Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola handed Phil Foden a first Premier League start of the season in Sunday's clash at Arsenal.

Midfielder Foden has made seven league appearances for City this season but all had come from the bench before his promotion at Emirates Stadium.

The 19-year-old's inclusion came as one of four changes made by Guardiola to the side which lost the Manchester derby last weekend as Nicolas Otamendi, Bernard Mendy, Ilkay Gundogan were also recalled.

John Stones, David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Angelino were the players to make way.

Arsenal interim boss Freddie Ljungberg made two changes to the side which beat West Ham on Monday.

Sead Kolasinac and Matteo Guendouzi were included in the starting line-up with the injured Kieran Tierney and Granit Xhaka the players dropping out.

Freddie Ljungberg admitted Arsenal must be ready for a backlash from their own fans in Sunday's Premier League game against Manchester City.

The Gunners were booed off after a dispiriting 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion in their last Emirates Stadium appearance.

Hector Bellerin insisted the team had given "100 per cent" but another poor result against champions City will only add to the sense of discontent in north London.

"It's the right of the fans to be this way," said interim boss Ljungberg.

"Of course I want them to be with us and I know how much it means to the players, and I can see sometimes when it happens they can go a little bit down.

"But that's something I will talk to them about. They already know about it but I will try to prepare them for if and when it happens.

"But I think when we play City at home, the fans know it will be a very tough game and will be with us regardless.

"I want to make sure I respect the decisions and voice of the fans. In my opinion they are the club and we try to do the best we can for them. We try to respect them and make them know we are doing this.

"I hope they have seen that in the last fortnight."

Arsenal triumphed 3-1 at West Ham on Monday but have not won a Premier League home game since the narrow 1-0 victory over Bournemouth in early October.

Unai Emery lost his job on November 29 and club chiefs are still considering potential successors, with Ljungberg now set to oversee his fifth match.

The Swede warned there was no quick fix to the malaise.

"I am a fan, too, and I want Arsenal back winning trophies, but as I say this won't happen overnight," he said.

"Of course, there are things to fix now and that we can do better. I have a list of about 10 to 15 things we need to urgently get right, but you can't do all those things at once."

Makeshift centre-back Fernandinho denied his move from midfield to defence was the reason for Manchester City's mediocre run of results.

Pep Guardiola's men have drawn or lost three of their past five Premier League matches and sit 17 points adrift of leaders Liverpool going into Sunday's away game against Arsenal. 

The decision not to replace Vincent Kompany has created headaches, particularly after Aymeric Laporte underwent knee surgery in September.

Fernandinho, 34, was forced to vacate his natural role at the base of midfield to plug the hole in central defence.

But the Brazilian insisted the change had not been a major issue, despite City's failure to keep a clean sheet in 10 matches across all competitions.

"The job you do at the back is so important as you help to defend and attack," said Fernandinho, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"The culture is that whoever scores goals gets the spotlight but it depends on everyone.

"You have to protect your defensive line and, when you have the ball, try to give players in front the ball to attack and create chances.

"I don't think I am being missed in midfield. Rodri is playing really well there. Of course, we are a little bit different but he's doing really well.

"In general the team plays well, the detail made the difference [in the loss to Manchester United] last week and of course we have to improve and react as soon as possible, and we have an opportunity on Sunday."

Fernandinho admitted the fallout from the 2-1 derby defeat to United had taken its toll.

"It's been really tough, really hard for us," he said.

"If you take the statistics, we were better, in control of the game, but the result counts in the end. We have to go again. It's our opportunity to show it was an accident against United.

"We conceded two easy goals and it makes the game more difficult for us. We couldn't find a way to react.

"Arsenal like to play football, we like to play football. It will be a nice game for the fans."

Pep Guardiola believes he has already completed the main challenge of his tenure at Manchester City.

City are 17 points behind runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool heading into Sunday's trip to Arsenal, with any realistic hopes of a third straight title already extinguished.

As a result, an increasing focus has been placed upon their manager's future over recent weeks.

Guardiola is in his fourth season at the Etihad Stadium, meaning he is set to equal his joint-longest tenure at a club, having led Barcelona from 2008-09 until the end of 2011-12.

The former Bayern Munich boss denied reports this week that his contract at City, which expires in 2021, has a break clause at the end of this term and has spoken of potentially staying beyond his current deal.

