Sergio Aguero set a Premier League record when he scored his 12th hat-trick in England's top flight as Manchester City beat Aston Villa 6-1 on Sunday.

The Argentina striker surpassed the previous best mark of 11 set by former England captain Alan Shearer across his celebrated spells with Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.

Aguero became City's all-time leading goalscorer in 2017 and has excelled under Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Pep Guardiola since moving to the Etihad Stadium from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

Here, we take a look back over his record-breaking deadly dozen.


Manchester City 3-0 Wigan Athletic – September 10, 2011

It proved love at first sight between Aguero and the City faithful as he came off the bench to net a brace against Swansea City on his home debut. He went one better next time out at the Etihad Stadium. Two assists were laid on by David Silva, with the delicate skill and sublime pass to craft Aguero's hat-trick goal announcing the long and fruitful on-field relationship they would enjoy.

Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham – October 18, 2014

After two seasons without a Premier League treble, Aguero scored all four in this thrashing of Spurs, with two converted penalties and another miss from 12 yards in the middle of a remarkable haul.

Manchester City 6-0 QPR – May 10, 2015

Facing the club who were on the receiving end of Aguero's career-defining goal, there was none of the tension and suspense of three years earlier as City brushed a sorry QPR aside and condemned them to relegation. A barrelling solo run through a disorganised backline opened the floodgates in the fourth minute before Aguero pounced on an error from Yun Suk-young and completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot.


Manchester City 6-1 Newcastle United – October 3, 2015

Newcastle were heading for a half-time lead until Aguero nodded a 42nd-minute equaliser. It was the first of a scarcely credible five in 20 minutes – his third following a delightful exchange of passes between Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho the pick of the bunch.

Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City – April 16, 2016

Pellegrini's final season at City had petered out in terms of a Premier League title challenge. Aguero's emphatic pair of finishes at the end of scything counter-attacks led by De Bruyne at Stamford Bridge made that feel particularly wasteful. Thibaut Courtois' professional foul on Fernandinho meant the matchball was claimed from 12 yards.


Watford 0-6 Manchester City – September 16, 2017

A performance that offered an emphatic response to lingering questions over whether Aguero could operate effectively under Guardiola. After heading home De Bruyne's free-kick to open the scoring and converting David Silva's cutback, Aguero prodded in at the end of a brilliant dribble to cap his hat-trick in style.

Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United – January 20, 2018

Newcastle were on the receiving end of more Aguero punishment as he glanced in a De Bruyne cross, crashed a penalty past Karl Darlow right footed and crowned Leroy Sane's riotous dribble inside the visitors' box with his left to complete a 'perfect' hat-trick.

Manchester City 5-1 Leicester City 1 – February 10, 2018

Another occasion where three goals were not quite enough for Aguero – he found the net four times in the second half of this crushing victory over the Foxes. Incredibly, this was the third time Aguero had scored at least four goals in a Premier League game, while the win moved City a whopping 16 points clear at the top of the table.

Manchester City 6-1 Huddersfield Town – August 19, 2018

It was only the second weekend of the new campaign but Aguero was already in top form in this demolition of the Terriers. "I never saw him like this since I was here," Guardiola said. "He is in an incredible condition with the ball and without the ball." Ederson's long pass sent Aguero clear for his first, he capitalised on Ben Hamer's error for his second, and the treble was sealed when he converted Benjamin Mendy's cross.


Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal – February 3, 2019

Aguero opened the scoring in the first minute, with all three of his finishes on this occasion coming from close range. It was his 14th hat-trick in all competitions for City, who moved within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to this defeat of Unai Emery's Gunners.

Manchester City 6-0 Chelsea – February 10, 2019

A week later and Aguero had another matchball to add to his collection after City tore Chelsea apart at the Etihad. Aguero should have converted an easy chance even before his fourth-minute opener, a sensational 25-yard drive that left Kepa Arrizabalaga helpless. Ross Barkley's mistake gave Aguero a simple second and the treble was wrapped up from the penalty spot as City leapfrogged Liverpool.

