Liverpool have equalled the club’s all-time unbeaten home league record of 63 games, after dispatching West Ham 2-1 at Anfield.
The Reds fell behind early on after Pablo Fornals punished Joe Gomez’s poor defensive clearance, but goals from Mohamed Salah, from the penalty spot, and Diogo Jota preserved their run, which stretches back to April 2017.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have equalled the record that was set by Bob Paisley’s Liverpool team between 1978 and 1981; a period that saw Paisley’s side win back-to-back Division One titles.
Liverpool last tasted defeat in the league at Anfield on 23 April 2017, when the club’s former manager Roy Hodgson masterminded a 2-1 win for Crystal Palace – with former player Christian Benteke grabbing a brace to cancel out Philippe Coutinho’s opener.
Only five members of the Reds’ starting XI that lost to Palace three and a half years ago are still at the club; Joel Matip, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi.
Since they last suffered a league defeat at Anfield, Liverpool have been crowned champions of Europe, the world and England – in that order. They can break the club’s unbeaten home league record if they avoid defeat against Leicester on 21 November.
However, Klopp’s side still have a bit of a way to go if they are to equal the Premier League’s all-time unbeaten home record. Chelsea currently hold said record after going 86 games unbeaten between February 2004 and October 2008 – winning two league titles in that time.
Should the Reds remain undefeated at Anfield for the duration of the 2020/21 season, they will have gone 78 Premier League games unbeaten at home.
One worrying statistic for Liverpool is the vulnerability of their backline, which appears to have kicked in after their Premier League coronation. At the time of writing, no side have conceded more goals in the division since their 30-year wait for a top flight crown ended – and things are likely to be challenging in the forthcoming months with Virgil van Dijk a long-term injury absentee.
Frank Lampard has praised the performance of Hakim Ziyech, after the summer signing marked his full Premier League debut with a goal and an assist in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Burnley on Saturday.
Ziyech signed for Chelsea from Ajax in February and moved to west London over the summer, but has had to wait for his first taste of English football after missing the start of the season with a knee injury.
The winger had been restricted to substitute cameos upon his return, but made his full Chelsea debut against Krasnodar on Wednesday and was named in the starting XI once more for Saturday’s victory at Turf Moor.
Ziyech was on target during both matches as the Blues stretched their unbeaten run to six games, and Lampard was delighted by his impact.
“I expected a lot of him because I was aware of his quality which is why I brought him to the club,” Lampard said [via the Express]. “I’ve said it a lot now but he brings a different quality to us with his eye for a pass, his receiving, his crossing, his assists.
“But what I’ve seen since he’s been here as well is his personality when he plays – to want the ball. His work rate off the ball is very, very good as well and he’s brought those qualities and that gives us a big boost.
“Two games in a few days with a trip to Russia in between for him after being out for so long; it’s been a really good start for him.”
Lampard also offered an update on Christian Pulisic, who was originally named in the starting XI but was replaced by Timo Werner before kick off.
“Christian had a small sensation in his hamstring so we had to pull him, he couldn’t play the game,” Lampard said. “He felt that in part of the warm up so we’ll have to scan it. I can’t give you a time on that until we’ve seen that.”
You’ve almost certainly heard somebody boldly proclaim the Championship is the ‘most unpredictable and competitive league in the world’.
Guess what, they might absolutely be right. You never know who is going to win from one week to the other, and often the results page is as dysfunctional as the lineage of WWE’s 24/7 title – or for us older folk, the good old Hardcore title.
The latest round of fixtures were the eighth on the 46-game calendar, and were full of the usual thrills, spills and Ted DiBiase million dollar bills. But who came up trumps and who sagged like a wet sponge? (is that even a thing?)
Here’s who, courtesy of 90min‘s winners and losers.
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth wasn’t actually at his side’s game against Sheffield Wednesday, as he was cooped up in hospital.
In his absence, his side won 1-0 to register their first-ever win at Championship level.
