Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta expects more "twists" as the Gunners fight with north London rivals Tottenham for Champions League qualification.

Arteta's side seemingly turned a corner in 2022 as they surged to fourth in the Premier League, but consecutive losses against Crystal Palace and Brighton and Hove Albion have handed the advantage to Spurs.

Antonio Conte's team sit three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal, who have played a game fewer, as the pair contest alongside West Ham for a place in England's top four.

But Arteta, speaking ahead of the clash with Southampton on Saturday, insists there should be more changes and drama expected as the season heads towards its conclusion.

Asked who was in control of the top-four push, he responded on Friday: "Whoever manages to win more games and play better.

"There's going to be some twists still for sure and the pressure and situation is going to keep changing between now and the end of the season. We have to be focused on us and what we have to do.

"Every game [is important], but obviously when you lose, the next game takes more importance and we know that."

Arsenal are set to visit Tottenham in the penultimate week of the season in what is being billed as a decider for the final Champions League spot, but Arteta does not feel more pressure despite the rivalry.

"I think it's related to our history and we want to be not fourth, but third, second or first, and that's what we have to do," he added.

"That's always within every supporter and anybody who has any connection with the club, so the moment you see the team doing better and having better aspirations, your tendency is to get excited about it and I think that's the right reaction."

Arsenal began their 2021-22 campaign with three consecutive league losses in August, and defeat at Southampton would reproduce the same unwanted feat.

Arteta's team are in much better stead now, but the Spaniard dismissed suggestions that the Gunners would have settled for fifth in the Premier League after their abject start.

"At the start of the season? You cannot take anything because you don't know how things are going to develop," he continued.

"You could ask me a week into the season or two weeks before, I could maybe give you a different answer, but no, no."

Alexandre Lacazette has not scored from open play in the league since a strike in December against Southampton, who he has been involved in seven goals in six top-flight appearances against.

Reports suggest Lacazette missed training in midweek, but Arteta assured there is a "good possibility" he will play, while he hailed Bukayo Saka, who is the only English player to have registered both 50-plus shots and 50 or more chances created in the competition this term.

"He's a great kid, and he has a really clear idea of what he needs to expect," he said of the England international. "The better he does, the more difficult they are going to try and make it for him, that's for sure.

"I think he needs the protection that all the players need at this level, nothing different, nothing special.

"The best players and the talented players are always going to be, closely looked at, and they are going to close the space and they are going to be tight on them.

"Bukayo has to recognise that is going to be the case. Referees have to recognise that as well, early in the game, and then try to protect them."

Timo Werner showed why he is still an important player for Chelsea by scoring a pair of goals in Saturday's 6-0 thrashing of Southampton. 

A £47.5million move from RB Leipzig to Stamford Bridge in June 2020 is yet to work out for Werner, whose double at St Mary's took him to nine Premier League goals in 51 appearances. 

All three of the 26-year-old's league goals this season have come against Saints, with his overall tally against them standing at five. He is yet to score against any other opponent more than once in the Premier League.

Werner could have easily scored more against Southampton – he hit the woodwork three times in the first half – but Mason Mount's double and goals from Marcos Alonso and Kai Havertz contributed to a resounding success. 

His poor form coupled with recent comments that he is "more comfortable" playing for Germany have cast doubt on the striker's future at Chelsea. 

However, head coach Tuchel insists Werner's performance against Saints showed exactly what he can bring to the table for the Blues. 

"It was his position, it was the players around him, the connection with Mason, Kai, Kova [Mateo Kovacic] – he loves to play with and has a connection to the players," said Tuchel. 

"It was the half-left position as the double striker, it was an opponent who we could find spaces in behind against because they're a high attacking team. 

"It was set up for him to deliver, it was not in a 4-1-4-1 on the side. Everything was there to deliver and make a statement that he did not give up and he is still an important player for this club and this group. And he did deliver." 

It was an emphatic return to form for Chelsea, who suffered a 4-1 loss to Brentford in the Premier League last weekend and went down 3-1 to Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final. 

Tuchel felt the Blues' change in fortunes showed they cannot afford to not have their priorities right when they step onto the pitch, as they will be punished otherwise. 

"I think it tells us that we are not the team to escape with results if our input isn't 80 to 90 per cent of energy, commitment and investment. We are a special group when we have our priorities right," said Tuchel. 

"If we are committed, defend with courage, have the attitude right and hunger right, and are clear that this is our foundation to show the quality, then we are a strong group and have [every] right to believe in ourselves. 

"We are not the fancy group who comes with just quality and get away with just 80 to 90 per cent investment, commitment to the whole game. 

"It's not always easy for us to have this hunger and commitment because we come from a ruthless schedule, that's why it's not always easy. 

"It's not about blaming the players, I understand why it was hard for us after the international break, but it just proves the point today that if we have this right and we show our quality, which is what makes us dangerous." 

Timo Werner and Mason Mount registered doubles as Chelsea dismantled Southampton and claimed an outstanding 6-0 victory at St Mary's in the Premier League on Saturday. 

Following the disappointment of home losses to Brentford in the Premier League and Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals in their previous two outings, Chelsea were back on song on the south coast. 