Aston Villa 1-6 Manchester City – January 12, 2020

It was already a record-breaking day for Aguero in Birmingham, who surpassed Thierry Henry as the Premier League's highest scoring overseas player with his second of the game and 176th in the top flight. Kortney Hause coughing up possession let Riyad Mahrez set him up to overhaul Shearer. Aguero's blistering 20-yard effort into the top corner to start his hat-trick was the pick of the bunch.

Manchester City thrashed Aston Villa 6-1 as Sergio Aguero netted a hat-trick to break two records, Riyad Mahrez scored twice and former Leicester City team-mate Danny Drinkwater endured a debut to forget.

The contest was settled in a 10-minute spell at Villa Park in which Mahrez grabbed a double and Aguero equalled Thierry Henry as the Premier League's top-scoring non-Englishman, later surpassing him and grabbing a record 12th hat-trick in the process.

It was a particularly harsh introduction to life at his new club for Chelsea loanee Drinkwater, who might have prevented the opener and effectively supplied the second.

Mahrez broke the deadlock after easily shrugging off Drinkwater's dithering presence, while the three-cap England international gave the ball away in his own box to allow his former Foxes team-mate to double his tally.

Aguero's rasping drive put City in control and Gabriel Jesus made it 4-0 before the break, with Villa's punishment extended by two more goals for Aguero after the break – Anwar El Ghazi's late penalty a minor blemish for the champions.

Having seen Liverpool continue their apparently unstoppable march to the top-flight title with a 1-0 win at Tottenham on Saturday, City – fresh from a 3-1 EFL Cup semi-final first-leg victory over Manchester United – were initially a little lacklustre before Mahrez injected some much-needed quality with his 18th-minute opener, which came at the end of a fine solo run. 

Drinkwater, having failed to make an impact in a previous spell with Burnley, looked off the pace and was caught by David Silva, who found Jesus to set up Mahrez for the Algerian's second soon after.

Aguero's record-equalling goal was more eye-catching, his vicious strike from outside the box getting the better of Orjan Nyland to leave Villa reeling. 

Worse was to come in first-half stoppage time, Jesus steering home from Kevin De Bruyne's superb pinpoint cross from right. 

To Villa's credit, they limited the damage in the second half, albeit Dean Smith's side were often pinned back by a fluent and strutting City outfit.

Aguero's fancy footwork in the box created the space for him to coolly slot in the fifth, making history in the process, but he was not done there.

An emphatic close-range finish ensured Aguero has now scored more hat-tricks than any other player in Premier League history.

El Ghazi took out his anger on a last-gasp penalty that did little to paper over the cracks for Villa, with City jumping above Leicester into second.

 

What does it mean? City shine, even in the shadows

Liverpool's stunning form has left City somewhat in the Merseyside club's shadows, but even now they continue to shine.

This was a display of champions, which is what City officially remain for the time being. Villa can take solace in knowing they will not face this quality every week in their quest for survival.

Mahrez makes his mark

Several City players underlined their class in this one, not least of all the likes of De Bruyne, Aguero and Silva, but it took Mahrez to bring the game to life.

He was a willing runner at an ailing Villa defence who failed to limit his influence.

Drinkwater's maiden outing a harsh lesson

As debuts go, this was up there – or down there – with the worst. Drinkwater's lack of game time had readily apparent consequences in a contest where Villa were already huge underdogs.

He will need to dust himself down after this one and hope the only way is up.

What's next?

City welcome Crystal Palace to the Etihad Stadium next Saturday, having lost the same fixture last season in a five-goal thriller. Villa, meanwhile, head to the south coast to take on Palace's bitter rivals Brighton and Hove Albion.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has become the highest-scoring overseas player in Premier League history.

The Argentina star's double during Sunday's match at Aston Villa moved him on to 176 goals in England's top flight – one clear of Arsenal and France great Thierry Henry.

Aguero and Henry are undoubtedly two of the finest attacking players ever to have graced the league, but how do their records stack up alongside one another?

With a little help from Opta, we decided to find out.

Henry's home comforts

Both men's scoring rates are remarkably similar, with Henry's 175 goals coming in 258 appearances and Aguero usurping him on his 255th. The City favourite also shades it in terms of minutes per goal, with each strike clocking in at 106.86 minutes alongside Henry's 122.

