Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp have paid tribute to Diego Maradona, with the Manchester City manager calling the Argentina great "a man of joy".

Maradona died aged 60 on Wednesday, with the former Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli star reportedly suffering a heart attack, though that has not been confirmed.

After a stellar playing career, Maradona struggled with drug and alcohol problems, though will no doubt go down as one of the greatest players to grace the game.

Shortly after news of Maradona's death was confirmed, City faced Olympiacos in the Champions League, with Phil Foden's goal earning a 1-0 win for Guardiola's side.

Sergio Aguero was married to Maradona's daughter Gianinna, with whom he has a son, though the pair have since split.

Aguero came on as a substitute in Athens, and Guardiola offered his support to the Argentine striker before reminiscing about one of football's greats.

"Firstly, support for Sergio, Diego was his son's grandfather," Guardiola told reporters.

"It was a banner in Argentina I think, one year ago I read it. It said, no matter what you have done in your life Diego, it matters what you have done for our lives.

"I think it fits perfectly with what this guy gave us. The man of joy, the pleasure, and his commitment to world football, he made world football better.

"His performance, what he had done in Napoli, and especially the national team in Argentina, Mexico 1986, it was something unbelievable. Rest in peace and on behalf of Manchester City of course, a big hug for all of his family."

Guardiola joined Barcelona's academy just as Maradona left for Napoli in 1984, with the Argentinian going on to win two Serie A titles in Naples.

"When I was a little boy with my dad, sometimes I came to Barcelona to see Maradona play football, it was incredible," Guardiola continued.

"When I arrived to the academy he left to Napoli, I could not share time, being there in the academy, being close more for the Barcelona games.

"I was not in the locker room with him, but all the people in the locker room who was with him, express his generosity, his thinking for all of them, making a better position for world football, and on the pitch was something unique, for one or two generations, he was a player like 'wow'.

"It's sad news, we knew that it was not perfect."

Liverpool lost 2-0 to Atalanta in their Champions League match at Anfield, and Reds manager Klopp told BT Sport beforehand: "I'm 53 and it feels like my entire life, he was part of it. When I was very, very young – maybe eight or nine, 10 years old – I saw him for the first time and he was 16 or 17.

"In any video, juggling the ball, from that moment on he was the player for me. From an international point of view there's Pele, Maradona, [Lionel] Messi, if you want – one Brazilian and two Argentinians.

"I saw his documentary not too long ago; Diego was a sensational guy, Maradona had some struggles, let me say it like this. I will miss both."

Carlo Ancelotti regularly played against Maradona during his stint in Italy, and the three-time Champions League-winning manager also offered his tribute.

"You were always a genius. Today is a very sad day and a great loss, but you my friend are eternal," Ancelotti, now in charge of Everton, posted on his official Instagram account.

"Ciao Diego. Rest In Peace."

Manchester City secured a last-16 spot in the Champions League but failed to turn their complete dominance into more than a 1-0 win over Olympiacos.

Eager to put Saturday's 2-0 Premier League loss to Tottenham behind them, Pep Guardiola's side controlled proceedings in Wednesday's Group C clash in Athens.

But they had only one goal to show for it as Phil Foden, who wowed for England during the international break, swept the visitors into a first-half lead that never came under threat from the toothless hosts.

Guardiola, who signed a new contract last week, saw his side frustrated by a combination of profligate finishing and fine goalkeeping from Jose Sa.

City, who scored nine goals across their opening three group games, were quickly on the front foot and Foden stung the palms of Sa with a low drive, with the goalkeeper also gathering a Gabriel Jesus header.

Jesus came far closer to breaking the deadlock on the half-hour mark, racing in behind before seeing his shot blocked away by the defiant Sa.

The opener finally arrived in the 36th minute, Foden converting from Raheem Sterling's back-heeled assist after City's slick play had Olympiacos chasing shadows.

Sterling had the busy Sa scrambling across his line to repel a dipping free-kick in first-half stoppage time, with City denied again after the interval as Ilkay Gundogan's effort flashed wide and Joao Cancelo's flick was saved.

Olympiacos were simply not able to apply any pressure – their first shot did not arrive until the 88th minute – leaving City to coast to a win that was brightened further by the late introduction of Sergio Aguero from the bench after an injury lay-off.

 

What does it mean? City's welcome top-flight distraction

The loss at Spurs left City with just 12 points from eight matches and in the unfamiliar territory of the Premier League's bottom half.

