Pep Guardiola hailed Sergio Aguero as "a legend" after the Manchester City striker broke two records in Sunday's 6-1 win over Aston Villa.

Aguero netted three times as he surpassed Thierry Henry as the Premier League's top-scoring non-Englishman, while he is now the division's leading scorer of hat-tricks after completing his 12th at Villa Park.

Although the hosts were charitable in their defending, Aguero's opener showed his clinical finishing ability as he lashed home from outside the box.

A jinking run and finish doubled his tally before an emphatic close-range effort secured the matchball and the warm praise of his manager.

"He's a legend and the legend rises tonight," Guardiola told Sky Sports after a match in which Riyad Mahrez scored twice and Gabriel Jesus also netted.

"Thierry Henry is one of the most incredible players to play in this league and he will be proud that Sergio is the guy who breaks his record. He was a legend and Sergio is the same.

"We congratulated him in the locker room because to score this amount of goals means you have done for many, many years a lot of good things.

"He's been consistent for many, many years, so an incredible compliment for him.

"The most important thing is he is an incredible person. You cannot achieve this without being a guy who loves to play football and in the final third he is the guy who has the goal in his head."

Villa boss Dean Smith was left to reflect on a one-sided contest in which his side were second best throughout, a late Anwar El Ghazi penalty providing scant consolation.

"It was a chastening experience," he conceded. "We know they are a top-class team but some of the goals we have given away were dreadful. The third one probably summed it up.

"They had 15 or 16 passes and we hadn't laid a glove on them. They have been allowed to pass the ball too easily and Aguero sticks it in the top corner from 20 yards.

"Mahrez got into the penalty box and under no pressure passes into the bottom corner. It is hard when you are three goals down against a team of this quality. The three players that scored today are worth more than my whole squad.

"They kept going but we shouldn't be sitting here happy with ourselves and we're not. We are embarrassed."

Sergio Aguero wants to complete his trophy collection at Manchester City with the Champions League after Sunday's 6-1 win at Aston Villa saw him break a pair of notable Premier League records.

Aguero opened his account for the afternoon at Villa Park with a blistering 20-yard strike that put Pep Guardiola's side 3-0 up inside the opening half hour.

He sashayed past a beleaguered Villa defence to make it 5-0 in the 57th minute, the 31-year-old's 176th Premier League goal seeing him surpass Thierry Henry as the top scoring overseas player in the history of England's top flight.

Aguero completed his hat-trick nine minutes from time, marking a 12th Premier League treble to move him clear of Alan Shearer with the most in the competition.

Having won all of the major domestic honours on offer since joining City in 2011, shining under Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and now Guardiola, the 31-year-old has designs on the one competition to have eluded City over the course of a decorated decade.

Real Madrid, the 13-time Champions Leage winners lie in wait for Aguero and his team-mates in this season's last 16.

"I want to keep scoring more goals but it all depends on my team-mates. If he passes to me it's fine," he told Sky Sports, speaking alongside Riyad Mahrez, who scored twice as Villa were put to the sword.

"Normally, I don’t think how many years [I would] be here in one club. When I came here, the club and my team-mates received me very well - in that moment with Mancini.

"I adapted very well. Keep going now.

"I want to keep scoring, keep focused every game. I will be happy if we do a good Champions League."

Mahrez laid on Aguero's hat-trick following a mistake from Villa defender Kortney Hause and marvelled at his team-mate's clinical qualities.

"The statistics speak for themselves," he said. "He is a legend for this club and the Premier League. He shows it week in and week out

"He has a lot of quality but, to be honest, he does not need a lot of chances to score. This shows how big a striker he is."

Aguero is now fourth on the Premier League's all-time list, level with Frank Lampard.

However, he conceded Shearer's towering mark of 260 might just be a little out of reach.

"Okay, well I will try," he chuckled.

"It's too far to Shearer, too much goals. I don’t know – maybe I will try."

Sergio Aguero set a Premier League record when he scored his 12th hat-trick in England's top flight as Manchester City beat Aston Villa 6-1 on Sunday.