The two players heavily favour their lethal right feet. Aguero notched 125 with that trusty boot – including his unforgettable title-clincher against QPR in 2012 – and Henry netted 136 with his stronger foot.

Aguero has 33 and 17 left footed and headed goals to Henry's 31 and 6, although the 1998 World Cup winner boasts more from long range – crashing in 29 from outside the penalty area to Aguero's 21.

Under pressure inside the box, Aguero has held his nerve from the spot 26 times to Henry's 23.

Indeed, one of the most significant differentials is home and away goals, with 55 of Henry's coming beyond the environs of Highbury and Emirates Stadium. Aguero has a century of Etihad Stadium strikes (102) but 74 on his travels.

Aguero the Toon tormentor

No Premier League team have felt the force of Aguero more often than Newcastle United. He has 15 goals in 13 appearances against them, although five of those came in the same 6-1 win in 2015.

Tottenham were used to the threat of Henry but nowadays struggle to contain City's prolific Argentine, who has 11 in 15 games versus the north Londoners. Chelsea (10 in 14) are another capital club to have suffered plenty of Aguero punishment.

The distinction of being Henry's most scored against Premier League opponent is a three-way tie between Villa, Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough, each of whom conceded 12 times to the former Monaco and Juventus forward.

Both Aguero and Henry have delighted their adoring faithful with eight league goals apiece at the expense of Manchester United, although the former's have come at a faster rate, across 893 minutes as opposed to 1,178.

Among his top 10 most agreeable opponents. Aguero's eight goals in eight outings versus Stoke City came across a mere 595 minutes. Henry plundered seven in six versus Portsmouth – a handsome return on 540 minutes' work.

Silva service and Pires the provider

Of course, both men have benefitted considerably from a stellar supporting cast.

No player has assisted Aguero in the Premier League more frequently than David Silva (21), although the former Spain playmaker will leave City at the end of this season, by which point the mercurial Kevin De Bruyne (18) might have already surpassed him.

Yaya Toure's 11 assists for Aguero equalled the tally supplied by Henry's erstwhile attacking ally Dennis Bergkamp, one fewer than the late Jose Antonio Reyes (12).

However, Robert Pires stands clear with 17 Premier League assists for Henry during a period where the duo excelled for club and country.

Another Frenchman, Samir Nasri, assisted Aguero on nine occasions – the same number of goals Freddie Ljungberg and Patrick Vieira laid on for Henry.

When it comes to returning the favour, Henry is clearly out in front with 74 assists to Aguero's 46.

Sergio Aguero is the top-scoring overseas player in Premier League history after he netted twice during Manchester City's match at Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Argentina striker rifled in a blistering strike from 20 yards to give Pep Guardiola's side a 3-0 lead inside half an hour at Villa Park, before collecting a pass from David Silva and placing home his second after the break.

It moved Aguero on to 176 goals in England's top flight, surpassing the mark of 175 established by Arsenal and France great Thierry Henry.

City star Aguero, 31, is now fifth overall on the Premier League's all-time list, behind Frank Lampard (177), Andy Cole (187), Wayne Rooney (208) and Alan Shearer (260).

Aguero, who joined City from Atletico Madrid for £38million in July 2011, is his club's record goalscorer with 248 in all competitions.

Manchester City captain David Silva will make his first Premier League start for a month at Aston Villa, where Pep Guardiola has selected Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus in his XI.

Silva, who will end a 10-year association with City when his contract expires at the end of this season, sustained a thigh injury during December's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United and made brief substitute appearances against Everton and Port Vale at the start of this month.

Aguero and Jesus last started a Premier League game in tandem against Newcastle United in September 2018.

It means Guardiola has granted Aguero a shot at overhauling Thierry Henry as the Premier League's leading overseas goalscorer. The Argentina striker is on 174, one behind Henry's record mark.

Jesus' fellow Brazilian Ederson is back from suspension as one of six changes from the City team that beat United 3-1 in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final at Old Trafford in midweek, with Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling among those dropping to the bench.