Marcos Alonso, Mount, Werner and Kai Havertz all hit the back of the net as Thomas Tuchel's side blew Saints away and surged into a four-goal lead inside just 31 minutes. 

Werner and Mount were on target early in the second half to complete the rout and open up an eight-point gap to fifth-placed Arsenal, who lost at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. 

The pressure from Chelsea was incessant early on and they took the lead when Alonso drilled home a cushioned pass from Mount, who rifled in a brilliant second from 20 yards. 

After hitting the woodwork twice, Werner finally had a goal when he pounced on a loose header from James Ward-Prowse at the halfway line and held off Jan Bednarek before rounding Fraser Forster. 

Havertz tucked home a simple finish in the 31st minute when Werner's shot came back off the upright, and only a trio of strong saves from Forster stopped the gap increasing before half-time. 

The onslaught continued after the break with Werner rolling the ball into an empty net after Forster parried N'Golo Kante's dink straight to him. 

Edouard Mendy kept Che Adams at bay on a rare Saints attack and Chelsea punished his miss when Mount converted on the follow-up after Forster kept Christian Pulisic and Werner out. 

Alonso and Reece James went close but Southampton were able to get to the final whistle without conceding another goal, though Chelsea's confidence will have been sufficiently boosted before their second leg against Madrid. 

What does it mean? Chelsea's rip-roaring start makes the difference 

With Alonso, Mount and Werner finding the net in the opening 21 minutes, Chelsea had their earliest three-goal lead ever in a Premier League away game. 

It was four 10 minutes later, meaning they were the quickest to reach that tally away from home in a top-flight game since October 2011, when Chelsea needed just 27 minutes at Bolton Wanderers. 

The incredible start meant the game was all but done by half-time and Chelsea were able to cruise to the final whistle. 

Mount on top 

In a little over a quarter of an hour, Mount had a goal and an assist for Chelsea. It was the fifth time he has scored and set up another in the same game this season, with Mohamed Salah (also five) the only player to match him. 

Another Hasenhuttl horror show 

Southampton conceded at least four goals in a single half for the 21st time in their Premier League history. Seven of those instances have now come under Ralph Hasenhuttl. 

What's next? 

Chelsea travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Madrid, while Southampton have a week to recover before the visit of Arsenal in the Premier League. 

Thomas Tuchel delivered some home truths to his Chelsea players in a private meeting as he got frustrations off his chest after brutal defeats to Brentford and Real Madrid.

The Chelsea boss revealed the gathering, which took place on Thursday, was not one where he encouraged the players to play any part other than listening to his point of view.

Such sessions often offer a forum for debate, but this time Tuchel aired his disappointment, pointed out where the team were going wrong, and said the players would have his support as they attempt to get back on track.

"It was not a discussion-type of a meeting yesterday. It was more like i gave my point of view," Tuchel told a news conference on Friday. "That's sometimes also necessary.

"We take the players' views very seriously and often into account, but over the last two games we thought it may be necessary to give our point of view, but behind closed doors and in an atmosphere where everyone can take criticism.

"We don't point fingers, and we don't look for people who are guilty. We're in this together. We needed to point out some things in our game about which we are not happy and how we could have defended better, done better."

Chelsea were beaten 4-1 by Brentford in the Premier League last weekend, before sliding to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Madrid.

Hopes of retaining their title as European champions are looking slim, and Tuchel said Chelsea "lacked structure" as they fell to a Karim Benzema hat-trick.

"I felt we gave a huge opportunity away," Tuchel said, explaining his need to address the squad.

"It's not normal to play quarter-finals in the Champions League, and it was a huge night and a huge opportunity, and we were not at our best level. That's why we were not only disappointed but also angry.

"For me, it's best to express it like it is, and don't hide. We need to stop this kind of direction as soon as possible.

Striker Romelu Lukaku could miss the trip to Southampton on Saturday with an Achilles problem, with Tuchel hoping the St Mary's game sees third-placed Chelsea deliver a more assured display.

Chelsea have lost just one of their 13 Premier League games at St Mary's against Southampton (W9 D3) and are unbeaten in their last eight visits since a 2-1 loss in March 2013.

Southampton have also lost their last two home Premier League matches, as many as in their previous 18 at St Mary's (W8 D8).

Chelsea have never suffered consecutive league defeats under Tuchel, last doing so in December 2020 during Frank Lampard's time as boss. Tuchel has managed the most Premier League matches without losing consecutive games in the history of the Premier League (48).

Tuchel hopes the team meeting will have had an empowering impact, but he said: "I don't know if it's a turning point. The process yesterday was to be honest with the team and to explain your reactions and why it's like this. I think it's necessary that the players understand it, and then they can handle it if the manager is sometimes angry.

"I had some reasons and presented my reasons. Nobody will lack support from now on, and my love and my appreciation for how they are as a group and how they are as players."

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl says it is a good thing to see a heavyweight club like Chelsea go through a rough patch as the two sides prepare to meet this weekend.

The Blues have lost back-to-back home games over the past week, going down 4-1 to Brentford in the Premier League and 3-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League.

It is only the second time Chelsea have lost successive matches in all competitions this term, while never before under Thomas Tuchel have they lost two league games in a row. 

