Danny Ings scored the only goal of the game as Tottenham suffered a surprise 1-0 loss to Southampton, while top-four rivals Chelsea were held 1-1 by Brighton and Hove Albion.

In-form striker Ings fired home in the first half to make it 13 Premier League goals for the season against a below-par Tottenham, who also lost Harry Kane to a hamstring injury.

Jose Mourinho's side are now six points adrift of Chelsea in the final Champions League qualifying spot following the Blues' draw with Brighton in Wednesday's early kick-off.

Chelsea were heading for back-to-back away wins after Cesar Azpilicueta put them ahead, but Alireza Jahanbakhsh's overhead-kick earned Brighton a share of the spoils.

There were also wins for Aston Villa, Leicester City and Watford as 2020 got off to an eventful start, with VAR once again proving to be a big talking point.

Kane limps off for stuttering Spurs

Tottenham have struggled defensively in the early stages of Mourinho's tenure, conceding for the 16th time in 11 matches in all competitions through Ings' impressive strike.

The England international hopeful lifted the ball over Toby Alderweireld and fired past Paulo Gazzaniga for what proved to be the only goal of the game after 17 minutes.

Tottenham have taken only four points from the 12 on offer over the festive period and their misery was compounded by Kane limping off after hurting his hamstring in the process of scoring a disallowed equaliser.

Mourinho, who had never previously lost in six away league meetings with Southampton, was shown a yellow card by referee Mike Dean late on after being involved in touchline confrontation as his side remained sixth in the table.

 

Chelsea held by Jahanbakhsh stunner

Azpilicueta scored the first Premier League goal of the decade with a close-range finish after Tammy Abraham's shot was blocked by Aaron Mooy, but Chelsea could not get the job done against Brighton.

Jahanbakhsh celebrated with tears of joy after scoring his first goal for Brighton in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday and he did not have to wait long for his second goal.

The Iran winger sent an acrobatic attempt past Kepa Arrizabalaga with six minutes of normal time remaining to deny Frank Lampard's side a third away league win on the spin.

Chelsea had looked comfortable until Jahanbakhsh's moment of magic but had to survive a late scare as they opened the door for other members of the chasing pack to close the gap - something Tottenham were unable to achieve.


So delighted to be able to help the team again today! Happy new year to everyone #BHAFC pic.twitter.com/nW7p7E8zMY

— Alireza Jahanbakhsh (@Alirezajb7) January 1, 2020 Foxes march on with win at 10-man Newcastle

Despite being without the Premier League's leading scorer Jamie Vardy for a second game in a row due to the birth of his child, Leicester were comfortable 3-0 winners at Newcastle.

The Foxes' incredible campaign continued thanks to goals from former Newcastle attacker Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and substitute Hamza Choudhury.

Leicester, back to within 10 points of Liverpool after playing two games more than the runaway leaders, played almost all of the second half against 10 men.

That was due to the hosts suffering a string of injuries, Jetro Willems and Javier Manquillo being forced off in the first half and Jonjo Shelvey following them at half-time, with all three subs already made when Fabian Schar pulled up.

While Leicester's outside title hopes just about remain intact, a third defeat in a row for Newcastle leaves them five points above the relegation zone.


Villa pick up much-needed win at Turf Moor

The pressure had been building on Villa boss Dean Smith following a run of five league defeats in six matches, including a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of fellow strugglers Watford last time out.

Smith insisted he still had the support of the dressing room in the build-up to the trip to Burnley, however, and that showed as Villa returned to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph at Turf Moor that saw them climb out of the relegation zone.

Jack Grealish had a header contentiously ruled out by VAR, with Wesley adjudged to be offside in the build-up, but the two players linked up for the latter's opener 16 minutes later.

The Villans added a second on the stroke of half-time through Grealish, who scored his sixth Premier League goal in his 19th appearance this season - as many as he netted in 31 matches in the Championship last season.

Chris Wood pulled one back from Burnley's first shot on target in the 80th minute, though it was not enough to prevent a third successive loss for Sean Dyche's out-of-form side.

 

Watford's remarkable revival continues

Watford have now taken 10 points from four matches since Nigel Pearson was appointed as Quique Sanchez Flores' successor earlier this month, the Hornets maintaining their impressive form with a 2-1 win at home to Wolves.

