might expect.

That's not to say he played especially poorly, as he did manage to record a couple of key passes, but generally he was frustrated. Achraf Hakimi's athleticism helped the Moroccan do a good job on Grealish, while referee Carlos del Cerro Grande was rarely sympathetic to the England international.

It wasn't a huge surprise when Guardiola opted to withdraw him with 22 minutes remaining, but despite that blip, there has been plenty to be optimistic about Grealish's settling-in period at City.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Grealish's trademark comfort on the ball has been a particular factor, and his start at City speaks to his own self-belief.

He's averaging 25 carries (defined as movements of at least five metres in possession) each game in the Premier League, more than any other player, while his total carry distance of 1,787.5 metres is second only to a man who seems to know no other skill, Adama Traore (1,844.5m).

His forays on the ball are helping to drive City forward as well, with Traore (55) and Allan Saint-Maximin (48) the only players to record more progressive carries of at least 10m. The one other City player with more than 34 is Aymeric Laporte.

Additionally, those carries have led to 11 goalscoring opportunities, with three ending in a shot by Grealish or eight leading to a key pass. Again, only five have been more effective with their end product when running with the ball.

To come into the champions' team and instantly become such an influence is an impressive feat in itself.

More than meets the eye

Of course, some might be tempted to point towards Grealish's rather modest return of two goal involvements (one goal, one assist) in six Premier League appearances this term, but that would be too reductive.

Having a solitary assist, for example, certainly doesn't tell the whole story. After all, his 2.9 chances created per 90 minutes is second only to Bruno Fernandes (3.0) in the league, while Grealish's 0.26 expected assists (xA) each game is bettered by just five players.

It's also worth pointing out his xA per 90 is greater than his assists per 90 (0.17), suggesting he's actually being let down by the finishing of his team-mates.

As for his goalscoring efforts, we all know Grealish is capable of the spectacular but his shot selection at City has seemingly been focused on ensuring maximum threat to the goalkeeper, with all but one coming from inside the box. With his shots averaging 0.12 xG as opposed to 0.09 last season, there's every reason to expect greater long-term results.

Furthermore, there is evidence to support the idea Grealish is slightly more involved in general build-up play as well, his open-play sequence involvement going up from 43.7 per 90 to 47.8 – though City do see more of the ball, so it is probably too soon to make any meaningful conclusions from that.

Nevertheless, it is another example of how Grealish has quickly become a key influencer in the City team. While those early reports of him literally playing a central role may not have quite come to fruition, he has at least in a figurative sense, with Rodri the sole City player involved in more sequences (53.8) each game than him.

It's already been a hectic period for City, given they've faced Chelsea and PSG in less than a week, and it will ramp up again with another big test in their attempts to become early runaway leaders when they face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

The following day will be exactly a year on from Grealish's devastating display in Villa's 7-2 win over the Reds, during which he had a hand in five goals (three assists, two goals), a haul that has only ever been bettered twice in a single Premier League match.

While no one will be expecting quite an astonishing performance this time, it's at least evidence of what Grealish is capable of if Liverpool cannot keep him under wraps.

Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala have both been included in Argentina's squad, as well as three Premier League players, for World Cup qualifying fixtures in October. 

Messi has been sidelined with a knee injury of late, forcing him to miss two games for Paris Saint-Germain, but could be set to feature against Manchester City in Champions League action on Tuesday. 

Argentina's captain scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Bolivia back on September 10, though he has yet to register either a goal or assist for new club PSG. 

Dybala was on target for Juventus on Sunday before having to come off in the 22nd minute of his side's 3-2 win over Sampdoria. 

The Serie A club announced on Monday that the 27-year-old will miss both the Champions League clash with Chelsea and also the derby against Torino due to injury, ruling him out of action until after the international break. 

However, Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni has included Dybala in a 30-man squad ahead of upcoming qualifiers against Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. 

Tottenham duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero have also been called up, along with Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. 

Argentina remains on the red list for countries for the United Kingdom amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with updated government rules on travel declaring any individual entering the UK from such a destination must undertake a 10-day quarantine period.

Villa are due to host Wolves on October 16 when the Premier League season resumes, while Spurs travel to Newcastle United the following day. 

Argentina squad in full:

Franco Armani (River Plate), Juan Musso (Atalanta), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) Esteban Andrada (Monterrey); Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Udinese), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla); Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Nicolas Dominguez (Bologna), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla); Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Joaquin Correa (Atletico Madrid), Julian Alarez (River Plate). 

Manchester City made something of a statement in their 1-0 win over potential title challengers Chelsea on Saturday, whereas Manchester United seemed to take another step back as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign stuttered again.

But Solskjaer is certainly not the only top-flight manager feeling the heat – Nuno Espirito Santo's honeymoon period as Tottenham boss is well and truly over, with the Portuguese now among the favourites to be the first Premier League boss sacked this season following a 3-1 defeat in the north London derby.

Without any further ado, here are some of the more curious facts and stats from across the Premier League this past weekend…

City defence putting the 'guard' in Guardiola

It may not have been the thrill ride neutrals were likely hoping for, but City's 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge was another impressive indicator of just how good Pep Guardiola's team is as a unit.

