James Milner is "devastated" by Joe Gomez's latest injury lay-off but is confident his Liverpool team-mate will return even stronger.

Gomez sustained a knee injury during a training session with England last week and will miss "a significant part" of 2020-21 after undergoing surgery.

The 23-year-old recovered from a long-term anterior cruciate ligament injury during his first season at Anfield and also bounced back from a broken leg in 2018.

Fellow centre-back Virgil van Dijk is out for the rest of the season, meanwhile, and makeshift defender Fabinho has also recently had a spell on the sidelines.

From the 52 matches Gomez and Van Dijk have played in together, Liverpool's win percentage is 76.9, compared to 74.5 from the 47 in which one or both has not been present.

Despite Gomez's untimely setback, Milner believes the former Charlton Athletic man has the right mindset to fully recover and pick up from where he left off once he returns.

"We've spoken about Virg a lot, Joe is exactly the same. I'm devastated for him," he told Premier League Productions.

"He's an amazing guy, first and foremost and most importantly, and you don’t want to see it happen to anyone but [especially not] someone like him. 

"As a player, how good he is as well. People forget how young he is and what he's done at this club already and how much he has improved and continues to improve.

"He's still really young. He's been through this once before with a bad injury and came through it stronger, so if anybody has got the mental fortitude to deal with this, it's him. 

"He has been through it before and he came back stronger, and I'm sure that will be the case again.

"Obviously we're gutted for him and how well he's been playing as well. Not only for him as a player and a person, but also for us as a team it's obviously a big miss.

"But, like I say, he's mentally very strong and he'll get through it and come back stronger. We're obviously all here with him and supporting him as much as we can."

Jurgen Klopp faces a selection headache at the back for Liverpool's Premier League clash against high-flying Leicester City with a dearth of fit and available senior centre-backs.

Joel Matip looks certain to start Sunday's match, with Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams contenders to play alongside the 29-year-old in the heart of defence.

Phillips impressed on his league debut against West Ham last month, his nine clearances being six more than next best Gomez, while no Liverpool player managed more interceptions (2).

Fabinho is another option after returning to training this week following three weeks out and Milner is adamant his side have enough quality to cope without key players.

"We're blessed to have a lot of good players in the squad, there's always competition for places," he said. 

"The guys who have stepped into the team in recent weeks, at centre-half and any position, have done very well. Rhys and Nat as well. There's options there. 

"Fabinho has done very well when he has played. That's what you have to do as a squad – you have to make changes and adapt to new formations and new positions. 

"We're fortunate to have a lot of good players in the squad and players who can adapt to different positions and deal with that.

"We're lucky to have those options, and I'm sure the manager will work out the best way we’re going to go and go from there."

N'Golo Kante is playing like a midfield boss again for Chelsea and Frank Lampard could not be happier for the two-time Premier League winner.

The midfield dynamo, who played a big part in Leicester City's title success before repeating the feat with Chelsea, has shaken off ankle and muscle injury strife to shine this season.

He captained the side in a comfortable 2-0 win at Newcastle United on Saturday, as Chelsea at least briefly went to the top of the table.

It was a frustration to Lampard that Kante missed large part of the 2019-20 campaign, because the manager knows the World Cup winner brings proven quality and valuable experience.

Kante is playing a key role for a Chelsea side that are unbeaten in nine games across all competitions, winning five in a row.

Lampard said: "I'm really, really happy with how he’s playing.

"Last year he missed 50 per cent of the games with injuries, he had a tough time for different reasons and we are working very hard on that to get him as fit and fresh [as possible]. 

"Now we are managing his training and game time, but his levels of performances are really high."

Lampard sees Kante as not so much an organiser and a disrupter of play, which are clear strengths, but as a footballer with a broad, under-rated range of qualities.

"I keep saying every time I get asked about N'Golo that I have so much faith in him and the top midfield player that he is in world football," said the Chelsea boss. "Not just at breaking up and winning balls back, as we know that is a huge quality of his, but his passing and supporting in midfield and playing in that deeper role now."

Kante made four tackles and three interceptions against Newcastle, which were both team-highs. He played 75 passes - 70 short and five long - and had 93.8 per cent accuracy with his 48 passes inside the Newcastle half.

Such data draws perhaps less attention than the goals and assists Chelsea will also require to sustain a challenge at the top of the table, but Lampard appreciates the significance.

