The Premier League race is run. A season that has seemingly been a never-ending story finally concluded on Sunday with the focus centred on the top four.

Chelsea lost but still ended up securing Champions League qualification, Liverpool won to astonishingly end an eventful campaign in third and poor Leicester City missed out after a crazy game at home to Tottenham as Harry Kane clinched the Golden Boot.

West Ham finish above Spurs in sixth to make the Europa League, while Manchester United ruined Nuno Espirito Santo's last game in charge of Wolves. There was yet another goal for Joe Willock, while David McGoldrick made sure he will no doubt be the subject of a pub quiz question in years to come.

Manchester City had clinched the title long ago, but a home game with Everton offered a chance for their returning fans to say farewell to a club legend.


Aston Villa 2-1 Chelsea: Tuchel slips up on the road as Blues lose

Thomas Tuchel's side held on to their top-four spot thanks to the result at the King Power Stadium, with the German coach able to celebrate despite suffering his first away defeat in the league since taking charge at Stamford Bridge.

Bertrand Traore scored the opener for Villa, in the process becoming the 25th different player to manage a Premier League goal against Chelsea having previously been at the Blues. Anwar El Ghazi doubled the lead with the 100th penalty scored in the competition this season, the first time a campaign has reached triple figures.

On the subject of penalties, Jorginho finished with the most goals for Chelsea in the league with seven – all from the spot. It is the lowest number for the club’s leading scorer in a top-flight season since 1974-75, when Ian Hutchinson also managed seven.

Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace: Mane helps Reds prosper at Anfield

Jurgen Klopp has now finished in the top four at the end of the five full seasons he has had in charge of the Reds, who handed their former boss Roy Hodgson a 2-0 defeat in his Palace swansong.

Sadio Mane got both goals, the second with the aid of a huge deflection. He has scored 10 or more in all seven of his Premier League campaigns, including his two with Southampton before moving to Anfield in June 2016.

Liverpool won their meetings with Palace by a combined 9-0 score; only against Ipswich in 2001-02 (11-0) have they enjoyed a bigger aggregate margin across two Premier League games in the same season. While he had no need to conjure up another last-gasp goal this time, Alisson Becker did manage to keep a clean sheet on his 100th league outing for Klopp's side.

Leicester City 2-4 Tottenham: Foxes run into trouble against Bale and Kane

Leicester spent 242 days in the Premier League's top four this term, only to end the final one sitting in fifth place. For a second successive year, a late loss of form has cost them a Champions League place.

A sixth defeat in 13 matches did not appear on the cards when they twice led against Spurs thanks to Jamie Vardy, who scored two penalties in a match for a third time this season. However, a Kasper Schmeichel own goal – his second in the top tier – levelled matters, with the visitors then moving clear in a frantic finish.

Gareth Bale scored twice late on in potentially his final game for Tottenham, but will Kane still be there when the transfer window shuts? The striker's 41st-minute effort lifted him to 23 for this term as he became only the third player to win the Golden Boot award as many as three times, following in the footsteps of Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer (also three).

Aguero at the double, Willock matches Shearer (yes, really)

In scoring twice after coming on as a substitute, Aguero ended his City career as he had started it – with a brace off the bench (he had done just the same on debut against Swansea City, way back in August 2011). His double takes his final tally to 184 Premier League goals, in the process surpassing Wayne Rooney (183) for the most by a player for a single club.

As for Manchester United, a 2-1 triumph at Wolves sees them become just the fourth side to remain unbeaten away across an entire top-tier season, a feat most recently achieved by Arsenal in 2003-04. The current-day Gunners beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0, though still finished eighth for a second year in a row.

At Fulham, Willock was on target once more in a 2-0 win for Newcastle United. It means the on-loan Arsenal midfielder becomes only the second Newcastle player to score in seven consecutive Premier League appearances, after hall-of-famer Shearer in 1996.

West Ham secured a top-six finish for only the second time in the Premier League era thanks to a 3-0 win over a Southampton team who do not prosper on their travels – they ended up losing 10 of their 11 away fixtures in 2021, during which they leaked 33 goals and scored just seven times.

