All good things must come to an end, and that proved the case for Manchester City on Sunday.

Their remarkable winning run of 21 games in all competitions came to an end with a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in the derby.

City hold an 11-point lead over their neighbours at the top of the Premier League, however, and the real battle seems set to be for Champions League places.

Tottenham boosted their hopes with a 4-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min combining for a record-setting goal, while Liverpool's dismal form continued as they suffered a sixth successive home defeat. Fortress Anfield is well and truly a thing of the past.

At the bottom, West Brom and Newcastle United played out a goalless draw. We take a look at the best Opta facts from Sunday's games.

 

Manchester City 0-2 Manchester United: Winning streak grinds to a halt

If there was one team City did not want their incredible run of wins to come to an end against, it would have been United.

It was the first time City have lost since November, when they went down 2-0 at home to Spurs, ending a run of 28 games without a defeat across all competitions. Pep Guardiola's team had won their last 21 in total, including 15 in the league, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to have the better of his counterpart.

United have won three consecutive away games in all competitions at City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000, and among the managers Guardiola has faced more than three times across all competitions as a top-flight boss, Solskjaer is the only one to have beaten the Spaniard (four) more often than he has lost to him.

Solskjaer is also the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions with City. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, three of City's five home defeats in all competitions have come against United.

The Norwegian is now the only manager to have won three away games against sides managed by Guardiola.

Bruno Fernandes scored the opener from the penalty spot inside two minutes. Since his Premier League debut in February 2020, he has scored 12 of the 13 penalties he has taken in the competition. 

After just 101 seconds, Fernandes' penalty was the earliest goal that City have ever conceded in a Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, and the first they have conceded within two minutes at home in the competition since Steed Malbranque's strike for Fulham at Maine Road in January 2003.

Liverpool 0-1 Fulham: Reds' Merseyside misery rolls on

It is hard to believe that before their defeat to Burnley on January 21, Liverpool had not lost a league match at Anfield since April 2017. 

Liverpool have now lost six home games in a row, their longest ever such streak, while they are the first side to lose six in a row on home soil in the Premier League since Huddersfield Town in February 2019 (seven).

The Reds' six league defeats at Anfield this season is their most in a single campaign since 1953-54 (also six), when the Reds finished bottom of the top-flight, with Fulham the first promoted team to win away at Liverpool in the top flight since Blackpool Town in October 2010.

Jurgen Klopp's side are winless in their last eight league home matches, only embarking on a longer winless top-flight run at Anfield once before – 10 games between October 1951 and March 1952. They have won just one of their last seven matches in the competition.

Fulham, on the other hand, are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League away games (W2 D6) – their longest run without defeat on the road in their top-flight history – and are now level on 26 points with 17th-placed Brighton and Hove Albion.

Excluding penalties and own goals, Liverpool have failed to score with each of their last 115 shots at Anfield in the Premier League (including 16 against Fulham). This is the longest such scoreless run of shots on home soil by any side.

Tottenham 4-1 Crystal Palace: Bale and Kane rampant as Spurs boost top-four hopes

Only leaders City (35) have earned more points at home in this season's Premier League than Tottenham (24), and Jose Mourinho's men were in fine form against Palace.

Gareth Bale scored either side of Christian Benteke's equaliser – since the 2012-13 season, only Olivier Giroud (32) has more headed goals in the competition than the Belgian – with both of the Welshman's goals teed up by the brilliant Kane.

Bale has scored in each of his last three home appearances in all competitions, the first time he has done so since September 2018 for Real Madrid (four in a row), and first time for Spurs since May 2013.

Kane then curled in a sensational third goal, before he headed home a fourth from Son Heung-min's cushioned cutback.

Son and Kane have now assisted one another for 14 Premier League goals this season, breaking Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton's all-time competition record of 13 set in 1994-95 for Blackburn.

Kane's second goal was also Spurs' 100th strike in all competitions this season, seeing them become the second club in Europe's "top five" leagues to reach that tally in 2020-21, after Bayern Munich (106).

Spurs talisman Kane is the first Tottenham player since Jurgen Klinsmann in May 1998 to score twice and provide two assists in a Premier League match, while he has been directly involved in 40 goals in 36 games in all competitions this season (24 goals and 16 assists), the most of any player for a top-flight club.

West Brom 0-0 Newcastle United: Bore draw does little for survival hopes

There was not so much in the way of entertainment in the day's early kick-off, as strugglers West Brom and Newcastle shared the spoils.