Another title tilt is something that the manager is reluctant to talk about, but should Kante stay fit then it might be a realistic ambition.

Lampard knows Chelsea are better off with the 29-year-old in their team, which is why he has been starting almost every game this term, and the Blues certainly hope the worst of Kante's injury troubles are over.

“I don't want to tempt fate because at the minute he is going well," Lampard said. "We have had a better period of him to get him in a place where we are really happy."

For Chelsea, it is a case of ensuring Kante does not over-stretch himself.

Nobody ran further in Chelsea's team than Kante's 11.33 kilometres at St James' Park, and the impact of his exertions is closely monitored.

"We're very aware and we keep check on his training and his numbers and how much distance he travels, because every time you train and allow him off the leash in training he makes ridiculous output because that’s the way he plays," Lampard said.

"We are very careful with that and at the minute we are in a good place and hopefully that continues."

Pep Guardiola believes he has become a better manager after spending four years in the Premier League with Manchester City.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is into his fifth campaign as City boss - his longest reign at one club - and this week signed up for another two seasons.

He has won six major trophies during his time at the Etihad Stadium, including two league titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19, the first of those with a record 100-points tally.

And Guardiola, who also won a plethora of honours at Camp Nou and the Allianz Arena, is grateful to have been given the chance to coach in England's top flight.

"English football is fascinating because there are many different cultures in one league and different ways and I've learnt a lot as a manager since being here," he told Sky Sports.

"Watching some incredible colleagues in England and the incredible players that are in this league, I feel I'm a better manager than when I landed here. So I can just say thank you for this opportunity. 

"I'm going to stay longer and enjoy that and learn from all of them. In five seasons, many things happen in good ways and not good ways - it's normal. 

"We have talked but always when we put all the situations on the table, we decided that still we can be together for a longer time.

"This is a club that in the past, didn't win much. In the recent past with Roberto [Mancini] and Manuel [Pellegrini], they won and the most recent past, we won and won again.

"In three seasons, we won eight titles [including two Community Shield triumphs], which is a lot in world football and especially in England."

Guardiola explained upon signing his new contract on Thursday that he has "unfinished business" at City, with the Champions League so far eluding him.

City have exited at the quarter-final stage in the past three seasons and only made it as far as the last 16 during Guardiola's first campaign in 2016-17.

"The unfinished business is to continue to [be successful] when, in the history of this club, it was not able to do it," he said when asked to explain his comments. 

"It is to maintain during the seasons, winning titles or being there fighting for titles. This is the target, not a specific trophy, but be able to maintain this club as high as possible in terms of football.

"It's always difficult [to win titles]. Saying that now it's more difficult looks like the years before it was not and it was the complete opposite."

City finished 18 points behind champions Liverpool last season and their return of 12 points from seven games this term is the fewest collected by a Guardiola-led side at this stage of a league campaign.

But the 49-year-old is relishing the chance to continue reshaping his squad in the hope of returning to the top.

"[Building] the teams is not a finished business," he said. "It's not something like this season, you have it and it will always be for the rest [of the seasons]. 

"People change, the opponents know you better and you have to evolve through this but that is the reason why our job is nice.

"If everything was always the same, the same training sessions, the same ideas, the same way we play, it would be boring. 

"But the moment someone creates a problem or you are dropping something and you have to lift the players, that is what is nice."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard told his team to "stay humble" after victory at Newcastle United showed they might be in this season's Premier League title mix.

For a short while at least, the 2-0 win at St James' Park took Chelsea to the top of the table, with an early own goal from Federico Fernandez followed by a Tammy Abraham strike, who was teed up by Timo Werner.

Given their dominance – Chelsea had 78.9 per cent of first-half possession and played 439 passes against a meagre 109 from Newcastle before the break – the only disappointment for Lampard was that his team did not win by a wider margin.

But considering he was without the likes of Thiago Silva, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic, it was a highly successful trip to Tyneside for Lampard.

"It's pleasing but I'm not going to get excited about being top of the table for five minutes," he said.

"It's time to stay humble when you go top and know that it's a long, long race."

Lampard's former Chelsea and England midfield colleague Joe Cole believes there is the making of a championship-winning team at the club now.

Speaking on BT Sport, Cole said: "I don't think Frank will thank me, but if you look at that, you're looking at a team of title contenders.

