There is a thrilling three-horse race for the Premier League title as we approach the run-in, but there is also another tussle on the cards.

The Golden Boot is up for grabs, with Erling Haaland having not quite hit the same heights as he did last season, when he broke the Premier League record for goals, with 36.

Manchester City star Haaland is, as it stands, level with his former club-mate Cole Palmer at the top of the competition’s scoring charts, with 20 goals apiece.

Palmer, who will go up against his old club in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend, moved way up in the charts after he netted four times in Chelsea’s 6-0 rout of Everton on Monday.

But with Palmer and Haaland in FA Cup action, there are plenty of other Golden Boot candidates looking to take advantage and nudge themselves to the front of the pack.

Using Opta data, we assess the numbers behind the players vying for this individual accolade.

Erling Haaland (20)

Sure, Haaland might not quite have scaled the same heights as last season, but he has still scored 20 goals in 26 league games, scoring a goal every 109 minutes on average.

However, the Norwegian has actually underperformed his expected goals (xG) of 23.7 – that 3.7 differential is actually the biggest xG underperformance of any player on this list.

What about Haaland’s expected goals on target (xGOT)? That metric can be used to measure the quality of a player’s finishing, and Haaland’s xGOT of 20.3 suggests the 23-year-old is about on track based on where he has been placing his shots.

Haaland has also chipped in with five assists, giving him an overall goal contributions tally of 25. He has created 28 goalscoring chances for team-mates across the campaign.

Of course, Haaland is a penalty box poacher – 16 of his goals have come from inside the area, while 14 of them have come with his stronger left foot.

 

Cole Palmer (20)

Palmer has stolen the show this season for Chelsea, and is arguably the Blues’ driving force behind their push for European football.

Having signed from City last summer, Palmer has made an instant impact despite only playing 27 times – he averages a goal every 103 minutes, which is better than any of the other candidates featured here.

He scored a perfect hat-trick in the first half of the demolition of Everton, before adding a fourth from the penalty spot after the break – that was Palmer’s ninth successfully converted spot-kick in the league this term.

Unlike Haaland, Palmer has overperformed his xG (15), with his non-penalty xG coming in at 7.9, while also proving his creative talents with nine assists from 53 chances created, which ranks behind only Mohamed Salah (60) of players featured here.

Those 29 goal contributions are matched by only one other Premier League player…

Ollie Watkins (19)

One goal behind Palmer and Haaland, and someone who will be looking to get ahead when Aston Villa face Bournemouth on Sunday, is England international Watkins.

A deft chip in Villa’s brilliant 2-0 win over Arsenal last time out brought up Watkins’ 19th top-flight goal of the campaign – he is now the club’s joint-leading scorer in a single season in the Premier League, matching Christian Benteke (2012-13).

 

What separates Watkins from Palmer and Haaland is his minutes per goal ratio – Watkins has netted every 147 minutes on average, which is 44 minutes worse off than Palmer and 38 than Haaland.

However, with 10 assists, the former Brentford forward leads the goal contributions charts along with Palmer. Interestingly, however, Watkins’ assists have come from an expected assists (xA) of just 3.6, suggesting he has been the benefactor of some particularly excellent finishing from his Villa team-mates.

A goal against Bournemouth on Sunday would see Watkins become just the third English player to score 20+ goals and assist 10+ goals in a 38-game season, along with Frank Lampard in 2009-10 (22 goals, 14 assists) and Harry Kane in 2020-21 (23 goals, 14 assists)

Watkins has proved to be a deadly finisher under Unai Emery, though the trick for opposing defences could be to prevent him getting space in the area to begin with, given that all 19 of his goals have come from inside the box. Obviously, that is easier said than done.

Mohamed Salah (17)

Liverpool will be hoping to bounce back from their damaging defeat to Crystal Palace last week when they take on Fulham on Sunday, and key to the Reds’ clinching success in Jurgen Klopp’s farewell tour will surely be the form of Salah.

Since sustaining an injury at the Africa Cup of Nations, Salah has not quite hit top form, but he has still netted 17 goals across 26 league appearances this term, though five of those have been penalties.

 

With an xGOT of 18.4, Salah can point to some above average goalkeeping as a reason for a small underperformance.

Creatively, Salah has been excellent, providing nine assists and crafting 60 opportunities, but the Reds will need him at his very best in the run-in.

Alexander Isak (17)

Isak was at the double in Newcastle United’s 4-0 thrashing of Tottenham last time out. He has now scored 12 goals in as many Premier League appearances at St James’ Park this season.

His opener against Spurs saw him become the fourth player to score in six consecutive Premier League home matches for Newcastle, with only Andrew Cole (eight) and Alan Shearer (15) having longer such runs, with Isak now level with Les Ferdinand’s best such run. The only other Swede to have netted as many Premier League goals in a single campaign as Isak has this term is the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 17 times for Manchester United in 2016-17.

Only Palmer has a better minutes per goal ratio than Isak (104) of the players on this list, while he has overperformed his xG by 1.1.

Isak has not provided quite as much creatively as others on this list, providing just one assist, but his 28.3 per cent shot conversion rate tops this list by some distance, with Palmer (24.4) next best.

Dominic Solanke (17)

Another player on 17 goals, and the final selection here, is Bournemouth talisman Solanke.

