Everton's clash with Manchester City at Goodison Park has been postponed after a number of new positive coronavirus cases among the visitors' squad. 

City revealed on Christmas Day that Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker and another two members of staff had tested positive for COVID-19. 

Pep Guardiola's team nevertheless fulfilled their Boxing Day fixture against Newcastle United, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres. 

The four-time Premier League champions were set to face in-form Everton on Monday, less than 48 hours after both teams had played previously, but the match has now been called off following the latest round of testing at City. 

The club's training ground will be closed as a consequence of the outbreak, with the squad having to undergo further tests before they can be cleared to return to the facility. 

In a statement released on their official website, City said: "After the latest round of COVID-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day.

"With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond. 

"Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.

"All positive cases involving players and staff will observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine. 

"The first-team training ground at City Football Academy will close for an indeterminate period, with the squad and associated bubble undergoing testing before any decision is made for training to resume. 

"Everyone at the club wishes all of our colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition." 

Monday's match is the second Premier League fixture to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak during the 2020-21 season, with Newcastle United's game against Aston Villa delayed. A new date for that fixture is yet to be announced. 

If City's players are unable to return to training in the coming days, it would cast doubt over their Premier League meeting with Chelsea on January 3, the EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester United three days later and also their FA Cup tie with Birmingham City, which is due to take place on January 10.

Everton's clash with Manchester City at Goodison Park has been postponed after a number of new positive coronavirus cases among the visitors' squad. 

City revealed on Christmas Day that Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker and another two members of staff had tested positive for COVID-19. 

Pep Guardiola's team nevertheless fulfilled their Boxing Day fixture against Newcastle United, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres. 

The four-time Premier League champions were set to face in-form Everton on Monday, less than 48 hours after both team's had played previously, but the match has now been called off following the latest round of testing. 

City's training ground will be closed as a consequence to the outbreak, with the squad having to undergo further tests before they can return to the facility. 

In a statement released on their official website, City said: "After the latest round of COVID-19 testing, the club returned a number of positive cases, in addition to the four already reported on Christmas Day.

"With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond. 

"Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture.

"All positive cases involving players and staff will observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine. 

"The first team training ground at City Football Academy will close for an indeterminate period, with the squad and associated bubble undergoing testing before any decision is made for training to resume. 

"Everyone at the club wishes all of our colleagues a speedy recovery ahead of their return to work, training and competition." 

Monday's match is the second Premier League fixture to be postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak during the 2020-21 season, with Newcastle United's game against Aston Villa delayed. A new date for that fixture is yet to be announced. 

If City's players are unable to return to training in the coming days, it would cast doubt over their Premier League meeting with Chelsea on January 3, the EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester United three days later and also the FA Cup tie with Birmingham City, which is due to take place on January 10.

Thomas Tuchel's tenure as Paris Saint-Germain head coach is all but over.

Tuchel will reportedly be replaced by Mauricio Pochettino, despite leading PSG to Ligue 1 glory last season and the Champions League final.

Can former PSG defender Pochettino help the French giants conquer Europe?

 

TOP STORY – POCH SET FOR PSG

Mauricio Pochettino has agreed terms to take charge of Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Thomas Tuchel's sacking is set to be announced after striking a deal with PSG to leave immediately – the compensation worth €6million, reports Bild.

Former Tottenham manager Pochettino is now poised to return to PSG, where he played between 2001 and 2003.

 

ROUND-UP

Diego Costa has requested to leave Atletico Madrid in January, claims Diario AS and Marca. If Costa is unable to depart during the next window, the veteran striker will farewell Atletico on a free transfer at season's end.

Wolves have joined the chase to sign Real Madrid outcast Luka Jovic, says The Athletic. Wolves are keen to bolster their attack following Raul Jimenez's serious injury and Jovic has emerged as a loan option for the Premier League side. Milan have also been heavily linked with the Serbia international.