The Argentina striker surpassed the previous best mark of 11 set by former England captain Alan Shearer across his celebrated spells with Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.

Aguero became City's all-time leading goalscorer in 2017 and has excelled under Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola since moving to the Etihad Stadium from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

Here, we take a look back over his record-breaking deadly dozen.


Manchester City 3-0 Wigan Athletic – September 10, 2011

It proved love at first sight between Aguero and the City faithful as he came off the bench to net a brace against Swansea City on his home debut. He went one better next time out at the Etihad Stadium. Two assists were laid on by David Silva, with the delicate skill and sublime pass to craft Aguero's hat-trick goal announcing the long and fruitful on-field relationship they would enjoy.

Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham – October 18, 2014

After two seasons without a Premier League treble, Aguero scored all four in this thrashing of Spurs, with two converted penalties and another miss from 12 yards in the middle of a remarkable haul.

Manchester City 6-0 QPR – May 10, 2015

Facing the club who were on the receiving end of Aguero's career-defining goal, there was none of the tension and suspense of three years earlier as City brushed a sorry QPR aside and condemned them to relegation. A barrelling solo run through a disorganised backline opened the floodgates in the fourth minute before Aguero pounced on an error from Yun Suk-young and completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot.


Manchester City 6-1 Newcastle United – October 3, 2015

Newcastle were heading for a half-time lead until Aguero nodded a 42nd-minute equaliser. It was the first of a scarcely credible five in 20 minutes – his third following a delightful exchange of passes between Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho the pick of the bunch.

Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City – April 16, 2016

Pellegrini's final season at City had petered out in terms of a Premier League title challenge. Aguero's emphatic pair of finishes at the end of scything counter-attacks led by De Bruyne at Stamford Bridge made that feel particularly wasteful. Thibaut Courtois' professional foul on Fernandinho meant the matchball was claimed from 12 yards.


Watford 0-6 Manchester City – September 16, 2017

A performance that offered an emphatic response to lingering questions over whether Aguero could operate effectively under Guardiola. After heading home De Bruyne's free-kick to open the scoring and converting David Silva's cutback, Aguero prodded in at the end of a brilliant dribble to cap his hat-trick in style.

Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United – January 20, 2018

Newcastle were on the receiving end of more Aguero punishment as he glanced in a De Bruyne cross, crashed a penalty past Karl Darlow right footed and crowned Leroy Sane's riotous dribble inside the visitors' box with his left to complete a 'perfect' hat-trick.

Manchester City 5-1 Leicester City 1 – February 10, 2018

Another occasion where three goals were not quite enough for Aguero – he found the net four times in the second half of this crushing victory over the Foxes. Incredibly, this was the third time Aguero had scored at least four goals in a Premier League game, while the win moved City a whopping 16 points clear at the top of the table.

Manchester City 6-1 Huddersfield Town – August 19, 2018

It was only the second weekend of the new campaign but Aguero was already in top form in this demolition of the Terriers. "I never saw him like this since I was here," Guardiola said. "He is in an incredible condition with the ball and without the ball." Ederson's long pass sent Aguero clear for his first, he capitalised on Ben Hamer's error for his second, and the treble was sealed when he converted Benjamin Mendy's cross.


Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal – February 3, 2019

Aguero opened the scoring in the first minute, with all three of his finishes on this occasion coming from close range. It was his 14th hat-trick in all competitions for City, who moved within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to this defeat of Unai Emery's Gunners.

Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea – February 10, 2019

A week later and Aguero had another matchball to add to his collection after City tore Chelsea apart at the Etihad. Aguero should have converted an easy chance even before his fourth-minute opener, a sensational 25-yard drive that left Kepa Arrizabalaga helpless. Ross Barkley's mistake gave Aguero a simple second and the treble was wrapped up from the penalty spot as City leapfrogged Liverpool.

