Premier League stats: Liverpool's play-making defender and Man United's Daniel James is most fouled

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The Premier League always manages to produce plenty of action and excitement, but it’s also worth taking a step back at the end of each round and looking at the figures that stand out.

There’s nothing like an eye-catching statistic to highlight an event or put something into perspective.

Here, we look at the top five stats from the latest round of fixtures.

NEW ASSIST KING?

Following an injury-ravaged season last term, Kevin De Bruyne has begun this campaign in fine form. It may not have been his most eye-catching assist for Sergio Aguero to break the deadlock at Bournemouth, but it was his 50th in the Premier League.

Having played only 123 games, the Belgian playmaker has reached the milestone in record time. Mesut Ozil was previously the quickest to the mark, taking 141 appearances while Eric Cantona took 143.

JAMES HUNTED

Manchester United’s summer signing Daniel James has received bookings in successive games for simulation and is gaining a reputation as a diver. However, his reprimand on Saturday at Old Trafford seemed rather harsh.

The Welshman’s blistering pace is always going to draw challenges from opposing defenders and following this weekend, no one in the league has been fouled more times (11). Aston Villa’s John McGinn has been brought down the same number of times, but has played 75 minutes more.

[Source: WhoScored]

Daniel James (r)

PLAYMAKING FULL-BACK

Trent Alexander-Arnold was in a personal duel all last season with team-mate Andy Robertson for assists. He finished the campaign with a flurry and hasn’t looked back, assisting twice in three games so far this term.

His assist for Joel Matip against Arsenal marked his ninth his last 10 league games, a phenomenal return for a defender. Of course, his quality from set-pieces has helped him along the way but that doesn’t take away from the sheer number of chances he creates.

His 11 key passes so far this season is second only to De Bruyne (14).

PEPE GETS PAST

It’s finally happened. Virgil van Dijk has been dribbled past in the Premier League, ending a run of 50 games as an immovable object.

Foreign recruit Nicolas Pepe was the chosen one as he beat the Dutchman during Arsenal’s defeat at Anfield.

Van Dijk was last dribbled past in March 2018 by Newcastle’s Mikel Merino. It’s fitting that the man to beat him after nearly a year and half is also starting to look like one of the best dribblers in the league.

No player has completed more than his 11 dribbles so far this season.

BARNSTORMING START

There’s an argument to made that Ashley Barnes may be one of the best finishers in the league. The Burnley striker scored his fourth goal of the season against Wolves and is proving to be incredibly efficient.

Only Aguero (16) and Sadio Mane (15) have scored more goals in the league than the 13 Barnes has managed in 2019.

He’s also very accurate with his efforts and has a conversion rate of nearly 50 per cent. Off his nine shots this term, six have been on target and he scored from four of them.

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Pep Guardiola ridicules VAR as David Silva puts his foot in it at Bournemouth

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Pep Guardiola took a sarcastic dig at VAR and implied Manchester City will struggle to retain the Premier League title if decisions continue to go against his team.

City were denied what looked to be a certain second-half penalty in their 3-1 win at Bournemouth when David Silva had his foot stood on by Jefferson Lerma.

A review of the incident took place but the outcome surprisingly backed the original decision of referee Andre Marriner.

David Silva makes his 400th Manchester City appearance

City were last week left frustrated during a 2-2 draw with Tottenham when a last-gasp goal from Gabriel Jesus was disallowed by VAR due to a contentious handball against Aymeric Laporte.

Guardiola appeared exasperated with the use of the technology and, when asked if his side deserved a spot-kick, replied in an sardonic manner: “No, no, no. Penalty? No.

“It was clear hands last game, clear hands. A penalty today? No, please.

“The challenge this season will be amazing for us after winning back-to-back two titles, the challenge will be great.”

Questioned about the information he had received at VAR briefings, he responded: “Ask to the VAR people, please. Don’t ask to me.”