This result was a tonic to those domestic woes and it affords Guardiola the chance to make some changes for the remaining two group games, knowing safe passage to the knockout phase is assured.

For Olympiacos, while second spot is still up for grabs, a third-place finish and a berth in the Europa League might be a more likely prospect.

Foden shines bright

Foden scored twice for his country in an eye-catching display against Iceland in which he also showcased some dazzling skills.

He was lively in Greece too, keeping his cool to score what proved to be the winner with one of his six shots, while also creating four chances.

Sa under siege

City had 11 shots on target, seven coming during a first half in which the hosts failed to even register a touch in City's penalty area, so Sa was indeed a busy man.

He was an excellent last line of defence but his all-action outing stood in stark contrast to the anonymous performance of the Olympiacos attack.

Konstantinos Fortounis had just 53 touches and not one of them was a shot on target.

What's next?

City host Burnley this weekend before a trip to Porto next Tuesday, while for Olympiacos it is a top-of-the-table clash at Aris before heading to Marseille on the European stage.

Marcelo Bielsa has been nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach, but Pep Guardiola will not contest the award this year.

Bielsa guided Leeds United back to the Premier League last season after 16 years outside the top flight.

The former Argentina coach has since overseen a solid start to the new campaign in the Premier League, securing draws against Manchester City and Arsenal.

And Bielsa has been rewarded for his achievement with recognition from FIFA.

The 65-year-old made a five-man FIFA shortlist for the world's leading coach in 2020, joining Bayern Munich's Champions League winner Hansi Flick and Liverpool's Premier League champion Jurgen Klopp among the contenders.

Zinedine Zidane is also in the running after Real Madrid won LaLiga, while Sevilla's Europa League triumph sees Julen Lopetegui included.

But there is no room for City boss Guardiola, who came second to Klopp in 2019.

City failed to defend their Premier League title, finishing 18 points behind Liverpool, and they are already eight points off the pace - albeit with a game in hand - down in 13th place this season.

Guardiola's wait for a first Champions League triumph away from Barcelona also went on as they were stunned by Lyon in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez and Son Heung-min are among the frontrunners for the latest FIFA Puskas Award.

Atletico Madrid forward Suarez netted an exquisite backheel for former club Barcelona at the end of a team move against Real Mallorca, while Tottenham's Son tore through the Burnley defence for an individual effort.

The winners of all prizes - including The Best FIFA Men's Player, for which Robert Lewandowski is the favourite - will be revealed at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on December 17.

Neither Inter nor Real Madrid have room for error as they face one another in the Champions League on Wednesday.

A mammoth meeting at San Siro could set one of the two European giants on course for an early exit, with both sides currently outside the qualification places.

Champions Bayern Munich are also in action, as are Liverpool, who host Atalanta after a thumping win in Italy last time out.

Atletico Madrid had a big win at the weekend as Manchester City suffered a disappointing defeat, but both now likewise turn their attention to continental competition.

We preview all of these games plus the rest of Wednesday's action with the help of Opta data.
 

Inter v Real Madrid: Los Blancos seeking breakthrough success

At risk of going winless through their opening four games of a Champions League campaign for the first time, Inter at least have a strong record at home to Real Madrid. Los Blancos have won three of their past four games against Inter but never away from home.

Madrid have enjoyed taking on Serie A sides in recent years, though. They have seven wins from eight such games under Zinedine Zidane, scoring at least twice in each victory, while their sole defeat in this period - 3-1 against Juventus in 2017-18 - was still enough to secure progress en route to the title.

Zidane's side - missing captain Sergio Ramos - must handle Romelu Lukaku, who has been involved in 15 goals (11 scored, four assisted) in the Europa League and Champions League across the past two seasons. Excluding qualifiers, only Robert Lewandowski (22 involvements) has outperformed the Inter forward.

Bayern Munich v Salzburg: Goals galore guaranteed?

Robert Lewandowski will climb to joint-third on the list of all-time Champions League goalscorers the next time he finds the net, increasing his tally of 70 to match Madrid great Raul's 71.

The Bayern number nine might well fancy his chances against Salzburg, who have conceded a joint-high 11 goals in the competition this season. Their games have produced 17 goals - more than any other team's.

Salzburg certainly face a tough ask, having lost all of their previous five Champions League meetings with reigning champions - including the 6-2 defeat at home to Bayern on matchday three when they conceded six goals for the first time in a European match while the German giants claimed a 14th straight win.

