Inter have a chance to become the first Italian side to ever beat Barcelona twice in a Champions League campaign when they meet at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Club Brugge are on the brink of their first trip to the knockout stages as they play Atletico Madrid.

Mohamed Salah can make history with one more Champions League goal for Liverpool on their trip to Scotland to take on Rangers, and Bayern Munich are one win away from their own record as they try to win an 11th consecutive group stage match.

Tottenham will look to break out of a scoring slump when they host Eintracht Frankfurt, while Porto and Bayer Leverkusen are battling it out in Group B.

With plenty of important matchups, Stats Perform has parsed through the data to preview the eight fixtures on Wednesday and shine a light on some of the more interesting angles.

Barcelona v Inter

Inter's 1-0 victory against Barcelona at San Siro last week was their first triumph over the Spanish giants since April 2010, with Barca collecting four wins and one draw since.

With another win, Inter can become the first Italian side to ever beat Barcelona twice in the same Champions League campaign, although they have lost all five of their away fixtures at Camp Nou – their most losses at any away venue in the competition.

In fact, Camp Nou has not been a happy hunting ground for Italian sides in general, with a 3-0 victory for Juventus in 2020 marking the country's only win at the venue in the last 17 tries (L13 D3).

It is not just Barcelona who have given Inter trouble on away days, with their last away win in the Champions League against a Spanish opponent coming back in 2004 against Valencia.

Working in Inter's favour is road warrior Lautaro Martinez, who has scored six of his seven Champions League goals away from home.

Tottenham v Eintracht Frankfurt

After banking four consecutive wins against Borussia Dortmund between 2017 and 2019, Tottenham are now winless in their past five Champions League fixtures against German sides (D1 L4).

On the other side, Eintracht have enjoyed success when travelling to England in European competition, winning both of their previous two attempts – against Arsenal in 2019, and West Ham in April this year – in the Europa League.

However, this is a clear step up from the Europa League, and after winning their first ever Champions League away game last month (1-0 at Marseille), Frankfurt will be looking to become the only German team to ever win their first two away fixtures in the competition.

The 0-0 draw between these two sides in Frankfurt a week ago was the second consecutive Champions League game where Tottenham have failed to score a goal – also losing 2-0 to Sporting. The last time they went three games in the competition without scoring was back in 2011.

Striker Harry Kane will be key, as he boasts the best minutes-per-goal figure – 20 goals in 27 appearances for a goal every 118 minutes – of any English player with at least 10 goals in the Champions League.

Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge

Not many, if any, would have tipped Club Brugge to top Group B ahead of Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Porto, but they have defeated all three to lead with a perfect nine points and zero goals conceded.

One more win for Brugge would see them progress past the group stage for the first time, in their 10th Champions League campaign. By defeating Atletico, they would become the first Belgian side since Anderlecht in 2000 to win four games in a row in the competition.

Brugge are also one goal away from matching their highest goal tally from a single Champions League campaign, with eight goals in 2020-21.

Surprisingly, Atletico have struggled at home in the Champions League, snapping a streak of eight games without a win (D5 L3) by defeating Porto this season.

Brugge's Ferran Jutgla has registered a goal and an assist in each of his past two Champions League games, and if he can manage to do it again, he will join Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane as the only players since 2003-04 to have a goal and an assist in three straight games in the competition.

Bayer Leverkusen v Porto

With Brugge seemingly cruising, Porto, Leverkusen and Atletico are likely fighting it out for one automatic qualification spot, and Leverkusen will feel good about their chances as Porto are winless in their last seven away games against German teams (D2 L5).

After defeating Atletico at home on the second matchday, Leverkusen will be looking to win consecutive Champions League home fixtures in the same campaign for the first time since 2014.

Patrick Schick is Leverkusen's focal point going forward, attempting more than twice as many shots (12) as any of his team-mates this Champions League season, but he is yet to score, having missed a penalty against Porto in last week's 2-0 loss.

Porto's Mehdi Taremi assisted both goals in the reverse fixture, marking the first time he has been involved in multiple goals in a Champions League game, while the sending-off of Jeremie Frimpong gave Leverkusen their 11th red card in their history in the competition, trailing only Bayern Munich (21) amongst German sides.

Other fixtures:

Napoli v Ajax

5 – Napoli beat Ajax 6-1 in the reverse fixture at Johan Cruyff Arena, with the five-goal margin marking the heaviest defeat Ajax have ever suffered in European competition.

10 – With one more win, Napoli would become the fourth Italian club to ever mount a 10-game unbeaten streak in the Champions League, with six wins and three draws from their past nine fixtures.

Rangers v Liverpool

5 – Rangers have failed to score in their past five European games against English competition, including a 2-0 loss against Liverpool last week.

35 – Mohamed Salah has scored 35 Champions League goals for Liverpool – only Didier Droga (36 for Chelsea) and Sergio Aguero (36 for Manchester City) have scored more for a single Premier League club in the competition.

Sporting v Marseille

9 – Marseille have lost their past nine away fixtures in the Champions League, and with one more loss they would become the sixth team to ever post 10 consecutive away defeats in the competition, and the first from France.

