Jose Mourinho felt Raheem Sterling was lucky to avoid a "clear red card" in the opening stages of Tottenham's 2-0 home win over Manchester City.

Second-half strikes from debutant Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min sealed a valuable victory for Mourinho's side on Sunday, with City having seen Oleksandr Zinchenko dismissed for a second booking on the hour mark, shortly before the opening goal.

Ilkay Gundogan had a first-half penalty saved for City, who had 18 shots to their opponents' three, but Mourinho believed it would have been a very different contest had Sterling been shown red for a 12th-minute challenge on Dele Alli that was reviewed by VAR, only for a yellow card to be awarded.

Sterling's foot appeared to brush the top of the ball before making firm contact with Alli's ankle, leaving the Spurs boss unimpressed.

"I'm so pleased for the boys," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "We can look at the perspective that we were a bit lucky in a couple of situations, they [City] hit the post or they missed a good chance.

"But we can see it from the other perspective and say that we were very, very unlucky that the VAR didn't decide for a Sterling red card, which is a clear red card.

"From that moment obviously it is a completely different game if you have to play 75 minutes or something like that against 10 men. So 11 v 11, [it was] really difficult, hard, but my boys were very well organised, great effort, great discipline."

Mourinho also appeared enraged when Sterling took a tumble immediately after Hugo Lloris had kept out Gundogan's spot-kick, only to avoid a second yellow card for simulation even though VAR ruled he had not been fouled by the goalkeeper.

However, he had high praise for midfielders Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Winks, and goalkeeper Lloris.

"Against City, they love the ball, they know better than anyone to know what to do with the ball, so when they have the ball for the majority of the time it's hard, but I think [we had] fantastic performances, great concentration," the Portuguese added.

"The way Lo Celso and Winks, they controlled Kevin De Bruyne, the movements that he does in these areas, and Lo Celso, the way he controls also that position where Sterling comes inside and Gundogan supports them. I think the boys were phenomenal in there, in their effort.

"The goalkeeper saved a penalty – I think it was God's will because it's not a penalty – but our goalkeeper is fantastic and he's there to try and give us points."

Bergwijn's wonderful goal saw the new signing from PSV control the ball on his chest before firing home a superb volley on the turn.

"[It was] so sharp, technically so comfortable, chest, volley," said Mourinho. "[It was] unstoppable, even for a great goalkeeper like Ederson."

Tottenham versus Manchester City. Jose Mourinho against Pep Guardiola. The Premier League champions, title hopes hanging by the most threadbare of all threads, facing the Champions League finalists chasing a route into next season's tournament.

This was a truly special occasion for none of the above. No, this was the day VAR became the undisputed star of the show, hogging the limelight with barely a hint of trying to help the football match taking place.  

February 2, 2020 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium confirmed to the watching world that FIFA's Video Assistant Referee has turned Premier League games into the Hunger Games. This sport is now 22 players and four officials thrust together at the mercy of the Stockley Park Gamemakers. For fans of farce, the odds are ever in your favour.

Credit must go to Sunday's match officials, too, the man in the middle the perfect conductor of the modern game's death march. Forget 'The People's Elbow' – the Mike Dean Mid-Air TV Screen is now the most electrifying move in sports entertainment. He is the ultimate master of ceremonies for football's silliest moments, of which VAR is now the lead actor.

It began 13 minutes in when Raheem Sterling planted studs into Dele Alli's ankle and VAR opted not to tell Dean to change the yellow card to a red. On the sidelines, Guardiola was relieved; a nonplussed Mourinho made his feelings clear.

Some 26 minutes later – it's hard to say, thanks to VAR – Sergio Aguero, who earlier hit the post, was tripped by Serge Aurier in the box and no foul was given. City seemed so certain of a mistake that they played somewhere close to two minutes of keep-ball before Dean finally intervened. First there was the whistle, then the customary touching of the earpiece, and lastly the TV monitor stencilled into the cool winter air, followed by the four-fingered thrust at the penalty spot. It was showmanship fit to grace London's West End. Mourinho could only sit in the stalls and smile.