His 18.1 per cent shot conversion rate may short fall of the other stars on this list, but Solanke is having a fantastic season, having become Bournemouth’s top Premier League goalscorer in a single campaign, surpassing Joshua King’s tally of 16 from the 2016-17 season.

Only one of Solanke’s strikes has come from the spot, with the 26-year-old outperforming his 15.7 non-penalty xG, though his minutes per goal ratio of 167 is quite a stark drop-off from most of his Golden Boot rivals.

The Chasing Pack

Former Golden Boot winner Son Heung-min (15), Jarrod Bowen (15), Bukayo Saka (14) and Phil Foden (14) are all well in the hunt.

The fact that 10 players are within six goals of each other shows just how tight this Golden Boot race is shaping up to be, though the chasing pack are running out of time if they are to make a late push for the award.

While the Premier League title race unfolds, there is another tussle playing out at the bottom.

And this weekend, six of the teams at the wrong end of the table fight it out against each other.

On Saturday, Luton Town will hope to propel themselves out of the relegation zone by overcoming Brentford at Kenilworth Road, though the 15th-placed Bees will know that another win could all but end their worries of dropping down to the Championship.

At the same time, the two bottom clubs go head-to-head at Bramall Lane, with Sheffield United hosting Burnley. Both the Blades and the Clarets look likely to go down, though if either are to survive, then taking three points from this one is a must.

Sunday’s early game is a huge one at Goodison Park, as Everton and Nottingham Forest – both impacted by points deductions for breaches of Profit and Sustainability Rules (PSR) – face off. The Toffees are 16th, a point better off than the Tricky Trees, but Sean Dyche’s team are on a dismal run of just one win in 15 league matches.

Crystal Palace are perhaps not out of the woods just yet, though after their stunning win at Anfield last time out, the Eagles will hope to carry on the momentum when they face West Ham.

And using Opta data, we can assess the likelihood of the Premier League relegation scrap, as well as the underlying metrics behind each of these teams.

 

Let’s work from the top down.

Palace, after that shock 1-0 win over Liverpool, are now not considered to be relegation candidates by Opta’s predictive model, which gives them a 46.5 per cent chance of staying right where they are in 14th.

The Eagles are six points clear of Everton in 17th, and while not mathematically safe, Oliver Glasner’s team are certainly within touching distance.

It is worth noting, though, that according to the Opta power rankings, Palace have the most difficult run-in of all these seven teams, with the average rating of their remaining opponents coming in at 87.9. Like the Toffees and Sheffield United, Palace have six matches left to play, though they do not play any of the teams below them in that run.

Next come Brentford. The Bees have five games remaining but, with 33 points, are likely just a win away from tying up their safety, and they will be hoping that comes against Luton (as well Everton and Forest fans).

According to Opta’s model, Brentford have the second-easiest fixture list of any team in the league, with their average opponent rating of 85.1 higher only than Newcastle United’s (84.1).

The Bees do, though, face a trip to Everton after they head to Luton, so should the worst occur and they lose those matches, then Thomas Frank’s team could find themselves firmly back in danger. As it stands, Brentford’s chances of going down are a meagre 0.3 per cent.

Brentford are the second-worst expected goals underperformers in the competition this season, having scored six fewer goals than would have been anticipated based on the quality of opportunities they have created, suggesting that with better finishing, and a bit more luck, they would likely be clear of danger already.

And if that can be said for Brentford, then it can be emphatically repeated for 16th-placed Everton.

 

Even factoring in the eight points that have been taken off them this term, Everton – who were thrashed 6-0 by Chelsea on Monday – could have been out of danger had they simply come close to matching their xG. They are by far the Premier League’s biggest underperformers when it comes to that metric – Dyche’s side have scored 32 goals (which ranks 19th in the league) from an xG of 48, a whopping underperformance of 16.

Sunday’s clash with Forest kick-starts a huge week of home games for the Toffees, with a Merseyside derby against Liverpool following on April 24, before Brentford then visit Goodison Park.

With Forest, Brentford, Luton and Sheffield United among their final four fixtures, Everton should still have some confidence – they have taken seven points off those sides already this term, and a repeat of that could be enough, though a final-day away outing at Arsenal is ominous, given the Toffees have shipped nine goals in their last two visits to Emirates Stadium. Opta predicts they will stay up, but Everton do have an 8.9 per cent chance of slipping out of the top tier for the first time in over 70 years.

Below them, Forest will no doubt have been buoyed by Everton’s sorry performance at Stamford Bridge. However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s team do have a rather sizeable 29.9 per cent chance of going down, so a victory at Goodison Park could be vital.

Especially considering Forest’s next fixture comes against Manchester City, albeit it is at home, where they also face Chelsea in between away clashes with Sheffield United and Burnley.

Perhaps worrying for Forest, however, is that in their three matches against Everton, the Blades and Burnley this term, they have taken only four points. Interestingly, while Forest have shipped 58 goals – a figure which betters only the bottom three, they have been unfortunate to concede so many based on their expected goals against (xGA), which is actually the sixth best in the league at 47.4.

Then we have Luton. The Hatters have been one of the stories of the season, and despite their small budget have a brilliant chance of survival.

That being said, Opta’s predictive model does anticipate they will go down, with Rob Edwards’ side having a 54.3 per cent chance of finishing where they are in 18th, with their chances of finishing in 17th being 29.6 per cent.

Victory over Brentford, who beat them 3-1 earlier in the campaign, would see Luton move out of the bottom three, though, and with five games left, they do have what is considered a relatively easy run-in when it comes to the average rating of those teams they are going up against, at 85.4.