There was a win for Leeds United at home to West Brom, taking them up to 59 points – the most by a promoted club since Ipswich Town (66) in 2000-01. Sheffield United finished bottom, but at least signed off on a winning note. Striker McGoldrick grabbed the only goal against Burnley to earn his own place in history: it was the 1,000th scored in the Premier League during the 2020-21 season.

Joe Willock's hugely successful loan spell with Newcastle United concluded in typically impressive fashion on Sunday as he matched an Alan Shearer record.

The midfielder signed from Arsenal in January until the end of the season and has enjoyed an outstanding run of form.

Willock had scored only once in 40 Premier League appearances for the Gunners, but struck 16 minutes into his Newcastle debut against Southampton.

The loan man saved his best performances for the run-in, though, netting in consecutive appearances against Tottenham, West Ham, Liverpool, Leicester City, Manchester City and Sheffield United.

The goal against the Blades, securing a 1-0 win on Wednesday, made Willock the youngest player ever to score in six in a row in the competition.

And that run continued on Sunday against Fulham, as Willock's powerful run from deep on the right was only briefly disrupted on the edge of the area before he steered a low shot into the net.

Shearer, the Premier League's record goalscorer, is the only player to previously net in seven straight appearances in the competition for Newcastle. He did so between September and November 1996, shortly after his £15million world-record move from Blackburn Rovers.

Shearer responded to the latest goal in Willock's streak by posting on Twitter: "Yesssssss @Joewillock again. 7 on the spin."

Willock, who now has eight goals in 14 games for Newcastle, is expected to be a target for the Magpies in the transfer window, but Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said this week: "He will be back with us, we will have those conversations with him and plan the next step then."

Joe Willock has a bright future at Arsenal on the back of prolific loan spell at Newcastle United, says Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

Willock headed the only goal as Newcastle beat Sheffield United 1-0 in midweek, becoming the youngest player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive appearances.

Those exploits mean he is the joint-top scorer in the division since the return from the March international break, alongside Chris Wood, Mason Greenwood, Matheus Pereira and Kelechi Iheanacho.

Newcastle are reportedly looking to make the move permanent, with a £20million fee mooted, while Willock said after Wednesday's win: "Hopefully there's more to continue in the future.

"I'm not going to promise anything, but the conversation is going to be held."

But Arteta, asked whether the attacking midfielder had a future to look forward to at Emirates Stadium, told a news conference: "Yes, and I'm really happy that things have gone so well for him because of the potential that he has.

"It was great for him to go away and have a different experience. He has grabbed that opportunity in a really positive and remarkable way.

"He will be back with us, we will have those conversations with him and plan the next step then."

Arsenal conclude a fairly forgettable campaign at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, while the curtain on the Premier League career of one of the competition's all-time greats will come down elsewhere.

Arteta worked on the Manchester City coaching staff under Pep Guardiola for three-and-a-half seasons and paid a glowing tribute to Sergio Aguero, who is set to play his final league match as the division's all-time leading goalscorer from oversees when Everton visit the Etihad Stadium.

"I know from working with him – his character, his personality, he is a lovely man," he said.

"One of the best talents that I've seen, what he has done in this league for so long, scoring the amount of goals he has done.

"He changed the perception of English football in different countries.

"For Manchester City, I think again he was a big contributor to the change in history and mentality in the winning years that they had."

It all comes down to this.

Whether you're flying high at the top of your local leagues, battling for the top 100 nationally or just desperate not to lose face with friends, matchday 38 of the Premier League is a decisive moment for fantasy football players the world over.

Amid last-minute transfers, wildcards and triple-captaincies, it can be difficult to find true value in selections that could give you the edge over your rivals.

That's where we come in.

Using Opta data, we have compiled a final selection of seven recommended players to draft in for this most dramatic of weekends...

 

MARTIN DUBRAVKA

If you were considering a Newcastle United goalkeeper but just didn't have the guts previously, now is the time to be bold.

Martin Dubravka kept his first clean sheet of the season last time out as the Magpies beat Sheffield United 1-0.

