The carnage of the Premier League festive schedule is well and truly upon us.

Arsenal, who stripped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of his captaincy on Tuesday, snatched West Ham's Champions League spot with a comfortable victory in Wednesday's headline clash.

Just 11 miles away in London, Crystal Palace hosted Southampton following a 3-1 defeat of Everton but they could only muster a draw against Ralph Hasenhuttl's side.

Brighton and Hove Albion succumbed to yet another defeat against Wolves in the other clash of the day, after Watford's visit to Burnley was postponed due to COVID-19 cases within the Hornets' squad.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of Opta data from the top-flight action.

Arsenal 2-0 West Ham: Youth shines again for Arteta's top-four chasers

West Ham have a woeful record at Emirates Stadium and extended that poor run as they lost their 11th league match in 12 games at Arsenal's ground, trading fourth spot with Mikel Arteta's side, who were inspired by two of their young stars.

Gabriel Martinelli broke the deadlock in the second half with his seventh Premier League strike, Gabriel Jesus (16) the only Brazilian with more goals in the competition before their 21st birthday.

Vladimir Coufal then became the 15th Czech Republic player to receive his marching orders in the Premier League when he received a contentious second caution for bringing down Alexandre Lacazette, who saw his penalty saved by Lukasz Fabianski.

Lacazette's miss may have been Arsenal's third consecutive failed penalty in the league – doing so for the first time since 1992 – but substitute Emile Smith Rowe sealed the victory with the Gunners' 10th goal scored by an under-21 in the competition this season, which is more than any other side.

David Moyes, who became the fourth manager to 600 games in the Premier League, has never won at Arsenal in 18 top-flight attempts, extending the record for the most times a manager has played away against a side in the competition without winning.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-1 Wolves: Saiss scores as Seagulls grounded once more 

Wolves headed to the South Coast without a win or a goal in four top-flight games, facing five consecutive blanks for the first time since 2003, but held on in a marathon slog against Graham Potter's timid Brighton.

Roman Saiss nodded in what proved to be the winner for Bruno Lage's side on the stroke of half-time, as Wolves scored their first top-flight goal before the interval in seven matches – dating back to when they netted twice in the first half against Everton in early November.

The Morocco international now has five league goals to his name since the start of last season – only Raul Jimenez (nine) and Ruben Neves (six) have managed more for Wolves in that period.

Wolves, though, had to wait for their win as they battled for 106 minutes and 29 seconds of action in total in the longest English top-flight game since Manchester City and Liverpool in September 2017 (108 minutes and 35 seconds).

In contrasting fortunes, struggling Brighton are still without a win in all competitions since beating Swansea in the EFL Cup in September, while the Seagulls have not tasted top-flight victory in a club record 11 games.

Crystal Palace 2-2 Southampton: Broja form continues as Ayew breaks duck

The Premier League's most fragile away defence in 2021 travelled to Selhurst Park having conceded 50 times on the road, but were unlucky to not walk away with all three points against Patrick Vieira's side.

Wilfried Zaha struck first after just 119 seconds as he fired another away goal past Ralph Hasenhuttl's team, with what was Palace's fastest Premier League goal since May, which also came against Southampton.

However, James Ward-Prowse restored parity with his 11th direct free-kick goal in the league – only David Beckham (18), Thierry Henry and Gianfranco Zola (both 12) have scored more in the competition.

Armando Broja deservedly nudged the visitors ahead with his fourth finish in six league starts, with Mason Greenwood (also four) the only played aged 20 or younger to have scored as many times in the competition this season.

Jordan Ayew then ensured the sides shared the spoils with his first goal in 43 Premier League games, his last coming against Leeds United in November 2020, while the Saints claimed an unwanted record as the first top-flight side to ship more than 50 away goals in a single year since West Brom in 1985 (52).

Mikel Arteta preferred to focus on Arsenal's comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton despite repeated questions over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's absence.

Arteta left out Aubameyang on Saturday due to a "disciplinary breach", but Alexandre Lacazette stepped up and delivered the opening goal in the first half.

Martin Odegaard soon added a second at Emirates Stadium – where Southampton have never won in 23 Premier League games, the longest barren run for one team away to another in the competition's history – with Gabriel netting after the interval.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 27 home league games against Southampton dating back to November 1987, their joint-longest such run against any opponent, and Arteta was keen to discuss the performance rather than Aubameyang.

"The first 15 minutes we started nervy; after that I think we picked up the rhythm of the game, scored a really good goal and started to dominate the game," Arteta told reporters after the game.

Pressed for an update on Aubameyang's situation, Arteta responded: "Let's talk about the game, guys. I'm not going to say anything else, I want to focus on the performance.

"I am really happy that we won. I'm telling you you're not going to get anything else from me.

"I cannot say anything else. You're not going to get anything else from me out of the dressing room."