Then the football narrative got in the way, albeit briefly. Ilkay Gundogan stepped up and saw his penalty saved by Hugo Lloris, meaning City have failed to score four of their past six attempts from the spot in all competitions. Within a second or two, it was back to VAR, Dean's decision not to give a penalty being scrutinised again after Sterling nipped in to beat Lloris to the rebound before his knees hit the turf. Players, coaches and spectators held their breath until, at last, came VAR's decree. There was to be no second penalty, no dive, and maximum exposure to the headlines.

City players were incensed. Spurs demanded a second booking for Sterling. Mourinho leapt from his chair to argue the case with the fourth official. Dean sent everyone back to their positions, withdrew the yellow card from his pocket, and waited. He was now in his element, Milton's Lucifer from Paradise Lost made flesh: the wary fiend had emerged from Chaos to stand upon the brink of Hell, and looked a while, pondering his voyage. He first booked Toby Alderweireld, then strode further into the City half to Oleksandr Zinchenko and flashed yellow his way, too. Only then was football allowed to resume.

So it was that a top-level game became wholly, inexorably about VAR, Tottenham's potentially title-race-deciding win a mere sideshow. Zinchenko's correct second booking for a body-check on Harry Winks was only noteworthy because of the first-half nonsense. The fact Winks played one of his best games in a Spurs shirt, shackling City's midfield runners and controlling the space in which they thrive with barely a misstep, was a footnote. A sublime debut goal from Steven Bergwijn, a chest-and-volley of impudent quality, and a deflected second from Son Heung-min were simply part of the encore.

Spurs are up to fifth, four points off the top four. City have now lost six games and sit 22 points adrift of Liverpool, who can win the title on March 21. Mourinho showed he can still outfox Guardiola, still best the very best in the business. City had 18 shots yet failed to score in back-to-back league games for the first time since March 2016. Bergwijn was almost overcome in celebrating a goal he will never forget. Davinson Sanchez hit his own crossbar with an injury-time header.

So what? This was VAR's time to shine.

Steven Bergwijn scored a superb volley on his debut as Tottenham earned a 2-0 victory over Manchester City, who dominated possession but missed a penalty and had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off.

Pep Guardiola's men were perhaps guilty of overplaying in front of goal across the course of a game that exploded into life when Hugo Lloris saved an Ilkay Gundogan spot-kick in a frenetic climax a tense first half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The champions remained on top until Zinchenko received a second booking and his marching orders, leaving Spurs to capitalise on their man advantage almost immediately with Bergwijn's memorable strike after 63 minutes.

Son Heung-Min's seventh top-flight goal of the season left City with too much to do in the final 20 minutes and they suffered a first defeat in six league outings that all but extinguishes their already faint title hopes with Liverpool 22 points clear at the top of the table.

Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero missed early chances in the Spurs box and Raheem Sterling escaped with just a yellow card after a dangerous challenge that almost buckled Dele Alli's ankle.

Riyad Mahrez turned his back on a shooting chance when he mistakenly thought he had been flagged offside but moments later his threaded pass sent Aguero through for a shot against the foot of the post as Spurs came under fire.

The half ended in chaos, with a belated VAR review overturning referee Mike Dean's decision not to award Aguero a penalty following a clumsy challenge by Serge Aurier.

After Gundogan's spot-kick was saved by Lloris, there was an angry melee as Tottenham's players fumed over Sterling's attempt to win another penalty when he tumbled over the goalkeeper's arms, with Toby Alderweireld and Zinchenko booked for their contributions.

A mix-up between Lloris and Japhet Tanganga allowed Aguero to loop a shot towards goal that was cleared as far as Sterling and he squared to Gundogan, who blazed over the crossbar with the net gaping.

Zinchenko was shown a second yellow card for barging Harry Winks as the Spurs midfielder broke towards the half-way line and shortly after the hosts were ahead.

Lucas Moura chipped the ball to the edge of the box where Bergwijn controlled it with his chest and volleyed into the bottom-right corner of the net with exquisite technique.

Eight minutes later, Tanguy Ndombele carved an opening for Son, whose deflected shot from just inside the box beat Ederson at his near post to double Tottenham's lead and the closest City came to pulling one back was a Davinson Sanchez header against his own crossbar at the death.