Aston Villa 1-6 Manchester City – January 12, 2020

It was already a record-breaking day for Aguero in Birmingham, who surpassed Thierry Henry as the Premier League's highest scoring overseas player with his second of the game and 176th in the top flight. Kortney Hause coughing up possession let Riyad Mahrez set him up to overhaul Shearer. Aguero's blistering 20-yard effort into the top corner to start his hat-trick was the pick of the bunch.

Manchester City thrashed Aston Villa 6-1 as Sergio Aguero netted a hat-trick to break two records, Riyad Mahrez scored twice and former Leicester City team-mate Danny Drinkwater endured a debut to forget.

The contest was settled in a 10-minute spell at Villa Park in which Mahrez grabbed a double and Aguero equalled Thierry Henry as the Premier League's top-scoring non-Englishman, later surpassing him and grabbing a record 12th hat-trick in the process.

It was a particularly harsh introduction to life at his new club for Chelsea loanee Drinkwater, who might have prevented the opener and effectively supplied the second.

Mahrez broke the deadlock after easily shrugging off Drinkwater's dithering presence, while the three-cap England international gave the ball away in his own box to allow his former Foxes team-mate to double his tally.

Aguero's rasping drive put City in control and Gabriel Jesus made it 4-0 before the break, with Villa's punishment extended by two more goals for Aguero after the break – Anwar El Ghazi's late penalty a minor blemish for the champions.

Having seen Liverpool continue their apparently unstoppable march to the top-flight title with a 1-0 win at Tottenham on Saturday, City – fresh from a 3-1 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Manchester United – were initially a little lacklustre before Mahrez injected some much-needed quality with his 18th-minute opener, which came at the end of a fine solo run. 

Drinkwater, having failed to make an impact in a previous spell with Burnley, looked off the pace and was caught by David Silva, who found Jesus to set up Mahrez for the Algerian's second soon after.

Aguero's record-equalling goal was more eye-catching, his vicious strike from outside the box getting the better of Orjan Nyland to leave Villa reeling. 

Worse was to come in first-half stoppage time, Jesus steering home from Kevin De Bruyne's superb pinpoint cross from right. 

To Villa's credit, they limited the damage in the second half, albeit Dean Smith's side were often pinned back by a fluent and strutting City outfit.

Aguero's fancy footwork in the box created the space for him to coolly slot in the fifth, making history in the process, but he was not done there.

An emphatic close-range finish ensured Aguero has now scored more hat-tricks than any other player in Premier League history.

El Ghazi took out his anger on a last-gasp penalty that did little to paper over the cracks for Villa, with City jumping above Leicester into second.

 

What does it mean? City shine, even in the shadows

Liverpool's stunning form has left City somewhat in the Merseyside club's shadows, but even now they continue to shine.

This was a display of champions, which is what City officially remain for the time being. Villa can take solace in knowing they will not face this quality every week in their quest for survival.

Mahrez makes his mark

Several City players underlined their class in this one, not least of all the likes of De Bruyne, Aguero and Silva, but it took Mahrez to bring the game to life.

He was a willing runner at an ailing Villa defence who failed to limit his influence.

Drinkwater's maiden outing a harsh lesson

As debuts go, this was up there – or down there – with the worst. Drinkwater's lack of game time had readily apparent consequences in a contest where Villa were already huge underdogs.

He will need to dust himself down after this one and hope the only way is up.

What's next?

City welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium next Saturday, having lost the same fixture last season in a five-goal thriller. Villa, meanwhile, head to the south coast to take on Palace's bitter rivals Brighton and Hove Albion.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has become the highest-scoring overseas player in Premier League history.

The Argentina star's double during Sunday's match at Aston Villa moved him on to 176 goals in England's top flight – one clear of Arsenal and France great Thierry Henry.

Aguero and Henry are undoubtedly two of the finest attacking players ever to have graced the league, but how do their records stack up alongside one another?

With a little help from Opta, we decided to find out.

Henry's home comforts

Both men's scoring rates are remarkably similar, with Henry's 175 goals coming in 258 appearances and Aguero usurping him on his 255th. The City favourite also shades it in terms of minutes per goal, with each strike clocking in at 106.86 minutes alongside Henry's 122.