Danny Drinkwater makes his Villa debut in a midfield featuring ex-City man Douglas Luiz.

The former Leicester City player joined on loan from Chelsea this week following an unsuccessful stint at Burnley, where his only Premier League appearance came in a 4-1 loss to City at the start of last month.

Port Vale's Tom Pope had the FA Cup impact he promised before holders Manchester City ran out 4-1 winners at the Etihad Stadium.

Pope, whose disparaging Twitter post about City defender John Stones came to light following the third-round draw, nodded in a superb 35th-minute equaliser after Oleksandr Zinchenko's deflected opener.

However, Sergio Aguero ensured the hosts went in ahead at half-time before youngsters Taylor Harwood-Bellis – inadvertently scoring his first senior goal after Stones thought he had City's third – and Phil Foden sealed the Premier League champions' progress.

Nathan Smith scrambled an eighth-minute effort from Foden out of the goalmouth but fellow Vale centre-back Leon Legge was not so effective with his own last-ditch attempt – turning Zinchenko's speculative 20th-minute strike past Scott Brown.

David Silva inexplicably scuffed Ilkay Gundogan's low cross into the turf and against the crossbar with the goal at his mercy and City would rue that miss.

On a rare Vale attack, David Amoo raided down the right and Pope found space off the back of Harwood-Bellis to dispatch a fine header.

Another player who would certainly fall under Pope's self-applied label of "bagsman" is Aguero, and City's all-time record goalscorer restored his team's lead after Foden stayed just onside to steer Gundogan's chipped pass across goal.

Brown made superb early second-half saves to deny Bernardo Silva and Foden, yet City had the breathing space they desired before the hour.

Stones looked to have levelled the personal duel with Pope – insofar as there was one – but a VAR check showed his close-range shot clipped Harwood-Bellis on the line.

A wretched clearance from Stones, half-blocked by Pope, meant Vale substitute Tom Conlon almost reduced the deficit with a diving header, while David Silva's frustrating outing in front of goal continued as he dragged wide.

But Foden got the goal his efforts deserved from a drilled Angelino cross, allowing attentions to turn towards a blockbuster midweek derby.

What does it mean? Guardiola's Cup kings march on

Pep Guardiola selected a team with one eye on the forthcoming first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester United and City were far from their fluent best. Still, City have now prevailed in 22 of their past 23 domestic cup ties, with a 2018 FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Wigan Athletic the only blot in the past three seasons.

Pope walks the walk

Vale's veteran striker arguably set himself up for a fall seven months before this tie with a tweet claiming he would "get 40 a season" playing against Stones. Pope's bravado was duly unearthed after the draw and, although the visitors' goal had nothing to do with any short-comings on Stones' part, he relished backing up his bold words.

City understudies come up short

Angelino and Claudio Bravo should probably thank Pope for targeting Stones on social media, because their parts in the goal might be overlooked. The left-back's lacklustre efforts when it came to stopping Amoo's cross left City in trouble. It was a fine finish but, not for the first time in his City career, Bravo appeared awfully flat footed, meaning his chances of pulling off the save were limited to begin with.

What's next

City resume their other domestic cup defence with the first of a Manchester derby double-header at Old Trafford on Tuesday, while there is a Manchester United-flavour to Vale's midweek assignment as they travel to Salford City in the EFL Trophy on the same day.

Pep Guardiola hailed Gabriel Jesus after his double against Everton but also labelled Sergio Aguero "irreplaceable" at Manchester City.

Jesus' quickfire goals early in the second half ultimately proved enough to claim the points against the Toffees, who pulled one back through Richarlison following Claudio Bravo's mistake.

Meanwhile, Aguero, who marked his return from injury with a crisp finish in City's 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday, remained on the bench as an unused substitute.

Brazil international Jesus now has 13 goals to his name in all competitions this season, but Guardiola insists Aguero is still number one.

"Gabriel has been excellent, but Sergio is irreplaceable," Guardiola said in quotes reported by City's official Twitter account.

"What he means for our fans, what he's done, the goal against QPR [in 2012], we need a good back-up for all the players and Sergio has a great complimentary player in Gabriel.