West Brom are unbeaten in three home league games against Newcastle (W1 D2) for the first time since January 2005, while only Southampton (seven) have gained fewer Premier League points in 2021 than the Baggies (10) and Newcastle (nine).

Newcastle have won just one of their last nine Premier League away games (D1 L7), failing to score in six of those matches.

West Brom had 13 shots at goal in the match, their joint-most attempts without scoring in a Premier League game this season (also 13 v Burnley in October).

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded Luke Shaw, labelling the full-back "absolutely incredible" after his performance in the derby win over Manchester City.

Shaw scored as United upstaged runaway Premier League leaders City 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty after just 101 seconds before Shaw doubled the lead five minutes into the second half away to City, who had their 21-match winning streak snapped and a run of 28 games unbeaten across all competitions.

Solskjaer hailed Shaw – who joined from Southampton in 2014 – following his impressive display as the England international continues to impress at Old Trafford after his rocky start to life in Manchester.

"Absolutely incredible," Solskjaer said of Shaw. "He was a massive doubt until after the warm-up. He needed to do the warm-up to be cleared to play. So Alex [Telles] was ready but Luke's performance [was] top.

"He's aggressive, he's hard to play one against one. When he goes forward on those on runs he's unstoppable.

"He's just improved so much and he's improving all the time and delighted for him."

United have won three consecutive away games in all competitions against City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

The Red Devils are also 22 matches unbeaten away from home in the Premier League, though they remain 11 points adrift of City atop the table.

United star Marcus Rashford limped off with 17 minutes remaining against City and he is set to undergo a scan on his ankle.

Rashford's assist for United's second goal was his 10th across all competitions this season – the first time he has reached double figures for assists in a single season in his club career.

"It's something with his ankle. When he sprinted back about 60-70 yards to save a goal. Just shows the attitude of the boy, and his pace and how he sacrificed himself," said Solskjaer, who became the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away games against City.

"I think, maybe he went over on his ankle or something, but we need to do a scan. I've not had time to sit down and speak to the doctor yet."

Despite United's success against Pep Guardiola's side, Solskjaer is refusing to look beyond Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg against Milan.

"All we have to think about is Thursday," he added. "Every game, one game at a time and see where we're at. We want to improve. I want the player to improve. We want to learn from this experience. We want to learn from Wednesday's experience against [Crystal] Palace. We need to improve on so many things to get our consistency better.

"Of course, they're 11 points ahead of us if I'm not wrong, with 10 games to go, so that's a long, long way. So we need to focus on ourselves and just be a better Man United and I feel we're a better Man United now than we were 12, 13, 16 months ago."

Manchester City can learn important lessons from Sunday's 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester United, according to Pep Guardiola.

Bruno Fernandes' second-minute penalty and a fine Luke Shaw effort shortly into the second half gave Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a third consecutive victory at the Etihad Stadium.

It brought City's record-breaking run of 21 consecutive wins in all competitions to a shuddering halt, although their lead over their neighbours at the Premier League summit is still a healthy 11 points.

With ambitions to taste elusive success in Europe this season, Guardiola acknowledged his in-form side might have been handed a timely reality check.

"Today we are going to talk about it because we lost and that is the news," he said. "But the news is 21 victories in a row. This is the news.

"This result is going to help us a lot to know how difficult it is.

"We knew it but sometimes you have to not win one game to realise. The important one is the next one.

"There are still many games to play, 30 points to play for and in the next game we have the opportunity to do it."

City are back in action against Southampton on Wednesday and Guardiola did not feel his players did too much wrong in a game where Gabriel Jesus' clumsy challenge on Anthony Martial inside the first minute left them fighting an uphill battle.

"We played a fantastic game, a lot of shots," he said. "Starting in that way punished us a lot against a team who, for many years, defends sitting back for the counter-attack.

"They made incredible high pressing, but when you break this action they defend far back.

"On the counter-attack they are so fast. Like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said, the history of Man United is about the counter-attack, the pace.

"We played good, apart from the first 10 minutes. Fortunately we could not be clinical up front and congratulations to United."

Rodri rattled the crossbar shortly before Shaw extended United's advantage – something Guardiola conceded was a pivotal passage in the match.

"It's tough. We had a shot against the crossbar from Rodri and after they did the goal. That's football, you have to overcome," he added.

"After the goal there were five minutes where we were not [good] but after we take the game [to United] and we were really good at the normal level that we are playing.

"We played to continue [the run], we played to do it and it will be a good lesson not to concede the goals we conceded.

"When we lost here to Leicester 5-2, we conceded three penalties. Here, another penalty. It was not a dangerous situation [before the foul], always you have the keeper to save it.