Reading have been the surprise package of the season, and rocked up to Birmingham’s St Andrew’s on Friday night ready to dissect, erm, Coventry.
Instead, the table toppers did what all table toppers do in this division; lost and lost well.
I say well, they did score twice – but more importantly, they conceded three against a side who had been marooned in the bottom three. That’ll teach them to be complacent.
No, your eyes do not deceive you – QPR were indeed playing in red and white stripes against Cardiff, a reference to their highly successful 1975/76 season.
The change in colour seemed to do wonders for their goalscoring touch, as they raced into a two-goal lead against the Bluebirds. Inevitably, they threw that away, only to be rescued by Dominic Ball’s stunning stoppage-time winner.
A first win in eight and one that was badly, badly needed.
There won’t be many football fans feeling much sympathy for Millwall after their crushing 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield – mainly because they’re Millwall.
In fairness, they probably won’t be feeling very sorry for themselves on account of this performance. Gary Rowett’s side were unusually abject, gifting an away win to a side finally banishing the memories of Premier League relegation in 2018/19.
With Millwall emerging as losers, it seems fair to recognise Huddersfield’s away day magic with a place in 90min‘s prestigious winners category.
Slowly but surely, the Terriers are re-establishing themselves as a handy little Championship side, and everyone’s a winner when said club’s social media team unfurls a post containing a Peaky Blinders-themed flat cap.
Top stuff all round.
Bristol City have a habit of doing things well early doors, only to see their inner 1990s England cricket team alter ego burst out to spark absolute catastrophe.
In more simplistic English, the Robins are buggering up quite a good start to the campaign, and their 3-1 home defeat to Norwich was their latest blip.
They even allowed Teemu Pukki to score twice, which I’m pretty sure he gave up doing after peaking against Manchester City some time last season.
N’Golo Kanté being among the best players on the Turf Moor…turf having played 90 minutes in his preferred position at base of the Chelsea midfield: imagine my shock.
Following a couple of muddled seasons under Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard, where he was inexplicably asked to operate as a box-to-box centre-midfielder despite being among the best defensive-midfielders on the planet, it’s not unfair to say the Frenchman’s reputation had diminished somewhat.
Then Lampard came to his senses and played him in his natural position against Burnley.
While he’s the most lovable man in football, an indifferent two seasons have made many forget about why they fell in love with N’Golo Kante as a footballer. What a reminder Saturday afternoon’s 3-0 victory was.
Faced with beastly behemoths Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes and Dale Stephens – men twice his size (probably) – Kante was imperious, in a wonderfully, wonderfully simple way.
It was striking just how lonely the Frenchman looked – or should have looked – anchoring an incredibly attacking Chelsea side; Lampard threw caution to the wind against the early season whipping boys, flanking Kante with attacking midfielders Mason Mount and Kai Havertz, behind a front three of Hakim Ziyech, Tammy Abraham and Timo Werner.
But Lampard was right to entrust the 29-year-old with that role. From minute one the diminutive midfielder got to grips with opponents, regardless of their stature, grappling, outmuscling, throwing out a toe to intercept and sneaking in among far larger bodies to nick the ball away. The 5’5 dynamo even won every aerial duel he entered into.
It was David vs Goliath(s), and once again, David was victorious. But how many times has that been written about Kante before?
His play on the ball was equally impressive on Saturday afternoon – a vast improvement on the past two campaigns where Kante would be tasked with carrying the ball forward into opposition territory before visibly running out of ideas.
At Turf Moor, Lampard gave his number seven freedom in the opposite sense, letting him sit in the centre circle and quickly recycle the ball forward whenever it came his way.
Later in the game, growing in confidence with the game well beyond their opponents, Kante became more adventurous (by a matter of yards), making forays into the Burnley half but continuing to keep things beautifully simple with quick one-twos and sharp passes, providing a constant option for forward-thinking Mount and Havertz.