Liverpool v Atalanta: Goal-hungry visitors out for revenge

Another fixture that would appear primed for plenty of goalmouth action sees Atalanta visit Liverpool, having suffered two of their three heaviest defeats in European competition - 5-1 v City last season, 5-0 v Liverpool last time out - against Premier League sides.

Atalanta failed to score on matchday three but had netted in their previous 10 in the Champions League, while they have won their past three away games, scoring at least three times in each, since the City reverse.

Liverpool are looking for four consecutive victories in the Champions League for the first time since March 2009 and can call again on Diogo Jota, who netted a hat-trick in Bergamo and would become the fastest Reds player to five goals in the competition if he scored again in his fourth match.

Olympiacos v Manchester City: Torres, De Bruyne and defence on top form

City are struggling in the Premier League but have quickly found their feet in Europe this season. The same is true of Ferran Torres, who will aim to become the third City player to score in four consecutive Champions League matches after Raheem Sterling (November 2017) and Sergio Aguero (March 2019).

Torres' goal in the previous meeting with Olympiacos was assisted by Kevin De Bruyne, who already has four assists in the Champions League this term - his best ever tally.

Crucially, Pep Guardiola's defenders are also delivering on the European stage and they can win three in a row without conceding in major continental competition for the first time since the 1969-70 Cup Winners' Cup.

 

Other fixtures:

Borussia Monchengladbach v Shakhtar Donetsk

29 - Heading into matchday four, Gladbach had the highest shot conversion rate of any team in the Champions League this season (29 per cent - 10 goals from 35 shots).

6 - With three goals and three assists, Alassane Plea has been involved in six of his side's 10 goals - the joint-highest tally in a player's first three appearances in the competition since 2003-04 (also Adriano for Inter in 2004 and Erling Haaland for Salzburg in 2019).

Ajax v Midtjylland

1 - Ajax have only won one of their past eight home games in the Champions League (D2 L5), losing each of their most recent three without scoring a goal.

26 - Excluding qualifiers, Midtjylland last kept a clean sheet in European competition back in September 2015 (1-0 v Legia Warszawa), conceding 26 goals in 10 games since then.

Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

10 - Atleti are unbeaten in their past 10 games against Russian opponents in European competition (W8 D2), with their last such defeat coming back in February 2013 (2-0 v Rubin Kazan in the Europa League).

7 - Atleti have conceded seven goals in three Champions League matches so far this season - more than they have in any other group stage in a single season under Diego Simeone.

Marseille v Porto

8 - Marseille are looking to avoid becoming the eighth team to lose each of their first four group games while failing to score in a single Champions League campaign, with Anderlecht in 2017-18 the last to do so.

0 - OM have had fewer shots on target than any other side in the Champions League this season (four), as well as being the only side yet to score in the competition this term.

Manchester City are preparing long-term plans for Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, is coming out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season and is linked with a move, having sensationally requested a transfer ahead of 2020-21.

Strongly linked with Messi, City are making long-term plans for the Argentina star.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARE 10-YEAR PLAN FOR MESSI

Manchester City are preparing a 10-year plan for Barcelona star Messi, according to The Times.

The report says the Premier League club are expected to launch another attempt to sign the superstar at the beginning of 2021 and will offer him opportunities with the City Football Group (CFG) after he plays for City.

Messi has scored six goals in 11 games for Barcelona this season.

ROUND-UP

- Amid an injury crisis in defence, Barcelona's priorities have changed. Goal reports the LaLiga giants are focusing on Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and not Lyon star Memphis Depay, following the knee injury suffered by Gerard Pique.

- Thiago Silva has made quite an impression at Chelsea. The defender signed a one-year deal ahead of this season and Tuttomercatoweb reports there have already been initial contacts to extend his contract until 2022.

- The news is a little different for Jerome Boateng. Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich have already decided not to extend the defender's contract, which expires at the end of the season.

- Valencia's 17-year-old midfielder Yunus Musah appears to be catching the eye. 90min reports Arsenal are among the Premier League sides monitoring the teenager. The two-time United States international came through Arsenal's academy before joining Valencia in 2019.

Pep Guardiola was expecting Manchester City to start the new campaign on top form but insists "the season is still so young" as his team instead toil in the bottom half of the Premier League.