Indeed, Tuchel – appointed by the west London side in January 2021 – has managed the most matches without losing consecutive games in the history of the competition (48).

Despite Chelsea's recent wobble, however, Hasenhuttl is expecting the visitors to be on top of their game at St Mary's on Saturday.

"It’s a good thing to see that the big teams are struggling sometimes. The bad thing is that this doesn't happen very often," he said at Thursday's pre-match news conference.

"So, as I know them and how they work, he’ll definitely be critical with them and will try to show a reaction.

"I always expect the most difficult opponent, even if they win this game 3-0 and have the next leg on Tuesday against Madrid.

"I know Saturday's game is very important for them also, and a Premier League game for Chelsea is always important against us, especially because it’s not easy coming here.

"I think it will be a tough game, tough fight and we will try to make it as tough for them as possible."

Karim Benzema netted a hat-trick in Madrid's victory, becoming the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017 to score consecutive Champions League knockout-game trebles.

Asked what he learned from Madrid's midweek win at Stamford Bridge, Hasenhuttl joked: "That you need a player like Benzema to win against them! 

"This is what we have learned. I think those who saw the game saw a very, very good Real Madrid side. Surprisingly good, I must say, that they played in this way.

"First half the way Chelsea played is not good enough for the Champions League. Thomas knows this.

"It is interesting also such a team also looked like they were affected by the home loss to Brentford. You could feel it. They were not so confident with everything they did."

Chelsea have lost just one of their 13 Premier League games at St Mary's and are unbeaten in their last eight visits since a 2-1 loss in March 2013.

Southampton great Matt Le Tissier has stepped down from his role as an ambassador for the club after appearing to endorse controversial claims about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Le Tissier shared a conspiracy theory regarding apparent deliberate killings of civilians in Bucha and other areas prior to Russian forces withdrawing.

The 53-year-old used his official Twitter account to write the word "This" and an emoji of a hand pointing towards a tweet suggesting the media had "lied" about the events.

He later deleted the post and claimed "the point was about the media manipulation".

Le Tissier – who played for the Saints between 1986 and 2002 – offered a further explanation on Wednesday, tweeting: "Let me make something very clear. I do not advocate war in any way shape or form.

"I do not advocate anyone taking lives of others and anyone who commits such acts should be dealt with accordingly, any atrocities leave devastating effects on the families of the victims and us all."

Later, he added: "To all the fans of [Southampton Football Club]. I have decided to step aside from my role as an ambassador of SFC. My views are my own and always have been, and it's important to take this step today to avoid any confusion.

"This does not affect my relationship with and love for my club, and I will always remain a fan and supporter of everything Saints.

"I can, however, see that due to recent events it's important to separate the work I believe in from my relationship with the club I have supported and played for most of my life.

"I will see you all at St Mary's and will always do anything I can to help the club."

Christian Eriksen has been in sparkling form since returning to action with Brentford following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

Inter allowed Eriksen to end his contract after the Denmark international was unable to play in Serie A after having a cardiac device implant fitted, allowing the Bees to sign him on a six-month deal.

Eriksen has since scored for both club and country, and his form has some familiar faces swirling.

 

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM WANT ERISKEN REUNION

With his return to health, and some form, Tottenham want to bring Eriksen back to the club where he made a name for himself in England.

Eriksen departed from Ajax in 2013, and would spend seven seasons with Spurs, scoring 69 goals in 305 appearances, before signing with Antonio Conte's Inter in Serie A.

As luck would have it, Conte is now the man in charge at Tottenham, and The Daily Mail is reporting he would like to bring Eriksen back on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this season.

Spurs will have some competition, though, as it is also reported that Manchester United will be seeking the Dane's services.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting that Jurgen Klopp is "happy" with the fact that Mohamed Salah and "decisive parties" are talking to each other regarding a contract extension at Liverpool.

– If Salah was to leave the club, FourFourTwo is reporting that Liverpool will explore replacing him with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe – while according to RMC Sport, a third "mystery team" has entered the race for Mbappe, with Real Madrid also circling.

– Real Madrid will be offering out Eden Hazard on loan for the 2022-23 season, according to AS.

– Union Berlin's Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi will fetch a price of £25million if Newcastle, West Ham or Southampton want to prise him away, per Bild.

– The Daily Mirror is reporting that Newcastle could offer England midfielder Kalvin Phillips a contract worth £120,000 per week to lure him away from Leeds United.

Pep Guardiola said that every game feels like a final after Manchester City stepped up their quest to complete a treble by advancing to the last four of the FA Cup.

The Citizens reached the semi-finals of the competition for the fifth time in six seasons after a commanding 4-1 victory over Southampton at St Mary’s.

Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne were on target either side of an Aymeric Laporte own goal, while substitutes Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez sealed the deal later on.

The Premier League leaders, who also have a Champions League quarter-final clash with Atletico Madrid to look forward to, remain in the hunt for three trophies this season. 

Impressed with the improvement of his side’s performance after the break against the Saints, Guardiola is well aware of the stakes on offer with every game that passes.

The Spaniard told BBC Sport: "For the last 15 [minutes] of the first half, we forgot to play, knowing that this would be difficult because Southampton is one of the best, most organised teams we face all season.

"They push you with incredible intensity, but the goal we conceded was a consequence of us forgetting to play.