That being said, Luton’s defensive record this season is awful. The Hatters have shipped 70 goals from an xGA of 69.7. They will need to tighten up if they are to complete the great escape.

 

What about the bottom two?

Well, they are perhaps down and out. After visiting South Yorkshire on Saturday, Vincent Kompany’s Burnley team have to go to Old Trafford and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium either side of hosting Newcastle, and Opta’s predictive model suggests they will go down – they have just a 1.6 per cent chance of survival.

There is an even smaller chance of the Blades, who are 20th, staying up, at just 0.2 per cent.

Chris Wilder’s team are the team with the fewest goals scored in the top flight, at 30, while they have conceded 84 – the worst in the division, and while victory over the Clarets would provide a morale-boost, the Blades seemed destined for the Championship.

Florian Wirtz should follow Xabi Alonso's lead and reject interest from Europe's top clubs to stay at Bayer Leverkusen beyond this season, says former Germany international Carsten Ramelow.

Wirtz has been one of the standout performers in a remarkable campaign for Leverkusen, who are just one win away from clinching their first Bundesliga title.

The attacking midfielder has 18 goal involvements in 28 league outings this term (eight goals, 10 assists), with his latest goal coming from the penalty spot in Saturday's win over Union Berlin.  

Among all Bundesliga players, Wirtz ranks third for successful dribbles (77), fifth for chances created (70) and fourth for expected assists (9.23 xA) this season.

His performances have won him plenty of admirers, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid among those credited with an interest in the 20-year-old.

However, after seeing head coach Alonso reaffirm his commitment to Leverkusen, Ramelow, who made over 400 appearances for Die Werkself between 1995 and 2008, thinks Wirtz should follow suit. 

"For Leverkusen, he is indispensable," the 2002 World Cup finalist told Stats Perform. "The same goes for the national team, where he has found a good role. 

"There's a lot of speculation. When you're in great form, the big teams come knocking. Leverkusen hope he will continue with them for a while and move on after that. 

"In my opinion, it would be good for his development to stay in Leverkusen, because you can see if young players leave too early, it is not always good."

With Alonso refusing to jump ship, Ramelow feels Leverkusen still have plenty to offer Wirtz, saying: "To show consistent performances, you have to be where you feel happy, and I think Leverkusen is a good place currently. 

"They are so consistent. They have a lot of confidence and also a pinch of luck in the final moments to win games. That's really good. You have to look at the collective, the coach and his staff.

"But of course, Wirtz is a very young player who showed his talent many times over the last few years. He has made really good development and has lots more to come.

"Why not continue on that path for another one, two, maybe even three years and make the next step afterwards? This is what I think is the right way, but we will see what decision Wirtz takes."

Remarkably, Leverkusen are yet to lose a game in any competition this season. They have just six further games to navigate in the Bundesliga, while they will face second tier Kaiserslautern in May's DFB-Pokal final and are among the favourites to win the Europa League.

 As Leverkusen look to banish the ghosts of 2001-02 – when they finished as runners up in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League – Ramelow says all the credit lies with Alonso.

"When he arrived in Leverkusen, he was facing a few problems, which is normal. I think you have to give managers some time in this day and age," Ramelow said.

"That is what they did with him. He explained his philosophy and ideas very well to the team. The boys execute that really well. 

"The whole package is in perfect harmony. The season they have played is phenomenal. Their streak is sensational and it looks like they will do this until the end. 

"Every team has a bit of a lapse every season, but Leverkusen have been exceptional across all competitions. They can still win everything. Things are looking really good."

Anthony Edwards praised coach Chris Finch's man-management skills after dropping 51 points to help the Minnesota Timberwolves to a stirring comeback win against the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards made a blistering start to Tuesday's game at Target Center and found themselves 21 points up in the first quarter. 

That advantage was cut to 44-27 by the end of the quarter, yet it still represented Washington's franchise record for most points in a single quarter. 

However, a dominant second-half showing saw Minnesota turn the game around, with Edwards' 3 pointer giving them their first lead with just over two minutes of the third quarter remaining.

His final tally surpassed his previous best, a 49-point performance against the San Antonio Spurs in April 2022, also putting him joint-fifth among all displays from Timberwolves players.

The victory kept Minnesota above the Denver Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference, and they hold the tiebreaker ahead of the teams' huge clash at Ball Arena on Wednesday.

Speaking after the game, Edwards revealed the details of a meeting he held with Finch earlier in the week, saying: "He put me in the office two or three days ago and said, 'look, we've got this Washington game, and we need to win it'.

"'We need to come ready to play, you can't treat it like any other game'. I don't even need to talk about how big it is. Everybody knows."

The Timberwolves improved to 12-5 without All-Star forward Karl-Anthony Towns, who is nearing a return after around a month on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Finch credited his players for producing another real team performance in his absence, saying: "We needed all of them, for sure.

"The best thing about it for me was they came in the flow. Anthony kept making the right play down the stretch for the most part. He was really finding people. 

"Guys were knocking down shots, too. He was aggressive getting to the hoop. I thought he turned the game around, along with Nickeil [Alexander-Walker], in getting to the basket."

Minnesota have already clinched a top-three seed and a victory in Denver on Wednesday would leave them needing just one further win to secure top spot in the West. 

Real Madrid enter their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester City as favourites due to their counterattacking prowess, believes former City loanee Kiki Musampa.