"They have a great relationship."

Jesus, in a post-match interview with BT Sport, said he is still attempting to learn as much as possible from Aguero.

"Of course, it's always good to start [the year] with the victory," the 22-year-old said. "The team played well, very well. I'm happy with the goals, the guys played so well today.

"I'm a striker, I have to score and try every time. We have Sergio, who scores every game. I have to learn from him. When I go on the pitch, I have to score."

City's win kept them within a point of second-placed Leicester City, though they are still 11 adrift of runaway leaders Liverpool, who play on Thursday.

Over the festive period, City beat Leicester, the Blades and Everton, though slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Wolves on December 27.

"We played great, so I am delighted for the guys. This period is so tough. We did really well. Three more points and closer to Leicester," Guardiola added.

"When you are far away from the first position sometimes people give up, but we never give up. We have to keep going. We have FA Cup then the EFL Cup. Other teams dropped points for the top four, so it was an important win."

Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling were named among the subs and Ederson left out of the squad entirely due to illness for Manchester City's home Premier League clash with Everton.

City's leading goalscorer Aguero was on target for the 14th time across all competitions this season against Sheffield United last time out, while Sterling lasted 88 minutes of Sunday's 2-0 victory.

Both players were omitted from the starting line-up for the New Year's Day clash with Everton, however, as Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus came in.

Kyle Walker, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Bernardo Silva also made way, replaced by Joao Cancelo, Benjamin Mendy and Ilkay Gundogan, as Pep Guardiola opted for five alterations.

Ederson was eligible for selection after serving a one-match ban for his dismissal against Wolves last week, but Guardiola confirmed he has been laid low by a sickness bug, meaning Claudio Bravo retained his place.

Everton, who boast a perfect record from their first two matches under new boss Carlo Ancelotti, also made five changes for their trip to Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City were on the right side of some contentious decisions as Sergio Aguero's controversial goal and a late Kevin De Bruyne effort earned a 2-0 win over Sheffield United, Pep Guardiola's 100th in the Premier League.

With leaders Liverpool having extended the gap at the top with a win over Wolves, City were fortunate not to fall behind in the first half when Lys Mousset had a goal harshly disallowed by VAR.

However, there was more controversy to follow, with the visitors incensed after referee Chris Kavanagh failed to stop the play despite accidentally blocking off John Fleck in the build-up to Sergio Aguero's opener.

VAR did come to the Blades' assistance when it deemed John Egan had not deliberately handled a Riyad Mahrez shot, though City had the points wrapped up when De Bruyne lashed in with eight minutes remaining, as Guardiola reached 100 wins in 134 matches to break Jose Mourinho's record.

With Mousset having squandered an early header, United thought they had the lead when the striker kept his cool to slot beyond Claudio Bravo, who was starting in place of the suspended Ederson, only for VAR to disallow the goal for a marginal offside call.

Mousset got the better of City's defence again prior to half-time, yet sliced his effort into the side-netting after latching onto Oliver Norwood's pass.

Despite their poor display, City took the lead six minutes into the second half - Aguero clinically drilling in his 10th league goal of the season.

United were adamant the goal should not have stood due to the referee's accidental interference, but VAR once more went against them.

City then wanted a penalty when Egan blocked Mahrez's shot, though their claims were rejected despite the ball hitting the defender's arm.

Any hopes of a comeback were ended soon after as De Bruyne calmly swept home, though Billy Sharp went agonisingly close to setting up a grandstand finish with a looping header which hit the upright and rolled across the line as United's unbeaten run on the road came to an end at nine.

 

What does it mean? City give themselves breathing room

With Liverpool so far ahead, the title race seems all but over, though City could have been looking over their shoulder had they failed to win, with Chelsea coming from behind to beat Arsenal earlier on Sunday. 

As it is, the champions have restored the six-point gap between themselves and Frank Lampard's side, though they still sit a point behind Leicester City in second.

Aguero rediscovers his home comforts

It was a far from a vintage all-round display from Aguero, but when he was put through by De Bruyne's pass, he never looked likely to fluff his lines to score his first home league goal since November 2.