Gerard Deulofeu, the hero when Watford edged out Wolves in a dramatic FA Cup semi-final last season, opened the scoring after half an hour with a curled finish into the bottom corner.

Abdoulaye Doucoure fired in on his 27th birthday to double the home side's tally, but Pedro Neto reduced the deficit with a deflected shot on the hour and Christian Kabasele was sent off with 19 minutes to play.

Wolves could not find a way past Ben Foster, though, meaning just a third loss in 16 league outings for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling were named among the subs and Ederson left out of the squad entirely due to illness for Manchester City's home Premier League clash with Everton.

City's leading goalscorer Aguero was on target for the 14th time across all competitions this season against Sheffield United last time out, while Sterling lasted 88 minutes of Sunday's 2-0 victory.

Both players were omitted from the starting line-up for the New Year's Day clash with Everton, however, as Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus came in.

Kyle Walker, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Bernardo Silva also made way, replaced by Joao Cancelo, Benjamin Mendy and Ilkay Gundogan, as Pep Guardiola opted for five alterations.

Ederson was eligible for selection after serving a one-match ban for his dismissal against Wolves last week, but Guardiola confirmed he has been laid low by a sickness bug, meaning Claudio Bravo retained his place.

Everton, who boast a perfect record from their first two matches under new boss Carlo Ancelotti, also made five changes for their trip to Etihad Stadium.

Real Madrid are already eyeing a move for Liverpool star Sadio Mane at the end of the season.

Mane has developed into one of the world's best attackers, starring for the Premier League leaders and finishing fourth in the 2019 Ballon d'Or.

Now, another one of Europe's biggest clubs are making initial moves for the 27-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID MAKE CONTACT OVER MANE MOVE

Real Madrid have spoken to Mane's representatives about a possible move, according to Le 10 Sport.

Mane is contracted at Liverpool until 2023, but appears to be attracting interest from the LaLiga giants.

The Senegal international has scored 14 goals and provided eight assists in 27 games in all competitions this season.

ROUND-UP

- The January transfer window will see Chelsea and Manchester City enter a bidding war for Leicester City defender Ben Chilwell, according to The I.

- Similarities between Moussa Dembele and Didier Drogba have made the Lyon striker a target for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, according to Sky Sports News, with the 23-year-old having scored 10 goals in 25 appearances for the Ligue 1 side this season.

- Mikel Arteta is keen to assess all of his options as he aims to lift Arsenal back into the top half of the Premier League table, and he is considering a recall for £27million centre-back William Saliba from his season-long loan at Saint-Etienne according to The Mirror.

- Also on Arsenal's to-do list is a bid for promising RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, who is also a target for Tottenham and Manchester United, according to the Daily Mail.

- Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce wants to bolster his midfield with the addition of Burnley pair Danny Drinkwater and Dwight McNeil, and reports in The Telegraph say Genk striker Mbwana Samatta is also on his radar.

- Carlo Ancelotti said he will wait until January 5 before discussing potential transfer targets with the Everton board and when he does El Desmarque has suggested Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez could be one of the names on his list.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes the Premier League giants were the best club of the last decade.

City enjoyed a period of great success in the 2010-19 decade, winning four Premier League titles, four EFL Cups, three Community Shields and two FA Cups.

While Real Madrid won four Champions Leagues and Barcelona claimed two to go with seven LaLiga crowns, Guardiola believes City were the decade's best.

"I think this club, in the last decade, was the best team. In terms of points, in terms goals, of titles and everything," he said.

"So I congratulate Manchester City for that. So when we analyse every single day here, what happens day by day, we analyse that.

"But we have a perspective of what happened in 10 seasons, especially when the people from Abu Dhabi took over the club [in 2008] and bought good players, interesting managers and bigger staff. I think we did it incredibly well.

"Because fighting with the huge elephants here in England, the big clubs with the biggest history. With us in the last decade, we were a part of them, that is amazing."

Sitting 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, City host Everton on Wednesday.

Pep Guardiola has appeared to rule out a January exit for Joao Cancelo by saying Manchester City sign players "for many years, not for six months".

Cancelo joined City from Juventus ahead of the 2019-20 season but has struggled to hold down a place in Guardiola's XI, starting just four Premier League matches.