City are in Champions League action against Olympiacos on Wednesday, looking to advance to the last 16 with a fourth straight victory.

As well as delivering another result on the European stage, though, Guardiola recognises the match is important to "recover our feelings" after another painful outing in the Premier League.

City went down 2-0 at early leaders Tottenham on Saturday and now lie 13th in the table, already eight points off the pace with a game in hand to play.

A return of 12 points from eight games is City's worst start to a league season since 2008-09 (10 points), while their failings in attack are particularly concerning, netting just 10 times - a low since scoring six times in eight matches in 2006-07.

Guardiola is confident his side will turn their fortunes around, though, explaining: "I had a feeling we would do really well this season. I don't know why [we haven't].

"From the beginning, I expected a reaction after how we finished the last season against Lyon in Portugal. I have a good feeling.

"We know what we have to do. We are a team who last season scored a lot and now we are struggling.

"I have to find a solution, to find the right way to attack more fluently and have the feeling that we can score goals. But in the way we play, I'm quite good, quite happy.

"There are little details still we have to improve, conceding penalties that are unnecessary, sometimes we miss clear chances we have to score.

"But the moment will break. In one or two games, this kind of thing will get better. The season is still so young and I'm fully optimistic we're going to do a good season."

Guardiola is also willing to stay patient with record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who watched on from the bench at Spurs as City had 22 shots without finding the net.

Aguero suffered a knee injury in June and has played just 110 minutes in the league so far this season, attempting a single shot that failed to hit the target.

"We want him to come back," Guardiola said. "Today he trained again. That he can recover a good feeling in his knee is the most important thing.

"I know it is not easy [being] injured but we wait for him and it's a step at a time.

"We still have many, many games this season to play and we will need him. We want him to recover and be back in the best condition."

In the meantime, new signing Ferran Torres has taken on a striking role, still waiting on his first Premier League goal but scoring three times in three matches in the Champions League.

Another goal against Olympiacos would make him just the third City player - after Aguero and Raheem Sterling - to net in four straight games in the competition.

Torres said of his responsibility to the team: "Obviously we have had a few injuries of our strikers in the squad.

"But I think we are scoring goals as a team - probably not as many as we would like but we are also facing difficult opponents as well, so it's difficult.

"We are working hard as a team to sort that out and I am confident that the goals will arrive.

"Playing as a striker is not my natural position but I feel very comfortable playing there. I am also scoring goals so it is good.

"When you work hard and make sacrifices for the team, you get your rewards, so I am trying to work hard to keep scoring goals."

Forget Lionel Messi and Harry Kane, Manchester City reportedly want Jack Grealish.

Grealish, 25, has starred for Aston Villa this season and also impressed with England during the international break.

And the playmaker seems to have impressed City manager Pep Guardiola.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY TARGET GREALISH OVER MESSI, KANE

Guardiola wants Manchester City to make a move for Villa star Grealish, according to The Independent.

The report says Barcelona star Messi and Tottenham forward Kane were discussed as potential signings, but Guardiola is an admirer of Grealish.

Only Kane (nine) has more Premier League assists than Grealish (five) this season, while the latter has also netted four times.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City may soon have good news to report about Kevin De Bruyne. TodoFichajes reports De Bruyne has agreed to a new contract at City until 2025.

- Still linked with a move to Barcelona, Lautaro Martinez's future at Inter is unclear. However, FC Inter News says there is optimism Martinez will re-sign at Inter, who want to extend the forward's deal through to 2025.

- Having conceded 14 goals in eight Premier League games this season, Manchester United are reportedly considering moves for defenders. 90min reports Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres has moved top of their shortlist alongside RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano.

- As he struggles for game time at Inter, Christian Eriksen is being linked with a move. Tuttomercatoweb reports Borussia Dortmund are keeping an eye on the midfielder's situation, with the Bundesliga club having apparently been interested in the Denmark international during the previous transfer window too.

After an international break that seemed to go on for months rather than days, the Premier League was back with typical gusto this weekend.

Tottenham and Liverpool earned impressive wins over Manchester City and Leicester City respectively to sit top of the pile on 20 points, with Chelsea and the Foxes hot in their wake.

But away from the more obvious facts and figures there are always some hidden gems that you may have missed.

With help from the geniuses at Opta, we have delved into some of the quirkier things to emerge from the Premier League these past few days.


Reds pass the test

Diogo Jota made history by becoming the first Liverpool player to score in each of his first four home top-flight appearances for the Reds.

