When Pep Guardiola said he had a feeling Mikel Arteta was building something special at Arsenal, he might not have banked on being proved right so quickly and so emphatically.

Arsenal reached half-time in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City deservedly 1-0 ahead. It should have been more. The eventual 2-0 outcome did not flatter them in the slightest.

Arteta's three and a half years as Guardiola's assistant at City saw his reputation blossom rapidly. He had already been offered the top job at Emirates Stadium in 2018 before accepting his first senior coaching position last December.

It was easy to see almost everything Arsenal did in an accomplished showing as being informed and inspired by the Guardiola playbook.

Take Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's beautifully constructed 19th-minute opener, for example. The move featured 18 passes, the bulk of them knocked about inside their own area in a daring high-wire act.

By the time Nicolas Pepe floated a teasing cross from the right flank for Aubameyang to dispatch a deft, sliding finish, they were the ninth and 10th Arsenal men to touch the ball in the sequence.

City's most presentable openings before the break came when Arsenal's bold commitment to building play from deep went awry. Arteta picked out all the perfect points to jam and clog up Guardiola's whirring machine.

Granit Xhaka has looked like a spanner for the Gunners before, but it's never been such a compliment. Master playmakers David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were tracked, smothered and starved of service in their favoured areas of the field.

At the back, City goalkeeper Ederson and centre-backs Eric Garcia and Aymeric Laporte – a trio usually so slick and assured with the ball at their feet – hesitated time and again. The passing lanes Guardiola's side love to speed along were closed off into dank alleyways offering nothing.

A mantra Guardiola repeated before the match was that mentality, not tactics, win through on occasions like this.

Thankfully for Arsenal, they had that in spades too as City pressure mounted. Given how frequently this group of players have appeared temperamentally ill-suited to the demands of elite matches, Arteta's achievement in fostering such resolve, which was also the key component in a 2-1 midweek win over Liverpool, cannot be understated.

His players were nevertheless grateful for the second-half drinks break. Raheem Sterling slotted wide from a fine De Bruyne pass, the Belgium star grazed the side-netting with a free-kick, while Riyad Mahrez forced an excellent near-post stop from Emiliano Martinez in between those chances. That was City's only shot on target.

Shkodran Mustafi survived a trial by VAR after bringing down Sterling in the box, but he and David Luiz were colossi where they have so often been comedians.

Then there was a break in the blue wave and Aubameyang sauntered beyond a flimsy City backline to finish coolly.

From that point it was instructive how little City threatened. Laporte thrashing his weaker right foot at a long-range effort was the closest they came.

Last season's treble winners scythe through opponents when all the components of their team operate in frictionless synchronicity. Every action has a reaction. But the same is true when they malfunction. The more blunted a Sergio Aguero-less forward line, the shakier a post-Vincent Kompany defence. It is all so self-perpetuating that their defeats have started to feel inevitable.

And there have been plenty of those. Most of their nine losses in a failed Premier League title defence have come while hogging possession and failing to break down massed defensive ranks. Guardiola's players wore a look of men who had read this script many times and lacked the imagination or direction to supply an alternative ending.

A week of victory off the field ended with defeat on it. English football's dominant team over the past two years have also lost to Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Wolves (twice) and Manchester United (three times) this term.

Even allowing for a 2-1 first-leg advantage over Real Madrid – freshly crowned LaLiga champions after 10 wins from 10 since lockdown – a Champions League-winning conclusion to salvage the campaign feels far-fetched, given that fairly wretched return against high-class opponents.

Arteta, the star pupil, put his knowledge of Guardiola's teachings to devastating good use at Wembley. The problem for a City team who finish games out of ideas far too often nowadays is their former training ground confidant is far from the only coach in possession of an open secret.

Mikel Arteta overcame his former boss Pep Guardiola as a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double saw Arsenal reach the FA Cup final with a 2-0 win over Manchester City.

Arteta left his role as assistant at City last December to take charge at Emirates Stadium, and while it has been far from straightforward for the Spaniard since, he could be on course to finish a topsy-turvy campaign with silverware.