"You add Pulisic and Havertz into the mix and it's an embarrassment of riches. It's been built the right way: the structure that's gone in place, the style of play, the methodology.

"The biggest credit you can pay Frank is you can see his personality on the team – that work ethic, that togetherness, that relentlessness."

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games now, and in nine matches across all competitions, with their last defeat coming on penalties to Tottenham in the EFL Cup.

There were still elements about the performance at Newcastle that Lampard felt needed work, but he spoke of being impressed by the early penetration behind the home defence.

"I always felt the real danger moments for us could be on transition and counter-attacks, as Timo showed one or two times in the first half and then obviously he showed that for Tammy's goal," Lampard said.

Newcastle carried very little threat, which meant Chelsea at times appeared to ease off.

"I understand players can at times become comfortable. There's little lessons where we can get better," Lampard said.

"We played well in patches and the result is key in these games, because the Premier League is tough, it's relentless.

"I thought they dealt with the challenge of the game very well today, did the lads, so I'm very pleased."

Chelsea shrugged off the early Saturday start that Frank Lampard wants scrapped as they cruised to a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United in the Premier League.

An own goal from Federico Fernandez and a second-half finish from Tammy Abraham gave the visitors a comfortable win against opponents who barely threatened.

Victory took Chelsea to the top of the Premier League, for a few hours at least, as they returned from the international break with a lively display at St James' Park.

A stumbling Fernandez turned in a cross from Mason Mount for the opener in the 10th minute, with the largely quiet Abraham striking midway through the second half.

Karl Darlow made a sharp early save from Timo Werner's low shot and the goalkeeper excelled for a second time when he touched Abraham's powerful header over the bar after an excellent cross from the left by Hakim Ziyech.

The Newcastle goalkeeper did not get near a whipped cross from Mount moments later, though, when the ball came in from the right and Fernandez put the ball into his own net.

Newcastle, weakened by the absence of injured leading scorer Callum Wilson, had won five of their last seven Premier League home games against Chelsea.

But Werner should have doubled Chelsea's lead in the 30th minute only to slip the ball wide and half-chances continued to come the way of the visitors, who had 78.9 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes and played 439 passes against a meagre 109 from Newcastle.

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles took a blow late in the first half and was replaced by Fabian Schar for the second 45 minutes, with the replacement soon caught napping by Werner who yet again ought to have scored.

The Germany international raced in from the left and had only Darlow to beat, but he tried to give Ziyech an easier finish and made a mess of his pass.

Abraham's goal essentially ended the contest, as he rifled home off the inside of the right post from Werner's pass, with Sean Longstaff denied a stunning consolation when his strike bounced off the bar.

Werner was denied by an offside flag after rounding Darlow to net, but two was enough for Chelsea.

Jurgen Klopp challenged his Liverpool youngsters to follow the example of Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic to help alleviate the Reds' defensive woes after admitting he is unsure what "solutions" will arrive in the January transfer market.

The Premier League champions have been rocked by long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, leaving Joel Matip as the only recognised senior centre-back.

Right-back Trent-Alexander Arnold is also sidelined, while Fabinho – who has filled the void in defence in the past – has been struggling with injury in a cramped fixture schedule.

Nathaniel Phillips, 23, started in the 2-1 win over West Ham at the end of last month, while Neco Williams and Rhys Williams are other younger alternatives ahead of Sunday's match against Leicester City.

There are just six weeks to go until the transfer window opens but Klopp said those already at the club have the opportunity to stake a claim.

And he likened the situation to one at his former club Borussia Dortmund, where Hummels – now a World Cup winner who has won Bundesliga titles with BVB and Bayern Munich – and Subotic emerged as first-team regulars.

"We will see. I don't know what we can do in January, to be honest. I have no idea," Klopp said.

"We can look for solutions in the transfer market, that's clear, but in the moment that's the situation we have.

"You cannot compare situations really, and I don't want to mention it, but in 2008 at Dortmund my centre-halves were 19 and 20 that winter. We played with them for the entire time pretty much: Hummels and Subotic.

"We have talents here, they are young, 18, 19, 23, and then we have more experienced players.

"Everyone has the chance. We have midfielders - not at the moment but hopefully in a couple of weeks, midfielders who can play the more defensive role as well. That's the solution.

