Callum Hudson-Odoi produced something on Saturday not seen at Stamford Bridge in seven years.

In his 92 minutes on the pitch, shortly before he was substituted to a rapturous reception, the winger created five goalscoring chances for the home side.

It made him the first teenager to create as many chances in a Premier League match for Chelsea since Romelu Lukaku in May 2012, when the Blues battled to a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers.

Hudson-Odoi was 11 at the time, four years short of his debut for the Under-18s, which highlights the impressive rise to prominence of a young player who is fast becoming the real star of Frank Lampard's Chelsea.

He missed the first six league games of the season as he worked his way back from a serious Achilles tendon injury. Chelsea won just two of those games, against Norwich City and Wolves.

In their three matches since, they have taken nine points, and Hudson-Odoi has provided three assists, the most recent a cushioned pass that allowed Marcos Alonso finally to find a way past the excellent Newcastle United goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. That made him the second youngest player in Premier League history – after Michael Owen – to set up goals in three successive games.

Lampard has won plaudits for a commitment to Chelsea's young English talent - even if his hand has been forced by the club's transfer ban - and Saturday's defeat of Newcastle saw them start five English players in a league game for the first time since February 2013. All of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, Ross Barkley and Fikayo Tomori have repaid their boss' faith with performances that have helped Chelsea climb to third in the table since that opening-day 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.

It was Hudson-Odoi who stood out above the rest, though. Every touch near the packed Newcastle penalty area was assured, every pass intelligent and forward-thinking and, 80 per cent of the time, right on the mark. After they had been thwarted and frustrated for so long by Steve Bruce's men, Hudson-Odoi maintained composure to tee up Alonso for the breakthrough.

Chelsea are on a five-game winning run in all competitions and Hudson-Odoi has either scored or assisted a goal in each of them. Little wonder Chelsea fans were so relieved to see his proposed switch to Bayern Munich fall through at the beginning of this year. Lampard is cultivating a young, vibrant side and Hudson-Odoi is its undisputed creative heartbeat.

The Premier League returns this weekend after the international break, with leaders Liverpool travelling to Manchester United in the pick of the fixtures.

Manchester City trail Liverpool by eight points and cannot afford another setback when they make the trip to Crystal Palace, while Chelsea host Newcastle United and Tottenham take on Watford.

The last of the 10 games takes place in Yorkshire on Monday as Sheffield United welcome third-place Arsenal, who have played more Premier League games at Bramall Lane without victory than they have any other ground in the competition.

Ahead of this weekend's action, test your top-flight knowledge with our Opta-powered big Friday Premier League quiz!

Answers are at the bottom of the page.

 

1. Newcastle United are seeking just a second win in 26 away league meetings with Chelsea when they head to Stamford Bridge. Who was in charge of United when they picked up that previous victory in May 2012?

2. Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has failed to find the net in six previous Premier League visits to Selhurst Park. At which other ground has he failed to score at more often?

3. Watford travel to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday, meaning their last three meetings with Spurs in all competitions will have taken place in different stadiums. Name the other two...

4. Liverpool have won five previous Premier League away meetings with Manchester United. Can you name the only two sides to have won at Old Trafford more often?

5. Everton will be looking to return winning ways when they host West Ham on Saturday. Which Toffees player has scored (once) or provided an assist (twice) in each of his three Premier League appearances against West Ham?

 

Answers:

1. Alan Pardew
2. Anfield (seven times)
3. Stadium MK (September 2018) and Wembley (January 2019)
4. Chelsea (six) and Manchester City (seven)
5. Gylfi Sigurdsson

The Rugby World Cup enters the knockout phase this weekend, with Ireland looking to finally reach a semi-final and Japan bidding to cause another upset.

Joe Schmidt's team may have beaten two-time reigning champions New Zealand in two of their previous three meetings, but Ireland have a rotten record in World Cup quarter-finals.

Hosts Japan face South Africa – the team they stunned in the pool stage four years ago – in their first World Cup quarter-final, while Wales meet France and England take on an Australia side they have an excellent recent record against.

Here, we take a look at the Opta data for the four quarter-final clashes.

 

England v Australia

6 - England have dominated the Wallabies of late, winning each of their previous half a dozen meetings since Australian Eddie Jones was hired as head coach in 2015.

7 - No player won more turnovers than Maro Itoje's seven in the pool stage and the England forward only featured in two of his team's three matches.

29 - Jones' side averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage – the most of any team – while Australia, with 13, averaged the fewest.

New Zealand v Ireland

7 - Ireland are in their seventh World Cup quarter-final and have lost all of their previous six matches at this stage – the joint most last-eight losses, along with Scotland.

17 - The All Blacks have won a record 17 consecutive World Cup games coming into this encounter – a run that dates back to a quarter-final defeat to France in 2007.

29 - New Zealand have scored a try in each of their last 29 World Cup matches, last failing to do so in 2003.

Wales v France

8 - In the eight meetings between these two nations since Les Bleus beat Wales in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, Warren Gatland's team have won seven times. Only the All Blacks have beaten France more often in that span (10 times).

4 - Wales won all four of their pool-stage matches for the first time since 1987. They have never won five World Cup games in a row.

6 - Since the start of 2018, France have lost six Tests in which they have been leading at half-time – the most such defeats of any side in that time. One of those came against Wales when they were 16 points ahead at the interval.

Japan v South Africa

3 - Japan's 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup was their first over a Tier One nation. Since then they have won two of their three games against such opponents, beating Ireland and Scotland in this tournament.

5 - Kotaro Matsushima is one of the leading try-scorers at this World Cup, along with Wales wing Josh Adams, having crossed five times.

47 - The Springboks won 47 out of 47 lineouts on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to maintain a 100 per cent success rate.

Cristiano Ronaldo joined an elite list of players by scoring the 700th goal of an incredible career in Portugal's 2-1 defeat to Ukraine on Monday.

Portugal may have suffered a setback in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, but it was still an occasion to remember for the 34-year-old in Kiev.

Ronaldo converted a second-half penalty to reach the personal landmark, 17 years on from scoring his first senior goal for Sporting Lisbon against Moreirense.

Here, we take a closer look at the Juventus forward's scoring stats for club and country down the years with the aid of Opta.

450 - The bulk of Ronaldo's 700 goals were scored for Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018.

69 - It was during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, in 2011-12, that he enjoyed his most prolific scoring campaign to date.

311 - Ronaldo broke the 300-goal barrier in LaLiga, making it his favoured competition.

442 - The Portuguese superstar added to his tally of right-footed goals with the penalty against Ukraine, compared to 129 with his left,127 with his head and two from other body parts.

113 - Ronaldo has become an expert at converting penalties, while also crafting a speciality out of scoring direct free-kicks - 55 of them in all.

165 - The most common time period for Ronaldo to score is between the 76th and 90th minutes.

95 - Monday's consolation strike against Ukraine moved the prolific forward to within five goals of a century for Portugal.

With the first quarter of the season over already, the tanking reality is starting to sink in for some teams, while the two remaining undefeated squads are not showing any signs of slowing down.

Here is a look at Week 5's Bullet Points with data supplied by Stats Perform.

THURSDAY
(All Times Eastern)

Los Angeles Rams (3-1) at Seattle Seahawks (3-1), 8:20pm

The Rams have won three straight games versus the Seahawks and six of eight dating back to the 2015 season. Both games in 2018 were decided by five points or fewer – since last season Los Angeles are 8-1 in one-possession matches, the best in the NFL (game decided by eight points or fewer).