"Apart from this, we played really well. Even after 2-0 we played really well. We conceded a few counter-attacks, but it is normal.

"United are really good at this. The moment we start to attack and they defend deep they are a fantastic, incredible team."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted to see Anthony Martial back to his best in Manchester United's derby win, particularly as the forward nearly missed Sunday’s game at the Etihad Stadium.

Martial was an injury doubt right up until kick-off after not featuring in the 0-0 draw away at Crystal Palace in midweek due to a knee problem.

However, the Frenchman produced an outstanding display against Manchester City, including winning the early penalty that allowed Bruno Fernandes to fire the visitors in front after just 101 seconds.

Luke Shaw doubled the lead in the 50th minute having also been doubtful to play himself, with the Red Devils putting an end to their neighbours' 21-game winning streak in impressive fashion.

"I thought Anthony was absolutely superb today, more like the Anthony of old," Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

"And to think he was a doubt this morning. He was until two hours – or after the warm-up, to be fair. I wasn't sure he was going to play or not. It was the same with Luke. 

"Today he [Martial] rediscovered himself, I feel. He was really strong on the ball, positive, and we have to be a positive team.  

"We want to play at a high tempo, of course we do, but we had to defend well. You’ve got to defend so you can attack the spaces that appear."

Martial played in a central role with Edinson Cavani unavailable, completing 95 per cent of his attempted passes as he consistently caused problems to City's previously stingy defence.

The only disappointment was his failure to convert a glorious opportunity to score himself in the second half, a goal his performance richly deserved.

"When you come away with a 2-0 win and another clean sheet, and a performance like this, you're delighted," Solskjaer said of his team's display against the runaway league leaders.

"We knew it was a challenge. Of course, the first goal dictates a lot of what happened out there.

"We could play more on the result, I didn't like us coming into half-time as we played too much on the result, because we were winning.  

"In the second half we got on the ball a bit more and the second goal was fantastic."

Pep Guardiola's side had not lost in their previous 28 games in all competitions, a run that stretched back to a 2-0 reverse away at Tottenham in November 2020. 

However, Solskjaer has developed a welcome habit of winning at the Etihad. The Norwegian is the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions against City, who still remain 11 points clear at the Premier League summit. 

"They are too far ahead to think we can catch them," Solskjaer said. "Last year, we caught up 15 points up to Leicester, but those are different propositions. 

"Even today, they do put you under so much pressure that you can see you’re playing against a very, very good team."

Anyone concerned that famous old fixtures like the Manchester derby are becoming devoid of emotion without supporters need only have looked at Gabriel Jesus' expression as Ederson just failed to keep out Bruno Fernandes' second-minute penalty.

Manchester City's Brazil forward netted a midweek brace in the 4-1 win over Wolves to persuade Pep Guardiola to keep him in the line-up on Sunday.

One of Jesus' big calling cards is his work rate, never one to shirk defensive duties that plenty of attackers dread.

Even so, haring back into his own area to clumsily foul Anthony Martial after mis-controlling a throw-in was taking that trait to unhelpful extremes.

Ederson got a firm hand to Fernandes' strike but could not prevent City from conceding their earliest ever Premier League goal at the Etihad Stadium. Jesus hit his head with his hands and howled in frustration.

At that moment it was easy to remember the eye-opening quotes the 23-year-old supplied during a goal drought last season

"Always I think, 'Wow I have to score' because I'm playing for a big club in big competitions with big players," he said.

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

If City's collective demeanour had been one of swaggering confidence fuelled by inevitable triumph during their 21-match winning run, it was never one Jesus could comfortably tap into.

He now has no goals in 10 derby appearances, but you won't need to tell him that. Sergio Aguero's expiring contract and the likelihood of City bringing in an elite forward replacement probably weighs heavily, too.

Nevertheless, Jesus led from the front as Guardiola's side sought to recover from a shambling start.

He was lurking when Harry Maguire cleared a dangerous Kevin De Bruyne cross – despite a patchy performance, City's midfield talisman created eight opportunities for team-mates – and a running battle before half-time saw the United centre-back booked for a foul on his opponent.

Jesus had two shots blocked and concluded a half he began clattering into Martial by clattering into the post in a vain attempt to convert Riyad Mahrez's cross-cum-shot.

In the opening stages of the second period, it was Jesus' lay-off that saw Rodri hit the crossbar. An equaliser felt close, but then the roof caved in on Guardiola's men.

