Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang revelled in his stunning return to Arsenal's starting line-up after his hat-trick propelled the Gunners to a 4-2 win over Leeds United.

Aubameyang put Arsenal 2-0 up by the 41st minute of Sunday's clash, opening the scoring early on before doubling his tally with a penalty.

The spot-kick marked his 200th goal across Europe's top five leagues, with the 31-year-old then completing his first Premier League hat-trick two minutes after the restart.

That goal, which came after Hector Bellerin had rounded off a neat team move, put Arsenal 4-0 up, though Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa made life uncomfortable in the second half.

Aubameyang had not started a league match since January 18, with the Gabon striker having been handed a leave of absence to help care for his ill mother.

He was quick to hail the support he received from Arsenal, both internally and from the fanbase.

"Happy, really happy, and my kids are going to be happy because they're going to get it [the match ball]," Aubameyang told Sky Sports.

"Really happy with the performance from the team today, we knew that it was going to be a hard game, they never gave up, they fought a lot, in the end I think we had good game management.

"Maybe a bit nervy [at 4-2] but we managed it well in the end, we won the game. It was important to show that this is our home, this is where we have to win games.

"It means a lot to me. I'm a guy who always works hard, tries to give the best, for first my family and then the team as well. It's been a tough time for me but now it's time to get the smile back, score goals and win games.

"From everybody around the club, everyone was giving a lot of love to me, my mum and my family – I'm really proud to be part of this family, I have to say thank you to everyone at the club and the fans as well because I received a lot of messages.

"Today's win and the goals are for them."

Mikel Arteta was delighted with the all-round discipline and intensity shown by his side – factors he believes are the only way to match up to Marcelo Bielsa's free-flowing team, who have now conceded 42 goals but also scored 40 in the league.

"Very pleased with the result, very happy with the performance, especially in the first half against a fantastic team that make life so difficult for you and really put high demands into every action, with or without the ball," Arteta told Sky Sports.

"We read the situations really well and created big problems for them. I said to the players at half-time that Leeds will never give up, they throw everything at you and that's what they've done. We scored the fourth goal, could have scored more but they made it hard.

"Every action, you have to be full gas. If you don't take the game like that you are in big trouble. You have to be very precise to find the next pass, the next movement.

"It was great, the amount of chances we created and the types of goals we scored, I am really pleased with that."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed Leeds United little love on Valentine's Day as his first Premier League hat-trick led Arsenal to a 4-2 triumph.

Making his first league start since January 18, Aubameyang put Arsenal 2-0 up by the 41st minute on Sunday and then rounded off his hat-trick early in the second half.

Aubameyang's second goal marked his 200th across 369 appearances in Europe's "top five" leagues, with Hector Bellerin making it 3-0 four minutes later.

Arsenal went some way to undoing their hard work as goals from Pascal Struijk and Helder Costa gave Leeds hope, but Mikel Arteta's side ultimately held firm.

Patrick Bamford had the game's first meaningful attempt when he headed straight at Bernd Leno, but where the Leeds forward failed, Aubameyang showed no such profligacy.

Having been given space and time to square up Luke Ayling, Aubameyang dispatched a drilled finish into the bottom-left corner, though Illan Meslier could have done better.

Arsenal looked set to have the chance to double their lead when Liam Cooper bundled into Bukayo Saka in the box, only for referee Stuart Attwell to overturn his decision to award a penalty after checking the pitchside monitor.

Yet Leeds did not capitalise on their luck, Meslier getting himself into a tangle when he dallied on the ball and felled Saka, with Aubameyang slamming home from 12 yards.

It soon got worse for the visitors – Saka toying with their defence before Dani Ceballos slotted through for Bellerin to arrow in at Meslier's near post.

The contest appeared over two minutes after the restart when Aubameyang turned in Emile Smith Rowe's cross-shot to complete his hat-trick.

Struijk's fine header ruined Arsenal's clean sheet and when Costa thumped in Leeds had hope of an unlikely comeback.