Georginio Wijnaldum wants time to reflect on Liverpool's contract offer, reports Fabrizio Romano. Wijnaldum is set to become a free agent amid links to Barca.

- The Mirror reports Arsenal are circling for Brighton and Hove Albion full-back Tariq Lamptey should Hector Bellerin depart for Barcelona. Lamptey has been linked to Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

Sevilla are eyeing a January swoop for Marseille star Florian Thauvin, according to Andaluz Estadio Deportivo. Milan have also been tracking the Frenchman.

- Corriere dello Sport says Juventus and Inter remain keen on signing Udinese's Rodrigo De Paul. Meanwhile, Ilbianconeri claims Juve have been offered Arsenal outcast Mesut Ozil.

Manchester United remain in contact with Moises Caicedo's agents to sign the Independiente del Valle sensation, says Romano. The 19-year-old Ecuadorian midfielder wants to move to Old Trafford.

Lionel Messi has vowed to ignore the advances of other clubs until at least the end of the season despite becoming eligible for a free transfer in a matter of days.

Messi's contract with Barcelona expires on June 30, meaning he is legally able to discuss a future free transfer with another club from six months before that date.

The 33-year-old Barca captain and talisman attempted to force a move away from Barca in August after the Blaugrana surrendered the league title to Real Madrid and lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Barca stood firm and refused to let him depart despite Messi being adamant a get-out clause in his contract was still valid – the Argentinian opting against dragging the club through the courts.

He is now the master of his own destiny as Barca's contractual hold on him will diminish once he enters the final six months of his agreement, with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City expected to fight it out for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

But Messi reassured Barca fans he will wait until the conclusion of the season before making any decisions, a potentially huge boost to the club given a new president will be in place by the end of January.

Speaking to La Sexta in a highly publicised interview on Sunday, when asked if he will start talking with new clubs next week, Messi said: "No, far from it. That would go against everything I've been saying.

"My plan is to give all I can for the club at the moment. Nothing is decided until the end of the season. Now I only think about finishing the season and winning titles.

"I know there are a lot of Barca people who still love me, but I'm going to do what is best for the club and for myself. Besides, I want to live in Barcelona and be in the club in some way when I retire.

"I don't know if I'm going to leave, but if I do, I would like to leave in the best way and be able to return to the club in the future. Barcelona is much bigger than any player.

"It's a love story from a very young age with the club and the city. Either way, everything that my career has meant should not be stained [by this saga]."

But while he offered no hints as to whether City or PSG were enticing options for him, Messi did reveal a desire to live on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I always had the dream of living in the United States, living this experience," he said. "Today I am focused on these six months, on fighting for what I can and not thinking about how the year will end because it wouldn't be good for me to say what I am going to do. I don't know either."

Cristiano Ronaldo and Pep Guardiola were honoured at the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai, the duo named player and coach of the century respectively. 

Juventus forward Ronaldo picked up the award in person at a ceremony held at the Armani Hotel on Sunday. 

The 35-year-old, who has won domestic league titles in Spain, England and Italy and Euro 2016 with Portugal, admitted his pride at receiving the accolade, given to the player judged the best between 2001 and 2020. 

"It's a pleasure to win titles," said Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, at the event. 

"It's not easy to be top of the game for so many years. I am really proud, but without a team, great coaches and clubs it is not possible." 

Guardiola was honoured for a managerial career which has seen him win league championships in Spain, Germany and England, as well as the Champions League twice.

The Manchester City boss was not present at the gala, though he accepted the award via a pre-recorded video message. 

Both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi missed out on the men's player of the year award for 2020, however, as that went to Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski. 

Bayern's treble of the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal also saw boss Hansi Flick rewarded as coach of the year.  

Real Madrid were named the club of the century at the ceremony, while Bayern picked up the team award for 2020. 

The Globe Soccer Awards, founded in 2010, acknowledge excellence in football with an annual gala dinner and awards ceremony.