Joao Cancelo has been a revelation in his hybrid full-back/midfielder role, but Martial and Marcus Rashford's tirelessly penetrative running offered a reminder he can still lack when it comes to purely defensive duties.

The Portugal international veered into no-mans land under Dean Henderson's throw, allowing the excellent Luke Shaw to start and finish a wonderful counter-attack.

For a spell in the middle of the second half, a defence breached only 19 times in the Premier League this season appeared to be wearing an 'all through traffic' sign. Cancelo was spared from himself as Kyle Walker entered the fray to shore up City's right-hand side before a dejected Jesus made way for Phil Foden.

The lead at the top of the Premier League is 11 points and this result – Solskjaer's third win in succession at the Etihad Stadium – should count for little beyond bragging rights. But Europe's elite will have taken note.

As City strained to get back into the match, ghosts of other Guardiola setbacks returned. Raheem Sterling, like Jesus still without a goal in this fixture, spurned glorious chances; players did not get shots away in a crowded penalty area; individual errors piled up and counter-attacking routes were left wide open.

A marque signing like Erling Haaland would solve some of Sunday's problems in the opposition penalty area, but little of what unfolded in other areas of the field.

Speaking at his pre-match news conference, Guardiola rejected any notion of a reality check perhaps being useful for his side. Such questionable logic is unlikely to feature in his forensic analysis of the game.

However, the last time United bloodied a City team bound for the title in April 2018, they did so after Liverpool had ransacked them in the Champions League quarter-finals. This lesson is at least more handily timed.

City's rock-solid look for large parts of this season was entirely absent and that will concern Guardiola, as it is their key point of difference from unsuccessful tilts at European glory.

Their collective loss of heads can only be partially explained by Jesus shooting himself in the foot.

Gabriel Jesus got the nod to lead Manchester City's attack in the derby against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium, with Phil Foden having to be content with a place on the bench.

Jesus took his tally in all competitions to 11 goals this season with a midweek brace in the 4-1 win over Wolves, which extended City's winning streak to 21 matches and allowed the Premier League leaders to head into Sunday's fixture with a 14-point lead over third-placed United.

That performance against Wolves persuaded Pep Guardiola to retain Jesus in his XI, despite the fact his team have often operated without a specialist centre-forward during their record-breaking run.

Foden was joined among the substitutes by Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva, as Kevin De Bruyne was named as captain in midfield on his 250th City appearance.

Both Jesus and De Bruyne were looking to improve their individual records against United. The Brazil striker has not scored in nine derby appearances, while none of De Bruyne's 77 Premier League assists have come with United as the opponents.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was aiming to become the first United manager in history to win his first three away derbies and selected a front three of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James.

Edinson Cavani returned from injury during the midweek 0-0 at Crystal Palace – United's third consecutive goalless draw – but the veteran striker was not part of the derby matchday squad.

Bruno Fernandes is convinced the signing of Alex Telles is the key component behind Luke Shaw's dramatic improvement at Manchester United after the left-back won the club's Player of the Month award.

It was not so long ago that Shaw's United career appeared to be petering out to an underwhelming conclusion, particularly during Jose Mourinho's ill-fated reign.

In two-and-a-half years playing for the Portuguese coach, Shaw only made 33 Premier League appearances. While he did have injury and fitness problems, the manager's attitude seemingly did little to endear himself to the player.

Mourinho criticised Shaw publicly on several occasions, yet the left-back kept his head down and – to the surprise of very few – ultimately outlasted the 'Special One', kicking on brilliantly under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

His five assists this season is already a personal high for a Premier League season, having only managed seven in total in previous campaigns, but that's just the tip of the iceberg – Shaw's chance creation frequency of 2.44 per game is almost double his previous best of 1.3 in 2016-17, and that was from just 11 appearances.

The only defender to lay on goalscoring chances at a better rate than Shaw is Ryan Fredericks (2.45), though his marginally improved record comes from 13 fewer games than Shaw's 23.

Liverpool's Andrew Robertson has previously been held up as something of a standard-bearer for full-backs in the Premier League, yet Shaw's 31 key passes from open play is just one less than his 32 from four fewer outings. Joao Cancelo leads the way (36), though he does count set-piece deliveries as among his strong points – the United man does.

Statistically, this season is an outlier for Shaw in almost every regard and highlights just how much of a step forward he has taken, but Fernandes is convinced there has been one major catalyst for this resurgence.

Speaking to the United website ahead of Sunday's derby clash with Manchester City, Fernandes said: "[Shaw]'s been playing really, really well in the last few months. I think he started a little bit slow like everyone did because at the beginning of the season we didn't start good.

