Pep Guardiola described Mikel Arteta as an "incredible manager" after his Manchester City side beat struggling Arsenal 4-1 to reach the last four of the EFL Cup. 

Arteta left his role as Guardiola's assistant a year ago to take over at Arsenal but he is under intense scrutiny after a dismal start to the season, which has left the Gunners 15th in the Premier League. 

He enjoyed no respite on Tuesday, with Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte sealing an 18th consecutive win in the competition for holders City after Alexandre Lacazette had cancelled out Gabriel Jesus' early opener. 

Arteta's position will come under further scrutiny after Arsenal conceded four goals at home in an EFL Cup game for the first time since a 5-0 defeat to Chelsea in November 1998, but Guardiola is in no doubt about the Spaniard's talents. 

"What can I say, everybody knows we are judged on results. He can defend himself perfectly," he told Sky Sports.

"I worked with him, we cannot have had our success without him. He is an incredible manager. I know his proposals and what he will do. Not even a little run of bad results is going to change my opinion."

The victory meant City became the first team to win four consecutive away games against Arsenal in all competitions since Chelsea between 1960 and 1965. 

They were helped on their way by Gunners goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson, who allowed Mahrez's free-kick to squirm through his grasp and gift City a 2-1 lead. 

It was Mahrez's first goal from a free-kick since September 2019 – and his fifth in all competitions in English football – and the Algerian knew there was an element of luck to it. 

"It was a solid performance," he said. "We started good and then they equalised. We got lucky with the free-kick and then we got the third one and then it was easier for us.

"I was surprised at the position of Runarsson. He was so close to the post and luckily didn't catch it properly and that was good for us.

"We've been struggling but it's football. It's not always easy to score four or five goals. Today we scored four goals and it was a solid performance."

Manchester City booked an EFL Cup semi-final spot and piled more pressure on Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta with a resounding 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday. 

Arteta, who was Pep Guardiola's assistant at City before taking charge of the Gunners a year ago, has faced questions over his future after a dismal start to the season has left his side languishing in 15th in the Premier League. 

He did not find any respite against his former club, with City – who have won the competition in each of the last three seasons – easing through to the last four after second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte. 

Alexandre Lacazette had earlier given the hosts hope of ending a run of three straight home defeats to City when he cancelled out Gabriel Jesus' early opener, but that proved to be a rare moment of joy in yet another turgid defeat for the beleaguered north London club.

The visitors started in ruthless fashion, taking the lead after just 125 seconds when Jesus headed Oleksandr Zinchenko's left-wing cross past Runar Alex Runarsson inside the six-yard box, ending a goal drought of 609 minutes for the Brazilian.

Laporte headed wide from a corner before the Gunners pulled level with their first effort on target in the 31st minute, Lacazette heading home Gabriel Martinelli's cross from six yards out.

City should have restored their lead before the interval, but Runarsson raced off his line to deny Jesus after a smart move on the edge of the penalty area involving Foden.

The Arsenal goalkeeper was entirely at fault for City's second nine minutes after the interval, though, allowing Mahrez's free-kick from the edge of the area to squirm through his tepid grasp.

City added a third five minutes later when Foden latched onto Fernandinho's pass and lofted a delightful finish over Runarsson, although the goal would have been disallowed if VAR had been in use with replays clearly showing the midfielder was offside. 

The holders added gloss to an 18th straight victory in the competition in the 73rd minute, Laporte stealing in at the back post to head home Foden's inviting cross. 

Pep Guardiola will demand "more, more, more" from his players after they thumped Burnley 5-0 on the back of Riyad Mahrez's hat-trick.

Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres were also on target as Guardiola's side found their scoring form, having struggled in front of goal in the early months of the season.

In his role as chief destroyer, Mahrez took his goals haul to seven in his last four Premier League appearances against Burnley.

His overall total of eight career goals against the Clarets means he has scored more against them in the Premier League than any other side.

The Algerian winger also took his tally of goal involvements in the Premier League to 102 (61 goals, 41 assists), making him the sixth African player to reach triple figures in the competition.

