Pep Guardiola has warned his in-form Manchester City players he will not hesitate to drop them if complacency sets in.

Manchester United's 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday left City 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League with the same number of games remaining.

Saturday's hard-fought 2-1 win over West Ham was a 20th consecutive victory in all competitions for Guardiola's side, who will defend their EFL Cup crown in next month's final against Tottenham.

They remain well-placed in the FA Cup and Champions League, but as talk of a slew of trophies begins to mount, Guardiola insisted he will not relent in his demands.

"As much as we win and get results, we have to demand and be [all] over the players and say we can do better," he said ahead of Tuesday's Premier League home game against Wolves.

"The moment when I feel that everyone is thinking the job is done, or how good it is, this guy is not going to play.

"I'm so intuitive to know exactly the guys who are not ready to continue what we have to do."

Liverpool have fallen out of the title race despite demolishing the competition on the way to racking up 99 points in 2019-20.

Guardiola believes a tough time since the turn of the year for Jurgen Klopp's injury-hit side serves as a warning to his own squad, as does the fact City reignited their season having taken a paltry 12 points from their first eight matches.

"The champion is Liverpool, we are not. To do it we still have to win eight, nine or 10 games and it's a lot of games," he said.

"There are incredible teams who struggle for four or five games to win games. It can happen to us too.

"Last season it happened. At the beginning of the season it happened. We were unable to win three games in a row in the first two months."

Nevertheless, the picture could be even sunnier than some recent unseasonable Manchester weather if City keep Wolves at bay and overcome United in Sunday's derby.

"We know each other quite well and the players know how demanding I am," Guardiola added, suggesting familiarity more than fear is driving a phenomenal run.

"We've had three sunny days in Manchester but we do not relax one second.

"Wolves is an incredibly tough game and then next Sunday against United. We saw against Chelsea how strong they are. There are still a lot of nice things to play for."

Luke Shaw and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not face action from the Football Assocation for their comments about referee Stuart Attwell after Manchester United's 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday. 

United felt hard done by in the first half at Stamford Bridge when the video assistant referee (VAR) brought to Attwell's attention a possible handball by Callum Hudson-Odoi in his own penalty area. 

The incident occurred just before a tussle with Mason Greenwood, who subsequently also appeared to touch the ball with his arm. 

Attwell was advised to review Hudson-Odoi's action on the pitchside monitor, yet no penalty was given despite replays appearing to show the Chelsea wing-back's hand in an unnatural position when coming into contact with the ball.

Shaw claimed in a post-match interview with Sky Sports that Attwell had told United captain Harry Maguire giving them a penalty would "cause a lot of talk after". 

United later clarified that Shaw misheard Maguire's conversation with the official. 

While Solskjaer refused to explicitly repeat Shaw's accusations, he was aware of what was said and made no attempt to shut them down, before also insisting it was "100 per cent" a penalty. 

He then went on to accuse Chelsea of influencing referees via content published to their website ahead of the match, with Maguire's recent VAR brushes the focus of the article in question. 

Yet despite the comments made by Shaw and Solskjaer, neither is set to face any disciplinary action, with the FA not considering them to be in breach of the rules and regulations. 

Pep Guardiola insists Bayern Munich and Liverpool still set the standard for his Manchester City side despite their dominant form.

City hold a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League ahead of Tuesday's home game against Wolves, where they will chase a 21st consecutive win in all competitions.

That would bring them closer to the 'top five' European leagues record of 23 that Bayern Munich established on their way to a treble last season.

Guardiola's men beat Liverpool 4-1 as part of their ongoing run, with Jurgen Klopp's injury-hit side having stumbled out of the title race this time around.

After Saturday's 2-1 win against West Ham, Hammers boss David Moyes hailed City as Europe's best but Guardiola insists his team's form will count for nothing unless they manage to lift major prizes at the end of the campaign.

"The best team in Europe and the world is Bayern Munich because they won everything. They are the best," he said.

"In England the champions are Liverpool, they are the best. The crown, if you want to take it you have to win.

"In March, nobody is champion. You have to do well and try and win it, but we cannot deny the last two-and-a-half months were exceptional.

"When we played well, we won comfortably but when we didn’t play so well, we were able to take the points.

"In 20 games in a row winning, you will not be exceptional all the time. It's important in those games to be solid and take the points."