The right-back has consequently been linked with mid-season moves to both his former club Valencia and Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

However, Guardiola insists Cancelo, 25, was a long-term signing and a departure is therefore unlikely at this stage.

"Today he was training with us," the City manager said. "In the last month, Kyle [Walker, the first-choice right-back] was the best Kyle I have faced. I have given continuity to him.

"[Cancelo] is adapting and has special quality. He can help us in many, many games.

"There are many rumours about how many players we are going to buy in the summer, so I don't comment on rumours. Rumours are rumours.

"Until the agents call, or we call the agents to buy other players, I don't take any interest in that.

"We buy players for many years, not for six months. But what happens will happen. I don't know what's going to happen in a few weeks. In the summer, we're going to discuss.

"If one player is not happy and wants to leave, it's simple. They have to call to the club, reach an agreement and he will leave. If he doesn't agree, he will stay here. It's as simple as that."

Guardiola is not expecting any incoming transfers either in January, suggesting City cannot afford to splash out and only a unique opportunity, as when Aymeric Laporte joined two years ago, could change his thinking.

"I took that decision. We could not invest in the summer, why would we be able to invest in December? I like my squad," Guardiola said. "I have problems with injuries.

"If I have an opportunity, like it happened with Aymeric Laporte, the release clause, we knew the potential of the player, we could do it. But that's not the position now. I don't think the market gives us this opportunity.

"I never say never, of course. We could have 25 injuries in the next two games and then we have to buy, or maybe two or three players want to leave in the transfer window.

"Then the club get money and we can invest. It can happen. But in the summer, we could not do what we could not do for money [reasons]. We could not invest more.

"We could not invest in the summer, so why could we invest three or four months later? It makes no sense, so that's why we will wait until summer time."

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City must "work harder, play better and pray" to close the gap to Liverpool, but he is confident a fully fit squad could still compete for the Premier League title.

City have won the league in each of the past two seasons, yet they are now 14 points off the rapid pace set by Liverpool, who also have a game in hand heading into 2020.

While an ageing City squad have fallen below the standards set in previous campaigns, Guardiola is keen to emphasise the impact of key injuries on his team - with Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane out for long periods and David Silva and Sergio Aguero also dealing with issues.

Asked what his team must improve on to catch Liverpool, the City manager told reporters: "Work harder, play better and pray.

"With all the squad, yes, [City can compete]. There are some things that we cannot control. We can do what we can do.

"But other issues we cannot control, like what a fantastic team like Liverpool have done so far and other issues. If everybody's fit, we can do it."

Guardiola refused to accept, however, that the failure to bring in signings in the previous transfer window had contributed to their problems.

"No, I think the team is fantastic. I love it," he said. "We have had problems with injuries - these things happen - and then Liverpool are incredible.

"They are the champions of Europe and have dropped two points. After that, we just congratulate them. I know the distance we are [behind] is not what it should be, but it's what it is."

As 2019 drew to an end, Guardiola also wanted to offer a reminder of City's success in 2019 - winning the Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Community Shield before slumping to third in the table.

"How was 2019? Now the people say it was a disaster. We won four titles in 2019," he said. "It was an incredible year for us, which we have enjoyed a lot.

"In some games in this last part of the season, we struggled a little bit. But it was an incredible year for us."

Pep Guardiola dismissed the "genius" tag given to him by Carlo Ancelotti and warned that the Italian's Everton side would test Manchester City.

After the new Toffees boss described Guardiola in glowing terms in his own news conference, the City coach reciprocated the praise for one of European football's most decorated coaches.

City bounced back from defeat at Wolves by beating Sheffield United 2-0 at home on Sunday and will hope to end Ancelotti's 100 per cent record in the 60-year-old's third game in charge of Everton at the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day.

"Everton is Everton, one of the biggest, most traditional, historical teams in England with incredible quality in its players," Guardiola told reporters.

"They struggle a bit this season for points but the quality is there, with a new manager with incredible experience.

"A manager like Carlo with his incredible capacity, he is one of the smartest guys and always he is able - it doesn't matter which team he takes, he makes them work.

"I know him quite well. We played a few times against [each other], not much. His teams always beat our teams. He is an incredible gentleman. He conducted some of the greatest and more experienced teams in Europe, the list is huge. When that happens it's because you're an incredible manager.

"It's incredible news for English football that he's back. He can do an incredible job at Everton."