Kevin De Bruyne still runs with the hunger of a non-league footballer despite becoming one of the leading stars in the global game.

That is the assessment of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola amid a hectic festive schedule where his players' capacity to endure the hard yards will be put to the test.

Goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres saw City swat aside Newcastle United 2-0 on Boxing Day, while back-to-back Premier League away days at Everton and Chelsea before an EFL Cup semi-final at Manchester United on January 6 means this could represent a defining stretch of the season for Guardiola's squad.

De Bruyne completed 90 minutes against Newcastle, the 12th time he has done so in 14 Premier League games this season.

Guardiola has sought to manage his workload elsewhere, with the Belgium playmaker sitting out four Champions League matches as City cruised through their group.

Last week's 4-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win at Arsenal came with De Bruyne convalescing back in Manchester and, with City bunched into a congested pack behind defending champions Liverpool, Guardiola wants to have last season's PFA Players' Player of the Year firing on all cylinders in the top flight.

"We need him. Kevin is one of the biggest stars in the world right now and runs without the ball like he is a player from the Conference," he said, acknowledging the 29-year-old's seeming inability to play without the throttle down

"He is an outstanding player, I know how important he is for us.

"Sometimes, for example, like in the game against Arsenal, he did not travel. I prefer to have him fit and focused in the Premier League.

"The other competitions are important but right now we don't want to be far, far away from the top of the league.

"We are going to find our rhythm and we are going to be close to the top of the league, hopefully in the last eight or 10 games of the league, being there to fight against the teams above us."

Ahead of Monday's game at Goodison Park, De Bruyne has covered 127.5 kilometres in the Premier League this season, second only to Rodri in the City squad, although the Spain international has started every match to clock up 148.5 km.

With 179 sprints, De Bruyne is only behind noted speedsters Raheem Sterling (254) and Kyle Walker (219) this term.

His famed creativity remains undimmed, with only Jack Grealish (49) and Bruno Fernandes (44) crafting more goalscoring opportunities than De Bruyne (42).

Seven assists, all from open play, put him second in the division behind Harry Kane (10).

These numbers have been amassed despite City rarely being close to their thrilling best collectively in 2020-21, although Guardiola spotted some encouraging signs in that regard against Newcastle.

"[I'm happy] because we played really well. We played at the tempo [we need to]," he explained.

"We won games in the recent past, this season, where we were not playing in the right tempo.

"Football is time. Without the ball everybody runs, but with the ball we have to play in one rhythm and not to hide.

"You don't just pass the ball. Everyone has to be in his position. Then, in the right moment, several players in several positions make an explosion. This was maybe one of the first days that we saw it [this season]."

Close-range misses, with Raheem Sterling once again among the culprits, remained a feature of the performance - City scored from just two of their seven 'big chances' - meaning Sergio Aguero closing in on full-match fitness is a timely boost.

"We missed two goals from four or five yards to the goal line. It always happens, we have to improve this. We know it," Guardiola added, having introduced City's all-time leading scorer Aguero for a substitute cameo against Newcastle.

"The very good news is the 15 or 20 minutes Sergio played we saw him sharp, dynamic and good. This is incredible news for is. We need him. Absolutely."

It appears there is still life in Arsenal, as Mikel Arteta oversaw a potentially season-changing 3-1 win over Chelsea on Boxing Day.

The Gunners had been on a dreadful run, but with the odds against them they produced their most complete performance in a while, with some of the youngsters playing important roles.

Leicester City and Manchester United began the day's action with an entertaining draw that doubled as a microcosm for the Red Devils' season.

Using Opta data, we have looked at the pick of the action on a busy Saturday.

Leicester City 2-2 Manchester United: Red Devils clicking in attack but let down by defence

Manchester United's unbeaten run away from home continued in Saturday's early kick-off, as their draw at Leicester City saw them go 14 without defeat on the road in the Premier League, their longest such streak since January 2011 (16).

They were all business in attack, with Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and substitute Edinson Cavani all effective.