Arteta then hinted at a return for Aubameyang in the next game against West Ham as he nodded in response to whether the forward's absence was just for one match.

Meanwhile, the manager was impressed with Odegaard, who has scored three goals in as many games, having only scored twice in his previous 25 Premier League appearances.

"He should have scored a hat-trick against Everton," Arteta added. "He's getting in the box more and is understanding what he has to do for the team."

Arsenal recorded a dominant 3-0 home win over an uninspiring Southampton in Saturday's Premier League clash.

Mikel Arteta dropped Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from his squad on Saturday due to a "disciplinary breach", but Alexandre Lacazette stepped up to open the scoring before Martin Odegaard added a second in the first half.

Gabriel netted a third after the break before Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were each denied by the woodwork, with Southampton long since having given up on ending a winless run away at Arsenal that extends to 27 league matches.

Saints are five without a win and just six points above the relegation zone, but victory moved Arsenal within a point of fourth-placed West Ham.

Although Aaron Ramsdale denied Adam Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse as Arsenal started tentatively, they were soon ahead after a lovely passage of play was capped off by Lacazette finding the top-right corner following Saka's cutback.

And it was two just six minutes later as Odegaard reacted fastest to Kieran Tierney's looping header and sneaked in to nod past Willy Caballero – the Norway international's third goal in as many games.

Odegaard looked to double his account after the interval but whipped over, while Nathan Tella forced another smart stop from Ramsdale.

Gabriel, who was earlier denied a goal for offside, then towered above Caballero to head home from Martinelli's corner, before the 20-year-old and Saka were thwarted by either post.

Nathan Redmond and Tella responded by inducing a further two saves from Ramsdale, but it was too little too late as the hosts cruised to a comfortable victory.

What does it mean? Arsenal respond well at home

Arteta's team succumbed to defeat on the road against both Manchester United and Everton but responded emphatically against Southampton and have now won three league home games in a row without conceding for the first time since October 2017

Southampton, who badly need results over the festive period, have still never won a Premier League away game against the Gunners, their 23-match barren run away to one opponent the longest in the competition's history.

Brilliant Bukayo

Saka was once again a shining figure for Arsenal as he repeatedly tormented Kyle Walker-Peters down the right-hand side.

The England international created three chances – including the opener – and has now assisted 22 Arsenal goals in all competitions since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, four more than any other player.

Saints subpar again

Southampton are going through a goalkeeper crisis, with both Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster injured, and were forced to call upon 40-year-old Caballero, signed to a one-month contract.

However, that does not excuse the fact they have now conceded 50 Premier League away goals in 2021, becoming the first side to do so in the top flight since both Watford and West Brom in 1985.

What's next?

Arsenal host fellow European challengers West Ham on Wednesday, while Southampton travel to Crystal Palace on the same day.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has confirmed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was left out of his squad for the game with Southampton because of a disciplinary breach.

The 32-year-old was named on the bench for the Gunners' 2-1 defeat at Everton last week but was left out of the squad altogether when the team was announced on Saturday for the home clash with Saints.

Speaking before the game, Arteta confirmed the decision was taken was for disciplinary reasons. 

"Unfortunately, due to a disciplinary breach," he said when asked about the player's absence. "There are non-negotiables we have set as a club and I think we have been very consistent."

The Arsenal boss was asked how long Aubameyang could be out for, replying: "It starts today.

"Certainly it's not an easy situation and not a situation we want."

The Gabon international, who signed a new three-year contract at Emirates Stadium in September last year, has scored just four times and assisted once in 14 appearances in the Premier League this season, averaging a goal every 259.8 minutes.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has not discussed the idea of selling captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January transfer window, but has acknowledged that the striker is going through "difficulty".

Aubameyang was named on the bench for the Gunners' 2-1 defeat at Everton on Monday, and only came on late in the game, missing a good chance to equalise in the closing seconds at Goodison Park.

The 32-year-old, who signed a new three-year contract at the Emirates Stadium in September last year, has scored just four times and assisted once in 14 appearances in the Premier League this season, averaging a goal every 259.75 minutes.

Aubameyang's goal return rate has been decreasing at Arsenal for the last few years, averaging a goal every 105.8 minutes in his first half season in 2017-18, followed by a goal every 124.14 minutes in his first full season, then one every 142.64 minutes in 2019-20, and every 233.6 minutes last season.

However, his manager has vowed to support the former Borussia Dortmund man, saying at a media conference on Friday ahead of the weekend's clash with Southampton: "Obviously, when a player is not scoring it's affecting his confidence, it's affecting the mood and probably the belief, but you have to rebel against this situation, don't accept it and feel sorry for yourself."

Southampton have signed former Manchester City and Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero on a short-term contract.

The 40-year-old, who has been a free agent since leaving Stamford Bridge at the end of last season, will join the south-coast club until January 5.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is currently without both Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster due to injury and criticised the former on Saturday after he failed to reveal the extent of his hamstring issue during the 1-1 Premier League draw against Brighton and Hove Albion, in which McCarthy conceded an equaliser deep into stoppage time.

