Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho admits he is living in "a different reality" to Pep Guardiola - because Manchester City are a club that want to win everything going.

A serial trophy winner with the likes of Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United, Mourinho has yet to deliver silverware for Spurs.

They could end the wait in the EFL Cup final in April, for which there will be a dress rehearsal of sorts on Saturday when Tottenham face City at the Etihad Stadium.

But it is City, who have faced accusations from rival fans of being spendthrifty, that will go into both those games as favourites.

When asked about the hundreds of millions of pounds the likes of Guardiola at City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool have lavished just on defensive players, to get where they are today, Mourinho's "lucky them" verdict was the message of a boss who has been trusted with similar wealth before.

"They are in clubs that want to win everything and to win everything you need to have top players in every position," Mourinho said.

"A team is a puzzle. If Pep thought in a certain moment he needed to spend that money on defenders, then he needed to, and Jurgen felt the same with [Virgil] Van Dijk, and when Van Dijk was not enough because he was feeling another fragility they got Alisson.

"I think that's a thing that big clubs with incredible economical possibilities, they do it. Lucky them, good for them."

Prudence is more Tottenham's way, and although they have signed the likes of Matt Doherty, Joe Rodon and Sergio Reguilon in the last year, it has been more likely to be City and Liverpool, along with United, targeting the very best available talent.

"When I came to the club, the club was very open and very honest with me," Mourinho said.

"I knew I was going to come to a different reality. A big club, no doubt about that for one second, but a club with a different profile in terms of being, or not being, candidates to win competition A or B, a club being able to resolve problems with a cheque.

"The club made the possible effort in the summer to improve the team, and I'm not complaining with anything. I just do my work the best I can."

Guardiola and Klopp have built teams that have combined winning form with attacking verve, and Mourinho would love to bring both to Tottenham, but that seems a faraway dream for a team who have lost four of their last five games to slide down the Premier League table and tumble out of the FA Cup.

Since Mourinho joined Tottenham in November 2019, they have won both of their Premier League matches against City, albeit having home advantage on each occasion.

Against a City side who have won their last 15 games, including 10 consecutively in the Premier League, they risk being rolled over to become the latest victims of Guardiola's exceptional band of players.

Yet should Tottenham spring a shock and take the points, it will mean they have won away against both Manchester clubs in a top-flight season for the first time since 1959-60, having scored a startling 6-1 victory at United in October.

The last side to win at both United and City in a single Premier League season were Liverpool in 2008-09, while the last London side to achieve it were Arsenal in the Gunners' 1990-91 title-winning campaign.

Mourinho, meanwhile, defended Tottenham's move to sell a range of merchandise marking the upcoming appearance in the EFL Cup final.

Even some Tottenham supporters have mocked the move, suggesting reaching a final is not sufficient an achievement to warrant selling such goods.

But Mourinho said: "We have empty stadiums, an incredible stadium that is always empty.

"How many millions is Tottenham losing every match we play at home? How many millions is Tottenham losing per month? We have to make money."

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City were "not the team I can recognise" during their early season struggles.

A defeat to Tottenham in November left them languishing 11th in the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho's men going top.

Spurs visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to face a City team who have not lost in 22 outings across all competitions since that match and sit five points clear at the Premier League summit.

Discussing a remarkable turnaround, Guardiola did not think the reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium proved to be the pivot point.

Perhaps more damningly, he felt the nadir came the following month, when City followed up a 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford by being held 1-1 at home by West Brom - relegation threatened opponents who still sacked boss Slaven Bilic in the aftermath of taking that point.

"To be specific, it was after the game against West Bromwich," Guardiola said. "We could've won with two incredible chances at the end but after that game, I felt this is not the team I can recognise myself. I didn't like what I watched, I didn't like what I saw.

"We talked and we said, okay, we have to come back to our first principle. We had to reconstruct the team from that point. What we are as a team, how we had success in the past.

"We had to come back to our game, move the ball quicker, do more passes, stay in position, run less with the ball, do it together. We don't have a specific player to win games, we have to do it together.

"But above all that was the commitment of the players. They talked, they thought, okay, we have to do more and they did it."

The results have been startling, with City winning every one of their 15 subsequent matches - an all-time record for a top-flight English club.

In the 15 games preceding their ongoing streak, City won nine and drew five alongside the Spurs loss.

The arrival of Ruben Dias had already gone a long way to shoring up a defence humiliated during a 5-2 September loss to Leicester City, with City breached six times during those 15 matches. They have let in five during the winning run.

