Southampton made Premier League history on Monday, as they became the first team to beat all seven winners of the competition in the season after they lifted the crown.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men defeated Liverpool 1-0 at St Mary's, prevailing in the fixture for the first time since 2016 thanks to Danny Ings' second-minute lob against his former club.

Southampton have now beaten Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in the campaign following a title triumph.

Here is a look back at the matches that make up that run.

Blackburn Rovers

Southampton sold Alan Shearer to Blackburn in 1992, and three years later the England striker led Rovers to their first and only Premier League title. In the following season, Blackburn finished seventh, while Southampton avoided relegation on goal difference.

They claimed three crucial points in that survival battle on April 6, 1996, with Matt Le Tissier's 80th-minute penalty sealing a 1-0 win over Blackburn at The Dell.

Manchester United

Southampton sensationally beat defending champions United 6-3 on October 26, 1996, with Eyal Berkovic and Egil Ostenstad both scoring braces as the mercurial Le Tissier starred once more

They also beat a title-defending United side in 1997-98, 2000-01 and 2003-04.

Arsenal

The Gunners were top dogs in 2001-02, but came unstuck at St Mary's in November the following season, with James Beattie scoring twice and Kolo Toure's own goal settling the game 3-2 in Southampton's favour.

Manchester City

Early in Mauricio Pochettino's tenure, Southampton defeated defending champions City at St Mary's 3-1 in February 2013.

Their win included a quite sensational own goal from Gareth Barry, who steered a fine, inadvertent finish into the bottom-right corner of City's net to cap off the victory. They beat City last season, winning 1-0 in July, though Liverpool already had already deposed Pep Guardiola's side by that point.

Chelsea

Southampton were relegated to when Chelsea won their first Premier League title under Jose Mourinho, losing both of their games to the Blues on the way down.

However, they beat Chelsea in October 2015, with Steven Davis, Sadio Mane and Graziano Pele doing the damage in a 3-1 win as Mourinho's second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge hurtled towards a premature conclusion.

Leicester City

The Foxes charged to a remarkable Premier League success in 2015-16, but they were thrashed 3-0 at St Mary's in January 2017.

James Ward-Prowse, Jay Rodriguez and Dusan Tadic were on target in what was Southampton's biggest home win in the Premier League since a 4-1 victory against Crystal Palace on the final day of the previous season.

Liverpool

History was made as, despite Liverpool having 16 attempts – albeit with only one on target – Southampton held on to claim a hard-fought, well-deserved win.

The result left Hasenhuttl in tears at full time and also lifted Saints to within four points of the Premier League leaders.

Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City are starting to approach their peak, with the Belgium star stating Pep Guardiola's team were not ready for the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

City's elongated 2019-20 season finished in August, as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat against Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Guardiola's side were given an extra week off prior to starting their Premier League season in September, but their tally of 12 points from their opening eight games was their worst start to a top-flight campaign since 2008-09.

However, City are unbeaten in seven top-flight outings since a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham, conceding just twice during that run.

De Bruyne scored and set up another in a dominant 3-1 win over Chelsea on Sunday, creating three chances and attempting a game-high five shots.

City have closed to within four points of leaders Liverpool and have two games in hand on the reigning champions, who lost 1-0 at Southampton on Monday.

First they face rivals Manchester United on Wednesday in the EFL Cup semi-finals - chasing a fourth consecutive triumph in the competition - and De Bruyne has put their early struggles down to a lack of proper preparation owing to a condensed pre-season. 

"I think at the beginning of the season we had many difficulties, many injuries, no pre-season," De Bruyne said. 

"Mentally and physically, we weren't ready for the new season.

"I think over the last month we recovered a few players, we raised our level, we have won a few matches and we have gone up a few places in the table.

"We still have another eight games in January in all competitions, it's going to be tough, but I think we are ready for the battle and that is what matters."

HOW CITY'S START COMPARED TO 2019-20

After eight games this season, City had scored just 10 goals, conceding 11 at the other end. In contrast, after the same number of fixtures last term, they had scored 27 times and allowed in just nine.

City had a pass completion rate of 87.74 per cent, while 47.57 per cent of their tackles were successful – again, both of these figures were lower than their corresponding numbers for 2019-20 (89.22 per cent and 58.73 per cent respectively).