Such an impact means Mahrez looks set for a run in the City team, with Guardiola insisting the time for squad rotation in the Premier League is over, at least until the Champions League knockout rounds begin in February.

"Of course there will be players who are tired and need some rest," Guardiola said, "but they will play, the guys who defend well and score goals.

"The guys who do it will have more chances to play. It's not about right now making rotations. They are going to play more, more, more until they are tired."

Mahrez has clearly helped his cause, with the big win largely of his making, and Guardiola urged others to follow the former Leicester City player's lead.

"The last week or few days he's been much, much better and we saw him sharper," Guardiola said.

"Of course [a big win] can help us, especially for Riyad. Riyad has to score goals, the other ones have to score goals, [Raheem] Sterling when he plays has to score goals, and they don't score much.

"They have to score goals and that's the reason why they are here and play up front."

In the final reckoning, City had 68.6 per cent of possession and 19 shots to Burnley's nine.

Twice in the Premier League this season, City have taken more shots at goal, but they could not force a win on either occasion, losing 2-0 to Tottenham despite having 22 attempts and drawing 1-1 with Leeds United regardless of their 23 shots at the West Yorkshire side's goal.

City had scored just 10 times and lost twice in their opening eight Premier League games this season, which was hardly the start their manager wanted after being pushed aside by a rampant Liverpool in last season's one-sided title race.

Now, after inflicting another 5-0 defeat on Burnley - strangely, that has been the scoreline in their last four Etihad Stadium clashes with Sean Dyche's side - there is greater cause for optimism.

But Guardiola does not mind by how many goals his team win, as long as they continue to beat rival sides.

"It's not important; the important thing is winning games," said the former Barcelona head coach. "You can win it with a big margin and that's good, but I'm not expecting that every game we go out there and score a lot of goals.

"The important thing is to create the chances - every game we have a lot and today we were good and we converted."

For an afternoon at least, City did not miss Sergio Aguero.

The Argentine striker's knee injury has meant he has missed most of the season to date, and Guardiola reported that remained a problem, saying Aguero had been unable to train earlier in the day.

"We know the injury he had is not easy for the recovery. We have to handle it as best as possible," Guardiola said. "When he is ready he will start to train with us and play."

Riyad Mahrez scored a hat-trick as Manchester City thrashed Burnley 5-0 on Saturday in a timely response to criticism of their early-season form.

The Algeria international struck twice in the first half to surpass 100 goal involvements in the Premier League and put City in total control.

Burnley had brief respite when a third City effort was disallowed, but Benjamin Mendy's clever finish – his first goal in English football – effectively ended the contest before half-time.

Ferran Torres also got his first league goal for City before substitute Phil Foden crossed for Mahrez to complete his treble and cap a supremely comfortable outing at the Etihad Stadium.

Mahrez opened the scoring just six minutes in, slotting home from Kevin De Bruyne's pass after a slick City move that started from a loose James Tarkowski pass.

It was 2-0 16 minutes later, Mahrez skipping into space and firing a shot in off the left-hand post after Burnley's defence switched off from a City throw-in.

Goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell, making his Premier League debut, saw the ball bounce in off the same upright only for the assistant referee's flag to spare Burnley's blushes, with Gabriel Jesus having headed the ball off the offside Torres.

The reprieve did not last long, De Bruyne given time to clip a cross to Mendy, who turned a controlled finish beyond Peacock-Farrell for his first club goal since a Coupe de France match between Monaco and Marseille in March 2017.

It was 4-0 with 66 minutes gone, Torres side-footing home after Jesus' clever lay-off from a Kyle Walker delivery, and Foden needed just 93 seconds on the pitch before his cross was nodded home by the unmarked Mahrez.

Peacock-Farrell turned the ball into his own net but was spared by another offside call, with De Bruyne crashing a shot off the post in injury time as City made it seven wins in a row against the Clarets by an aggregate scoreline of 28-1.

What does it mean? City close gap to champions

The win moves City into eighth in the table, six points behind Liverpool, who drew with Brighton and Hove Albion and have played a game more. It also ended a run of six consecutive league games in which City have failed to score more than once, something that will no doubt leave Guardiola feeling encouraged.