"About what we can do in January, I have no idea. If we can do something, I have no idea. If we want to do something, I have no idea at the moment. For the moment, we are fine.

"We'll use the boys we have, as always. I'm really happy. I'm asked constantly about injuries, so it's not easy to be happy in this press conference, but I am about the chance they have now.

"You should see them in training, they can smell the chance now. They want to step up and show that they are ready.

"We will see. I'm really confident it will work out with the boys - then hopefully we can convince the rest of the world as well."

Manchester United have confirmed they were victims of a "sophisticated" cyber attack but said they are not aware of any breach involving fans' personal data.

The Red Devils confirmed Saturday's Premier League clash against West Brom will go ahead as planned and that all defences needed for the match to take place remain intact.

United also added that the club's media channels were unaffected by the attack.

A club statement read: "Manchester United can confirm that the club has experienced a cyber attack on our systems.

"The club has taken swift action to contain the attack and is currently working with expert advisers to investigate the incident and minimise the ongoing IT disruption.

"Although this is a sophisticated operation by organised cyber criminals, the club has extensive protocols and procedures in place for such an event and had rehearsed for this risk.

"Our cyber defences identified the attack and shut down affected systems to contain the damage and protect data.

"Club media channels, including our website and app, are unaffected and we are not currently aware of any breach of personal data associated with our fans and customers.

"All critical systems required for matches to take place at Old Trafford remain secure and operational and [Saturday's] game against West Bromwich Albion will go ahead."

What does the future hold for Manchester United star Paul Pogba?

Out of form and out of favour, Pogba has found himself out of the starting line-up this season and the Frenchman is not happy.

Could Pogba be prepared to wait for his perfect move away?

 

TOP STORY – POGBA EYEING EXIT

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could leave Old Trafford on a free transfer, according to The Athletic.

Pogba left United for Juventus on a free transfer in 2012 before returning to Manchester for a then-world record €105million (£89.3m) in 2016.

But the France international is unhappy at the Theatre of Dreams, where he is contracted until 2022, amid links with former club Juve and LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport says Juve have turned their attention from Pogba to his countryman and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga. The 18-year-old has been tipped to join Madrid, while Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

- Bayern Munich centre-back Niklas Sule is dreaming of a move to United, claims Bild. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are believed to be pursuing a defensive partner for Harry Maguire, with Madrid's Raphael Varane and RB Leipzig star Dayot Upamecano reported targets.

Isco is ready to leave Madrid in January, reports Marca. The attacking midfielder has been linked with Everton, following previous links to Juve and Manchester City.

- Liverpool Echo claims Liverpool have been quoted £26.7million (€29.8m) to sign Ajax defender Perr Schuurs. The 20-year-old is also reportedly wanted by Milan.

Arsenal are working on a structured payment plan to sign Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai, says the Mirror.

Juve are targeting Sporting CP defender Nuno Mendes, A Bola reports. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Milan, Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves.

Inter and Antonio Conte have reached an agreement over a new contract but Corriere dello Sport says there will be no contract extensions during the season. Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez is the most problematic case for the Nerazzurri.

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane insisted star defender Raphael Varane is non-transferable amid links with Manchester United.

United have been long-term admirers of Varane and the Premier League giants are reportedly preparing an offer for the 27-year-old France international.

But Zidane dismissed speculation over Varane's future at the Santiago Bernabeu, where the Frenchman has won three LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies among other honours since arriving in 2011.

"It's not just me [who wants to keep him]," Zidane told reporters ahead of Saturday's LaLiga clash against Villarreal. "He is part of this club, we were very lucky to be able to bring him to Madrid.

"He has a great career, he's achieved a lot since he's been here. Of course, he is untransferable for the club, for the coach that I am, for people in general.

"That's clear and unambiguous. Now we can't stop people from talking. They're not just talking about Varane, but about all the players, Real Madrid ones and others.

"But for Varane, my position is clear, and it's the same as the club's position."

Varane has made seven LaLiga appearances this term and 10 across all competitions for Spanish champions Madrid.

He has more clearances (27), headed clearances (13) and blocks (four) than superstar captain and team-mate Sergio Ramos in LaLiga this season, while Varane has an 80 per cent tackle success rate and 30 duels won in the top flight.

Madrid are fourth in the standings, four points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand following the international break.