Guardiola confirmed that defender John Stones and midfield playmaker David Silva were both fit to face Everton after recovering from injuries, but he said his side's packed fixture list is putting players at risk.

City take on Everton, Port Vale and Manchester United in the first seven days of January and Guardiola said short breaks in between games were making recovery difficult.

"We have five games in 12 days," said Guardiola. "It's quite similar for the other teams but in this period one or two more days to recover is a lot.

"We take the risk, it was the same in the last game: 80 minutes with 10 against 11 in a difficult test against Wolves, then we train for two days and come back and play. It's a risk but you have to take it."

Carlo Ancelotti described Pep Guardiola as "a genius" - despite admitting Manchester City's levels have dropped since last season - as he prepares to take his Everton side to the Etihad Stadium.

Former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Ancelotti has overseen victories in both of his matches in charge of the Toffees since taking over from caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson, but he said facing the champions on New Year's Day would be a stern test.

Third-placed City are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool after suffering two defeats in their last five league outings, but Ancelotti said he still regards Guardiola as a master of the game.

"Pep is a fantastic manager," Ancelotti told reporters. "I have a good relationship with him. 

"We met some times, not a lot in games, but at some conferences in Italy. I have a good relationship with him and a lot of respect for his job.

"He is, at a certain point, a genius because he has always tried to do something special on the pitch.

"City are maybe not on the level of last year but they remain a fantastic team with fantastic players and a fantastic manager, so for us it will be really, really tough to compete with them but we need to have the confidence and focus on our football.

"Against City will be a fantastic test for us to see where we are in the sense that it's a really strong team but we have confidence to do our best. It's good to have this kind of test. We have to be happy to compete with the best teams in England and in Europe."

Everton beat Burnley 1-0 at Goodison Park in Ancelotti's first game in charge and then won 2-1 at Newcastle United, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring all three of the Toffees' goals under the Italian.

Asked whether he would seek to improve his squad when the transfer window opens in January, Ancelotti said he would wait until after Everton's FA Cup clash with Liverpool on January 5 before speaking to the club's board.

"The market is not open yet," said the 60-year-old.

"There are a lot of rumours, that is normal. Everywhere in the world is like this, Italy is the same. We are not looking in this moment.

"After the fifth of January I'm going to have a meeting with the club and we can talk about if it's possible to try to improve the squad. In my opinion it's a good squad.

"Some players I didn't know very well but we've started training together and I know them better."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will target the Champions League as Liverpool run away with the Premier League title, according to Xavi.

City are eyeing a third consecutive Premier League crown under Guardiola, however, the defending champions are third and 14 points adrift of unbeaten rivals Liverpool – who have a game in hand – after 20 matches.

Amid doubts over Guardiola's long-term future in Manchester, former Barcelona star Xavi believes the Spaniard will prioritise the Champions League ahead of a blockbuster last-16 showdown against Real Madrid.

"Pep is a born winner," Al Sadd head coach Xavi, who played under Guardiola at Camp Nou, told The Mirror. "It will hurt him that Manchester City are so far behind Liverpool in the league - and he won't give up.

"He will be realistic though. The gap is a big one and at the moment it doesn't look likely that they can make it three titles in a row.

"With that in mind, I think there's a big chance Pep will prioritise the Champions League.

"They will be two big games coming up against Real Madrid - and maybe there will be a chance to rest players before these games that they wouldn't have if they were in a title race.

"Pep will want to win every trophy that he can - but if you'd asked him at the start of the season what he would prefer, I'm sure he would have said the Champions League.

"He joked with Klopp that maybe Manchester City and Liverpool should swap trophies this year - but there was some truth in that joke, I think.

"He's won every trophy in England with Manchester City and he knows that winning the Champions League with them would take them to the next level as a club."

Guardiola's City will kick off the New Year with a clash against Everton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Somewhat fittingly for the week between Christmas and New Year, when excess chocolate and cheese can easily become a meal, the Premier League looks to have overindulged.

The newest gadgets can become tiresome through overuse at this time of year and the most recent rounds of fixtures in England's top flight might come to be seen as the moment when VAR ate itself.

Teemu Pukki, Wilfried Zaha, Dan Burn, Neto and Lys Mousset all had goals disallowed over the weekend when either themselves or team-mates were shown to be offside by the barest of margins.