Next up, they face another relegated side in Fulham, who have scored a league-low nine goals at home in the whole of 2020-21 – and only one since February.

 

AARON CRESSWELL

West Ham's unlikely quest for Europe looks set to end in success, and Aaron Cresswell has played no small part.

The full-back has recorded eight assists this season, the most of any defender in the division. The last time a West Ham player assisted more was when Dimitri Payet set up 12 goals in 2015-16.

The Hammers conclude their campaign at home to Southampton, who haven't beaten David Moyes' side in their most recent six attempts.

STUART DALLAS

Only Patrick Bamford (16) has scored more league goals for Leeds United this season than Stuart Dallas (eight).

On Sunday, Marcelo Bielsa's men host West Brom, who have the leakiest defence in the whole of the division, conceding 73 times in 37 matches.

Leeds are also unbeaten in four against the Baggies, winning three of those games by 10-0 on aggregate, while they have not lost a league game at home to this weekend's visitors since January 2007.

JESSE LINGARD

Part of the reason Jesse Lingard found getting regular football tricky at Manchester United was the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, so it's fitting he should be chasing a record held by the Portugal star.

Last season, Fernandes set a Premier League best by registering 15 goal involvements (eight scored, seven assisted) despite not appearing in the competition until as late as February.

Lingard, who made his Hammers debut on February 3, has recorded nine goals and four assists for Moyes' men, a tally bettered only by Kelechi Iheanacho (12 goals, two assists) over the same time frame. Two more direct goal involvements against Southampton would see Lingard match Fernandes' exploits in 2020.

 

JOE WILLOCK

With his midweek winner for Newcastle against Sheffield United, Joe Willock became the youngest player to score in six consecutive Premier League appearances.

Remarkably, the Arsenal loanee – who is being tipped for a permanent move to the Magpies – has the best minutes-per-goal rate (127) of any Newcastle player in the league this season with at least three goals.

Should he net against Fulham, Willock will become only the second player for the club to score in seven Premier League games in a row, after Alan Shearer in 1996.

HARRY KANE

Whether he stays at Tottenham or not, Harry Kane will be eager to get on the scoresheet at Leicester and boost his chances of claiming the Golden Boot.

His record against the Foxes is promising. Kane has managed 14 goals in 11 Premier League meetings with the team now bossed by Brendan Rodgers, more than he has scored against any other opposition. Those goals have come at an average of one every 65 minutes.

He has hit seven of those at the King Power Stadium, including four in one game in May 2017.

 

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE

Could Liverpool's top-four hopes be dashed by a former Reds player?

Christian Benteke has scored 10 league goals this term, his first double-figure return since he got 15 in 2016-17.

That season's haul included a double away to Liverpool in April and, throughout his career, Benteke has enjoyed facing his old employers: only Andy Cole (eight) has scored more Premier League goals as a visiting player at Anfield than Benteke (five in four games).

Liverpool took a huge step towards a top-four finish on an action-packed Wednesday in the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp's men beat Burnley 3-0 and, with every team in the division now having played 37 games, they head into the final weekend in fourth – ahead of FA Cup winners Leicester City on goal difference.

There were also away wins for Arsenal and West Ham as two former England managers bade farewell, while the current Three Lions captain saw Tottenham's season take another turn for the worst.

Joe Willock also claimed a piece of history for himself and here we look at that and some of the other best facts as the last midweek round of a condensed campaign came to a close.

Burnley 0-3 Liverpool: Klopp's men go fourth and prosper

Liverpool needed goalkeeper Alisson to head home an improbable last-gasp winner at West Brom last weekend, although this latest victory was more comfortable and arrived via conventional means.

Roberto Firmino became the second player to score in three consecutive Premier League games at Turf Moor after Anthony Martial. Following a difficult season, the Brazil forward's past three league appearances have yielded as many goals (three) as the 19 before.

Three days after Alisson, Nat Phillips also headed his first goal for Liverpool, while Andy Robertson claimed his second assist of the game when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wrapped up the points two minutes from time.