Guardiola would not be surprised if City's next game falls into the latter category.

Since Wolves' promotion to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season, City have won twice, lost twice and drawn once against Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

"The history against them dictates, shows us how tough it is," Guardiola said. "We know it perfectly, exactly the type of game we have to play to be so intense but at the same time calm.

"They play with your ambition and patience to punish you. You have to be so clever the way you have to play.

"In the last years it was so tough because of the quality and the structure they have and this year will be no exception."

Sergio Aguero played an hour against West Ham as he stepped up his moves towards match fitness and Guardiola reported City's all-time record goalscorer suffered no ill-effects.

Defender Nathan Ake (hamstring) remains his only senior absentee.

Another one bites the dust, as Queen once sang, with the latest weekend of Premier League action coming and going in the seeming blink of an eye.

There was controversy involving Brighton and Hove Albion's goal that never was thanks to referee Lee Mason in West Brom's win against the Seagulls – the Baggies' past five home wins have now been overseen by five different managers (Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, Darren Moore, Alan Pardew, Tony Pulis).

Liverpool finally returned to winning ways in the Premier League by triumphing 2-0 at Sheffield United, becoming just the second side to rack up 7,000 top-flight goals in English football along the way (Merseyside rivals Everton being the other team to reach such a landmark).

And there were convincing wins for Tottenham and Arsenal against Burnley and Leicester City respectively.

But here are a few of the quirkier bits you might not have spotted, with a little help from the folks at Opta.
 

Raise your bat, Pep – 200 not out for Guardiola

For those of you not paying attention at the back, Manchester City are looking pretty unstoppable right now.

Saturday's 2-1 triumph over a West Ham side in decent nick themselves means the runaway Premier League leaders have racked up a mind-boggling 20 straight wins in all competitions.

For boss Pep Guardiola, it represented a 200th victory across all comps in only his 273rd match in charge of the Citizens, comfortably the best record by a manager of an English top-flight side to reach that landmark.

Jose Mourinho (Chelsea - 309 games), Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool - 333), Don Revie (Leeds United - 344), Bob Paisley (Liverpool - 351) make up the top five.

Fewer clean sheets than a one-star hotel in Newcastle-Wolves

Once upon a time, Newcastle United were the great entertainers of the Premier League – particularly in the revered 'Keegan years'. 

Nowadays, the goals don't flow quite as freely under Steve Bruce but their 1-1 draw against Wolves produced a fact more in keeping with the history of those Halcyon days. 

Both teams have scored in each of the 12 Premier League games they have played against each other - the most played fixture in the competition with neither side keeping a clean sheet.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo also oversaw his 102nd Premier League game at Wolves, overtaking Mick McCarthy (101) as the most matches in charge of the club in the competition.

Rare blanks in Chelsea-Man Utd but Red Devils' away-day joy continues

Chelsea' goalless draw at home to Manchester United on Sunday wasn't exactly one to remember.

The reverse clash also finished without a goal, marking only the second time this fixture had produced two 0-0 draws in a campaign – the other coming way back in 1921-22.

For the Red Devils, though, the draw means they are unbeaten in 20 away league matches (W13 D7), a run that coincidentally started in the corresponding fixture last term.

It is the joint-fifth longest run without an away defeat in top-flight history. Arsenal (27 and 23), Liverpool (21) and Nottingham Forest (21) have all boasted longer streaks.

David Alaba has appeared set to swap Bayern Munich for Real Madrid.

Alaba is keen for a new challenge following a successful partnership with Bundesliga and Champions League holders Bayern.

But three of Europe's elite are still reportedly eyeing Alaba.

 

TOP STORY – TRIO NOT GIVING UP ON ALABA

Liverpool, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are still trying to sign wantaway Bayern Munich star David Alaba, according to Fabrizio Romano's Benchwarmers column.

Alaba will leave Bundesliga champions Bayern on a free transfer at the end of the season and he has been tipped to join LaLiga holders Real Madrid.

However, Liverpool, Chelsea and PSG are still pursuing the Austria international.

 

ROUND-UP

- RAC1 suggests Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is one of Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta's targets if Ronald Koeman does not remain at Camp Nou beyond 2020-21.