Bamford had a penalty appeal turned down as Leeds rallied further but Marcelo Bielsa's team could not forge a memorable turnaround, with Aubameyang denied a fourth by the crossbar.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's double in Arsenal's first-half dismantling of Leeds United on Sunday took the Gunners forward onto 200 goals in Europe's "top five" leagues, before the star striker then rounded off a first Premier League hat-trick.

Aubameyang, making his first league start since January 18 following a leave of absence to care for his ill mother, marked his return to Arsenal's line-up in style at Emirates Stadium.

The 31-year-old opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a low shot which had the power to beat Illan Meslier, whose clumsy challenge on Bukayo Saka then gifted Aubameyang the chance to make it 2-0 from the spot.

Having sent Meslier the wrong way, Aubameyang brought up his 200th goal in Europe's 'top five' leagues, in what was his 369th appearance – he is the ninth player to reach the landmark in those divisions.

It was his 61st Arsenal goal, which is 37 shy of the total he managed during his time with Borussia Dortmund (98).

Aubameyang's first goal in Ligue 1 came for Lille in December 2009, before he then went on to have spells at Monaco, Saint-Etienne in France prior to leaving for Dortmund in 2013 and eventually joining the Gunners three years ago.

It was also the first time Aubameyang has scored in consecutive starts in the Premier League within a single season since last February, when he did so against Newcastle United and Everton, and the first time he has scored at least twice in successive starts in the English top flight.

Hector Bellerin's well-crafted goal made it 3-0 to Arsenal on the stroke of half-time – the Gunners scoring three first-half goals in a Premier League game for only the second time under Mikel Arteta, having previously done so in July 2020 against Watford.

Aubameyang headed in from Emile Smith Rowe's cross-shot just after the break to complete his maiden Premier League hat-trick.

AUBAMEYANG'S 'TOP FIVE' LEAGUE GOALS – A BREAKDOWN

Lille (2009-10) – 14 appearances, two goals.

Monaco (2010-11) – 19 appearances, two goals.

Saint-Etienne (2010-13) – 87 appearances, 37 goals.

Borussia Dortmund (2013-18) – 144 appearances, 98 goals.

Arsenal (2018-21) – 105 appearances, 62 goals.

Harry Maguire and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were left confused as to why West Brom's opener in Manchester United's 1-1 draw on Sunday was allowed to stand after an apparent foul.

United dropped points for the fourth time in five Premier League games, as the Red Devils were unable to make the most of their dominance at The Hawthorns.

Bruno Fernandes got United's goal on the stroke of half-time, taking him to 38 goal involvements for the club in as many league games, a record bettered by only Andy Cole (46) in his first 38 Premier League games.

But United failed to build on that as they struggled to break West Brom's packed defence down, meaning Mbaye Diagne's early goal consigned them to another disappointing result.

But there was more than a hint of controversy around Diagne's goal, which stood despite the striker clearly catching Victor Lindelof in the face with his hand.

The situation left Maguire and Solskjaer baffled.

Maguire, who had a goal of a similar nature disallowed against Burnley, told Sky Sports: "We created a lot of chances - enough to win the game.

"It was tough for ourselves with the goal we conceded - for us it was a foul. We played the game in their half. We can do more and improve but it's disappointing. It was a tough job against a team that defends deep."

Speaking to beIN SPORTS, Solskjaer added: "I'm an ex-forward, so it's not as if I'm going to say it's a big foul against Victor, but why did Harry's goal against Burnley – and I know I'm going back a bit here – [get disallowed] … Where's the consistency here? There's absolutely no consistency in any of these decisions.

"If Harry's against Burnley is a foul, that is miles worse. As a striker you say well done, because if that had been taken away from me I would have been disappointed, so it's just the consistency we're looking for."

The draw put United second again but meant they were seven points adrift of leaders Manchester City, who also have a game in hand.

Martin Odegaard was named in Arsenal's starting line-up for the first time in their Premier League meeting with Leeds United on Sunday, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to the first XI.

After joining on loan from Real Madrid for the rest of the season in January, Odegaard made his first two appearances as a substitute.

The 22-year-old playmaker was handed his first start in place of Nicolas Pepe as one of five changes from Mikel Arteta compared to the team that started in a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa last weekend.