After winning at Alfredo Di Stefano in July, Madrid could win two consecutive LaLiga games against Villarreal for the first time since September 2014.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer acknowledged Paul Pogba is unhappy but insisted the midfielder has all the "qualities" to deliver for the struggling Premier League side.

Pogba's future has made headlines again following comments made by France head coach Didier Deschamps, who suggested the star midfielder was not satisfied with his "situation" at Old Trafford after struggling to find his best form.

The Frenchman, who started all three of Les Bleus' internationals over the past fortnight, has started four of United's seven Premier League fixtures this season.

Through three Champions League matchdays, Pogba has only been named in Solskjaer's starting line-up once.

Pogba has created two chances in the Premier League and his passing accuracy stands at 79.9 per cent, while he has three chances created and two assists in the Champions League.

Asked about Pogba amid links with former club Juventus and LaLiga champions Real Madrid, Solskjaer – speaking ahead of Saturday's visit of lowly West Brom – Solskjaer told reporters: "We always get questions and we try to answer as well as we can.

"I think the press sometimes makes more of it and people maybe at home not having the whole interview make more of it. We're all experienced enough to try to avoid big massive headlines.

"I spoke to Paul today about it. Of course he's not been happy when he's not playing, and not playing really well. He's not been happy with his performances. He plays in the same position for France and he does for us, so that's not a different scenario.

"It's about getting momentum and rhythm and, as I said earlier, he felt really strong towards the end against Portugal and towards the end of the game with Sweden which is natural because he had COVID and he needed time. That's the same with all of our players, they look stronger and fitter and he's the same.

"There are always discussions about players who can play in different positions because they have the quality to do so many things and they can play in different positions.

"Paul is the same, he can do the role and he has the qualities to do many things, it's about the balance of the team, that's on the XI you pick that day, that's the key.

"Sometimes it's an eight, sometimes a 10, sometimes in off the left in a diamond, sometimes one of the two, he can do everything. And now, the fitter he gets the more he can do."

Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool changed "many things" this season due to a fear of injuries, although the plans could not prevent the defensive crisis the champions now face.

The Reds have been without almost every member of their title-winning team at one time or another early in the Premier League campaign, while some key men face long-term lay-offs.

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will not return until late in the season at the earliest and Klopp is scratching around for defensive options for Sunday's game against Leicester City.

Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is out and there were also concerns this week about the fitness of left-back Andy Robertson.

Liverpool's first-choice back four have started just three league games together this term, winning twice, having been in the same XI on 16 occasions in 2019-20, enjoying 14 victories.

Klopp had anticipated problems and cited a change to Alexander-Arnold's role as one tweak, with the England international now attempting fewer crosses from open play - 4.9 per 90 minutes, down from 6.7 last season. He has consequently created 0.9 chances per 90 from open play, down from 1.3.

But the Reds manager could do little to protect Gomez, who played 590 minutes in the league prior to his injury - comfortably more than any other centre-back - due to Van Dijk's setback.

"We thought about it, so we changed many things because of the season for us," Klopp explained.

"You might have seen Trent's role was a different one in the games he played; it was not up and down the wing constantly, it was more in different spaces. That was a little hint of that.

"For a centre-half, there was no chance. Would Joe have played seven games in a row if we had other solutions? No. But we didn't have them, so that's unlucky for all of us and especially for Joe, obviously.

"We change constantly this thought process and we really have to think how we can use the players in the right way, because our target is always long-term, never short-term.

"Yes, we have short-term targets as well, but the main targets are long term.

"We need them. Without the players, we are nothing - and that's why we are really careful, or as careful as we can be."

It is this caution that means Klopp is reluctant to rush Thiago Alcantara back into the fold.

Fabinho is back in team training - a boost as Jordan Henderson is now injured - but Thiago continues to work alone as he recovers from the bruising sustained to his knee in the Merseyside derby last month, the same match in which Van Dijk went down.

Thiago has played only 135 minutes in the Premier League, in which time he has played 161 passes.

"It's the consequence of the injury. It was a hit, a straight hit on the knee," Klopp said.

"I cannot change these things. We have to deal with the consequences of these injuries, these accidents, these fouls in this game. They were fouls in this game.

"If he could have played before, he would have played before. That's why he hasn't. But he's out there on the pitch, he's running, doing a lot of stuff, so it will not be too long anymore.