The two players heavily favour their lethal right feet. Aguero notched 125 with that trusty boot – including his unforgettable title-clincher against QPR in 2012 – and Henry netted 136 with his stronger foot.

Aguero has 33 and 17 left footed and headed goals to Henry's 31 and 6, although the 1998 World Cup winner boasts more from long range – crashing in 29 from outside the penalty area to Aguero's 21.

Under pressure inside the box, Aguero has held his nerve from the spot 26 times to Henry's 23.

Indeed, one of the most significant differentials is home and away goals, with 55 of Henry's coming beyond the environs of Highbury and Emirates Stadium. Aguero has a century of Etihad Stadium strikes (102) but 74 on his travels.

Aguero the Toon tormentor

No Premier League team have felt the force of Aguero more often than Newcastle United. He has 15 goals in 13 appearances against them, although five of those came in the same 6-1 win in 2015.

Tottenham were used to the threat of Henry but nowadays struggle to contain City's prolific Argentine, who has 11 in 15 games versus the north Londoners. Chelsea (10 in 14) are another capital club to have suffered plenty of Aguero punishment.

The distinction of being Henry's most scored against Premier League opponent is a three-way tie between Villa, Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough, each of whom conceded 12 times to the former Monaco and Juventus forward.

Both Aguero and Henry have delighted their adoring faithful with eight league goals apiece at the expense of Manchester United, although the former's have come at a faster rate, across 893 minutes as opposed to 1,178.

Among his top 10 most agreeable opponents. Aguero's eight goals in eight outings versus Stoke City came across a mere 595 minutes. Henry plundered seven in six versus Portsmouth – a handsome return on 540 minutes' work.

Silva service and Pires the provider

Of course, both men have benefitted considerably from a stellar supporting cast.

No player has assisted Aguero in the Premier League more frequently than David Silva (21), although the former Spain playmaker will leave City at the end of this season, by which point the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne (18) might have already surpassed him.

Yaya Toure's 11 assists for Aguero equalled the tally supplied by Henry's erstwhile attacking ally Dennis Bergkamp, one fewer than the late Jose Antonio Reyes (12).

However, Robert Pires stands clear with 17 Premier League assists for Henry during a period where the duo excelled for club and country.

Another Frenchman, Samir Nasri, assisted Aguero on nine occasions – the same number of goals Freddie Ljungberg and Patrick Vieira laid on for Henry.

When it comes to returning the favour, Henry is clearly out in front with 74 assists to Aguero's 46.

Sergio Aguero is the top-scoring overseas player in Premier League history after he netted twice during Manchester City's match at Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Argentina striker rifled in a blistering strike from 20 yards to give Pep Guardiola's side a 3-0 lead inside half an hour at Villa Park, before collecting a pass from David Silva and placing home his second after the break.

It moved Aguero on to 176 goals in England's top flight, surpassing the mark of 175 established by Arsenal and France great Thierry Henry.

City star Aguero, 31, is now fifth overall on the Premier League's all-time list, behind Frank Lampard (177), Andy Cole (187), Wayne Rooney (208) and Alan Shearer (260).

Aguero, who joined City from Atletico Madrid for £38million in July 2011, is his club's record goalscorer with 248 in all competitions.

Watford's resurgence under Nigel Pearson continued as they beat Bournemouth 3-0 to move out of the Premier League's bottom three for the first time this season.

Goals from Abdoulaye Doucoure, Troy Deeney and Roberto Pereyra earned the Hornets a third successive top-flight win, with Pearson's side now unbeaten in five matches.

There was a degree of fortune to their opening goal as young Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers chipped straight to Ismaila Sarr, who crossed for Doucoure to finish three minutes before half-time.

Watford dominated after the break and doubled their advantage in the 66th minute when Deeney blasted home following more good work from Sarr, with substitute Pereyra hooking in a third goal in stoppage time.