Aubameyang was the hero as he struck twice at an eerily empty Wembley, sending his side through to face Chelsea or Manchester United on August 1.

City huffed and puffed throughout but were unable to blow Arsenal's well-constructed house down, suffering their first defeat at the national stadium since going out to the Gunners at the same stage of the competition three years ago.

Guardiola fielded the same starting XI that won 3-0 when these teams returned to Premier League action in June, when the master easily overcame his former apprentice in Manchester.

However, the cup holders never hit the same heights in familiar surroundings in the capital, failing to respond after Aubameyang converted Nicolas Pepe's cross with a half-volleyed finish in the 19th minute.

The Gabon forward had missed a glorious chance earlier in proceedings, shooting straight at Ederson when clean through, but made no mistake when stretching out to poke the inswinging right-wing cross back across the face of the Brazilian goalkeeper and in via the far post.

Shkodran Mustafi saw a header tipped over in the closing stages of a first half that saw a rather sluggish City fail to muster a shot on target.

Raheem Sterling carelessly missed the target soon after the break, but Emiliano Martínez was finally called into action to keep out a low attempt by Riyad Mahrez, while the goalkeeper was grateful to see a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick ripple the outside of the net.

Aubameyang, though, had no such issues locating the goal during a rare Arsenal attack in the 71st minute, running onto Kieran Tierney's lofted pass before slotting through Ederson's legs.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette will start together in attack for Arsenal in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City, although Bukayo Saka must be content with a place on the bench.

Record signing Nicolas Pepe has been preferred to teenager Saka by head coach Mikel Arteta.

Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka will look to build on their promising alliance in central midfield, while David Luiz must try to put a nightmare outing from his last encounter with City behind him.

The experienced centre-back was at fault for Raheem Sterling's opening goal in a 3-0 win for City at the Etihad Stadium last month, where he also gave away a penalty and was sent off.

As revealed by Pep Guardiola on Friday, regular number one Ederson starts in goal for the holders.

Claudio Bravo has featured in the domestic cups for City this season, including in their EFL Cup final win over Aston Villa in March, but the veteran Chile international is sidelined with a muscular complaint.

Teenage centre-back Eric Garcia partners Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence, with Ilkay Gundogan anchoring the City midfield behind dual playmakers David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.

Riyad Mahrez gets the nod to start on the right of a front three completed by Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, with Phil Foden having to be satisfied with a place on the bench alongside Bernardo Silva.

Arsenal beat City 2-1 after extra time at the same stage of this competition three years ago, although Guardiola's side have won each of the subsequent seven meetings between the teams.

Zinedine Zidane has just won LaLiga and has a contract with Real Madrid until 2022 but acknowledged his future at the club could quickly have a different outlook.

In his first full season back at the helm, Zidane has led Madrid to success in the Supercopa de Espana and LaLiga to take his trophy haul across two spells in the dugout to 11 – three shy of equalling Miguel Munoz's club record.

With the league wrapped up, the Spanish champions can focus on the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester City. They trail 2-1 ahead of the return game at the Etihad Stadium on August 7.

Zidane guided Madrid to the Champions League trophy, which is considered the main objective every season at the Santiago Bernabeu, in three straight seasons during his first stint as coach.

Despite only winning LaLiga on Thursday, Zidane was asked if he could guarantee that he will be at the helm next season.

He replied: "Nobody knows what's going to happen in the future. I never talk about next season or the following year.

"I've got a contract and I'm happy. You never know what will happen in the future.

"Things can change overnight in the world of football and I have no idea what the future holds."

Zidane urged his team to maintain their intensity in their final LaLiga game of the season on Sunday against Leganes, who will be hoping to get a positive result and retain their top-flight status.

"We have to find that motivation. It's a league game. When we put on the Real Madrid shirt, we want to win all the games," he said.

"That's the DNA at Real Madrid. It's a league game not a friendly and we want to play well.