18 – It has been 18 years since Sporting lost a home fixture against a French side in European competition, with that loss coming against Sochaux in the 2004 UEFA Cup.

Viktoria Plzen v Bayern Munich

31 – Bayern Munich are undefeated in their past 31 Champions League group stage matches (28W 3D) – which is an all-time high – and with one more win they will set the new record for consecutive group stage wins with 11.

32 – Viktoria Plzen have faced 32 shots on target in their first three games of this Champions League campaign – more than any other side. In the reverse fixture, Bayern had 13 shots on target.

Jurgen Klopp hopes Mohamed Salah is close to "exploding" into a rich vein of goalscoring form, but believes comparisons with Manchester City talisman Erling Haaland are unfair.

Salah shared the Premier League's Golden Boot with Son Heung-min after scoring 23 goals in the competition last term, but has only found the net twice in seven outings this season.

The Egyptian's diminishing returns have mirrored those of his team, with Liverpool sitting 13 points behind City – with a game in hand – ahead of Sunday's trip to Arsenal.

Haaland's arrival has taken City to new heights this campaign, with the Norwegian hitting 15 goals in his first nine Premier League games, and Klopp believes any comparisons with Salah would be unhelpful.

"With Mo, I hope it's like us, we are close to exploding," Klopp said. "Whose season was it yet? From our side, nobody.

"Mo is like this, even when his goalscoring numbers aren't crazy, often he's involved, it's just the problem that if you don't score around that, nobody appreciates that.

"Nobody in the world can cope with the [Erling] Haaland situation, it's crazy what he's doing. 

"He's an exceptional player in an exceptional team and I don't think we should compare anyone with that at the moment.

"Mo wants to score goals desperately, 100 per cent, that will never change. Call him in 20 years, it will be the same."

Liverpool approach their trip to the Emirates Stadium having recorded two draws and one defeat in their first three away outings of the Premier League campaign.

Not since 2010-11, under Roy Hodgson, have Liverpool failed to win any of their first four away league games in a single season.

Meanwhile, Saturday represented the seventh anniversary of Klopp's appointment at Liverpool, and the German left each of his two previous posts – at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund – before bringing up an eighth year at the helm.

Klopp, however, insisted Liverpool's struggles have nothing in common with those of his former clubs, saying: "The situation in the clubs was very different. 

"A seven-year spell was not planned or because I lost energy or these things. I was manager at Mainz and after three years, we got promoted to the Bundesliga then three years later we got relegated.

"We tried one more year and the club needed a change. Players left us for the Bundesliga, so they needed a fresh start, definitely.

"I was full of energy. I went directly to Dortmund and it was all fine. [It was] seven years and it was just a situation that players constantly got bought by other clubs.

"It was a really hard job to do, instead of developing a team, constantly making two steps back. It was really intense and really exhausting.  

"I can understand that I left after seven years, and now we are in a difficult situation, but, if you think twice about it, you realise the situation is completely different.

"Being here for seven years is intense, no doubt about it. But it's nice as well, I got so many things back. If there's one club that has a chance to go through it together, it's us."

Kylian Mbappe has been named football's highest earner in the world by Forbes magazine, overtaking Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi and Ronaldo had locked out the top spot since 2014, but Mbappe's new deal with Paris Saint-Germain has seen him overtake his PSG team-mate and the Manchester United star.

The France international had been linked with a move to Real Madrid as his previous deal in Paris was set to expire at the end of last season, only for him to sensationally agree to a three-year extension in May to stay at his hometown club.

Forbes' highest earners in football list also takes into account a player's earnings off the field, and Mbappe is not short of significant sponsorship deals, while also starting his own production company in the last year, Zebra Valley.

Messi and Ronaldo are in second and third place as they continue to earn plenty in the autumn years of their careers, while a third PSG player, Neymar, completes the top four.

As well as Ronaldo, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (fifth) and Manchester City duo Erling Haaland (sixth) and Kevin De Bruyne (10th) are the three other Premier League representatives on the list.

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski (seventh) and Madrid's Eden Hazard (eighth) are the only two players from LaLiga.

Former Barca star Andres Iniesta is in ninth, despite leaving Europe to play in Japan in 2018.

2022 Forbes highest earners in football top 10 list

1. Kylian Mbappe - PSG: $128m (£115.2m/€130.9m)

2. Lionel Messi - PSG: $120m (£108.0m/€122.7m)

3. Cristiano Ronaldo - Man Utd: $100m (£90.0m/€102.3m)

4. Neymar - PSG: $87m (£78.3m/€88.9m)

5. Mohamed Salah - Liverpool: $53m (£47.7m/€54.2m)

6. Erling Haaland - Man City: $39m (£35.1m/€39.9m)

7. Robert Lewandowski - Barcelona: $35m (£31.5m/€35.8m)

8. Eden Hazard - Real Madrid: $31m (£27.9m/€31.7m)

9. Andres Iniesta - Vissel Kobe: $30m (£27.0m/€30.7m)

10. Kevin De Bruyne - Man City: $29m (£26.1m/€29.7m)

Liverpool made it back-to-back Champions League wins after a commanding 2-0 victory over Rangers, with Trent Alexander-Arnold scoring the pick of the goals.