Having only been used off the bench at Villa Park after returning from a leave of absence last month, Aubameyang was picked to lead the line ahead of Alexandre Lacazette.

David Luiz and Bernd Leno returned from suspension and were brought in for Rob Holding and Mat Ryan respectively, while Dani Ceballos joined Granit Xhaka in midfield with Thomas Partey out injured.

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last eight games against Leeds, a run that dates back to a 3-2 Premier League loss in May 2003.

Since a goalless draw with the Gunners in November, none of Leeds' 13 top-flight away games have ended in a draw.

The Whites have won seven of those fixtures and were looking to record three straight Premier League wins on their travels for the first time since August 2002.

However, Marcelo Bielsa was without influential midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who is injured.

Manchester United dropped points in the Premier League for the fourth time in five matches as they were held to a 1-1 draw at rock-bottom West Brom, further denting their disappearing hopes of challenging Manchester City at the summit.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men extended their unbeaten run away from home to 19 matches, though it will be seen as another missed opportunity as United are left seven points adrift of City, who still have a game in hand.

United, as they have become accustomed to, fell behind thanks to Mbaye Diagne's controversial early opener, but the visitors equalised through Fernandes on the stroke of half-time, making this the first season since 2012-13 that they have netted 50 times after 20 league matches.

They continued to dominate proceedings in the second half but saw a penalty decision wiped out and former United prospect Sam Johnstone stunningly tipped a Harry Maguire header onto the post deep into stoppage time.

 

 

 

Dayot Upamecano will be a Bayern Munich player in 2021-22, meaning Liverpool and Chelsea must go back to the drawing board.

The Premier League rivals had each been linked with a move for the RB Leipzig centre-back as they look to add to their options at heart of defence.

Now they each must look to different targets come the end of the season, with injuries and poor play at the back having derailed the Reds' hopes of winning a second successive league title.

But which centre-backs could be part of Liverpool and Chelsea's plans to pose a more serious challenge to Manchester City next season?

Here we look at four players who could be playing their football at Liverpool or Stamford Bridge next season.

Bremer

The Torino defender is reported to be Liverpool's top close-season target after an impressive season in Serie A.

His 75 clearances are the second-most in the Italian top flight among defenders, while Bremer has also excelled at making recoveries.

Indeed, he has tallied 114, putting him 11th among defenders to have played at least 10 league games. Only four defenders have won more aerial duels than Bremer's 47.

David Alaba

Chelsea have been linked with the man Upamecano is seemingly set to replace, though Alaba’s wage structure may reportedly be a sticking point for the Blues.

Alaba's versatility to play across the back four and in midfield would certainly appeal to Chelsea and former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

The Austria international has consistently demonstrated his prowess in attack as well as at the back.

He has created at least 17 chances in every season since 2010-11 and has crafted 10 in 19 league appearances this season.

Ibrahima Konate

Could Leipzig be raided again? Both Chelsea and Liverpool have been linked with Konate, the France Under-21 international signed from Sochaux in 2017.

Injuries have been a problem for Konate, who has played only 15 league games since the start of last season.

However, when he has played extensively, he has shown his quality. 

Konate featured 28 times in the Bundesliga in 2018-19 and was sixth in the league with 100 aerial duels won, contributing to 12 clean sheets, a tally only bettered by two players – his Leipzig team-mates Marcel Halstenberg (15) and Willi Orban (13).

Jules Kounde

Liverpool are thought to be keen on Kounde, but they will likely face competition from across Europe for the Sevilla defender's services.

Kounde has emerged as one of the finest young defenders in European football is again excelling this season.

With 106 recoveries in 2020-21, Kounde – who has also previously been linked with Barcelona and Manchester City – has proven a reliable presence in the heart of defence, while he can also start attacks.

His 136 successful passes into the final third are more than Barca's Clement Lenglet (132) and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos (128).

Ramos (84.77) and Lenglet (80.49) have a higher accuracy percentage on those passes than Kounde's 76.84, but at just 22 he has the time and the talent to develop into one of the world's top centre-backs.