With eight games played last season, City had created a total of 132 opportunities, with 32 of these counted as "big chances" by Opta.

They were 39 down in terms of chances created by the same stage this term, while they had created 20 fewer big opportunities and only managed 125 attempts compared to 167 last season.

Guardiola's men recorded three wins, three draws and two defeats from their opening eight encounters of 2020-21, having won five, drawn one and lost two up to and including October 6, 2019.

Teams will be allowed to make five substitutions from nine players on the bench for the EFL Cup semi-finals and final. 

The change in the rule was introduced following consultation with Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Brentford, the four semi-finalists in the 2020-21 competition. 

VAR will also be introduced, having not been involved in previous rounds. 

The EFL added in a statement on Monday: "Each team is only permitted a maximum of three opportunities (excluding half time, full time and half time of extra time) to make substitutions during normal time. However, if a tie goes to extra time, an additional opportunity to use a substitute(s) will also be permitted but only from the five substitutes allowed." 

The decision comes despite Premier League clubs voting against the option of using five substitutes in a single game in England's top flight, a rule which has been adopted in other major competitions across Europe this season. 

City boss Pep Guardiola has been among the more vocal in his criticism of not continuing the five-sub rule, which was temporarily introduced into the Premier League following the resumption of the 2019-20 season after the coronavirus-enforced shutdown. 

City face United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, with Spurs hosting Brentford 24 hours earlier. 

This season's semi-finals will be one-legged and go to extra time and penalties if required, rather than the traditional two-legged ties, due to the congested fixture schedule caused by the disruption to the football calendar. 

The final was moved from February to April, when it is hoped some fans may be allowed to attend.

Frank Lampard's position as Chelsea head coach is under threat, while Tottenham have started talks to extend Harry Kane's deal.

Lampard is under increasing pressure at Stamford Bridge after just one win in their past six Premier League games.

Sunday's 3-1 loss to Manchester City has only put further pressure on the Chelsea boss.

 

TOP STORY – LAMPARD'S POSITION AS CHELSEA BOSS UNDER THREAT

Lampard's job as Chelsea head coach is under serious threat, according to The Athletic.

The report says the Premier League club, who are eighth in the table, have started looking at replacements.

Lampard took charge of Chelsea in July 2019, but they sit seven points behind Liverpool and Manchester United – who have both played one game fewer – despite spending heavily in the close season.

ROUND-UP

- Kane's impressive form for Tottenham has seen him linked with the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. The Independent reports Spurs have started talks with the forward, who has 10 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League this season, over a contract extension, even though his current deal runs until 2024.

- With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez sidelined with long-term injuries, Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders. But The Athletic reports the Premier League champions are not considering a move for Lille defender Sven Botman.

- Struggling for game time at Tottenham, Dele Alli is linked with a reunion with Mauricio Pochettino at PSG. Foot Mercato reports Pochettino has spoken with Alli, who is open to a move.

- Staying at PSG and Sky Sports reports the Ligue 1 giants are in negotiations with Everton to sign Moise Kean on a permanent deal worth around €34.6million (£31m). Kean has scored nine goals in 16 games in all competitions on loan at PSG.

- Samuel Umtiti's Barcelona future is uncertain. Todofichajes reports Nice have a strong interest in the defender on an initial loan deal.

- Patrick Bamford has scored 10 Premier League goals this season and the Leeds United forward is out of contract next year. The Sun reports Leeds are set to reward the 27-year-old with a lucrative new deal.

Phil Foden hailed the work of "genius" Pep Guardiola and outlined his plans to continue improving after inspiring Manchester City to a 3-1 victory against Chelsea.

The England international set up Ilkay Gundogan for City's first goal in Sunday's clash and swept home Kevin De Bruyne's cross for their second just 157 seconds later.

At 20 years and 220 days, he became the second youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Chelsea since Jermain Defoe in September 2002.

De Bruyne extended the visitors' lead before half-time at Stamford Bridge but it was Foden who earned particular praise from boss Pep Guardiola after the game.

"I'm so proud," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "He never dropped one bit of his energy he can play up front in all four positions. 

"He has a sense of goal, he scored a fantastic goal. We rely on him incredibly.

"For England as well he will be a top player because he's so clever and calm. He made another great performance."

Foden has now been directly involved in 14 Premier League goals – finding the net nine times himself and setting up five more for his team-mates.