Madrid are interested in Manchester United target and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, reports the Daily Star. Sancho was wanted by United at the start of the season but a big-money move did not materialise.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Atletico Madrid are tracking Lyon midfielder Bruno Guimaraes, who is valued at around €25million.

Manchester United and Premier League rivals Leeds United are eyeing Torino defender Nicolas Nkoulou, according to Tuttosport. The 30-year-old is set to become a free agent at season's end.

- L'Equipe says Mauro Icardi is free to leave PSG if a suitable offer arrives amid links to Juventus. Icardi is contracted to the Ligue 1 champions until 2024, but PSG are focused on re-signing Kylian Mbappe and making Moise Kean's loan deal from Everton permanent. If Mbappe departs for Madrid, PSG will look to raise funds by selling Icardi as they dream of Tottenham's Harry Kane and Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Milan technical director Paolo Maldini said the club are weighing up whether to sign Fikayo Tomori permanently from Premier League giants Chelsea.

Tomori has impressed since arriving on loan in January, the 23-year-old's impact highlighted by his starting berth at the expense of captain Alessio Romagnoli in Milan's 2-1 win over Roma on Sunday.

Milan have an option to buy Tomori at the end of the season – the fee reportedly in the region of £25million (€28m).

Asked about Tomori's future prior to Milan's Serie A victory away to Roma, Maldini told Sky Sport Italia: "Tomori is a good talent and we have a buy-option clause.

"The price is very high. AC Milan will decide at the end of this season and we will discuss it with Chelsea's board."

"Fortunately, I work for a club that has an effect on players. When AC Milan call, the players always listen," Maldini added.

"Fikayo is a player with particular characteristics, pace and intensity, so we thought he could be a good reinforcement for this second half of the season.

"Naturally, Romagnoli isn't happy, no player is when he doesn't play. However, Milan are 17 points better off than last season, we're second despite having more commitments and many injuries, so squad rotation is necessary and Alessio has played pretty much every game."

Tomori partnered Simon Kjaer in Milan's defence as second-placed Milan stayed within four points of leaders Inter after 24 matches.

Franck Kessie and Ante Rebic scored for Milan, while Tomori had an early goal ruled out for offside.

Tomori had a team-high six clearances and two blocks, while he attempted the most passes (60) with an accuracy of 88.3 per cent at the heart of Milan's defence.

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli hailed Englishman Tomori post-match: "I expected this performance, because Tomori played a derby a couple of days after joining us, so he's been at this level from the start.

"I still believe it's the collective that allows the individual to perform and all together we won a very important match.

"Roma have players with a lot of pace and quality in attack, so we knew that we were taking a risk, but we also recovered more balls in the opposition half – finally – and were therefore more dangerous in attack.

"It's about weighing up the costs and benefits of an approach, and this approach is giving us more benefits."

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he is "surprised" at the reaction to Manchester United not being awarded a penalty in Sunday's scoreless Premier League draw.

United were left aggrieved following the denial of a first-half spot-kick as Chelsea and the visiting Red Devils produced a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

In the first half, referee Stuart Attwell checked on the pitchside monitor to see if a penalty should have been awarded to United when a bouncing ball struck the raised hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tussling with Mason Greenwood.

Attwell stuck with his initial decision not to give the spot-kick and, much to the frustration of United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and full-back Luke Shaw.

Afterwards, Tuchel – just the second manager to see his side keep a clean sheet in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers with Swansea City in 2011-12 – told reporters: "For me it was no penalty. I was surprised and I'm still surprised [at the reaction].

"I didn't see it live where the penalty should come from, and when we checked on the pictures we have I couldn't see any incident that should qualify as a penalty. Until now I don't know why it should be a penalty."

It was another 0-0 affair between Chelsea and United – both matches in a league season failing to yield goals for just the second time after 1921-22.

Chelsea are unbeaten since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard – the Blues in the midst of a 10-match undefeated streak across all competitions.

Tuchel's Chelsea are fifth in the Premier League, one point adrift of the top four, six points behind second-placed United and 18 adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City through 26 rounds.

"It would have been a big result. We tried everything to win, to be prepared for no other intention but to win," Tuchel said. "We are in the middle of a battle to the top four.

"We have closed the gap quickly and now is the moment to hang in and to show performances every three or four days.

"I feel the team is very competitive and difficult to play against. We will be able to win games. We are still in the battle and that's the good news."