City became European champions for the first time last season as they won the treble, and they are seen by many as strong favourites to retain their crown this campaign.

However, Pep Guardiola's men have been handed a tough draw in the last eight, facing 14-time winners Madrid with a semi-final tie against Arsenal or Bayern Munich on the line.

It will be the third successive season in which City and Madrid have faced off in the Champions League's knockout stages following semi-final ties in 2021-22 and 2022-23, with the Santiago Bernabeu playing host to the first leg on Tuesday.

While Madrid have only won one of their last six Champions League matches against City (one draw, four defeats), Musampa – who spent the 2005-06 season on loan at the Etihad from Atletico Madrid – does not feel Los Blancos can ever be described as underdogs.

Musampa, an ambassador for ANF Sports, said: "I'm very excited. It's a very complicated and difficult game because Madrid are always Madrid. 

"I have experienced them in Spain and no matter how their form is or what type of players they have, they will always be the favourites and you need to be at your best, all of you, to beat Madrid in these games."

City's average possession share of 71.26 per cent is comfortably the highest in the Champions League proper this season, with Madrid ranking sixth by that metric with 57.37 per cent. 

However, Madrid's 31 direct attacks are at least 11 more than any other team has recorded in this edition of the competition (Bayern have 20), and Musampa feels their dynamism may give them the edge.

"One team will want to play, that's City, and Madrid are comfortable with dropping back and trying to counterattack," he said. 

"So, it's interesting from a tactical point of view. What will City do? We have seen a lot of times that they are vulnerable when the opponent is counterattacking them. 

"Nowadays, with Liverpool, I think Madrid are one of the best counterattacking teams. So, I think in the end it's going to be a very difficult game for City, but I hope they go through."

Tyrese Maxey described himself as "blessed" after joining an exclusive club with his 52-point display against the San Antonio Spurs in Sunday's 133-126 overtime win for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Maxey put up his third 50-point performance of the season as the Sixers boosted their hopes of avoiding the Play-In Tournament with a fifth straight win.

He joined Joel Embiid, Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in franchise history to reach a half-century three times in a single year, with Chamberlain doing so in an NBA-record 45 games in 1961-62.

Asked about the significance of that achievement after the game, Maxey said: "For my little self to be mentioned with those guys, hey, I'm happy, I'm blessed.

"I didn't want to let us lose. I just wanted to do whatever I could, exert all my energy. I could live with the result after that. 

"No matter how tired, no matter how sore, I just wanted to go out there and try to help us win."

Maxey's performance ensured Philadelphia overcame the absence of Embiid, who was rested after playing three straight games upon his return from knee surgery.

Maxey also put up 50 points against the Indiana Pacers in November and 51 versus the Utah Jazz in February. With Embiid also having three 50-point games this year, the Sixers are the first team in NBA history to have multiple players achieve the feat three times in a single campaign. 

Philadelphia forward Nicolas Batum said of Maxey's showing: "We needed that tonight. Tyrese has been amazing for us all year long. 

"We could easily have been like, 'this is not our night', they're playing good, second night of a back-to-back. But no, he didn't give up. He led the way for us. He kept fighting for us."

Philadelphia outscored San Antonio 30-20 through the final nine minutes of regulation, with Maxey's layup tying it up at 111 to force overtime, with the Sixers ultimately prevailing in a second additional period.

Maxey's heroics meant Victor Wembanyama finished on the losing side despite putting up 33 points, 18 rebounds and six assists, the rookie also posting a career-high five 3-pointers.

Batum was pleased to get one over on Wembanyama now, suggesting few teams will be able to stop him once he gains more experience. 

"He's a special man, he's special," Batum said of the number one draft pick. "It was a good call from [Spurs coach Gregg] Popovich when he said this may be his worst season. 

"That is the scariest part, this may be the worst Wemby we are going to see in 15 years! I'm glad I won this one tonight."

Gianluca Mancini headed home the winning goal in the Derby della Capitale as Roma defeated rivals Lazio 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico.

In a typically tight affair, Mancini’s 42nd-minute header proved the difference between the two sides as Daniele De Rossi won his first Rome derby as a coach.

Daichi Kamada did have the ball in the net for Lazio but the Japanese international was in an offside position from Matteo Guendouzi’s defence-splitting pass.

While Lazio failed to bounce back from the Coppa Italia semi-final defeat to Juventus, Roma consolidated their grip on fifth in Serie A.

De Rossi’s side started the game on the front foot, winning a corner inside the first minute, with Leandro Paredes’s drive an early warning for Lazio.

Lazio captain Ciro Immobile had an early sight of goal for the Biancocelesti when they won the ball high up the pitch and Immobile struck a right footed effort into the side netting.

At the other end, a Roma free-kick landed at an unmarked Diego Llorente, who saw two half-volleys blocked, the second of which bounced just wide of a post.

Lorenzo Pellegrini, back in the Roma team after suspension, then tested goalkeeper Christos Mandas with a long-range effort, and the Giallorossi spurned another opportunity when Zeki Celik headed over from close range.

Roma's goal did arrive before half-time, though – Mancini powering a header beyond the despairing reach of Christos Mandas.

After the break, Pellegrini narrowly curled wide a free kick before Romelu Lukaku surged forward and played in Stephan El Shaarawy, who smashed the woodwork.  