More impressively, his goal in the beating of Leicester came at the end of a sequence of 30 passes – the first time they have tallied so many in the build-up since Opta began collecting such data in the 2006-07 season.

In that same period, the most a team has had leading to goal was Tottenham when Nacer Chadli netted against QPR in August 2014 with a whopping 48 passes.

Manchester United (Juan Mata 45 versus Southampton), Manchester City (Ilkay Gundogan 44 versus Manchester United), Southampton (Morgan Schneiderlin 40 versus Newcastle United), and Manchester United again (Ashley Young 37 versus Blackburn Rovers) complete the top five in the metric.

Relief for Ole

A poor run of form had seen the pressure grow on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United but back-to-back Premier League wins has helped his cause a little.

Saturday's 1-0 win over West Brom – secured by Bruno Fernandes' second-half penalty – ended a run of 323 minutes without a Premier League goal at Old Trafford.

Only twice have United gone longer without celebrating at home in the competition, the longest being 361 minutes between March and August 2002, while they went 334 minutes between April and August 2007.

Worryingly for Solskjaer, he has another streak in the top five with United going 235 minutes without a Premier League home goal between January and February earlier this year.

Grim reading for the Steel City

Chris Wilder and his Sheffield United side have little to smile about right now as a 1-0 home defeat to West Ham on Sunday left them with just one point from their opening nine matches.

Only three teams have ever accrued such a paltry sum at the same stage of a Premier League season.

Coincidentally, Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday did so in 1999-00, while Manchester City are the other unfortunate side in 1995-96. In a potentially bad omen for the Blades, both sides went on to be relegated.

With Wednesday mired in relegation trouble of their own in the Championship, both sides of the Sheffield divide will hope for a boost in fortunes as we edge towards Christmas.

Own goal-woe for Fernandez and Evans

Come on admit it…we all love it when a player ends up with egg on their face and scores past their own goalkeeper. In fact, the more comical the own goal the better.

Over the weekend, two particularly luckless players continued their rotten luck in this regard.

Federico Fernandez was on the scoresheet for the wrong team as Newcastle United were beaten by Chelsea. Since his Premier League debut in 2014, no other player has more own goals than his five – level with Lewis Dunk.

Jonny Evans racked up a sixth Premier League own goal as Leicester City were outclassed by Liverpool. Only Richard Dunne (10), Jamie Carragher (7) and Martin Skrtel (7) have put more in their own net.

Fulham paying the penalty

There are never any guarantees that a penalty will bring a goal…just ask poor Fulham fans.

Ivan Cavaleiro's miss from 12 yards in the 3-2 loss to Everton on Sunday means the Cottagers have missed five of their past eight Premier League penalties, with three different takers in that time.

Both Arsenal and Leicester City have missed five in a row in the competition before (the Gunners between October 1992 and November 1993, and the Foxes August 1994 to September 1996).

The most recent example of a side failing with four in a row was Manchester City last season.

Sevilla defender Jules Kounde has confirmed he held talks with Pep Guardiola over a move to Manchester City and was offered "guarantees" over playing time.

Kounde played 40 times for Sevilla in his maiden campaign with the Andalusian side, including nine games in their victorious Europa League run.

The France Under-21s international's form saw him strongly linked with a move to City during the most recent transfer window but a deal failed to materialise.

Sevilla sporting director Monchi revealed in September his side had knocked back an offer from an unnamed club, less than a week before City signed Ruben Dias from Benfica for a club-record fee.

Kounde has helped Sevilla keep two clean sheets in his five LaLiga appearances this term but has admitted he was keen on a move to the Etihad Stadium.

"Yes, I spoke with Guardiola," he told Canal Football Club. "I had him on the phone, it went very well. We had a discussion, in Spanish, he has some words in French.

"I was interested in going. It was a super opportunity. I had guarantees around playing time, but it wasn't done. 

"They [Sevilla] could have said it was a very good sum and that they were not going to do any better, but it shows what they think of me, that I am a boy who works hard and who can improve, which is why they declined I think."

Kounde was overlooked for France's latest squad, not helped by a spell on the sidelines because of coronavirus, but the 22-year-old is hopeful of being part of Didier Deschamps' plans for next year's rearranged Euro 2020.

"My objective is the European Championships," he said. "That was the case last year before the tournament had to be postponed.