"The second half was much better, in personality and play. They had one chance for Che Adams, at 2-1, but the quality of our players up front made the difference.

"It was not a comfortable victory, but now we go into the international break.

"There are two months left in the season, and we are in three competitions. We know every game is a final, and we knew it was important not to lose today."

De Bruyne, who was on target from the penalty spot, believes the third – a stunning 20-yard Foden volley – and fourth goals epitomised the quality that City possess.

And the Belgium international, who was part of the side that lifted the trophy in 2019, has his sights set on doing so again having suffered semi-final defeats in each of the last two seasons.

The midfielder added: "I think the first 20 minutes and the last half an hour, we did well. In between, we made too many stupid mistakes and even with their goal, we should have just played it out – there were 30 seconds to go until half-time.

"We chose the wrong options and Southampton came back into the game. Not a lot was said at half-time, but we had to play better, and we did that.

"But I think the reaction was really good; the second half, we dominated, and we did much better.

"The third and fourth goals were beautiful goals, and we saw then how good we can play.

"We want to win every competition we enter. We have lost in a couple of FA Cup semi-finals, but we are very happy and privileged we go again and hopefully, we can win it this time."

Manchester City marched through to their fifth FA Cup semi-final appearance in six years after defeating Southampton 4-1 at St Mary's.

Raheem Sterling gave Pep Guardiola’s side an early lead, but that was cancelled out before the break by an Aymeric Laporte own goal.

Kevin De Bruyne restored the visitors' advantage from the penalty spot just after the hour mark, though, and substitutes Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez struck in the final quarter of an hour to complete a commanding victory. 

Unbeaten in their last eight FA Cup matches on home soil, Southampton went close to breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute when Adam Armstrong hit the post after latching onto Oriel Romeu's neat throughball.

City capitalised on their good fortune two minutes later. Jack Stephens failed to clear De Bruyne's cross and Gabriel Jesus teed up Sterling, who found the net in the competition for an eighth successive season.

The visitors had won all 27 matches when scoring first this term. They almost doubled their lead as Ilkay Gundogan struck the post from Joao Cancelo's inviting centre, while Rodri drilled marginally wide from distance.

But the hosts levelled with the last kick of the first half. Mohamed Elyounoussi beating the offside trap before his cross deflected in off Laporte.

City restored their advantage in the 62nd minute with De Bruyne tucking away from 12 yards after Mohammed Salisu brought down Gabriel Jesus.

Foden and Mahrez were introduced shortly afterwards and both made their marks to put the tie beyond the Saints with two goals in the space of three minutes.

England international Foden fired home a stunning volley from the edge of the box, before Mahrez swept in the fourth goal – and his 14th in 16 appearances. 

Pep Guardiola insisted he would not swap any of his Manchester City players as they chase treble glory – batting away speculation about Erling Haaland.

City could match Manchester United's 1998-99 feat of winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in one season, and Guardiola is no longer ridiculing that possibility.

They are a nose ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League and through to the quarter-finals of both knockout competitions, achieving such success largely without a recognised 'number nine' striker.

Haaland is the player most frequently linked with City, although Real Madrid and Barcelona are known to admire Borussia Dortmund's prolific marksman too. A decision could reportedly come soon regarding Haaland's future.

"Since I'm here, apparently every month, two months, we're going to sign 50 players," Guardiola said, when asked about the 21-year-old Norwegian. "Right now, listen, it's impossible I'm going to talk about some guy who's not here, and I don't know if he will be here. He's a Dortmund player.

"You can ask for this player or another one or another one. A transfer window is going to start, and many things are going to happen."

Southampton provide the opposition on Sunday in the FA Cup, with Guardiola taking issue with a reporter who questioned whether it might be challenging to motivate his City players for the trip to St Mary's.

Given City's other targets and Liverpool's rapid gain on them in the title race, some might consider the FA Cup a distraction, but not Guardiola.

"How do you ask me this, when we show in the last six years that we play every game in every competition like it was the last game in our lives?" Guardiola said.

"I know it looks like everything is gone, it is over, no chance of anything, but the manager still trusts a lot in his players to try to win every competition, being who we are.

"I want to do it with these guys. I would not change one single player to do these next two months we have ahead of us. Success? I don't know."

 

Since Guardiola joined City ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, Southampton have won just one of the 13 clashes between the sides (D3 L9), a 1-0 victory in July 2020 on home soil. City have drawn home and away in the Premier League with Southampton this season, however.

Guardiola was asked about how City have achieved spectacular success during his reign, while neighbours Manchester United have fallen short of delivering trophies.

United's last major silverware came in the 2016-17 season when they won the EFL Cup and Europa League, and despite high investment in players since then, they have been unable to keep pace with City.

"I would love to give an opinion about that, not to help them, because I'm sorry, but I don't have an opinion because I'm not there," Guardiola said. "I don't know the reason why. I think the team they have is fantastic. We cannot deny how good they are. But the reason why, I would say because the contenders are good too."

Guardiola said City were enjoying success due to the financial backing they have, and the support he and his staff receive from club hierarchy, comparing this to United in the Alex Ferguson era and Chelsea during early years of Roman Abramovich's ownership.