Their expected goals (xG) is actually up from 7.1 to eight, with 10 clean sheets in each batch of games.

It is up front where Guardiola's men have rediscovered their mojo despite the on-going absence of club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.

City's 40 goals dwarf 25 from the prior 15 outings. Misses such as the ones from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling that Guardiola referenced from the West Brom draw are also less of a factor.

During that segment earlier in the season, City were tracking below an xG of 27.7. With the likes of Premier League Player of the Month Gundogan (eight in 15 games), Sterling, Phil Foden (both six) and Gabriel Jesus (five) back in the goals, they are operating clearly above an xG of 32.9.

Tottenham's season is heading sharply in the other direction.

They were eight points better off than City after beating them, but their subsequent 13 Premier League matches read won four, drawn four, lost five.

Counting top division matches only from this period, City have outscored Spurs 33 to 15, having played once more, claiming 38 points to Tottenham's 16.

Guardiola's backline has been breached a mere three times since that last league loss and faced 92 shots at an xG against of 6.6. Mourinho's men have faced 183 attempts on goal and an xG against of 15.91 is a touch higher than their 13 conceded.

Once again, the tempestuous and thrilling back and forth that marked Guardiola and Mourinho's spells in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid will not be repeated in England, as was the case when the Portuguese took up residence across the city at Manchester United.

For this reason, perhaps, Guardiola was comfortable speaking cordially about his old rival.

"I have a good relationship with him, we can agree or disagree but it's not a big problem," he said.

"His business is Tottenham, or before United, mine is City. We have to handle our team and backroom staff and we don't have time to know what about the other club and could not care less.

"The only concern is what we have to do tomorrow."

Barcelona signing Sergio Aguero could help convince Lionel Messi to stay, according to Juli Lopez, who is involved with Victor Font's candidacy to be the club's next president.  

Messi's future beyond this season remains uncertain as he comes towards the end of his contract. The 33-year-old made clear his desire to leave prior to the 2020-21 campaign but ended up remaining at Camp Nou to see out his deal.  

Paris Saint-Germain have been strongly linked with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while Manchester City were reportedly interested in reuniting the Argentinian with his former Barca boss Pep Guardiola in England.  

However, Lopez – who will oversee the sporting department if Font wins the election – feels a familiar face arriving from City could help make all the difference for Messi.  

Asked in an interview with Marca if bringing in Aguero would help Messi decide to remain in Spain, he replied: "Absolutely.  

"Barcelona need another goalscorer. Aguero wouldn't be signed just so Messi stays. We're talking about a top striker who wants to be playing top-level European football up to the World Cup in Qatar.  

"He would bring a huge lift to the club and would play a huge role at Barcelona."

Like Messi, Aguero's deal with his current team is into the final few months.  

The striker is City's all-time leading scorer but has barely featured this season due to injuries and illness, making just nine appearances in all competitions. After hamstring and knee issues earlier in the campaign, he tested positive for coronavirus in January.  

Lopez also discussed the potential return of a Barcelona legend in Xavi – who is the head coach at Al Sadd in Qatar – as another move that may convince Messi, as the talismanic forward would be able to see there is a clear plan mapped out for the future.

"The first thing is to make sure he can see that this team in the medium and long term will play in the way that he likes," Lopez said.  

"Someone who he trusts will need to tell him this. Who better to explain the project than his former team-mate Xavi?  

"A good project and someone he can trust are the two key ingredients to keep him at the club."

Pep Guardiola has long known the lot of the holding midfielder.

During his playing days, Guardiola operated at the base of Barcelona's engine room as the likes of Michael Laudrup, Romario, Hristo Stoichkov, Luis Figo, Luis Enrique and Ronaldo took the plaudits higher up the field.

In his Manchester City side, who claimed a 15th successive win across all competitions this week to set a new record in English top-flight history, the attacking stars also trip off the tongue.

Ilkay Gundogan is enjoying the most prolific season of his career from midfield and was named Premier League Player of the Month on Friday, while Phil Foden's rapid rise is firing enthusiasm over England's Euro 2020 prospects.

City's all-time leading scorer Sergio Aguero and star playmaker Kevin De Bruyne are still to return to the mix after spells on the sidelines, but another less-glamorous player has been there throughout the dominant run.

No one in Guardiola's squad has made more than Rodri's 21 appearances, the Spain international having made the anchor role his own.

"The best holding midfielders never appear in the newspapers, in the front pages," the City manager said ahead of Saturday's game against Tottenham.

"They hide behind the team but when [the team] plays good it is because they are playing outstanding."