"This is something we cannot accept," Hasenhuttl said after the game. "There must be a message: 'I cannot jump,' and then we can make a change.

"We still had one change [available] at the end, and I could have changed the goalkeeper if necessary in this moment.

"But Alex must be definitely more professional than that. This is what I missed from him today in such a game."

Caballero is set to be part of the squad for Southampton's trip to Arsenal on Saturday.

The Argentine, who won five caps for his country, made 48 appearances for City, where he won the EFL Cup. He then went on to play 38 times for Chelsea, winning the FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League.

He previously played for Elche and Malaga in Spain, and Boca Juniors and Arsenal de Sarandi in his homeland, winning the 2003 Copa Libertadores with Boca.

Liverpool are in the market to add depth and quality to their midfield.

The Reds are currently second in the Premier League, after four straight wins.

Liverpool have scored a Premier League-high 44 goals in 15 games.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL CHASING FABIAN RUIZ

Liverpool want to sign Napoli's Spain international Fabian Ruiz next off-season to bolster their midfield, reports Fichajes.

The Reds view the 25-year-old as an ideal player on an upward trajectory in his career.

Georginio Wijnaldum exited Liverpool for Paris Saint-Germain last off-season with no obvious replacement added.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fichajes reports that Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Ajax's Argentinean left-back Nicolas Tagliafico.

- Milan are interested in Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic and Real Madrid's Luka Jovic as they look to add depth to their squad reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Inter are tracking FC Zurich's 20-year-old Switzerland international defender Becir Omeragic claims Calciomercato.

- The Athletic reports that Southampton will sign ex-Chelsea and Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero as emergency cover. Caballero, 40, is a free agent.

After a grand total of one day without Premier League football, the action returned on Saturday and there was a change at the top of the Premier League.

That's right, Chelsea slipped up again and handed the initiative to Manchester City and Liverpool, both of whom were victorious later in the day.

There was also a change at the bottom as Newcastle United left the foot of the table – at least until Sunday – meaning there are three sides all on 10 points in the relegation places.

Without any further ado, let's look at the best of the day's action with a pick of Opta's post-match facts…

West Ham 3-2 Chelsea: Blues dealt Hammer blow

Chelsea are off the Premier League summit as a result of their defeat at London rivals West Ham, who continue to confound doubters under David Moyes.

They found themselves behind at the break but came on stronger in the second half, becoming the first team to beat Chelsea after the Blues had been leading at half-time since Wolves in December 2018 – that was a run of 48 games unbeaten when ahead at the halfway mark of a game.

Further to that, it was only the third time in Thomas Tuchel's 53 games in charge that Chelsea have conceded more than one goal in a game.

One of West Ham's goalscorers surely felt confident – after all, Manuel Lanzini's goal was his 11th in London derbies, or 48 per cent of his Premier League total (23), the highest ratio of any player in the competition's history with at least 20 goals scored.

There was also a first to celebrate. Arthur Masuaku opened his West Ham account in his 96th match, with the left-back's momentous goal also proving to be the winner.

The win moved West Ham to within six points of their visitors, with the Hammers fourth.

Watford 1-3 Manchester City: Hornets are cannon fodder

Even if Pep Guardiola's City did not arrive in fine form, few would have given Watford a chance here – and the match went just as most were expecting.

Watford's record against City was woeful at best already – now they've conceded 41 goals in 13 meetings with them in the Premier League, the most they have let in against any single side in the competition.

Similarly, the 3.2 goals per game they concede on average in this fixture is the most by one side against another among all Premier League fixtures played at least 10 times.

That one-sided nature also reflects on Guardiola, who has won all 10 of his managerial games against Watford in all competitions by an aggregate score of 42-4, his best 100 per cent winning record over any side.

City are now unbeaten across their past 19 meetings with Watford (W17 D2, all competitions), netting 62 goals in this run – they've only ever had a longer unbeaten run once before against a specific team (22 games against Norwich from 1965-1981).

Wolves 0-1 Liverpool: Origi comes up trumps as Reds steal it at the death… again

It wasn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but Liverpool got the job done to move above Chelsea and stay just a point behind new leaders City.

Only just, though.

Divock Origi spared Jurgen Klopp's blushes with a stoppage-time winner, the Belgian continuing his habit of being a decisive and useful option off the bench.

That was his 10th goal as a substitute in the Premier League for the Reds, a club record.

Liverpool have now scored the winning goal after the 90th minute on 39 occasions in the Premier League, at least 13 more than any other team.

There was also good news for Mohamed Salah – he didn't score, but his assist for Origi's winner ensured he's been involved in a goal in each of his last 13 top-flight appearances, a record only Jamie Vardy (15) has ever surpassed.