 

What does it mean? Liverpool's title party plans come forward

With City trailing so far behind, Liverpool need just 18 more points to clinch the Premier League title and at the rate they are winning games that will not take long.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are up to fifth in the table and will be confident of closing the four-point gap to Chelsea above them after beating the champions.

Winks fares well in De Bruyne battle

Kevin De Bruyne tends to control games from his position in the City engine room but Harry Winks broke up the play and put Spurs on the front foot at key moments to help turn the game.

Rodrigo fades after promising start

Rodrigo showed glimpses of his silky passing abilities early on but by the second half was little more than a bystander as Spurs turned the screw.

What's next?

City are back at Etihad Stadium on Sunday when West Ham are the visitors, while Spurs travel to Aston Villa in the league after their midweek FA Cup replay against Southampton.

Mikel Arteta highlighted the condition of the Turf Moor pitch as a challenge for Arsenal in their 0-0 draw with Burnley.

After spurning two excellent early chances on Sunday, through Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal struggled for long periods and were arguably lucky to escape with a point as Jay Rodriguez hit the underside of the crossbar for Burnley late on.

Arteta accepted his side lacked consistency in their performance, but he also took the opportunity to draw attention to the state of the pitch.

"The conditions were difficult," the Spaniard told a news conference. "The grass was this long [raising fingers to exaggerate the length of the grass], they did not put any water on it and obviously that's not a very helpful thing to play football."

Asked whether such conditions should have been anticipated by Arsenal, Arteta replied with a smile: "Absolutely. I didn't water the pitch yesterday in the training ground, so I was expecting it.

"That doesn't make it easier to play. But it's the game. They [Burnley] do really well what they do. It's their strength, you are allowed to do it, so you have to adapt.

"We adapted really well in some moments ... and in some others it wasn't the grass, it's the quality and what they do, they do really well and we could not cope with that in the right way."

Assessing his team's performance, Arsenal's head coach added: "We were fantastic in some moments, but we were so sloppy and we put ourselves in big trouble with a lot of unnecessary situations that we have to improve, because that gives the opponent an opportunity. We need to improve that a lot."

Mikel Arteta was pleased with Arsenal's defensive resilience in their 0-0 draw at Burnley, but the Spaniard acknowledged his side are "very far from what I want" when it comes to attacking quality.

A run of 11 successive wins for the Gunners against Burnley came to a deserved end at Turf Moor, where the hosts went closest to snatching three points when Jay Rodriguez hit the underside of the crossbar from close range late on.

Arsenal remain well adrift of the Premier League's top four, while they have now won only two of their last 17 top-flight matches, including just one victory in seven league games since Arteta took charge.

Reflecting on a frustrating display, which had begun encouragingly with clear chances for Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arteta told Sky Sports: "We have to improve quality-wise. We are very far from what I want in terms of sustaining attacks and being more unpredictable in our play, but that's a process.

"We generated the chances that you expect here to put the game to bed. We didn't do it.

"I was very pleased with the first 15-20 minutes: the way we came out, the way we controlled the game, the opportunities that we generated. And we were on top of the game. I think we had the chances to score one or two goals in that moment.

"After 20-25 minutes, we started to give some sloppy passes away, to concede free-kicks, throw-ins, corners and that sequence [is] very difficult to get out of that."

Arteta was at least satisfied with the manner in which his side stood up to the hosts' threat, adding: "The way the boys defended the box, it was really good. I think we have improved a lot in the way we have conceded [fewer] chances."

Arsenal will await news on the fitness of Bukayo Saka, who was withdrawn at half-time after suffering an injury during the opening period.

"We need to assess him but he was in pain," said Arteta.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche adopted a heavily sarcastic tone as he again discussed opposition players apparently going to ground too easily.

Asked if he had been frustrated by a number of Arsenal players going down, Dyche told Sky Sports: "No, not at all. I think the game's in a fantastic state. I think it's lovely to watch when people are falling over. I love it. It's my favourite part of the game at the moment."

Pressed on whether it was an issue that needed addressing, Dyche remained sardonic, replying: "No, because no one wants to address it, apart from me it seems, so I'm absolutely happy with the state of the game, as everyone should be."

Arsenal's Premier League struggles continued on Sunday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley, who could easily have snatched all three points at Turf Moor.