"On the same day we got the horrible pictures from Virgil and then we were kind of relieved that it's not that serious for Thiago, but it was not going to be two or three days.

"In the first few days, we thought that it would settle quickly but it didn't. That's what we have to accept.

"We will not rush him. We're preparing him for the rest of the season, not for the first game he can play again. That's the situation."

Mikel Arteta ensured there will be consequences when he finds out how details of an altercation between Arsenal team-mates David Luiz and Dani Ceballos ended up in the media.

The Athletic reported on Thursday that David Luiz hit Ceballos on the nose and drew blood with a scratch after taking objection to a tackle from the midfielder in a training session during the international break.

Arteta insisted the incident has been dealt with and there is no problem between the players, though he claimed not to have got a good view of what happened.

While the Gunners boss was willing to chalk it up as a typical occurrence during a competitive training session, he will not be as forgiving with whoever leaked the information to the media.

"I don't like that at all, and I will find out where it's coming from," said Arteta.

"If that's the case, that goes completely against what I expect from everyone, the privacy and the confidentiality we need. There will be consequences, yes."

Ceballos was also involved in a confrontation with team-mate Eddie Nketiah prior to the opening game of the Premier League season at Fulham.

Asked if it is just a coincidence that the Spaniard was involved on both occasions, Arteta replied: "Whether or not it's a coincidence doesn't change much.

"It's just the competitive level that we demand and the standards we want to set, but obviously there's a very thin line where it is a competitive issue and when it goes somewhere else that we don't support and we don't want.

"It's a contact sport. Incidents are going to happen. It's how you resolve them within the team and within the individuals afterwards and how you move on from there [that matters]."

Arsenal will attempt to recover from a chastening 3-0 loss to Aston Villa prior to the international break when they head to Leeds United on Sunday.

Arteta has warned his players that they will need to correct the issues that cropped up in that game or they could find themselves being handed a similar defeat.

"These things are to learn from and be part of the process we are in, and to try to improve them as quick as possible," said Arteta.

"They happened for a reason. It's not a coincidence or a surprise, they happened for a reason and we need to know when we don't do certain things they will happen again. It's not just a one-off, so we'd better not make the same mistakes again."

He added: "When I lose a football game it takes me a week to go through it, so I need another game. And when we lose the way we lost against Villa it's even harder because it makes me think about things I hated and I don't want to see again.

"There are a lot of things to change, to improve. It's going to be a bumpy road, but the optimism that I have, the belief that I have in where we are going to get, how lucky I feel with the people I have around me who support what I'm trying to do, is great.

"What I miss big time is our fans, because to build something I want with that chemistry and energy without the fans is becoming extremely difficult, because the fans and players need to see they are getting that synergy between them."

Pep Guardiola suggested he is too experienced to rise to Jose Mourinho's comments ahead of the old rivals doing battle again as Manchester City visit Tottenham.

At the end of a week in which Guardiola signed a new two-year City contract and Mourinho celebrated a year in charge of Spurs, the pair will meet at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Mourinho has never shied away from finding issue with his various nemeses - and Guardiola has often been among them.

This week's discussion suggested City influenced Gareth Southgate to see Raheem Sterling released early from England duty, adding to earlier claims Guardiola's side are guilty of diving.

But these criticisms prompted only initially a joke about Mourinho's medical expertise and then a dismissive response.

"Mourinho has to go to the doctors for the national team from England and from Manchester City," Guardiola said.

"He has to go to the doctors - except if Mourinho maybe is a doctor. I don't know."

He added: "Listen, I'm not going to answer anything about Jose.

"I said about the doctor because he accused something we have done which is not true, so he has to speak with doctors about all these other things.

"Don't ask me because I'm almost 50, so I'm old enough to understand."

Mourinho's Tottenham are five points and eight places above City heading into the weekend, but Guardiola was rewarded with a new deal despite a shaky start to the new season.

He knows results must follow if he is to still be at the helm in 2023, though.

"When I arrived here, I didn't expect to be seven years here," Guardiola said. "I don't know what's going to happen - it depends on the results, to be honest.

"We have success and we are happy, so why not? If we don't have success, we will be less happy and want a change. It's simple.

"So I'm here and continuing because we have had incredible success, last year won two titles. We won eight in the last three and we want to try to do it so again. No more than this.

"Still I am enjoying doing this job, so what happens in two years I cannot answer you.