Los Angeles lost their first game of the season in Week 4, falling at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 55-40. Jared Goff threw for 517 yards, the third-most in a loss in NFL history behind only Dan Marino (521 on October 23, 1988 versus the New York Jets) and Matthew Stafford (520 on January 1, 2012 versus the Green Bay Packers).

Seattle have scored at least 21 points in all four of their 2019 games and in 12 straight dating back to Week 10 of 2018 – only the Kansas City Chiefs (25) have a longer active streak. Under Pete Carroll (since 2010), the Seahawks are 4-4 when scoring 21 or more points against the Rams compared to 17-5 when doing so against other divisional opponents.

SUNDAY

New York Jets (0-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-2), 1pm

Philadelphia have scored a touchdown on each of their last seven trips to the red zone, the longest active streak in the NFL. Conversely, the Jets have allowed points on each of their opponents' last 51 trips to the red zone, also the longest active streak in the NFL.

Carson Wentz leads the NFL in passing yardage (385), passing touchdowns (five) and first downs (23) in third-down situations this season. He and the Eagles have converted 56.1 per cent of all third-down opportunities, the best in the NFL.

Le'Veon Bell has accounted for 42.3 percent of the Jets' scrimmage yards and 59.4 per cent of all touches this season, both highest in the NFL. For the Jets, 31.9 per cent of all passes have been thrown behind the line of scrimmage – the most in the NFL.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-2), 1pm

The Jags have gone 26 consecutive drives without a turnover, the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Tennessee Titans, 46). They have turned the ball over just three times this season, tied for third-fewest in the league, but have forced just two turnovers, tied for second-fewest (DenverBroncos, zero).

The Panthers are tied with the Patriots for the NFL lead in sacks with 18, which is also Carolina's most through four games in franchise history. They have 11 players with at least half a sack this season, the most of any team.

Christian McCaffrey is only the second player in the Super Bowl era with at least 400 rushing yards (411) and 200 receiving yards (218) through four team games of a season. He joins the Detroit Lions' Billy Sims in 1980 (539 rush yards, 206 receiving yards).

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at New York Giants (2-2), 1pm

Daniel Jones will attempt to become the first Giants rookie quarterback to win his first three NFL starts since Phil Simms (four) in 1979. Jones can join Lamar Jackson (2018), Carson Wentz (2016) and Ben Roethlisberger (2004) as the only active QBs to go 3-0 as a starter during their maiden season.

Golden Tate will make his Giants debut after completing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Tate has had at least one reception in 104 consecutive games, the third-longest active streak among players currently on NFL rosters (Larry Fitzgerald, 231; Julio Jones, 107).

Dalvin Cook is the third player since 2009 with over 400 rushing yards and five or more rushing touchdowns through a season's first four games (Adrian Peterson, 2013; DeMarco Murray, 2014). Cook is also the third player in Vikings history to start a season with a rushing touchdown in four straight games (Chuck Foreman, four in 1975; Bill Brown, six in 1968).

Atlanta Falcons (1-3) at Houston Texans (2-2), 1pm

The Falcons are 1-11 against the AFC since October 23, 2016, the worst winning percentage in interconference games during that period. Atlanta's six straight interconference losses is their longest skid against the AFC since they lost seven in a row from October 3, 1999-December 3, 2000.

Atlanta's Julio Jones (8,891) and Houston's DeAndre Hopkins (7696) rank second and third respectively among NFL players in receiving yards since the latter entered the league in 2013. Jones became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 receiving yards, doing so in 115 games, during Atlanta's Week 4 loss to Tennessee.

DeShaun Watson has thrown 221 consecutive passes without an interception at home, the longest streak in franchise history. Watson has been picked off just three times overall in 14 games since Week 7 of last season. Among quarterbacks with at least 300 pass attempts over that span, only Aaron Rodgers (2) has thrown fewer interceptions.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at New Orleans Saints (3-1), 1pm

The Buccaneers have allowed 30 or more points in 11 of 20 games since the start of the 2018 season, tied with the Miami Dolphins for the most in the NFL during that period. Including the postseason, the Saints are 19-1 when scoring 30 points or more since 2017, with the lone loss coming to the Bucs last term.

Tampa Bay have allowed league lows of 59.3 rushing yards per game and 2.9 yards per rush attempt in 2019, and their 237 rushing yards allowed are the second-fewest in franchise history for the first four games of a season (233 in 1999). New Orleans, meanwhile, have not allowed an individual 100-yard rusher in 26 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

New Orleans kept sole possession of the NFC South lead with last week's 12-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys – their first victory without scoring an offensive touchdown since October 25, 1998 (a 9-3 win over Tampa Bay). The Saints have just three offensive touchdowns over their past three games, their fewest in any three-game span since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006.

Buffalo Bills (3-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-2), 1pm

The last three meetings between the Bills and the Titans have been decided by a single point, with Buffalo winning the last two (2015 and 2018) and Tennessee winning the other (2012). Only four other match-ups in NFL history have had three straight games decided by one point or less – the most-recent previous occurrence was from 1966 to 1969 between the San Francisco 49ers and the Eagles.

Marcus Mariota threw for three touchdowns in the win over Atlanta after having no passing touchdowns in a loss to Jacksonville the week before. Mariota has played in 60 career games for the Titans (59 starts) and Tennessee's record is 30-30. He has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 51-13 (3.92) in the 30 wins and 25-29 (0.86) in the 30 losses.

Frank Gore rushed for 109 yards in the loss to the New England Patriots at the age of 36 years, 138 days. He became the second-oldest player in NFL history to rush for 100 or more yards in a game behind only MacArthur Lane, who was 36 years, 199 days old when he rushed for 144 yards with Kansas City on October 1, 1978 at Buffalo.

Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-4), 1pm

The Bengals have started 0-4 for the 11th time in franchise history, the second-most 0-4 starts of all time (Lions, 13). They have just 198 rushing yards this term, the sixth-fewest by any team through four games in the last 60 years.

The Cardinals are winless through four games for the second consecutive season. They have been outscored by 46 points in the first half, the third-worst in the NFL, but have outscored opponents by five points in the second half.

Kyler Murray has attempted 169 passes this season, the third most in the NFL and third most by any player in his first four career games in the last 50 seasons. He has also rushed for 113 yards, third most among quarterbacks this season (Lamar Jackson, 238; Josh Allen, 131).

New England Patriots (4-0) at Washington Redskins (0-4), 1pm

The Patriots are the fourth team since the 1970 merger to not trail over their first four games of a season, along with the 1983 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Falcons and 2009 Saints. The only one to extend their streak to five games was the 2009 Saints.

Tom Brady has led his team to a 4-0 start for the fifth time, the second most of all time among starting quarterbacks behind Peyton Manning (seven times). With those four wins, Brady now has more victories after turning 42 years old than all other QBs in NFL history combined.

The Redskins have allowed their opponents to convert 63.0 per cent of their third downs this season, the highest opponent third-down percentage through four games by any team in the last 25 years.

Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3), 1pm

These teams are 19-19 against each other since 2000, but Pittsburgh have won four of the last five meetings. This will be the first meeting between the teams without Joe Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger starting since December 30, 2007, when the Ravens' Troy Smith beat the Steelers' Charlie Batch 27-21.