When it comes to others falling short, Guardiola said: "The difference in this club is there is strategy for many years. We lose, but this is the way."

City are losing only very rarely these days, which means the treble dream lives on. They won the domestic treble in 2018-19, but now the three trophies they are chasing include the old European Cup.

"I would say in September, October, November, it's more difficult," Guardiola said. "But we have two months left and still you can be there to win the titles, it can be possible. On the other side, it happened once in the lifetime."

It's time for gameweek 29 in the Premier League, and for some it is a double, which will no doubt lead to panicked stockpiling of players from those teams involved.

Do not be fooled into transferring out your star player for a cheaper alternative who has twice as many games on the horizon, though. You get more points for a goal in one game than not scoring in two, after all.

As ever, there are some obvious picks, but also some less obvious ones should you be a fan of the odd differential to gain an upper hand in your mini-leagues.

So let Stats Perform lead you by the hand with Opta data as we pick four players who might just give you those precious extra points in the latest Premier League gameweek.

ALISSON (Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool, Arsenal v Liverpool)

Alisson is unquestionably one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and has played as big a role as anyone in Liverpool clawing their way back into the title race.

Since the turn of the year, no Premier League goalkeeper with a minimum of 180 minutes played has kept more clean sheets (five), conceded fewer goals (two) or has a higher save percentage (89.47).

The Reds suffered the unfamiliar feeling of defeat against Inter on Tuesday, albeit still defeating the Italian giants in the Champions League round of 16 on aggregate, but it still took a world-class strike from Lautaro Martinez to beat Alisson.

The big Brazilian comes up against a Brighton team that always manages to make scoring goals look more complicated than quantum mechanics and an Arsenal side that has failed to score against Liverpool in their last five meetings in all competitions.

KYLE WALKER-PETERS (Southampton v Watford)

Southampton may have lost to Aston Villa and Newcastle United in the last week, but before then they were going great guns, winning six of their previous seven in all competitions (D1).

One player in particular who has stood out has been Walker-Peters, who has been getting forward to great effect from right back.

No Premier League defender has had more chance creating ending carriers this season than Walker-Peters (12), while his three goal involvements (one goal, two assists) equals his best tally in a single league campaign (three assists for Tottenham in 2018-19).

DEJAN KULUSEVSKI (Manchester United v Tottenham, Brighton v Tottenham)

Tottenham have gone a bit 'Jekyll and Hyde' lately under Antonio Conte, often following up an impressive win with an insipid defeat. Unfortunately for Spurs fans, they're coming off a 5-0 win against Everton.

While Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have rightly been getting their usual plaudits for recent form (every other game at least), Kulusevski has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water since arriving from Juventus in January.

Since making his debut in England, only Kane (six) has been involved in more Premier League goals than the Swedish winger (five - two goals, three assists).

RAUL JIMENEZ (Everton v Wolves)

It may seem counter-intuitive to look to a Wolves attacker for points given only Brighton (26), Burnley (22) and Norwich City (17) have scored fewer than their 28 goals in the Premier League this season.

They did bag four against Watford on Thursday though, including a goal for Jimenez, who has a tremendous record against Everton and is about to come up against possibly the worst iteration of the Toffees he ever has on Sunday.

The Mexican striker has scored in all five of his league appearances against the Merseyside club, netting five goals in total. In the competition's history, only Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has a better 100 per cent record of scoring against an opponent (six goals in six games against Bournemouth).

Manchester United's search for a new manager continues after axing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November.

The Red Devils are taking their time with the appointment, with Ralf Rangnick in an interim role until the end of the season.

United hope the next man in can turn their fortunes around, having struggled to be Premier League contenders since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

TOP STORY – UNITED SHORTLIST HASENHUTTL

Manchester United have added Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl to their shortlist, according to The Mirror.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax’s Erik ten Hag remain the front-runners, but United face a battle to persuade either to head to Old Trafford.

Current United interim manager Ralf Rangnick worked with Hasenhuttl at RB Leipzig and the club are admirers of the Austrian.

ROUND-UP

- Atletico Madrid are considering making a move for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, reports Mundo Deportivo. Wijnaldum is weighing up his future at PSG despite moving to France only last year.

- Fabrizio Romano claims Chelsea's Andreas Christensen has turned down offers from other Premier League clubs and is on the verge of agreeing to a deal with Barcelona.

Lazio could make a loan move for Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, with manager Maurizio Sarri keen to be reunited with the Spain international, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- The Sun claims West Ham are plotting a move for Lille's 20-year-old midfielder Amadou Onana, who is valued at £20m by the French club.

Crystal Palace have joined the pursuit for Marseille's out-of-contract midfielder Boubacar Kamara, alongside Newcastle United and West Ham, according to the Sun.

Liverpool closed the gap on leaders Manchester City with victory over West Ham, while Chelsea tightened their grip on third place in Saturday's Premier League action.

The Blues saw off Burnley 4-0 at Turf Moor, a scoreline that was matched by Aston Villa in their statement victory against Southampton.

Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Brentford also picked up wins, but it was a bad start to life under new management for Leeds in their early kick-off against Leicester City.

Following another eventful day of Premier League action, Stats Perform delves into the key Opta facts from each of the games.