Jurgen Klopp's side have been somewhat off the pace this season but soon took the lead at Anfield after an excellent Alexander-Arnold free-kick past Allan McGregor.

Mohamed Salah doubled the lead with a penalty after the interval, with the insipid Rangers thankful to McGregor for preventing Liverpool from inflicting further damage.

Victory kept the Reds a point behind Group A leaders Napoli, who thrashed Ajax in Tuesday's other game, while Rangers remain bottom after yet another disappointing showing in Europe - the Scottish side conceding nine goals in three group stage matches thus far.

McGregor denied a fizzing Darwin Nunez effort after just two minutes, but the Rangers goalkeeper had no chance five minutes later when Alexander-Arnold expertly curled a free-kick into the top-left corner.

Salah saw his whipped attempt tipped away by McGregor, who then produced two smart saves in quick succession against Nunez as Liverpool dominated the first half.

Salah coolly converted a 53rd-minute penalty down the middle after Leon King felled Luis Diaz, while McGregor continued his fine individual performance by parrying over Diogo Jota's ferocious shot minutes later.

Joel Matip headed narrowly wide from a glorious opportunity before Konstantinos Tsimikas cleared off the line after Rabbi Matondo slotted past Alisson in the closing stages, as Liverpool returned to winning ways after a 3-3 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend.

What does it mean? Reds stay on the tails of Napoli

Despite a 4-1 humbling at the in-form Napoli on matchday one, Liverpool remain within touching distance of Luciano Spalletti's side at the halfway point in the Champions League group stage.

Ajax are just two points behind Jurgen Klopp's side, but the Reds will feel confident of another victory to bolster their knockout credentials when they return to Rangers next week.

By contrast, Rangers are without a win or a goal in their first three games in Europe this season – a stark difference from their victorious run to the Europa League final last season.

Awesome Alexander-Arnold

Much has been made of Alexander-Arnold's defensive capabilities, but the right-back quietened his critics with his inch-perfect opener; his sixth free-kick goal since the start of the 2016-17 season in all competitions.

No Liverpool player can match his tally in that period, while the strike made Alexander-Arnold the first Reds man to score from direct free-kick in the Champions League since Steven Gerrard against Basel in 2014.

Goal-shy Rangers' problems continue

Rangers have won just of eight European away games in England across all competitions, with that sole victory coming in a 2-1 triumph over Leeds United in 1992.

The Scottish giants may have been beaten Europa League finalists last term, but they failed to score once again here, marking the first time Rangers have not found the net in their opening three Champions League group games.

What's next?

Liverpool return to domestic action away at Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday, while Rangers host St. Mirren in the Scottish Premiership a day prior.

Reigning Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Senegal and continental powerhouse Ivory Coast have been drawn together for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The biennial tournament is due to be held in Algeria in January and February 2023, with 18 teams competing across five groups. The participants must consist only of players playing in their domestic national league competitions.

Group B looms as the toughest with Senegal drawn alongside two-time AFCON winners Ivory Coast, as well as DR Congo and Uganda. DR Congo missed out on 2022 World Cup qualification in the playoffs to Morocco.

Hosts Algeria are in Group A with 2014 winners Libya, Ethiopia and Mozambique, while Morocco, who have lifted the past two African Nations Championship titles, are in Group C with Ghana, Sudan and Madagascar.

Mali, Angola and Mauritania are in Group D and Cameroon, Congo and Niger make up Group E.

Egypt, who lost last year's AFCON final to Senegal, along with 2022 World Cup participants Tunisia did not enter, while Nigeria failed to qualify.

Emile Heskey has dismissed Liverpool's title chances because he fears they will be unable to keep pace with "relentless" Manchester City.

The Premier League returns this weekend, with City already flying high and on the coat-tails of early leaders Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola's City team are undefeated with five wins and two draws so far, plus a league-high goal difference of plus 17, six better than any other side.

By contrast, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have won only two of six games to date, struggling to match the high standards they set when pushing City all the way to the final day in last season's championship.

Former Reds striker Heskey declared Liverpool are "probably not" in this season's title race, telling Stats Perform: "I think their main focus is top four now because Champions League is a must.

"I think City are relentless. Give them an inch, they'll take a mile. They know how to exploit things.

"They might be 1-0 down, but you know that they're going to come back. And this is the relentlessness that I think Liverpool had a couple of seasons ago, and they're trying to get back now.

"I don't think it's going to be a particularly bad season getting into the top four, I think it is still massive."

Heskey said "everyone knows" losing Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich amounted to "a huge miss" for Liverpool, with the sale having gone through in late June, ending a six-year Anfield stay for the Senegalese forward.

Former England international Heskey rates Luis Diaz and is hopeful Mohamed Salah will roar back to Golden Boot form, having made a somewhat underwhelming start to the campaign, with two goals and two assists in six league games.

"The thing with Mo, is we are so used to it," Heskey said of the Egyptian's prolific scoring. "But when it wasn't Mo, we had another person that could take up that mantle.

"And if you haven't got that other person to take up that mantle, who will get you the goals that Mo used to as well, you can then start pointing back at Mo and saying, 'Well, he's not doing this, he's not doing that'.

"But the pressures come with that and he understands that, and he's able to get on with that and deal with it. He's a fantastic player.