"I don't think we've got anything to prove. We just want to maintain this positive momentum. We want to keep winning.

"We have another big game. We said there were 11 finals. There were 10 and we won the league, but we want to finish in the best way possible.

"We want to keep pushing and testing ourselves until the very end of the season. There will be a few days' rest after the game against Leganes, but the season continues. We will be back training and preparing for City after the game against Leganes."

Karim Benzema struck both of Madrid's goals in their 2-1 victory over Villarreal last time out, moving him onto 21 in LaLiga for the season – two fewer than league-leading Barcelona captain Lionel Messi.

While Zidane would take great pride in Benzema winning the Pichichi Award for LaLiga's highest scoring player, he was not willing to give any hints about his team selection for trip to Butarque.

"I'd love for Benzema to get the Pichichi," said Zidane. "But I'm not going to say who's going to play.

"He's a player whose done a great job and deserves to end the season as the top goalscorer, but it's going to go down to the final game of the season. Let's see what happens on Sunday."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has "no doubt" Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara can play in the Premier League amid links to champions Liverpool.

Thiago is out of contract at Bundesliga champions Bayern next year and the 29-year-old Spaniard is reportedly ready to leave Bavaria after opting against a renewal.

Jurgen Klopp is believed to be keen on bringing Thiago to Anfield, where Liverpool won their first league title since 1990 this season, and Guardiola – who worked with the veteran at Barcelona and Bayern – hailed the midfielder.

"No doubt about it, a player who plays for Barcelona and Bayern Munich can play in the Premier League," Guardiola said when asked about Thiago ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

"Of course he can play, he's an exceptional player but I don't know what he's going to do."

Thiago – handed his first senior taste of football by Guardiola at Barcelona – emerged from the youth system at Camp Nou in 2009.

He won two LaLiga titles and a Champions League trophy among other honours before joining Bayern four years later.

Thiago has since claimed seven successive Bundesliga crowns, four DFB-Pokal titles, two DFL-Supercup honours and the Club World Cup trophy in Bavaria.

After helping Bayern to an eighth consecutive Bundesliga triumph, Thiago and the German giants are preparing for next month's second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Chelsea.

Bayern won the opening leg 3-0 in London before the Champions League was postponed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mikel Arteta believes the FA Cup has never been harder to win as Arsenal face up to the tall order of a semi-final showdown with Manchester City.

The last time the two sides met at this stage of the competition, Arsene Wenger's Gunners ensured Pep Guardiola's first season in Manchester ended without a trophy, as Alexis Sanchez secured a 2-1 extra-time victory.

However, City have won all seven meetings since, including the 2018 EFL Cup final – a triumph that began a run of Guardiola lifting six out of the past eight major honours on offer in English football.

If he is to make it seven from nine, he will need to overcome Arsenal and the winners of Sunday's semi-final between Manchester United and Chelsea.

Arteta won back-to-back FA Cups as a player under Wenger in 2014 and 2015, although the Arsenal head coach feels the strength of this year's semi-final contenders shows it will be a tougher task for whoever prevails this time around.

"I think it is, a lot of clubs used to use this competition to give opportunities to young players or change their squads," Guardiola's former assistant said.

"Look at the semi-finals, look how much players are rotating, look how much everyone wants to win a title.

"The big clubs know how difficult it is to win the Premier League and the Champions League. They need titles and they throw everything at this competition.

"Now it is even more difficult to win it than before."

Arsenal battled to a 2-1 comeback win over champions Liverpool in midweek to make it four Premier League wins from their past six encounters.

They were forced to dig in under pressure for long periods, but Arteta balked at the suggestion he might have implemented a more free-flowing style at this stage, given the myriad of challenges he has faced in his short time in charge.

"You're asking me if I wanted to play, after two months, with a break, like Man City right now?" he asked, with slight incredulity.

"Look back at the issues we've had with a lot of players, with injuries, suspensions, players out.

"It's impossible. I need to adapt, I need to win football games and find ways to do that.