That is as many as Manchester United legend Paul Scholes managed at the same age, only strengthening comparisons made between the pair.

He completed all 16 of his passes in the opposition half against Chelsea and created four chances, which is more than any other player on the field.

However, having struggled to hold down a place in the side this term, the City academy product is refusing to get too far ahead of himself.

"I still have a lot to learn," he said. "There's quality players here. Riyad Mahrez on the bench today could easily play. 

"There's quality players at the club and I just have to keep doing well each time and improving.

"The manager's praise means a lot when you put 100 per cent into a game. It feels nice. I'm enjoying my football and I want to keep enjoying it."

Foden started on the left side of a striker-less attack for a City side depleted by a coronavirus outbreak in their camp, leaving them without six squad members for the match.

The Citizens' victory was their third in a row in the Premier League, moving them to within four points of top spot with a game in hand, but was their first over one of last season's top-six finishers this term at the fifth attempt.

City dropped off in the second half and Callum Hudson-Odoi pulled one back for Chelsea in stoppage time, though Foden was delighted with his side's overall display at Stamford Bridge.

"It gives you the confidence, coming here and getting a result how we did," he said. "It gives everyone confidence in the training room and we want to keep pushing and playing like this more often.

"The first half was brilliant. To be three goals up, it's not always easy to go into the second half three goals up and play the same way. 

"You could probably tell the second half we dropped off a bit and let them have it. Overall it was a great performance and doesn't put us in a bad position with the games in hand.

"We've played good every game but just not finished our chances. Today was a brilliant performance and much more clinical in the final third.

"We had that little break after the last game and maybe that helped us out to have the energy today. It was a great performance, everyone played top today.

"We always have great tactics going into big games like this – Pep's a genius at things like this. 

"As you can tell we played the right way and we definitely done them staying high and wide and going down the flanks. It was something we did well."

Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City are returning to the type of form that saw them lift the Premier League title in successive campaigns after cruising to victory over Chelsea.

Despite being without six first-team players due to coronavirus, City ran out 3-1 winners at Stamford Bridge in Sunday's clash to make it three league victories in a row.

All three of the visitors' goals were scored in a ruthless first half, with Kevin de Bruyne assisting Phil Foden and then scoring himself after Ilkay Gundogan's well-taken opener.

The victory was City's first this season over one of last season's top-six finishers at the fifth attempt, moving them to within four points of top spot with a game in hand.

And after a disappointing 2019-20 and a slow start to this season, Guardiola could see signs of the old City against Chelsea.

"It's the same team. Same manager, same backroom staff," he told Sky Sports. "My assistant coach changed a little bit. But the players are the same and the ideas are the same. 

"The way we won leagues and titles and other things is the way we played today. The tempo we have missed in the past, today we recovered it."

Since losing 2-0 to Tottenham in November, City have won five of their seven league matches and drawn the other two.

Only Manchester United, who City face in the EFL Cup semi-finals on Wednesday, have taken more points (20) over that period than the Citizens' 17. 

This latest win came without a recognised striker in their ranks, Guardiola tasking De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Foden and Bernardo Silva with interchanging through the middle.

"The players were excellent in every way especially with the ball," Guardiola said. "We cannot play like other teams, we have to play in our rhythm and attack in the right moment. 

"We won titles in that way, being more patient. We missed a bit of this tempo and today we had it.

"The result is excellent at Stamford Bridge but the way we played was really great. You can't win titles without playing like that.

"Chelsea are one of strongest teams, even if they have been suffering over the last few games.

"But you see the quality of their players and the bench. We had a plan, we tried to play like we have in the past and it worked."

De Bruyne was a key component in City's striker-less system, playing three key passes and getting five shots away at goal, one of those - his 34th-minute goal - on target.

The Belgian playmaker, who has now been involved in four goals in his last six league appearances against Chelsea, praised the clinical nature of his side's first-half display.

"I think the difference today was that when we had the chances, we took them," he said. 

"It's important that we won one of these big games, as we've played some good games against the big teams but not won one of them. 

"We're still fighting an uphill battle but we're getting closer. The years when we were champions, we were winning these big games, so it's important. 

"It's a little different this year as everyone is dropping points but it's good that we're fighting and that's the only thing we can do right now."