Lukaku almost tapped in from Bryan Cristante’s centre, before Kamada saw what he thought was an equaliser disallowed for offside.

Tensions heated up between both sets of players with an altercation between Guendouzi and Paulo Dybala sparking the fire, but Roma ultimately kept their discipline to hold off late Lazio pressure and further their hopes of Champions League qualification.

De Rossi's Roma resurgence continues

Roma stretched their unbeaten run to seven league matches to keep their Champions League ambitions alive.

Roma dominated possession throughout the match and midfielder Pellegrini was a welcome return to the midfield, though striker Lukaku was rarely involved with just eight touches in the first half.

The Giallorossi did manage their breakthrough after neat intricate play earned a corner and Dybala’s delivery was met by Mancini, for his fourth league goal of the season.

They could not build on the dominant first half after the break, showing a different side of their game to limit Lazio to few clear-cut chances.

Lazio's European hopes fading

Lazio’s four-match unbeaten streak against their rivals in the 183rd edition of this derby came to an end.

They have now lost six of their last seven matches in all competitions and sit four points off European qualification.

They offered little in the first half, with no shots on target as Roma dominated proceedings and they have still not won a Serie A match when behind at the break.

Coach Igor Tudor made three changes at half-time, including taking off Immobile, and Lazio managed to push Roma deeper into their own half, but Mile Svilar remained largely untested. 

The Championship returns from the international break with, much like the Premier League, a three-horse tussle at the top.

Leicester City, having led the standings for the majority of the campaign, now find themselves in second place behind Leeds United, albeit with a game in hand on the in-form Whites.

The Foxes are grappling with off-pitch issues, and a return to form when they face Bristol City on Friday would go far to restoring some momentum.

Leeds, on the other hand, have won 12 of their last 13 Championship fixtures, dropping points just once in that run.

As for third-placed Ipswich Town, they are hot on the heels of their automatic-promotion rivals.

All of these sides have built their fine campaigns on some brilliant attacking play, scoring 224 goals between them. Using Opta data, we can look at just how these attacks stack up.

 

Ipswich Town

Of these three teams, Ipswich have scored the most goals, with Kieran McKenna's side netting 80 across their 38 matches - an average of 2.1 per game. That makes the Tractor Boys the leading scorers in the league, while they are also the leading team for non-penalty goals (78).

Ipswich have, however, greatly outperformed their expected goals (xG) of 64.2, while also greatly exceeding their non-penalty xG (61.8). When it comes to those metrics, they rank fourth and second in the second tier respectively. Their expected goals on target (xGOT) figure of 69.5 shows their finishing has been above the standard of what would be anticipated from the quality of chances, and they rank third in the league in this aspect.

Unsurprisingly, Ipswich lead the way for shots (590), while they rank second for shots on target (214). They are fourth in the Championship for shot conversion rate (13.5 per cent), big chances (94) and big chances scored (42). Their big-chance conversion rate, of 44.68, stands as the sixth best in the competition.

But how do Ipswich create their chances? Well, they aren't afraid to send crosses into the area, with their 114 successful open-play crosses ranking second. However, it's Ipswich's high press that really stands out.

They have forced 309 high turnovers (winning the ball back within 40 yards of the opponent's goal), at an average of 8.1 per match. They lead the league for shot-ending high turnovers, with 65, albeit they are tied for fifth when it comes to scoring goals from such scenarios (seven). McKenna's team are certainly able to go direct, too, given they rank down at 10th for sequences of 10+ passes. 

 

Don't bet against Ipswich if they go behind, meanwhile. They have gained 28 points from a losing position, topping the Championship.

And when they get the lead, Ipswich typically hold onto it, with only two teams dropping fewer points from a winning position.

Leicester City

Ranking behind Ipswich for goals scored are Leicester, with 74 to their name. The Foxes are also second in the Championship for xG (68) and for xGOT (73.5).

It is worth noting that Leicester have been more reliant on penalties, having scored 12 goals from the spot. 

Leicester have mustered the fifth-highest tally of shots (525), while their 189 shots on target ranks fourth in the division.

But in which metrics do Leicester top the Championship? Enzo Maresca's team lead the way for shot conversion (14.1 per cent), big chances (111) and big chances scored (50).

Leicester are hardly a pressing machine off the ball, having averaged just 7.4 high turnovers per game, but what the Foxes lack in quantity they make up for in quality – they have scored a joint league-leading eight goals from those situations.

Maresca's men do not particularly look to cross at a high volume, though when they do put deliveries in, they are often on point. Leicester are 19th out of 24 teams for total open-play crosses, yet they rank third for successful open-play deliveries.

If teams go ahead against Leicester, however, then the Foxes are not the best at coming from behind, having gained only 10 points from such positions this term.

Leeds United

So, what about Leeds, the league leaders heading into the Easter weekend?

Leeds have accumulated more xG than any other Championship team, at 68.4, while 62.9 of that total has come from non-penalty shots. However, they rank down in fourth for both goals (70) and non-penalty goals (65). Interestingly, the Whites' xGOT is 69.2, so they have been finishing slightly above what would be expected from chances they have crafted.

 

Daniel Farke's team are the Championship leaders for high turnovers, with 319, while their average of 11 passes allowed per defensive action (PPDA), which measures how often a team presses their opponent, is the second highest in the competition.

Leeds have been exceptionally effective from this high press, too. They have had the third-highest shots (61) and, along with Leicester, lead the Championship for goal-ending high turnovers, with eight.

