Africans Abroad Ivorians Serge Aurier and Eric Bailly endure contrasting fortunes

It's fair to say that the Premier League careers of Ivory Coast duo Serge Aurier and Eric Bailly haven't gone to plan, and there were contrasting fortunes for the pair when they collided in the top flight on Sunday.

While Manchester United's 6-1 home pummelling by Tottenham Hotspur represented a new nadir for Bailly's troubled time at Old Trafford, it was a vivid reminder of Aurier's offensive qualities as he played his part in a famous victory.

While the full-back's future remains uncertain -- he's been linked with moves to AC Milan and Spartak Moscow among others during the transfer window -- Spurs' early punishing schedule has led to extensive rotation from Jose Mourinho, and on this occasion, new arrival Matt Doherty was benched for Aurier.

The right-sider was a lethal presence, weighing in with an assist and a goal -- a fine finish beyond the hapless David De Gea -- as he added another, vibrant, dimension to Spurs' attacking unit.

Perhaps most impressively for Aurier, a player so often derided for neglecting his defensive duties, the full-back was outstanding when faced with 10-man United's meagre forays forward.

He ended the game with four completed tackles, two interceptions, three clearances, and may now have a key role to play for Spurs as moving forward as they look to compete on multiple fronts.

For Bailly, however, it was yet another dismal episode -- one of his worst -- in a United career that continues to unravel spectacularly amidst fitness issues and a loss of form.

On this evidence, he isn't the answer to the eternal quest to find a partner for Harry Maguire, shown by the duo's farcical attempts to clear the ball during the early stages in the build-up to Tanguy Ndombele's equaliser.

There was no chemistry between the pair, and increasingly no confidence, as Son Heung-min repeatedly took joy in beating Bailly in foot races and turning the centre-back inside out.

The Ivorian was directly -- and almost solely -- responsible for Spurs' third when he picked up the ball from De Gea and inexplicably passed the ball across his own box.

Son and Harry Kane were in no mood for charity, and promptly capitalised on his glaring error, as the Korean did again moments later when Bailly allowed him to move into a dangerous position at De Gea's near post before firing home a fourth.

"I've been a player so I don't like to go on one player but all of the defence has been [shocking]," ex-United left-back Patrice Evra said on Sky Sports.

"Bailly got the chance to play instead of [Victor] Lindelof, and he made that mistake," he added. "So don't cry when you don't play."

It was dire encounter for both player and club, and while United will turn to the transfer window to pick themselves up, it remains to be seen whether Bailly can still hope to have a part to play in their future.

Elsewhere in the Premier League...

It was a weekend to forget for Mohamed Salah and reigning champions Liverpool, who succumbed 7-2 to Aston Villa in a result that eclipsed even Spurs' victory over United for shock value.

Without Sadio Mane, isolating after testing positive for the coronavirus, the Reds lacked their intensity and cohesion going forward, although Salah still netted twice during a remarkable denouement for the reigning champions.

He's now scored against 25 of the 26 different clubs he's played against in the Premier League for the Reds, a better ratio than any previous Reds player has managed in the competition's history.

Moussa Djenepo marked his 13th home league appearance for Southampton with the opener as Saints defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-0, while Nicolas Pepe rounded off an eye-catching 19-pass move for Arsenal with their second goal in a 2-1 home victory over Sheffield United.

Across the Channel

In Italy this weekend, fans missed out on the high-profile early-season showdown between champions Juventus and Victor Osimhen's Napoli after the Partenopei failed to travel to Turin after several positive coronavirus tests within their camp.

Their no-show looks likely to result in a 3-0 walk-over victory for Juve, while the Covid cases within the team have resulted in Osimhen missing out on Nigeria's international friendlies against Tunisia and Algeria.

The Nigeria Football Federation announced on Saturday that the striker has been 'excused' from the upcoming international break, with Genk's Paul Onuachu replacing him in the squad.

Another Super Eagles striker overlooked from Gernot Rohr's squad is Crotone's Simy Nwankwo, although he at least scored his first Serie A goal of the season on Saturday when he netted from the penalty spot at Sassuolo.

Despite his strike, the Sharks fell to a 4-1 defeat - their third consecutive loss of the season since promotion from Serie B.

Thomas Partey's future remains up in the air as we head into transfer deadline day, with the Ghana powerhouse still at Atletico Madrid despite incessant rumours linking him with a move to the Premier League.

Any potential suitors still in doubt about his qualities will have been impressed with what they saw in Atleti's 0-0 draw with Villarreal on Saturday.

He was one of the hosts' stronger performers during a frustrating outing, winning the ball back on five occasions (three tackles, two interceptions), and also beat his man twice.

Admittedly, Partey's shooting was wayward -- none of his three shots were on target -- but it was another commanding display, particularly against one of the league's in-form sides.

Nigeria's Samuel Chukwueze was introduced from the bench for the Yellow Submarine, but made scant impact during his 20-minute cameo.

Finally, to France, where Senegal's Ibrahima Niane was the weekend's star performer.

The 21-year-old forward netted his first career hat-trick -- scoring three goals inside 20 minutes -- as Metz came from behind to defeated FC Lorient 3-1 at home.

Niane was a Ligue 2 winner with Metz during the 2018-19 season as they returned to the top tier, but struggled to make an impact in Ligue 1 last term, scoring just three goals across 21 outings.

He's already doubled that tally this season, with his trio against Les Merlus leaving him on six goals in six games heading into the international break.

It's already been a season of landmarks for Niane, who scored twice in a match for the first time in his career as Metz picked up their first win of the season against Stade Rennais last month.

Surprisingly, Niane, who comes from the same Generation Foot academy as Mane and Ismaila Sarr, hasn't been named in the Senegal squad for their upcoming friendlies during the international break, although it won't be long before he becomes a full Teranga Lions international.

Boulaye Dia, who has been named in Aliou Cisse's Senegal squad for the matches against Morocco and Mauritania, netted a 66th-minute equaliser for Stade de Reims away at Rennes this weekend, while Gael Kakuta and Samuel Kalu were also on the scoresheet in the French top flight, in victories for Lens and Bordeaux respectively.