Burnley are 17th, with five points from nine matches, and have now lost four games in a row at City 5-0. In English football league history, only Notts County have beaten a specific opponent by five or more goals in four successive home games, doing so against Port Vale from October 1893 to February 1907.

Mahrez magnificent

Mahrez is the sixth African player to reach 100 goals and assists combined in the Premier League (62 scored, 41 assisted) and he did so in some style here.

He led Charlie Taylor and Ben Mee a merry dance as he became City's first African hat-trick hero since Yaya Toure against Fulham in 2014.

Tarkowski makes it too easy

On a day of zero positives for Burnley, the performance of the usually reliable Tarkowski, who has openly declared he does not plan on signing a new deal at Turf Moor, was particularly unfortunate.

His poor pass led to City's first goal, his careless clearance resulted in the fourth, and he seemed unable to organise the back line.

What's next?

City head to Porto on Tuesday, having already qualified for the Champions League last 16, before hosting Fulham in a week's time. Burnley are at home to Everton next.

With coronavirus restrictions to be eased and fans allowed back into (some) stadia next month, matchday 10 will hopefully be the last of this season's Premier League where every game is behind closed doors.

With that in mind, this weekend is likely to become something of a cut-off point in 2020-21 in terms of assessing how players and teams are faring, and whether the absence of fans has helped or hindered.

In other words, if anyone likes playing in front of empty stands, this will be their last chance to really enjoy themselves – and rack up some fantasy football points for the discerning manager.

Using Opta data, we've come up with our latest weekly selection, which might give some of you an edge heading into the festive period...

 

KARL DARLOW

Newcastle United fans might not be fully behind Steve Bruce, but one most can agree on is that goalkeeper Karl Darlow is enjoying career-best form.

The 30-year-old has filled in admirably for Martin Dubravka this season, making more saves (41) than any other Premier League goalkeeper. In fact, only Edouard Mendy (87.5 per cent) has a better save percentage than Darlow (72.2 per cent).

Goals are usually at a premium when Newcastle play Crystal Palace – only seven have been scored in the previous seven meetings – so a Darlow clean sheet could well be on the cards.

 

MATT DOHERTY

Matt Doherty is one of only three defenders to have scored and assisted four Premier League goals since the start of 2019-20.

The Tottenham man has had 98 touches in the opposition box in that time, a tally bettered only by Andy Robertson when it comes to defenders.

However, nobody beats Doherty for shots on target over that time frame (17). As a defender for a resolute Tottenham side, he's always worth including.

 

MICHAEL KEANE

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been plundering the goal trail this season, but Michael Keane might just be Everton's most clinical finisher.

No Premier League defender has scored more than Keane (three goals) since June 2020, and those goals have come from only seven shots, giving him the best conversion rate (42.9 per cent) among defenders to score more than once in the competition in that time.

Everton have struggled for clean sheets lately but Keane at least could offset those defensive issues if he nets against Leeds United.

RIYAD MAHREZ

Burnley do not like playing Manchester City. They've won once in 12 Premier League meetings and lost the previous six in all competitions by an aggregate score of 23-1.

They are also sick of the sight of Riyad Mahrez, who has scored four goals in his most recent three league games against the Clarets. They are his second favourite opponents, behind Watford (he has seven goals against them).

Pep Guardiola could well rotate his side as the schedule continues to pile up, and Mahrez will be eager to impress.

 

BRUNO FERNANDES

Where would Manchester United be without Bruno Fernandes? Well, they'd be winless this season - he's scored the winning goal in each of their four league victories in 2020-21.

In fact, Fernandes has been involved in more Premier League goals (24 – 14 scored, 10 assisted) than any other player since his debut. In the same period, only Kevin De Bruyne (74) has created more chances than the Portugal star (56).

Facing Southampton away is a tough challenge for any side at the moment, so a decisive Fernandes display could be crucial for United.

DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN

Dominic Calvert-Lewin leads the way for goalscoring this season, with 10 in nine games.