Roses are red, violets are blue, have we got the perfect Valentine's Day content for you!

Questionable rhymes aside (okay, very questionable), love is in the air as long-standing couples and newly formed relationships celebrate the day of romance on Sunday.

The world of football is certainly no stranger to the language of love, so before you crack open a bottle of red and exchange cheap knock-off gifts with your significant other why not get some inspiration for love with our Valentine's Day facts with some help from Cupid!

(Well not Cupid, Opta – but the team at Opta are full of love!)

MATT LE KISS-IER LOVES TO SCORE ON VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine's Day is of course a day for love (and overpaying for those last-minute flowers and cards you forgot to buy…).

Two players have been particularly good at spreading the joy on February 14th with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier and ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen each scoring three times in the Premier League on this date – the most of all players.

Here's something even more interesting about that stat, though – each man's tally is a result of scoring a Valentine's Day hat-trick.

Le Tissier registered three against the Reds back in 1994, while Owen took home the match ball with a treble versus Sheffield Wednesday four years later.

Owen's three goals are part of 12 Liverpool have tallied on the day of love – comfortably the most by a team. Arsenal follow on seven, with Aston Villa and Southampton on four.

A ROSE FOR THE LADY?

Flowers are synonymous with Valentine's Day but none more so than the rose.

Two players named Rose have plied their trade in the Premier League – Danny (194 appearances) and Matthew (five appearances). The former, of course, is an England international who with his marauding runs from full-back has often been a, ahem, thorn in the side of opponents…

There are other love-themed names to have featured in the top flight. Valentino Lazaro played 13 times in the Premier League for Newcastle United on loan last term, while Valentin Roberge made 10 appearances for north east rivals Sunderland.

The Black Cats also had Donald Love on their books, the defender having previously represented Manchester United once in the top flight.

FOXES RACK UP THE CARDS

Whether from a partner or a secret admirer, it's always nice to receive a card or two on Valentine's Day.

Unless of course you're playing in the Premier League, in which case you want to see the referee keep their cards in their pockets.

In this regard, Leicester City have not been overly successful – the seven yellow cards representing the most received by a team on Valentine's Day. Arsenal follow closely behind with six, with Manchester City on four.

The Foxes also fare badly when it comes to red cards, having picked up two on February 14th – Danny Simpson and Hamza Choudhury account for those dismissals. The only other player to have been sent off on Valentine's Day is Everton hero Duncan Ferguson ... no, we weren't shocked either.

THE BEST BROMANCES

It goes without saying that we don't need to confine our love sharing to one manufactured day of the year…

No, we should be spreading the joy in our hearts all year round and these strike partnerships certainly succeed in that category.

Going back to the start of the 2015-16 season, no two players have combined for more goals than Spurs duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min (33).

In fact, Kane features three times in the top-five – also ranking third with Christian Eriksen (19), and sharing 18 with Dele Alli.

Manchester City pairing Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are second with 20, while Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez (18), who fired Leicester to shock title glory in 2015-16, also feature.

If reports are to be believed, Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona at the end of the season.

However, his next destination remains a mystery.

The United States, though, could be next on the list for the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – MIAMI MOVE ON THE CARDS FOR MESSI?

Lionel Messi could be keen on joining David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS, claims Sport.

Messi, whose contract is set to expire, is tipped to leave Barcelona at the end of the season amid strong links to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League giants Manchester City.

But the six-time Ballon d'Or winner could be lured to the United States, where Beckham co-owns Inter Miami.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to The Sun, Manchester United are battling Barca and Real Madrid to sign Sevilla centre-back Jules Kounde. United are reportedly determined to bolster their defence and Kounde has emerged as a key target.

Liverpool have made Torino defender Bremer their top transfer target at the end of the season, reports the Mirror. Despite the January arrivals of Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies, Liverpool still want to strengthen their defence.

- Spanish journalist Siro Lopez says Sergio Ramos has made his decision to leave Madrid. It comes as the likes of United, PSG, Juventus and Chelsea eye the superstar Madrid captain on a free transfer.