Video Assistant Referees were rolled out in the A-League, MLS, the Bundesliga and Serie A before their largely acclaimed use at the 2018 World Cup.

All the while, the Premier League watched and waited, observed trials in domestic cup competitions and came up with its method of operating VAR. "Maximum interference – maximum benefit" was the self-announced "philosophy" of the league back in July.

The reality could not be further from the truth. So how did we get to a situation where even demonstrably correct decisions using VAR are derided and how can it be fixed?

Armpit offsides

For VAR evangelists and members of the "game's gone" brigade alike, this unwanted entry into the footballing lexicon is an absurdity that must be swiftly banished.

Where the intention of VAR – and, it must be said, it's regular benefit – is to stop incorrect calls affecting the destiny of games, its implementation for offsides in the Premier League is too frequently adjudicating upon something no one thought was a problem in the first place.

Raheem Sterling and Roberto Firmino are among the players to have had goals ruled out for the positioning of their armpit in relation to the last defender, elevating a part of the anatomy previously irrelevant to football conversation.

"Armpit offsides" have best highlighted the problem of interpreting as absolutes the rules of a sport that have always contained huge scope for interpretation and subjectivity. When fans used to talk of the striker being "about level" or giving "the benefit of the doubt to the attacker" no one was looking at anybody's armpit.

Therefore, the whole thing feels alien. These infringements, if you can even call them that, are not what the offside rule was designed to prevent.

Things need to change quickly in this regard and waiting until 2020-21 feels far too late, considering the potential for weekend-to-weekend moaning and articles like this one in the meantime.

Graeme Souness' suggestion that any part of a player being level with the last defender should mean the attacker is onside could be the way to go. Even though this would simply shift magnified millimetre calls back a metre or so, it would bring most decisions into line with what most fans perceive to be onside and offside.

Another alternative would be a version of cricket's "umpire's call", where the assistant's onfield decision – Mousset being onside, for example – would be allowed to stand within a defined margin of error.

Using the Monitor

Remember the old riddle of what goes to every FA Cup final but is never used? Well, the pitchside monitor is the Premier League's modern-day equivalent of the losing team's ribbons.

From its pre-VAR ivory tower, the Premier League decided it disliked the spectacle of referees trotting over to the halfway line to pore over television replays.

That conclusion was not unreasonable. But referees standing with their finger pressed to their ear, while minimal information is presented to jeering and confused fans is worse.

There is no indication the Premier League's time-saving ploy of avoiding the monitor is saving any time. A referee contacting their video assistant and being seen to review the monitor before settling on their final decision is a more transparent process.

The omnipresent murmurs of "what's going on?" means many do not trust a system that might never be fully trusted.

Before Champions League games – where VAR has also been far from perfect – a video is played inside the stadium outlining which decisions might be subjected to review.

The Premier League should consider something similar, while also making good on its guidance that allows a "definitive video clip to help explain what has happened" in the event of a changed decision to be shown on stadium screens.

"It's not football anymore"

The Sheffield United fans were the latest supporters to break into this chant at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, a few moments before Manchester City fans – who had, of course, benefitted from Mousset being given offside – joined them in a more explicit chant at VAR's expense.

Phantom offsides and the various flaws in the Premier League's video assistants project mean such supporter anger is completely understandable. But the complaints from players, managers, pundits and others have become increasingly scattergun. Correct decisions are now also causing fury.

Take Sadio Mane disallowed and subsequently allowed goal for Liverpool against Wolves on Sunday. Anthony Taylor felt Adam Lallana handled in the build-up, while the replay showed the ball clearly struck the midfielder's shoulder. No handball, goal, job done.

Or - and we should sympathise with a Wolves team that must have walked under various ladders across broken mirrors this month -  the penalty incident in Manchester City's game at Molineux.

Referee Martin Atkinson rightly ruled Leander Dendoncker's upper-body contact on Riyad Mahrez did not constitute a foul. However, he did not see the Belgium international stand on the City winger's foot. The video official did, so a penalty was awarded. The system works!

Sterling's saved penalty was booted behind by Conor Coady, but the Wolves captain was within 10 yards of the ball when the kick was taken. That amounted to clear encroachment and an unfair advantage when it came to making the clearance. A VAR intervention meant another chance for Sterling.