The Gunners had won their last 11 meetings with Burnley in all competitions but Mikel Arteta's men did not do nearly enough to extend that run as they again failed to make up significant ground on the top four.

Although Arsenal spurned presentable chances of their own, they could consider themselves a little fortunate to pick up a point as Jay Rodriguez somehow contrived to hit the underside of the bar from five yards out with 12 minutes remaining, the ball coming down on the goalline.

Both teams remain on 31 points, 10 adrift of the top four and seven above the bottom three.

An unmarked Alexandre Lacazette headed wastefully off-target from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's cross as Arsenal started brightly, before the latter latched on to David Luiz's lofted ball over the top, only to screw a shot hopelessly wide of the near post.

Burnley were grateful for a superb last-ditch tackle from James Tarkowski on Lacazette when the forward looked set to score, but the hosts soon grew into the game as Arsenal's threat faded.

Either side of Nick Pope staying big to deny Aubameyang, Rodriguez's low 25-yarder tested Bernd Leno while the impressive Dwight McNeil and Jeff Hendrick each went close.

Burnley certainly carried the greater threat early in the second half, Tarkowski and Ben Mee both threatening from set-pieces prior to Jeff Hendrick heading a McNeil cross narrowly past Leno's right-hand post.

Aubameyang sent a header inches past the post from Lacazette's left-wing delivery in a rare moment of second-half danger for the hosts, but it was Burnley who came closest to a winner, Rodriguez failing to convert McNeil's knock-down when it looked easier to score.


What does it mean? Arsenal with so much work to do

Arteta clearly deserves time to make his mark, but it is staggering how far Arsenal have fallen. They have now won just two of their last 17 Premier League games - and only six all season. To say the Spaniard faces a big rebuilding job would be a major understatement.

McNeil shines again

As Arsenal's attacking stars failed to convince, Burnley's McNeil was the most dangerous player on the pitch, posing a constant threat with his pace and dangerous deliveries. It surely will not be long before the winger is the subject of serious interest from a bigger club.

Gunners mis-fire in attack

This was not a good day for Arsenal's starting front four. Lacazette and Aubameyang should each have scored inside the first 15 minutes, with the latter also heading wide late on, while Gabriel Martinelli was virtually anonymous and Mesut Ozil also struggled prior to his 63rd-minute withdrawal.

What's next?

Both teams can enjoy a mid-season break prior to their next fixtures. Arsenal host Newcastle United in a fortnight's time, while Burnley travel to Southampton a day earlier.
 

Pep Guardiola believes he will be judged as a "failure" at Manchester City if the club do not win the Champions League before he departs.

While City appear certain to cede their Premier League crown to runaway leaders Liverpool this season, Guardiola's impact at the Etihad Stadium has been undeniable.

Since his arrival in 2016, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss has won two Premier League crowns, the first with a record haul of 100 points and the second with 98, an FA Cup title and two EFL Cups.

In addition, City's football has often been exhilarating during Guardiola's tenure, yet the Catalan knows that will not be enough to satisfy some observers if one further objective is not met.

"Winning a certain way is what helps you to win the titles," he said ahead of Sunday's Premier League meeting with Tottenham. "We believe we can play in that way. But we will see at the end.

"Of course, here we will be judged not for the certain way [we play] but for the titles we win. That is the truth. It is as simple as that.

"We believe in this way. Last season was an extraordinary season for us and the people say, 'yeah, but you didn't win the Champions League'.

"That is why I will be judged - if we don't win the Champions League it will be a failure in my period here in Manchester. I know that."

City have yet to progress beyond the Champions League quarter-finals under Guardiola. They face Real Madrid in this season's last 16, with the first leg scheduled for February 26 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Dele Alli admitted Tottenham have lost an "unbelievable player" in Christian Eriksen.

Eriksen, 27, finalised a long-awaited move to Inter on Tuesday in a deal reportedly worth €20million (£16.8m).

Spurs accepted the cut-price offer after the Danish playmaker entered the final six months of his contract.

Jose Mourinho claimed Eriksen lacked motivation but England international Alli had nothing but praise for his former team-mate, who spent six-and-a-half seasons in north London.

"He's a worldie," Alli told Sky Sports. "I sent him a sad face on message, but I'm sure I'll speak to him.

"He's an unbelievable player. Yeah, he'll be missed here, but this is a different step in his career.