Nevertheless, he does not think trying to re-establish dominance in England, where City have won five of the past six major trophies and back-to-back Community Shields, would be as big a challenge as implementing his famed style of quick-passing positional play successfully at the Etihad Stadium.

"The challenge is done for me – to come here and try to play like we did in Barcelona and Bayern Munich," he said.

"That was the big challenge and, in the end, in England we were able to play the way that we wanted to play and we won enough titles.

"Considering the difficulty of this league, seven titles in three seasons is not bad.

"Now the challenge is to maintain what we did in the beginning and we have struggled a little bit, especially because we have an opponent who has not dropped points. If they had dropped points we would be closer but we are incredibly far away.

"Now the target is to win the next games - focus in the cups and try to win games in the Premier League."

A 4-1 Champions League victory at Dinamo Zagreb in midweek saw City bounce back from a chastening 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester United last weekend and Guardiola feels this season's indifferent form can become an important part of the club's development.

"I think maintaining 100, 98 points for three or four years… I knew it [would be difficult]," Guardiola said.

"When we arrived here, the standard was 85, 90 points to win. Now you have to reach almost 100 points to win the Premier League.

"With the help of Liverpool, we made that step and now it is the level you have to reach. Before it didn't happen and we were the reason why.

"For 11 years no one did back-to-back [Premier League titles] and we did it, winning 14 games in a row [at the end of the season]. That's why, when the people say we are not good, I cannot forget what this team have done.

"Sometimes in the process, with NBA teams and incredible tennis players, always there are periods in the season where you struggle a little bit more. I would say that is more normal.

"The situation we are living right now as a club, as a team, will help us in the future. I would have preferred to be closer to Liverpool, but it is going to help us.

"Maybe after four titles in one season we believed we are something that we are not. The reality of sport means you have to make it again and again and again."

Guardiola concluded the analysis with a reading of his own future that could be viewed as more ambiguous than some of his other recent pronouncements.

"In the next games we will see how we are as a team and at the end of the season we have to evaluate if we are good enough, first as a manager to continue and then the players to continue next season," he added. "To analyse at the end is so simple."

Kieran Tierney will miss three months of action after Arsenal announced the defender will have surgery on his dislocated shoulder.

The former Celtic full-back, signed for a reported £25million in August, hurt his right shoulder against West Ham on Monday after falling awkwardly in his own penalty area.

Arsenal confirmed a significant blow for the 22-year-old on Saturday, saying he "will undergo surgery next week and rehabilitate for around three months".

Tierney joined the club during rehabilitation for a pelvic injury, limiting him to 11 appearances across all competitions.

In more positive news for the Gunners, Nicolas Pepe has been declared available for selection ahead of Sunday's home Premier League match with Manchester City.

Forward Pepe had suffered bruising to his left knee after scoring in the 3-1 win away at West Ham.

But Rob Holding (knee), Dani Ceballos (hamstring), Hector Bellerin (hamstring) and Granit Xhaka (concussion) are all out.

Bellerin and Ceballos are hoping to return to training next week, while Holding is expected to be back before the end of the month. Xhaka, meanwhile, will be managed under concussion protocol rules.

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Manchester City will be without Sergio Aguero and John Stones for this weekend's Premier League clash with Arsenal, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

Aguero has missed City's past five matches because of a thigh injury and Stones limped off in last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United.

Neither player is fit to return for Sunday's trip to Emirates Stadium, while David Silva is also doubtful after sitting out training on Thursday and Friday.

"Stones has got a muscular injury. I don't know when he will be back," Guardiola said at his pre-match news conference. "Sergio still hasn't trained with the team.

"David is not fit. Yesterday and today he could not train so we'll see tomorrow. He got a kick in the leg - it was painful, but not a big issue."

Silva's potential absence could pave the way for Phil Foden to start for a second game running.

The 19-year-old was on the scoresheet in Wednesday's 4-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb and Guardiola is prepared to show greater faith in the youngster.

"He has played 50 games and is 19 years old. In one of the top teams in Europe I don't know if there's anyone of his age who's played that many," Guardiola said.

"We're delighted with him and he'll play incredible games in the future. We're so happy with the way he played - it was an incredible experience for him.