Leeds United 0-1 Leicester City: New manager, same Leeds

Jesse Marsch's first game as Leeds boss ended in defeat to Leicester as United fell to a fifth successive league loss for the first time since April 2015, when they were in the Championship.

Leeds have failed to score in three straight league matches for the first time in a year, this despite registering 19 shots in their latest blank against Leicester.

United's expected goals (xG) return of 1.95 is their highest without scoring in a league game since June 2020, and the familiar failings were also on show at the other end.

Harvey Barnes' second-half winner means Leeds have gone 13 league games without a clean sheet, their longest-such run since 14 without a shutout ending in August 2016.

This was the fifth straight league game Barnes has scored against Leeds – four of those while playing for Leicester and one for West Brom, making them his favourite opponent.

 

Aston Villa 4-0 Southampton: Coutinho's home comforts

Villa are firmly back on track after registering back-to-back victories under Steven Gerrard for the first time since his opening two games in charge in November.

The Villans put four unanswered goals past Southampton at Villa Park for their biggest Premier League win since thrashing Liverpool 7-2 in October 2020.

Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho once again played a big part in the victory by scoring one and assisting another for Douglas Luiz.

Coutinho has now been directly involved in six goals in his first four home league games for Villa, scoring three of his own and setting up as many.

Ollie Watkins had earlier opened the scoring with his 21st Premier League strike since the start of the 2020-21 season, while Danny Ings added to his two assists with Villa's fourth goal.

 

Newcastle United 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Fraser helps end Magpies' duck against Seagulls

For a while things looked incredibly bleak for Newcastle, even after their big-money takeover, but they now find themselves seven points above the relegation zone.

The Magpies held off Brighton to make it eight Premier League games without defeat – no team is on a better such run – with five of those matches ending in victory.

Ryan Fraser opened the scoring to make it two goals in five Premier League outings, matching his tally from his previous 70 appearances, before setting up Fabian Schar.

That was the earliest United have scored twice in a Premier League home game since January 2007 and, despite Lewis Dunk's header, Eddie Howe's side saw out the win.

It marks the first time Newcastle have defeated Brighton in the Premier League in their 10th such encounter, having previously failed to so much as score against them at home.

 

Norwich City 1-3 Brentford: Bees buzzing thanks to Toney treble

After a run of eight Premier League games without a win, Brentford bolstered their survival ambitions with a well-earned victory away at bottom side Norwich.

Ivan Toney was the hero for the Bees with three goals, two of those from the penalty spot, making Brentford the 40th different team to boast a hat-trick scorer.

The Brentford striker now has nine Premier League goals for the season, each of those coming via his right foot.

Teemu Pukki scored a consolation but it was another miserable day for Norwich, whose goal difference of -42 is the worst at this stage since Derby County in 2007-08 (-44).

Not that it will matter a great deal in the grand scheme of things, but Brentford are the first team Pukki has scored home and away against in a single Premier League season.

 

Wolves 0-2 Crystal Palace: Shaky Wanderers lose again

Wolves' European hopes suffered another blow as they fell to a third successive Premier League defeat, as many as they lost in their previous 13.

Bruno Lage's out-of-form side have now conceded six goals in their last four league games, after shipping just five in 12 before that.

Jean-Philippe Mateta came up with the breakthrough from close range for his fourth goal in eight Premier League starts, and Wilfried Zaha doubled Palace's lead from the penalty spot.

Ivory Coast international Zaha has now been directly involved in 83 goals in the competition, the joint-ninth best total for an African player, level with Nwankwo Kanu.

With this latest loss, it is the first time Wolves have lost three games in a row against Palace in their entire league history.

 

Burnley 0-4 Chelsea: Blues cruise at Turf Moor

It was business as usual for Chelsea as they won for a third Premier League game running without conceding in what proved to be a straightforward victory at lowly Burnley.

The Blues scored all four of their goals in the second half as they enjoyed their biggest away league win since October 2018 when also beating Burnley by the same scoreline.

This was the biggest margin of victory for an away side in a game that was goalless at half-time since Tottenham beat Aston Villa 4-0 in December 2012.

Reece James started the scoring and in the process became the first defender from Europe's top five leagues to both score and assist five goals this term in all competitions.

Kai Havertz also netted twice before Christian Pulisic added some gloss to the scoreline – his fourth goal at Turf Moor, matching a record for an away player set by Tottenham's Harry Kane.

 

Liverpool 1-0 West Ham: Reds roll on thanks to Mane

Sadio Mane's first-half goal made it seven wins in a row for Liverpool in the Premier League, their best such streak since a run of 18 when they claimed the title two years ago.

That close-range finish was Mane's 12th of the season in the league, nine of those coming at Anfield – no player has scored more home goals in the division this season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold played the ball into the box for Mane's goal for his 16th assist in all competitions this term, more than he has ever registered in a single campaign.

Liverpool were not at their best and that was particularly true of Mohamed Salah, who failed to score from six shots – only against Stoke in April 2018 (seven) has he fared worse.

Incredibly, Virgil van Dijk has never been on the losing side for Liverpool in 60 Premier League home games at Anfield, setting a new record in that regard.