Pep Guardiola will manage Sergio Aguero carefully, as he explained the difficulties of keeping each player in his Manchester City squad satisfied.

City made it 20 successive wins in all competitions on Saturday, as they edged past West Ham 2-1 in the Premier League thanks to goals from defenders Ruben Dias and John Stones.

Aguero made just his fourth start of the season in total – and his first since October – with the City great, who is out of contract at the end of 2020-21, having struggled with injuries through the course of the campaign.

The 32-year-old failed to have an attempt and created just one chance before he was taken off in the 61st minute, having had 32 touches – less than any other outfield player to have started the game for City.

Guardiola, however, insisted Aguero will need time to pick up his sharpness, though the striker's minutes will have to be managed precisely. 

"Sergio has been out for more than a year, he played cup games but got injured again, then it was surgery," Guardiola told a news conference.

"With Sergio, at this part of this season, having that special talent and special quality is going to help.

"So it's good that he played 60 minutes, that's good for his legs. In the next games, we might need him for 10, 15 minutes or from the beginning. 

"It's not easy for him but he just has to play better and better and he can help us in the sense of his ability."

Guardiola concedes Aguero wants to play more, but reiterated that he has to balance his squad, namechecking Eric Garcia, whose stay at City is set to end at the culmination of the campaign.

Barcelona have been heavily linked with a move for the 20-year-old, who ended last season as the club's first-choice centre-back alongside Aymeric Laporte.

Garcia has made just three league appearances this season, and last featured for City in an FA Cup win over Swansea City in early February.

"There are other players who want to play too, so I know Sergio is so important for us. What he has done for this club – he has scored the most important goal for us," Guardiola continued.

"We want to help him and see him good but, at the same time, Raheem [Sterling] didn't start, Phil [Foden], Bernardo [Silva] didn't. So I try to handle it so everyone can be involved.

"You cannot imagine how I feel about Eric Garcia, he's like a son. Last season, during lockdown he was the best defender that we had.

"He'd never make a mistake like Ruben, John and Aymeric have not this season. He was the reason we qualified for the Champions League, clubs like Bayern and Barcelona wanted him and that's not because he was an average player.

"In the last two games he was not selected, that's why it's difficult to put all of the players in. Players have to be patient and at the end all you judge is the performance. If the players are performing well they will have more chance to play again."

Asked if sentiment will come into play with Aguero's game time as his time at City potentially draws to a close, Guardiola replied: "From day one, my message here is what happened before is over – we learn from this and onto the next one.

"It's not just for Sergio, it's for everyone. I think about who is best in this position, who is in the best condition. If I am fair to one player, I am unfair to another one, that is the difficulty.

"Now it's for him to prepare if we need him, at the end there will be games that are tough and difficult and we will need a goal! Who is the best guy to do that – it's him.

"Every player needs time, especially him but everyone needs time. We have trophies to fight for, soon we'll be going to Goodison Park for a quarter-final, the second leg of the Champions League. 

"Many nice things to fight for and everyone needs to be ready."

Jurgen Klopp claimed Liverpool did enough to warrant their win over Sheffield United, but he knows Thursday's clash with Chelsea presents an altogether tougher challenge.

Liverpool stopped the rot in the Premier League on Sunday, ending a four-match losing streak by clinching a 2-0 win at Bramall Lane.

Curtis Jones opened the scoring with his second league goal, before Roberto Firmino's wayward effort diverted in off Kean Bryan. That brought up Liverpool's 7,000th top-flight goal - only Everton have scored more.

Oli McBurnie and Oliver Burke both missed good chances for the home side, who suffered their 21st Premier League defeat of the season, with the Blades the first side since Newport County in the fourth tier in 1970-71 to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English Football League season.

Liverpool's focus now switches to a clash with Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea at Anfield.

Tuchel succeeded Klopp at Borussia Dortmund before going on to coach Paris Saint-Germain and now the Blues, who drew with Manchester United on Sunday.

A win would see Liverpool move above Chelsea, though a fifth straight home defeat could see the Reds' Champions League hopes take another blow.

"Very important. Many people have written us off, that's completely fine," Klopp told Sky Sports.

"Tonight we showed that we are still there, but on Thursday we play Chelsea and we have to show it again. But with all the problems we have we are still around the exciting places. That's where we want to be, what we will fight for.