Madrid are interested in Real Betis midfielder Nabil Fekir, reports Estadio Deportivo. Inter, Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Napoli are also believed to be eyeing the Frenchman.

Lionel Messi would be perfectly suited to Manchester City amid ongoing doubts over his future at Barcelona, according to Pablo Zabaleta.

Barca superstar Messi is out of contract at season's end and the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been heavily linked with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League giants City.

A move to City for Messi would mean a reunion with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola – the pair teaming up to win two Champions League titles and three LaLiga crowns among other honours between 2008 and 2012.

Ex-City and Argentina full-back Zabaleta backed countryman Messi to swap Barcelona for Manchester.

"If Lionel Messi ­decides to leave Barcelona and he wants to play in the best league then he has to experience the Premier League for himself," Zabaleta told The Mirror.

"It is something that will ­interest him – because every player I know always asks me what the Premier League is like.

"Leo has been in La Liga for so many years and I think it would be a huge ­attraction for him to experience English football. And Manchester City offer the ­perfect conditions.

"He knows Pep very well, he knows [sporting director] Txiki Begiristain and [chief executive] Ferran Soriano – and also Kun Aguero.

"It would be a big ­decision if Leo leaves ­Barcelona. But if that's what he wants then it would be a good thing for him to go to a club that has people already there who can help him to settle

"When you have been at one club for so long, moving ­somewhere new can be very strange.

"I am sure clubs like ­Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus would also be ­interested in signing him, but it is my opinion that City would be the best place to go after Barcelona."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool can still retain their Premier League crown, despite Jurgen Klopp surrendering the title.

City are seven points clear atop the table, and 13 ahead of Liverpool, with a game in hand following Saturday's 3-0 win over Tottenham.

Liverpool manager Klopp admitted the titleholders cannot hope to go back-to-back this season after suffering a 3-1 defeat at Leicester City.

But Guardiola told reporters: "From what I saw, the way they played today against Leicester, of course we have to lose games but of course they can do it.

"It is the same Liverpool that I met in the last years but in the boxes they are not as clinical as they were before. The quality they played, to do what they've done against Leicester, that they've not been able to get past halfway.

"Football is boxes and sometimes you have that period where you have to create more to score and every time they arrive they score. Football is a mood, feeling, not tactics sometimes. Sometimes it leaves us.

"The quality of the team is still there. I don't think they drop the quality of press or play, they always create more than the opponent. I don't like to suffer against them but as a spectator, I always enjoy watching Liverpool."

City remain unbeaten in their last 23 matches in all competitions (W20 D3), conceding just six goals during this period – the Manchester giants have extended their record winning run for a top-flight side across all competitions to 16 matches.

Guardiola's City have not trailed for a single minute in any of their last 15 Premier League games, since a 2-0 loss to Tottenham in November.

In the league's history, only Arsenal have embarked on a longer run of successive games without going behind (a streak of 19 matches between December 1998 – May 1999).

City, meanwhile, are the first side to keep 14 clean sheets from their opening 23 Premier League games in a season since neighbours Manchester United (17) and Chelsea (14) in 2008-09.

Liverpool lost a third successive top-flight game under Jurgen Klopp for the first time and Manchester City extended their record winning run in Saturday's Premier League action.

The Reds conceded three goals in a seven-minute spell as they went down 3-1 to Leicester City - managed by their former boss Brendan Rodgers - at the King Power Stadium.

Klopp's men are now 13 points adrift of City, who brushed aside Tottenham 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium later in the day for their 16th win in a row in all competitions.

Burnley also scored three unanswered goals at Crystal Palace to move further clear of the relegation zone, while Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa played out a 0-0 draw.

Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool: No Vardy party for Klopp after latest setback

Liverpool's trip to Leicester marked Klopp's 300th game in charge of the club, though the German had little to celebrate come full-time after his side capitulated late on.

Klopp became the ninth manager to reach that landmark figure for the Reds and the day initially got off to a good start for his side.

Mohamed Salah gave the visitors the lead with his 10th away league goal of the season - the first player in the division to reach that mark - but then came a Leicester onslaught.