"Maybe not all 50 games are 90 minutes, but he's been involved in tough games - Tottenham last season, Atalanta, we trust him a lot. 

"Every season he's playing more minutes and one day, maybe not that far away, he'll be a player who will play every weekend. We'll see when."

City trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by 14 points ahead of their showdown with Arsenal, who sacked head coach Unai Emery last month.

Freddie Ljungberg has won only one of his four matches in interim charge, but Guardiola is expecting a "big test" in north London.

"The club decided on a person who had a long time at the club many years ago, someone who knows the feelings, the fans, the way they like to play," Guardiola said.

"We'll have to figure out what they'll try to do - normally they have a typical style of play. They have quality between the lines. Arsenal away is always a big test for any team."

Asked about the ongoing speculation linking his assistant Mikel Arteta with the Arsenal job, Guardiola replied: "You can be 45 years old and not be ready or 35 years old and be ready.

"Only he knows. I spoke about it two weeks ago. He's got two weeks more experience since then, so he's ready."

Pep Guardiola has congratulated Jurgen Klopp on his new deal at Liverpool and has vowed to see out his own Manchester City contract.

Liverpool announced on Friday that Klopp has agreed fresh terms at Anfield to keep him in place for another four-and-a-half years.

Guardiola's long-term future appears less clear, though, amid reports his existing deal contains a break clause that will allow him to walk away at the end of the season.

However, the Catalan coach, who last month stated he is open to staying on beyond the end of his contract in June 2021, denied any truth to the rumours.

"It's not true," he said at Friday's pre-match news conference ahead of this weekend's Premier League trip to Arsenal. 

"I talked about it a few weeks ago, my intentions for the club."

Guardiola has been involved in a tussle with Klopp for major honours in recent seasons and is pleased the Liverpool boss has secured his future.

"Congratulations to him and Liverpool for five more years here in England - he deserves it," Guardiola said. 

"I think it is really good for the Premier League that he can continue here."

City have already dropped as many points in the Premier League this term as they did in the whole of 2018-19, leading to suggestions they are looking to recruit in January.

Nathan Ake is among those to have been linked with a move to the defending champions, but Guardiola reiterated he is happy with his current crop of players.

"The players that started the season are going to finish the season," he said. "If something happens it will be in the summer, not winter."

Murmurs about Pep Guardiola's potential departure from Manchester City are not going away.

Recent reports have suggested the successful Catalan could look to leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season.

It now appears Guardiola has the power to make that happen.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA'S ESCAPE ROUTE

An exit clause in the contract Guardiola signed last year gives the two-time Premier League winner the chance to leave City at the conclusion of the campaign, reports the Daily Mail.

Guardiola's deal, which he renewed in May 2018, runs through to 2021, but it seems he will have a decision to make when the club's title defence comes to a close.

City have formulated contingency plans, according to the report, and are "known to be admirers" of former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Guardiola, 48, has been linked with a return to Bayern Munich but last month said he was "open" to signing another contract extension with City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United missed out on Liverpool-bound Takumi Minamino because the Old Trafford club were unaware of a £7.25million exit clause in the winger's Salzburg contract, says the Mirror.

- Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund want to keep Jadon Sancho in January but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are confident of pushing through a transfer for the England international, claims the Mirror.

- Inter are monitoring Argentine attacking midfielder Rodrigo De Paul but are not prepared to meet Udinese's €35m asking price, according to CalcioMercato.

- Carlo Ancelotti is set to fly to London for talks with Everton as the managerless Merseysiders look to beat Arsenal to the ex-Napoli boss, says the Sun.

- Ivan Rakitic appears set to stay at Barcelona after all. The midfielder wants to continue at Camp Nou after breaking back into the starting XI over the past four matches, reports Marca.

Liverpool lead the way with 10 nominations for the EA Sports FIFA Team of the Year.

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus has admitted he struggled to cope with the weight of expectation on his shoulders prior to his recent goalscoring run.

Jesus has filled in for injured team-mate Sergio Aguero over the past fortnight and scored a hat-trick in Wednesday's 4-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb.

That made it five goals in three matches for the Brazil international, who ended an eight-match wait for a goal with a brace against Burnley last week.

Jesus revealed his confidence took a battering during his recent goalless run, but he refused to give up and is pleased to have been rewarded.