Rashford opened the scoring to become the third-youngest United player to reach 50 Premier League goals (23 years, 56 days) behind only Wayne Rooney (22y, 157d) and Cristiano Ronaldo (22y, 341d).

Fernandes set him up and then got United's second, taking his goal involvement tally to 31 since joining the club – that's more than 50 percent of the club's 60 goals in that time.

Cavani's clever run and throughball released Fernandes, with the Uruguayan reaching five goal involvements from the bench in the league this term, two more than any other player.

But a late Axel Tuanzebe own goal – brought about by Jamie Vardy's shot – saw United pegged back.

It was the 11th successive away league game in which they have conceded at least twice, the worst such run since the Red Devils went 13 matches in 1959.

Arsenal 3-1 Chelsea: Young Gunners reinvigorate Mikel Arteta's men

Mikel Arteta was in an unenviable position before kick-off – he had lost three important senior players (Willian, David Luiz and Gabriel) at short notice, while Pablo Mari, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli earned their first starts of the season.

As such, there was an unfamiliar and inexperienced look to the Arsenal starting XI, which for the first time since January 2013 did not include a player over the age of 30.

Nevertheless, two of their more experienced players did find the net – Granit Xhaka's free-kick was the seventh time he has scored from outside the area, amounting to 79 per cent of nine goals. That's the highest ratio of Gunners players to have scored at least five times in the division.

Alexandre Lacazette's penalty was his 39th at the Emirates Stadium, 72 per cent of his club total, while it also made him Arsenal's top scorer this term with six across all competitions.

But it was a day to forget for Chelsea, and particularly Timo Werner. The German was withdrawn at half-time, thus extending his goal drought to 10 matches on all fronts, his worst goalless run since 12 games between March and September 2016.

Aston Villa 3-0 Crystal Palace: Resolute Villans make light of numerical disadvantage

When Tyrone Mings was sent off just before half-time with Villa 1-0 up, one expected the worst for the hosts in the second period.

But if anything, that red – a record-setting fourth for the club on Boxing Day – seemed to spur Villa on, Dean Smith's side going on to score twice more and claim an eighth clean sheet of the season, more than any other side in the league.

Palace could only wish for such defensive solidity – they are without a shutout in their past 14 Premier League matches, their longest such streak since November 2017.

Bertrand Traore got the ball rolling early on, netting in successive matches after only managing two in his previous 19 league outings.

Kortney Hause made it 2-0 before Anwar El Ghazi finished Palace off in style with his fourth goal in as many Premier League appearances – a fine accomplishment for a player who, only a few weeks ago, was being targeted for criticism from some supporters on social media.

Jack Grealish may not have been on the scoresheet, but he was yet again crucial for Villa – Palace's only answer was to foul him. The England international's fouls won per game since the start of last season was boosted to 4.7, which is by far the most of any player to have played more than 100 minutes in that time.

Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United: Defence provides solid platform again for Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has received his fair share of criticism this season, but if there's one area in which City are excelling, it's at the back.

Saturday's routine victory over Steve Bruce's lacklustre Magpies was their 13th clean sheet of the season across all competitions, more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues.

The omens weren't great for Newcastle coming into the game, and this was their 15th Premier League defeat on Boxing Day – a record – and their sixth in succession on this day.

On top of that, it's now 12 straight home wins over Newcastle for City, who've scored 41 times and conceded just seven in that run.

Raheem Sterling reached a milestone when he set up Ilkay Gundogan's opener, as it was his 150th goal involvement (96 goals, 54 assists) in all competitions since Pep Guardiola became coach, more than anyone else. Sergio Aguero has 146 (120 goals, 26 assists).

Ferran Torres got City's second, as the pre-season signing from Valencia continued his very promising debut campaign, this time leading the line in place of the injured Gabriel Jesus with Aguero only fit enough for a place on the bench.

Torres' goal was his seventh for City, and all seven games in which he has scored for the club have ended in victories, with five of them coming at the Etihad Stadium.