"Since the start of the season there's been a lot of speculation and now it's gone through I wish him all the best, because he's a great friend and a great person."

Eriksen struggled to cement a regular place in Mourinho's starting side but Alli has had no such trouble, fast becoming a favourite under the former Manchester United manager.

The 23-year-old's form has improved since Mauricio Pochettino made way in November and he said was "feeling good" after a difficult start to the campaign.

"The more mature I'm getting, the more I'm playing and learning not just about football but about life," Alli said.

"It's nice to be praised, but the same people can be waiting to shoot you down. So you keep working hard, and listen to the right people. Whoever you choose to listen to is the main thing – the manager, players, team-mates and people around the club, their opinion is important.

"I think I can always do better. I've played well in some games, and in others I know I haven't played good enough."

Liverpool might be cruising towards the title but the runaway Premier League leaders could still face a crucial fight in the near future.

According to a new report, star centre-back Virgil van Dijk has become a top target for Italian giants Juventus.

Could a record-breaking transfer to Turin appeal to the Netherlands international?

 

TOP STORY – JUVE SET SIGHTS ON VAN DIJK

Maurizio Sarri's Juve have identified Reds defender Van Dijk as the man to help achieve their Champions League dream, according to The Sun.

The Bianconeri are said to be preparing a €178.5million (£150m) offer that could force Liverpool to consider parting company with the 28-year-old, who swapped Southampton for Merseyside in a £75m move in January 2018.

The report claims Van Dijk "may be open to a move abroad" if he wins the Premier League this term, which now appears a mere formality.

The proposed fee would eclipse the £80m that saw Harry Maguire leave Leicester City for Manchester United and again make Van Dijk the world's most expensive player in his position.

 

ROUND-UP 

- After signing Maguire, the Red Devils appear to be pining for another expensive defender. The Daily Star suggests the club will ramp up their attempts to capture Kalidou Koulibaly in the close season - although the Napoli centre-back could cost up to £90m.

- Arsenal rejected a deadline-day approach for Mesut Ozil from an unnamed Qatar club, the Mirror states. Ozil, 31, reportedly "would have been willing to listen" to an offer, but the contact came too late for the Gunners to arrange a replacement.

- LaLiga leaders Real Madrid considered signing teenage attacker Amine Gouiri and contacted Lyon before deciding against lodging a formal January bid, according to L'Equipe.

- Their title rivals Barcelona are close to agreeing a deal that will see Chelsea winger Willian arrive on a free at season's end, reports Marca.

- Gouiri is not the only Lyon youngster attracting interest. Milan, already planning for next season, are monitoring the Ligue 1 club's promising right-back Pierre Kalulu, claims CalcioMercato.

Giovani Lo Celso has said he now feels completely comfortable at Tottenham following a bumpy introduction to the Premier League.

The Argentina international lost almost two months to a hip injury in the early part of his Spurs career and the manager who brought him in on loan from Real Betis, Mauricio Pochettino, was sacked in November.

Yet suggestions crafty left-footer Lo Celso might not fit under new boss Jose Mourinho have been quashed through a run of four consecutive starts.

Tottenham turned his temporary stay into a permanent, long-term contract on Tuesday, enabling the midfielder to look forward with optimism.

"Right now I'm really enjoying the moment of being at such a big club like Spurs," Lo Celso told the Guardian.

"In the beginning it wasn't so easy for me. I was coming to a new league, a new language, a new culture, and then I got injured shortly after arriving. But right now I couldn't feel better."

The 23-year-old's ability to unlock opposition defences became more valuable to Spurs when Christian Eriksen finally completed a long-rumoured move to Inter.

Lo Celso distanced himself from comparisons with the Danish playmaker and instead set his focus on beating Manchester City on Sunday.

"We know that it's going to be a really difficult match against a team with fantastic players who have been at the top of the game for the last few years," he said.

"But for us it's really important to win and to put a good performance out there and take home the three points.

"We're at a big club. We've got high expectations. We go out to win all our matches.

"Now, of course, we are coming up against a big opponent but we know we have all the weapons to hurt them and win the match."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola backed Raheem Sterling despite the forward's dip in form to begin 2020.