Since a 2-0 defeat to Spurs last November, City are undefeated in 22 matches - something that reflects very well indeed on Rodri in Guardiola's eyes.

 

A £62.8million signing from Atletico Madrid in July 2019, the 24-year-old's first season in English football proved a struggle at times.

Without Aymeric Laporte through injury for large chunks of the season, the defence Rodri was charged with protecting often looked vulnerable.

Fernandinho being pressed into action at centre-back meant the new man was left to learn on the job as Guardiola sought and struggled for midfield balance.

But Rodri has started to thrive in the months since City last tasted defeat, with Ruben Dias at the heart of defence and an attacking line ahead of him displaying its fluidity of old.

"He adapted quickly, immediately. He's still young and there are some issues that he still has to learn but he will learn them," Guardiola said. "He's a really important player for us."

No Premier League player has attempted more than Rodri's 1,723 passes this season and he retains an impressive 90.3 per cent accuracy across that volume of work.

The quality of possession Rodri plays a part in and often launches is notable.

According to Opta, he has initiated 36 open play sequences leading to a shot and five resulting in goals - both league-best returns.

Similarly, Rodri is out on his own with 81 involvements in open play build-ups concluding with a shot, while weekend opponent Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is the only man who can match the Spaniard's 11 involvements in build-ups preceding a goal.

Smoothness on the ball is a pre-requisite for any Guardiola player, especially one operating in the Catalan's old position, but Rodri has also shown an aptitude for the dirty work required to keep City's pristine machine on the road.

None of his team-mates can boast more than his 174 recoveries this term - 10th in the Premier League overall. Rodri also leads the way at City for tackles (40) and duels won (128), while winning 52 of 70 aerials contested – that is unmatched in the top-flight leaders' squad as well.

"A good holding midfielder plays for the other ones and not for himself. These are the best holding midfielders," Guardiola said.

"They think what's happening, what they have to do to correct the mistakes of the other ones and don't play for the highlights."

Jose Mourinho believes Tottenham must be "perfect" to stop Manchester City racking up a 16th straight win on Saturday, and Harry Kane is poised for a key role.

City's last defeat in any competition came at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November, when Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso struck to stun Pep Guardiola's visitors.

What has become a record-breaking run of wins for any English top-flight team began in December, and it appears City are charging towards the Premier League title following last Sunday's 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool.

Spurs led the way briefly before Christmas, but their season has unravelled and they enter the weekend in eighth spot, already 14 points behind City.

The 5-4 FA Cup defeat at Everton on Wednesday was another jolt and Mourinho's stewardship is again coming under scrutiny, with the head coach seeking an upturn in momentum.

Mourinho will usually dissect the post-match data of Tottenham's game, but when presented with the file from the Everton game he recognised it was too bleak an experience to relive.

"I opened and in two seconds I closed it immediately because I didn't want to go through it," he said on Friday.

"And I don't want even to share that with my players."

Among those players, Mourinho says Kane is fit and well. The England captain came off the bench early for Spurs in the second half at Everton, with his equaliser sending the game into extra time.

Mourinho had hoped Kane would only play a fleeting role at Goodison Park, having only returned from injury in last weekend's win over West Brom.

"He played 60 minutes or so, which he didn't want and I didn't want, but it was the game that pushed us in that direction, but no negative feelings after the game, just the normal stiffness. I believe he can start," Mourinho said.

It is hard to imagine Tottenham standing any chance against this rampant City side without Kane, who has scored the opening goal in more Premier League games than any other player this season (6).

Kane remains the main man, despite Son netting six goals in his past eight games against City across all competitions, with only Leicester City's Jamie Vardy (9) having scored more against the Etihad Stadium side since Guardiola was appointed.

The Kane-Son combination makes Spurs tick, and without one or the other, their threat diminishes.

Both have 13 league goals this season, with Kane also having 11 assists and Son six.

Tottenham have played two Premier League games without Kane this season, losing both times, so to have him absent against a side of City's stature would be asking for trouble.

"They're a very, very good team with a fantastic run of results, no doubts about that," Mourinho said. "It's always difficult to play against Man City. There is nothing new about it. They are probably now the biggest candidate to win the title which is not a big surprise.

"We beat them because we played so, so, so, so well in that match, and that's the only way any team can beat Man City."

Since that November defeat to Spurs, City have gone unbeaten in 14 Premier League games, winning 12 and drawing twice, conceding just three goals in that time.

"You make a defensive mistake and they'll kill you," Mourinho said. "You just look to the pragmatism of the numbers and what is Man City in this moment? It is a team that wins matches, it is a team that scores goals, and it is a team that doesn't concede goals.