"I didn't know what was happening, what would happen 10 days ago, 15 days ago. Our conversation this week with the club and especially Khaldoon [Al Mubarak], we clarified the deal together, the targets and we decided to continue.

"What's going to happen in two years, no manager can say it because it depends on the results, depends on how good we are doing.

"Maybe we cannot win and we're performing well; okay, it's not a problem. Or maybe we're not performing well and maybe... sports can happen.

"You drop a little bit our performance and lack of titles and after the situation will be completely opposite, but it's in two years.

"In football, two months, three months is a lot of time. Imagine two years."

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers believes British managers are just as talented as their foreign counterparts and deserve more respect for their achievements.

Rodgers took over at the Foxes in February 2019 and steered the club to a fifth-place finish in the 2019-20 campaign, missing out on a Champions League spot on the final day of the season.

His side have enjoyed a stellar start to the new season too, and sit top of the Premier League after winning six of their opening eight games. 

Rodgers is widely considered to be one of the best British managers of his generation, having come close to winning the Premier League with Liverpool in 2014. 

He also led Celtic to seven domestic trophies during his two-and-a-half seasons in charge of the Scottish club before he joined Leicester.

The Northern Irishman has got the better of Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa and Mikel Arteta already this season and sarcastically said "because I'm a British manager, I got lucky" following a 4-1 win over Bielsa's Leeds United on November 2. 

Speaking ahead of Sunday's trip to former club Liverpool, Rodgers talked up the merits of British managers and believes they have it tougher than their continental colleagues. 

"As an island we produce very good coaches," he told a media conference on Friday. "The systems in place in the last 15 years have ensured we do well in game. 

"As British managers we are always judged in the most difficult league in the world. 

"There was a question after the Leeds game about Bielsa, Pep and Mikel but, with all due respect, Mikel has been a manager less than one year. 

"We've got a load of great coaches. You just want respect for your work."

Rodgers goes up against the man who replaced him as Reds boss following his dismissal in October 2015 this weekend, with Jurgen Klopp's side just a point behind Leicester at the Premier League summit. 

Klopp guided the Merseyside outfit to their first top-flight title in 30 years last season and Rodgers is impressed with everything the German has achieved at Anfield. 

"I know first-hand the job he's done," he added. "The expectation was huge and it's not all plain sailing.

"He had great support from the board to get the right profile of players. But the whole package of what he's done is a brilliant job. He has a great connection with the supporters and the players."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes Tottenham are contenders to win the Premier League this season thanks to the "really good" work of Jose Mourinho.

Second-place Spurs are unbeaten in seven top-flight matches since their opening-game defeat to Everton - the longest-such run in the division - and are a point behind leaders Leicester City.

Tottenham host City on Saturday and are seeking a fourth successive league win for the first time since February 2019 when Mauricio Pochettino was in charge.

Friday marks exactly a year since Mourinho succeeded Pochettino and Guardiola has been impressed with his long-time rival's work in north London.

"He's done really good, as always in all the clubs [he's managed]," Guardiola said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"The numbers speak for themselves. They dropped points against West Ham and Newcastle in the last minute - imagine the points if they hadn't.

"They are contenders. The quality they've got is always there. They qualified for the Champions League for four or five years and reached the final.

"They have been a good team since Pochettino took over. It is a fantastic squad."

City have lost their two meetings with Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in all competitions, including a 2-0 defeat in last season's corresponding fixture.

Their return of 12 points from seven league games is the fewest collected by a Guardiola-managed side but the Catalan coach insists his team are making good progress.

"We are getting better," he said when reflecting on the most recent meeting with Tottenham nine months ago. 

"But I don't want to focus on Tottenham - they are not my concern. We have a lot of games coming up and it is important we look to get everyone back fit."

Fernandinho and Nathan Ake will miss this weekend's match, while Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling are fitness doubts as they work their way back from injury.

"Except for Nathan and Ferna, the rest of the players have come back from international duty," Guardiola said. 

"Fernandinho is not fit. He has gastroenteritis, something in his stomach. Sergio trained this week. Raheem trained for the first time today with the team, so we'll see."

Mourinho has lost 10 of his 24 managerial meetings with Guardiola in all competitions - more than he has suffered against any other coach.

Guardiola, who penned a new two-year deal with City on Thursday, has only beaten Manuel Pellegrini (12) more times his career.

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