City have now won their first league game in 14 of the last 15 calendar years, winning each of the last nine in a row since a 1-0 defeat to Sunderland in 2012.

Frank Lampard accepts Chelsea were taught "serious lessons" by Manchester City on Sunday but insists people must be patient as he tries to build a stronger team.

Pep Guardiola's side ran out 3-1 winners at Stamford Bridge, with Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne all scoring in the first half for a side left depleted by a coronavirus outbreak.

Chelsea, who scored a consolation goal through Callum Hudson-Odoi in second-half injury time, only managed two shots on target throughout the contest as Premier League debutant Zack Steffen went largely untroubled.

The Blues have now lost four times in six league games, as many as they did in their previous 23.

They have taken 26 points from their first 17 league matches of 2020-21, three fewer than they managed at the same stage last term, and they have never finished higher than sixth after failing to amass more than 26 points at this stage of a campaign.

With top-two Liverpool and Manchester United seven points ahead of them with a game in hand, pressure is growing on Lampard, whose squad was bolstered by a net spend of more than £220million in the previous transfer window.

While accepting his side were not good enough in the first half, Lampard believes he needs time to bring Chelsea closer to the level of City and champions Liverpool.

"For 10 minutes, we were good, then they started to play and we conceded two poor goals, really poor goals. I felt it knocked us and I felt we didn't react as well as I'd want," he told Sky Sports.

"We knew they'd play without a real striker so we had to make sure that space wasn't there. We allowed the space for De Bruyne to get into the game, and [Bernardo] Silva, and Gundogan, when he gets the opportunity to shoot for the first one.

"So, yeah, serious lessons in the first half, good character in the second half, but the damage was done. The level of play, you're talking De Bruyne, I know he was here when he was a kid and credit to him, he went away and came back and now he's prime Kevin De Bruyne.

"Then you can go through their team and talk about that and the reality is for us, and it's why I spoke earlier in the season, one month ago everyone was saying, 'we can win the league', I was pretty sure in the fact that, where we're at, in terms of the [transfer] ban, in terms of the rebuild and where we're at as a team, in terms of the youth, that there are periods of pain we're going to go through as a club and individuals.

"It was a painful first half. We've got to get better at receiving the ball in tight areas, we've got to understand that, when a press comes, you've got to accept it, or miss the press out. When a team gives you a problem on the pitch, which we talked about before the game, it has to be dealt with in-game. In the first half, we didn't; in the second half, we were better, but the damage was done."

Lampard pointed to his own experience as a player as proof that things can change quickly in football when it comes to teams being successful.

"I'm not leaning on the youth [as an excuse] because I think some of the younger players really came to the fore," he said. "I thought Mason Mount showed second half, Billy Gilmour when he came on, Callum comes on and gets his goal, so it's not about the youth in the squad being the issue. It's just a reality, as I said before. 

"At the minute, we're in a little period, a five, six-game period that none of us like. I think if you probably go back to the first year of City in this regime or Liverpool, you have to fight through that. That comes with reviewing this game and looking at how you can be better.

"If you've been in football this long - and I said this to the players at half-time - I've had those days. I've sat there and had those days and lifted a trophy at the end of the year. I remember getting beaten at Middlesbrough, two or three-nil, [Mark] Viduka and Yakubu [Ayegbeni] up front, and we were sat in the dressing room pretty demoralised. We bounced back because we had a spirit in the dressing room and a quality of player.

"We're in a different period now but any player in football is going to have moments like that. Some of the results we've seen this season for other teams, Man City, Liverpool, et cetera, have been harsh for them. Now, because we're in a bit of a period, it becomes even harsher for us, I won't hide away from that.

"But the players, myself, have to take it on the chin and react. This is football."

When asked if his Chelsea players have the character to get out of their bad run, Lampard replied: "Without a doubt we have that.

"We went 16 games unbeaten and month ago, everyone's asking me, am I going to go, when's the new contract? Now people will be saying the opposite. I can't control that. We can't control that. What we can control is what we do tonight, tomorrow, the next day, what we do against Morecambe, what we do against Fulham, and then I have belief in this group.

"I hope this doesn't sound like I'm criticising players. I'll be the first to look at myself today. But when I look at the squad, I know there is uplift in this team, but I know where we're at because I see it and I know the work it takes to be at the level Manchester City showed today because that's been a lot of years in the making, a lot of players playing in the prime of their careers, showing confidence and character.