 

Time is ticking down on the 2021-22 Premier League campaign – and indeed on your chances of making up those valuable points in your fantasy football league.

While certain players are a must for any manager with serious prospects of finishing top of the pile (hello, Mohammed Salah), others often go under the radar.

And with a real rarity of all 10 gameweek 28 fixtures taking place across the same weekend – at the time of writing, at least! – it is important you get your selection spot on.

So why not let Stats Perform, led by Opta data, pick out four players – one for each position – that can help propel you up the standings. Come on, trust us.

FRASER FORSTER (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Five games without defeat, including back-to-back victories over Everton and Norwich City at St Mary's, have helped propel Southampton back into the top half of the division.

What makes those successive home wins all the more impressive is that Saints kept two clean sheets, having failed to record a single shutout in their previous 13 league matches.

Forster was in goal for both games and, while he only had to make one save across the 180 minutes, he has prevented the fourth-most goals in the Premier League this term.

Having conceded only 10 times, excluding own goals, from shots worth 13.5 expected goals on target, he has limited opponents to 3.5 goals fewer than expected.

Only Aaron Ramsdale (4.0 goals prevented), David de Gea (7.5) and Jose Sa (7.8) have fared better in that regard in the English top flight this term.

MATT DOHERTY (Tottenham v Everton)

Tottenham may be struggling for consistency, but right wing-back Doherty finally appears to be finding his feet under Antonio Conte – in the league, at least.

The former Wolves defender scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time in Tottenham's most recent outing in the competition against Leeds United.

Doherty now has three goal involvements in his past five league games, also supplying an assist at Leicester City, where he created four chances.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Okay, okay – we know we have already selected Southampton goalkeeper Forster, but hear us out here.

By putting Aston Villa midfielder Coutinho in your side, you are hedging your bets, because if the Villans are to score then they need their Brazilian playmaker on top form.

He has four direct goal involvements in six games since returning to the Premier League in January – only Harry Kane (six) and Bruno Fernandes (seven) can better that return.

That should be of particular concern to Southampton as Coutinho has been involved in as many Premier League goals against them (five – four goals, one assist) as against any other side.

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Watford v Arsenal)

Long gone are the days of Watford being unable to keep a clean sheet for love nor money – the Hornets are now shutout kings under that up-and-coming boss Roy Hodgson.

Well, not quite, but Watford's three Premier League blanks since Hodgson's first game is the joint-most of any side, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and, eh, Burnley.

Now they just need to work on becoming more prolific at the other end of the field, and in Dennis they have a player potentially capable of firing them to safety.

The Nigeria international has scored nine goals and assisted five more in the Premier League this term – only five other players have been directly involved in more.

Saturday was quite a day in the Premier League, with shock results impacting both ends of the table, and the middle.

Liverpool appear to live challengers again in the title race after their 3-1 victory against Norwich City was followed by Tottenham's dramatic 3-2 win away to leaders Manchester City.

Mohamed Salah scored his 150th goal for Liverpool and Luis Diaz bagged his first in English football, while former City target Harry Kane insisted on shoving narrative into everyone's faces with a sensational performance for Spurs at the Etihad Stadium.

Elsewhere, a late Hakim Ziyech goal secured Chelsea a win at Crystal Palace, Arsenal's youngsters earned them a 2-1 win against Brentford, while West Ham were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle in the early game.

Burnley produced a surprising performance to win 3-0 at Brighton, with Wout Weghorst getting off the mark for his new club, while Watford also threw a spanner in the works of the relegation fight with a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.

The other game of a busy day in England's top flight saw Southampton beat Frank Lampard's Everton 2-0 at St Mary's thanks to goals from Stuart Armstrong and Shane Long.

Manchester City 2-3 Tottenham: City Kane-d by ruthless Spurs

Pep Guardiola's City team had looked imperious since losing at home to Crystal Palace in October, until today.

City were dominant but wasteful against Spurs, finding the target with only four of their 21 shots, while the visitors made Ederson work with five of their six efforts, beating him three times to take the points.

Kane’s winner, timed at 94:25, was the latest winning goal scored against City in the Premier League since Michael Owen for Manchester United in September 2009 (95:27).

Tottenham duo Kane and Son Heung-min have now assisted one another for 36 Premier League goals, the joint-most of any pairing in the competition's history, moving level with Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.

Son has been directly involved in 10 goals in 15 appearances against City (seven goals, three assists); only against Southampton (15) and West Ham (11) has he had a hand in more goals for Spurs.

Meanwhile, Guardiola has lost twice to Tottenham this season, and has only lost more games to Chelsea (eight) than Spurs (six) in his entire managerial career.

Liverpool 3-1 Norwich: Reds come back thanks to usual suspects, and a new one

Early in the second half at Anfield, it did not look like Liverpool would be cutting Manchester City's lead on Saturday, finding themselves 1-0 down to the Canaries after Milot Rashica's first Premier League goal.

However, a marvellous overhead kick from Sadio Mane was soon followed by a historic moment for Salah, who scored his 150th goal for Liverpool in just his 233rd appearance. Only Roger Hunt (226) has reached that total faster in the club's history.