"So when you play against a team with these very clear numbers, you know it is very difficult to stop them to score, because they score all the time, and you know it is difficult to score goals, because they don't concede.

"So you have to play a perfect match, like we did when we played them here at home.

"I don't see any weakness, that why I say to win the game we need to be perfect in every aspect and every minute because they are really a very strong team."

Manchester City's record-breaking winning run will count for nothing when they take to the field against Tottenham on Saturday, Pep Guardiola has warned.

City set a new best mark for an English top-flight club in midweek when a 3-1 FA Cup fifth-round triumph at Swansea City marked a 15th successive victory across all competitions.

Guardiola's side are five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a game in hand on their nearest rivals.

Spurs were the last team to defeat City, prevailing 2-0 last November - 23 matches ago.

Jose Mourinho's men are chasing a third consecutive win over their weekend opponents and Guardiola is taking nothing for granted.

"It's nice to make a good run but it is the consequence of thinking game by game," he said, with trips to Everton and Arsenal also on the agenda for City over the next nine days.

"The statistics are nice, but statistics don't help you to win the next one.

"We are not unbeatable. The 15 games in a row winning doesn't help us to start 2-0 in the next game.

"It's nice, it's good, it helps us to be where we are in the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Premier League, but we have to start again tomorrow. It's an important week against three incredibly strong teams.

"From our game when we played there, we have to imagine what we have to do to play better and beat them."

Guardiola expects to have influential central defender Ruben Dias back in contention after he missed the Swansea game through illness, while holding midfielder Rodri is back in training after limping off during the second half at the Liberty Stadium.

Sergio Aguero could also make his return after a bout of coronavirus, with Fernandinho (thigh), Nathan Ake and Kevin De Bruyne (both hamstring) the only definite absentees confirmed by Guardiola.

The City boss was named Premier League Manager of the Month on Friday, with midfielder Ilkay Gundogan collecting the Player of the Month award.

Germany international Gundogan has hit a rich vein of form in front of goal and a brace in last Sunday's 4-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield took him to 11 for the season in all competitions - making this already the most prolific campaign of the 30-year-old's career.

"I'm happy for him. Lots of goals, lots of minutes, lots of good actions - it's more than well deserved," Guardiola said.

Jose Mourinho has blasted Gareth Bale following the under-fire Tottenham star's Instagram post, which the Portuguese coach said did not reflect reality.

The on-loan Real Madrid forward, who has failed to live up to his billing following a celebrated return to north London in September, was not included in the squad for Wednesday's remarkable 5-4 loss to Everton in the FA Cup.

Mourinho suggested after the fifth-round exit at Goodison Park that Bale had practically ruled himself out after the Welshman said he was in some discomfort and required a scan.

The Spurs boss said there was no "obvious, clear injury" but that Bale had opted to work with the club's sports scientists to help alleviate the problem, hence his omission in midweek.

However, Bale had put a post on Instagram before the game showing him apparently in full training, with the words "good session today".

It left Mourinho, who has the small matter of Saturday's trip to Premier League leaders Manchester City to contend with, baffled.

"I have to admit that his post created a need of being addressed," he said. "There was a contradiction between the post and the reality.

"Since the beginning of the season, in relation to everything, I've tried to be very private and keep everything indoors, but I felt that I needed to address the situation.

"Probably the post was not even his responsibility, but it was showing that training session was great and I'm ready, which was totally wrong. So, when questioned I had to give the reality of things.

"I repeat for the last time. He was not feeling good. He asked for a scan. He had a scan. The scan did not show an injury, but his feelings were still there. But as coaches, medical people, we can never go against the player's feelings. So, he was not ready for the game. It's as simple as that. If he's ready for tomorrow, he's selected for tomorrow."

The incident marks another unhelpful chapter in Bale's thus far deeply underwhelming return to Spurs, with the chances of a permanent switch back looking increasingly remote.

A scorer in two of his four Champions League final successes at Madrid, fitness problems dogged Bale over recent seasons as he fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

The 31-year-old has four goals in 16 appearances for Spurs this term, although only two of his six Premier League outings have been starts.

Wayne Rooney believes Phil Foden and Jack Grealish are too good to be left out of the England starting XI for Euro 2020.

Manchester City youngster Foden starred with a goal and an assist in the 4-1 away win at Premier League champions Liverpool last week.

He is gaining momentum after being handed more opportunities by manager Pep Guardiola.

Grealish, meanwhile, has thrived for Aston Villa this season, establishing himself as one of the Premier League's leading players with six top-flight goals and 10 assists.