"I think just give him the ball and let him go and enjoy himself again. When you saw Mo Salah smiling, that's when you know that you've got something good. Even when he's missing chances and he's smiling, you know that he's on form."

Liverpool face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, their first domestic game in four weeks, after two postponements in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II's death were followed by the international break.

Darwin Nunez has yet to show his peak Benfica form in a Liverpool shirt since switching from the Portuguese giants in the close season, but Heskey suspects the talent is there for the Uruguayan striker to become a "phenomenal" Premier League performer.

As was the case with a pair of Arsenal greats, Heskey feels Nunez could come good after a settling-in period.

Heskey said: "He's still a young player and one thing we've got to understand is, these players coming from abroad who are coming and adapting, not all of them adapt straight away.

"It's a bit of an anomaly for the ones who just come in and just fit straight in.

"You need to give them time. You've got to remember Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry didn't just fit in and click straight away, and we're talking about Premier League greats. So give him the opportunity, and give them the time to settle in. I know we don't have time, but give them time to settle in and he will be a phenomenal player."

Darwin Nunez will "score a lot of goals and show his talent" despite a tough start to his Liverpool career, says ex-Reds midfielder Mohamed Sissoko.

Striker signing Nunez, who scored on his Premier League debut against Fulham, has failed to add to his tally following a three-match ban for a red card against Crystal Palace in August.

But Sissoko – a Liverpool player for three years under Rafael Benitez – is confident the Uruguay forward simply needs time to adapt.

"It's not easy to play in the Premier League. It's a big difference between the Portuguese league and the Premier League," Sissoko told Stats Perform.

"If Liverpool spent a lot of money for this player, it's because he has quality. I'm sure he's going to score a lot of goals and show his talent, because he has talent."

Liverpool are down in eighth place in the Premier League after a disappointing start to the season in which they dropped points against Fulham, Palace, Manchester United and Everton.

And Nunez is not the only player to have struggled, with fellow forward Mohamed Salah criticised in scoring only twice in six league matches.

But Sissoko feels Salah's team-mates are as much to blame, adding: "It depends on the team also. When you play well, when you score, you make lots of good things, it depends on the team, not one player.

"The team has to play well, and after Mo Salah is going to show his talent."

With a tough run of fixtures ahead and with only two clean sheets so far, Liverpool will also need to improve defensively if they are to climb the table. 

When asked about Liverpool's back line and recent scrutiny of Virgil van Dijk, Sissoko said: "He's still one of the best defenders in Europe.

"[Just] because he's not playing well in one game or three games, you can't say he's a poor player. He has quality.

"He's captain of the Netherlands national team, he plays for Liverpool, and he's shown everyone he's a good player. He's a leader also. 

"Sometimes in football, [things] happen. Sometimes you play well, sometimes you play not good, but I'm sure after the international break all the team is going to win and [take] Liverpool higher."

Todd Boehly's suggestion for the creation of a Premier League 'All-Star' game attracted plenty of ridicule, but he certainly can't be accused of a lack of vision or creativity.

The new Chelsea co-owner – and chairman and interim sporting director – was speaking at a conference on Tuesday when he proposed the Premier League 'Americanised' (or should that be 'Americanized'?) itself a bit.

A relegation play-off tournament between the bottom four teams was one idea; but the other, which attracted most of the headlines, was for a North v South 'All-Star' game, pointing out Major League Baseball (MLB) in his native United States made $200million from such an event this year.

A potential Premier League 'All-Stars' game was the talk of football media on Tuesday, so at Stats Perform we decided to have a look at who might line up for the North and South.

It was decided the north-south cut-off point would see Nottingham Forest qualify for the North, ensuring each All-Stars team had 10 clubs to select from.

First up, we have unrestricted squads, so essentially the very best teams possible; then, we have squads that are limited to three players from each club and every single Premier League must have at least a single player selected. So, without any further ado, let's see who made the cut…

NORTH ALL-STARS (unrestricted)

4-3-3: Ederson (Manchester City); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool); Rodri (Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Phil Foden (Manchester City); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Erling Haaland (Manchester City), Luis Diaz (Liverpool).

SUBS: Alisson (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Joao Cancelo (Manchester City), Raphael Varane (Manchester United), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Fabinho (Liverpool), Casemiro (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

You knew the starting XI was going to look like that even before reading, didn't you? Manchester City and Liverpool obviously dominated the first team here, but it feels difficult to argue with almost any selection here.

The goalkeeper choice was probably the toughest, but only because Ederson and Alisson are both so strong and simultaneously significantly better than any other eligible shot stoppers in terms of their all-round game – Ederson ultimately got the nod owing to 13 more clean sheets over the past three-and-a-bit years, but either could've got the gig.

Similarly in defence, many of the North's options pick themselves. The centre-backs, Van Dijk and Dias, have each won the Premier League Player of the Season award in the past four years, while Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have at least 12 most assists than any other defender since the start of the 2019-20 season.

While the defence had a distinctively Liverpool look to it, City dominate the midfield because… well, they tend to dominate the midfield. Rodri provides the control and defensive protection, while Foden and De Bruyne can wreak havoc going forward and towards the flanks.