"Honestly, last month I was no good and I wasn't happy," he said, quoted by several British newspapers. "I played nine or 10 games, didn't score and I missed chances so I'm not happy with that. 

"When this happens, of course I cannot be happy. Sometimes football is like that. You have to keep working hard and try to score, try to help the team and that's what I have done.

"I cannot talk about other players, I can only talk about me, but when I'm not happy with myself I want to shoot myself in the head because it's difficult for me.

"I take it [personally] of course. I think, 'Oh my God, I have to score, I have to score, I have to score.' When I have the chance, sometimes I miss because I think I put too much pressure on myself.

“In my head it was like that. Always I think, ‘Wow, I have to score’ because I'm playing for a big club in big competitions with big players and it's like I shoot in my head. I say, 'Next game'. 

"Sometimes it can happen that you don't score. It happened with me but I keep working and this month has been a good month for me." 

With Aguero doubtful for Sunday's trip to Arsenal, Jesus acknowledged the pressure is still on to score goals.

The 22-year-old, who made it 101 career goals for Palmeiras, City and Brazil with his treble in Croatia, said: "I try all the time to do my best and sometimes I cannot do it and that's the way. 

"But it's important for me to keep scoring goals because I have to. I'm at a big club and play with big players.

"I'm in a single competition with Sergio - a friendly competition. I hope that when he plays, he scores. I always want him to help the team and his team-mates. 

"When I play he does the same, which is amazing. I have to learn from him because he's scored a lot for the club and throughout his career but I'm happy to reach 101 goals in my career."

Rodri has described "fearsome" Liverpool as the best team he has faced but warned the Premier League leaders that Manchester City will not give up their title without a fight.

Liverpool have opened a 14-point gap on the defending champions, who have already dropped as many points this term as they did in the whole of 2018-19 when the Reds finished second.

Third-placed City head to Arsenal on Sunday for their next league outing and Rodri, used 14 times in the top flight this season, has urged his team-mates to focus on the task at hand.

The Spain international, who played a full part in last month's 3-1 defeat at Anfield, told Goal: "On an individual basis I can say that Liverpool are the best team I have faced.

"They dominate at both ends of the field and are very aggressive. They dominate the lines well and that makes them a fearsome team.

"They are very good, but anyone can beat them so we are going to fight until the end.

"I don't know if the goal is to beat Liverpool, who are European champions, as I think you always have to focus on yourself.

"If we focus on Liverpool too much we are wrong. We would better looking at ourselves and play as we did at Atletico under [Diego] Simeone, game by game.

"You can't stop competing and that's what [Pep] Guardiola instils in us every day, that every game is a final."

Rodri spent one season with Simeone at Atletico Madrid prior to making a reported £62.8million switch to the Etihad Stadium, where he is working under Guardiola.

Asked how the two coaches compare, Rodri said both have the characteristics of "winners" and added: "Simeone is consistency and perseverance. Guardiola is innovative, growing day by day."

Juventus head coach Maurizio Sarri would welcome a Champions League last-16 tie with Tottenham so that he can face off against "extraordinary" Jose Mourinho.

The Italian champions eased into the knockout stages with five wins and a draw in their Group D campaign, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

Tottenham suffered a 3-1 loss at Bayern Munich in their final Group B match, meanwhile, but they were already assured of second place behind the German giants in Group B.

Juve and Tottenham could meet in the next round, with Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and Real Madrid other possible opponents for Juventus.

Mourinho claimed teams will be eager to avoid Tottenham, but Sarri is open to a reunion with the Portuguese, whom he previously faced off against during his time in the Premier League.

"I have had the honour of getting to know [Mourinho] and I hold him in high regard," former Chelsea boss Sarri said at his post-match news conference.

"He is an extraordinary person that is very different from the perception that the outside world has of him.

"It was a real pleasure to get to know him. Playing against him isn't easy, but seeing him again would be great."

Juventus are joined in Monday's draw by fellow group winners Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, RB Leipzig and Valencia.

Asked which side he considers favourites to go all the way and lift the famous trophy, Sarri replied: "Manchester City."

Juventus return to Serie A action on Sunday with a home match against Udinese.

Real Madrid teenager Vinicius Junior says he is "working hard" to follow the path of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling by becoming a more regular goalscorer.

Vinicius slotted home from close range for his first goal since September in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League.