Newcastle United 1-0 Burnley: Howe's about that?

At long last, every team in this season's Premier League now has at least a one in the wins column – Newcastle defeated Burnley at St James' Park to finally get off the mark.

Newcastle had not won any of their previous 15 matches in all competitions, losing seven and drawing the other eight.

Additionally, it was only their second clean sheet of the season, the other also coincidentally coming against Burnley in the EFL Cup back in August.

Of course it was also Eddie Howe's first win since being appointed by the club, with Callum Wilson – who also played under the manager at Bournemouth – delivering the goods.

It was Wilson's 43rd Premier League goal for Howe, a record only Joshua King (48) has bettered for him.

While it remains to be see if Howe is able to keep Newcastle up, there's no doubt he's got them playing on the front foot more, as they are averaging 15 shots (five on target) each game compared to 11 (three) prior to his arrival in 2021-22.

Southampton 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Saints give it up

Just when Southampton thought they had the points in the bag, Brighton pulled it back.

Brighton were down to 10 men, having had Leandro Trossard taken off injured after using all their substitutes, but Neal Maupay struck deep into stoppage time to seal a draw.

That was Brighton's fourth (of eight) away Premier League goal to have been scored in the 89th minute or later this term, and the third netted by Maupay.

Brighton remain winless in 10 league games, their longest top-flight run since 1983, but they celebrated it like a win – for Southampton, it felt like a defeat.

Saints have now dropped 71 points from winning positions in the league under Ralph Hasenhuttl, 15 more than any other team since his December 2018 appointment.

Liverpool were in typically ruthless form on Saturday as they brushed aside Southampton 4-0 at Anfield.

The result meant Jurgen Klopp's men became just the second English top-flight team to score two or more goals in 17 consecutive games in all competitions, after Sunderland in 1927.

Elsewhere, rock-bottom Newcastle United's winless start to the Premier League season continued as they were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

Steven Gerrard secured his second consecutive win since taking over as Aston Villa boss, with his side sealing a 2-1 away win at Crystal Palace.

Brighton and Hove Albion and Leeds United played out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium, as did Norwich City and Wolves at Carrow Road.

Here, Stats Perform looks through the pick of Saturday's Opta facts…


Liverpool 4-0 Southampton:Jota at the double for rampant Reds

Liverpool have now scored 39 goals in their 13 Premier League games this season – their highest total at this stage of a top-flight campaign.

Diogo Jota got them on the way with their earliest goal in the Premier League (one minute and 37 seconds) since Naby Keita netted against Huddersfield Town in April 2019 (15 seconds).

Another from Jota and a strike from Thiago Alcantara put Liverpool 3-0 up at the break, before Virgil van Dijk rounded off the scoring early in the second half.

Netherlands international Van Dijk's goal was created by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who earned his 40th Premier League assist. Only Wayne Rooney (22 years and 200 days) and Cesc Fabregas (21y 188d) have reached such an assists total in the competition at a younger age than the Liverpool right-back (23y 51d).

Salah reached 150 Premier League goal involvements by setting up Jota's second, reaching that total (108 goals, 42 assists) in just 171 games. Only Alan Shearer (148 games) and Thierry Henry (163) have got there in fewer games.

Southampton, meanwhile, have lost more away games (14) and conceded more away goals (47) than any other side in the Premier League side this calendar year.


 

Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United: Gunners cruise against Howe's beleaguered men

The Gunners continued their fine home form under Mikel Arteta with a routine win against Eddie Howe's struggling side.

Since Arteta's first home game in charge in December 2019, only Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea have won more points at home in the Premier League than Arsenal (67).

Bukayo Saka got them on their way before Gabriel Martinelli added a second just 93 seconds after coming on as a substitute. It was just Martinelli's second Premier League goal at the Emirates Stadium and his first since January 2020 against Sheffield United.

The Magpies, meanwhile, became the sixth different team to fail to win any of their opening 13 games to a Premier League season, with four of the previous five sides suffering relegation (only Derby County in 2000-01 survived).

Crystal Palace 1-2 Aston Villa: Gerrard's winning start continues

This victory meant former Rangers boss Gerrard became only the second manager to win his first two Premier League games in charge of Villa, after John Gregory in February-March 1998.

Matt Targett scored the opener for Villa with his first Premier League goal in his last 75 appearances in the competition, the full-back having not netted since getting a late winner against Brighton in October 2019.

John McGinn then added a second, the Scotland international already equalling his best goal tally for a full Premier League season (three in both 2020-21 and 2019-20).

Marc Guehi pulled one back in stoppage time, but it was too late to prevent the Eagles suffering a first defeat in their last eight Premier League games (W2 D5), since a 3-0 away loss to Liverpool in September.

Norwich City 0-0 Wolves: Smith maintains unbeaten start

Dean Smith followed up a win in his first game in charge of the Canaries last weekend with a hard-fought point at home.