The Whites may only have got 201 of their 586 shots on target, with an 11.9 per cent shot conversion rate, but they are excellent at creating quality chances, ranking second for big chances (102), which are defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would be reasonably expected to score.

Should Leeds take a lead, then they are excellent at holding onto it. They have dropped the fewest points (four) of any Championship team from winning positions, while they rank second for points gained from losing positions (21).

Unlike Leicester or Ipswich, there is no focus at all on crossing, or quality crossing, from Leeds. Farke's side actually rank 23rd for both open-play crosses and successful open-play deliveries. Perhaps forcing them wide will be the only way their opponents can keep them out in the run-in?

France got back to winning ways as they came from behind to beat Chile 3-2 at Stade Velodrome.

Les Bleus endured a poor start for the second time in as many games, falling behind after just six minutes in Marseille through Marcelino Nunez's finish.

However, they turned the contest on its head before half-time with Youssouf Fofana equalising and Randal Kolo Muani heading them in front.

Olivier Giroud ultimately got the winner for Didier Deschamps' side who, despite Dario Osorio's late strike, completed their Euro 2024 preparations with a ninth victory in 12 games since their 2022 World Cup final defeat to Argentina.

France, who conceded after just seven seconds against Germany on Saturday, were punished for another slow start as a neat one-two down the right flank enabled Mauricio Isla to pull the ball back for Nunez to drive home.

Despite losing Jonathan Clauss and Eduardo Camavinga to injury during the first half, Les Bleus responded well and levelled in the 19th minute when Kylian Mbappe teed up Fofana, who found the net from 20 yards via a slight Igor Lichnovsky deflection.

Mbappe went close himself before the hosts turned matters around when Kolo Muani rose to head home Theo Hernandez’s deep cross.

However, France survived scares either side of the break with Eduardo Vargas twice failing to hit the target from inside the six-yard box, heading against the post with his second attempt.

The hosts capitalised on their good fortune to go 3-1 up in the 72nd minute. Kolo Muani turned provider with a wonderful jinking run into the area from the right wing, before pulling the ball back for Giroud to sweep in his record-extending 57th international goal.

Chile threatened a dramatic fightback when Osorio drilled home eight minutes from time, and it took William Saliba's superb last-ditch sliding challenge to deny Ben Brereton Diaz an equaliser right at the death.

Mbappe moves level with Henry to lead France revival 

Deschamps' team had not suffered successive defeats since June 2015, though it looked a possibility when they fell behind in the sixth minute.

But the revival began when Mbappe set up Fofana, who continued his fine scoring streak with his third international goal in four appearances.

Although Mbappe did not find the net himself, he still managed to achieve yet another milestone courtesy of his 27th assist for Les Blues, moving him joint-second with Thierry Henry on France's all-time list, he now has Antoine Griezmann's record of 30 in sight.

The skipper could well surpass that at Euro 2024, where France will be among the favourites when they launch their quest for a third title against Austria in Group D on June 17.

Chile's rapid start proves academic on Sanchez's record-breaking night

Having begun Ricardo Gareca's reign with a morale-boosting 3-0 victory over the in-form Albania, Chile built on that momentum with their fast start this time around.

Nunez's strike after just five minutes and 12 seconds was their quickest goal since Alexis Sanchez found the net one second earlier against Germany in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Speaking of Sanchez, the Inter forward enjoyed a momentous night, as he surpassed Gary Medel to become Chile's most-capped player.

One of three players to feature in his nation's last meeting with France in August 2011 – along with Claudio Bravo and Mauricio Isla – it was quite fitting that his landmark 162nd appearance came at the home of Marseille, for whom he scored 18 goals in 44 games last season.

Chile now switch focus to their forthcoming Copa America campaign, which begins against Gareca's former employers Peru on June 22.

Khadija Shaw became Manchester City’s all-time leading goalscorer for Manchester City Women as Gareth Taylor’s side ran out 3-1 winners over Manchester United Women in Saturday's derby.

Shaw netted her 68th goal in just 81 appearances for the club early in the second half to help ease the Citizens to their 11th straight league win, taking them top of the WSL.

Jessica Park's first-half double had put the hosts in control at the Etihad Stadium, as she took advantage of slack United defending.

An own goal from Kerstin Casparij gave United hope in the latter stages, but the Red Devils' comeback attempt proved fruitless.

City weathered United's early pressure well in a cagey start, with Khiara Keating making two vital saves to deny Nikita Parris and Lucia Garcia before the hosts found their rhythm.

Their 37th-minute opener was Park's first-ever goal in the WSL – a composed finish that she slotted into the bottom-right corner.

Park then found the same spot with a close-range volley to double City’s lead on the stroke of half-time.

It could have been 3-0 at the break, but Shaw was denied her record-breaking goal by the offside flag.

The Jamaican did take the next opportunity that fell to her feet, just 35 seconds after the restart.

Having latched onto Park’s throughball, the 27-year-old curled a low finish around Mary Earps and into the far post, bringing up her 17th goal of the WSL season.

Hannah Blundell, who was perhaps fortunate to stay on the pitch having escaped a second booking for a foul on Shaw in the first half, orchestrated the visitors' consolation after City failed to clear their lines, with her cross deflecting off Casparij and out of Keating's reach at the near post.

It could have set up a nervy finish, but City got over the line with the minimum of fuss.