"I have never thought about controlling the situation. We have to win football games and the rest is controlled by itself. It's always like this, there's no way without results to get into the Champions League.

"It's normal and right that we get criticised, but if it's just about the performance it makes it so tricky. We cannot fight like other teams, sit deep, let them come and hit on the counter-attack.

"That's not how we can get back on track, we have to keep being dominant and deal with the situation, disappointments and frustration in the games. In other games we might have reacted differently. Tonight we stayed on track and scored in the right moment, it always helps.

"I think we could have scored three goals in the first half. It just shows what we created was really, really good. The finishing was good enough today, but we know we can improve that."

Liverpool kept a first Premier League clean sheet since January 17, with Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips starting together for the first time in defence, in front of Adrian, who stood in for Alisson.

Kabak led the way for tackles (three) and clearances (four – level with Adrian) in Liverpool's team, though he did still have some shaky moments.

With Jordan Henderson set to miss a prolonged spell, Klopp is hoping to have Fabinho – himself a makeshift defender – fit to feature against Chelsea, while at the other end of the pitch, Diogo Jota is also set to return, having missed Sunday's match through illness.

"Probably [Jota and Fabinho] both back for Chelsea," Klopp said.

"Diogo was with us in the hotel but got sick, so he wasn't with us in the squad. I would think that he is ready for Thursday but I don't know at the moment.

"Fabinho has had two training sessions with the team, he should be closer, ready for the squad I am sure."

Manchester United lost further ground to Premier League leaders Manchester City as they played out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. 

The Red Devils are now 12 points behind Pep Guardiola's seemingly unstoppable side, who are well on their way to a third title in four seasons. 

Elsewhere, Liverpool returned to winning ways against Sheffield United and Arsenal came from behind to beat Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. 

A Gareth Bale-inspired Tottenham cruised past Burnley 4-0, while Crystal Palace and Fulham played out a dour 0-0 draw.

Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United: Red Devils' 'big six' struggles continue

While this result stretched United's unbeaten away run in the league to a whopping 20 matches – the joint-fifth-longest run in top-flight history – there was still a sense of disappointment at full-time. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have now failed to score in their last six league meetings with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City or Tottenham, with each of their last four such matches finishing goalless. 

This fixture has now finished 0-0 in both matches in a single league campaign for just the second time, the other occasion coming back in 1921-22. 

It marked the first time Chelsea have drawn 0-0 against an opponent home and away in the Premier League in the same season for the first time since 2008-09 against Everton, while United last did so against Aston Villa in 1996-97.

Thomas Tuchel can at least toast becoming just the second coach to not concede a single goal in his first four home matches in the Premier League after Brendan Rodgers in 2011-12 with Swansea City. Including his final two such matches in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, Tuchel has gone six games without conceding at home in league competition.

Sheffield United 0-2 Liverpool: Klopp's men get back on track

After four consecutive top-flight defeats champions Liverpool got their top-four bid back on track at Bramall Lane. 

Curtis Jones opened the scoring with his second goal for the Reds. In doing so, he became the youngest Liverpool player (20 years and 29 days) to score an away Premier League goal since Raheem Sterling in December 2014 against Burnley (20y 18d).

Their second – an own goal by Kean Bryan – was their 7,000th in the English top-flight, becoming only the second team to reach that tally after Merseyside rivals Everton (7,108).

Adrian was in goal for Jurgen Klopp's men and the Spaniard has now been on the winning side in 10 of his 12 Premier League starts for the club, although this was only his third clean sheet. 

The Blades, meanwhile, have now lost 21 games this season. They are the first side since Newport County in the fourth tier in 1970-71 to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English Football League season.

Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale torments sorry Clarets

Bale was at his best as Tottenham registered their biggest Premier League home win since they thumped the Clarets 5-0 in December 2019. 

His first came after just 68 seconds, which was the fastest goal Burnley have ever conceded in a Premier League match. The previous quickest was a Yerry Mina effort after 99 seconds for Everton in December 2018.

Harry Kane doubled Spurs' advantage to continue his fine run against Sean Dyche's side. No player has scored more Premier League goals against Burnley than Kane (eight, level with Riyad Mahrez), with the England striker involved in 10 goals in his last six league appearances against them (seven goals, three assists).