Norwich have now taken seven points from their last three Premier League games (W2 D1), more than they had in their previous 25 in the competition (W1 D3 L21).

The Canaries have also kept two clean sheets in their last four Premier League home games – as many as in their previous 26 at Carrow Road in the competition.

It is perhaps no surprise they could not find a way past Wolves, with only Chelsea (five) and Liverpool (four) keeping more away clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Bruno Lage's men (three).

Jurgen Klopp questioned Liverpool's focus despite his side powering to a 4-0 win over Southampton, demanding they tighten up in defence.

On the face of it, that may have seemed an unexpected response to a crushing win with a clean sheet, but Klopp was right to point to Liverpool offering up golden chances to their Anfield visitors.

Goalkeeper Alisson saved well from Armando Broja and Adam Armstrong, and Liverpool were arguably flattered by their victory margin as they reached 39 goals from their opening 13 games of the Premier League campaign.

In terms of expected goals, the metric that assesses the quality of a team's chances, Liverpool finished the game with an advantage of 2.67 to Southampton's 1.34. Those numbers indicate Liverpool impressively over-performed in terms of capitalising on opportunities, while Southampton should have done better.

Liverpool have only conceded a higher expected goals against (xGA) figure in three Premier League games this season, against the unlikely trio of Manchester United (1.49), Norwich City (1.61) and Brentford (2.72). They beat United 5-0 and Norwich 3-0, and drew 3-3 in a thriller at Brentford.

"I was not happy with the chances we conceded today, to be honest," said Klopp in his post-game news conference.

"I have no problem that Ali has to make saves in a football game but these saves were too spectacular. One-on-one with the goalie should not happen twice in a game, for sure not.

"We have to really work on that. We have to be as stable, serious, ruthless defensively as somehow possible. That gives us then the platform to play football and then we can create and then we can score.

"It will not be forever like this that we score two goals per game but it happened so far. So, good. But if we win a game 1-0 then I’m happy as well."

Liverpool have now scored two or more goals in 17 consecutive games across all competitions, making them only the second ever English top-flight club to achieve this feat after Sunderland in 1927 (17).

They could set an outright record on Wednesday in the derby against former Reds boss Rafael Benitez's Everton team.

There was plenty for Klopp to enjoy, and he hailed Diogo Jota as "a perfect signing" after the Portuguese forward, acquired from Wolves in September 2020, snatched two close-range goals early in the game to put the hosts in charge.

"A good subject to talk about," Klopp said. "Diogo: exceptional player, exceptional boy. It was for us two years ago, one-and-a-half years ago, a perfect signing because he has everything that a Liverpool player in this squad needs.

"He has the technical skills, he has the physical skills and he is very smart and can learn all the tactical stuff pretty quick. On top of that, he can play all three positions; in a 4-2-3-1 he could play as the 10. So, it is very helpful.

"He has the speed, has the desire to finish situations off really good. I think his goalscoring record is pretty impressive, if I'm right. Unfortunately, he had a big injury last year and that is then never helpful. But he is back, thank God, and fits really well in this team. I'm really happy for him."

Jota is set for an increasingly important role as Liverpool prepare to lose Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to Africa Cup of Nations duty in January.

Klopp would love Liverpool to be able to call on Mane and Salah up to and including the Premier League clash with Chelsea on January 2.

Asked whether it was known yet whether they would be available to face the current leaders, Klopp said: "Not really, it's early for that, we're still talking. Yes [we are hoping]."

Diogo Jota hailed ruthless Liverpool and declared himself a lucky man after scoring two close-range goals in a 4-0 drubbing of Southampton.

The Portuguese forward converted crosses from Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah to give Liverpool an early two-goal lead, and Jurgen Klopp's team were later described as "on fire" by beaten Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Jota's opener just one minute and 37 seconds into the game was Liverpool's earliest in a Premier League game since Naby Keita scored after 15 seconds against Huddersfield Town in April 2019.

Thiago Alcantara's deflected shot and a strike from Virgil van Dijk completed the rout and Liverpool, armed with a four-goal lead after 52 minutes, were able to ease through to the final whistle.

Southampton's three-man defence proved hapless against Jota, Sadio Mane and Salah.

Salah's assist for Liverpool's second means he has been directly involved in 25 goals in all competitions this season (17 goals, 8 assists), more than double that of any other Premier League player.

Jota can point to impressive figures too. The former Wolves man has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 14 starts in all competitions for Liverpool, scoring nine times in this run and adding one assist.

"In the end, it is a good game for us," Jota told Sky Sports. "I think we adapted well to their three at the back. They changed again in the second half and were slightly better.

"I think we took advantage. There were a lot of spaces in the first half. We got the result and a clean sheet, so a good performance today.

"I think it's always easier when you start well with a good team goal and go 1-0 up at home. We knew in the past we have been 2-0 up and didn't win the game, but today we did a job and that is important.