After the Liverpool game, a justifiably frustrated Nuno Espirito Santo bemoaned a video official "miles away" who "does not feel the game". With the greatest respect, this is nonsense. When has emotional investment ever been a desirable quality for an impartial adjudicator?

Support for introducing VAR grew out of persistent complaints about decisions from fans, coaches and the media, along with exhaustive frame-by-frame analysis of perceived injustices from any given weekend. Anyone claiming they enjoyed being repeatedly whipped up into that lather is being more than a little disingenuous.

Proclaiming the death of football every time a decision is reviewed and framing clearly explicable calls as the latest huge controversy is a waste of everyone's time and energy. As is using VAR problems as fuel for your latest conspiracy theory.

The Premier League must do away with trial by geometric microscope quickly and bring greater transparency into its VAR process. However, fans, professionals and those of us in the media need to meet the authorities halfway and raise the level of conversation above frothing outrage towards something more constructive.

Erling Haaland's decision to join Borussia Dortmund brought an end to one of Europe's most fascinating transfer stories.

Manchester United had been in the frame for his signature but were reportedly put off by a key demand from the striker's representatives.

As often seems to be the case for the Red Devils, Mino Raiola's involvement led to complications.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED PULLED PLUG ON HAALAND BID

According to The Guardian, United abandoned their bid for the highly sought-after Haaland after learning of a request from his agent, Raiola, and father Alf-Inge Haaland.

The pair reportedly asked for a share of any future transfer fee for the 19-year-old, a stipulation the Old Trafford outfit were unwilling to meet despite their firm interest.

Haaland settled on Dortmund after the Bundesliga side activated his Salzburg buyout clause.

He had been linked to RB Leipzig, Juventus and several more top European clubs after emerging as a Champions League star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Haaland's arrival at Dortmund could lead LaLiga side  Atletico Madrid to narrow the transfer focus on Spanish striker Paco Alcacer, according to Marca. The former Barcelona player has struggled to cement a place in BVB's starting XI and represents a cheaper option in terms of wages than Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, an apparent favourite of Diego Simeone.

- AS, meanwhile, reports on potential movements elsewhere in the Spanish capital. The newspaper claims Real Madrid are preparing to recall Jesus Vallejo from his loan spell at Wolves, with a view to finding him more playing time. That could lead to a short-term switch to Leganes or Eintracht Frankfurt.

- Juventus are close to extending Wojciech Szczesny's contract yet the Serie A champions remain admirers of Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma and Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to CalcioMercato.

- Tammy Abraham wants a better deal at Stamford Bridge but Chelsea are not yet prepared to accept his demand for parity with Callum Hudson-Odoi's £180,000 per week salary, reports The Athletic.

- Manchester City are set to beat Premier League rivals United, Arsenal and Liverpool to the January signing of Barcelona's teenage left-back Juan Larios, says the Daily Star.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the 2010s in terms of individual awards and moments of pure inspiration.

Future generations will look back on this past decade as a period obsessed with the two generational talents - their often-exaggerated rivalry exacerbated by spending such a long time on opposite sides of the Clasico divide.

But, while Ronaldo and Messi have filled more column inches than any other player on the planet, there are plenty of others who have been world leaders in their respective positions.

Having looked back over the last 10 years, using Opta data for inspiration, we have selected a Team of the Decade. But who makes the cut?

Is David de Gea selected in goal? Does Luis Suarez join Messi in attack? Has Virgil van Dijk done enough for inclusion? Find out below...

OMNISPORT TEAM OF THE DECADE

Manuel Neuer

There is not much more Manuel Neuer could have achieved over the past 10 years. For much of that time he has been one of the globe's most dependable goalkeepers, even if he has shown signs of decline since a spate of foot injuries. A veteran of seven Bundesliga title triumphs and a World Cup winner with Germany, Neuer boasts a save percentage of 74.2 per cent and has comfortably the most clean sheets (139) this decade in the German top flight.

Dani Alves

Has there ever been a better right-back than Dani Alves? The Brazilian stands to leave an impressive legacy, not just through his thrilling style of play, but with his record-breaking trophy haul of 43 after captaining Brazil to Copa America success this year. Despite being a right-back, he claimed 67 assists in league action through the 2010s, though his greatest contribution came in LaLiga with Barcelona, for whom he set up 51 goals. Marcelo (48) is the closest to him, but he has played 77 times more than the current Sao Paulo star.