Manchester City captain David Silva will make his first Premier League start for a month at Aston Villa, where Pep Guardiola has selected Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus in his XI.

Silva, who will end a 10-year association with City when his contract expires at the end of this season, sustained a thigh injury during December's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United and made brief substitute appearances against Everton and Port Vale at the start of this month.

Aguero and Jesus last started a Premier League game in tandem against Newcastle United in September 2018.

It means Guardiola has granted Aguero a shot at overhauling Thierry Henry as the Premier League's leading overseas goalscorer. The Argentina striker is on 174, one behind Henry's record mark.

Jesus' fellow Brazilian Ederson is back from suspension as one of six changes from the City team that beat United 3-1 in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in midweek, with Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling among those dropping to the bench.

Danny Drinkwater makes his Villa debut in a midfield featuring ex-City man Douglas Luiz.

The former Leicester City player joined on loan from Chelsea this week following an unsuccessful stint at Burnley, where his only Premier League appearance came in a 4-1 loss to City at the start of last month.

Fabinho expects to return to first-team action in the near future and warned Liverpool not to relent in their "incredible" season.

Defensive midfielder Fabinho has been absent since the end of November with an ankle injury, but Jurgen Klopp said on Friday he expects to have the Brazil international back in full training this week.

Liverpool have continued to shine in Fabinho's absence and a 1-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday moved them 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League, although Manchester City had a chance to trim that to 14 points on Sunday with a win over Aston Villa.

Speaking to Telefoot, Fabinho said: "I'm on the right path. We are in full recovery. I train individually.

"For example, I make changes in direction, but also exercises with the ball. I am very confident [about a quick comeback].

"I think I can resume soon, but we will see with the medical staff."

Roberto Firmino's first-half strike was enough to see off Tottenham as the Reds recorded their 20th top-flight victory in 21 games to take their tally to 61 points this term.

In the three-points-for-a-win era, that is the biggest haul any team in Europe's top five leagues has ever managed after 21 games.

But Fabinho is taking nothing for granted.

"We can win the title, but we are not yet champions. We are on the right track. What we have done so far is incredible, but we must continue," he added.

"I hope we will not crack. We have the confidence to continue like this. Despite the injuries, we continue to play at a high level."

Liverpool are back in action next Sunday when they host fierce rivals Manchester United at Anfield.

Manchester United or Real Madrid?

Ajax star Donny van de Beek is a wanted man following his exploits for the Eredivisie champions.

But the LaLiga giants are reportedly poised to get their target at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – VAN DE BEEK SET FOR MADRID

Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek is on the verge of joining Real Madrid instead of Manchester United, claims The Mirror.

United have reportedly emerged as a suitor for Van de Beek in January due to injuries to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay.

But a transfer to Madrid at the end of the season "is more than 80 per cent certain", according to the report.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Metro says Premier League champions Manchester City have joined the race to sign Aston Villa's Jack Grealish. Rivals United have been heavily linked to the midfielder.

Tottenham are nearing a deal to bring Benfica midfielder Gedson Fernandes to London on an 18-month loan contract, reports Sky Sports. West Ham have also been looking to sign the 21-year-old.

- United midfielder Nemanja Matic is in talks to swap Old Trafford for MLS outfit Chicago Fire, according to The Sun. Linked to Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan, the Fire want to bring in the veteran as a replacement for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Arsenal are considering a loan deal for Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, reports The Mirror.

- La Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter have reached an agreement with Christian Eriksen for a contract until 2024. Now, Inter must strike a deal with Tottenham for the soon-to-be free agent. Spurs reportedly want €20million (£17m) for the Dane.

- Sporting CP captain Bruno Fernandes has agreed personal terms with United for a contract until 2025 with yearly wages of €6m, according to Italian journalist Nicolo Schira.

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho dismissed transfer speculation amid rumours over Gedson Fernandes and Christian Eriksen.