"I'm taking advantage of playing in a really good team. Fortunately for me, I'm being able to score some goals, and hopefully I can keep on doing it."

Liverpool moved one point behind leaders Chelsea, who face Manchester United on Sunday. Klopp's team have scored 39 goals in their 13 Premier League games this season, and that ranks as their highest goal total at this stage of a top-flight campaign.

For Southampton, it was an afternoon of regrets, with Hasenhuttl admitting his team's defensive shape proved a failure. In the end, the visitors were looking to limit the damage.

Hasenhuttl said: "The first half was simply not good enough to be competitive against this team.

"We tried a different way of defending... it absolutely was not working and in the second half we changed to our normal behaviours and felt a little more comfortable and could release the pressure, although in the second half they also made it a little bit calmer.

"But they are at the moment on fire. It's very tough for a defending team. It's very tough to defend against this side when they are in this shape and this is what we have seen today. It was for us today no chance to take something after the start."

Diogo Jota scored twice in the first half as Liverpool romped to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.

The Portugal forward grabbed his first with less than two minutes played, turning Andy Robertson's low ball in before adding a second from close range after being set up by Mohamed Salah half an hour later.

Thiago Alcantara fired in a deflected third to give the Reds a commanding half-time lead before Virgil van Dijk steered a corner home to round off the scoring shortly after the restart.

The victory sees Liverpool keep the pressure up on league leaders Chelsea, moving to within a point of the Blues – although the Reds have played an extra game.

Liverpool got off to a flying start as Sadio Mane and Robertson combined on the left before the latter fizzed a low cross into the middle that Jota converted on the stretch.

A couple of chances fell Southampton's way after that, but Liverpool remained the side on top and doubled their lead in the 32nd minute as Salah squared for Jota to tap in his second after playing a neat one-two with Jordan Henderson on the right.

The Reds made it 3-0 just five minutes later as the ball fell to Thiago on the edge of the box and the midfielder advanced into the area before lashing a left-footed strike into the top-left corner via a hefty deflection off the knee of Lyanco.

Van Dijk extended Liverpool's advantage even further in the 52nd minute, volleying Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner under Alex McCarthy – who perhaps should have done better – and in.

Jota spurned a glorious chance to grab his hat-trick, diverting Robertson's cross wide of the target as Jurgen Klopp's men eased their way to the final whistle.

What does it mean? Reds put pressure on Chelsea

Liverpool's victory moves them to within one point of Thomas Tuchel's table-topping Chelsea side, with the Blues set for a heavyweight clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Salah races to Premier League goal involvement landmark

Salah has now been directly involved in 150 Premier League goals in his 171 games in the competition (108 goals, 42 assists) – only Alan Shearer (148 games) and Thierry Henry (163 games) reached as many goal involvements in fewer games than the Egypt star in the competition.

Salah has also been directly involved in 25 goals in all competitions this season (17 goals, eight assists), more than double the return of any other Premier League player.

Jota matches Wolves league tally

Jota has now scored 32 career Premier League goals, evenly split between Wolves and Liverpool (16 each).

He has reached the tally for the Reds in 36 fewer appearances, however (67 for Wolves, 31 for Liverpool) and with a better shot conversion rate (12.6 per cent with Wolves, 21.9 per cent with Liverpool).

What's next?

Liverpool's next fixture is a Merseyside derby with Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday, while Southampton host Leicester City on the same day.

Jurgen Klopp promised Liverpool will do everything possible to ensure Thiago Alcantara stays fit enough to star throughout their Premier League title push.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago joined Liverpool in the wake of their 2019-20 league triumph and has endured a stop-start Anfield career.

Injuries have disrupted his progress and the 30-year-old Spain international has struggled to show his best form on a consistent basis.

A stunning Champions League goal against Porto on Wednesday was the highlight of a polished performance that followed an impressive display against Arsenal last week, though it remains to be seen whether Thiago starts on Saturday against Southampton.

Klopp wants to pace Thiago through the season rather than risk him suffering further physical woes, knowing his creative contributions could be hugely important.

"He's an incredible player for us of course, but we've found solutions when he was not available," said Klopp. "We have an incredible choice of players there [in midfield].

"Thiago has a very specific skill-set and is very helpful on the pitch when he has rhythm. The challenge we face is to make sure he can gain rhythm but not overdo it. We have that will all the players, pretty much.

"That's the challenge we face all the time, especially with all the games coming up."

Thiago arrived from Bayern with a big reputation but did not manage a single assist in 30 games last season across all competitions, although he created an average of 1.43 chances per 90 minutes played. That was down on most of his past seasons with Barcelona and Bayern, albeit it bettered his average for his final campaign at both clubs.