If he scores against Leeds United, he will become only the second player to score more than 10 in his side's first 10 games, after Les Ferdinand, who hit 13 in 1995-96.

Leeds will be no pushovers, but Calvert-Lewin will take some stopping.

 

TAMMY ABRAHAM

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham is looking to score in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since last September.

Abraham has actually scored twice as many goals (18) as any other Blues player since the beginning of last season.

Frank Lampard has plenty of attacking riches at his disposal, but Abraham is out to prove a point to his boss.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola accused football authorities of failing in their duty of care amid a hectic fixture schedule, insisting players are "not machines".

Matches are coming thick and fast following a shortened off-season after the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign, with City due to host Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday on the back of Thursday's EFL Cup victory.

City will be without Gabriel Jesus as their injury list grows – Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all recovering from fitness issues.

Guardiola – whose City were afforded an extra week of recovery before opening their season with victory at Wolves following a run to the Champions League quarter-finals – hit out at the football calendar, telling reporters: "Nobody cares about the players. It is about the business. The reality is what it is.

"It is not just Man City, it is all the clubs and countries. Nobody cares about the players.

"Everyone - the Premier League, UEFA, EFL - has defended their own business and position.

"The players had a two-week pre-season and now they have to play every three days for 11 months. We will not change anything saying the opposite.

"I understand it is an exceptional situation for everyone - restaurants, theatres, cinemas, museums.

"Everyone is struggling. We are not an exception. We have to believe in what we are doing and try and play a good game.

"We have three players who came back from national teams injured. We cannot control that. They let them play two games in four days without preparation. They are not machines."

While frustrated with the demands on players, Guardiola heaped praise on City star Riyad Mahrez ahead of his reunion with former club Leicester.

Mahrez, who won the 2016 Premier League title with Leicester, made his first appearance of the season in the 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Thursday following a positive coronavirus test during pre-season.

"Riyad is an exceptional player. He arrived late after the positive COVID-19 test only training for a few days before Wolves but I know how important he is for us," Guardiola said.

"For the quality, the passes and especially his mentality and he is aggressive to score goals. We will train the guys who didn't play [against Bournemouth] and we will see the way we are going to play and then which players will play."

Pep Guardiola insisted it was not right for him to talk on Lionel Messi's behalf after the transfer saga that saw the Barcelona superstar heavily linked with a move to Manchester City.

Messi asked to leave Barca in the tumultuous aftermath of their humiliating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

City were widely viewed as the frontrunners for his signature, with a reunion between Messi and Guardiola heavily tipped to happen before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner announced he would remain at Barcelona for the final year of his contract, accusing president Josep Maria Bartomeu of going back on his word and making the financial cost of any deal for a buying club "impossible".

LaLiga backed Barca in confirming the €700million release clause in Messi's contract remained valid.

Speaking ahead of Monday's trip to Wolves, where City will begin their attempt to unseat Liverpool and win a third Premier League title in four seasons, Guardiola was keen not to cause any friction with his former employers.

"I think I don't have to explain anything," he said. "Leo explained quite well his feelings, I don't have anything to add.

"He's a football player for FC Barcelona, the club I love, and there is nothing more to say."

Asked whether City would be interested in signing Messi were he to become available, at the age of 34, when his contract expires in June, Guardiola replied: I don't know. It's a question for Leo Messi. I cannot talk about the intentions of other people."

Guardiola's forward line at Molineux will be entirely without Argentinian talent after he confirmed City's record goalscorer Sergio Aguero is yet to resume full training following meniscus surgery in June.

Riyad Mahrez is set to feature after time in isolation following a positive coronavirus test, although centre-back Aymeric Laporte only returned to training from his own COVID-19 absence on Friday, so is a doubt.

That could mean a debut for Nathan Ake at centre-back, one of two major close-season acquisitions for Guardiola, alongside winger Ferran Torres from Valencia.

"So far really good," he said of how Ake and Torres had settled.

"What we have to do with all the players and staff, the people close to them, is to help them to settle as quickly as possible.