Lamar Jackson is the first player in NFL history to tally 1,100 or more passing yards and at least 200 rushing yards through his first four games of a season. His 10 touchdown passes are the most through four games in franchise history.

Mason Rudolph is the fourth player in NFL history to throw multiple touchdown passes in each of his first three career games, joining Mark Rypien (first four), Jay Cutler (first four) and Marcus Mariota (first three).

Chicago Bears (3-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-2), 1pm

Oakland average 5.08 yards per carry, the sixth best in the NFL this season. Chicago hold opponents to 2.96 yards per carry, the second fewest league-wide (Tampa Bay – 2.93). The longest run the Bears have allowed this season went for 14 yards.

Derek Carr has a 72.1 completion percentage through four games, besting his franchise record of 71.0 from last season. Carr, Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson are the only quarterbacks in the NFL to have completed at least 60.0 percent of their passes in four straight games to begin the 2019 season.

Since the Raiders sent Khalil Mack to the Bears before last season, he has forced 10 fumbles, two more than any other player. The Bears are 10-2 when Mack gets at least one sack; only the Rams in Aaron Donald's games (11-0) and the Chiefs/49ers in Dee Ford's (11-1) have been better (minimum 10 games).

Denver Broncos (0-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-2), 4:05pm

The Chargers have the third-best passing offense in the NFL at 300.3 net yards per game; they also rank in the top five in the league in average time of possession, yards per play, plays of 20-plus yards and third-down efficiency. Yet the Chargers are only 14th in scoring, averaging 22.5 points per game.

Melvin Gordon is expected to play on Sunday; he returned to the Chargers last weekend after ending a contract dispute. Gordon's replacement Austin Ekeler leads the NFL with six total touchdowns and ranks fifth with 490 scrimmage yards. The Chargers' Keenan Allen is tied for the league lead with 34 receptions and tops all players with 452 receiving yards.

Joe Flacco has started a season 0-4 for the first time in his 12 NFL seasons, but his numbers are among the best of his career. Flacco's completion percentage of 66.2 is the highest he has had through four games in a season, and his yards per attempt (7.27) is on pace for the second highest of his career.

Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1), 4:25pm

The Packers have won seven of their last eight meetings with the Cowboys in the regular season and postseason. Green Bay have won their last three in Dallas dating back to 2013, with each game decided by four or fewer points – prior to these three wins, Green Bay had gone 5-12 in Dallas (regular season and postseason).

Aaron Rodgers has gone 3-10 away from home since 2017, the third-worst record in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 10 road starts in that time. Only Derek Carr (4-14) and Jameis Winston (2-10) have a worse record in road games over the last three seasons.

Dak Prescott threw for a season-low 223 yards in Dallas' loss to New Orleans, throwing an interception and zero touchdowns. In Prescott's starts, the Cowboys have gone 5-9 when he fails to throw a touchdown compared to 30-8 when he throws at least one.

Indianapolis Colts (2-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-0), 8:20pm

The Chiefs have started 4-0 for the third consecutive season, becoming the first team do so since the Colts from 2005-07. They are the sixth team to do this in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966) – four of the previous five won a Super Bowl within the three-year span.

Patrick Mahomes did not throw a touchdown pass in Kansas City's Week 4 win over the Lions, breaking a streak of 14 straight games with at least two passing TDs. Only Peyton Manning (with Denver) has a longer streak, throwing two-plus TD passes in 15 straight games spanning the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Jacoby Brissett is the only quarterback in the NFL to have thrown multiple touchdowns in four games in 2019. Brissett has a 120.5 passer rating on second down, trailing only Dak Prescott (132.1) and Matt Stafford (123.3). Five of his 10 passing touchdowns have come on second down, trailing only Prescott (six).

MONDAY

Cleveland Browns (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-0), 8:15pm

The Browns have combined for just 26 points in their two home games (both losses) but have scored 63 points in their two road games (both wins). They have not won their first three road games of a season since 1994.

Nick Chubb ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns in Week 4 at Baltimore on just 20 attempts. The last Browns player before Chubb with 165 or more rushing yards on 20 attempts or fewer was Jim Brown on September 22, 1963 at Dallas (20 attempts, 232 yards).

Matt Breida (226) and Raheem Mostert (202) each have over 200 rushing yards, one of two teams with two such players this season despite playing just three games. The last 49ers duo to each have 200 rushing yards through three games of a season was Roger Craig and Wendell Tyler in 1985.

Beating a struggling 10-man Newcastle United 5-0 may be no sign of a team's quality but Leicester City can send the Premier League a message when Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield this weekend.

The Foxes are third in the league, having taken 14 points from their seven matches, with last month's 1-0 loss away to Manchester United their only defeat in the 2019-20 season so far.

That trip to Old Trafford was supposed to act as a marker for Leicester, a chance to show they are ready to challenge the established elite, but Marcus Rashford's early penalty was enough to settle the contest.

Liverpool have yet to drop a point in the league this season and are on a 16-game winning run that dates back to last term, though Rodgers and Leicester could give the Reds' perfect record a serious test.


IN BETTER SHAPE THAN 2015-16?

No football fan will ever forget Claudio Ranieri leading Leicester to the Premier League title, but Rodgers' side have started the season in stronger form than the Foxes did four years ago.

At this stage of their title-winning campaign, Leicester were yet to keep a clean sheet having gone down 5-2 at home to Arsenal, while they had 12 points on the board compared to this term's tally.

Of course, this does not mean Leicester are going to repeat their 5,000/1 heroics, as Pep Guardiola's two-time champions Manchester City and - to a slightly lesser extent Liverpool - have completely changed the game since then.

Leicester capitalised on the traditional 'big six' - City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United - all having poor seasons to secure an improbable triumph, topping the table with 81 points, having drawn 12 games and lost three. Teams need to target 100 points to win the title now.

That is not to say Leicester did not deserve their season in the sun - they won the league by a comfortable margin of 10 points after all - but the set of circumstances that led to their triumph are highly unlikely to be repeated in 2019-20, as Liverpool's winning streak shows.

But Rodgers' Leicester are in a serious position of strength, with quality running deep through their squad. Could the same be said for Ranieri's squad? They were more reliant on a small group of players who featured in most matches.


VARDY STILL LEADS THE WAY

Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel are the two main stars left at Leicester from 15-16, providing stability and reliable quality at each end of the pitch, with Wes Morgan now a back-up option.

Vardy has hit five goals in seven Premier League games, while Schmeichel has helped Rodgers' men concede only five times. They are level with leaders Liverpool as the tightest defence in the league despite the club-record sale of star defender Harry Maguire to Manchester United.

The importance of Vardy to Leicester cannot be understated. Nonplussed with his role under Claude Puel, when Leicester played a style completely ill-suited to his abilities, but the striker is now back to his best.

Since Rodgers' first match in charge in March, Vardy has scored 14 times in 17 Premier League appearances, which is more than any other player in the competition in that time. That Vardy gave up England duty also suits Leicester, as the 32-year-old can rest up during international breaks.

Vardy is providing a goal or an assist every 95 minutes during the Rodgers era, compared to every 105 minutes on average when Leicester became champions. 


SQUAD STRENGTH KEY FOR FOXES

Leicester are not a one-man team, though. James Maddison has forced his way into England reckoning by virtue of eight Premier League goals since he signed from Norwich City last year, while his 111 chances created is more than anyone in the Premier League since the start of the 2018-19 season.