Vincent Kompany

Although a brilliant player at his best, it is understandable to suggest Vincent Kompany never reached his ceiling due to injuries. Nevertheless, the Belgian will go down as a Premier League great such has been his impact with Manchester City, with whom he enjoyed four title wins. Kompany recorded 83 Premier League clean sheets in the 2010s, just 10 fewer than record-setter Kyle Walker, who has played 57 more matches. His leadership qualities have been missed by City this season.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is a player who often polarises opinion, but he's one of only three players to have been at Madrid for the entire decade, so he must be doing something right. An undisputed leader and fierce competitor, Ramos is a big-game player like few others and boasts a goal-scoring record even many midfielders would be happy with, having netted 43 times in LaLiga since the start of 2010, more than any other defender. Over the past 10 years, he's helped Los Blancos to a remarkable four Champions League titles, while he won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.

Jordi Alba

At his best, Jordi Alba was almost unstoppable. The flying left-back became a staple and key outlet for one of the great Barcelona teams, with his driving runs – on or off the ball – often creating havoc. A master at making a darting run into the box before cutting a pass back to create a chance, Alba has 38 LaLiga assists to his name for Barca, a record bettered by only Dani Alves and Marcelo among defenders. He gets the nod ahead of his Madrid counterpart as his assist haul is from 72 fewer matches.

Luka Modric

The only player to break the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or duopoly, Luka Modric has enjoyed a wonderful decade. A vital part of the Croatia team that enjoyed an historic run to the 2018 World Cup final, Modric also played a big role in Madrid's incredible Champions League domination. Toni Kroos (11,260) is the only midfielder to have completed more passes in LaLiga than Modric (10,759), while he laid on 42 assists and created 522 chances.

N'Golo Kante

If there was an award for the most likeable player of the decade, N'Golo Kante would surely be a frontrunner. Sadly there is no such thing, so he'll have to contend with inclusion in this team. Arguably the key cog in Leicester City's remarkable Premier League title win, Kante followed that up with similarly impressive form at Chelsea and with France, winning the World Cup with Les Bleus last year. He has made 912 tackles and interceptions in the Premier League, putting him fifth among players with 200 appearances or fewer this decade, and each of those who rank higher have played at least 20 matches more.

David Silva

When David Silva leaves Man City at the end of the season, there will inevitably be a debate as to whether he can be regarded the Premier League's greatest 'import'. That this will even be suggested tells you the impact he has had. No one gets close to Silva's record of 89 Premier League assists in the 2010s, with the Spaniard almost certainly the most consistent creator the division has seen in the past 10 years. He was similarly important for Spain until his post-World Cup retirement last year, having previously lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2010 and at Euro 2012, eventually accumulating 125 caps.

Lionel Messi

Where does one even begin with Lionel Messi? If any single player has defined the 2010s – from an individual perspective – in world football, it is surely the Barcelona talisman. In LaLiga, Messi has amassed 505 goal involvements (369 goals, 136 assist) in 343 matches since the start of the decade, routinely carrying Barca to victory. He has won every trophy possible with the Blaugrana over the past 10 years and claimed five Ballons d'Or, with his 2019 victory giving him a record-breaking sixth. Although now 32, he remains frighteningly decisive – all that eludes him is international success with Argentina.

Robert Lewandowski

A long list of immense strikers have starred throughout the 2010s, but arguably chief among them – Ronaldo aside – is Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Having moved from Borussia Dortmund, whom he helped turn into Champions League contenders, the Poland international has developed into a remarkable all-round striker. In 307 Bundesliga games he has 221 goals from 1,163 attempts, meaning he scores every 5.2 shots – by contrast, Ronaldo needs 6.4 efforts per goal. Although he is yet to win Europe's elite club competition, there is little doubt the Pole appears to be getting better with age having already notched 19 league goals this term, just three short of his total for 2018-19.

Cristiano Ronaldo

In the somewhat tiresome 'Ronaldo or Messi' debate about which superstar is "better", the former can at least point to his international successes with Portugal as something that sets him apart, having lifted Euro 2016 and the 2018-19 Nations League. That is just the tip of the iceberg for his brilliance in the 2010s, however. Across spells with Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 335 league goals and laid on 95 assists. With Los Blancos he helped inspire four Champions League successes, also winning a couple of LaLiga titles. What a privilege it has been to see Ronaldo and Messi in the same era.