City's ramshackle defence get lucky thanks to VAR

Hindered by a lack of options, Guardiola handed a first Premier League start to 18-year-old Eric Garcia, though the youngster - alongside Fernandinho - was often caught out by the pace of Mousset and the speed of United's counters. 

Indeed, only a marginal offside decision sparred City's blushes. They will surely look to bring in defensive reinforcements in January.

What's next?

Carlo Ancelotti's Everton visit the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day, while the Blades visit runaway leaders Liverpool on Thursday.

Manchester City were on the right side of some contentious decisions as Sergio Aguero's controversial goal and a late Kevin De Bruyne effort earned a 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

With Premier League leaders Liverpool having extended the gap at the top with a win over Wolves, City were fortunate not to fall behind in the first half when Lys Mousset had a goal harshly disallowed by VAR.

However, there was more controversy to follow, with the visitors incensed after referee Chris Kavanagh failed to stop the play despite accidentally blocking off John Fleck in the build-up to Sergio Aguero's opener.

VAR did come to the Blades' assistance when it deemed John Egan had not deliberately handled a Riyad Mahrez shot, though City had the points wrapped up when De Bruyne lashed in with eight minutes remaining.

With Mousset having squandered an early header, United thought they had the lead when the striker kept his cool to slot beyond Claudio Bravo, who was starting in place of the suspended Ederson, only for VAR to disallow the goal for a marginal offside call.

Mousset got the better of City's defence again prior to half-time, yet sliced his effort into the side-netting after latching onto Oliver Norwood's pass.

Despite their poor display, City took the lead six minutes into the second half - Aguero clinically drilling in his 10th league goal of the season.

United were adamant the goal should not have stood due to the referee's accidental interference, but VAR once more went against them.

City then wanted a penalty when Egan blocked Mahrez's shot, though their claims were rejected despite the ball hitting the defender's arm.

Any hopes of a comeback were ended soon after as De Bruyne calmly swept home, though Billy Sharp went agonisingly close to setting up a grandstand finish with a looping header which hit the upright and rolled across the line as United's unbeaten run on the road came to an end at nine.

 

What does it mean? City give themselves breathing room

With Liverpool so far ahead, the title race seems all but over, though City could have been looking over their shoulder had they failed to win, with Chelsea coming from behind to beat Arsenal earlier on Sunday. 

As it is, the champions have restored the six-point gap between themselves and Frank Lampard's side, though they still sit a point behind Leicester City in second.

Aguero rediscovers his home comforts

It was a far from a vintage all-round display from Aguero, but when he was put through by De Bruyne's pass, he never looked likely to fluff his lines to score his first home league goal since November 2.

City's ramshackle defence get lucky thanks to VAR

Hindered by a lack of options, Pep Guardiola handed a first Premier League start to 18-year-old Eric Garcia, though the youngster - alongside Fernandinho - was often caught out by the pace of Mousset and the speed of United's counters. 

Indeed, only a marginal offside decision sparred City's blushes. They will surely look to bring in defensive reinforcements in January.

What's next?

Carlo Ancelotti's Everton visit the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day, while the Blades visit runaway leaders Liverpool on Thursday.

Pep Guardiola tried in vain to persuade Vincent Kompany to spend one more season with Manchester City.

Kompany ended an 11-year association with the club by captaining them to an unprecedented domestic treble in England last season.

The 33-year-old Belgium defender netted an unforgettable long-range effort to seal a pivotal 1-0 win over Leicester City in what would prove to be his final competitive appearance at the Etihad Stadium, with Guardiola's men going on to pip Liverpool to the Premier League title by a point.

It has been a different story this time around, with City falling way off the pace set by the Reds.

Their defence has been shaky in the injury absence of Aymeric Laporte and, if Guardiola had his way, Kompany would still be an option for him at centre-back rather than player-manager of Anderlecht.

"I tried to convince Vincent a lot to stay one more year with us," he said ahead of Friday's trip to Wolves.

"When he decided in the last few weeks [of last season], I said, 'No, no, no – you are not going to leave me. No, no, no'. But he leaves me.