Rooney is England's record goalscorer and thinks the form of the two attacking midfielders has become impossible to ignore ahead of the tournament.

"They have to be in the squad and arguably have to play because they are that good," the Derby County boss said about Foden and Grealish.

"Phil Foden has been one of the best players in the league this season, I think Guardiola has managed him really well.

"For Phil, it's about keeping doing what he's doing. He's one of the best players in the league this season.

"Foden is performing excellently — scoring, assisting — and hopefully he can carry that form on with England. He is entertaining to watch. 

"When my lad [Kai] used to go into City, I used to see Phil there.

"I spoke to him a couple of times and I could see he's a very level-headed lad. He was there a lot of the time, but it was just general chat, not me giving him advice.

"There are a few players — not just him. I think Jack Grealish brings something different for the national team."

Foden made his England debut away to Iceland in September but was promptly removed from the squad along with Mason Greenwood for breaking coronavirus protocols.

He responded by scoring a double - his first international goals - in the home match against Iceland in November.

Grealish, meanwhile, has five England caps and manager Gareth Southgate has spoken about the dilemma he faces over whether to play him or Chelsea's Mason Mount.

Manchester City are five points clear at the top of the Premier League after their demolition of defending champions Liverpool last time out.

With Guardiola getting the better of one managerial rival already this term in Jurgen Klopp, City's focus now switches to a clash with Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

Key to City's superb form has been Ilkay Gundogan, who has scored nine goals this season in the league, three more than his previous best of six from 2018-19.

Given he scored twice at Anfield – while also missing a penalty – it would seem a smart decision for fantasy football managers to back Gundogan again this weekend, though which other players should make the cut?

ROBERT SANCHEZ

Another team in fine form as of late have been Brighton and Hove Albion, who have conceded just one goal in their last five top-flight matches, with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez certainly playing his part.

Sanchez ousted Mat Ryan – now on loan at Arsenal – as first choice earlier in the season, and of all goalkeepers to have played at least 10 Premier League games this season, only Ederson (one every 145 minutes) and Edouard Mendy (114 minutes) have a better minutes-per-goal conceded rate than Sanchez (one every 98 minutes). He has played 12 times, conceding 11 goals.

MATT TARGETT

Going up against Brighton this weekend are Aston Villa, and one defender to look out for could be Matt Targett.

Brighton have not scored more than once in a league match since a 3-3 draw with Wolves on January 2, and Villa left-back Targett has been involved in 11 clean sheets this season – more than any other Premier League defender apart from Ruben Dias.

AARON CRESSWELL

If you are looking for a more attacking option, however, then that player may well be West Ham's Aaron Cresswell.

The full-back has registered five league assists this season, second to only Everton's Lucas Digne (six) in terms of defenders, while only Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (38) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw (36) can better his tally of 34 chances created by a defender.

ILKAY GUNDOGAN

In Kevin De Bruyne's absence, Gundogan has come to the fore for Guardiola's team, and the former Borussia Dortmund man is the highest scorer in the Premier League so far in 2021 with seven goals in eight games.

The German's previous seven goals in the competition came over a period of 62 games, dating back to 2018.

JACK GREALISH

With Brighton's Sanchez in such fine form for Brighton, it could be a tough decision for fantasy managers, especially with Jack Grealish being so prominent in Villa's attack.

Grealish, arguably the league's player of the season so far, has been directly involved in five goals in his last five appearances against Brighton in all competitions (four goals, one assist), scoring in his last two games at the Amex.

PATRICK BAMFORD

Leeds United returned to winning ways as they saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 on Monday, with a trip to Arsenal up next on Sunday.

Patrick Bamford scored Leeds' second at Elland Road against Palace, and he has been involved in five goals in his last three Premier League games, netting twice and providing three assists. Eight of his 12 Premier League goals this season have been away from home (67 per cent).

MARCUS RASHFORD

Another forward who has thrived on the road in 2020-21 is Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

He has netted eight times in the Premier League this season, with six of those goals – 75 per cent – having come away from Old Trafford. The England international has never scored more in a single campaign on the road.

Manchester City and Manchester United have been handed away draws against fellow Premier League sides in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

City, who won their sixth FA Cup in 2018-19 but were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual victors Arsenal last season, will play Everton at Goodison Park.

While City claimed a serene 3-1 win over Swansea City in the fifth round on Wednesday, Carlo Ancelotti's team overcame Tottenham 5-4 after extra-time in an instant FA Cup classic.