Salah and Haaland were obvious picks in attack. The Egyptian has been involved in 96 goals (66 scored, 30 assisted) since the start of the 2019-20 season, more than anyone else, while Haaland is arguably the most in-form striker in world football, having already netted 12 times in seven games for City.

Luis Diaz was perhaps the most uncertain one, but he's quickly become a key figure at Liverpool. His ability to cut inside or head for the byline makes him an unpredictable asset, and he's something of a double threat in terms of goals and creativity.

Cristiano Ronaldo's appearance on the bench owes much to his solid goal-scoring form last season.

SOUTHERN ALL-STARS (unrestricted)

4-2-3-1: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham); Reece James (Chelsea), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal); Declan Rice (West Ham), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea); Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Son Heung-min (Tottenham); Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal).

SUBS: Edouard Mendy (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marc Cucurella (Chelsea), Jorginho (Chelsea), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Martin Odegaard (Arsenal), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

This team has it all. A World Cup-winning goalkeeper, a defence with an ideal blend of youth and experience, a combative midfield and four world-class attackers.

Lloris gets the nod in net. He's been one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the league since his arrival from Lyon 10 years ago, and based on Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) conceded metric, Lloris has prevented 3.8 goals since the start of the 2020-21 season, significantly better than his South All-Stars back-up, Chelsea's Edouard Mendy (-3.8).

Chelsea star James is the right-back, with his 16 goal contributions (six goals, 10 assists) since the start of last season topping the charts for a defender. Koulibaly and Romero are a formidable centre-back pairing, while Zinchenko has four Premier League titles to his name from his time at Manchester City.

James and Zinchenko are brilliant attacking full-backs, but the defence will need screening, and that is where Kante and Rice come into their own. Both super ball-winners, Kante's relentless energy will be complemented by Rice's ability on the ball, as he has demonstrated at West Ham.

That midfield protection will be needed, with a four-pronged attack ready to lay waste to the North's defence.

Sterling might not have made a flying start at Chelsea but is the best pick on the right wing, with Son – who shared the league's golden boot award last season – on the opposite wing. Kane will play a slightly deeper role, behind Jesus, who has had more touches in the opposition box (66), attempted more dribbles (34), more dribbles in the box (8) and won more fouls (21) than any other player in the Premier League this season.

NORTHERN ALL-STARS (restricted)

4-2-3-1: Jordan Pickford (Jordan Pickford); Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Vigil van Dijk (Liverpool), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Andrew Robertson (Liverpool); Bruno Guimaraes (Newcastle United), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Pedro Neto (Wolves); Erling Haaland (Manchester City).

SUBS: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Diego Carlos (Aston Villa), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Renan Lodi (Nottingham Forest), James Maddison (Leicester City), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Jack Harrison (Leeds United), Antony Gordon (Everton), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).

Our self-imposed restrictions of no more than three players from a given team gives the North All-Stars a distinctly different feel – nevertheless, Van Dijk, Dias, Robertson, De Bruyne, Salah and Haaland retain their places, for obvious reasons.

Probably the biggest casualty is Alexander-Arnold, but the North benefits from having another excellent forward-thinking option at right-back in Trippier, while Jordan Pickford starts between the posts – David de Gea was another option here, but the England international is better with his feet.

Bruno Guimaraes comes into the midfield, offering a valuable combination of bite and craft, while Fernandes will take up the number 10 position with De Bruyne dropping a little deeper – this shouldn't stifle the team's creativity too much given the Belgian is the only player with more chances created (239) than Fernandes (224) since the latter's Premier League debut.

The other new face in attack is Pedro Neto. Perhaps a wildcard choice, but the Portugal international is an exciting winger with lots of pace and trickery. While Salah will cut in off the opposite flank, Neto looks to get crosses into the box, and that could be an effective route to goal knowing the predatory instincts Haaland has.

Again, Ronaldo is held back in reserve.

SOUTHERN ALL-STARS (restricted)

4-3-3: Robert Sanchez (Brighton and Hove Albion); Reece James (Chelsea), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace), Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal); James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Declan Rice (West Ham), Mason Mount (Chelsea); Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Son Heung-min (Tottenham).

SUBS: Neto (Bournemouth), Ben Mee (Brentford), Tariq Lamptey (Brighton and Hove Albion), Joao Palhinha (Fulham), Lucas Paqueta (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford).

Robert Sanchez has been a standout performer for Brighton under the now Chelsea boss Graham Potter, and he replaces Lloris now the restrictions have come into play. He has kept 24 league clean sheets since making his debut in November 2020, which trails only four other goalkeepers.

James, Romero and Zinchenko all keep their places in defence, though Koulibaly does not. He makes way for Joachim Andersen, who has been excellent since signing for Crystal Palace in 2021.

We have switched to a midfield three for this side, with Rice staying in the team but playing a deeper, anchoring role. Alongside him are two new faces in the form of England team-mates Ward-Prowse and Mount. Both provide energy and creativity in abundance.

Ward-Prowse's set-piece quality – no midfielder has scored more goals or created more chances from set plays since the start of last season as the Southampton captain – is a huge threat, while Mount has contributed to 21 league goals since the beginning of 2021-22.