"It's normal that, as a squad, we take little knocks along the way. Now is a test."

Even by this season's standards, it was a strange start at Stamford Bridge. 

Manchester City went 4-4-2 despite the notable handicap of having no strikers. Stand-in goalkeeper Zack Steffen seemed to forget the back-pass rule. Chelsea started without Olivier Giroud or Tammy Abraham but felt looping Hakim Ziyech crosses was still the best Plan A. Kevin De Bruyne, for the 34th time in a row in the Premier League, failed to score with a shot from open play. 

When City suddenly, imperiously took control as Chelsea froze in the bitter London cold, you wondered if those bizarre but competitive first 18 minutes had been conjured up by broadcasters to throw the stay-at-home viewer off the scent, a Premier League narrative directed by the Coen brothers. 

All at once, City were City again. Passes were fizzed into feet, Phil Foden killed the ball softly to Ilkay Gundogan, and it was beyond Thiago Silva's foot and Edouard Mendy's left fingers in a flash.

Two minutes and 37 seconds later, Foden had convinced the watching Gary Neville that he was Marc Overmars reborn: one driving left-wing run pulled Chelsea's defence out of position so badly that, by the time De Bruyne finally slipped him the ball to score, he looked like he'd been standing in the penalty area so long he was trying to remember where he'd buried the suitcase of money. 

There was so much to unpack about the third goal, an assembly of ill-conceived plans at the mercy of a maelstrom, like that tornado at the end of A Serious Man. It also prompted all manner of questions: why did Chelsea have every outfield player in the City half for a free-kick? Why did N'Golo Kante hoof a loose ball straight at De Bruyne's head? Why did Raheem Sterling not score after rounding Mendy - and why did nobody try to take the ball off him once he hadn't? It was such an implausible turn of events that, when Sterling's eventual shot came off the post and nestled at De Bruyne's feet for a tap-in, you had to wonder if that had been the plan all along.

Of course, what City's emphatic 3-1 win over Chelsea tells us is actually not that strange at all. A visiting team with preparations and line-up ruined by a coronavirus outbreak still, at every turn, looked like they were following a plan. Frank Lampard's men looked every bit a team that had managed just one win in their previous five league outings coming into the contest. 

If there was thinking behind his selection, Lampard's methods seemed less precise with every hopeful ball aimed towards every uncertain Timo Werner run. The disconnect between midfield and defence was so stark that Kurt Zouma tried to play in both positions at once and managed to be successful in neither. They were picked apart with the same ease as they were at Arsenal a week ago, by the same City set-up that destroyed Manchester United in an EFL Cup first half last January, but Chelsea didn't look as though they had learned a thing.

Perhaps the real enduring strangeness of 2020-21 is the hasty assessment of these teams' trajectories. When Chelsea moved top of the table by beating Leeds United 3-1 on December 5, many of the 2,000 home fans allowed into the stands must have thought Lampard's £230milllion-plus investment had created a team of title challengers.  

When an unadventurous City were held in the Manchester derby and then by West Brom last month, even Pep Guardiola talked of "the gap between this year and previous years". 

Yet the fact remains City are the strongest challengers to Liverpool's supremacy. Until Callum Hudson-Odoi's injury-time consolation, they had conceded once - an own goal - since losing at Tottenham 11 matches ago. They are four points behind leaders Liverpool and United with a game in hand, having lost once since September. And they are now three points above Chelsea, who have played twice more and who in turn are only three ahead of an Arsenal team tipped for a relegation fight three weeks ago. 

It would be odd indeed to see Chelsea as true title contenders now, or to pretend that Lampard, for all his enduring credit among players, fans and directors, would not be right in thinking: 'Damn, we're in a tight spot.'

Manchester City impressively overcame the absence of key first-team players due to coronavirus as they eased to a 3-1 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. 

Pep Guardiola's side had their game at Everton postponed earlier this week due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the club, one that left them without six squad members for their first match of 2021. 

But City, who handed a league debut to goalkeeper Zack Steffen, were three up inside 34 minutes thanks to strikes from Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden and star of the show Kevin De Bruyne.