Lucas Moura added a third before Bale wrapped up the scoring to take his goal involvements to seven in his last four appearances in all competitions. 

At the back, Hugo Lloris celebrated his 100th clean sheet in the competition. He became the 16th goalkeeper to reach that landmark, while he is the ninth quickest to reach it (285 games).

Burnley, meanwhile, have now lost 12 of their last 15 away top-flight matches against Spurs, shipping 48 goals and conceding at least four goals in seven games.

Leicester City 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners storm back to end 'top three' hoodoo

Arsenal ended a four-game winless run against the Foxes in the Premier League, securing their first victory against them in the competition since October 2018. 

It started poorly for Mikel Arteta's side, though, with Youri Tielemans scoring his sixth goal of the season early on. That is as many as he had scored in his first two seasons at the club combined. 

David Luiz pulled the Gunners level before Alexandre Lacazette put them ahead from the penalty spot. The France international has converted all five of his penalties for Arsenal across all competitions, while only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (13) has now netted more goals for the Gunners than Lacazette (11) this term.

Nicolas Pepe sealed the three points and has now equalled his Premier League goal tally from last season, scoring five this campaign in 13 fewer appearances (18 this term, 31 last season).

The result marked Arsenal's first away victory against a team starting the day in the top three of the Premier League since January 2015 (2-0 v Manchester City) – they were winless in their last 14 such games ahead of this clash (D3 L11).

Crystal Palace 0-0 Fulham: Lucky Eagles escape with a point

It should come as no surprise that this game ended goalless given Fulham's penchant for draws this season. 

Just one of the Cottagers' first 21 Premier League games under Scott Parker ended level, but the stalemate at Selhurst Park was their 10th draw in their last 15 top-flight matches. 

They were comfortably the better side and attempted 16 shots. Fourteen of those came in the second period – the most they have had in the final 45 minutes of a Premier League away game since 2003-04 without scoring.

Palace, meanwhile, have somehow managed to pick up four points from their last two league games despite attempting just six shots (facing 41), having only nine touches in the opposition box (compared to 70 by their opponents), and completing just 442 passes (compared to their opponents' 1065).

Indeed, they managed just 33 attempts in their five Premier League matches in February – the lowest recorded by a team in a single month of at least five games since the start of the 2003-04 campaign.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could not hide his frustration at Manchester United's forwards after Sunday's 0-0 draw at Chelsea saw the club's disappointing run against the Premier League's other so-called "big six" sides continued.

The match was overshadowed by the controversial decision of referee Stuart Attwell not to award United a first-half penalty when Callum Hudson-Odoi handled in the area – the official sticking to his decision despite looking at the incident on the pitchside monitor.

While Solskjaer and Luke Shaw vented their anger at the situation in post-match interviews, the manager's news conference eventually turned to the other major talking point; United's inability to score against the league's better teams.

"We're not scoring enough goals, that's for sure," Solskjaer told reporters.

He is not wrong – the draw at Stamford Bridge was the fourth successive 0-0 draw United have played out against other "big six" opposition, while they have not scored in any of their past six meetings with teams of this calibre.

"We've come away with another good clean sheet, but as I said before this game, the next step for this team is to win these games, get the goal we need to get three points," he added.

"Of course, we should have got a penalty and I'd back Bruno [Fernandes] any day of the week, but we didn't have the right quality at the end in the four or five good breakaways in the second half."

While United did have 11 shots on Sunday, their xG (expected goals) rating was a poor 0.4 – Chelsea's was 1.16. While this suggests Thomas Tuchel's men were more wasteful, it also highlights the visitors struggled to craft quality chances.

This is by no means a new phenomenon in games of such magnitude either – United's overall xG in the matches in question is just 4.9, by no means a huge figure, yet they're still underperforming significantly in this area given their actual record of none scored.

"We haven't had the quality, fine margins or luck," Solskjaer said when asked to explain United's issues in these games.

"Today, it was mostly about the lack of quality in the last third. We had some moments when we were close, had some great counter opportunities, [but the] last pass or cross wasn't good enough.

"[We had] some near moments of course, Fred and Mason [Greenwood] had a few decent attempts, but we didn't have enough. That's the next step for us, and we will improve.

"Last season we had some great results but in a different manner. At the moment we try to develop this style and develop ourselves to win these games. Everything was really good defensively."