Sterling is without a goal in seven games this year, having last netted against Wolves on December 27.

The forward has scored 20 goals in all competitions this season and Guardiola said he was unconcerned about Sterling's form heading into Sunday's trip to Tottenham.

"Raheem defended incredibly well against [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka in the last game and he had the clearest chances that no other player can create for himself and unfortunately he could not score a goal," he said.

"But he was there and so I am more than delighted with the performance he made against United.

"A month ago, people were talking about his statistics, the goals, the assists, but I always said that I was not just judging Raheem on those points. It was important, but not the only one."

Sterling has already made 34 appearances for City this season, having played 51 games for the club in 2018-19.

But Guardiola, whose team are 22 points adrift of league leaders Liverpool, played down any suggestions Sterling needed a break.

"Does he need a rest? I don't think so," he said.

"He's a guy who recovers quicker than anyone I have ever seen before – he is incredible and he could play every two days.

"The more he plays the better he feels, but all players feel like that."

Gary Neville saw signs of Juan Sebastian Veron in Bruno Fernandes' debut for Manchester United, but was ultimately encouraged by the midfielder's display.

Fernandes played the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford on Saturday as United were held to a 0-0 Premier League draw by Wolves.

The Portugal international, signed in a move that could eventually be worth £67million from Sporting CP, had five shots, three of which were on target, and attempted a game-high 88 passes, though he did not directly create a chance for any of his team-mates.

Neville saw enough to take the positives from Fernandes' composed start, but felt a positional switch paid dividends after initially comparing his efforts in the number 10 role to those of Veron, who struggled to fit in with United between 2001 and 2003.

"It's early days but I like what he did," former United defender Neville said of Fernandes on Sky Sports. "I thought he did okay, it was a difficult game for him. 

"We've heard a lot about his assists and his goals and how he can affect games at the front of the pitch, but when he was moved into more of a holding midfield role alongside Fred in the second half I actually thought he did quite well. 

"He showed a lot of experience and discipline to not expose himself too much.

"In the first half he was in a number 10 role and he reminded me a bit of what Juan Sebastien Veron used to do when he first came to Manchester United. 

"He charged around everywhere and moved everywhere. He was busy and was looking for spaces but didn't really play in a position.

"I preferred him in the second half when he was a little more controlled and I thought it was a decent debut from him. 

"Fred has emerged in recent weeks and those two could control games - there is some promise there." 

However, Neville was less complimentary about United's last-gasp signing of striker Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, describing it as a desperate move.

While ex-Watford striker Ighalo could succeed, the eight-time Premier League winner is baffled how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were scrambling around on deadline day so long after Romelu Lukaku, now with Inter, expressed his desire to leave.

Neville said: "They just needed a body in that area, Marcus Rashford's going to be out for another couple of months. I can't let the club off the hook though, unfortunately.

"Romelu Lukaku told us a couple of weeks ago that he had said he was going to leave last February or March. That's nine months to be able to manoeuvre and get into a position to sign a striker for the club for the long-term. 

"And yet they have ended up desperately doing one on deadline day.

"The boy may do very well. He might come in and settle in, he might score goals and do a job for the club.

"But the fact that the club were in that position, knowing that Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku were leaving for many, many months, tells us that Manchester United, at this moment in time, are struggling to navigate through the transfer market smartly."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed Jose Mourinho as an "incredible manager" and said it will take time for Tottenham to get going under the Portuguese.

The pair, who know each other well from their time in Spain and England, are set to renew acquaintances on Sunday when City travel to Tottenham in the Premier League

Mourinho has endured a largely underwhelming tenure since succeeding Mauricio Pochettino in November, winning eight and losing five of his first 17 games in charge.

Spurs are 17 points behind second-placed City and were held 1-1 by Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round last weekend, but Guardiola can already see a difference in their playing style.

Asked how Tottenham differ under Mourinho compared to Pochettino's time in north London, Guardiola told reporters: "They are incredibly aggressive. 

"I saw the last game against Southampton and I saw a team completely alive. 

"They conceded in the last minutes but I saw a team that I think is there. Every manager has different ideas. Both are incredible managers. 

"Pochettino was five or six years there and Mourinho just months, so every manager needs time to make their team play the way they want. It is still too early."