"My long-term situation, how we want to play, is very clear."

The pressure to churn out results since arriving last December might yet stand Arteta in good stead for Saturday's winner-takes-all encounter.

"Every game since I joined was a final, it was crucial," he added.

"We have to climb on the table to have the option that we have now to get into Europe through the Premier League, and now through the FA Cup." 

A first all-Manchester FA Cup final was not on Pep Guardiola's mind ahead of Saturday's Wembley meeting with Arsenal, given he has plenty of ghosts of semi-finals past to keep him company.

City will contest a place in the showpiece with the Gunners as they aim to retain a trophy they won last season thanks to a 6-0 demolition of Watford.

Manchester United take on Chelsea in Sunday's semi-final, with the prospect of the 183rd Manchester derby coming with silverware on the line an intriguing one – especially considering the Red Devils' resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and impressive record against City this season.

Guardiola has won a staggering 16 out of 17 career finals, including three one-off UEFA Super Cup encounters, with the 2011 Copa del Rey final against Real Madrid with Barcelona his only reverse.

In semi-finals, his record is more mixed and stands at 14 wins and seven defeats, with three of the latter coming in consecutive Champions League last-four ventures with Bayern Munich.

City also lost a 2017 FA Cup semi-final in Guardiola's first season against their weekend opponents, although they have won all seven of the subsequent meetings between the sides.

"I'm not even thinking for one second about [who] our opponent [could be in the final]. I struggle a lot in my career in the semi-finals," he said.

"It was easier the finals. I handled them much, much better.

"I’ve lost many more semis than finals I’ve played. It’s more difficult, and after we'll see what happens.

Since City overcame Newcastle United in the quarter-finals last month, by which point Liverpool were already crowned Premier League champions, Guardiola has repeatedly made reference to the Arsenal match and the forthcoming Champions League last-16 showdown with Real Madrid as pivotal moments of 2019-20 for his players.

Overall, he is satisfied with what he has seen in the build-up, but conceded City were fortunate to win 2-1 in their previous outing against relegation-threatened Bournemouth.

"To arrive well for these kind of games you have to play good in the Premier League, create a good feeling and mood and in general we did it, except the last game against Bournemouth," he said.

"It was one of the few, few games this season when we deserved to lose for what the opponent did and we were not able to.

"I saw the game again and give incredible credit for Eddie Howe and his people, the performance - they didn't get what they deserve, like us at Southampton but that’s part of football

"Now it's a final [against Arsenal], there are a lot of factors - the concentration, set-pieces, throw-ins, the minimal details, how strong you are in your head, how you are in the bad moments how you overcome the bad situations that are going to happen, how you never drop, never give up.

"These games are about the mentality, not the tactics. We are ready to play another final and it will be a good test to see if we are ready to play against Madrid."

Pep Guardiola has labelled the much-maligned David Luiz "an exceptional player" ahead of Manchester City's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

City have won seven matches in succession against the Gunners, a run that stretches back to the same stage of this competition three years ago.

The last of those was a 3-0 Premier League triumph at the Etihad Stadium last month – a game perhaps most notable for David Luiz's nightmare individual outing.

Introduced as a replacement for the injured Pablo Mari during the first half, the Brazil international misjudged Kevin De Bruyne's searching pass for Raheem Sterling's opening goal.

David Luiz then pulled back Riyad Mahrez to be sent off and give De Bruyne the chance to double City's lead from the penalty spot – one the Belgium star gladly accepted.

Not for the first time in his career, the 33-year-old found himself as the subject of derision, but he has gone on to play a key role in Arsenal's revival on the other side of a two-match ban.

"I have incredible respect for his career. He's an exceptional player with incredible mentality and especially personality," Guardiola told a pre-match news conference, where he had particularly sharp words for David Luiz's critics.

"I laugh a lot about all the pundits, they were defenders and believe they didn't make one mistake in their careers when they played for 20, 10 or 15 years.