And that is perhaps the salient point – United have improved defensively in these games, with the solitary goal conceded in this run being a penalty against Arsenal.

But there's a chance this altered approach is impacting United's effectiveness going forward, with Solskjaer's men potentially preferring to play out a draw instead of going for it and risking defeat.

After all, United's shot count of 66 in the past six clashes with "big six" opposition is less than the 74 they've faced. While they may not be constantly sitting back, they're also not as threatening as the opponents.

The key to understanding this shift may lie with the game directly before the aforementioned run – it was the remarkable 6-1 defeat to Tottenham.

Only Solskjaer knows if that battering – which was obviously not helped by a sending off – has been playing on the minds of himself and his players, but it's also a thought former United captain Roy Keane has had.

"Maybe they are scarred from the Spurs game. I don't know the scoop, we're just guessing," Keane said. "But maybe their mindset is [impacted] going into these games. We've seen poor games.

"Sometimes you have a 0-0 and it's a fantastic game, the keepers are fantastic, missed penalties or whatever. But some of these games we've watched and covered have been really boring, considering there's some really good attacking players in the team."

For better or worse, United don't have to wait long for another opportunity to put this run right – the Manchester derby is less than a week away.

Curtis Jones dedicated his goal at Sheffield United to Liverpool team-mate Alisson, whose father died in tragic circumstances in Brazil.

Alisson was not included in Liverpool's squad as the reigning Premier League champions stopped their slide with a 2-0 win over the struggling Blades on Sunday.

It was reported that Jose Agostinho Becker drowned on Wednesday while swimming close to his holiday home. The 57-year-old was declared missing and, following a search, his body was found.

Jones scored the opener at Bramall Lane, with Kean Bryan's own goal then securing a much-needed victory for the Reds.

"It's been a difficult time for myself and the rest of the team, but I'm happy that I got on the scoresheet and I'd like to take this time to say that this goal is for Ali's dad, actually," Jones told Sky Sports.

"So, may he rest in peace and if Ali sees this, this is for you bro."

Asked how difficult the news had been for Liverpool's squad, Jones replied: "He's a strong lad, a big part of the team of course.

"He's not here today, we miss him for sure. I'd like to give the goal to him, his dad and the rest of his family."

Jones' goal was his second in the Premier League, and his first away from Anfield, while the 20-year-old midfielder also became the youngest Liverpool player to score a top-flight goal on the road since Raheem Sterling against Burnley in 2014.

"I'm a player that likes to assist and score goals – I think the right time is now," Jones added. "We've had good games but not scored as many goals as we'd like.

"Today was a good example of it all coming together. It was a good performance."

Jones finished with a game-high four goal attempts, with three of them on target, while his passing accuracy of 96.3 per cent was better than that of any other player who started the game.

It was a display which came as no surprise to Jurgen Klopp, who said it is vital that Jones – who was involved in both goals – starts to produce at the top end of the pitch on a consistent basis.

"A top player, no doubt about that. That's why he was playing. He was very important," Klopp said.

"We have talked about him being involved in more goalscoring situations as well, that's clear. Everyone has space for improvement. Tonight he was involved [in the goals] – that's good."

Liverpool ended their dismal run of Premier League defeats as Curtis Jones and Kean Bryan's own goal secured a much-needed 2-0 victory over Sheffield United.

Jurgen Klopp's side went to Bramall Lane on the back of four successive top-flight losses, but finally got back to winning ways on Sunday.

With Aaron Ramsdale in superb form, Chris Wilder's strugglers switched off shortly after the interval when Trent Alexander-Arnold got to the byline, and Jones profited to become Liverpool's youngest Premier League goalscorer away from home since Raheem Sterling in December 2014.

Oli McBurnie spurned a golden chance to haul United level and was duly punished – Bryan diverting Roberto Firmino's effort over Ramsdale to send the points back to Merseyside.

Liverpool were behind inside three minutes in the Merseyside derby and would have been a goal down early on this time out if not for Adrian's save from David McGoldrick's header.

McGoldrick called Adrian into action again with a low strike in the 17th minute, though it came after Ramsdale spread himself to deny Firmino.

Ramsdale came to United's rescue twice in quick succession around the half-hour mark, first denying Mohamed Salah before he parried Alexander-Arnold's effort over, though Ozan Kabak got lucky when he turned into Liverpool's net, only for McBurnie to be flagged offside.