This season is still in its early stages, but Thiago is showing improvement in many areas of his game, with an assist already in the bag, his chances created in all competitions up to 1.82 per 90 minutes, and gains achieved in passes in the opposition half (49.67 per 90, up from 46.35), touches (102.3 per 90, up from 98.28) and ball recoveries (8.2, up from 7.47).

Klopp is enjoying having midfield options after a rash of injuries cleared up, describing it as "cool" to be in a position where his hand is not forced by limited availability.

He predicted a "proper fight" against Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton, although Liverpool have won seven of their last eight Premier League games against Saturday's visitors. The exception came recently: a 1-0 away loss in January last season.

Since a 1-0 win in September 2013, Southampton have gone winless in their last seven away league games against Liverpool (D2 L5), losing their last four at Anfield by an aggregate score of 12-0.

Klopp called Southampton "a proper team", "a very well drilled team", and said Liverpool, who sit third in the table going into the weekend, would need to be creatively sharp to find a way through their defence.

It is a 3pm kick-off at Anfield, and Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 25 Premier League games kicking off at that time on a Saturday (W22 D3) since a 2-0 loss at Hull in February 2017.

The Reds' last such loss at home was against West Ham in August 2015 under Brendan Rodgers (W18 D5 since at Anfield).

Southampton, for all Klopp's praise, have been pushovers on the road by most standards, though they managed a shock goalless draw at Manchester City in September. They have lost 13 of their 17 Premier League away games in 2021 (W2 D2), conceding 43 goals in this run (2.5 per game).

Saturday provided no shortage of talking points as the Premier League returned after the international break.

Manchester United suffered another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of Watford, and it will likely be one too humiliation too many for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

There was also a harsh dose of reality fed to Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, as they were given a bruising by Liverpool at Anfield.

But two new managers began their respective tenures with victories, as Aston Villa and Norwich City each hope to enjoy a prolonged 'new manager bounce'.

Below, Stats Perform looks through the pick of Saturday's Opta facts…

Watford 4-1 Manchester United: Writing's on the wall for Solskjaer

Another week, another humiliating defeat for United and Solskjaer – Watford were the latest side to toy with the Red Devils.

United's loss was their biggest league defeat to a promoted side since a 5-1 reverse to Manchester City in September 1989, and it took them to 20 goals conceded this season already.

Only in 2001-02 (11 games) have United conceded 20 or more after fewer than in 2021-22 (13 games), while this is the first time Watford have ever beaten them in successive home league games.

United were still in with a shout at 2-1 until Harry Maguire's first red card in 121 appearances for the club, but it all fell apart thereafter.

It looks set to be the result that costs Solskjaer his job.



Leicester City 0-3 Chelsea: Foxes intimidated by pacesetters again

Most would have expected Chelsea to get a proper examination of their title credentials here – who knows, maybe this was a real statement.

Either way, Thomas Tuchel's men saw off Leicester City with great authority, or so it seemed.

In reality, Leicester actually have a dreadful record against teams starting the day top of the table. Granted, the side at the summit is usually fairly handy, otherwise they wouldn't be setting the pace, but Leicester's run is particularly poor.

They are now winless in 17 league games against the team that started the day top of the table, conceding 40 goals at a rate of 2.35 per game.

In the process of winning here, Chelsea moved level with Tottenham and Manchester City with the most away wins (five) at the King Power Stadium in the top tier.

Liverpool 4-0 Arsenal: Gunners come crashing back to reality as Reds continue domination

Although Arsenal came into the weekend in good form, having not lost any of their previous 10 matches in all competitions, there was more than a hint of predictability about their Anfield defeat and the manner of it.

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal (37) than any top-flight side has against another opponent since October 2015, which in itself is a fairly damning indictment of the Gunners' fall from grace.

Mohamed Salah got Liverpool's third goal of the game, which was also their 100th against Arsenal in the Premier League, a haul they can only better in meetings with Newcastle United (105).

It was the fifth time this season Arsenal have failed to score in a league game, with only Norwich and Watford (both seven) having a worse record.

The Gunners aren't "back" yet.

Aston Villa 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Gerrard off to winning start

Steven Gerrard began his tenure as Villa boss in positive fashion, seeing off Graham Potter's Brighton.

It was a largely unspectacular bow for Gerrard but Villa eventually got the job done with two goals late on, making the Liverpool legend only the club's third permanent manager to begin with a win in the Premier League.

Ollie Watkins was the man to get the first goal of the Gerrard era, taking his tally to a club-high 17 strikes since the start of last season in the top flight.

There was also a first assist of the season for Ashley Young, who set up a Villa goal for the first time in 10 years and 189 days.

Norwich City 2-1 Southampton: Smith lifts Canaries off the foot the table

The man who made room for Gerrard at Villa, Dean Smith, also began the latest chapter of his career with a victory.

Norwich initially trailed to Che Adams' goal, but they turned things around as the Canaries came from behind to win a Premier League game for the first time in five-and-a-half years, or 36 matches.