The Brazil international has netted six times in 43 appearances for Madrid, who he joined from Flamengo in July 2018, a year after his reported €45million buyout clause was triggered.

Vinicius does not believe his game is suited to scoring goals freely, but he hopes to improve in that department over time.

Citing the example of Sterling, who has become increasingly clinical in front of goal over the past few seasons, the 19-year-old attacker said: "I don't play to score. I play to help the team.

"Sterling at City also had trouble scoring goals. I left Brazil very early and I'm working hard to do great things."

Vinicius' compatriot Rodrygo Goes was also on target for Madrid in Belgium, taking his tally to six goals for the campaign.

Rather than being envious of Rodrygo's impressive start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu, though, Vinicius is pleased for his team-mate.

"We're friends," he said, according to Marca. "I'm happy because he is doing things very well."

Manchester City's 2-1 defeat to local rivals Manchester United has seemingly put an end to their title challenge for this season.

Pep Guardiola's two-time defending champions have won two of their last five Premier League matches and are now 14 points behind leaders Liverpool, with Leicester City six clear in second.

Now, City must bounce back as they take on Arsenal, who finally ended a nine-match winless run – their worst streak since 1977 – with a 3-1 triumph over struggling West Ham.

With temporary boss Freddie Ljungberg having got that first win under his belt, can he put himself right in the frame to be the next permanent Gunners' manager by shocking City?

 

ARSENAL OUT TO EXPLOIT WOUNDED CITY

City's 2-1 Manchester derby defeat has left their title defence in ruins.

A comeback from such a mighty points deficit is surely unlikely given no club has ever accomplished that feat before, while City's record of 32 points from their first 16 games of the campaign are a career worst for Guardiola.

And, on paper, City's trip to Arsenal is hardly the ideal follow-up match.

Under the guidance of Ljungberg, Arsenal ended a wretched run on Monday as they beat West Ham away from home.

While it was by no means vintage Arsenal, the Gunners did at least show some of the attacking verve many expect of such a talented forward unit.

With City likely to still be reeling from their derby loss, Arsenal might just feel Sunday represents a great opportunity to claim a victory that would provide a massive boost ahead of the busy Christmas period.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: MESUT OZIL V KEVIN DE BRUYNE

Mesut Ozil is back in favour at Arsenal again since Ljungberg's temporary appointment and they will need him at his very best if they are to even get remotely close to a top-four finish.

He certainly has not been at that level since the start of last season, when he averaged a goal involvement (five goals, two assists) every 249 minutes. This term that has dropped even more to one every 610 minutes.

At his best, Ozil got six goals and 19 assists in 35 top-flight matches back in 2015-16, having a hand in one or the other every 122 minutes.

Kevin De Bruyne fulfils a similar creative role for City, having averaged a goal or assist almost every match (one every 94 minutes), though he also offers more in terms of box-to-box responsibilities than the German.

With four goals and nine assists, De Bruyne is on course for the most productive season of his career and he has definitely not suffered long-lasting effects of his injury problems last term.

The Belgium international is averaging four chances created in each match in 2019-20, while Ozil's record of 18 opportunities laid on in seven matches is significantly less impressive.

FORM GUIDE

Although Arsenal traditionally are seen as one of the Premier League's best teams, they go into Sunday's game without back-to-back wins in the top flight this season.

Of the Gunners' past six domestic games, they have won only once, while also drawing three.

But City's away form will not offer Ljungberg's men with much reason to quake in their boots, given the champions have lost twice in their six most recent league trips away from the Etihad Stadium.

HISTORY SAYS

Arsenal have lost their past four Premier League meetings with City. The last time they lost five consecutive top-flight matches to a single club was against United between September 1983 and August 1985.

City have won on each of their two most recent Premier League trips to Arsenal, which is more than they had managed in their previous 32 top-flight visits to the Gunners.

Victory for City will ensure they are the first club to win three consecutive away games against Arsenal in the top flight since West Ham did so between 1991 and 1995.

City will be eager for Sergio Aguero to be fit for the clash. The Argentina striker has scored eight goals in his past eight meetings with the Gunners in all competitions, more than any other player since he joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

But the champions will need to be alert to Alexandre Lacazette. He has scored 100 per cent of his five league goals this term at home, a record matched by no one else.

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