"They are two nice people and it's good to have them with us."

City have been extensively linked with a move for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, with the deal appearing to have stalled over recent weeks.

Nevertheless, Guardiola has no qualms over how his club have backed him in the transfer market.

"Since day one, when I arrived here, I was more than satisfied with what I had in the team," he added.

"The club do absolutely everything to do their best for all of us. I'm a lucky person to have these players and be in this club."

Eduardo Camavinga is highly coveted following his exploits for Ligue 1 outfit Rennes.

The 17-year-old's stock has also risen after making his first France appearance.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly vying for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – GIANTS GO HEAD-TO-HEAD FOR CAMAVINGA

Real Madrid face competition from Paris Saint-Germain to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to Marca.

Camavinga, who made his international debut for France on Tuesday, has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga champions Madrid.

However, Ligue 1 holders PSG are reportedly determined to keep the 17-year-old in France.

The front page of Friday's AS Diario adds Camavinga, PSG star Kylian Mbappe and RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano are being targeted by Madrid in 2021.

 

ROUND-UP

- TyC Sports claims Barcelona have made a new offer for Inter forward Lautaro Martinez. Repeatedly tipped to swap Inter for Barca, Martinez's agents are believed to be in Spain to discuss another bid.

Ronald Koeman has handed Barca a four-player shortlist, including Lyon's Memphis Depay, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, Inter defender Stefan de Vrij and Manchester City defender Eric Garcia, claims Marca.

- FootMercato reports Madrid are considering a move for City attacker Riyad Mahrez.

- Sky Sport says Inter are convinced they will sign Arturo Vidal from Barca. It comes as Cagliari and Rennes try to sign veteran Nerazzurri defender Diego Godin, while Inter reportedly close in on Parma full-back Matteo Darmian.

- Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud has agreed a provisional contract to join Juventus as the Serie A champions wait on Barca veteran Luis Suarez, claims Sky Sports Italia. Juve have also been linked with Roma's Edin Dzeko, Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik and Alvaro Morata of Atletico Madrid. Andrea Pirlo's Juve have also eyed former forward Moise Kean but Everton are unwilling to do a loan deal, reports Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Juve striker Gonzalo Higuain, meanwhile, is set to complete his move to David Beckham's Inter Miami in MLS.

Leicester City want to sign Saint-Etienne defender Wesley Fofana but former Foxes boss Claude Puel is reluctant to part with the centre-back, according to Le10 Sport.

Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte have both tested positive for coronavirus, Manchester City have confirmed.

The Premier League side revealed the duo had contracted COVID-19, though they were displaying no symptoms, and were currently self-isolating.

The 2020-21 Premier League season begins on Saturday, September 12, though City's first fixture in the competition is against Wolves on September 21, in 14 days' time.

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City ran riot in a 5-0 away victory over Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.

England international Sterling made it six goals in five games, moving on to 27 strikes in all competitions – his best scoring tally in a single season.

His opener and a goal from Gabriel Jesus, who ended Saturday's match with two assists, ensured City were in complete control by half-time after making six changes to their starting XI.

Sterling netted again and Bernardo Silva scored before the hour mark as Brighton, who remain eight points clear of the bottom three, had no answer.

Nine minutes before the end, a determined Sterling grabbed his third.

Jesus and Eric Garcia had already missed early chances by the time Sterling put the visitors in front after 21 minutes.

He cut inside from the left and impressively found the far corner from 20 yards after collecting Jesus' headed lay-off.

Jesus had a shot deflected onto the crossbar by Brighton defender Lewis Dunk and also showed some great footwork to create a chance which Riyad Mahrez narrowly fired wide.

But City were not to be denied, Jesus tapping in from under the crossbar after Rodri had helped on a Kevin De Bruyne corner a minute before the break.

De Bruyne cannoned a free-kick off the post shortly after the restart and City soon got their third after 53 minutes when Sterling headed in Mahrez’s in-swinging free-kick from inside the six-yard box.