But if they were going to end that run against anyone, the Saints would have been a good bet – since Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge in December 2018, they have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League (67).

Grant Hanley got Norwich's winner, his first Premier League goal in nine years and 324 days since netting for Blackburn Rovers against Manchester United in December 2011.

This weekend sees Manchester United host Manchester City in a derby that feels like it may play a pivotal part in where each teams' season heads, and there is an outside chance that the match-winner might not even be Cristiano Ronaldo.

Elsewhere, there is a certain Egyptian King who will be worth consideration for the handful of people who for some reason do not already own him in their fantasy team, along with a Newcastle player who could prove a useful differential.

There is also a former fantasy football favourite at Wolves who could be due a run of form.

Below are Stats Perform's weekly suggestions for fantasy football players, powered by Opta data...

 

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester United v Manchester City)

Try to predict the potential difference-maker ahead of the Manchester derby and you will likely say Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden, unless you expect United to win in which case you will probably say Cristiano Ronaldo or… Cristiano Ronaldo.

How about another Portugal international, though?

Manchester City's Joao Cancelo has been involved in more shot-ending sequences of play (66) than any other full-back in the Premier League this season, while he also leads all players in his position for the total xG of the sequences that he has been involved in (6.96).

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of fit defenders, there may be plenty of space for Cancelo to maraud into at Old Trafford on Saturday.

 

AARON RAMSDALE (Arsenal v Watford)

This feels slightly unimaginative as we also tipped Ramsdale last week, but in fairness the former Bournemouth and Sheffield United stopper was sensational in Arsenal's 2-0 win at Leicester City.

Ramsdale made eight saves against the Foxes and deservedly took home the man of the match award, and may well be called upon to shine again this weekend.

Watford showed in their recent 5-2 thrashing of Everton that they can attack well on the road, having 20 shots at Goodison Park and hitting the target eight times.

Only Edouard Mendy (90 per cent) has a better shot save percentage than Ramsdale's 85.7, and given the Gunners continue to allow several shots against, he could put plenty of points on your board as well as his own team's.

 

MATT RITCHIE (Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United)

It will be a tough game for moneybags Newcastle down at Brighton, with Graham Potter's men starting the season superbly, culminating in a well-earned draw against Liverpool at Anfield last time out.

You are never entirely sure what to expect with the Seagulls, though, especially defensively, and the Magpies may fancy troubling their opponents in the battle of the bird nicknames on the south coast.

Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (26) has created more chances among defenders than Newcastle's Matt Ritchie (24) in the Premier League this season. Ritchie, however, does jointly lead all players in the competition this term for chances created from set-plays (13), along with Alexander-Arnold.

With Callum Wilson back and scoring goals, you could look to Ritchie as a potential differential before he is inevitably replaced by a £60million player in January.

 

JAMES WARD-PROWSE (Southampton v Aston Villa)

The Friday night football from St Mary's promises to be an enticing clash between two teams that cannot decide if they are good or not.

Aston Villa have lost four in a row in the league, and the very last thing they will want to see is James Ward-Prowse lining up against them.

Ward-Prowse has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Villa than he has versus any other side in the competition (5 – 2 goals, 3 assists). These five goal involvements have come in his last five games against them, with three coming in Southampton's 4-3 win at Villa Park last season.

 

RAPHINHA (Leeds United v Leicester City)

Having the fans back at Elland Road this season was supposed to be the not-so-secret weapon for Leeds to push on after an impressive first year back in the Premier League.

That has not quite been the case so far as the Yorkshire side have only won two of their six home games, but with the impressive Raphinha at his disposal, boss Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping to make it three against Leicester.

As well as scoring 40 per cent of Leeds' Premier League goals so far this season (4/10), the Brazilian has created the most chances (18), had the most shots (32) and completed the most dribbles (26) of any player for the Whites so far this term.

 

MOHAMED SALAH (West Ham United v Liverpool)

It may not be the most ambitious shout in the world, but you would need to have a very good excuse to not have Mohamed Salah in your fantasy team right now.

The Egyptian is averaging a goal or assist every 56 minutes in the Premier League this season; the best ratio of any Liverpool player in a campaign in the competition with at least 10 appearances.

He has also scored nine goals in eight games against the Hammers since joining Liverpool, the joint-most he has scored against any Premier League team apart from Watford (also 9).

RAUL JIMENEZ (Crystal Palace v Wolves)

It was a delight to see Jimenez return at the start of this season after nine months out with a fractured skull. Prior to the injury, the Mexican striker was a talisman at Molineux, and he is starting to look like he might be ready to return to form.

Although his strike in the 2-1 win against Everton last week was only his second of the campaign, he is still making a big difference for his team.

His two goals and two assists have been worth seven points to Wolves in the Premier League this season – only Michail Antonio (9) and Son Heung-min (8) have been more valuable to their sides through goals and assists.

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