Callum Hudson-Odoi scored a late consolation for Chelsea but that was the only disappointment for the visitors, who made it three league wins in a row to move up to fifth in the table, within four points of top spot with a game in hand. Chelsea, meanwhile, remain down in eighth position. 

City started without a recognised striker and it was Gundogan who was in the most advanced position when turning away from Thiago Silva to fire past Edouard Mendy for the opener. 

A second goal followed for Guardiola's side 157 seconds later, Foden sweeping home De Bruyne's low cross at the front post following a poor sliding clearance from Thiago Silva in the build-up. 

De Bruyne rounded off a swift counter that he started near his own box for City's third, the playmaker converting from close range after Raheem Sterling's shot came back off the post. 

Gundogan went close to doubling his tally with a smart flick that drifted inches wide of the far post and Rodri's header was well saved by Mendy after half-time as City pushed for a fourth. 

They could not quite hold on for a sixth clean sheet in seven league outings, however, as Hudson-Odoi converted fellow substitute Kai Havertz's delivery at the back post from the final meaningful act of the match.

Zack Steffen will make his Premier League debut for depleted Manchester City as their clash with Chelsea goes ahead despite a coronavirus outbreak.

Pep Guardiola is without six players for Sunday's trip to Stamford Bridge, with the club's squad badly affected by COVID-19.

Eric Garcia was the latest to test positive on the day of the game, though the Spaniard was due to miss out through injury anyway.

Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus were confirmed to have the virus on Christmas Day, though Guardiola did not reveal the identities of the others to have returned positive tests.

But goalkeeper Ederson did confirm he is self-isolating, meaning 25-year-old United States international Steffen was picked to start between the posts, wirth Scott Carson as back-up.

Steffen signed for City in 2019 but spent last season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf, meaning the game at Stamford Bridge is to be his Premier League bow, his four previous appearances this term coming in the EFL Cup and Champions League.

Benjamin Mendy has been picked among the substitutes despite being found in breach of social distancing rules on New Year's Eve, while Ferran Torres is absent from the visitors' travelling party.

Although Frank Lampard revealed on Friday that two Chelsea staff members had contracted coronavirus, their squad remains unaffected.

Lampard also played down the idea of Hakim Ziyech starting against City after an injury absence, however, the Morocco star was named in Chelsea's line-up.

Timo Werner also returns to the starting XI after being dropped for the 1-1 draw with Aston Villa.

Kai Havertz remains among the substitutes.

Manchester City have confirmed defender Eric Garcia and a member of staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

The club made the announcement less than four hours before Sunday's scheduled Premier League match with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

"Both personnel will now observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK Government protocol on quarantine," City said in a statement.

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

Manager Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday that there had been three further positive tests for COVID-19 within his squad after an outbreak earlier in the week.

City's league game at Everton on Monday was called off and the Etihad Campus training centre closed after Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker and two further members of staff had returned positive tests.

Everton requested "full disclosure" of the information City provided to the Premier League, with the match being postponed four hours before it was due to start.

City resumed training on Wednesday, calming fears the game with Chelsea could also be rescheduled.

Earlier on Sunday, City said they were investigating after defender Benjamin Mendy was reported to have held a New Year's Eve party that included guests from outside his household, in breach of COVID-19 protocols.

Manchester City will conduct an internal investigation after being left "disappointed" by Benjamin Mendy's breach of COVID-19 protocols. 

France international Mendy - who has made nine appearances in all competitions this season - is reported to have staged a party on New Year's Eve that included guests from outside his household. 

In a statement, the Premier League club confirmed they are aware of the situation involving the player, who has since apologised for his error amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

City are without a number of first-team players following an outbreak of the virus that forced their game away at Everton on December 28 to be postponed. 

"The club is aware of a New Year's Eve Covid-19 breach involving Benjamin Mendy and the subsequent media reporting of it," City said in a widely reported statement. 

"While it is understood that elements of this incident have been misinterpreted in the reports, and that the player has publicly apologised for his error, the club is disappointed to learn of the transgression and will be conducting an internal investigation." 

Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday that three more "important" members of the first team had tested positive, following on from confirmed cases for Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker, as well as two members of staff. 

City closed the training facility due to the situation within the club, though the squad were able to return to work on Wednesday ahead of Sunday's trip to Chelsea. 

They are not the only top-flight team to be dealing with a coronavirus outbreak, though. Fulham have had festive fixtures against Tottenham and Burnley cancelled. 