"It's something that drives me. It's something I'm going to fight for. It's something that is going to guide me every day."

Manchester City will reportedly opt against making a move for Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi, 33, sensationally requested to leave Barca during the close season, but ended up staying with the LaLiga giants.

Still, talk about his future continues, with City the most strongly linked.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY WON'T TRY TO SIGN MESSI

Manchester City will not try to sign Barcelona star Messi, Spanish football expert Semra Hunter told Sky Sports News.

The report says Messi's age and wage demands are a major reason the Premier League giants will not pursue him.

Messi, a six-time Ballon d'Or winner, is out of contract at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Are Real Madrid looking for a replacement for 35-year-old midfielder Luka Modric? Fichajes.net reports Madrid see Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as the ideal replacement for Croatia star Modric.

- Barcelona will try to sign Manchester City defender Eric Garcia in January amid an injury crisis in defence, according to Sport. Gerard Pique (knee) and Sergi Roberto (thigh) are both set for spells on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Marca says Barcelona are set for a meeting to decide whether they should sign a replacement for Pique.

- Fabian Ruiz has impressed for Napoli, leading to interest from elsewhere. CalcioMercato reports Paris Saint-Germain are still targeting the midfielder.

- Amid uncertainty over his future at Inter, Christian Eriksen is linked with a return to the Premier League. Corriere dello Sport reports Manchester United and Arsenal are considering the former Tottenham star.

- With Memphis Depay and Moussa Dembele linked with moves, Lyon may be eyeing replacements. Le 10 Sport says Reims and Senegal forward Boulaye Dia and Leicester City forward Islam Slimani are both targets.

Pep Guardiola has warned Sergio Aguero cannot solve Manchester City's goalscoring problems on his own as the Argentina striker prepares to make his latest return from injury. 

Aguero missed the start of this season as he continued to recover after undergoing meniscus surgery in June. 

He featured in October's 1-0 win over Arsenal and scored a penalty in City's opening 3-1 Champions League victory against Porto, only to pull up with a hamstring injury at the halfway point of the club's next Premier League outing at West Ham. 

City's all-time record goalscorer remained an unused substitute as Guardiola's side went down to a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham on Saturday - a result that leaves them languishing in the bottom half of the table with 12 points and 10 goals from their eight top-flight matches so far. 

For a team that has scored 102, 95 and 106 in their past three completed league campaigns it represents a startling drop-off, with Aguero's enforced role on the periphery easy to identify as a major part of the problem. 

Since Guardiola took charge of City in 2016, Aguero has scored 78 Premier League goals, with his attacking colleagues Raheem Sterling (64) and Gabriel Jesus (43) next on the list. 

In terms of shot conversion, the trio are similar, with Aguero netting from 24.5 per cent of his attempts - a shade below Sterling on 26.2 and a touch better than Jesus (22.3). When it comes to converting those opportunities Opta classes as big chances, Jesus (36.5 per cent) is far more wasteful than Sterling (50.5) and Aguero (53.4). 

Where the one-time Atletico Madrid favourite stands apart is the frequency of his goals, which come every 107.9 minutes. Jesus' goals-per-minute reading is 131.1, with Sterling further back on 174.7.

The England winger improves to one every 152.1 minutes if counted from the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, although Aguero’s astonishing return falls to 103.7 counting from City's "centurions" season onwards. 

"I'm not going to say that we don't need Sergio, we need him," Guardiola said of Aguero, who is out of contract at the end of the campaign. 

"But Sergio is 32 years old and was five months injured with a difficult and dangerous injury. 

"He came back, played 50 minutes [then] 55 and he was injured again. 

"We want it and I want Sergio fit. I am not discovering how important he is for us, what he has done in the Premier League. But we have to be careful to not get back again and be injured again. 

"You have to see the moment to put him [on the pitch]. Hopefully it can be soon and he can maintain the regularity to play games." 

Aguero is likely to feature during either the midweek Champions League trip to Olympiacos or Burnley's visit the Etihad Stadium next Saturday. 

A packed schedule has City in action every midweek until the end of England's festive fixture period - a situation that is far from ideal as Guardiola ponders tactical tweaks to a team that again showed familiar flaws in north London. 

"It's impossible. Impossible," he replied when asked how realistic it was to make major adjustments on the training field. 

"But all the clubs are the same - I'm not saying we are at an advantage or a disadvantage. But it is impossible. There is not time."