It was four in the visitors' next attack when Mat Ryan could not hold Bernardo Silva's deflected effort and Jesus kept the ball alive to allow the Portugal international to convert a simple follow-up.

Sterling’s hat-trick goal came in unusual fashion, as he forced his way past Dunk and Adam Webster before somehow creeping a header between Ryan's legs while he fell to the ground, with a scrambling Dan Burn then helping it over the line.
 

What does it mean? City emphatically end away-day blues

City had lost their last three Premier League away games, while they had scored just three times in their last six top-flight matches on their travels, despite an expected goals figure of 13.

They had no issues bringing those poor runs to a welcome end with a victory that all but secures second place in the Premier League after Chelsea's defeat against Sheffield United.


Jesus impresses with Aguero out

Brazil international Jesus scored his first goal since lockdown against Newcastle United last time out and, apart from the superb Sterling, was excellent as City's other standout in this game.

He scored one and assisted two as well as being a constant threat in a lively 63-minute outing. He now has 20 goals and 10 assists in a season where he has become even more important with Sergio Aguero out injured.


Brighton backline a concern

Convincing home defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool and now City mean Brighton are not yet mathematically safe. Facing Pep Guardiola's side is a formidable task at the best of times, but their defending did themselves no favours here, with City players constantly finding themselves unmarked close to goal.


What's next?

City will likely make changes ahead of their FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal when they host struggling Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday, a day before Brighton could seal safety when they play away to Southampton.

Pep Guardiola still feels Bernardo Silva is one of the most special footballers he has ever coached despite the midfielder's dip in form this season – something for which the Manchester City boss takes his share of responsibility. 

Silva was voted City's player of the season as he and his team-mates swept to a domestic treble in 2018-19, but his performances this time around have been indicative of a general malaise, with Liverpool storming clear of their rivals to claim the Premier League title. 

The Portugal international has featured infrequently in the right-sided attacking midfield position he occupied for a chunk of last term, with Kevin De Bruyne back to full fitness and in prime form. 

Similarly adept on the right-hand side of attack, Silva has found his path blocked by Riyad Mahrez and, more recently, Phil Foden. 

The previous campaign concluded with the former Monaco man being named player of the tournament as Portugal claimed the inaugural Nations League title, and fatigue has not been difficult to spot in his work at times. 

A Football Association ban for tweeting a racially insensitive cartoon to team-mate Benjamin Mendy placed Silva in hot water off the field and, speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Brighton and Hove Albion, Guardiola conceded a downturn from the playmaker has been obvious. 

"That's true maybe he didn't play as much as last season," he said. 

"This season, maybe it was my fault or maybe Phil was more involved and Riyad maintained his level and the other players played good too. 

"They know the competition they have with each other, but my admiration, respect, especially my opinion about him, nothing has changed. 

"He's a special player for me. One of the most special players I had in my career as a manager, the relationship I have with him." 

Guardiola is particularly impressed by Silva's acceptance of his situation – a stark contrast to when his manager said the City team last season was "Bernardo plus 10" – and is confident the 25-year-old knows what he must do to turn things around.

"He's a guy who doesn’t change his mood whether he plays or doesn't play," he said. "There are players that just are happy when they play and they smile at me and smile at the backroom staff when they play. 

"When they don't play, they make you feel they are not happy and they behave like a little, little child. 

"Bernardo is completely opposite. He's a mature man. He's a man who knows exactly what has happened, how this moment is and always he's the same person. 

"That's why he is an incredible person for me to work with and always I will be grateful. 

"In the time we spend together, the only thing I want is to help him to come back at his best level. If there is one player in this team who I would give help and support, it's Bernardo Silva. He's the first on the list." 

Mahrez scored his 10th Premier League goal of the season during Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United and Friday marked the two-year anniversary of his £60million arrival from Leicester City. 

Guardiola is impressed by the Algeria international's performances but suggested he could sometimes use some of Silva's good grace. 

"He's an incredible player, fantastic self-confidence," he added. "He is a guy who always creates something special, in assists and goals. 

"We are delighted to have him and hopefully he can help us when he plays and when he doesn't play. Hopefully I can help him to improve this detail." 