Luis Díaz became the 16th different Colombian player to score a Premier League goal, producing a nice finish after a Jordan Henderson throughball. He was also Liverpool’s 16th different goalscorer in the competition this season (excluding own goals), the joint-most of any side in 2021-22 (Chelsea and City both also 16).

Henderson was a standout performer on the day as well, drastically improving from his showing at Burnley last weekend.

He completed just 50 per cent of passes (18 out of 36) in the 1-0 win at Turf Moor, but on Saturday produced his second-best pass success rate in the Premier League for Liverpool in a game where he made at least 100 passes, with 97.2 per cent (104 of 107), only bettering that against Hull City in 2016-17 (97.3 per cent, 108 of 111).

Crystal Palace 0-1 Chelsea: Late Ziyech strike saves Blues

Chelsea returned to Premier League action after winning the FIFA Club World Cup last week to eventually secure three points against Palace thanks to an 89th-minute Ziyech strike. The Moroccan has scored in three consecutive league matches for the first time since September 2019 in the Eredivisie with Ajax.

The Blues have now won back-to-back league games for the first time since October, when they won four in a row, and could also be looking up the table after City's wobble.

It was another clean sheet for Chelsea, who have kept 37 in 70 matches in all competitions under Thomas Tuchel, more than any other Premier League side since the German’s first match in charge in January last year.

It was not all good from Tuchel's men though, with struggling striker Romelu Lukaku managing just seven touches, one of which was at the kick-off, the fewest in a single top-flight game for a player to feature for at least 90 minutes since Opta started collecting the data in 2003-04.

Arsenal 2-1 Brentford: Young guns fire Arteta's side to victory

Goals from Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka earned Arsenal a hard-fought win against Brentford, despite Christian Norgaard's late strike for the Bees.

Smith Rowe bagged his ninth league goal this season; the only player to score more in a single campaign for Arsenal when aged 21 or younger was Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99 (17).

Saka registered his 11th goal involvement in the Premier League this season (seven goals, four assists), the most of any under-21 player and a haul bettered only by Jarrod Bowen (16), Mason Mount (13) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (12) among English players.

The Gunners netted their 600th (and 601st) Premier League goals at the Emirates Stadium, reaching the milestone in their 297th game there, with only United at Old Trafford (283) and City at the Etihad (290) doing so at a single stadium in fewer games in the competition.

Brentford are winless in their last seven league games, last having a longer run between September and October 2018 (eight games). Thomas Frank's side have also lost their last five away league games, their longest such run since February 2011 (also five).

West Ham 1-1 Newcastle: Magpies continue to rise under Howe

Eddie Howe's 500th league game as a manager (410 with Bournemouth, 77 with Burnley and 13 with Newcastle) ended with a well-earned point from the London Stadium in the day's early kick-off.

Craig Dawson gave West Ham the lead before Joe Willock's equaliser came just before half-time.

Newcastle have now taken 12 points from their last six Premier League games, two more than they managed in their previous 18 this season (10 points).

Dawson's goal was the 11th scored from a set-piece by the Hammers in the league this season (not including penalties), a figure only Liverpool (14) and City (12) can better.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-3 Burnley: Weghorst gets off the mark in big Clarets win

A quite remarkable performance from Sean Dyche's side in his 250th Premier League game in charge of Burnley saw them ease to a 3-0 win at the Amex Stadium, with Weghorst, Josh Brownhill and Aaron Lennon all finding the net.

Brighton suffered the heaviest defeat by a team hosting the English top flight's bottom side since Crystal Palace lost 4-0 at home to Sunderland in February 2017.

This was Burnley's first away win in the league since May 2021 (v Fulham), ending a run of 12 games without a win on the road. They also scored more goals in this game than they had in their previous five Premier League away games combined (two).

Weghorst scored his first goal for Burnley, becoming the first Dutchman to score for the Clarets in the competition. This ended a run of seven league games without scoring for Weghorst, with his previous goal coming in December for previous club Wolfsburg against Cologne.

Aston Villa 0-1 Watford: Dennis a menace to Villa

Another relegation-threatened side stepped up to secure an impressive away win as Roy Hodgson earned his first victory in charge of Watford thanks to a goal from Emmanuel Dennis.

This was the Hornets' first Premier League away win since October (5-2 v Everton), and their first away win in the competition while also keeping a clean sheet since January 2020 (3-0 v Bournemouth).

After winning two of their first three home games under Steven Gerrard (L1), Villa are now winless in their last four games at Villa Park (D2 L2). This was the first Premier League home game they have failed to score in since May 2021 (v Everton), ending a run of 12 in a row in which they had found the net.

Watford have now kept as many clean sheets in four Premier League games under Hodgson (two) as they had in their previous 36 games in the competition.

Southampton 2-0 Everton: Another free-kick continues Toon revival

The revival of Everton under Lampard was nowhere to be seen at St Mary's as Ralph Hasenhuttl's side continued their good run of form.

Southampton have now won four of their last eight Premier League games (D3 L1), as many victories as they managed in their previous 20 games in the competition (D8 L8).

Everton's total of 22 points from their first 23 games in the league this season is their worst at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1950-51 (three points for a win), when they also had 22 and were relegated at the end of the season.

Long's goal was his first in the league since February 2020 (v Aston Villa), ending a run of 799 minutes without the Irishman scoring in the league.

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