Manchester City are reportedly set to extend the contracts of Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus as they consider another forward.

Pep Guardiola signed a two-year extension at City this week, keeping him at the Premier League giants until 2023.

And more re-signings look set to follow.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY SET TO OFFER NEW DEALS TO STERLING, JESUS

Manchester City are set to offer Raheem Sterling a new deal, according to the Mirror.

Sterling, 25, is contracted at City until 2023, but the club are hopeful he will renew on improved terms.

Also under contract until 2023, Jesus is set for a bumper new deal, the Daily Star reports.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Manchester City and Pep Guardiola is considering Benfica and Uruguay forward Darwin Nunez as a successor to Sergio Aguero, according to The Telegraph. Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Also coming out of contract at the end of the campaign is Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. Corriere dello Sport says Inter are eyeing the midfielder in January, while the Serie A giants are also looking at Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul as they consider selling Christian Eriksen.

- As Olivier Giroud struggles for game time at Chelsea, the striker is linked with a move. The Mirror says David Beckham's Inter Miami are considering making an offer for the France international in January.

- Yet to play in the Premier League this season, Dean Henderson may look to leave Manchester United. The Sun reports the goalkeeper wants a January loan move to boost his chances of keeping his spot in England's squad for next year's European Championship. It says Leeds United and Brighton and Hove Albion are interested.

- Another Manchester United goalkeeper seeking an exit is Sergio Romero. The Mirror reports United are prepared to accept £2.5million for Romero in January, having wanted double that during the close season.

Pole position in this unpredictable Premier League season changed hands twice on Saturday as Jose Mourinho's Tottenham moved to the summit.

Leicester City – not in action until Sunday – started the day on top of the pile, but victories for Chelsea and then Spurs saw the Foxes nudged down to third.

Elsewhere, Manchester United belatedly got up and running at Old Trafford, while Brighton and Hove Albion also triumphed.

We reflect on another topsy-turvy day of top-flight action with the aid of Opta data.

 

Newcastle United 0-2 Chelsea: Tammy and Timo team up

Chelsea had taken top spot in the day's early fixture thanks to a 2-0 success at St James' Park, their 26th Premier League win over Newcastle United.

It was a familiar sinking feeling for Newcastle and Federico Fernandez, who put through his own net for the opener. The former Argentina defender has scored a joint-high five own goals since his 2014 top-flight debut, while this was the Magpies' fifth home defeat in seven.

Tammy Abraham wrapped up victory with his 23rd goal in all competitions since the start of last season, 11 more than any other Chelsea player.

Timo Werner could not get on the scoresheet despite a host of chances but teed up Abraham's strike, his 11th goal involvement in his past 10 appearances in all competitions.

Edouard Mendy was scarcely troubled at the other end and kept his seventh Chelsea clean sheet in nine games. The Blues have three in a row away in the Premier League.

 

Aston Villa 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: More Welbeck woe for hosts

Brighton landed their second Premier League win of the season and just their fifth in 27 attempts as Aston Villa went down 2-1 at home.

It should have come as no surprise to see Danny Welbeck break the deadlock, however, as he netted his fifth top-flight goal against Villa, a career high. Only Robbie Fowler (five) has more Premier League strikes at Villa Park as a visiting player than Welbeck's four.

Ezri Konsa responded, a league-high ninth set-piece goal conceded by Brighton this term, before Solly March's fine strike earned the points despite Tariq Lamptey's late red card.

England's Jack Grealish was the subject of praise during the international break and of Brighton's attentions on Saturday. He was fouled seven times and has earned at least one foul in each of his past 102 league appearances.

 

Tottenham 2-0 Manchester City: A night for Spurs to savour from the summit

Tottenham finished a day on top of the Premier League for the first time since August 2014 after beating Manchester City 2-0 at home.

And not since January 1985 had Spurs enjoyed the view from the summit overnight in the top flight after at least nine games of a season.

They were set on their way by Son Heung-min's fifth goal in his past five games against City in all competitions, arriving after just four minutes and 19 seconds – the earliest City have conceded in the Premier League since Theo Walcott netted after four minutes and six seconds in December 2016.

The second – created by Harry Kane's ninth assist of the campaign – came courtesy of Giovani Lo Celso, just 35 seconds after his arrival as a substitute. The only other Tottenham player to score within a minute of coming off the bench in the league since 2006-07 was Lucas Moura in August 2019, also against City.