David Silva’s sublime display against Newcastle United saw him lay on a 10th assist of the season, a tally he has reached in all 10 campaigns for Manchester City.

The departing Silva set up the first and last goals, scored by Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, in City's 5-0 home Premier League thrashing of Steve Bruce's side on Wednesday.

He also netted a 25-yard free-kick as he continues to sparkle prior to his exit at the end of the season, though surprisingly this was the first game in which the midfielder had both scored and assisted a goal in since January 2016.

Silva, 34, has racked up a total of 121 assists for City in his decade at the club since signing from Valencia in 2010.

Federico Fernandez scored an own goal, while Riyad Mahrez also notched to ensure City became the first team in Premier League history to have five different players score at least 10 goals in a single season.

Mahrez, Jesus, Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero have all reached double figures in 2019-20.

The match was also notable for City completing an astonishing 93.7 per cent of their passes (787 out of 840 attempts), the highest level recorded since Opta began gathering data in the 2003-04 season.

Manchester City put their defeat to Southampton behind them with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Newcastle United on Wednesday.

The 1-0 loss at St Mary's Stadium was City's ninth of the Premier League season and left them a demoralising 23 points behind new champions Liverpool at the top.

That gap was closed back to 20 - while the distance to Chelsea in third was stretched to nine - as Pep Guardiola's side brushed aside Newcastle through goals from Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and a Federico Fernandez own goal.

Newcastle were happy to cede possession and keep their defensive block in place, but the game plan was undone just 10 minutes in when Jesus finished from David Silva's cut-back after some slack marking.

The visitors were unable to cope with City's high press and, when they lost the ball again 35 yards out, De Bruyne ran onto Phil Foden's simple pass and squared for Mahrez to side-foot home.

That goal meant City became the first team to have five players hit 10 goals in a single Premier League season and there should have been another when Jonjo Shelvey gave up possession but Foden shot wide.

Foden somehow prodded wide with the goal gaping soon after the restart, but City had only to wait until the 58th minute for their third goal, Matt Ritchie kicking the ball in off Fernandez while trying to stop Jesus.

Silva made it 4-0 with a precise free-kick from 25 yards out, the disjointed Newcastle wall summing up the Magpies' scant overall resistance, and the Spaniard set up substitute Sterling for a simple fifth after intercepting a pass.

What does it mean? City consolidate second... and wonder why

City's latest goalscoring record took them to 86 in the league this season, 14 more than leaders Liverpool, but did little more than make finishing second almost certain.

The kind of attacking interplay and unshakeable dominance of the game against Newcastle only adds to the bemusement as to how they have lost nine times and let Jurgen Klopp's side have such a simple time of things in the title race.

It was a first league loss for Steve Bruce's side since February 22, keeping them six points outside of the top eight but comfortably 16 clear of the drop zone.

Silva still shining as City clock winds down

Silva got his ninth and 10th assists of the season in all competitions and a sublime goal to cap a typically creative, stylish performance. Surprisingly, it was the first time he had scored and set up a goal in a league match since January 2016.

He has just two more home league games to come as a City player. It is a shame they will be held without the crowd ovation he deserves.

Krafth work strikes a sour note

Newcastle's 4-5-1 shape was never likely to work if the players were so quick to lose focus. The first-half goals both came from the position Emil Krafth should have been occupying, although he was given next to no protection out wide by DeAndre Yedlin and Valentino Lazaro.

What's next?

City head to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, the same day Newcastle face a Watford side still fighting for Premier League survival.

Manchester City became the first team in Premier League history to have five different players score at least 10 goals in a single season on Wednesday.

Riyad Mahrez moved to double figures for 2019-20 when he slotted home Kevin De Bruyne's cut-back to make it 2-0 against Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium.

De Bruyne himself has 11, as does Gabriel Jesus, who opened the scoring against Steve Bruce's side. City's top two scorers in the league this term are Raheem Sterling with 13 and Sergio Aguero on 16.

City are the first team in England's top flight to have at least five players reach the 10-goal mark since Everton in 1984-85.