The teams will have a dress rehearsal for the last-eight clash on February 17, when they face off at Goodison in a Premier League match which was due to be played in December but had to be rescheduled due to a coronavirus outbreak at City.

Like their local rivals, United also fell short of reaching last season's final, going down to Chelsea in the last four.

United beat West Ham 1-0 after extra time on Tuesday and now face a trip to face Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side are flying high in the Premier League along with United and leaders City, who are five points clear of their neighbours at the top.

Last season's runners-up Chelsea went into Thursday night's match at Barnsley knowing the winners would be rewarded with a home tie against Sheffield United, who beat Bristol City at the last-16 stage.

The other quarter-final tie throws up a south-coast clash, with Southampton travelling to Bournemouth.

Games are due to be played across the weekend of March 20 and 21.

FA Cup quarter-final draw in full:

Everton v Manchester City
Bournemouth v Southampton
Leicester City v Manchester United
Barnsley or Chelsea v Sheffield United

Romelu Lukaku would prove to be a "gigantic" signing for Manchester City, according to former Citizens star Elano.

Sergio Aguero has been a fringe player for City this season, with the 32-year-old struggling with multiple injury issues as well as coronavirus-enforced lay-offs.

Aguero is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and talks are yet to begin over a new deal, while Gabriel Jesus has also struggled to solidify his place in Pep Guardiola's team in the Argentine striker's absence.

With Aguero making just five league appearances – only two of them starts – and failing to score or assist, Jesus has netted four times and teed up two more goals from 14 games, 10 of them starts.

Phil Foden, Ferran Torres, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, who is currently out injured, have all been deployed in a central attacking role this season by Guardiola, who is reportedly set to target a forward in the upcoming transfer window.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is a name that has been mooted, though all of Europe's major clubs no doubt harbour an interest in the 20-year-old.

From 15 Bundesliga appearances this term, Haaland has scored 14 goals, second to only Eintracht Frankfurt's Andre Silva (17) and Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (19) in Germany's top tier.

However, another name which has emerged in relation to City's transfer targets is former Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton striker Lukaku, who has enjoyed another strong season with Inter following a stellar maiden campaign in Italy.

The 27-year-old is a player whose style may not be an obvious fit with Guardiola's way of playing, yet Elano believes the Belgium international would be a supreme addition.

"When you play at a club at a high level, the competitiveness is huge. And if a guy like Lukaku is free, it's not only City who want him, many others do too," Elano, who became a cult hero during a two-year stint with City between 2007 and 2009, told Stats Perform News.

"The way that City play these days everybody wants to play for City don't they? It's an amazing way to play.

"Jesus has his place at City, but if a transfer like that really happens, it would be a gigantic reinforcement for the club and all three would have to fight for the opportunity. And City will have opportunities to compete in all competitions."

City are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League as it stands, having won a 10th straight top-flight match on Sunday, when they demolished defending champions Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield.

Asked if he believes City, who also have a game in hand over their title rivals, will go on to reclaim the league crown they won consecutively in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Elano said: "They went through a tough time, which is normal.

"When you rise so fast, they won two Premier Leagues, if I am not wrong, they also won the FA Cup so… after that, they went through a turbulent moment because they didn't win, but now they are playing well again, which is normal when you have an amazing squad like that.

"The manager has a good base to work from and I believe City has all the potential to win the title again.

"I consider [Guardiola] the best alongside some others. Each coach has his own way to play. But the most beautiful way to play football I guess is the Guardiola way."

WHAT WOULD LUKAKU BRING TO CITY?

Having spent the majority of his senior career in England, Lukaku would have no trouble adapting, and though his United connections may at first seem to represent a stumbling block, the Belgian never really settled during his time at Old Trafford.

Nevertheless, he still netted 28 league goals across 66 appearances for United, converting 42.22 per cent of 45 big chances he had, while also creating 54 goalscoring opportunities.

In his time at Inter, Lukaku has far surpassed that total in Serie A, scoring 37 times, while adding another four Coppa Italia goals and 13 in European competitions.

Last August, Lukaku became the first player to score in nine successive UEFA Cup or Europa League games when he netted in a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. He went on to score a penalty and an own goal in Inter's defeat to Sevilla in the final.

His partnership with Lautaro Martinez helped Inter to a second-placed finish last season and they are now battling it out with rivals Milan and Juventus for this term's Scudetto.

Lukaku's big chance conversion rate has been upped to 54.72 per cent in Serie A, while he averages a goal every 121 minutes, and with the quantity of opportunities City create – they top the Premier League for that metric this season with 259, with their big chance total of 65 matched only by United – he would surely hit the ground running.