City lacked the same clinical touch and have lost consecutive games against Spurs without scoring despite attempting 41 shots across the two fixtures.

 

Manchester United 1-0 West Brom:  Home comforts return for Red Devils

United were aided by penalty controversy as they defeated West Brom 1-0 to finally win at home in the Premier League this season, their first such victory in seven attempts going back to last term.

An apparent foul on Conor Gallagher looked to have given the Baggies a chance from 12 yards, but that decision was overturned on review and United instead had a spot-kick following a handball. Bruno Fernandes' attempt was saved, only for a re-take to be granted and dispatched.

That strike was United's first home league goal in 324 minutes – since Fernandes' penalty against Tottenham – and proved enough for a much-needed success.

It was perhaps inevitable a spot-kick should provide the Red Devils' salvation, as 16 per cent of their Premier League goals since the start of last season – including seven of Fernandes' 14 – have been penalties.

West Brom had not been beaten on their previous two trips to Old Trafford but have now failed to win any of their opening nine games to a league season for the first time since 1985-86.

Jose Mourinho hailed Harry Kane and said the Tottenham star was at his best "when the puzzle around him is perfect".

Kane provided his ninth assist of the Premier League season – to go with seven goals – during Spurs' 2-0 win over Manchester City on Saturday.

The forward had just eight assists in his previous three league campaigns combined (94 games), but set up Giovani Lo Celso's goal, which doubled Tottenham's lead following Son Heung-min's opener.

Mourinho lauded Kane, who helped Spurs win back-to-back league games against City for the first time since a run of three between September 2015 and October 2016.

"He's a fantastic player. When the puzzle around him is perfect for him he's a fantastic player," the Spurs head coach told a news conference.

"Maybe he will be responsible for you and fans and people that love football, maybe he will change the way people look to a striker. 

"He is fantastic and he very much represents the spirit of the team."

Tottenham ended a day top of the Premier League table for the first time since August 2014.

But Mourinho was unfazed as he tried to keep Spurs focused, with Leicester City able to return to the top if they beat Liverpool on Sunday.

"I prefer to be top of the league than second, third or fourth, but it's not an obsession. It's not a problem for me if Leicester wins and goes top of the league. It's not a problem at all," he said. 

"I just want to win my game which is what we keep saying since the beginning of the season. We want to win the next match. I don't care about the table, I don't care about the opponents, about the competition. I want to win the next match and go to every game with the players believing and organised in a way that we can beat that opponent. 

"We are a process. This team is a process in place. Good signs of evolution at every level. We are very happy with that of course but I don't care too much about the table. It's just a good feeling to go home and obviously be top of the league is a good feeling."

Pep Guardiola believes Tottenham are Premier League title contenders, but the Manchester City manager feels this may be the most open title race since his arrival in England.

City suffered a 2-0 loss to Tottenham on Saturday, a result which sees them sit 11th in the table, eight points behind leaders Spurs but having played one less game.

With just 10 goals scored through eight league games, that is City's worst return since managing just six after the same number of matches in 2006-07.

Guardiola said Jose Mourinho's Spurs deserved to be considered title threats as he rued his side's lack of goals.

"They are top of the league. So obviously they are more contenders than anyone else right now," he told a news conference.

"Of course, there are a lot of points to play for, we're eight points down, we have one game less, but there are a lot of teams in front of us. We have to start winning games, if not that will not be possible, we know it. We have to try to win games, we know it.

"In terms of the game, I think we are not far away, but we struggle to score the goals right now, and it is not about particularly for one person or the other one. That is the reality, 10 goals … is not good enough."

Since arriving at City in 2016, Guardiola has helped the club win two Premier League titles – by 19 points in 2017-18 and one the following campaign.

The other two were won by Chelsea by seven points in 2016-17 and Liverpool by 18 last season.

Guardiola thinks this could be the most open title race since he arrived in England, with Spurs just five points clear of sixth-placed Aston Villa.

"Well, the first year, I remember Chelsea yeah, in the beginning it was so tight, but in the end they take the advantage. The second season, and the third, and the fourth, it was so clear for City two times and Liverpool once," he said.

"This looks like [the most open title race], but again it is nine [sic] games I think we have played so still a lot to play.

"We will see, you know playing a lot of games this season how it is going to happen. We will see."

City's return of 12 points from eight games is their lowest at this stage of a Premier League campaign since 2008-09, when they accumulated 10.

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