Scotland left-back Robertson has 35 assists since the start of the 2017-18 season. Only Kevin De Bruyne (49) has more in that period.

Crystal Palace 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners late show ruins Roy's farewell

Roy Hodgson was given a guard of honour and a rapturous reception for his final home game in charge of Palace and Christian Benteke continued his recent hot streak to keep hopes of a memorable victory alive.

The Belgium striker cancelled out Nicolas Pepe's opener after the hour, meaning he has scored in four consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time since April 2013.

Benteke is also on to double figures for the first time since he netted 15 times in 2016-17, although stoppage-time goals from Gabriel Martinelli and Pepe stole the points.

The strike from the 19-year-old Martinelli means the Gunners are now 60 matches unbeaten (W50 D10) in Premier League games where a teenager has scored.

West Brom 1-3 West Ham: Moyes sends Allardyce through exit door

Arsenal will not finish in the top six, though, as West Ham's brilliant season continued with a 3-1 win over relegated West Brom – after which Sam Allardyce announced he will leave the Hawthorns.

West Ham's 31 points away from home are their most in a top-flight season since they compiled the same amount in 1985-86, even if victory did not necessarily look likely when Declan Rice recorded the earliest penalty miss in Premier League history after two minutes and four seconds.

Matheus Pereira put the Baggies ahead. His 17 goal involvements (11 goals, six assists) are the most in a single campaign since Romelu Lukaku in 2012-13 (21).

Tomas Soucek's 10th goals of the season levelled matters and Angelo Ogbonna headed in from an Aaron Cresswell corner – the full-back's eighth assist of the season – before Michail Antonio made sure David Moyes enjoyed his eighth consecutive win over the departing Allardyce.

 

Tottenham 1-2 Aston Villa: Spurs slide again

Harry Kane was warmly applauded by the Spurs faithful despite reports of his desire to leave, something a sixth home loss – their most since 2014-15 – did plenty to explain.

All four of Steve Bergwijn's Tottenham goals have arrived as opening goals on home turf, but Sergio Reguilon's own goal brought Villa level.

It was the 1,000th own goal in Premier League history, 41 of which Spurs have been responsible for.

A familiar face proved to be Villa's matchwinner. Ollie Watkins' 14th goal of the season means he has the most by an Englishman in a Premier League debut year since Charlie Austin for QPR in 2014-15 – something that is unlikely to have escaped Gareth Southgate's attention.

Newcastle United 1-0 Sheffield United: Six of the best for Willock

Willock headed the only goal in first-half stoppage time for Newcastle, becoming the youngest player in Premier League history to score in six consecutive games at 21 years and 272 days.

The Arsenal loanee is the third player to complete the feat for Newcastle in the division after Papiss Cisse in 2012 and Alan Shearer in 1996.

It was not for the wont of trying on the part of Allan Saint-Maximin that Steve Bruce's men were unable to add to their advantage. The winger completed 15 dribbles, the joint-most by a player in the top five European leagues this season alongside Lionel Messi against Celta Vigo.

Sheffield United will hope to avoid an unwanted record of their own when they host Burnley on Sunday. This was their 29th defeat of the season, matching the hauls suffered by Derby County (2007-08), Sunderland (2005-06) and Ipswich Town (1994-95). No side has ever lost 30 games in a Premier League campaign.

Everton 1-0 Wolves: Richarlison lifts Goodison Park blues

Richarlison's winner ended a poor home season on a high for Everton.

Their 22 points amassed at Goodison Park in 2020-21 is their lowest in any league campaign in their history when converting to three points for a win.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was a familiar provider from the corner. Since his debut in the competition in January 2012, only Chris Brunt (25) and Christian Eriksen (24) have managed more set-piece assists.

Everton's 14 headed goals are the most of any Premier League side this term.

Joe Willock has claimed a piece of Premier League history by scoring for a sixth consecutive Newcastle United appearance.

The on-loan Arsenal midfielder headed Steve Bruce's men into a 1-0 lead on the stroke of half-time against relegated Sheffield United on Wednesday.