Jesus is the unlucky striker to drop out of the starting XI, though he is on the bench, with Sterling, Kane and Son leading the line.

Joel Matip was the Liverpool hero as his thumping late header handed the Reds a much-needed 2-1 win over Ajax at Anfield on Tuesday.

The defender secured three priceless Champions League points with his 89th-minute heroics, a huge relief for boss Jurgen Klopp after last week's 4-1 humbling by Napoli.

Mohamed Salah earlier ended a seven-game goal drought in the competition to nudge Liverpool ahead, but Ajax were level before the half-hour mark as Mohammed Kudus capped a 26-pass spell of possession.

Ajax went close through Daley Blind late on, but Matip was more precise as his header crossed the line despite Dusan Tadic's desperate attempts to keep it out. 

The hosts edged ahead in the 18th minute as Alisson's kick reached Luis Diaz, who found Diogo Jota. From a central position, Jota fed the eager Salah, who lashed past Remko Pasveer and into the bottom-right corner.

Diaz and Jota went close as Liverpool threatened to add to their opener, but the Reds were caught out by a rapid Ajax break down the left, which culminated with Kudus' sublime finish into the top-left corner. 

Pasveer saved well from Virgil van Dijk's header, and then denied Trent Alexander-Arnold twice in quick succession before the interval.

Both Van Dijk and Matip then headed over the crossbar from set-pieces as Liverpool kept up the pressure after the break, but Blind almost stunned Anfield from Tadic's right-wing cross when he nodded a foot wide of the right-hand post. 

Liverpool Substitute Darwin Nunez shot wide with seven minutes remaining, but Matip came good with time running out, rising to meet Tsimikas' corner and power the ball towards goal.

While Tadic nodded away, the former Southampton man was was a foot behind the line when doing so, and the relief inside Anfield was obvious as the goal was awarded.

As the old adage goes, form is temporary, class is permanent.

It can happen to the best. Harry Kane, for example, scored just once in his first 13 Premier League games for Tottenham last season, before netting 16 in his next 24 outings once he had his mojo back.

Going under the radar slightly given their results did not particularly suffer as they hunted down an unprecedented quadruple, but opposite to Kane, Mohamed Salah's outstanding goalscoring form in the first half of the season for Liverpool regressed after the turn of the year.

Salah scored 20 non-penalty goals in 26 games in all competitions before heading to the Africa Cup of Nations, where his Egypt team suffered an agonising defeat on penalties to Sadio Mane's Senegal in the final.

On his return, Salah scored just five non-penalty goals in 25 outings. The assumption was that the 30-year-old needed a break, and he began the new campaign with a penalty against Manchester City in the 3-1 Community Shield victory and scored the equaliser at Fulham in an opening day 2-2 draw.

However, he has failed to score in three home games against Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Newcastle United, with his only other goal so far being a consolation in the 2-1 defeat at Manchester United.

That is not to say Salah is necessarily out of form (three goals in six outings is hardly bad so early in the season) but when he has set such high standards, seeing Liverpool have to so often rely on goals from elsewhere just feels a bit... strange.

Ahead of the Merseyside derby on Saturday, Stats Perform has taken a look at why Salah might not be producing the numbers we so often associate with him in front of goal. And in fact, playing against Everton at Goodison Park could be just the tonic.

Three of Salah's four Premier League goals for Liverpool against Everton have come at the home of the Toffees, with only Michael Owen (four) having scored more away goals for the Reds against their local rivals in the competition.

Salah's next goal in the Premier League will see him overtake Steven Gerrard's haul of 120 for the club.

It is frankly remarkable the goal has not already arrived, with Salah somehow unable to score in Liverpool's win against Bournemouth last weekend, even though almost everyone else did as Jurgen Klopp's men ran out 9-0 victors at Anfield.

He had chances, incredibly missing from close range after excellent build-up down the left in the first half, before controlling a lofted Fabinho pass in the second and firing over the bar.

In the much more difficult 2-1 win against Newcastle on Wednesday, Salah was relatively anonymous in front of goal, having just two shots, with neither on target.

Is this bad form though, or is Salah just being asked to fill a different role by Klopp?

The sale of Mane to Bayern Munich always felt like it was going to have a significant impact, with the Senegalese attacker such a vital part of their forward line in recent years.

Luis Diaz's January arrival looked to be setting the table for the next evolution of the attack, with Mane playing down the middle after the Colombia international came in, but the signing of striker Darwin Nunez at the end of the season seemed to signal a slightly more drastic change.

What would it mean for Salah? Well, so far it appears to have had an impact on his role, even with Nunez missing for the last three games through suspension after getting sent off on his home debut against Palace.

Last season, Salah averaged 56 touches per 90 minutes in the Premier League. So far this season he has averaged just 48, seemingly indicating fewer moves are going through him.

More noticeably, although the season is still very young, he is taking fewer shots than usual. Last season he was taking 4.5 shots per 90 in the league, which so far this campaign is down to just 2.8.

You might think that could be due to being more selective in his shots, but that also does not appear to be the case, with his shooting accuracy down at 33.3 per cent from 59.4 last season.

It is not all numbers going down though, as Salah appears to be on a mission to act as chief creator, having already crafted 21 chances from open play for team-mates in his five Premier League games, already more than a third as many as the 62 he created in 35 league games last campaign.