What does the future hold for Phil Foden?

Foden is highly rated at Manchester City, but he is struggling for regular game time.

Could Real Madrid prise the Englishman to the Santiago Bernabeu?

 

TOP STORY – LOS BLANCOS EYE FODEN

LaLiga champions Real Madrid are ready to pounce for Manchester City's Phil Foden, according to the Mirror.

City sensation Foden has been struggling for regular game time under manager Pep Guardiola, starting just five of his 10 Premier League appearances this season.

Madrid have emerged as serious suitors for the 20-year-old sensation and there is a growing belief that he could be prised to the Spanish capital.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are considering a move for Borussia Dortmund winger Julian Brandt, reports The Athletic. Out of favour at Dortmund this season, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is reportedly keen to reinforce his struggling side in January.

Manchester United could send Donny van de Beek to Inter on loan as they look to bring in Christian Eriksen from the Serie A side, claims Calciomercato. Eriksen is set to leave Inter in January and the Danish midfielder has been linked to Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

- As question marks grow over Samir Handanovic, Calciomercato says Inter are considering Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso as a successor to the long-serving Nerazzurri star.

Madrid are confident of re-signing veteran star Luka Modric, according to Fabrizio Romano. It comes as Madrid still try to negotiate a new contract with captain and soon-to-be free agent Sergio Ramos, who has been linked to the likes of Juventus, PSG, United and City. Modric has previously been a target for Inter and Milan.

Luka Jovic would not be against a return to Eintracht Frankfurt but the out-of-favour Madrid forward is eyeing Milan, reports Calciomercato.

Pep Guardiola applauded Manchester City's victory over Newcastle United, describing the 2-0 triumph as their "performance of the season".

City eased past Newcastle thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres to move within five points of Premier League leaders Liverpool on Saturday.

Guardiola's City have kept 13 clean sheets in all competitions this season – more than any other team in the top five European leagues in 2020-21.

Speaking afterwards, a happy Guardiola told reporters: "It was the best performance of the season. Our football has to be played in one rhythm so we cannot play in a rhythm that has ups and downs so quickly.

"You have to make a tempo that makes a lot, a thousand-million, passes in the right moment to attack. To do this everyone has to be in his position and everyone has to do his job. Today was a big example, unfortunately, playing a team always with 10 players behind is not easy to attack but the guys were really good.

"I'm so glad about the way we played. That's always a consequence for the points we get. We have another victory, we climb some positions, and now we can't stop in the good or bad moments, we need to be calm because in less than 44 hours we'll have another game and we're going to Goodison Park to try to play well first of all.

"The result is always the consequences of the way you played. This was our success in the past and we're going to continue in the next years."

Gundogan opened the scoring in the 14th minute before Torres doubled the lead 10 minutes into the second half at home to visiting Newcastle.

Raheem Sterling's assist for Gundogan was his 150th goal involvement in all competitions since Guardiola joined City in 2016 (96 goals and 54 assists) – more than any other player at the club in that time, per Opta.

City have won all seven games in all competitions in which Torres has scored for the team, with five of his seven strikes coming at the Etihad Stadium.

Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker, meanwhile, missed the clash due to coronavirus, after the star City pair and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Asked about Jesus and Walker, City manager Guardiola said: "Listen the last thing I think right now is without Gabriel and Kyle is a problem for the team. What we want, what I want is Gabriel and Kyle being [tested] positive but not getting worse and being asymptomatic and pass these 10 days without any symptoms.

"COVID is here, it's not here in Manchester, it's in many cities all around the world. That's why we have to be careful and what we want is for them to recover in the next days. And we are going to wait for them. We are looking forward to seeing them again. Without them, we're going to move forward. The team, the guys who want to join us and commit to the team, what we want to do all together, they will more be than welcome.

"So the guys who think about what is best for the team, the guys who think I have to give something for the team, even it's worse for me those guys will be part of the team forever. If the guy doesn't want it, they will be the problem."