Sergio Aguero’s double and Raheem Sterling’s sixth goal of the season returned City to winning ways after Spurs had controversially ended their run of 15 successive league victories.

Captain Silva, who was left writhing on the turf by Lerma’s challenge with the game at 2-1, contributed two assists on his 400th appearance for the club, while Brazil striker Jesus was absent because of a hamstring problem.

Guardiola praised his team for battling through a physical encounter on the south coast to make it nine top-flight wins from as many games against the Cherries.

“We knew it, we felt it (the physicality), a nice three points and a big compliment to the players, a few things to improve, that’s good it’s happened when we are winning games,” he said.

“The quality of our players in front made the difference and we won the game.”

After Aguero’s opener and Sterling’s 11th goal in 10 appearances against Bournemouth, substitute Harry Wilson gave the hosts hope by making it 2-1 with a stunning 25-yard free-kick in first-half stoppage time.

The Cherries had numerous other chances, with Adam Smith and Callum Wilson among those thwarted by Ederson, before Aguero made the points safe.

City goalkeeper Ederson also escaped with only a yellow card early on after wiping out England forward Wilson wide on the Bournemouth left.

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe felt his side caused City plenty of problems.

“We did have our chances and that’s the frustrating thing today,” he said.

“Compare this game to our previous encounters against Manchester City, I think that’s the most we’ve created by a long way. I thought we were a constant menace to them.

“The lads left everything on the pitch, which is all I can ask of them.

“We’re frustrated to lose, of course, but a lot of positives to take.”

Goalscorer Wilson, who followed up last week’s strike at Aston Villa in style, was only on the pitch after Charlie Daniels was carried off on a stretcher with a knee problem.

Wing-back Daniels has just returned from a long-term knee injury and Howe is concerned the player faces another lengthy spell on the sidelines.

“I know it’s potentially serious,” said Howe.

“To see a player go off on a stretcher like that in the amount of pain that he was you fear for the worst.

“Until we get a proper diagnosis, it’s difficult to give you definites but we’re concerned for him.”

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David Luiz remains full of fight despite error-prone display at Liverpool

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David Luiz insists Arsenal can bridge the gap to the Premier League‘s top two.

The Gunners were beaten 3-1 by Liverpool on Saturday as they lost their 100 per cent record and the bubble burst on what had been an encouraging start to the season.

It does not get any easier with the visit of rivals Tottenham next weekend but Luiz is adamant they have shown enough potential to at least be in contention for the top four, having failed last season.

To do that, however, they need to find a steely resolve – a criticism regularly aimed at Arsenal over the years – to prevent episodes like the one at Anfield.

And Luiz himself will have to cut out the mistakes as his tug-back on Mohamed Salah presented the Egypt international with a penalty which crucially made it 2-0 and took the game away from the Gunners.

Lucas Torreira’s late consolation papered over some of the cracks, although £72million summer signing Nicolas Pepe, on his full debut, offered some hope from an attacking point of view.

“There is frustration always but I think you also have to be intelligent and mature to understand we did a lot of good things and we could have scored two or three goals before they did,” said Luiz.

“It is always difficult to play there. Not many teams will go there and get points. I think you have to be clever to take the positive things and think about the future.

“This club has the potential to shine like it has shone in the past. We have a lot of talent, we have players with a lot of quality.

“Football is about the end not the beginning and we are going to have to try to fight to the end.”

Luiz’s £8million arrival from Chelsea in the summer was supposed to help stiffen up a brittle defence.

While he still has some adjusting to do in his new surroundings he is confident they will continue to improve and has set himself ambitious targets.

“I came here with the ambition to fight for the Premier League title, I want to fight for other competitions also,” he added.

“It was like that at the other clubs I have been at but it was not always easy, there were difficult moments.

“I am going to try to do my best every single day and try to help everyone to believe in this because I think this club can believe a lot because it has a lot of potential.

“Every week you have to think to get points and then you arrive in March or April and then you are there and then small details make the difference. So we will do that.”

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