Shaw spearheading City's title charge

Heading into the weekend, City had gone toe-to-toe with Chelsea in the title race this season, with both sides having identical winning records, and Emma Hayes' team only sitting top due to their superior goal difference, but with the Blues not in action until Sunday, Taylor's team took the advantage.

Key to their sustained pressure at the top has been the form of Shaw, who now tops City's all-time scoring chart as well as leading the race for the Golden Boot.

Georgia Stanway held City's record before her, with 67 goals in 186 appearances between 2015 and 2022, but Shaw has surpassed that haul in 105 fewer outings.

Shaw had chances to double her tally, with a header shortly before the hour and then two great opportunities following United's goal, but she had to settle for one.

United's Champions League hopes slip away

United have struggled to hit the heights of last season, which saw them finish second after taking the title race to the final day, as well as reaching the FA Cup final, which they also lost, going down to Chelsea.

This defeat surely means United will not be playing in the Champions League next season, as they remain six points adrift of Arsenal in third with just five games remaining.

United's away form has caused them problems this year, and they are winless in four on the road for just the second time in their history, having last gone on such a run between November 2019 and February 2020.

D'Angelo Russell earned the plaudits of coach Darvin Ham after he tied Nick Van Exel's franchise record for 3s in a single season for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Russell went 6-for-10 from the 3-point line in a 136-105 demolition job of the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

The 28-year-old finish with 27 points and 10 assists as the Lakers bounced back from successive defeats.

Russell has now shot 183 3-pointers this season, tying Van Exel's all-time single-season Lakers record, which was set in 1994-95. To get there, Russell had to surpass the late Kobe Bryant, who sunk 180 3s in the 2005-06 campaign.

It left Ham to laud the star guard, with the Lakers coach saying: "He has a green room. Not a green light [to shoot]. A green room.

"His prowess from the 3-point line, you know, it's really, really elite. And we need every bit of it."

Russell added: "It's really cool, honestly, just to know that, to get credit for it.

"It's just really cool. I said I don't want to underdo it, understate it, overdo it. I just feel like it's really cool to just be a part of something like that.

"I think I did something like that in Brooklyn, as well. Just to get credit for your game and what you work through and showcase it every night."

Indeed, Russell set the Nets' record for 3s in a season, with 234 in the 2018-19 campaign.

Russell's teammate Anthony Davis looks forward to a new franchise record being set when the Lakers face the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.

"He's able to get going and fill up the stat sheet with his scoring, and it's a big thing for him, big thing for us as a team," Davis said Russell.

"Obviously, there's been a lot going on around D-Lo, and just to be able to do that and us embrace him and he sees that, feels the love, that's good for him."

Harry Kane's efforts for Bayern Munich will be worthy of the Ballon d'Or should the England captain break the Bundesliga goalscoring record, so says David James.

A week on from becoming the first player to score four hat-tricks in a debut Bundesliga season, Kane netted his 31st league goal of the campaign in Bayern's 5-2 win over Darmstadt on Saturday, seeing him surpass Uwe Seeler (from 1963-64) for the most goals in his first term in Germany's top tier.

Kane has now netted 37 goals in 35 appearances across all competitions for Bayern since his switch from Tottenham, outperforming his expected goals (xG) of 30.19.

Of players in Europe's big five leagues, only Kylian Mbappe has scored more goals (38) than Kane, whose tally of 47 goal contributions leads the way across the continent.

With eight league games remaining, Kane is well on course to better Robert Lewandowski's Bundesliga record of 41 goals, which was set during Bayern's all-conquering 2020-21 campaign, and James feels that is evidence enough of the former Spurs star's world-class ability.

"The fact that he could break the Bundesliga record for goals this year, I think, is a testament to how good Harry Kane is," he told Stats Perform.

"He could be the man who scored the most goals for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, which would be better than Lewandowski, who people think should have won a Ballon d'Or for the amount of goals he scored in the Bundesliga."

Kane's form this season has been one of the few positives for Bayern, as for the first time since Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund denied them the Bundesliga in 2012, they look set to finish second, 10 points behind Xabi Alonso's high-flying Bayer Leverkusen.

James, though, feels there is still more to come from Kane, who will go up against his old rivals Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals.

"I think he's doing a marvellous job," James added.

"I think he understands completely how to play football, and that might sound a bit funny, but he knows what to do to be better."

There was some concern for Kane, however, who sustained an ankle injury in Saturday's win over Darmstadt, though the 30-year-old will join up with the England squad this week.

Stuttgart extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to eight games as their usual outlets delivered the goods in a 3-0 defeat of Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Where Deniz Undav faltered in front of goal, he made up for it with two assists for Enzo Millot and Serhou Guirassy, before Jamie Leweling emerged from the bench to put the contest to bed midway through the second half.

Millot's goal 16 minutes in was his third shot of the game, and capped a beautiful team move that involved Chris Fuhrich and Guirassy, before Undav slid in the midfielder for a simple open-bodied finish into the bottom-left corner.

Undav the provider notched his second assist after more fine Stuttgart interplay practically on the half-time whistle. It was a nonchalant ball that unlocked the Hoffenheim defence and Guirassy smashed home for his fifth goal in as many games, and his 22nd Bundesliga goal in just 20 appearances this term.

For Undav, the pair of assists took him up to 20 direct goal involvements in just 21 games – an addition to the evidence pile as to why Germany have called the Brighton loanee up for their upcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and France.