"I think the competition between Alex and Luke has given both of them the chances to be better and to improve. This is really important because you know if you are not performing well you will be out of the team.

"I think Luke started to perform well when he had that pressure from Alex. At the same time, Alex when he plays has played really well because he knows that Luke is on the bench.

"So, the pressure between them is good but the relationship between them is better, I have seen that in the stands. Alex is always pushing to help everyone and I remember when I came off against Real Sociedad it was Luke in the stands and I saw a lot of times Luke pushing to help Alex.

"This is what we're about. You can be fighting for the same place, but you are fighting for the same achievements, you know.

"This has to be like that in every position in the team, we have to understand that whoever is playing it's because the manager thinks he's better for the team in that moment and the most important thing is the team.

"I think everyone is happy for Luke to win this Player of the Month award and I'm happy too because he deserves it, and I hope he can continue this form until the end of the season because he knows Alex is there to take his position."

Sunday's trip to City will see Fernandes go up against some familiar faces in Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva and Cancelo, all of whom are colleagues of his at international level with Portugal.

All three have enjoyed fine campaigns individually and, as a collective, have helped City embark on a club-record winning streak of 21 games across all competitions.

Avoiding defeat again on Sunday will mean City are unbeaten in 29 matches, another new club record, and Fernandes made no secret of wishing his compatriots were not doing so well as a team.

"I speak with them regularly, we have a good relationship, but the relationships stay out of the game. They know me and they know that on the pitch we are not friends anymore," he said with a grin.

"At the same time I enjoy seeing them play and every one of them is doing well individually and I'm happy for them. As a team I was hoping to see them do a little bit worse than they are doing, but individually I am happy for them because they are good people and they deserve to be in the positions they are and playing in the way they are playing."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is confident Manchester United can halt Manchester City's astonishing 21-game winning run if they are at their very best at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

City look certain to regain the title and remain in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple following a run of 28 matches without defeat.

Third-placed United trail their neighbours by 14 points ahead of the derby and really need a repeat of their victories at the home of their rivals in the two previous visits if they are to have any chance of being crowned champions.

United boss Solskjaer has full faith that this side can stop City's record-breaking streak.

He told the club's official website: "We have to be the best possible Man United, no matter who plays on the other side.

"When we're the best possible Man United, I back my team in any game against any team. That's the key. Of course, they'll cause us problems, but we have to find the solution and try to give them other problems to worry about."

Solskjaer says the Red Devils can have no complaints about such a demanding schedule this season.

The former Norway striker added: "It's a challenge for the team. The most successful Man United teams over the years always used to have this.

"Maybe once in a while we'd get a midweek off, but we haven't and we haven't had any easy cup draws either to rest players. The only way to improve, get better and get used to this is to go through it.

"The players are getting more and more robust, physically and mentally, and I've been impressed by them and they recover [from games] really well.

"Of course, once in a while you don't really hit your best form, that's natural and we understand that.

"Everyone goes onto the pitch to do their best and now it's a derby and of course everyone is going to be fired up and any mental or physical fatigue is not going to come into play, that's for sure."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not concerned by Bruno Fernandes' waning impact in Manchester United's attack, believing his team-mates can profit from the midfielder's mere presence.

Fernandes has not provided a goal or an assist in his past three appearances in all competitions, each of which have seen United held to goalless draws.

Prior to his mini barren run, the Portugal international had averaged 3.8 shots and 2.9 chances created per 90 minutes, enjoying 83.4 touches, including 3.6 in the opposition box.

Over the three games since scoring and assisting against Newcastle United, he has averaged two shots and 2.8 chances per 90, touching the ball in the area at the same rate but seeing his overall involvement drop to 72.4 touches.

It is only a slight drop-off from Fernandes' lofty standards, but combined with United's underwhelming run – they have not had a single 'big chance' since their two against Newcastle – it has prompted discussion.

Solskjaer is not worried, however, calling on his other United stars to step up, starting against rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

"We expect everyone to be a leader, everyone to take that responsibility," Solskjaer said.

"Of course it might be Bruno, but I know that teams are trying to man-mark him at times and that's not a dig at anyone.

"That's just that sometimes in football they try to stop your best player. And someone else will have to step forward.

"Bruno might find a position, make space for others, create. He has created chances for others even when he has not touched the ball. And you see others have created chances for Bruno when they've not touched the ball.

"It's about the movement and creating space for your team-mate and taking that responsibility.

"We have had big moments in big games recently. Chances that we would normally put away and then everyone is rosy, everyone says we are the best thing since sliced bread.