Pep Guardiola expressed his pride after Manchester City made history with a 3-1 victory over Swansea City to cruise into the FA Cup quarter-finals

The imperious Premier League leaders outclassed the Championship promotion hopefuls at the Liberty Stadium, where they eased to a 15th consecutive win – a record for an English top-flight club.

City's latest dominant victory saw them better runs of 14 in a row set by Preston and North End in 1891-92 and Arsenal in 1987, keeping them in contention for to win silverware on four fronts.

Kyle Walker opened the scoring in the first half before Raheem Sterling slotted in his 12th goal of the season early in the second half and Gabriel Jesus finished brilliantly a few minutes later.

Morgan Whittaker pulled a goal back with a sweet left-footed strike after City's Spain midfielder Rodri limped off with an injury, which Guardiola is hopeful is not serious.

The City boss was full of praise for his players after the juggernaut rolled on in Wales.

Asked about setting the record, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: "It is a message for ourselves. We came to win, that was the most important thing.

"We cannot deny how pleased and how proud we are to break this record from a long time ago. Records are there to be broken.

"It is not easy in the modern era to do 15 games in a row. We are happy for our club."

Guardiola added: "I had a feeling that they would create chances, they were dangerous up front. They were so aggressive but we controlled the game and we created a lot of chances but could not convert."

The Spaniard did not appear too concerned about Rodri's injury and revealed Ruben Dias was absent due to illness, while Fernandinho did not feature as he has been troubled by a quad niggle.

Guardiola will be hoping they will recover in time for a Premier League encounter with Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Manchester City made history on Wednesday as they cruised to a routine 3-1 FA Cup fifth-round victory at Swansea City.

It was the 15th consecutive win across all competitions for Pep Guardiola's Premier League leaders – setting a new record for any top-flight team in English football.

Sunday's comprehensive 4-1 triumph over Liverpool at Anfield brought them level with Arsenal's 1987 vintage and Preston North End back in 1892, who won 14 in a row.

Goals from Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus in Wales ensured City now hold the record outright.

In 2017-18, they prevailed in 20 consecutive matches, although there was a penalty shoot-out win over Wolves in the EFL Cup during that run and Opta classifies such matches as draws.

Given their recent record from the spot, it is perhaps handy that City have not required penalties in their current streak.

Here, we look at the numbers behind a dominant run unprecedented in scope.

Gundo in the goals

Sterling scored the goal that set City on their way into the record books, netting decisively in a 1-0 win at Southampton on December 19.

His goal at Swansea takes him to six in 10 starts during the period in question, the same as England colleague Phil Foden, who has played 905 minutes to Sterling's 856.

But it is Ilkay Gundogan who leads the way. The Germany international's brace against Liverpool improved upon what was already the most prolific season of his professional career.

In 13 appearances and 12 starts during the winning run, Gundogan has eight goals at an average of one every 124.5 minutes.

Jesus had to reckon with a positive coronavirus test during City's prolific stretch, although he now has five goals from seven starts, with a strike every 139.8 minutes second only to Gundogan in terms of frequency.

Kev the creator

PFA Players' Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne was typically influential before suffering a hamstring injury during last month's 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

Despite being restricted to eight appearances and 621 minutes on the field, his five assists are more than any of his team-mates have managed during this period.

Foden, Bernardo Silva (who also has three goals) and defensive midfielder Rodri are up next on three assists.

Extra time on the pitch has allowed Foden to rack up 28 chances created, ahead of De Bruyne with 24.

Gundogan's all-round importance is highlighted by his 21 opportunities laid on for others, while Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez have crafted 18 and 17 respectively. All three have two assists apiece.

 

Dominant Dias

Ruben Dias was the only ever-present during the winning run until Guardiola allowed him to sit out the trip to Swansea.

The Portugal centre-back has been a transformative presence since joining for a club-record £62million from Benfica last September and was involved in nine clean sheets over the course of the 15 matches – one more than his centre-back partner John Stones and first-choice goalkeeper Ederson.

Dias' 21 interceptions are the most during this time from any City player, as are his 1,141 passes at a completion rate of 92.81 – better than any colleague to have played three games or more.

Headed clearances and aerials won are also categories where Dias performs strongly, although Rodri leads the way here with 18 and 41 respectively.

The Spain international has won 31 one of his aerials, level with Aymeric Laporte and no one can better his 27 tackles – a stock in trade for a man operating at the base of the midfield.

Rodri's importance to the cause means the sight of him limping off during the second half at the Liberty Stadium could compromise City when the look to swagger on this weekend against Tottenham – the last side to beat them competitively, 23 matches ago.