Such was his self-assurance going into the dying embers, he almost provided a delightful assist for the effervescent Timo Werner, dribbling forward, throwing a step-over and looping a through ball into the German’s path.
While whoever occupies the Stamford Bridge hot seat can’t seem to see it, this was surely the performance that dictates Kante must start as the defensive midfielder, regardless of the formation and teammates deployed alongside him.
This was a masterclass in defensive-midfield simplicity, and should everyone’s favourite footballer continue in the same vein, the Blues’ may have the foundations to surpass expectations this season.
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Despite the fact Manchester City have played just six Premier League games so far in 2020/21, many have decided that they are in a state of crisis and are already out of the title race.
But such remarks completely neglect the lack of pre-season they had and the time required for the players to get back up to speed. There’s also the small matter of the number of injuries Pep Guardiola has needed to deal with.
Make no mistake about it, City haven’t looked quite as fluid and menacing as they usually do, but then again, which team has actually been at the top of their game both defensively and offensively so far this term?
Ultimately, Guardiola’s men are just warming up into the season and the 1-0 win over Sheffield United on Saturday was another step in the right direction. And to underline that, the victory also means the Cityzens finished the month of October without defeat.
At first glance, some may suggest City weren’t clinical enough in attack as they were only able to find the back of the net just once against a Sheffield United side who have managed the grand total of one point from seven games. And yes, Guardiola would have preferred to see his side kill off the game in quicker fashion, but ultimately it was a dominant display from his side.
More importantly, City were commanding at the back and never looked like conceding. Indeed, it was the resolute defensive display which will have been most pleasing – and reassuring – for Guardiola and the club’s fans.
Some questioned the money paid to bring Ruben Dias to Manchester, while there were also doubts about whether he would be able to make the step up in class. It’s safe to say those concerns no longer exist – he’s made an almost seamless transition, immediately coming in and looking like he’s been a leading defensive figure for many years at City.
Dias has already played in a back three with Kyle Walker and Nathan Ake, and as part of a four with Eric Garcia next to him. But most excitingly, Guardiola was able to select Dias and Aymeric Laporte in the same starting lineup for the second game running. Once again, they were absolutely sublime, sniffed out any danger that came along and shut their opponents out of the game.
Dias’ no-nonsense style of defending and aerial ability perfectly compliments Laporte’s clever defensive positioning and reading of the game. Constantly in communication, both players were always aware of their surroundings and how to deal with any possible threat.
Blades boss Chris Wilder opted to start with Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster in attack with the hope of challenging City physically, as well as with Brewster’s pace. But despite the hosts’ best efforts to get both their forwards involved, Dias and Laporte were always in control.
Sure, this is a Sheffield United team that have scored just three goals so far this term, but it was the manner in which Guardiola’s men were able to stifle their opponents which was so impressive. The hosts looked to fight back after going a goal behind, particularly during the second half, but they were unable to get McBurnie or Brewster into the game.
Indeed, the fact that the Blades managed just one shot on target during the whole contest speaks volumes about the control City had at the back.
But as is so crucial with any Pep Guardiola team, the two centre-backs were also outstanding with the ball at their feet. Most notably, Rodri was able to receive the ball in positions where he could either drive forward or link up with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
The Spaniard is undoubtedly a very talented player, but he’s come in for criticism in more recent times due to his lack of influence at the base of the midfield. But with Dias and Laporte behind him, the perfect foundations were set for Rodri to flourish.
Elsewhere, the likes of Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo – both of whom were excellent against the Blades – were allowed to get forward and support attacks, safe in the knowledge that Dias, Laporte and Rodri were more than capable of dealing with any threat that came their way.
Guardiola claimed after the game that it will not be possible for the pair to start every game this season – and no one would, or should, expect this. This is especially the case considering Laporte’s recent injury troubles. But the defensive foundations have now been set and the right combinations have been found – the former Barcelona boss now must help Dias and Laporte’s partnership blossom further by giving them the time they need on the pitch together.
For more from Adam Aladay, follow him on Twitter!