Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates on his Manchester United return
It just had to be, did it not? Cristiano Ronaldo, back at Old Trafford, of course he would get on the scoresheet.
Ronaldo netted not once, but twice in United’s 4-1 defeat of Newcastle United on Saturday, announcing his return to the Premier League in style.
Meanwhile, a player who has established himself as one of the possible heirs to the Ronaldo (and Lionel Messi) throne at the pinnacle of the game reached a century of goals in the competition.
And after their worst start in generations, Arsenal finally found a way to win.
Here are some of the more curious Opta facts from the latest round of games.
Age is just a number for evergreen Ronaldo
Aged 36 year and 218 days, Ronaldo became the oldest player to score a Premier League double in over a decade.
The last player of more advancing years to do so? Well, another of the league’s greats, of course. That being Graham Alexander of Burnley, who scored twice in a match against Hull City in April 2010 at the age of 38 years and 182 days.
On the same day as Alexander was leading Burnley to a 4-1 win over the Tigers, Ronaldo played his second LaLiga Clasico. Real Madrid lost 2-0, following on from Barcelona’s 5-0 victory earlier in the season.
Back to Old Trafford on Saturday, where Newcastle’s dismal run continued. They have only managed one win at the Theatre of Dreams in their last 27 league attempts, while Steve Bruce, a former United stalwart, has lost 12 of his 13 games at his old stomping ground as a visiting manager, with his teams scoring just six goals over that run.
Ronaldo’s gap of 12 years and 124 days between goals is the second-longest between two strikes by the same player in Premier League history, after Matt Jackson, who went 13 years and 187 days in between netting for Everton and Wigan Athletic respectively.
The Portugal superstar also broke Damien Delaney’s record (11y 155d) for the biggest gap between Premier League appearances, with Ronaldo turning out for Manchester United again 12 years and 118 days since his previous game in May 2009.
Paul Pogba stands out on his own at the top of the assist charts with seven to his name already. He is the only player to have recorded as many as 10 assists in the Premier League in 2021, while his tally across the opening four games is the most any player has registered in the first four games of a Premier League season.
Mo moves into the 100 club
Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Leeds United was somewhat marred by a horrid injury for Harvey Elliott. But the Reds were nevertheless convincing winners, with Mohamed Salah opening the scoring with his 100th Premier League goal.
Salah has reached his century in 162 games, with only four players getting there quicker. His team also moved onto a century in terms of attempts on goal across their four league games so far this season.
Their tally of 30 shots was quite remarkable, though Jurgen Klopp will want an improvement on the 10 per cent conversion rate.
Sadio Mane had a game-leading 10 shots, yet only two of those hit the target – the Senegal star finally scoring in second-half stoppage time. It was the most attempts he has ever had in a Premier League game, and more than any other player has managed in any match so far this season (Romelu Lukaku having had eight for Chelsea against Arsenal last month).
Villa left reeling by Rom yet again
There must have been a collective sigh of relief around Villa Park when, as Aston Villa were preparing for life back in the top flight, Lukaku left the Premier League to join Serie A giants Inter.
But now the Belgian has returned to England and, as he has a knack of doing, back to finding the net against the poor old Villans.
He scored twice in Chelsea’s 3-0 win on Saturday, his first goals at Stamford Bridge for any team, in what was his 15th appearance at the ground.
Lukaku has now scored in each of his last six Premier League appearances against Villa (eight goals) – only against West Ham has he had a longer run of scoring in consecutive games against a specific opponent in the competition (seven, between 2013 and 2016).
Arteta finally gets off the ground
The pressure might well have been too much had bottom-of-the-pile Arsenal failed to beat Norwich City on Saturday, but fortunately for Mikel Arteta, his Gunners side came up with the goods.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed a 1-0 win in a match that saw Arsenal have 30 attempts, the most they have had in a league game since producing 33 against Manchester United in December 2017.
Remarkably, with Liverpool also having 30 shots against Leeds, the record from last season (29, set by Manchester City against Leeds in April) has already been surpassed twice.
This is Norwich’s worst ever start to a league campaign after four games (zero points, -10 goal difference) and just the third time they have started a season with four league defeats.
Aaron Ramsdale, meanwhile, became the first English goalkeeper to make a Premier League appearance for Arsenal since David Seaman way back in May 2003.