At 21 years and 272 days, Willock is the youngest player to score in six straight games in the competition.

He also puts himself in illustrious company as far as Newcastle are concerned. The only two other players to have netted for six appearances in a row for the Magpies are Alan Shearer in 1996 and Papiss Cisse in 2012.

Willock will have the opportunity to make it a magnificent seven when Newcastle travel to Fulham on the final day of the season.

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City's wild 4-3 win over Newcastle United is a "good lesson" ahead of the Champions League final against Chelsea.

City returned to the pitch for the first time since clinching the Premier League title this week and Guardiola's side survived a seven-goal shoot-out on Friday.

Powered by a Ferran Torres hat-trick, City erased two deficits to set an English record with their 12th consecutive away win – one more milestone after securing their third league title in four years on Tuesday. 

Following one or two days of "distractions" and just one training session, manager Guardiola said he was not expecting perfection against Newcastle as he made five changes to his XI, including giving 35-year-old goalkeeper Scott Carson his club debut. 

Carson made his first Premier League appearance since May 2011 for West Brom, a gap of nine years and 357 days. It is the sixth longest gap between appearances in Premier League history, and the longest ever for a goalkeeper.

With the ultimate prize looming in the Champions League final against Chelsea on May 29, Guardiola expects his team to learn from their close call in Newcastle.

Guardiola said during his post-match news conference after City recorded their 23rd consecutive unbeaten away game in all competitions (W21 D2) – the longest ever undefeated away run by a side in the top four tiers of English football, overtaking Notts County's run of 22 in 2012.

"The way they fought and the way they run and the way they come back after 1-0, after 3-2, and being there and making a step forward – they know it. It's not necessary to tell them.

"They know if you want to win or compete against Chelsea in the final, of course you have to earn it.

"It's better to happen today. Then maybe, maybe it's not going to happen in the final."

Ferran Torres – who arrived from Valencia at the start of the season – became the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick for a team managed by Guardiola (21 years and 75 days), overtaking Gabriel Jesus who was 21 years and 218 days against Shakhtar Donetsk in November 2018.

"I'm delighted for the three goals," Guardiola said. "He has incredible numbers for a first season in England, he has incredible numbers. He didn't play for a period of two months, he didn't play much and he came as a winger who can play on both sides.

"He can make incredible runs in behind but maybe we have to start to think about if he can play as a striker because every time he plays in that position he has a sense for goal, a real sense for goal.

"Today he produced an incredible first goal with the header, but the last two... I think the last one is an example of that intuition. It's intuitive, to know exactly where the ball comes and being there to score a goal.

"He was fantastic all season and an incredible signing for us. He's a young player and can play in three positions up front. Not just in one, he can play in three. But playing in the more central position the guy has an incredible sense of goal."

Pep Guardiola hailed Ferran Torres' goalscoring instinct after the youngster plundered his first Manchester City hat-trick in the champions' 4-3 win at Newcastle United.

Torres, who joined from LaLiga side Valencia ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, put City 2-1 up with a sumptuous flicked finish after Joao Cancelo cancelled out Emil Krafth's opener.

A penalty from Joelinton and a Joe Willock goal – scored after the on-loan Arsenal man's spot-kick had been saved – put the Magpies ahead, but Torres scored twice in two minutes to seal an English record 12th straight away win for City.

Torres' Friday evening treble took him to 13 goals for the campaign, with team-mate Phil Foden (14 goals) the only player aged 21 or under to have scored more for a Premier League club across all competitions this term.

The St James' Park hat-trick hero also became the youngest ever player to score a treble for a team managed by Guardiola, at 21 years and 75 days.

Guardiola was full of praise for the Spain international, who he believes has all the attributes to be a successful central striker.

"It's his first season in England and his numbers are exceptional," the City boss told Sky Sports. "He came as a winger, but he has had to think about being a striker. When Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were out, he was there.

"He didn't have minutes, but when he played he had a sense of goal. I'm really pleased.

"He can be [a number nine]. We will use him, we used him and he was brilliant. His rhythm, especially defensively, has improved a lot.