Those goals from Jesus and Mahrez took Pep Guardiola's side to 83 in the league this season, nine more than newly-crowned champions Liverpool.

Despite breaking new ground in goalscoring, City found themselves 23 points behind Liverpool with five matches remaining after going down 1-0 at Southampton on Sunday - their ninth defeat of the season.

A couple of days on, Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Southampton – their ninth loss of a limp and unsuccessful Premier League title defence – still appeared to be irritating Pep Guardiola.

How had it happened again? Such wastefulness.

Guardiola warned his players their FA Cup and Champions League hopes will go up in smoke if they remain so profligate, with his suggested remedy sounding more like exasperation than a practical solution.

"The only solution when you create 26 chances [and don't win] is to do 35," he said, recalling the precise number of attempts City had without scoring on England's south coast last weekend.

"And if 35 is not enough, 40. And if 40 is not enough, 45."

The City manager stopped before his chances to minutes ratio ran away from him entirely, but his team do create a phenomenal amount of opportunities.

In a Premier League table compiled using results from each game returned by Opta's Expected Goals (xG) metric, City would be top and not a mammoth 23 points in arrears.

Put simply, if fairly absurdly, the division's top scorers have a goalscoring problem.

NO SALVATION FOR JESUS

Sergio Aguero's knee-injury absence means Gabriel Jesus is City's only fit senior striker. This is certainly not the best time for the Brazil international to be enduring a nine-match goal drought.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's home game against Newcastle United, Guardiola made a point of praising Jesus' performance at Southampton, but his numbers make for grim reading.

Of the five opportunities Opta classified as big chances to pass the visitors by at St Mary's, Jesus spurned three of them. His xG figure for that barren showing was 1.36.

In 29 Premier League appearances, the 23-year-old has scored 10 times in 2019-20. This is a significant under-performance of his 14.7 xG.

Jesus' big-chance conversion rate is 25 per cent. No City player has enjoyed more than his 28 opportunities of that sort, yet just seven have ended up in the net.

However, as noted above, this is a team-wide problem for which Jesus is currently – albeit somewhat understandably – the main scapegoat.

THREE AND NOT SO EASY

As of Monday, there had been 24 occasions this Premier League season when a team registered an xG in excess of three during a single match.

City have done so six times, more than any other club. However, their xG of 3.25 against Southampton means they are also the only team to have lost when racking up such a dominant statistic.

Burnley's 3.15 xG only amounted to a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham, but in the other 22 instances, the team creating such a high volume of quality chances prevailed.

City also had an xG of exactly three during their 2-2 draw at home to Spurs last August - an outcome Guardiola still frequently references when assessing where the campaign went awry.

AGUERO LEADS THE WAY

City's all-time leading goalscorer, Aguero turned 32 last month and is out of contract at the end of next season.

The team's recent struggles arguably give an uncomfortable insight into the not-too-distant future. None of Guardiola's other main forward options are as reliably clinical or prolific.

Aguero' 16 Premier League goals this season arrived at a frequency of one every 91 minutes. In contrast to Jesus, he out-performed his xG of 14.6. The Argentina international converted 13 of 25 big chances (52 per cent).

Raheem Sterling was on target during the recent comprehensive wins over Arsenal and Liverpool, but his haul of 13 dips below an xG mark of 14.8, in part due to 10 of 26 big chances being finished off (38 per cent).

MAHREZ AND FODEN OFFER HOPE

Elsewhere, Opta's numbers show not all City players should despair when confronted with a sight of goal.

Riyad Mahrez has an xG projection of six Premier League goals this term, but is up to nine in reality.  The former Leicester City winger isn't entirely immune to the jitters, however, with four of his six big chances missed.

Perhaps the situation calls for bold belief of a special young talent.

Phil Foden's provides a smaller sample size in terms of minutes played, yet the England Under-21 star has four goals despite an xG figure of 1.3.

All of those goals – a brace against Burnley in between strikes versus Arsenal and Liverpool – have come since lockdown and Foden is two from two when it comes to big chances.

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