There is an argument Leicester are a better unit now than in their title-winning season when Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante were Ranieri's undoubted star trio, while there are more options in forward positions after investment in the squad.

Wilfred Ndidi, who scored the last goal in Leicester's 5-0 rout of Newcastle, is performing a passable Kante impression in midfield, while full-backs Ben Chilwell and Ricardo Pereira are attacking upgrades on Danny Simpson and Christian Fuchs from the title-winning XI.

Ayoze Perez and Youri Tielemans - a reported transfer target for Manchester United earlier this year - would be strong options get into that team as well, perhaps replacing Shinji Okazaki and Danny Drinkwater respectively, although Rodgers' system is different to Ranieri's more traditional 4-4-2.

On paper at least, this current Leicester vintage is arguably stronger than the 15-16 heroes.


DATA DIVE HINTS AT IMMINENT DOWNTURN

An examination of Opta data indicates Leicester are over-performing right now and could therefore drop down the table in the coming weeks - although after going to Anfield their next three league games are all eminently winnable: Burnley (H), Southampton (A), Crystal Palace (A).

Perceived wisdom tends to claim Leicester were lucky in 15-16, but their tally of 68 goals was slightly under their season xG (expected goals - a metric that explains quality of chances created) score of 69.3, suggesting results were around what was to be expected from their performances.

This season, though, Leicester's xG stands at just 7.84 - above only Crystal Palace and Newcastle. They have scored 13 goals for an xG difference of 5.2, meaning they are vastly overperforming. Typically, xG figures stabilise as the season progresses, but this is not always the case. The Foxes' xG difference in 2017-18 was also 5.2.

Leicester have one of the highest xG differences in the league, which means they have been clinical but may also hint a correction is on the cards. Since ex-Celtic boss Rodgers took over, Leicester have converted 46 per cent of their big chances, compared to 40.2 per cent in 15-16.

Rodgers has also tweaked the Foxes' style after they played on the break to great effect under Ranieri. Possession stands at 55.5 per cent for Leicester under their current manager, while it was down at 42.4 per cent in their title season. Passing accuracy is up from 70.5 per cent to 82.3 per cent, too.

The xG data may indicate Leicester's status as top-six - or even top-four contenders - is in doubt despite issues for Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and United. No team has broken the dominance of the 'big six' since Leicester.

If Rodgers can inspire a positive result against the team he almost led to a maiden Premier League title in 2013-14, the numbers might just be proved wrong.

Manchester City again have a headline act in FIFA 20's FUT Team of the Week, with Riyad Mahrez earning himself a spot.

Algeria international Mahrez had a stuttering first season at the Etihad Stadium, but in recent weeks he has found some consistency and played a vital role in Saturday's 3-1 win over Everton, scoring a fine free-kick and generally running the defence ragged.

It meant he took a top rating in the FIFA Ultimate Team, a week after City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne achieved the same feat.

The only other Premier League player in the starting XI is Leicester City's Wilfred Ndidi - the young midfielder putting in a masterclass as Newcastle United were swept aside 5-0 on Sunday.

Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz and Duvan Zapata of Atalanta lead the attack after both got a goal and an assist at the weekend.

Below, we have the full squad of in-form cards now up for grabs.

FUT Team of the Week

GK: Thomas Strakosha (Lazio) - 84

CB: German Pezzella (Fiorentina) - 82

CB: Daley Blind (Ajax) - 85

CB: Salif Sane (Schalke) - 83

RW: Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) - 86

CM: Aleksandr Golovin (Monaco) - 82

CDM: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) - 84

LW: Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad) - 84

CAM: Santi Cazorla (Villarreal) - 84

ST: Duvan Zapata (Atalanta) - 84

CAM: Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen) - 86

SUBSTITUTES

GK: Alban Lafont (Nantes) - 82

RWB: Matt Doherty (Wolves) - 82

CM: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Lokomotiv Moscow) - 82

CM: Vladimir Darida (Hertha Berlin) - 81

LW: Alexandru Mitrita (New York City) - 81

ST: Franco Jara (Pachuca) - 81

ST: Islam Slimani (Monaco) - 80

RESERVES

CB: Georg Margreitter (Nurnberg) - 79

CAM: Yeison Guzman (Envigado) - 76

LM: Kenta Nishizawa (Shimizu S-Pulse) - 73

ST: Ollie Watkins (Brentford) - 80

RW: Vladimir Rodic (Hammarby) - 76

Champions League holders Liverpool face Salzburg for the first time in their history on Wednesday as Jurgen Klopp aims to extend his unbeaten record at Anfield.

The Reds lost 2-0 to Napoli in their opening group fixture, increasing the importance of a result against a Salzburg side that thrashed Genk 6-2.

Exciting teenager Erling Haaland – son of former Premier League defender Alf-Inge Haaland – scored a first-half hat-trick in that match and should be ready for the trip to Merseyside after battling illness.

Barcelona, meanwhile, could have the fit-again Lionel Messi available for their date with Inter, a chance for the star forward to break his duck against the Serie A side.

Elsewhere, Frank Lampard heads to France in search of his maiden Champions League win in charge of Chelsea, while last season's semi-finalists Ajax visit Valencia.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

 

Genk v Napoli

6 - Napoli are without a win in their past six away games in the Champions League group stage (W0 D2 L4), last prevailing on the road with a 2-1 defeat of Benfica in December 2016.

13 - Genk have won none of their 13 Champions League matches (W0 D7 L6). Only Irish side Shamrock Rovers and Maltese outfit Floriana have played more games without winning (14 each) in the competition's history.

 

Liverpool v Salzburg

19 - Reds boss Klopp remains unbeaten after 19 matches at Anfield as Liverpool manager (W15 D4 L0). His streak is 10 games shy of Bob Paisley's club record.

2 - Salzburg striker Haaland will attempt to become the second player to score more than once in each of his first two Champions League appearances, Diego Simeone having done so for Atletico Madrid in September 1996.

 

Slavia Prague v Borussia Dortmund

13 - Czech champions Slavia handed out 13 Champions League debuts in their Group F opener, a 1-1 draw at Inter. The only player to feature who had previously appeared in the competition was Nicolae Stanciu.

68 - Dortmund have scored with just two of their past 68 attempts at goal in the Champions League and have been held goalless in five of their six most recent outings.

 

Barcelona v Inter

3 - Barca captain Messi has been directly involved in 15 goals in his past 17 games against Italian teams (12 goals, three assists), but has failed to score in any of his three Champions League meetings with Inter.

2003 - Inter boss Antonio Conte was an unused substitute for Juventus the last time an Italian coach won a Champions League match at Camp Nou, a quarter-final clash in 2003. Marcello Lippi was in charge of the visitors.

 

RB Leipzig v Lyon

5 - Each of Timo Werner's five Champions League goals have been scored away from home. No player has hit more on the road without scoring in their own stadium.

18 - Lyon striker Moussa Dembele is one game away from equalling former AEK Athens midfielder Vassilios Tsiartas' unwanted record for most Champions League appearances without winning, which stands at 18 (set between 1994 and 2003).

 

Zenit v Benfica

9 - Artem Dzyuba has been involved in nine goals in nine Champions League matches for Zenit, scoring six times and registering three assists, including one for Sardar Azmoun in his side's 1-1 draw against Lyon.

10 - Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Benfica have lost more Champions League group stage games (10) than any other team.