"The movement he makes as a striker. The [third] goal hits the bar and he knew where it would go. Strikers know intuitively where it will arrive. He has this talent, the first goal is fantastic."

Asked if the emergence of Torres as a central striking option could mean City do not dip into the transfer market to replace the departing Aguero, Guardiola said: "I don't know what's going to happen. Maybe we buy a striker, maybe not.

"We have a guy, he's young. A good transfer. I can use him on the left, right, or as a striker.

"The season is too long, we can't play with just 11 players. The best striker we can buy can't play all the minutes."

Ferran Torres scored his first Manchester City hat-trick as the champions set a new English league record of 12 consecutive away wins with a pulsating 4-3 victory over Newcastle United on Friday.

City – playing their first match since a third Premier League title in four seasons was confirmed on Tuesday – fell behind midway through the first half when Emil Krafth headed past Scott Carson, who was making his first top-flight appearance since May 2011.

Pep Guardiola's side powered back through quickfire goals from Joao Cancelo and Torres, although Joelinton restored parity before the interval from the spot.

Newcastle went ahead again when Joe Willock slotted home after his own penalty was saved by Carson, but Torres scored twice in two minutes to seal a wild win for the champions.

Despite early pressure from City it was the hosts who opened the scoring after 25 minutes, Krafth heading his first Premier League goal from Jonjo Shelvey's corner.

Shelvey then crashed a free-kick against the crossbar before two goals in 185 seconds resulted in City taking the lead.

They pulled level in the 39th minute when Cancelo's strike from just inside the penalty area was deflected past Martin Dubravka by Jacob Murphy. Torres then added a second with a superb backheeled flick that looped over Dubravka from Ilkay Gundogan's free-kick.

The Magpies pulled level in first-half stoppage time, though, Joelinton slamming home from the penalty spot after he had been brought down inside the area by Nathan Ake.

Willock put Steve Bruce's side ahead in the 62nd minute, grateful for a tap-in on the rebound after Carson blocked his tame penalty, which was awarded after Kyle Walker tripped the on-loan Arsenal man.

Torres drew City level again two minutes later, diverting home Gabriel Jesus' low cross from six yards.

He then became the third youngest player, at 21 years and 75 days, to score a Premier League hat-trick for City when he expertly volleyed into the roof of the net after Cancelo's long-range strike crashed back off the post.

Jesse Lingard has been named the Premier League Player of the Month for April, winning the award after also being nominated in February and March.

The attacking midfielder has thrived since joining West Ham on loan from Manchester United.

Lingard scored four goals and added an assist in four appearances over the course of the month as West Ham continued their push for a European place.

He has nine goals and three assists in 13 Premier League outings for West Ham so far since joining, having been out of the picture under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the first half of the season at Old Trafford.

The fine form he has shown earned Lingard an England recall in March.

Mason Greenwood was one of the other members of an eight-man shortlist which also contained Trent Alexander-Arnold, Stuart Dallas, Kelechi Iheanacho, Matheus Pereira, Allan Saint-Maximin and Chris Wood.

"I've been nominated for the past two months and even getting nominated is a great feeling for me," said Lingard, who recently received praise from Bruno Fernandes when the United playmaker labelled him the top-flight's best player over the past 10 games.

"I want to be up there as the best I can be and the best in the world.

"David Moyes has shown faith and given me the freedom in each game to go and perform."

Meanwhile, Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce is April's manager of the month.

He beat Sam Allardyce, Marcelo Bielsa and Solskjaer to the award after a month which saw Newcastle draw with Liverpool and Tottenham while recording wins over Burnley and West Ham.

It was a run of form that secured Newcastle's Premier League safety.

Bruce won the award for the first time after 19 years and 465 matches in the competition.

Pep Guardiola asked "why should we stop" as his Manchester City side look to celebrate their latest title triumph by beating Newcastle United.

City were crowned Premier League champions for the fifth time – and the third under Guardiola – when Manchester United were defeated by Leicester City on Tuesday.

Guardiola's team lost 2-1 to Chelsea in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Champions League final last time out, but are unbeaten in 22 away matches (W20 D2), the longest ever run by an English top-flight team, heading into Friday's match with Newcastle at St James' Park.