"The away game against Chelsea wasn't far away from being almost a perfect away game. We should have had a penalty, we should have got the last counter-attack, one last pass away from winning the game.

"It is about taking the big moments and having some luck in the big moments."

Since Fernandes made his United debut in February 2020, he has been involved in 54 goals in all competitions, ranking third across Europe's 'top five' leagues behind only Robert Lewandowski (74) and Lionel Messi (60).

Only that superstar duo and former United sensation Cristiano Ronaldo have attempted more shots than Fernandes' 202.

Meanwhile, he tops the charts for chances created (158) over that span, just ahead of City's Kevin De Bruyne (156).

Manchester City will be aiming to open up a surely unassailable 17-point gap over Manchester United with a win in Sunday's derby, yet former Red Devils winger Nani insists the Premier League leaders are not stronger than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side. 

United have received plenty of negative press lately for their poor recent record when facing other members of the so-called 'big six', with last weekend's 0-0 draw at Chelsea the sixth successive game against such calibre of opponent in which they have failed to score. 

Five of those six matches ended 0-0, while the last time United managed to get a goal against the league's biggest clubs was the 6-1 humiliation by Tottenham in early October. 

Such omens do not offer a particularly bright outlook ahead of their trip to the runaway leaders, with City heading into the weekend just one match away from setting a new club record, having now gone 28 games unbeaten across all competitions.

But ex-United star Nani, who lost four of his eight games against City for the club, insists sheer ability alone is not the reason for the gap in the table. 

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Nani said: "What I have seen of this team and what I saw from last season, United are building a strong team. They are building a young, strong team, so that's very good. 

"Man United have a great coach now and it's a matter of time [before they challenge for honours]. I think some of the players need to get more experience, learning fast how they win certain games in certain moments, because I see moments where there is no chance of losing any points and yet they lost. 

"That's why now, if you see the top of the table, it makes a little bit of difference because otherwise they would be sharing the position in the table with Man City. 

"I don't see Man City stronger than Man United, I see they look more experienced, and they are in a good form. I think the next game will be important for the end of the season if they beat Man City, we have all the chance and I think we're going to win it because that is a different game. But they have to go with everything." 

Despite his confidence in United, Nani appreciates the job Guardiola has done in 2020-21 – after all, City took just 12 points from their first eight matches amid a sluggish start to the season. 

Yet, Guardiola turned things around and City have not dropped a single point since being held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom on December 15, Nani singling out the manager's influence in restoring the confidence of certain key performers.

"I think Guardiola has been doing a great job this season, to get the team together," Nani added. "They seem a very confident team when they play.

"He brought back some players whose confidence was down, like Bernardo Silva. He put Joao Cancelo [in] - Cancelo is doing fantastic for the team, and all the players at the front, they are not scoring so many goals as before, but they have been important.

"There are players who last season did not appear so much, like [Ilkay] Gundogan, who this season has been amazing. He scored so many goals and is giving so many assists. So, it's important when you don't have important players available, like Kevin De Bruyne, you can bring another player who can appear and help the team."

While Nani alluded to Silva's increased importance, it's another Portugal international who is seen as arguably the catalyst to City's improvement this season: Ruben Dias.

The centre-back fits in perfectly with Guardiola's philosophy of building from the back and has formed an outstanding partnership with John Stones – when playing together they have won 13 of 14 Premier League matches this term, keeping 11 clean sheets, and Nani believes Dias has proven himself one of the best around.

"Yes, he's proved already that he's one of the best in the world," Nani continued. "I think if people don't think that, then very soon they will change their mind because the way he's been performing for the team, the way he has been helping in a defensive way, that is one of the reasons in the second half of the season City is performing and conceding less goals.

"It's also partly [down to] John Stones. I think it's important when the defence of the team is solid, it's much easier for the ones who play at the front to perform and to be more relaxed to create the chances to score."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to concede the Premier League title to runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester City, while he talked up the club's progress.

Stuttering United are second and 14 points adrift of neighbours City ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

United go into the fixture having won only two their previous eight Premier League matches, a run that has not only dashed their title hopes but left the Red Devils vulnerable in the top-four race.

Fifth-placed Everton are only five points adrift of United – who are through 27 games – with a match in hand.

Despite United's wobbling form and City's comprehensive advantage, Solskjaer has not given up hope on Premier League silverware.

"There are still 11 games to go in the Premier League," Solskjaer told reporters. "I have always said, let's get to at least March and April before we talk about a title race. You don't talk about title races after 18-19 games.