Ilkay Gundogan claimed Manchester City's rock-solid defending will ensure they remain a force to be reckoned with even when they are without key attacking players.

City clinched a comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday thanks to goals from Gundogan and Ferran Torres to move within five points of leaders Liverpool.

It was their 13th clean sheet of the campaign across all competitions, more than any other team in the top five European leagues this season.

"We have been solid in our defending," Germany midfielder Gundogan told BT Sport.

"If we can keep it solid at the back then we always give ourselves a chance because we know we're going to score goals.

"In the first half especially, I felt like we moved the ball well. The weather conditions were not the best here today, but I think it was a solid performance."

City were missing Gabriel Jesus, laid low with COVID-19, while Sergio Aguero was again used as a substitute as Pep Guardiola eases his workload on return from an injury layoff.

Gundogan said the rest of the players will continue to step up and shoulder some of the goalscoring burden whenever they are without the team's recognised strikers.

"I think we should always share the responsibility of scoring on the pitch," he added

"Obviously we're missing some great players but we have the quality in the team to cope, such as Ferran, to be ruthless and get this done."

City have won their last 12 Premier League home games against Newcastle, scoring 41 goals and conceding just seven.

Guardiola urged his players to continue to keep their composure during a "weird" season of results in the Premier League.

The disciplined and clinical manner of City's display was more akin to what Guardiola's side have produced in recent seasons, albeit without an emphatic scoreline.

"Last week we were 10th in the table, all the season is up and down," Guardiola said.

"There are weird results for everyone, this season you have to be calm in the good and the bad moments.

"We cannot think much, the schedule is a game every three days. The players are committed and focused."

Guardiola was also happy with the intensity and awareness shown by his side against Newcastle as they moved up to fifth in the table.

"We played really well, the tempo we have to play football is this tempo," he told BBC Sport.

"A lot of passes and the ball goes to where you are. Imagine the ball will come. Today was the best game of the season for players being in the position they have to be in.

"The way you play shows the results you will get in our team. Today was the day that we have done it best. Build from here, in 45 hours we have another game at Goodison Park.

"Tomorrow the players have to regenerate and prepare in one day. This pandemic puts us in an extreme situation, but that's how England likes it so we accept it."

Manchester City eased to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United thanks to goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres to move within five points of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Gundogan gave City the lead in a low-key game on Saturday with a close-range finish following a well-worked move from Pep Guardiola's side.

Torres netted his seventh goal of the season 10 minutes after half-time after some error-strewn defensive play by Newcastle.

Newcastle's chances at the other end were fleeting as they succumbed to their 12th consecutive Etihad defeat.

City quickly found their rhythm and a slick move saw Joao Cancelo find Raheem Sterling with a superb pass, and he skilfully cut the ball back for Gundogan to fire home.

The goal was Gundogan's second in Premier League this season, which is as many as he got in 31 games last season.

Kevin De Bruyne had Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow scrambling back to palm the ball away moments later when a mis-hit cross into the box looked to be dipping under the crossbar.

De Bruyne broke clear of the Newcastle defence just after the half hour but the alert Darlow rushed off his line to narrow the angle and saved well.

Newcastle rarely threatened at the other end and, despite finishing the first half positively, they still failed to register a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

A Jacob Murphy angled shot just after the break forced Ederson to make his first meaningful save before City added a second.

Newcastle twice failed to clear their lines, with Miguel Almiron and Federico Fernandez both guilty of sloppy play, and the ball dropped for Torres to confidently strike it past Darlow.

The brilliant Darlow denied substitute Sergio Aguero the chance to put the gloss on the result with a fine save from close range late on after another sweeping City attacking move.

Raheem Sterling reached a landmark on Saturday when he became the first Manchester City player to reach 150 goal involvements during the Pep Guardiola era.