James Maddison made it eight goal involvements in his last nine league outings, before Jamie Vardy put Rodgers' side ahead.

It was the former England international's eighth Premier League goal against Liverpool - only against Arsenal (11 goals) has he found the net more times.

Harvey Barnes then rounded off the scoring with his eighth Premier League goal of the season, making him the highest-scoring English midfielder in the division this term.

The last time Liverpool lost three league games in a row was in November 2014 under Rodgers, who is the first ex-Reds manager to beat his former side since Roy Hodgson did so with West Brom in April 2012.

Manchester City 3-0 Tottenham: Goal-crazy Gundogan shines again for Guardiola's juggernaut

After setting a record for the number of successive wins for an English top-flight club in all competitions with their midweek FA Cup win at Swansea City, the Citizens picked up from where they left off in a straightforward victory against Tottenham.

City have now won 16 games in a row and are unbeaten in 23 in all competitions since losing 2-0 to Spurs in November's reverse fixture, conceding just six goals during that record-breaking run.

Incredibly, Pep Guardiola's men have not trailed for a single minute in any of their 15 league games since that loss at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - only Arsenal, 19 games between December 1998 and May 1999, have embarked on a longer run.

Ilkay Gundogan has been City's star performer across their perfect streak, with his brace here taking him to nine Premier League goals in 2021 - the most of any player across Europe's top five major leagues since the turn of the year.

Rodrigo had earlier given the home side the lead from the penalty spot after getting the nod over goalkeeper Ederson, who may not have got on the scoresheet but did at least register an assist - the third goal he has set up for City in all competitions.

On the back of their 5-4 extra-time loss to Everton in the FA Cup last 16, Spurs have now shipped eight goals in their last two games - the most a Jose Mourinho-managed side has conceded in a two-game period in all competitions.

Crystal Palace 0-3 Burnley: Zaha-less Eagles fail to fly

The result at Selhurst Park had a sense of inevitability about it before a ball was even kicked due to Wilfried Zaha being ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Palace have now lost 18 of their last 20 Premier League games in which star man Zaha has been absent, failing to score in 16 of those 18 defeats.

What was surprising, though, is the fact Burnley netted three times, matching their tally from their previous 10 away league matches combined.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson opened the scoring after five minutes - the first time he has netted in back-to-back Premier League appearances in what was his 108th game in the competition.

Jay Rodriguez's fifth league goal against Palace - only against Nottingham Forest (six) has he bagged more - had Burnley two up and Matt Lowton rounded off the scoring.

It was the right-back's first top-flight strike since April 2013, a run spanning some seven years and 313 days.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Aston Villa: Martinez repels Seagulls in stalemate

Brighton were held to a goalless draw by Villa but it was not for the want of trying as they attempted 26 shots, which is the most they have ever managed in a Premier League game.

Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez had another inspired game with nine saves in total on his way to keeping a seventh away clean sheet in the Premier League this season - only Brad Friedel in 2009-10 (eight) has kept more in a single campaign for the club.

Brighton continued to push for a goal right until the end and were helped in their pursuit of an opener by substitute Adam Lallana, whose four chances created was the highest of any player on the pitch, despite only playing 28 minutes.

A point for Brighton does at least extend their unbeaten run to six top-flight matches, something they last achieved in November 1981 with a run of eight.

This is perhaps a fixture the neutrals should steer clear of in future, given that the last seven league games in which Brighton have hosted Villa have seen just eight goals scored, with neither team netting more than once in a match.

Pep Guardiola still harbours concerns over the quality of Manchester City's penalty takers after Rodri scored from the spot against Tottenham.

Rodri opened the scoring in the 23rd minute on Saturday, though his finish only just escaped the grasp of Hugo Lloris, who should have done better.

Ilkay Gundogan – who missed a penalty in the 4-1 win over Liverpool last week – won the spot-kick and then scored twice to take his tally of league goals in 2021 to nine and seal a 3-0 win.

Though City are now seven points clear at the top, and 13 ahead of reigning champions Liverpool, who went down 3-1 at Leicester City earlier on Saturday, Guardiola was not best pleased when asked about Rodri taking the spot-kick.