Georginio Wijnaldum was the next to test Ramsdale, with Firmino failing to convert the rebound.

Yet Ramsdale was beaten three minutes after the restart, Alexander-Arnold just managing to scoop in a cross which deflected to Jones, who slammed home.

Sadio Mane swept in from Andrew Robertson's incisive pass soon after, though he was offside.

McBurnie should have restored parity before the hour, yet inexplicably directed a free header wide.

United were made to pay when Firmino was given far too much time and space in the box to get off a shot that spun into the net via Bryan and condemned the Blades to a 21st defeat in 26 league matches.

Luke Shaw claimed referee Stuart Attwell told Manchester United captain Harry Maguire that giving a penalty in Sunday's draw with Chelsea would have "caused a lot of talk".

The Red Devils saw their unbeaten Premier League run away from home stretch to 20 matches following a 0-0 stalemate at Stamford Bridge.

In the first half, Attwell checked on the pitchside monitor to see if a penalty should have been awarded to United when a bouncing ball struck the raised hand of Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was tussling with Mason Greenwood.

The official stuck with his initial decision not to give the spot-kick and, according to Shaw, he indicated to Maguire that changing his mind could have caused controversy.

"At the time I saw a handball and didn't know if it was Mason or Callum," Shaw told Sky Sports.

"I didn't know it was a potential check and that they needed to stop [the game] if it wasn't going to be a pen.

"But I heard the ref say to H [Maguire]: 'If I give a pen, it's going to cause a lot of talk after'. H was told it was a pen by VAR, but I'm not going to moan."

Speaking on Sky Sports, former United captain Gary Neville said the penalty would have been given before the guidance on handball incidents in the box changed in the Premier League earlier this season.

"There's no doubt earlier in the season that this would have been a penalty," he said. "Hudson-Odoi's panic is the fact that his arm shouldn't be there. I think it is a penalty."

However, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said awarding a penalty would have been nonsensical as the ball also struck Greenwood's arm, though it hit the Man United forward second.

"How can this be a VAR intervention? The player in red plays the ball with the hand and then we are checking for a penalty? Why does the referee have to see this?" he said.

"I've seen it on the iPad, I don't understand why the referee has to check it but I'm glad it was no penalty. That would make it even worse."

The draw saw United move a point above Leicester in second in the table, although leaders Manchester City are 12 points clear.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left fuming at referee Stuart Attwell's failure to award Manchester United a penalty in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

In a game that saw the two sides largely cancel each other out, United were controversially denied an early opportunity to take the lead.

A Marcus Rashford free-kick was parried back into the danger zone by Edouard Mendy, with Mason Greenwood and Callum Hudson-Odoi subsequently drawn towards it.

The Chelsea man's hand was raised and came into contact with the ball, with the VAR urging Attwell to review the incident on the pitchside monitor.

However, he stuck to his initial decision of not awarding a penalty and it left Solskjaer bemused.

When asked by Sky Sports if he felt United should have had a penalty, Solskjaer said: "Yep, 100 per cent."

Then asked if he could understand Attwell's decision, he added: "No, not at all, especially when they stop it [the game in order to review the incident] and he walks across to watch it.

"For me, you can see it's a handball but you think it's our player who does it and they [the Chelsea bench] are shouting it's handball for our player and then look at the video and it's taken two points away from us."

United left-back Luke Shaw claimed in another post-match interview with Sky Sports that Attwell had told captain Harry Maguire awarding the penalty "would cause a lot of talk about it after".​

Although clearly aware of the accusation, Solskjaer did not explicitly repeat it, saying: "I can't say, because that's not going to be good for him [Attwell]. Of course it is [concerning]."

Shaw's exact words were then put to Solskjaer and again he expressed dismay, then going on to vent his anger at pre-match comments published on Chelsea's website that highlighted Maguire's recent brushes with VAR, suggesting such content can influence referees.

He added: "Exactly. Well, I didn't say it [Shaw's comments], so I don't want to cause controversy, but it's not right, is it?

"It's all this outside influence, even the VAR talk before the game here, that's cheeky, when they put that on the website – that's influencing referees.

"Go back and look at the website. You can read it, what they are saying about controversy and Harry Maguire – it's putting pressure on the referees for penalties against us."

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