 

Lille v Chelsea

8 - Ligue 1 side Lille are winless in eight Champions League home matches since a 3-1 victory over AEK in October 2006, having gone undefeated in their first eight at home.

2 - Frank Lampard is in danger of becoming the second Englishman to lose his first two matches as a manager in the Champions League, after Ray Harford with Blackburn Rovers in September 1995.

 

Valencia v Ajax

2 - Valencia, 1-0 winners at Chelsea in their Group H opener, are looking to start a Champions League campaign with two consecutive victories for the first time since 2006-07, when Quique Sanchez Flores was in charge.

41 - Ajax captain Dusan Tadic has created 41 chances in the Champions League since the start of last season, more than any other player in the same period.

Real Madrid will be looking to kick-start their Champions League campaign against Club Brugge on Tuesday after losing to Paris Saint-Germain on matchday one, while Kylian Mbappe has his eye on a record of Lionel Messi's.

Madrid were crushed 3-0 by PSG last time out, with Thomas Tuchel's men looking extremely comfortable in a match that left Zinedine Zidane under a bit of pressure.

They have since bounced back with two wins and a draw in LaLiga and they will expect to get three points at home to Club Brugge, while PSG travel to Galatasaray.

The French champions will be able to call upon the services of Mbappe this time, having missed the Madrid clash through injury, and he is close to equalling a record set by Messi.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Tuesday's contests.

Real Madrid v Club Brugge

3 - Madrid are looking to avoid losing three successive Champions League matches for the first time in their history. They have not lost three in a row in European competition since September 1981.

50 - Los Blancos have won all three of their Champions League home matches against Belgian opposition by an aggregate score of 14-2. Their most recent competitive home defeat to a club from Belgium was 50 years ago in December 1969 versus Standard Liege in the European Cup (W4 D1 L0 since).

 

Galatasaray v Paris Saint-Germain

14 - Mbappe has scored 14 goals in the UEFA Champions League and will be aged 20 years and 284 days on the day of this match. The youngest player to 15 goals in the competition is Messi, who scored his 15th goal aged 21y 289d.

1 - If Galatasaray avoid defeat against PSG, it will be the first time they have remained unbeaten in the opening two games of a Champions League group stage since the format changed in 2003-04.

Red Star Belgrade v Olympiakos

4 - Marko Marin was directly involved in four of Red Star's five goals during the 2018-19 Champions League campaign, including two assists against Liverpool in their only ever victory in the competition.

9 - Olympiakos have lost nine of their past 11 matches away from home in the Champions League (W2), shipping at least two goals in every defeat. Prior to this run, the Greek side had won three of their previous six on the road (D1 L2).

 

Tottenham v Bayern Munich

39 - Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski has scored in 39 different Champions League matches; only Ruud van Nistelrooy (42), Karim Benzema (45), Raul (56), Lionel Messi (68), Cristiano Ronaldo (82) have scored in more.

2 - Bayern are looking to become the second side after PSG in October 2017 to score two or more goals in six successive Champions League away group matches since the competition changed to its current format in 2003-04.

Atalanta v Shakhtar Donetsk

20 - Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov has failed to keep a clean sheet in any of his past 20 Champions League starts – the only keeper with a longer such run in the history of the competition is Igor Akinfeev (43 starts between 2006 and 2017).

4 - Atalanta's 4-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb on matchday one was the heaviest defeat by a team in their first Champions League match since Qarabag lost 6-0 to Chelsea in September 2017.

 

Manchester City v Dinamo Zagreb

10 - Against Shakhtar, City's Gabriel Jesus scored his ninth Champions League goal – should he score in this game, he will be the youngest Brazilian (22y 181d) to reach 10 goals in the competition and youngest South American since Lionel Messi (21y 99d) in October 2008.

1 - Mislav Orsic's hat-trick on his Champions League debut for Dinamo against Atalanta was the first treble scored for a Croatian team in the competition. Only two Croatian players have scored in their first two appearances in the competition; Alen Boksic in November 1992 for Marseille and Nikola Vlasic in 2018 for CSKA Moscow.

 

Lokomotiv Moscow v Atletico Madrid

7 - Kieran Trippier created seven chances in Atletico Madrid's 2-2 draw with Juventus, the most of any player on matchday one this season. Since the start of last season, only Dusan Tadic (41) has created more chances than the England defender in the competition (32).

22 - Lokomotiv Moscow's victory over Bayer Leverkusen last time out was achieved with just 22 per cent possession, the lowest by a winning team in a Champions League match since Celtic had 15 per cent and beat Barcelona 2-1 in November 2012.

 

Juventus v Bayer Leverkusen

26 - Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 26 goals in 24 appearances against teams from Germany in the Champions League – no player has more against teams from a specific nation (Lionel Messi v English teams, also 26). This will his first appearance against Bayer Leverkusen in the competition.

78 - Leverkusen had 78 per cent possession in their 2-1 defeat to Lokomotiv Moscow, the most by a team in a Champions League match since Bayern Munich had 78.8 per cent against Arsenal in February 2014.

Paul Pogba wanted to leave Manchester United before the 2019-20 season, but Opta numbers suggest the midfielder can help turn the Red Devils' poor start around.

Pogba is set to make his 100th Premier League appearance at home to Arsenal on Monday, the France international having missed recent action for club and country with an ankle injury.

The 26-year-old has been a lightning rod for criticism since returning to Old Trafford, becoming the world's most expensive player when he left Juventus in 2016.

Pogba is still United's key man - their sole world-class talent and a performer capable of winning games on his own when operating at the top of his game.

Here, we assess his Premier League career to date, comparing the upcoming landmark with his time at Juve, as well as other Premier League stars in his position.


PROLIFIC POGBA IN ELITE COMPANY

Pogba hit eight Serie A goals in each of his last two seasons in Turin, but since moving back to United he has improved his record in front of goal.

Aided by the fact he often takes penalties for the Red Devils, Pogba has hit 24 goals in his 99 Premier League appearances to date - which includes three games before he left United as a youngster unable to break into Alex Ferguson's plans.

Pogba's first 100 Serie A appearances saw him score 22 times, so his effectiveness in front of goal has increased slightly, with no midfielder netting more than his 13 Premier League goals last term.

In fact, since Pogba rejoined United, only three midfielders have scored more Premier League goals: Dele Alli (32), Christian Eriksen (27) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (26), all of whom typically play closer to the opposition goal than the World Cup winner.


MORE ASSISTS SINCE UNITED RETURN

Pogba is also a creative force, of course, and his 49 goal involvements (goals plus assists) over the same period matches Sigurdsson's combined total.

Opta numbers suggest Pogba has enjoyed significant development in this side of his game in the last three seasons, with 25 assists in his 99 Premier League appearances to date besting the comparatively low 11 he managed in 100 league games for Juve.

Pogba's record in this regard compares favourably with the Premier League's elite again. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has contributed a peerless 44 assists, with Spurs star Eriksen not too far behind the Belgium international on 38.

David Silva is the only other midfielder to have posted more assists than Pogba in this period, though, indicating his playmaking talents have perhaps gone under the radar. He has created 162 chances in 99 Premier League games, compared to 124 in his first 100 Serie A appearances.


A MIDFIELDER WHO DOES IT ALL

Pogba's all-round talents make him almost one of a kind in the Premier League. No other midfielders can match the combination of playmaking, goalscoring and ball-winning he offers to United when at his best.

Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Pogba has recorded 640 recoveries - a tally that beats of his Premier League contemporaries who offer the same gifts in the final third. This total is more in keeping with a defensive-minded midfielder like Mark Noble, whose recoveries tally stands at 616 in the same period.

Pogba's tackle success rate in the past three campaigns is 70.29 per cent, comparable to Manchester City's energetic midfielder Bernardo Silva (70.79 per cent) and, again, ahead of players such as De Bruyne, Eriksen, Sigurdsson and Alli.

Few midfielders dictate play for their teams to the extent Pogba does for United. Since his return to the club, he has touched the ball 8,190 times in the Premier League - a tally towards the top of the tree for the league and behind only David Silva, Eriksen, Fernandinho and Granit Xhaka.

However, one statistic clearly indicates Pogba is simply playing for a worse team at United than he did when at Juve. His win ratio in 99 Premier League appearances to date is 57 per cent, compared to 71 per cent in his first 100 Serie A games.

As good as Pogba is - at both ends of the pitch - he cannot do it all on his own.

Manchester City captain David Silva reached 200 Premier League wins quicker than any player in Premier League history this weekend.

The former Spain international came off the bench to help see out a 3-1 triumph at Everton after Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling were on target at Goodison Park.

It was Silva's 289th appearance for City, meaning he reached his double century 16 games quicker than the previous record-holder – Chelsea great John Terry who chalked up 200 wins in 305 outings.

Terry's former Chelsea colleagues Petr Cech (310 matches) and Ashley Cole (318 matches) are also in the top five, with Manchester United icon Ryan Giggs (315 matches) there as well.

Since joining City from Valencia in 2010, Silva has made a strong claim to be regarded as the club's greatest ever player.

This will be his final season at the Etihad Stadium, and the Opta numbers we have combed through below underline what an exceptional performer the four-time Premier League winner has been.

A crafter and finisher of chances

Since Silva's Premier League debut in August 2010, only Ben Foster has played more matches in the division, with the goalkeeper making 292 appearances.

Silva has scored 55 goals top-flight goals, making him the third most prolific midfielder behind Yaya Toure (62) and weekend opponent Gylfi Sigurdsson (59) during his time in England.

No one rivals him in the assists stakes, however.

The World Cup winner has set up 87 goals in the Premier League – Christian Eriksen (61) is the closest to him.

Similarly, he is way out in front for chances created since August 2010, with his 751 significantly higher than Eden Hazard's 595.

No one expected the Spaniard's intuition

Pep Guardiola acknowledged he initially had doubts about Silva's suitability to the more physically demanding Premier League when he swapped Mestalla for the Etihad Stadium.

Many others were of the same opinion, but his impact on the Premier League is undeniable, having seamlessly adapted.

Cesc Fabregas is the only Spaniard to have more goal involvements (161) than Silva (142), while the former Arsenal and Chelsea man also set up a greater number of goals (111 compared to 87).

But Fabregas played 350 matches as opposed to Silva's 289, meaning he could yet usurp the Barcelona youth product.

The only Spanish player to score more Premier League goals than Silva is Fernando Torres with 85, though it seems unlikely he will topple El Nino.

A City great

In the Premier League era, no player has featured more for City than Silva, with Joe Hart (266), Vincent Kompany (265) and Richard Dunne (253) trailing in his wake.

Sergio Aguero is by far their most potent finisher during that time with 172, though Silva will fancy his chances of getting up to second before he eventually leaves or retires, with Carlos Tevez (58) and Yaya Toure (62) the only two in his way.

Again, Aguero is well clear at the top of the chart for goal involvements on 217, but Silva is second with 142. Of current City players, Raheem Sterling is next on 83 (54 goals, 29 assists).

It may still be early in the NFL season, but the play-off picture is slowly, but surely, starting to take shape.

Here’s a look at Week 4’s Bullet Points with the standout game coming in Buffalo as two teams with 100 per cent records, the Bills and the New England Patriots, go head to head.


SUNDAY (all times are Eastern)


Redskins (0-3) at Giants (1-2), 1pm

The Redskins and Giants have each allowed 94 points, with only the Dolphins (133) having surrendered more through the first three weeks. It’s the most both teams have allowed through three games in a season since 2013, when the Giants permitted 115 and Washington 98.

Washington are attempting to avoid their first 0-4 start since dropping their first five games of the 2001 season. The Redskins have lost six straight to NFC East teams since last season’s 20-13 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium, their longest in-division losing streak since an eight-game skid from 2013-14.

Evan Engram’s 23 catches are the most ever by a Giants tight end over a season’s first three games, while his 271 yards thus far are eclipsed only by Mark Bavaro’s 283 in 1986 for the most by a tight end in franchise history through three games.


Chiefs (3-0) at Lions (2-0-1), 1pm

Patrick Mahomes became the first player in NFL history with three straight games of 350-plus passing yards, three or more touchdown passes and no interceptions with last week’s 374-yard, three-TD effort against the Ravens. His 14 straight games with two or more TD passes is one short of Peyton Manning’s league record set from 2013-14.

Kansas City have outscored their opponents 51-0 in the second quarter over their last two wins, joining the 1935 Bears as the only teams to score 23 or more points in the second quarter while not allowing a point in consecutive games.

The Lions did not give up a sack for a second straight game in last week’s win over the Eagles. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, Detroit have never gone three consecutive games without allowing one. Since Week 7 of last season, the Lions are 6-1 when Matthew Stafford is sacked once or less and 0-6-1 when he’s taken down twice or more.


Titans (1-2) at Falcons (1-2), 1pm

The Titans have a -24 point differential in the first quarter this season, second worst in the NFL (Dolphins: -35), and a +19 differential in the fourth quarter, best in the league. The Falcons have a -21 point differential in the first quarter, third worst in the NFL, and a +18 differential in the fourth quarter, second best in the league.

Marcus Mariota has not thrown an interception in his last 142 attempts, the longest streak of his career and the fifth-longest active streak in the NFL. Additionally, Mariota has not lost a fumble in his last 356 touches, the second-longest streak of his career and the fourth-longest active streak in the league.

Matt Ryan has thrown for 300-plus yards and at least two scores in each game this season. He and Mahomes are the only two who have done so in their first three starts of 2019. Peyton Manning in 2013 was the last QB to have such a streak last longer than the first three starts of the season (five).


Browns (1-2) at Ravens (2-1), 1pm

The Ravens are 30-10 (.750) all-time against the Browns, the best record by any team against any opponent in NFL history (minimum 40 games).

Through three games, the Ravens have 1,535 total yards and no turnovers. They’re the only NFL team since 1950 to have at least 1,500 total yards and no turnovers over any three-game span.

Baker Mayfield has no touchdowns and five interceptions in the fourth quarter this season. The five interceptions are tied with Ryan Fitzpatrick (2016) for the most by any quarterback over his team’s first three games of a season in the last 25 years


Raiders (1-2) at Colts (2-1), 1pm

The Colts have won seven consecutive home games. Indianapolis haven’t won at least eight consecutive home games since winning a franchise-record 13 consecutive home games in 2008-09 with Peyton Manning. Indianapolis are looking to start 3-1 for the first time since 2013.

Jacoby Brissett is 19-for-20 passing in the first quarter this season. That 95.0 completion percentage is the second-best in any quarter (minimum 15 attempts) this season behind only Dak Prescott’s 22 for 22 in the third quarter.

