Dennis the Menace goes to Leicester, and other football stories

Could losing Salah and Mane to AFCON cost Liverpool the title? (1:09)

Mark Donaldson and Janusz Michallik discuss who out of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are favourites for the Premier League title. (1:09)

Victor Osimhen may be out injured for the next three months, but the performances of some of Nigeria's other frontmen around Europe this weekend provided optimism that the Super Eagles will be just fine without their star man.

Emmanuel Dennis -- outstanding for Watford so far this term -- was again among the goals before he endured an injury problem of his own, while out-of-favour Taiwo Awoniyi and Ademola Lookman also made big contributions.

Elsewhere, Ihlas Bebou was outstanding in the German top flight, while Samuel Chukwueze scored against Barcelona.

Dennis the Menace...

Watford forward Dennis could stake a strong claim to being the under-the-radar revelation of the Premier League so far.

Before this season, he was plagued by something of a 'bad boy' reputation -- infamously storming off the Club Brugge bus after finding his favourite seat had been taken by a teammate -- but he's firmly done his talking on the pitch this term.

His goal against Leicester City this weekend -- finishing coolly over Kasper Schmeichel after dispossessing Timothy Castagne -- was his sixth of the season so far, with the ex-FC Koln man also registering four assists to date.

He could have had more against the Foxes, with decision-making letting him down earlier after being in a promising position, but Dennis now finds himself amidst excellent company following his strong start to life in England.

For context, only Eric Cantona, Arjen Robben, Jurgen Klinsmann, Bruno Fernandes, and Andriy Arshavin have registered both five goals and five assists in their first 12 outings in the top flight.

The forward caused Leicester trouble consistently, and indeed, he was also responsible for the Hornets' opener when he was tripped in the box by international teammate Wilfred Ndidi, with Joshua King converting the resulting penalty.

Not only is Dennis proving that he's comfortably good enough to make a mark in the Premier League, but he's also exposing Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr for not giving him any playing time since 2020.

By contrast, Ndidi wasn't the only Super Eagle to have a testing encounter in Leicester's thrilling 4-2 victory, with William Troost-Ekong -- for reasons that weren't apparent to anyone inside the King Power Stadium -- choosing to evade a long pass forward, allowing James Maddison to nip in behind the backline to open the scoring in the 16th minute.

If the scoring began with a Super Eagles error, however, the contest was settled by another potential attacking option for Nigeria's AFCON campaign in Ademola Lookman.

Featuring from the start for the Foxes, Lookman followed up his assist against Legia Warsaw in midweek with another bright performance and he guaranteed all three points for the East Midlanders when he tapped home Harvey Barnes' cross 22 minutes from time.

Kelechi Iheanacho -- who is better placed than either Dennis or Lookman to represent Nigeria in Cameroon -- was an unused substitute for the Foxes, watching on as two-goal Jamie Vardy once again rolled back the years.

The only downside for Dennis, following an outstanding afternoon, was the injury that forced to him being replaced in the 71st minute of the contest. It remains to be seen whether he will be fit enough to take part in Wednesday's fixture against Chelsea.

Memphis Depay gives Barcelona a late lead

Memphis Depay goes in alone against the Villarreal defense and puts Barcelona ahead in the 88th minute.

...And other stories

Also in the Premier League this weekend, Mohamed Salah was again influential as Liverpool dispatched Southampton 4-0 during a thoroughly one-sided encounter.

Salah provided the assist for the outstanding Diego Jota to score his second goal during an emphatic first half, crossing from the right after an exchange with Jordan Henderson after being played in by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Later on, he was denied a goal himself by Ghana centre-back Mohammed Salisu, although a bright display can't entirely mask Salah's reduced goal output in recent weeks.

The Egypt superstar -- who made the top 10 in Monday's Ballon d'Or voting -- has scored two in his last six games in all competitions for Liverpool, a sharp contrast with his record of 10 in his previous six outings.

Similarly, he didn't take a shot on target against Saints, the first time this season he's failed to even test the keeper in a league game.

After the match, Jurgen Klopp once again discussed the AFCON in his press conference - only days after creating something of a storm by sarcastically describing the competition as a 'little tournament'.

This time, the German coach acknowledged that the 2020 champions were still unclear exactly when Salah and Sadio Mane will depart for the tournament.

Klopp will doubtless be keen for the pair to feature for the Reds when they take on Chelsea on January 2, only seven days before the Nations Cup is due to kick off in Yaounde.

Finally, in the Prem, there were mixed fortunes for two of Crystal Palace's African players as the Eagles were defeated 2-1 at home by Aston Villa.

In the positives column, Michael Olise demonstrated his threat going forward with a series of adventurous and accurate long-range balls that helped the Eagles open up their well-organised opponents.

While the Franco-Nigerian forward wowed Championship observers with his footwork and dribbling skills with Reading last term, he showcased some other aspects of his game here, even if a zero-percent success rate out of nine crosses attempted suggests he isn't playing to his strengths here.

Wilfred Zaha similarly failed to pick out Christian Benteke with his three attempted crosses as he delivered one of his least effective displays of the season so far.

The forward sent an early effort wide of the post, but that was his chief contribution as the Villa defence stifled him effectively.

Still, it was an unfamiliar sight when, with Palace requiring a goal at home, their talisman was withdrawn by coach Patrick Vieira with 18 minutes still to play.

Early evidence that the French manager is losing faith with Palace's frustrated talisman, perhaps?

Across the Channel

In Germany, critics who have been waiting for Awoniyi's impressive run to end, continue to be silenced by the Nigerian frontman as he chips in with big contributions.

This time he was influential in Union Berlin's equaliser against Eintracht Frankfurt, forcing an equaliser when he was bundled over in the box before Max Kruse stepped up to net from the spot.

The contribution ultimately proved to be in vain for the capital club as Eintracht netted a late winner, but Awoniyi's performance -- he already has eight Bundesliga goals so far this term -- ought to pique the interest in the Nigerian federation.

Even more impressive in Germany was Togo's Ihlas Bebou, who scored a delightful hat-trick in Hoffenheim's rollercoaster 6-3 victory at Greuther Furth -- his first in the German top flight.

Bebou's scintillating display extended Hoffenheim's fine start to the season, as the village club sit fifth in the Bundesliga after 13 matches. In Spain, Nigeria's Chukwueze is slowly continuing his rehabilitation following an injury setback that's utterly decimated his start to the season.

The wideman is still yet to start a game for Villarreal this season as Unai Emery bleeds him back into action slowly, but he did make his first decisive contribution of the Spanish season when he scored in the Yellow Submarine's home clash with Barcelona.

His 76th-minute equaliser ultimately proved in vain as Barca netted twice at the death to win their first away game under Xavi Hernandez, but the winger nonetheless extended his fine run against the Catalan giants.

The last time he netted in the Spanish top flight was also against Barcelona -- way back in April -- while no Villarreal player has scored more that Chukwueze's three goals in four games against the 26-time Spanish champions at the Estadio de la Ceramica.