The visitors went three-up thanks to Leweling. There was to be no assist for Undav this time, as the substitute slammed home brilliantly from a corner.

As the triplet of goals tumbled through, it rang true to Stuttgart's opening prowess – they still have not lost in the last 16 games where they have opened the scoring.

It was a sorry performance from European hopefuls Hoffenheim, who mustered only one shot on target, while Stuttgart had 11 going the other way.

David James still thinks Liverpool or Manchester City will win the Premier League title, despite Sunday's draw between the pair leaving Arsenal at the summit.

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola's final Premier League meeting ended in a frantic 1-1 draw at Anfield, with Arsenal, who beat Brentford 2-1 on Saturday, remaining clear of the Reds on goal difference at the top of the table.

Liverpool accumulated 2.7 expected goals (xG) to City's 1.56, but shared the spoils as Alexis Mac Allister's 50th-minute penalty cancelled out John Stones' inventive set-piece opener.

Though Mikel Arteta's Gunners sit narrowly ahead of Liverpool and a point clear of third-placed City with 10 league games remaining, James believes Sunday's draw does not favour Arsenal in the title race.

"I think this is the worst result for Arsenal, even though they ended the weekend top of the table," former City and Liverpool goalkeeper James told Stats Perform.

"If Arsenal slip up, both City and Liverpool are in exactly the right place to take advantage. Whereas, had one team won, then [Arsenal] would only essentially be looking at one team in a preferential position, even if they were in second place.

"I still see this as a Liverpool and Man City race. I think Arsenal, of course, are there numerically, but I think when it comes to the crunch, these two are the best teams in the country, and one of these will be crowned Premier League champions."

Liverpool had 19 shots on Sunday, their most in a Premier League clash against City, with 12 of those coming in the second half – a record high Guardiola's side have faced after half-time in a league match since May 2021 (12 against Brighton).

Though Liverpool may lament Luis Diaz missing a gilt-edged chance in the second period, as well as a contentious decision right at the end when Mac Allister was caught by Jeremy Doku inside City's area, James insists the Reds should take encouragement from their showing against last season's treble winners.

"[Liverpool] could have beaten the best team in the world with the better chances in the game," the 53-cap England international continued.

"That would give me confidence in the short term, of not getting the points, but that you can play the best team in the world and should beat them, that's a nice feeling."

James lauded "a fantastic game of football" but suggested an inexperienced and injury-hit Liverpool may have lacked a clinical edge, owing to their young side.

Indeed, with Conor Bradley (20), Harvey Elliott (20) and Jarell Quansah (21) all starting, it was the first time Liverpool had named three players aged 21 or under in a Premier League starting XI against City since March 2015, when Raheem Sterling, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic all featured.

James, who played 214 times for the Reds, added: "I don't want to say that nobody is allowed to miss chances…

"But the crucial moments in the game, I think in the first half in particular, Liverpool were getting into very good positions and were not making what I thought were the right decisions at the right time.

"[That was] either the correct pass or the shot, it was a touch that allowed City to get back into the box. Things like this, I think are understandable.

"Bradley, who has been fantastic since he came into the side, was culpable a couple of times, I think that might be just experience.

"He's playing in his biggest match ever, in front of the Kop, and there was a moment where you think just put your foot through it. You're playing against a fantastic team and there are a lot of influences on it."

Whether a point dropped for Liverpool or one gained for City, James believes both sides will look back on the showdown as decisive come the end of the campaign.

He concluded: "Ultimately though, it won't be until the end of the season. If the league is decided or lost by a point by either of these teams, they'll look at if they could have got that extra two points and won the title."

Anthony Davis brushed off injury concerns and confidently declared the Los Angeles Lakers are "hitting our stride" after his record-breaking NBA showing against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Lakers man Davis was the star of the show as Los Angeles powered from a fourth-quarter tie to win 120-109 and secure their ninth victory in 13 games.

Davis finished with 27 points, 25 rebounds, five assists, seven steals and three blocks on Sunday, a feat that has never previously been matched.

No other player in NBA history has tallied 25-plus points, 25-plus rebounds, five-plus assists and five-plus steals in a single game.

"I think we're hitting our stride right now," Davis said after a roaring finish to a week that also saw the Lakers defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Milwaukee Bucks.

"We're just trying to keep going, keep pushing, knowing that just like last year, all we got to do is get in. We feel like it's tough for anybody to beat us in a seven-game series.

"We like our chances against anybody at that point."

Davis was a doubt for the Minnesota meeting after reporting left-shoulder soreness from a collision with the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo on Friday.

"I felt it at times out there," added Davis, who was in constant dialogue with the Lakers' medical staff whenever not on the court. "I still kind of feel it."

Such was the magnitude of Davis' dominance, LeBron James returning from a sore left ankle to put up 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds was somewhat ignored.

A taming of the Timberwolves, alongside a piece of NBA history, also marked a birthday treat for Davis, who turns 31 on Monday.

"It was before my birthday, so I guess we can [count it]," he continued. "It's actually the first time I'm able to celebrate my birthday in my entire career at home, on my actual birthday."

The Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference with 16 games remaining, but are just two behind sixth-placed Phoenix Suns, as Austin Reeves insisted Los Angeles will back themselves.

"I think if you go ask anybody in our locker room, we're super confident with what we have," Reeves said.

"Regardless of where we stand, if we go put our best foot forward and play the basketball that we know we can play."

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