The Raiders are one of three teams that have yet to score a point in the third quarter (also Detroit and Miami); the Colts are the only team in the NFL that have allowed a touchdown on their opponent’s first drive of the second half in all three games this season.


Patriots (3-0) at Bills (3-0), 1pm

New England have yet to allow an offensive touchdown through three games, the first team to do so since the 1944 Giants. Dating back to last season’s AFC Championship Game, the Patriots have allowed zero first-half points in five straight games, the longest streak since the 1951 Browns (also five).

Tom Brady is 30-3 in his career against the Bills, the most wins by any starting QB against any opponent all-time. Brady’s 69 career touchdown passes against Buffalo is the second most by any player against any opponent all-time, behind only Dan Marino’s 72 against the Jets.

Frank Gore was the leading rusher for either team in Buffalo’s win over Cincinnati last week. At age 36, he was the oldest player to be the leading rusher in a game since John Elway did so at age 38 on December 21, 1998, his penultimate regular-season game.


Panthers (1-2) at Texans (2-1), 1pm

The Texans are 32-1 when allowing less than 20 points since Bill O’Brien became head coach in 2014, tied with the Steelers for the NFL’s best record when doing so during that period. Houston have won 26 straight games when holding opponents under 20 points, the league’s longest active streak.

Deshaun Watson is the fastest player since at least 1960 (26 games) to record 6,500 career passing yards and 500 rushing yards, doing so one game quicker than Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Watson is also the lone player since 1925 with 50 TD passes and five rushing touchdowns in fewer than 30 career games.

Christian McCaffrey recorded his 200th career reception last week to join Reggie Bush as the only running back since 1960 with 200 or more catches through 35 career games. McCaffrey’s 450 scrimmage yards are the second-most by a Panthers player over a season’s first three games (Stephen Davis, 455, 2003).


Chargers (1-2) at Dolphins (0-3), 1pm

The Chargers rank fifth in the NFL in total yards per game (408.3), but the team ranks tied for 21st in points per game (21.0). This can be at least partially attributed to the Chargers having three giveaways in the red zone this season, tied with the 49ers for most in the NFL.

Philip Rivers is completing 70.7 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and no interceptions in the first three quarters, but has a 55.3 completion percentage with no touchdowns and two interceptions in the fourth quarter of games.

The Dolphins have won six straight home games against the Chargers dating back to 1988 – the last longer home winning streak for the franchise was against the Broncos (seven straight home wins spanning from 1966 to 2005).


Buccaneers (1-2) at Rams (3-0), 4:05pm

The Rams have won five straight against the Buccaneers dating back to 2012 – this is the Rams’ longest active winning streak against any opponent and tied for the Bucs’ longest active losing streak against any opponent (also five, against the Falcons).

Los Angeles have allowed 12 points in the first half of games this season – only the Patriots (0) have allowed fewer. The Rams have scored 55 points in the second half of games this season – only the 49ers (63) have scored more.

Mike Evans had 190 receiving yards and three touchdowns last week. He and Sammy Watkins are the only players to meet those marks in a game this season, and Evans is the first Buccaneer to ever have such a game – the last Buccaneer even with three receiving TDs in a game had been Jimmie Giles in 1985.


Seahawks (2-1) at Cardinals (0-2-1), 4:05pm

The Cardinals have gone 1-8-1 at home since the start of last season, worst in the NFL. The team ranks last in the NFL in points per game (14.5) and yards per game (270.0) at home in this span while having the second-most turnovers (20) behind only the Buccaneers (22).

Seattle has gone 5-0-1 in their last six games in Arizona, the second-longest active streak of road games against a divisional opponent without a loss – only the Patriots (seven vs Bills) have a longer streak.

Russell Wilson has completed 71.4 percent of his passes and thrown for 901 yards – both are career highs through three games of a season. He’d never thrown for more than 755 yards (2016) through three games in any previous season.


Vikings (2-1) at Bears (2-1), 4:25 pm

The Vikings lead the NFL with seven rushing touchdowns in 2019; they had only nine in their entire 2018 campaign. The Bears are one of three teams that have not surrendered a touchdown on the ground this season – along with New England and San Francisco – and have gone seven straight September games without giving up a rushing touchdown.

Chicago have scored 50 points in their first three games while allowing a mere 39. The Bears can join the Packers as the only teams in the league scoring and allowing less than 20.0 points per game. Chicago’s defense ranks in the NFL’s top five in points allowed, opponent third-down efficiency, opponent yards per rush, opponent yards per play and rush yards allowed per game.

Dalvin Cook leads the NFL with 375 rushing yards, second most ever by a Viking in the team’s first three games of a season; only Adrian Peterson, with 392 yards in 2010, has had more. Peterson is the only Viking ever to lead the NFL in rushing; he did so three times: 2008, 2012, and 2015.


Jaguars (1-2) at Broncos (0-3), 4:25pm

The Jaguars had nine sacks in their 20-7 win over the Titans in Week 3, tied for their third-most sacks in a single game in franchise history. This comes just two weeks after they allowed 40 points with no sacks in their Week 1 loss to Kansas City.

Gardner Minshew II currently ranks second in the NFL in completion percentage at 73.9 percent (Dak Prescott, 74.5). Minshew's completion percentage is the highest by any player in his first three career games over the last 50 seasons (minimum 60 attempts).

Joe Flacco has been sacked 11 times this year, tied for fourth most in the league, while the Jaguars are tied for the NFL lead with 13 sacks. Flacco was sacked just 16 times in Baltimore last season, fewest among players with at least 300 pass attempts.


Cowboys (3-0) at Saints (2-1), 8:20pm

Besides leading the NFC in total offense, the Cowboys’ 1,444 total yards are the most they’ve ever had in a three-game span (previous team record of 1,391 came in 1966). This is also the first time Dallas has had 450-plus yards in three games in a row; the last team to do it in four straight was the 2015 Steelers.

Dak Prescott is completing a league-best 74.5 percent of his passes this season and is at 66.6 percent for his career, the best mark among all Cowboys QBs with at least 500 attempts. Prescott’s nine TD passes match Don Meredith (1966) for the most by any Cowboy through the first three games of a season.

Alvin Kamara’s 34 total touchdowns since 2017 are the most in the NFL besides Todd Gurley’s 41; no other player has 30. Kamara, who will play his 35th NFL game Sunday, can join Edgerrin James and Larry Johnson as the only players since 2000 to reach 35 total TDs in 35 career games or less.


MONDAY

Bengals (0-3) at Steelers (0-3), 8:15pm

Pittsburgh are 9-14-1 in September since 2013, eighth worst in the NFL. The seven teams below them have combined for four play-off berths in that span, while the Steelers have four themselves.

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 11 games with at least 100 receiving yards since 2017 are the sixth most in the NFL even though he’s gone four straight games without one. That’s his longest drought since failing to reach 100 in any of the first seven games of his 2017 rookie season.

The Bengals have been limited to a total of 126 rushing yards. The only team in the past 25 seasons to have fewer rushing yards through three games was the 2012 Titans with 117. Cincinnati’s 506 rushing yards allowed are its most after three games since 2008 (523 yards).

 

Atletico Madrid host LaLiga leaders and city rivals Real Madrid this weekend with Joao Felix still feeling his way in to life as their club-record signing.

Brought in as a direct replacement for Antoine Griezmann following the France forward's controversial switch to Barcelona, Joao Felix has shown flashes of the brilliance that persuaded Atleti to pay his €126million release clause to buy him from Benfica.