"I like that he is still playing football and I'm pretty sure he's going to make more good actions and mistakes as that's part of the game, but with a lot of dignity.

"I have a lot of respect for this player. A lot."

Guardiola's admiration for Mikel Arteta, his City assistant until he took the top job at Arsenal last December, is well established.

The Gunners' 2-1 comeback win over Premier League champions Liverpool in midweek was their fourth in the past six top-flight games, and City's manager believes the north London club are in the early stages of a transformation.

"I expect an incredibly tough, tough, tough game because they have something special already," he said.

"They have team spirit. Mikel has created…from the outside, maybe I'm wrong, I see in the game how they celebrate the goals, how they fight every single ball.

"They have started to create something special for this club. Everybody fights for everybody and that's why it will be difficult."

Liverpool failing to beat Manchester City's record Premier League points haul does nothing to diminish their accomplishments this season, says Pep Guardiola.

Jurgen Klopp's side dropped points for the third time since being crowned champions when they lost 2-1 at Arsenal in midweek, a result that means the most they can amass this term is 99.

City became the Premier League's first centurions in 2017-18, with Gabriel Jesus' last-gasp winner at Southampton on the final day of that dominant campaign bringing up three figures.

Liverpool looked set to tear the record books to pieces before their loss of rhythm over recent games, but Guardiola thinks the comprehensive nature in which they picked up a first top-flight title in 30 years remains worthy of considerable acclaim.

"From my point of view, that doesn't cancel for one second the incredible Premier League that Liverpool have done," he told a news conference ahead of City's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

"Ninety-nine points or 102, 107 - the league was incredible. We congratulate them again.

"Always I've thought that records are there to be broken and sooner or later it's going to happen.

"But also 100 points is not easy. We were incredible two seasons ago when we did it, we were incredible when we made 98 last season.

"Liverpool made 97, this season they can do 99. Both teams did incredible things. Nothing's changed [because of their loss to Arsenal].

"It shows that doing the incredible season Liverpool have done and not getting 100 points, how incredible it was us doing this achievement two seasons ago.

"One day it will be broken, but it shows the season they've had but not getting there shows how incredible ours was two seasons ago."

City lifted the EFL Cup thanks to a 2-1 win over Aston Villa before a packed Wembley at the beginning of March, shortly before the global situation changed irrevocably.

Their return to the national stadium behind closed this weekend comes amid the UK government announcing plans to allow fans to return to live sporting events from October, subject to successful test events and wider COVID-19 realities.

"This is the most important thing, we miss the fans. All the clubs and all the sports," Guardiola said.

"Fans are the reason why [we play] but they have to be safe.

"Hopefully the authorities, the medics, the scientists can allow so people come back to the stadiums. The security for our lives is the most important thing."

Mikel Arteta is not dwelling on Arsenal's dismal recent record against Manchester City ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

Arteta took the reins at Emirates Stadium shortly after Pep Guardiola' side sauntered to a 3-0 win in north London last December.

That was City's seventh win in nine attempts against the Gunners during Arteta's stint as Pep Guardiola's number two, and the tale of misery continued as Arsenal went down to another 3-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium in their first game after the Premier League restart.

Indeed, City have won every match between the sides since losing at this stage of the FA Cup three years ago.

However, Arsenal head to the national stadium buoyed by victory over champions Liverpool – who boasted a similarly imposing head-to-head record before a 2-1 midweek reverse – and Arteta insists lingering on past failures is no way to approach their remaining shot at silverware this season

"It's a different [City] team, we are a different team as well," he said, having twice lifted the FA Cup under Arsene Wenger in his playing days.

"I know their strength and I know the flexibility they have, the things they are going to try, but even then it is difficult to stop.

"I want to focus on what we will try to do. If I worry about them, it's not the message I want to send to the players.

"[The message is] what we have to try to do to win the game, to give us the best chance to compete against them over the 90 minutes to give them difficulties. That's the same as every game.

"If I look at the trends before we played Liverpool, in the last two calendar years they had, you get depressed.