The England forward came into the Premier League home game against Newcastle United with 96 goals and 53 assists across all competitions since Guardiola took the helm at City ahead of the 2016-17 season.

He brought up the combined 150 involvements with a 54th assist.

Sterling's short, smart pass to Ilkay Gundogan gave the Germany international a chance that he rifled into the bottom right corner to give City a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.

Acquired from Liverpool in 2015, Sterling has proven a key figure in Guardiola's tenure at the Etihad Stadium.

With Sergio Aguero missing much of this season so far, Sterling has reached the 150 involvements mark quicker than the Argentinian, whose total under Guardiola heading into the Newcastle game stood at 146, made up of 120 goals and 26 assists.

Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne sat next on the list, Opta said, with the Belgian's 43 goals complemented by a staggering 84 assists for an overall haul of 127 involvements during Guardiola's reign.

Gabriel Jesus, currently self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, is on 99 after scoring 72 times and laying on 27 goals for team-mates.

Christmas Day is a chance to ungracefully stuff our faces with turkey and all the trimmings, but top-flight footballers in England have to show some restraint. 

That is because Boxing Day football is a festive tradition, one where supporters can watch games with tighter-than-normal belt buckles. 

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic means it will be a little different this year, as the majority of supporters will be viewing the action while at home. 

However, one of the historically more exciting dates on the calendar is sure to entertain still. So, ahead of the 2020 games, take look at some of the best Boxing Day Opta facts from previous years.


NO FOWL PLAY FROM ROBBIE

Fowl – whether turkey, duck, pheasant or possibly even partridge – is a fixture for most dinner tables up and down the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, so perhaps it's rather apt that Robbie Fowl-er (we couldn't resist...) has the best record in terms of Premier League goals on December 26. 

The Liverpool legend has netted nine times on Boxing Day, one more than Newcastle United great Alan Shearer, ex-Tottenham striker Robbie Keane and current Spurs star Harry Kane – who is the highest scorer among active Premier League players on this day. 

Thierry Henry (seven) and Jermain Defoe (six) have also produced plenty of festive cheers in the past.


PUT ON YOUR CHRISTMAS HAT…TRICKS

Some players just love producing crackers at Christmas. 

The aforementioned Fowler is among those to have scored a hat-trick on Boxing Day, doing so for Leeds United against Bolton Wanderers back in 2001. 

Henry (2000 for Arsenal), Kevin Phillips (2000 for Sunderland), Dimitar Berbatov (2011 for Manchester United), Gareth Bale (2012 for Spurs) and Harry Kane (2017 for Spurs) have also taken home belated presents in the form of a match ball.


A DEVIL ON TOP OF THE TREE?!

It is custom to place an angel, or perhaps a star, on the Christmas tree. However, in terms of the Premier League Boxing Day table, there is a team of devils - Red Devils no less – in Manchester United (yes, a tenuous joke, but by this stage is there any point in apologising?) who sit firmly on top. 

When looking at teams to have played at least 10 Boxing Day fixtures in the Premier League, United have the highest win rate, a rather impressive 81 per cent (66 points). 

Liverpool (63 per cent), Arsenal (59 per cent), Tottenham (58 per cent), Manchester City (53 per cent) and Chelsea (46 per cent) all unsurprisingly feature highly.  

West Brom, at eight per cent, have won just once in 12 Boxing Day fixtures in the Premier League, while Leicester City (14 per cent) and Fulham (15 per cent) have also struggled on the date.


BARRY A FESTIVE FIXTURE

For almost two full decades, Gareth Barry just loved getting his 'clause' into a festive fixture (clause, not claws... get it?) 

The former Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton and West Brom midfielder has played on Boxing Day in the Premier League on a whopping 18 occasions. 

Chelsea boss and Blues legend Frank Lampard is not far behind on 17, with Ryan Giggs, Steven Gerrard, Aaron Hughes, Sol Campbell, Michael Carrick and James Milner all on 14 - the latter of course still going strong with champions Liverpool.