Ilkay Gundogan suggests it is "quite normal" for Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to be struggling at Chelsea after moving to the Premier League amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Werner and Havertz were high-profile recruits from the Bundesliga prior to the 2020-21 season as Chelsea looked to turn a team that scraped Champions League football into genuine title contenders.

Other signings, such as Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell, have quickly had an impact, but the Germany internationals have found life a little more difficult.

Werner did not score in his first three Blues appearances in all competitions but then netted eight times in nine games, before enduring an 11-match goalless run that takes him up to Sunday's meeting with Manchester City.

The former RB Leipzig forward, who has netted with just 10.3 per cent of his 39 Premier League shots, missing eight big chances, lost his place for the first time for the draw with Aston Villa last time out, albeit Chelsea had played Arsenal just two days earlier.

Werner - involved in eight league goals - has still fared better than Havertz, who has had an underwhelming eight attempts and created 10 chances across 14 games, scoring one and assisting another.

The misfiring pair will meet international colleague Gundogan on Sunday in a crunch clash in the top half of the Premier League.

The City midfielder expects the pair to come good, though, pointing to the difficulty of relocating to a new country under the strange conditions of a global health crisis.

"They have two new German players who have tried to adapt as well as possible," Gundogan told Sky Sports.

"In general, I think it's not easy to adapt quickly to the Premier League when you come from a different country, and now with the situation going on, I think it's just even harder.

"So I think it's quite normal that they are struggling a little bit, but they both have incredible talent and I'm sure they will both be able to prove it in this league."

Chelsea, in sixth, and eighth-placed City are level on points ahead of the game at Stamford Bridge, seven points adrift of co-leaders Liverpool and Manchester United.

Frank Lampard's side have won just one of their past five league matches to quell title talk, but Gundogan is still wary of the threat of opponents who have won their past two home games against City.

"Like every year, Chelsea have a great squad with incredible players," Gundogan said.

"They are a great team and they have a really ambitious manager so I feel like they will really challenge us - not just this weekend but also generally in the league.

"They got some really talented, young recruits in the summer, spent a lot of money and got some really good players, so I think they will do well.

"They've done well; of course, they are also a team that struggles like everyone does, but they have a lot of quality and it's going to be a great game."

Jadon Sancho was once top of Manchester United 's wish list but now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to move for the Borussia Dortmund star's teammate  Erling Haaland .

Solskjaer had solidified his position at United heading into the January window following a 10-match unbeaten run and the Norwegian manager is determined to recruit his countryman.

After tracking ex-Manchester City youth product Sancho before the season, United are ready to switch their attention to Haaland, with reports suggesting he has a £70million release clause.


TOP STORY – UNITED TO SWITCH ATTENTION TO HAALAND AND CASH IN ON POGBA

The Mirror report Solskjaer is so keen on Haaland, he flew to Salzburg and attempted to hijak the goalscoring sensation’s move to Dortmund last January.

Real Madrid are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with David Alaba, while Manchester United are expecting the asking price for Jadon Sancho to drop.

Alaba, 28, is set to leave Bayern Munich with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

The defender is free to speak to other clubs, and Madrid are making their move.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CLOSE TO ALABA SIGNING

Real Madrid are close to landing Bayern Munich defender Alaba on a four-year deal, according to Marca.

Alaba is likely to have offers from multiple clubs after establishing himself as one of Europe's leading defenders.

The Austria international has won nine Bundesliga titles and two Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Bayern.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Jadon Sancho yet to hit top form for Borussia Dortmund this season, Manchester United may be able to land the attacker later this year. 90min reports United believe they can land Sancho for less than £100million (€112.7m) after not meeting Dortmund's valuation of £107m (€120m) in the close season.

- Lionel Messi's future remains a major talking point. Sport reports the Barcelona star – who is out of contract at the end of the campaign – will wait until the end of the season to decide between the LaLiga giants, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and MLS.

- Real Madrid are apparently eyeing a replacement for Marcelo. AS reports the LaLiga giants are tracking Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes, who is also linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Juventus and PSG.

- Liverpool are also linked with centre-backs after long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while potential exits have been mentioned. However, the Liverpool Echo reports the Premier League giants are not expecting any senior departures in January, which would mean Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi remain despite speculation over their futures.

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