With three matches remaining of the Premier League season before City take on Chelsea in Porto, the final having been moved from Istanbul, Guardiola was perplexed as to why any team would want to stop dominating the silverware on offer.

"It's so addictive. Winning's so nice. You sleep better, you eat better, you laugh more, your relations with your family is better, everything is better, your friends," Guardiola told a news conference.

"It is addictive. Why should we stop when we can still do it? Why should we not try to win again? Why should we not improve our game plan when we can do it?

"In training I see things I still don't like and we have to improve for the final. That makes you do it. When you have the feeling that it's enough, that the pleasure to win the Premier League doesn't make you feel something special, or you have achieved something with them, that is the moment to say bye-bye.

"But seeing as I have this desire to win and the players of course love to play football, we're going to continue to try to do."

As well as three league titles, Guardiola has won an FA Cup, four EFL Cups and two Community Shields during his stint at City, albeit the Champions League has so far eluded him.

Asked to explain how he motivates his players, Guardiola simply pointed to the quality at his disposal.

"Without good players it is not possible. I said it many times," he said, before comparing the situation with the famous NBA teams that Phil Jackson oversaw.

"We won nine titles at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here, and it's easier to do it here than when you are in another club with less potential, that's for sure.

"I always say Phil Jackson won with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal. Without them it would have been difficult.

"Our tactics and ideas just work because of the quality of the players and the quality of the financial support and we have it."

City have won their last 11 away Premier League matches and a win in this match would see them break the all-time record in the top four tiers of English league football, currently held by Chelsea in 2008 and City themselves in 2017.

Pep Guardiola wanted Manchester City to play the Champions League final in Istanbul for Ilkay Gundogan's sake but said the move to Porto was not a problem for the club.

City manager Guardiola has led the team to a first final in Europe's premier club competition, and they will face Chelsea on May 29 for the trophy they crave.

UEFA declared on Thursday that the game would move to Portugal, in the wake of Turkey being added to a travel 'red list' by the UK government due to COVID-19 concerns.

With UK tourists set to be allowed to visit Portugal from May 17, without the need to quarantine at any stage of their journey, it means supporters will be able to take up the allocation of 6,000 tickets per club.

"If UEFA decides that, we are going to go there," Guardiola said.

"I had a pleasure to go to Istanbul, because since my career as a football player with Barcelona, I never had the opportunity again to go there. Not even ever in the Champions League."

City midfielder Gundogan is a Germany international but his parents are Turkish, and he has strong affection for the country.

"For Gundogan, for Ilkay, I wanted to go there," Guardiola added. "Unfortunately, UEFA decided to go to Portugal. No problem."

Guardiola will hope Kevin De Bruyne is ready to play in the Champions League final, but the Belgian playmaker will miss Friday's Premier League game at Newcastle United due to a muscle injury.

"He is still injured but he's getting better," Guardiola said in a news conference on Thursday.

"When he is fit, he will come to training and the guys who are completely fit with 100 per cent mentally and physicality will have a chance to play in the final.

"Before that we have three games to get information about how the team is and the players to play in the last game of the season."

Pep Guardiola savoured his latest slice of success with Manchester City as the Premier League champions tucked into late-night pizza.

Now Guardiola is targeting the Champions League for dessert, having clinched the trophy he regarded as the most important for the club.

City were able to celebrate on Tuesday evening after Leicester City won at Manchester United, a result across the city that was the cue for a party at the Etihad Stadium.

"It was so nice," Guardiola said. "Normally the unexpected parties are the nicest ones.

"After Leicester won at Old Trafford, all together we came here in our bubble, everybody safe.

"We drank a little bit, we danced, we hugged a lot, and we remembered how good it was, and especially at around 11.30-12 arrived 10-15 pizzas and that was the best moment of the night.

"I was not in my perfect conditions to decide which one I ate. Here in England the party's just alcohol, it's not food, I don't understand why."

Guardiola said City's league title, his third in five years since arriving at the club, was further confirmation of the strides the club have taken over the past decade.