Pep Guardiola believes VAR in the Premier League has been a mess, despite seeing his Manchester City side benefit from the video technology against Sheffield United.

City got lucky when Blades forward Lys Mousset had a first-half strike harshly disallowed for offside by the video review system, which then allowed Sergio Aguero's opener to stand despite referee Chris Kavanagh inadvertently blocking off John Fleck in the build-up.

There was no doubt over City's second goal, with Kevin De Bruyne tucking home to secure an unconvincing win - Guardiola's 100th in the Premier League.

Video assistant referee controversy has ruled in the Premier League this weekend, with Norwich City's Teemu Pukki having a goal harshly ruled out, while at Anfield, Wolves had a strike disallowed for a marginal offside.

With the officials coming under even greater scrutiny after more debatable decisions, Guardiola has weighed in.

"I said many times I have a huge list for VAR. Every weekend is a big mess," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"In other games it was a big mess. Hopefully next season it can do better."

However, Guardiola's counterpart Chris Wilder - whose side suffered their first away defeat of the season - was left much more frustrated.

"Yet again we had another goal disallowed by VAR, that's about eight or nine over the weekend. This is not a situation helping the game and the small margins," Wilder told BBC Sport.

"But I will leave that for everyone else to talk about because I have said too much about it."

Wilder said of City's opening goal: "I've been to see the referee and he has been honest about it. We make mistakes and I believe he made one too.

"It happened that quick and I thought he could have been helped by his colleagues a little bit.

"We talk about the new rule where if the referee touches the ball then he has to blow up, so surely if he is in the way and hinders us then he makes a sensible decision.

"If he made the sensible decision then I don't think anyone in the ground would have said anything about it."

Pep Guardiola indicated Manchester City are already focusing on next season after accepting there is no longer a title race in the Premier League.

Guardiola claimed his 100th league win as City boss on Sunday, as goals from Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne secured a 2-0 triumph over resilient Sheffield United.

The win took City back to within a point of Leicester City, though they are still 14 behind runaway leaders Liverpool, who overcame Wolves 1-0 at Anfield.

With the gap so large, Guardiola has accepted City are no longer realistic contenders for the title, which they have won for the last two seasons, and instead said the main focus is on ensuring they improve ahead of the 2020-21 season while targeting success in the cup competitions.

"No. It's unrealistic to think about that," Guardiola said in a news conference when asked if Liverpool could be caught.

His side were swiftly back in action after a 3-2 defeat to Wolves on Friday, meaning they had under 48 hours between the two matches.

Guardiola said: "A team which has the numbers of Liverpool, why should we think about that? It's just preparing, play good and better to be as close to the top of the league as we can, prepare for the knockout competitions and for the next season.

"Every game helps us to improve for next season. Hopefully we can do better.

"The motivation is to improve because when we improve we win games and that is the way to live better. That is the best motivation for all of us. Even in the past.

"Now we recover for three days, thank you for three days to recover, and prepare for the next game against Everton. That is what you have to do."

Despite accepting the title race is all but over, Guardiola insists it should not take anything away from what his City squad have achieved.

"The fans can say or do whatever they want but they cannot deny that the team in the last three years was incredible in every single competition," he added.

"Football you can lose or you can win. We have injuries in very important positions but always we tried, even in the games we lost.

"It was a tough game especially because of the opponent, because of the 48 hours, and two hours after the Wolves game on the bus back.

"It's not the best for recovery against one of the most physical teams in the Premier League and we won it, so full compliments to the team."

Pep Guardiola has usurped Jose Mourinho as the quickest Premier League boss to reach 100 victories in the competition.

Goals from Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne secured a 2-0 win for City over Sheffield United on Sunday, though it was not without controversy.

VAR harshly disallowed a would-be opener from Lys Mousset, while referee Chris Kavanagh seemed to inadvertently block John Fleck in the lead up to Aguero's 52nd-minute strike.

The triumph brought up a century of Premier League wins for Guardiola in his 134th top-flight match in charge of City.

Current Spurs boss Mourinho had previously held the record, having achieved 100 wins in 142 games, while Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp managed to do so in 159 matches earlier this month.

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