Guardiola has already conceded City are out of the Premier League title race, with runaway leaders Liverpool opening up a 19-point lead by winning at West Ham in midweek.

But the Spaniard insisted it is not for him to determine whether his fourth season at the Etihad Stadium will be considered a failure if they also miss out on winning the Champions League.

"It is down to you lot to judge my season," he said. "It is a perfect season if you win all the titles, a nice season if you win the biggest title.

"I'm proud of my team and we're still competing every single game. We won the first title in the summer and now we're in another final against Aston Villa. 

"We are far away from Liverpool because they would be champions in Timbuktu, Australia and everywhere. 

"We're not close but are in a good position to qualify for the Champions League and now face the kings of the cup - Real Madrid have won it 13 times - so we will see.

"If you ask for my opinion on the season, I would tell you let us finish and after we will see."

Bruno Fernandes will be a "top, top addition" to a Manchester United side in desperate need of their upcoming two-week break, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the new signing's debut ended in a 0-0 draw with Wolves.

Fernandes, who signed from Sporting CP in a deal that could reach £67.6million (€80m) in value on Thursday, played the full 90 minutes as United were frustrated by Nuno Espirito Santo's side at Old Trafford.

The Portugal midfielder had more shots (five), more shots on target (three) and attempted more passes (88) than any other United player in an energetic debut.

However, he could not inspire United to a win that would have moved them within four points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League, with Solskjaer's men again stumbling in the race for the Champions League places.

Solskjaer, though, was satisfied with what he saw from Fernandes and expects the time off to be beneficial for his players.

He told Sky Sports: "We dominated the game, we had loads of possession. They were giving us problems on the counter-attack and set-plays.

"We played so many games over the last two months - the players are down to the bare bones really, their energy levels are down and they need a break.

"You can see he [Fernandes] is a top player, it’s his first game.

"Bruno is one of those players, when he gets ball into feet, he wants players moving in front of him, which we didn't have, so we moved him further back to get on the ball more.

"He'll be a top, top addition."

Nuno, who revealed winger Adama Traore suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first half but continued, was similarly pleased with a result that keeps them level on points with United.

"I think it was a good game, an intense game. I think the first half was good," he said to Sky Sports. 

"There was a second-half spell United dominated and created a lot of problems. We had our moments. I am happy. The boys worked very hard and it was tough.

"I think in the first half our idea was clear to control the middle of the pitch and we had a lot of counter-attacks. It was good but it was a balanced game."

Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for his side's second-half transformation in Saturday's resounding 4-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.

The Reds were far from their fluid best during a chaotic first half and were lucky to not go in at the break behind, with Danny Ings, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond guilty of squandering presentable opportunities.

It was a different story after the interval, though, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain settling any nerves with a 47th-minute strike before a Jordan Henderson effort and two goals from Mohamed Salah sealed a 24th win in 25 Premier League games this season.

Klopp, whose side now hold a 22-point lead over Manchester City, was impressed with Southampton's display and accepts the result could have been a lot different had they taken advantage of their early chances.

He told a media conference: "First and foremost, I really have to say, wow, Southampton – what a team that is. I have been in football for so long and have never seen a turnaround like that.

"When I saw them playing at home against Chelsea months ago, I was really worried. That kind of turnaround is just exceptional.

"The set-up they have is constantly causing you problems. Their defending is really good and then their counter attacks are exceptional. [Danny] Ings and [Shane] Long, what they do there up front, how they are supported by the midfield and the wingers, is just exceptional.

"That's why we had the problems in the first half, because we lost the balls in the wrong moment.

"We had to change two or three things; most importantly we had to change the involvement of Fabinho. We played much calmer and used Fabinho better. It was just a better game and, in the end, we won it.

"The strange thing about this game is that it's not even too high a scoreline; it's just strange that Southampton could have won it as well. That just shows how difficult it was. Even more so, we are really pleased about the outcome."

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was delighted with his side's first-half display and hailed his players' ability to go toe-to-toe with the world champions for so long.

"Everybody who was at the game saw a very brave Saints squad and I would like to see this game again if we had scored the first goal," he said.

"I think for everybody it was fantastic to see that we can compete against such a team. It was a fantastic signal of how good we are and how it can go and how we can win."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.