Benfica midfielder Fernandes is reportedly close to joining Tottenham on an 18-month loan deal, while Spurs star Eriksen has emerged as a target for Serie A outfit Inter in January.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Eriksen has been linked to a move to Inter, who denied contact with Tottenham prior to their draw against Atalanta.

Mourinho, however, did not want to talk about transfers following Tottenham's 1-0 defeat at home to runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool on Saturday.

"It's the last thing I want to do after this performance is talk about [new] players," Mourinho told reporters. I think it's a way to show respect to these guys is to not talk about new players.

"Can we say [Japhet] Tanganga is a new player? Can we say that? He never played a match for Tottenham in the Premier League. Today he played and today he proved that he can play for us.

It's a pity that he's not a striker, it's a pity that he's not a midfield player, but he's one more player that we have. So I think [Sadio] Mane and [Mohamed] Salah, they know who Tanganga is. They didn't know before the game. I think when they saw the list they wondered where this guy plays. I think now they know.

"The kid was really good so instead of speaking, or crying about Harry Kane and [Moussa] Sissoko and [Hugo] Lloris and Ben Davies, let's smile with Tanganga."

Tottenham are eighth in the Premier League and four points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea after three matches without a win.

Sporting CP head coach Silas refused to deny whether an agreement is in place for Bruno Fernandes to leave the Portuguese club amid links to Manchester United.

Sporting captain Fernandes is reportedly nearing a move to United after officials from the two clubs are said to have been in talks on Friday.

Fernandes was linked to United, Premier League rivals Tottenham and LaLiga giants Real Madrid at the start of the season, but a transfer did not materialise as the Portugal international eventually signed a new contract in November.

After scoring twice in Sporting's 3-1 Primeira Liga win over Vitoria Setubal on Saturday, Silas was asked if Fernandes already has an agreement and whether he would be available for the derby against Benfica.

"I can't guarantee any of these things because I don't know," Silas told reporters post-game.

"I'm already thinking about the game with Benfica and I'm thinking about using it [Bruno Fernandes]." 

Fernandes has scored eight goals and supplied seven assists in the league this season, while he has netted 15 across all competitions.

Pep Guardiola is heartened by the progress of Manchester City's youngsters this season but knows there is no guarantee of a golden generation, such as the one he oversaw at Barcelona a decade ago or Manchester United's 'Class of '92'.

England Under-21 midfielder Phil Foden has ticked past 50 career appearances for City and scored his 10th goal for the club in last weekend's 4-1 FA Cup win over Port Vale, when Taylor Harwood-Bellis was also on target for the first time in senior football.

Harwood-Bellis' fellow teenage centre-back Eric Garcia was accomplished as he started the recent home wins over Sheffield United and Everton as part of a back three, while Tommy Doyle – who counts City greats Glyn Pardoe and the late Mike Doyle as his grandfathers – made his full debut against Southampton in the EFL Cup in October.

Footage of Doyle and Harwood-Bellis celebrating City's 3-1 first-leg win over Manchester United in the semi-finals of that competition from the away end at Old Trafford went viral this week.

Guardiola saw and enjoyed the clip but was hesitant when asked to assess the chances of City's breakthrough stars becoming household names – citing the pressures they must navigate to establish themselves at an elite club.

"I don't know. I would like to answer and say 'yes' but I don't know. To figure out if young players will become incredibly top players for the future, I don’t know," he said, speaking ahead of Sunday's Premier League trip to Aston Villa.

"This is a club that is so demanding, you have to win games. Sometimes you win four titles and it's not enough

"Four titles last season is not enough; we didn’t win the Champions League. That is the reality.

"Sometimes they compete against incredible central defenders and, for Tommy Doyle, incredible midfielders.

"For Phil Foden, it is an incredible reality. He is an exceptional player and sometimes he doesn't play the minutes he should play because he competes with what happened at Old Trafford. All the midfield players played and they played incredibly well.

"I am a big, big fan who respects the process with the young guys. But we have a tendency in all the countries – here as well – that they make the two games and already they will be the new [Wayne] Rooney or the new George Best or will be the new David Beckham."