In-form Raheem Sterling scored his 12th goal of the season as Manchester City cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals and made history with a 3-1 victory at Swansea City.

Pep Guardiola's irrepressible side eased to a 15th consecutive win - a record for an English top-flight club - at the Liberty Stadium to stay in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.

Kyle Walker opened the scoring with a cross and two goals in the space of three minutes early in the second half put the Premier League leaders out of sight.

Championship promotion contenders Swansea were outclassed as the City juggernaut rolled on, although they did suffer a blow when Rodri was forced off with an injury before Morgan Whittaker pulled a goal back.

Jesus received treatment on his ankle early on, but was able to continue and the striker missed a chance to opening the scoring when he steered Benjamin Mendy's cross wide.

Swansea were chasing shadows as City dominated, knocking the ball around with a swagger, and Ferran Torres' shot from a tight angle was brilliantly tipped wide by Freddy Woodman.

Woodman was beaten on the half-hour mark, though, when Walker's centre from the right evaded everybody and found the far corner of the net.

Marc Guehi nodded wide at the other end in a rare Swansea attack, but an unmarked Sterling finished clinically when he was well picked by Rodri two minutes into the second half.

Swansea were caught out again soon after, with Jesus controlling a clever cushioned header back across goal from Bernardo Silva in an instant and swivelling to fire home with his left foot.

Joel Latibeaudiere somehow denied Mendy a tap-in with great last-ditch defending and Rodri limped off before Whittaker superbly gave the hosts a consolation, drilling in left-footed for his first Swansea goal.

Phil Foden must be "calm" and "humble" as the plaudits flow his way, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Foden completed the scoring in Sunday's 4-1 win over Premier League champions Liverpool at Anfield, having also had a hand in each of Ilkay Gundogan's two second-half goals.

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder has 10 goals for City in all competitions this season and has played an integral part in them establishing a five-point lead at the top of the table.

However, Guardiola was critical of Foden's performance in the false nine role before half-time on Merseyside and, speaking ahead of Wednesday's FA Cup trip to Swansea City, said he felt Raheem Sterling was City's standout weekend performer.

"I said to [Foden], 'Don't read much, don't listen much, keep your feet on the grass and keep going'," Guardiola said, before waxing lyrical about Sterling after the England star won a penalty and scored a close-range header against his former club.

"Nobody talks much about Raheem and, at Anfield, Raheem made his best game of the last two months. By far.

"He was key in the first goal, for the penalty in the first half. Every action he made was decisive in the final third.

"Of course Phil was so important in the goals, especially in the fantastic last one.

"But Raheem was fundamental for us and hopefully, because he was a little bit not in the best form in the last month, he can continue to maintain the level he played at Anfield."

Foden will be reunited with Steve Cooper on Wednesday when Guardiola's City chase an English record - a 15th consecutive win for a top flight team.

The Swansea boss coached England to success in the 2017 U-17 World Cup, where the young Mancunian was named player of the tournament.

From that point, Guardiola has faced repeated calls to grant the playmaker more minutes at City.

A strand of post-match analysis at the weekend argued the former Barcelona boss had nurtured his latest star perfectly, but Guardiola does not necessarily view it that way and also stated Foden should not consider himself an automatic selection.

"I didn’t plan to handle the way we did it with Phil," Guardiola said. "Sometimes he played and he didn’t deserve to play.

"Normally we want to increase and talk a lot, a lot, a lot about Phil but after that we'll punish him, you know? For one mistake in this private life, we know exactly what happened [Foden was sent home from England duty last September for breaking coronavirus protocols].

"Now it's just [about being] calm. I know Phil is ready to play, His physical condition is extraordinary.

"I will handle it the same way and have handled it. When I believe he can help us he is going to play; when I believe another one deserves to play he is not going to play."

Indeed, with Foden the toast of the present moment in English football, Guardiola challenged him to turn a rich vein of form into the sort of longevity that separates the best from the rest.

"He has to be calm and understand tough periods will come. It depends on him being humble and his love for the game," Guardiola added of a player who recently brought up 100 senior appearances for City.

"We’ll see if he can handle it. Now the people expect him every game to do exceptional things, this is the most important thing.

"It's difficult to play 100 games but the important thing is to do 100 more and 100 more at this level. This is the toughest.

"This is why the best players did not do one action at Anfield; they play five years in a row, being consistent, not injured. Playing, playing, playing.

"This is the next target for Phil, maintain there as high as possible, as much and as long as possible.

"It depends absolutely on him. Hopefully he can do it."

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