The former Atletico Madrid midfielder had never scored a penalty in his senior career, and Guardiola told BBC Sport: "The penalty is clear and then the first time we attack in the second half we score, that can happen.

"Is Rodri the taker now? No. I would say I admire the courage to take the penalty but it was not a good penalty.

"I am not laughing, I am concerned about this. We will have a real specialist to take them with quality. We have to practice."

Ederson provided a sensational assist for Gundogan's second goal – the third time the goalkeeper has set up a goal during his time at City – and Guardiola seems to be seriously considering the Brazil international as a potential penalty taker.

Guardiola added: "When I talk about Ederson and penalties, you see his assist, 60-70 yards, well then he will score from 12 yards!"

However, Guardiola's decision may come as news to Rodri, who also revealed he ignored the advice of Ederson, who appeared to pass on some information via Bernard Silva in the build-up to the spot-kick.

"I was a bit angry in the last weeks because we missed many penalties, much more than we expect, and in big games you have to score penalties because the margins are so small," Rodri told Sky Sports.

"I told my team-mates that for the next penalty I would shoot. I got the ball, nobody took the ball off me. Fortunately, I scored.

"Goalkeepers know each other, [Ederson] told Bernardo some tips about Lloris, where I should shoot the penalty – I didn't listen! Sometimes it's better to focus on what you're confident doing.

"We were laughing in the locker room, next penalty for sure I am going to take."

Despite City's penalty problems, Guardiola's team are ploughing on in their bid to recover the title they lost last season.

City remain unbeaten in their past 23 matches in all competitions (W20 D3), conceding just six goals during this period, and have won 11 Premier League games in a row.

They have not trailed for a single minute in any of their past 15 Premier League matches since a 2-0 loss to Spurs in the reverse fixture in November; in the competition's history, only Arsenal have embarked on a longer run of successive games without going behind (a run of 19 matches between December 1998 and May 1999).

One other issue for Guardiola, however, could be Gundogan's fitness.

The Germany international has scored more goals since the turn of the year than any other player in Europe's 'top five' leagues but succumbed to a groin problem midway through the second half.

Guardiola confirmed the 30-year-old will undergo further checks in the coming days.

Jose Mourinho was not surprised to see his "very tired team" lose at Manchester City, although he felt Tottenham were in the match before conceding a "modern penalty".

Spurs have won once in six matches in all competitions after suffering a 3-0 defeat at City in the Premier League just three days on from an extra-time FA Cup exit against Everton.

Tottenham have conceded eight goals this week, having shipped five at Goodison Park, the worst two-game total of Mourinho's coaching career.

Despite having just seven shots to City's 15 and only three on target - all of them in the second half - the Spurs head coach was pleased with his side's effort and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the 23rd-minute opening goal.

Tottenham had had the best effort to that point, as Harry Kane's free-kick hit the crossbar, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fouled Ilkay Gundogan for a penalty that Rodri dispatched.

The result never appeared in doubt thereafter and Gundogan added a brace, swelling his 2021 total to nine - the most of any player in Europe's 'top five' leagues.

"It's a fresh team against a very tired team, but a team that started the game very, very well, with the game completely controlled," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"We hit the post - 1-0, that could give us that fuel that you need when you are especially tired like the boys were.

"And then one more of these 'modern penalties' - I call them 'modern penalties' - to put us in a difficult situation.

"I'm very, very happy with the players' attitude. I had guys on the pitch that played two hours a couple of days ago; they gave everything.

"Of course, we have guys in difficulty. Lucas [Moura] was the one that I took off at half-time, but I had other guys on the pitch in such a difficult situation.

"But brave attitude, great dignity. Of course, losing 3-0, a team that is not united, a team that is not together would give up and would probably be punished in a way that the team didn't deserve at all.

"But I saw guys like Harry, like Pierre, Ben [Davies], just to tell three names - I could give you five, six or seven - giving everything.

"I have nothing to say against my players, not even a couple of defensive mistakes that are always present. I cannot complain of the attitude of the boys."