"What I need now is energy, trust in my players, belief. It is the FA Cup, we have a lot of experience here, we have a history related to that. Let's got for it."

City have won six of the past eight major honours on offer in English football and speculation remains over the next move of the man who has masterminded this run.

Guardiola has one more year to run on his contract, which will mean his City tenure overtakes his previous longest stint in charge of a club – four years between 2008 and 2012 with Barcelona.

Arteta is unsure whether his former colleague will make good on suggestions he is open to an extended stay, even in light of the Court of Arbitration for Sport lifting City's two-season ban from UEFA competitions earlier this week, but he believes the 49-year-old's happiness in Manchester is beyond doubt.

"I don’t know. He's been there four years which for him is quite a long time already. And look at the success he's had," Arteta said.

"He feels really happy there. He is surrounded with great people across the club and feels the players, the identity and the style belong to him as well. He feels really close to the fans.

"I see him as really happy but I don't know. That's a question for him."

The futures of a number of key names at Arsenal have been a matter of conjecture since the resumption.

Arteta restated his confidence that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is prepared to sign a new contract and confirmed talks with Real Madrid over making Dani Ceballos' loan switch a permanent one remain ongoing.

Mesut Ozil is training with the first-team squad ahead of the semi-final, with the head coach refusing to be drawn on his continued exile.

"Pure football reasons," he replied over the decision to proceed without Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi for a number of weeks.

"My decision is always that. My only ambition is to put the best squad and best players who give us the best balance on and off the field."

Pep Guardiola confirmed Ederson will start Manchester City's FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal as Claudio Bravo struggles with a muscle problem.

Ederson, number one for the Premier League and Champions League, has taken a backseat to Bravo for the FA Cup and EFL Cup this season.

However, the Chile international has not been fit enough to be named among the substitutes for City's previous two Premier League games.

Guardiola revealed Bravo will not be involved at Wembley on Saturday.

"He is going to play, Eddie, because Claudio is a little bit injured," Guardiola said at a media conference.

"In the last games he was not on the bench because he has a little bit of a muscular problem. Not a big one, but he is not able to play tomorrow."

Leroy Sane will "unfortunately" give Bayern Munich a lot of joy, according to his former Schalke team-mate Joel Matip.

Bayern last month completed their lengthy pursuit of Sane, agreeing a €60million deal to sign him from Manchester City as he entered the last year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium.

The transfer was announced between the Bavarian giants clinching an eighth successive Bundesliga title and completing a domestic double by winning the DFB-Pokal.

Liverpool defender Matip believes Sane is bound to have a big impact at Bayern, though he worries the addition could stifle competitiveness in Germany's top flight.

"I know him well. He is a top player. Leroy will unfortunately give Bayern a lot of joy," Matip told Die Welt.

"Well, [it's unfortunate] for the competition, which already has a hard time. It won't be easier to keep up with Bayern.

"Leroy is a player who can help the team enormously."

An anterior cruciate ligament injury limited Sane's involvement for City this season, which saw Liverpool claim their first league title since 1990.

Asked if winning the Premier League was bigger for the Reds than last year's Champions League triumph, Matip said: "It was like that, but that has to do with the club, which had to wait 30 years for it.

"In addition, each club ticks differently. At Manchester City, the Champions League may be worth a little more."

Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund in 2012 were the last team to deny Bayern the Bundesliga title and Matip praised the manager's achievements since moving to Anfield, where he has also won the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup.

"He is known for being casual, but when it comes to work and the team, he is very clear. He has his ideas and always tries to get them into the mind of every player," said Matip. "He has an incredibly good way of motivating us and stirring the emotions within us."

John Stones and Gabriel Jesus applauded the subtle tactical tweak made by Pep Guardiola against Bournemouth shortly before the wonderful goal by the Brazilian, who labelled his boss a "genius".

City claimed an unconvincing 2-1 win over the Cherries at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, with David Silva scoring a free-kick before Jesus netted with a lovely solo effort.