He made eight key passes in the draw with Palace, four at United and six against Newcastle, more than any other Liverpool player in each game, suggesting Salah is preparing himself for life alongside Nunez, who gobbled up chances at Benfica last season.

The 23-year-old had a shooting accuracy percentage of 62.3 per cent in the Primeira Liga in 2021-22, and a shot conversion rate of 30.6 per cent, compared to Salah's conversion rate of 22.8 per cent in a season in which he still scored 23 Premier League goals.

This could mean that, while not exactly reverting back to being the winger he was at Roma when playing with Edin Dzeko, Salah's job in the team may be evolving from main goal-getter to someone who can either score or create in equal measure, making Liverpool a little less predictable.

In his final season with Roma in 2016-17 before moving to Merseyside, he averaged 2.9 shots per game and created 2.5 chances from open play, not entirely dissimilar to the numbers he has put up in the early stages of the new season.

The plan with the presence of Nunez is presumably to cause one of two things, either lead to the Uruguayan making use of the space left by defenders all rushing to stop Salah, or allow the Egyptian more room than usual as opposition players are forced to keep an eye on his new team-mate.

You will never extinguish Salah's thirst for goals. Breaking scoring records is what he lives for, but as he said recently in an interview with Sky Sports: "I never say before the season [my individual goals]. But the collective one is the Premier League and Champions League. It has to be. That was my target last season and I go again until I win both again."

Whatever it takes to win more silverware at Liverpool, Salah will do it, and don't be surprised if that starts with a return to form against winless Everton.

After all, class is permanent.

Luis Diaz does not believe Liverpool's start to the Premier League season has been "problematic", but accepted the stumbling Reds must improve quickly. 

Liverpool have failed to win any of their opening three league games for the first time since Brendan Rodgers' first season at the helm in 2012-13, having fallen to a 2-1 defeat at Manchester United on Monday.

Goals from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford dealt the Reds their first Premier League loss of 2022, which followed back-to-back draws with Fulham and Crystal Palace.

Liverpool have now conceded the opening goal in seven successive Premier League games for the first time in their history, while a number of injuries to key players have led to calls for Jurgen Klopp to dip into the transfer market.

While Diaz recognises the need for rapid improvements, he was keen to avoid overstating Liverpool's troubles when speaking to Sky Sports.

"It's been a bit of a difficult start," he said. "It's not quite the outset we wanted for the season. We're a club that goes out to win three points from every game we play.

"I wouldn't say it's problematic for the players or for the manager, but certainly we all know we need to do better."

Reflecting on Monday's defeat at Old Trafford, the Colombia winger added: "We were fully aware of what kind of rivalry exists between the clubs and we knew we had a big task ahead of us. It didn't go our way on the day.

"We know now we have to just do our job and train hard, rest hard and look forward to the next game, when we can hopefully accumulate some points and get a proper start to the season."

Liverpool have now lost four games against United in all competitions under Klopp, with each coming against a different Red Devils boss; Louis van Gaal in 2017, Jose Mourinho in 2018, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2021 and Erik ten Hag last time out.

Although there were few positives for Liverpool to take from the loss, Mohamed Salah's late consolation made him Liverpool's all-time top scorer against United with 10 goals, and Diaz described the Egypt star in glowing terms. 

"It's stupendous for me, being able to share my position in the team with Mo," he added. 

"I've seen him over many years on television at so many tournaments and I'd like to say I'm proud of myself, having reached this position where I can share with him these experiences, to wear the same shirt and be a team-mate of his. 

"It's really something special. Every day, playing alongside players like him, it helps you to improve, not just in a footballing sense as a player but also as a person.

"He's a great guy and there's a very special connection between him and me, and between all of us, in fact."

Liverpool welcome Bournemouth to Anfield looking for their first win of the Premier League season on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah has "a year to prove" himself worthy of the new bumper deal handed to him by Liverpool, believes former Netherlands international Nigel de Jong.

The Egypt international put an end to long-running speculation about his future in July by signing a fresh three-year contract to take him through to 2025 at Anfield.

With Sadio Mane having departed for Bayern Munich, the move represented a major part of Liverpool's off-season transfer business to keep one of the key figures of the Jurgen Klopp era on Merseyside.

But a slow start to the season for Liverpool has seen Salah among others come in for criticism, with the forwatd's second goal of the new Premier League campaign on Monday against Manchester United not enough to stave off a 2-1 defeat for the Reds.

With just two points from their first three games, Liverpool are already arguably facing an uphill battle in the title race with Manchester City, and now De Jong has opined that Salah is on limited time to justify the faith shown in him.

"If I was the sporting director and I'd just extended the contract of probably the best player in my squad, I'll give you a year to prove yourself," he told beIN SPORTS.

"Are you worth another [three] years? You need to produce the same numbers, especially on the wages he's on.

"I think it's really important for Salah, and also for Liverpool, to find a way to be successful together in order to strive for him to stay at Liverpool for a long time. If not, they have to make a decision as well.

"I've said it many times over the past couple of years: Mane is the soul of the team. He is a complete player in his energy, in producing numbers, in the way he strides forward.