Of course, they won the Premier League only a few months ago, so saying City are "good" probably won't cut it for analysis – but what is really making people sit up and take note at the moment is how their unity and cohesion is translating into defensive solidity.

City have conceded just one goal in their six Premier League games this term, the fewest they've ever shipped at this stage of any league campaign.

Let's not forget that Chelsea had been widely praised for their own start to 2021-22, yet on Saturday they were prevented from having a single shot on target in a home league game since November 2012, which coincidentally was also against City.

But even more impressive from City's perspective was the fact Chelsea's expected goals (xG) value was just 0.2, the worst they've recorded in a home Premier League game since Opta records began in 2008-09.

While Chelsea fans will understandably be frustrated, it would seem their struggles on Saturday were more down to City being in a groove defensively.

They've only faced six shots on target this season, a record no Premier League has bettered over the first six matches in a campaign since at least 2003-04. If they keep this up, the title will surely be staying at the Etihad Stadium.

Fernandes' penalty miss not Man Utd's big issue

It was another day to forget for United on Saturday as they lost 1-0 at home to Aston Villa.

They were presented with a great opportunity to equalise in second-half stoppage time, but Bruno Fernandes sent his penalty over the crossbar.

Much of the focus afterwards was on Fernandes and his miss, though it would be unfair to pin the blame on him – after all, of the 23 spot-kicks he has taken since his United debut, he's only failed to convert two.

In the same time period, Cristiano Ronaldo – seemingly Fernandes' main penalty rival now – has taken 22 and missed four. This is not a problem that United need to dwell on much.

Instead, they'd be wise to look into their glaring tactical inefficiencies, with Solskjaer's team sorely lacking identity, cohesion and a defined playing style. Too often they are bailed out by moments of individual brilliance, which is an unsustainable approach to solely rely on in a title challenge.

Against Villa, those instances of individual excellence never arrived, despite United mustering 28 shots. That was the most efforts attempted by United without scoring in a home league game since October 2016 (38 shots in 0-0 draw with Burnley).

They have now conceded in each of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, their worst such run in 49 years, and lost three successive home matches (all competitions) for the first time since 1962.

Norwich set new benchmark for worst start

With every match that passes, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to become ever dimmer for Norwich City.

A 2-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday leaves Norwich pointless and with a -14 goal difference after six matches – that makes their start to the season the worst after six matches in Premier League history.

Only twice before had a Premier League side begun a campaign without a single point from six games, the last of which was Frank de Boer's infamous Crystal Palace team in 2017-18 – the Dutchman was sacked after the fourth match in that sequence.

Norwich have at least been a little more patient than Palace, with Daniel Farke's record of overseeing two promotions seemingly ensuring he retains some good will at the club, even if he now has the highest loss percentage (75 per cent, 33/44) of any manager to take charge of at least 20 games in the Premier League.

Most would already consider Norwich to be doomed for relegation, though perhaps there is some reason for optimism.

There have only been nine teams to start a top-flight season (prior to 2021-22) with six or more successive losses, but four of them – including Palace – have avoided relegation.

Vardy joins exclusive club

Jamie Vardy ended up having a peculiar day when Leicester City drew 2-2 with Burnley on Saturday, the former England striker scoring three of the four goals.

It was his own goal that gave Burnley an early lead, while he also got both Leicester equalisers, including one late in the day.

That was his first own goal ever in 360 appearances for Leicester, while he became the first player to net at both ends for the club in a single Premier League game.

It's happened to some of the best, though. He joins an illustrious list containing 11 others who have scored at least 100 goals but also put past their own goalkeeper, with Harry Kane, Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney among them.

On top of that, Vardy is now only one of five players in Premier League history to score at least twice at the right end and an own goal in the same game after John Barnes (Liverpool v Spurs 1995), Niall Quinn (Sunderland v Charlton Athletic 2001), Rooney (Man Utd v Stoke City 2012) and Tammy Abraham (Chelsea v Wolves 2019).

But he is still doing more than his fair share at the other end, his brace in this game taking him to eight goal involvements in his past seven league games, which is 89 per cent (8/9) of Leicester's goals in that time.

Bad omens stacking up for Nuno

After three wins from his first three Premier League games in charge, everything was looking rather rosy for Tottenham boss Nuno.

Three matches and three defeats later, some will doubt whether he'll still be in charge this time next month, let alone this time next season.

Sunday's north London derby was his 10th in charge of Spurs and the 3-1 loss made him the first manager to lose as many as four of his first 10 matches at the helm of the club since Glenn Hoddle in 2001.

Hoddle was also the last Spurs boss to conceded at least three goals in three consecutive league games in September 2003, and he was sacked after that run.

Nuno will probably make it to the next match but the last team to begin a season with three wins and then lost the next three (Everton, 1993-94) finish as low down as 17th.

His future arguably rests on getting something out of Kane, who's failed to score in five straight league games for the first time since August 2016, but things aren't looking great given Spurs' 35 open-play shots is the second fewest in the division and their expected goals (xG) total is just 3.2, only higher than three teams.

While a lack of quality chances might usually be masked by Kane's excellence, he's not bailing them out any longer – if that continues, it's difficult to see Nuno keeping his job for the long term.

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