Asked to expand on his suggestion of "modern penalties", Mourinho replied: "A 'modern penalty' is the penalty where even if you touch with the nail inside the box, it can be a penalty.

"Of course, it depends on the opponent, it depends on the team. But for some, you touch with the nail, it's a penalty.

"Then you go to the VAR and the VAR cannot deny that there was a touch, sometimes with a toe, sometimes with a nail, sometimes with a nose.

"You cannot deny that there was contact. That's what I call 'modern penalties'."

Only Leicester City (10) have won more spot-kicks than City's seven this season (level with Manchester United and Chelsea), although the league leaders have only converted four of them.

Rodri was tasked with this latest penalty after misses for Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and the injured Kevin De Bruyne this term.

De Bruyne (twice) and Gundogan have also found the net from 12 yards in the Premier League in 2020-21, although it has been a long-term issue for City.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, beaten on this occasion, has saved three City penalties since moving to England in 2012, his most against any one club in this time.

If a week is a long time in football, what of 12 weeks?

When Manchester City visited Tottenham on November 21 and lost 2-0, they fell to 11th in the Premier League, already eight points behind their opponents after eight matches.

Victory took Spurs to the summit, as they ended the day there for the first time in six years.

Jose Mourinho was the coach downplaying title talk. "We are just fighting to win every match," he said. "But we are going to lose matches, we are going to draw matches."

He was not wrong.

Their latest loss, at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, meant Tottenham have just one win in six in all competitions and now harbour only outside ambitions of the top four, let alone top spot.

There were certainly similarities – in the first half, at least – between November's 2-0 Spurs triumph and Saturday's 3-0 City success, similarities that may reasonably irritate both coaches.

Mourinho could rue Harry Kane's early free-kick, which bounced away off the post when it might have instead teed up another evening of frustration for City.

Pep Guardiola oversaw dominant displays on each occasion – 60.9 per cent of possession and 15 attempts this time – but can still point to three points inexplicably dropped in the reverse fixture, even if they appear highly unlikely to cost his side.

For City are now the side in the ascendancy, seven points clear of Leicester City with a game in hand to play and finally enjoying the rub of the green against Tottenham.

In six prior meetings between the sides going back to 2019, City had three times been exasperated by damaging VAR decisions and twice missed penalties, winning on two occasions but exiting the Champions League with one of those victories on an epic night at the Etihad.

Tottenham took their turn to appeal in vain after 21 minutes when the ball evaded Ilkay Gundogan in the area but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's clumsy challenge did not, allowing Rodri to step up for a spot-kick that crept beyond Hugo Lloris.

The goalkeeper has saved three City penalties in a Spurs shirt and should have done better with this one, just as he should Gundogan's tame second-half toe-poke, bringing a miserable end to a week the World Cup winner – also at fault at Everton in the FA Cup – would surely rather forget.

At the other end of the scale from the lacklustre Lloris, Rodri and Joao Cancelo, rampant again, have transformed their City careers since struggling away at Tottenham, while two-goal Gundogan is Europe's form player; no-one in the 'top five' leagues can match his nine strikes in 2021.

Indeed, an apparent groin injury shortly after Gundogan netted his second should concern City, but this latest great Guardiola team do not appear to miss their stars.

Ruben Dias, whose only defeat in English football came in the game at Spurs, was kept on the bench by a fever. Record goalscorer Sergio Aguero returned to the matchday squad for the first time in over a month. Kevin De Bruyne, the best of the lot, remains out.

On this evidence, the next man up will see City safe in their pursuit of another title and then perhaps an unprecedented quadruple.

This is a season defined by injuries and absences, where Liverpool are lost without Virgil van Dijk and "the Harry Kane team" returned no goals and no points from the two matches which their talisman sat out.

Without PFA Players' Player of the Year De Bruyne in the XI this term, City have taken 19 points from a possible 21, scoring 2.4 goals per game (up from 1.8) and conceding 0.3 (down from 0.8). They have collectively improved to fill the void, extending their record-breaking winning run to 16 matches.

Under pressure in November, Guardiola now has a breadth of options, a brilliant side and is even beating Tottenham. It is his league to lose.

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