The teenager exploded onto the scene with 15 Primeira Liga goals last season, while he hit a superb hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The expectations on his shoulders at Atletico are a different story, however, with Joao Felix having two goals and an assist to show for his six LaLiga appearances at his new club.

With Zinedine Zidane's unpredictable Madrid visiting the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday and Atleti having not won a home LaLiga derby since 2015, Joao Felix will face the biggest test of his club career to date.


PARTNERSHIP WITH COSTA NEEDS WORK

On paper, Diego Costa looks like an ideal partner for Joao Felix, with his street smarts and aggressive nature aspects the teenager is undoubtedly lacking.

Costa's experience should be invaluable too, with the Brazil-born Spain international having fired Atletico to their most recent title in 2013-14 when he scored a career-best 27 league goals.

But the 30-year-old's form has been a concern for some time, dating back to his return from Premier League side Chelsea, and his opener in Tuesday's 2-0 victory at Real Mallorca was only the second competitive goal he has managed in 2019.

Data from Opta shows Joao Felix has only passed to Costa seven times during their 279 minutes on the pitch together in LaLiga this season, with the ball going in the other direction on just six occasions. Linking up effectively has been a challenge with Joao Felix typically drifting out to the right, where he combines with Koke.

Although Joao Felix also netted in the Mallorca win to send Atleti into the derby on a high note after they drew a blank in back-to-back league games, this must be an area of concern for Diego Simeone, who is without Alvaro Morata through suspension this weekend.

Costa and Joao Felix will surely develop their understanding in time and the duo were extremely effective when Atletico destroyed Madrid 7-3 during the International Champions Cup in pre-season, a game in which Costa scored four goals and was twice assisted by the Portuguese.

Only once have they combined for a goal in LaLiga this term, Costa setting up Joao Felix to spark Atleti's 3-2 comeback win at home to Eibar on September 1, and this needs to improve.


FITNESS ANOTHER POTENTIAL ISSUE

Adapting to a new league physically, as well as making the step up in class, was always going to be a challenge for Joao Felix.

His slight figure is in sharp contrast to the imposingly barrel-chested strike partner Costa, who can bounce defenders out of his way.

Although he produced a brilliant solo run from inside his own half to win a penalty against Getafe on his LaLiga debut, occasionally Joao Felix has been pushed off the ball too easily.

Perhaps this has led to frustrations for the teenager as he has committed seven fouls in his six LaLiga appearances to date, while he has been brought down on eight occasions.

The rough and tumble nature of some matches has also posed a problem. Joao Felix was taken off in the first half of a friendly against Numancia after taking a bang to his hip and some opposition players have seemingly targeted him.

Although Simeone has selected the Portugal international in all six of his LaLiga line-ups this term, while he also started against Juventus in the Champions League, he has been substituted five times.

Confidence is not an issue for Joao Felix, but he has fired more shots off target (six) than on target (five) in the top flight for Atleti, while he has lost possession at an average of 9.83 times per match. Indeed, he has completed 84 passes and 25 have gone astray, a far from impressive ratio, with just two chances created.

Time is on Joao Felix's side, however. At the same stage of the 2018-19 season, Griezmann's last for the Rojiblancos after winning the World Cup with France, he had only scored twice in LaLiga. Joao Felix has matched that tally already.

February 2018, Gareth Bale tore up Real Madrid's left flank and played an inch-perfect cross into the centre for Karim Benzema to further embarrass Real Sociedad and surely wrap up a 6-2 mauling at the Santiago Bernabeu.

But Benzema remarkably sliced his first-time effort over the crossbar from about seven yards when it appeared impossible to miss – Madrid's fans held up their infamous reputation and rained a torrent of jeers down on the much-maligned Frenchman.

It had become par for the course with Benzema, who was relentlessly whistled by his own supporters through the 2017-18 campaign. But this time Cristiano Ronaldo took a stand, wagging his finger disapprovingly at those responsible before seeming to sarcastically applaud the fans behind 'Gol Sur'.

Benzema's relationship with Los Blancos fans had already been strained for a long time, with criticism morphing into boos, jeers and whistles in 2013, while the striker spoke publicly of his confusion around the situation in 2017.

"The hardest part is when the criticism comes from your own fans. They are normally there to boost you," he said to Canal Plus, revealing his bafflement.

Benz on the brink

The flak reached its zenith during the 2017-18 season.

Benzema scored just five times in 32 LaLiga matches, converting 7.94 per cent of his chances and averaging a goal every 431.2 minutes. Though there was the caveat of a solid haul of 10 assists, it was an extremely challenging year for the forward.

Benzema could hardly suggest it was a momentary blip either, as 11 goals from 29 matches the previous season was similarly underwhelming.

Such form looked set to cost Benzema dear, as he appeared destined to leave in 2018. That horror miss against La Real was followed by strong transfer rumours a couple of weeks later, with the Chinese Super League or a return to France apparently beckoning.

What goal problem?

Coach Zinedine Zidane never passed up the chance to defend Benzema during those dark days, and one has to assume the striker would have left several years ago were the former 'Galactico' not fighting his corner.

Quite simply, Zidane 'gets' Benzema.

"I don't agree with the criticism. What interests me is not just his goals. I like what Karim does for the team, he's one of the best in this regard, and in the team game - I value that a lot. I'm going to defend Benzema to death," Zidane said ahead of the 2017 Club World Cup final.

After all, during those two onerous campaigns, Benzema recorded 18 assists across all competitions – add that figure to his 31 goals, then he had 49 goal involvements in 95 matches.

"You had a rocket [Bale] and a goalscorer [Ronaldo], and then there was me, the piece that made it all work," Benzema explained to RMC earlier this month, seemingly a too-nuanced point for Madrid's band of rowdy revilers.

"Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent"

The coach and player relationship is by no means one-way here, either. Benzema's regard for Zidane is well-known and surely a major contributor for the coach's success and the striker's renaissance.

"I have already said it before, but Zidane is like a godfather to me," Benzema commented three years ago.

While's Benzema's resurgence began during the final two months of Santiago Solari's ill-fated reign, there's little doubt Zidane's faith and understanding of the forward ensured he remained influential even after the former Ballon d'Or winner briefly called it quits last year.

Only Sergio Ramos (1,200 minutes) played with greater regularity than Benzema (1,092 minutes) under Julen Lopetegui, while he featured for 2,424 minutes for Solari, 233 more than anyone else. Whether he'd have remained if Ronaldo stayed is another matter, however.

Karim of the crop

There's no greater indication of Benzema's resurgence than the fact only Lionel Messi has scored more LaLiga goals than him in 2019 – the Barcelona star is on 21, the Lyon academy product has 20.

The most recent of those was particularly well timed, as Benzema got the winner in Sunday's 1-0 win at Sevilla – who were unbeaten and had designs on going top of LaLiga – with a smart header after a clever bit of movement.

Previous results had put Zidane under pressure – with the ever-present spectre of Jose Mourinho lurking, waiting for an invitation to return – but Benzema was there to spare his friend.

As such, Benzema heads into Saturday's derby against Atletico Madrid with five goals – his total for 2017-18 – in as many LaLiga outings this term.

In the post-Ronaldo era, Benzema has stepped up to become Madrid's talisman. The only jeers he attracts now are those from fearful fans of Los Blancos' opposition.

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