"In the last 10 years we've won five, the last eight we've won four, the last five we've won three," Guardiola said. "That's incredible. That is more important than winning this title.

"It's massive and it means a lot of managers, top players, sports directors, many people working to achieve what we've achieved.

"We sustained the success and work ethic ... to win three in the last five years I never expected it when i arrived."

Guardiola predicted a Liverpool revival next season and said Arsenal would "make a step forward", describing City's march to the 2020-21 championship as "a massive achievement".

He thanked chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak for showing faith in him, even when City were showing rocky form early this season. Guardiola signed a new contract in November, since when the team have been almost unstoppable.

They tackle Chelsea in the Champions League final in Porto on May 29, with that the one major trophy that City still long to win.

"The culture of the manager is so volatile: if you don't win, you'll get the sack," said Guardiola.

"Of course the players trust you, especially if you win. Given what we have done so far in the recent past, if you start to lose they start to believe or they start to doubt to believe

"The best way to convince them is to try to win games.

"Personally there is a special gratitude of course to my sporting director Txixi [Begiristain], he's a friend of mine, and especially Khaldoon.

"I travelled to see him in November and we had long discussions together and he convinced me we still have a lot of work to do.

"I trust him a lot. Part of my happiness here and the success we've had has been because of his determination to convince me.

"That is the big difference what I found when I had the feelings sometimes in other clubs. I've always been supported at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, [but] I've had the feeling that the manager would only be supported when he has success."

Speaking ahead of Friday night's Premier League clash with Newcastle United, Guardiola added: "I cannot forget in my first season here when I didn't win anything, the behaviour of my chairman, and I cannot forget the big disappointment personally against Lyon the support I had from my chairman. That's why he is part of our success.

"Now we have two weeks ahead of us and a dream come true to play in the final of the Champions League

"And the show must go on next season. So we're going to try to be strong next season."

The Premier League has confirmed away fans will not be allowed to attend fixtures staged in the final two rounds of the 2020-21 season.

With a further relaxing of coronavirus restrictions scheduled in the United Kingdom on May 17, up to 10,000 supporters will be allowed inside grounds to watch games again.

The penultimate set of top-flight fixtures had been pushed back to midweek dates as a result, thereby making sure all clubs have one home outing under the new guidelines.

However, visiting fans will not be permitted inside the stadiums, a decision taken to make sure there is consistency across the board for all 20 teams.

"The Premier League last week confirmed fixtures have been rescheduled to provide an opportunity for each club to host one home game with supporters before the end of the season," a statement from the governing body said.

"Match round 37 will now be played on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 May with the final matches of the season kicking off at 16:00 BST on Sunday 23 May, as planned.

"Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance.

"The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.

"Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021-22 season."

Gareth Bale's future is uncertain as his loan spell at Tottenham from Real Madrid draws to an end.

Bale has said he intends to return to Madrid for the final year of his contract.

Spurs' interest in keeping the Wales star beyond this season is not clear as they are in the market for a new head coach after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

 

TOP STORY – NEW SPURS BOSS TO DECIDE ON BALE

The Daily Mail reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will let the club's new head coach decide whether or not to re-sign Bale.

The option remains for a second loan deal for the Welshman to re-join Spurs from Madrid next season.

Spurs have first option on a second loan but they would require Bale's agreement, although he appears out of favour in Madrid.

Triggering the clause will cost Tottenham £12million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Dortmund's asking price for Jadon Sancho is down to £87m (€100m) according to ESPN, which may interest Manchester United and Liverpool. Dortmund previously demanded more than £100m (€115m) for the England midfielder.

- Arsenal are interested in signing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, with a five-year deal on the table, according to Football Insider.

- The Athletic claims Brentford striker Ivan Toney is drawing interest from Leicester City and Everton as well as a "host of clubs" preparing bids for his services.

- Newcastle United are considering a move for Vitesse defender Danilho Doekhi, reports De Telegraaf.

- Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix to sign Santos' teenage forward Kaio Jorge, claims Kicker.

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