As Foden and his contemporaries continue the early steps of their journey at City, greats of the modern era they will hope to emulate are moving on.

David Silva will depart at the end of this season, while Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero's deals expire in June 2021.

Former captain Vincent Kompany bade an emotional farewell after completing last term's unprecedented domestic treble, following the exits of Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta 12 and 24 months earlier respectively.

"We cannot deny how important all these names you name have been for this club," Guardiola said, with Kompany set to be honoured at a Football Writers' Association tribute night in London on Sunday.

"Vinny is unique, Sergio will be unique, David – these type of players are incredible. I think the club, they have the duty and the obligation to find the best replacement for all of them, as quick as possible and anticipate it.

"We have to try and find them or build them from here – it is our obligation as a club."

As he negotiates this changing of the guard at the Etihad, Guardiola again reiterated his belief that Silva's replacement will be a young man built from within.

"David is going to leave this season and we are not going to buy any player in his position because we have Phil," he added.

"Maybe this season Phil will have more minutes, or maybe less. I don't know. We trust Phil.

"If we didn't believe in him we might go to the market to replace David, but we have Phil."

Jurgen Klopp says Roberto Firmino apologised for not adding to his decisive strike in Liverpool's 1-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday.

The result means the Reds have now won 20 of their opening 21 Premier League games of the season to sit 16 points ahead of second-placed Leicester City at the summit.

That lead could be cut to 14 points if Manchester City overcome Aston Villa on Sunday, but Liverpool are firmly on course to be crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years.

Firmino scored the only goal of the game after 37 minutes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but the Brazil international was in sheepish mood at the final whistle, according to his boss.

"When I went to him and wanted to give him a hug after the game, he wanted to stop and talk first," Klopp said. "He said: 'I know I should have scored more goals'. It was absolutely not what I wanted to say!

"It is true probably. He should have scored immediately with the first chance.

"He is a super player, super. I don't say this for the first time and will hopefully not say it for the last time. [He's] pretty impressive."

Giovani Lo Celso squandered a golden opportunity to snatch a scarcely deserved point for Spurs in the closing stages.

It would have been exceptionally harsh on a Liverpool side who had dominated for long periods, with Klopp keen to highlight his side's impressive "fight" against Jose Mourinho's men.

"We had to play for it and in the end we had to fight for it, really hard," he said.

"We could have closed this game earlier; we should have I would say. The chances were clear. We had moments when we didn't make chances, but they were ones I would say usually would have to be a 100 per cent chance.

"I think we played some exceptional football to bring in Andy Robertson on the touchline but then we didn't find the free player or the defender blocked the last ball. We could have done better in these moments, but then it was only 1-0 and that's normal.

"Against a team like Tottenham, it is not decided and in the end we needed luck in one situation and Alisson in two or three other situations.

"It was intense, really, but I think we deserved the three points. It was not our best game we played so far, but it was a very good one and, as I said, [we played] really good football in a lot of parts of the game and in the end a proper fight. All good."

Liverpool are back in Premier League action next Sunday against bitter rivals Manchester United, who are the only side to have taken points from them this season.

Liverpool broke yet more records in their latest Premier League triumph over Tottenham, achieving a benchmark that not even Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or Bayern Munich have previously managed. 

Roberto Firmino scored the first-half winner as the unbeaten Reds recorded their 20th top-flight victory in 21 games to take their tally to 61 points this term.

In the three-points-for-a-win era, that is the biggest points haul any team in Europe's top five leagues has ever managed after 21 games.

The likes of Barcelona, PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich have enjoyed spells as all-conquering giants in their respective domestic leagues, yet none of those sides have been able to achieve such a total at the same stage.

In avoiding defeat, Klopp's side also extended their unbeaten Premier League run to 38 games, the equivalent of a full season.

They have accrued 104 points in that time, winning 33 times and drawing on five occasions, bettering the previous record totals Manchester City and Chelsea (both 102) managed across 38-match spells in 2017-18 and 2005 respectively.

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