"We have given ourselves a very good chance of improving on last season by the position we're in. I'd rather be in the position we're in now, compared to the situation we were in last season. But of course, in the Premier League, there are lots of quality teams.

"What we can control is ourselves and if we do our jobs and get as many points as I think we can do, I'm sure we'll be up there."

United are unbeaten in 21 Premier League matches away from home (W13 D8). In top-flight history, only Arsenal have had a longer away undefeated streak, going 23 without defeat between August 2001 and September 2002 and 27 without defeat between April 2003 and September 2004.

Solskjaer's United are looking to win three consecutive away games in all competitions against City for the first time since a run of four between November 1993 and November 2000.

This week, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said the club have made clear progress under Solskjaer in 2020-21, and the Norwegian responded on Friday.

Solskjaer – looking to become the first manager in United's history to win each of his first three away meetings with City in all competitions – added: "Of course, you want to win every game of football, you do. But if we compare to last season, we're quite a bit higher in the league compared to the same stage. We're still through in Europe and the FA Cup.

"It's probably the league that you think, 'yeah, that's where we've shown the progress'. Hopefully, we can prove in the Europa League and the FA Cup that we have taken another further step.

"This team, the ambitions are there, of course. We have more experience to be in this position, compared to last season. We're gelling more as a team, they're fitter but at the moment, we look short term and that's Sunday, to get back to creating chances, taking them and scoring goals again."

Dean Henderson will start for Manchester United in Sunday's derby with City after David de Gea returned to Spain to attend the birth of his first child.

De Gea missed Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer describing the reasons for his absence as "personal".

It became readily apparent just why De Gea had skipped the trip to Selhurst Park when, on Friday, he posted an image on social media to mark the birth of baby Yanay.

Solskjaer is confident Henderson is ready for the challenge that awaits him at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, with City unbeaten in 28 matches, having won 21 in a row.

"I will give David the time he needs before he comes back," said Solskjaer, whose side have a win percentage of 69 without De Gea from 13 games, compared to 52 from 29 with him in goal. 

"He wanted to go and be there, so there was not even a decision to make. Dean is ready, so we can give him the time he needs.

"As soon as David travels back we have to follow the rules, so I expect him to be ready very soon.

"We allowed him to go back and we want him back as soon as possible – but he is a human being. I don't know when he is back, but it won't be long."

United go into the fixture 14 points behind their rivals, having won only two of their previous eight Premier League matches.

It is a run that has left them vulnerable to slipping out of the top four, with fifth-placed Everton five points behind but boasting a game in hand.

However, Solskjaer is refusing to look beyond this weekend's match, as United seek to win a third consecutive game at City for the first time since 2000.

"Our focus is on this game, not where we are going to end up," said the Norwegian, who expects Paul Pogba to miss out but is more hopeful over Victor Lindelof and Anthony Martial.

"We want to be the best possible Man United and try to improve on last season, get to a final and win a trophy. They are ahead of us by a fair distance.

"I can only control what is happening at Man United, there are so many differences between the clubs.

"They are the only team ahead of us at the moment. It's a fantastic spell, with great form and 21 wins."

Despite United's recent wobble, with their previous three games have ended goalless, Solskjaer is not worried about a general loss of form.

"We have had a week without scoring a goal, not six weeks of bad form," he said, with United never having drawn 0-0 four times in a row.

"We beat Real Sociedad 4-0 and Southampton 9-0. The amount of games can have an effect.

"I am not buying into the narrative that we have had such a dip in form. We have defended well but we have lacked a little spark to score a goal."

The visitors have an outstanding away record to protect, having avoided defeat in their previous 21 trips on the road.

In top-flight history, only Arsenal have enjoyed a longer unbeaten run away from home (twice: 23 and 27).

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward lauded the "progress" made by the side under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season.

Speaking as the club's latest quarterly financial results were announced, Woodward said United have made progress, both on-field and commercially over the past 12 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Woodward highlighted the work of Solskjaer, whose side are second in the Premier League, 14 points adrift of runaway leaders and neighbours Manchester United.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17 - following Wednesday's disappointing 0-0 stalemate at Crystal Palace.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

"The progress made by Ole and the players this season is clear and our thriving Academy and Women's team are also adding to the optimism we feel about the future on and off the pitch," Woodward said.

United – without a Premier League title since 2012-13 – are also into the FA Cup quarter-finals and the Europa League last 16 this season, while they reached the EFL Cup semi-finals.

The Red Devils exited the Champions League in the group stage after a bright start in a tough group including last season's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain and 2019-20 semi-finalists RB Leipzig, but eased past Real Sociedad last week in the Europa League last 32.