Bournemouth piled pressure on in the final stages and did pull one back through David Brooks, but Jesus' goal proved decisive.

The Brazil international's goal came shortly after Guardiola made a slight change, moving Jesus further towards the left, and shifting Phil Foden the other way.

It led to Jesus finding space in the inside-left channel, which Silva spotted, and the striker evaded two defenders before slotting home.

This tweak was not lost on Jesus, nor Stones.

"It is no coincidence, we switch and I score," Jesus said. "He [Pep] is a genius. He changes it in a second and we score.

"We can play better. I am happy to help my team and I am happy to get this victory. I try to play football, enjoy the game, be happy in the game on the pitch. That is what we have to do, go on the pitch, give everything there.

"I try to always go for goal, score, make passes, defend with my friends."

Stones added: "He [Pep] knows the quality of the players so well and those little adjustments count.

"I think how Gabby took his goal is incredible; the feet in the box, it is a defender's nightmare really. When you get in the box nowadays with VAR and things like this, everything is watched and you have got to be so careful.

"I think Gabby, and the other strikers that get chances in the box, it is a pleasure to watch and I am sure he will be pleased with that.

"As I said, the manager knows his players so well and those little tweaks, every player knows what they can bring to the team.

"I didn't realise until the end what impact the players can have in different positions and that is credit to them; credit to Phil, credit to Gabby, I am just really pleased to get another three points."

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly told Barcelona what they want for Neymar, while Paul Pogba is set for a Manchester United stay.

Neymar continues to be linked with a return to the LaLiga giants, three years after leaving for PSG in a world-record €222million move.

It seems Barcelona know what PSG want for the attacker.

 

TOP STORY – PSG WANT €80M AND DEMBELE FOR NEYMAR

PSG want €80m and Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona in exchange for Neymar, according to El Chiringuito.

Dembele has struggled with injuries since arriving at Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

Like Neymar, the France international has regularly been linked with a move.

ROUND-UP

- Happy again amid Manchester United's resurgence, Pogba may be ready to extend his stay. The Sun reports the midfielder is close to agreeing to a five-year deal with the Premier League giants.

- Staying in Manchester and City are eyeing Inter star Lautaro Martinez as a long-term replacement for Sergio Aguero, according to Sky Sports. Martinez has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona.

- After having their European ban overturned, Manchester City are reportedly ready to spend. The Mirror reports City have been quoted a cut-price £65million (€71.6m) price for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly, who has been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea among others.

- Manchester United are fighting to qualify for the Champions League late in the season. According to Sport Bild, Borussia Dortmund are expecting a £108.9m (€120m) bid from United for Jadon Sancho if they qualify for the Champions League.

- Staying with Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga club will pay €25m (£22.7m) for Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham, according to Sport Bild.

Pep Guardiola repeated his praise for Gabriel Jesus but acknowledged his return to form in front of goal represented a boost to Manchester City.

Jesus has had a key role to play for City since the season's restart, with Sergio Aguero ruled out for the rest of the domestic campaign.

However, the Brazil striker had not scored since the February Champions League win at Real Madrid until netting in a rout of Newcastle United last week.

Jesus added to that strike in a 5-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, then scored the decisive goal as City edged past struggling Bournemouth on Wednesday.

A third goal in three games for his front man gave Guardiola some cheer, even if he insisted Jesus' earlier contributions had also been appreciated.

"Even when it was the first four or five games and he didn't score, I said many times about the amount of things he is able to do for us," Guardiola told a news conference.

"But we are very satisfied for him, for the team. In the past three games, he's scored three goals and he's playing really well.

"He can play in different positions. It's really good."

Jesus has started City's past six games in all competitions, but his involvement against Bournemouth – when others were rested – might hint at a substitute role for this weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

And Guardiola confirmed his plans for the Wembley clash were in place regardless of performances in midweek.

"No, I rotated all of the team for this period," the manager explained. "Now we have time to recover, the players who played. Some players who played are going to play."

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