FIVE GOAL-D RINGS

The pun to headline this section is punishment enough, so we'll spare you a gag straight out of a Christmas cracker this time around. 

There have been seven occasions when a team has won by five goals on Boxing Day, which is the biggest margin of victory on the date. 

Liverpool have done so twice (5-0 versus West Brom in 2004, then again when facing Swansea City in 2017), while Everton, West Ham, Manchester United and Spurs have also triumphed by the same scoreline. 

In 2000, Arsenal actually went one better than scoring five, though they also conceded during a 6-1 rout of Leicester.


NOT THE CARDS YOU WANT TO RECEIVE…

Sending Christmas cards, complete with the sort of witty wisecracks we have provided throughout this Christmas treat, is a long-running staple of the festive period. 

But receiving a card on Boxing Day is not always what you want for your team right? 

Aston Villa, Chelsea, Newcastle United, Stoke City and Wimbledon have all had three players dismissed in games staged on December 26.

Pep Guardiola has hailed Phil Foden as one of the most "incredible" players he has seen at his age and said he can go to another level after learning to "slow down."

Midfielder Foden has scored five goals and provided four assists in 17 appearances for City this season.

The 20-year-old England international scored City's third goal with a sublime finish and put one on a plate for Aymeric Laporte in a 4-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win at Arsenal on Tuesday.

Foden found the back of the net eight times and set up nine goals last season, so he is well on course to improve on those tallies ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Newcastle United.

City boss Guardiola rates Foden as one of the most gifted players he has set eyes on around his age group and commended his desire to improve, but said he will only reach his peak with more experience under his belt.

The Spaniard said: "They [younger players] have incredible energy, but in the final decision, final pass, they have to slow down. The energy for a guy of that age, he wants to win the world, beat the world and be important.

"It's normal, but you need experience to be more calm. He plays football in the same rhythm, football must be need played in different rhythms: sometimes you have to walk, sometimes you have no rhythm, sometimes you have to change the rhythm.

"He has to understand this, but it is experience, it's not saying you have to do it [now], it's time. He has incredible skills and many other things and we will be incredibly patient, it's not easy for a young player to rise as he has in a club like this, playing important games and with the national team.

"There will be a moment when he slows down, it's a normal process for all young players. You just stick have to stick with them and be patient.

"Every time with patience and a desire to be a better player you will get it, there's no doubt. I know we can trust and rely on him all the time."

Guardiola is confident Foden has the ability to score many more goals for City.

Asked how many he is capable of scoring, he said: "A lot. The signs are good. In front of the keeper he has this composure. He has something that the other ones don't have.

"He just has to keep this incredible strength he has and to improve. A player of 28, 29, 30 years old also has margin to improve, so imagine a guy of 20 years old like Phil. The important thing is his desire and commitment and he is a joy to watch in the training sessions and in the games he will improve."

Guardiola added: "He is one of the more incredible players I have seen at that age, he is so good. I was in Barcelona, I was in Bayern Munich and yes there were more experienced players, but I saw in the academy and there were incredible players at that age.

"They had long careers and they had the mentality that Phil has and that's the most important thing."

City will be without Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker when they host Newcastle after they tested positive for coronavirus.

Manchester City revealed on Christmas Day that Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker and another two members of staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

Striker Jesus scored an early opening goal in the 4-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win at Arsenal on Tuesday, while defender Walker made a substitute appearance.

The duo will miss the Boxing Day Premier League encounter with Newcastle United as they self-isolate after contracting COVID-19.

City face Everton two days later in a hectic festive period before a trip to Chelsea on January 3.

Pep Guardiola's side then take on Manchester United in a mouthwatering EFL Cup semi-final derby at Old Trafford on January 6.

City said in a statement: "Manchester City FC can confirm that Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker, and two members of staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

"All four personnel will now observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine.

"Everyone at the club wishes our colleagues a speedy recovery over the Christmas period ahead of their return to work, training and competition."

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