Domestically, United are the fifth top-flight team to remain unbeaten in their first 14 away top-flight matches in a season (W8 D6), after Leeds United in 1973-74, Liverpool in 1987-88 and Arsenal in both 2001-02 and 2003-04.

United's unbeaten away run in the league extends back 21 matches until the 2-0 loss to eventual champions Liverpool in January 2020.

Solskjaer took over as United manager on a caretaker basis in December 2018 following Jose Mourinho's dismissal, winning the job permanently in March 2019 on a three-year deal.

The Norwegian has less than 18 months remaining on that contract but revealed last month has not yet opened discussions with the club about an extension.

Meanwhile on United's commercial progress, Woodward added: "While the disruption to our operations remains significant, we are pleased by the tremendous resilience the club has demonstrated through the pandemic, underpinned by the dedication of our people and the strength of our commercial business.

"We have been reminded of the importance of football as a source of community, entertainment and pride to fans around the world, even as we have sorely missed them at Old Trafford."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is weighing up whether to block Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes from travelling with Portugal during the international break due to COVID-19 quarantine.

Portugal are scheduled to play three World Cup qualifiers this month – at home to Azerbaijan (March 24), away to Serbia (March 27) and on the road against Luxembourg (March 30).

Linking up with Portugal would mean Fernandes would be subject to a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel upon his return to the United Kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It would also leave Solskjaer without the services of Fernandes against Brighton and Hove Albion (April 3) and Tottenham (April 10).

Asked about the situation following Wednesday's goalless draw away to Crystal Palace, United manager Solskjaer told reporters: "We have not sat down and made a proper call on that one but it doesn't make sense if you lose your player for 10 days' isolation.

"We are the ones paying the players, from what I understand, that [being allowed to ban players travelling] is the rule. 

"FIFA have given the rule that they don't have to be released, so it is going to be a hard call to make to let them play in red-list countries.

"I want Bruno ready for Brighton and hopefully we will be through in Europe and against Tottenham after that break, of course I do."

United were held to their third successive scoreless draw across all competitions after firing another blank against Palace midweek.

Solskjaer's faltering United produced another toothless display at Selhurst Park, where the Red Devils slipped 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City ahead of Sunday's derby.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

"Of course we're not happy when you don't create chances enough to win a game," Solskjaer said. "Of course, it's been a week with no goals, and sometimes three games sounds a lot without scoring.

"It was not considered either but a week in a season like this sometimes is... yeah, you just don't hit the form that you normally had, that you have had for many, many months, so it's a bit of a worry. Of course it is.

"But, I know that the boys are given everything. And that's the thing with we play every three days, and I know they given everything they've got so attitude and approach I'm very happy with the quality. We need to get back to what we know we can do."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted he is worried by Manchester United's goal drought following their 0-0 Premier League draw away to Crystal Palace.

United were held to their third successive scoreless draw across all competitions after firing another blank against Palace on Wednesday.

Solskjaer's faltering United produced another toothless display at Selhurst Park, where the Red Devils slipped 14 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City ahead of Sunday's derby.

United registered their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season – the club's joint-most ever in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

The Premier League giants have also drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 in all competitions for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal.

United manager Solskjaer conceded he is concerned post-match, with his team only a point clear of third-placed Leicester City through 27 matches.

"Of course it's a concern," Solskjaer told Match of the Day. "When you have three clean sheets in a row, that will help you win games but we haven't produced the quality.

"We just have to find a spark again, the quality again and try and win the games."

He added: "It's not good as you know if you want to move up the table, you need to win. You have to earn the right, you have to win tackles, you have to fight, you have to play passes better. We kept giving the ball away.

"The tempo was missing, once in a while it happens. It wasn't one of our best nights that's for sure.

"[Palace manager] Roy Hodgson always sets his teams up to be really hard to play against and it just showed again tonight.

"A couple of times when we had the tempo in the right positions, we created decent opportunities but I don't think we deserved anything more than one point."

United goalkeeper Dean Henderson started in the absence of star David de Gea, who was sidelined due to personal reasons.

Henderson impressed midweek, the England international staking his claim for a regular starting berth with a superb save to deny Patrick van Aanholt late in the second half.

"That's a Man Utd goalkeeper, sometimes you have to keep concentrating," Solskjaer told Sky Sports. "He's growing in that position. I thank him for one point and not zero."

Asked when De Gea will return, Solskjaer replied: "That's a private matter. It'll take the time it takes."

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