"Of course, I'm not saying Salah isn't a great player, but he's staggering when it comes down to the numbers."

Manchester United earned a deserved 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford to kickstart the Erik ten Hag era and leave their rivals winless after three Premier League games.

Ten Hag elected to drop Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire following successive losses to begin the campaign, a decision that was rewarded by a much-improved display.

An incisive move culminated in Sancho calmly slotting past Alisson after 16 minutes as Liverpool conceded first in a club-record seventh consecutive Premier League game.

Marcus Rashford's goal early in the second half gave United breathing space prior to Mohamed Salah's header nine minutes from time, which proved a mere consolation.

The hosts' first-half display was in complete contrast to their 4-0 loss at Brentford, with Anthony Elanga – preferred to Ronaldo – striking the post early on with just Alisson to beat.

United were ahead soon after when Sancho collected Elanga's pass, fooled James Milner and Alisson with a dummy and found the bottom-left corner from the first shot on target.

Liverpool struggled to get going but nearly levelled before half-time in bizarre circumstances as Bruno Fernandes miscued a clearance against Lisandro Martinez on the goal-line.

With Old Trafford rocking, despite threats of a walk out in protest at the club's owners, half-time substitute Anthony Martial played in Rashford on the counter for United's second.

Rashford was denied another by a good Alisson save, while David de Gea kept out Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino before Salah's nodded in after United failed to deal with a corner.

Despite some late pressure from Liverpool, the home side – perhaps fortunate not to see Fernandes sent off following a kerfuffle after Salah's goal – held on for a massive victory.

Mohamed Salah believes under-fire Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is "a top coach", while the Liverpool forward acknowledges there is already "a little bit of pressure" on Liverpool heading into Monday's clash with their old rivals.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds make the trip to Old Trafford this weekend seeking a first win of the new Premier League campaign, having so far been held to draws by Fulham and Crystal Palace.

Liverpool are still in a better position than United, though, with new manager Ten Hag suffering consecutive defeats to Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford.

United's only goal under Ten Hag to date was a Brighton own goal, while their defensive failings have been ruthlessly exploited.

Despite those issues, Salah still believes United present a formidable proposition for Liverpool, shutting down suggestions their encounter could be an easy one for the visitors while pointing to Ten Hag's pedigree.

"I don't look at this game like that, because they're still a top team with top players," the attacker told Sky Sports. "They've not had a great start, but they want to win against us.

"So from my side, I have too much respect for them, and I'm sure they want to fight with all they can to win that game as well. It's not going to be easy, and I'm not thinking I'm going to score one, two or three goals.

"I know it's going to be a really tough game. They have top players, they have a top coach, so it's not going to be easy at all."

Liverpool could be seven points behind champions Manchester City by the time they play on Monday, with Pep Guardiola's men visiting Newcastle United on Sunday in pursuit of a third straight win.

And even at this early stage, Salah acknowledges that would be a significant gap, even if he backs the Reds to recover.

"It could be a little bit of pressure if we're seven points behind City, but I think it's too early to think about that," Salah said.

"Last season, we were behind by about 10 or 11 points, and we came back. So, it's too early to think about that."

Jurgen Klopp has joked Mohamed Salah "found a right foot on holiday" as he hailed the forward's continued development ahead of Monday's trip to Manchester United.

Salah has picked up from where he left off last season with two goals and an assist in Liverpool's opening three games of the 2022-23 campaign.

The Egypt international has also created 12 chances across those three outings, which is five more than next-best Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Indeed, only Borussia Monchengladbach's Alassane Plea and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar (both 13) have created more chances this term across Europe's top five leagues.

And as Salah looks to match Thierry Henry in winning the Premier League Golden Boot for a record fourth time, Klopp believes the 30-year-old is only getting better with time.

"I think he found a right foot on holiday. He always develops. It's really crazy," Klopp told Sky Sports. 

"This year he arrived with crosses with his right foot. He's obviously a top professional and he really tries to add on things into his game.

"He is a top, top, top striker and with the numbers he had, not only scoring-wise but assisting-wise as well, it's big."

Salah has scored eight goals in his past four games against United in all competitions, netting six of those at Old Trafford, including a hat-trick in this fixture last season.

He has nine goals against United overall and could become the first Liverpool player ever to reach double figures against their fierce rivals.

"I'm pretty sure he knows that," Klopp said what that statistic was put to him. "I didn't know it but I'm pretty sure Mo knows it, so good news!"

Salah signed a new three-year deal at Anfield last month, coming on the back of fellow forward Sadio Mane's departure to Bayern Munich.

Liverpool offset that exit by bringing in Darwin Nunez from Benfica, while Luis Diaz has made a big impact since arriving from Porto midway through last season.

Diaz rescued Liverpool a 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace on Monday after Nunez was sent off and Klopp has been impressed by his swift adaptation to a new league.

"He had to play immediately because [Salah and Mane] were at the Africa Cup of Nations, so that helped him settle in," Klopp said.

"That gave him immediate confidence. It's his quality, his talent, his skill set. He's a really good player. We knew it before and when you're really good it's easier to settle in.

"He has this special thing: He can score from outside the box, which for a striker is really important. He's very, very important for us."

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