"When those guys take a decision it is already taken."

 

Guardiola made reference to Kompany when discussing City's preparations for life after two other long-serving club greats.

David Silva has already announced this season will be his last in Manchester, while Sergio Aguero is out of contract in 2021 and has frequently expressed a desire to end his career back in Argentina with boyhood club Independiente.

Aguero is City's all-time top scorer and famously struck in stoppage time to snatch their first league title for 44 years on the final day of the 2011-12 – a moment atop many of this week's end-of-decade lists.

"I think Sergio is irreplaceable," Guardiola said. "We have an incredible striker in Gabriel [Jesus] and maybe another one will come when Sergio is leaving. But he is irreplaceable.

"The most important moment of this club, more important than hopefully one day when this club wins the Champions League, is when Sergio scores that goal against Queens Park Rangers to win the first Premier League after I don’t know how many years.

"That moment is much better than four titles in one season or whatever. And he was the guy."

Aguero struggled initially to meet Guardiola's demands of his centre-forward after the former Barcelona boss arrived in 2016, but the 31-year-old has arguably hit new career heights in winning his manager's considerable admiration.

"I've never seen a bigger star like him [who is] so humble, a funny guy – it is a joy to work with him," Guardiola said.

"How he accepts sometimes my decisions when it's not worked for him. A big star like him [does not usually] accept that.

"I worked with other stars who believed that they are more stars than Sergio and they were not. And it was more difficult to handle them and to be with them.

"It is not easy to find a guy with his status, his personality, what he has done in his football career, with this humility.

"In the box he is an incredible player. But I was with other guys who were not bad. I remember Ronaldo – the Brazilian guy, I remember Romario, I remember [Samuel] Eto'o. Eto'o was one of the most incredible strikers I'd ever seen in my life. He could do everything.

"Sergio is one of them, of course he is one of them. Okay, [Lionel] Messi is a little bit higher than all of them, but Sergio is one of them."

While Guardiola acknowledges City will have to enter the transfer market when Aguero calls time on his Premier League career, he feels the likes of Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva mean a playmaking replacement for David Silva is probably not required.

"Maybe I'll change my mind, it depends on the next six months, but I have other priorities and I don't think I am going to buy because we have many there," he added.

"Bernardo can play there, Phil is there, we have Gundogan, we have Kevin. In this position I think we are not going to do anything."

Sergio Aguero and John Stones are in line to face Leicester City on Saturday, but David Silva remains a doubt, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Aguero has not played for the Premier League champions since suffering a thigh injury in the 2-1 win over Chelsea on November 23, while Stones was hurt in the 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester United on December 7.

Both players resumed training this week and Guardiola appeared hopeful on Friday that they will be ready for the visit of Leicester to the Etihad Stadium.

Silva, however, still seems to be struggling with a knock he sustained against United.

"Sergio and John Stones have trained," Guardiola told a news conference. "They have had two sessions. David Silva, no."

The likely returns of Aguero and Stones come as a boost to City, who go into the game four points behind Leicester in the table and 14 adrift of leaders Liverpool.

Guardiola expects a difficult game against Brendan Rodgers' side but remains confident City can close the gap at the top.

"There are a lot of games to play," he said. "The distance we have now, the teams in front or behind can change in a few weeks, and especially in this period. We have to do what we have to do.

"They [Leicester] have a lot of quality and they play good and control all departments of the game. They are a fantastic team and last season I thought they would be fighting for the top four."

Rodgers hopes Saturday's game can serve as a showcase for how strong his side have become, particularly stars such as James Maddison.

"It is the game where the big players and the big personalities can perform and thankfully James has done that throughout the season," Rodgers said.

"He has got eight goals in 20 games, which for a young midfield player is absolutely brilliant. He has that personality and belief that in the big games he can perform.

"We respect we are playing against a really top-class team that have been the champions the last couple of seasons and play to a fantastic level.

"It is a great opportunity for us to show we are improving and for our players to demonstrate their qualities in such a big game.

"We are mindful of their quality, but I would say it is a great opportunity for us to show our qualities and the talent we have in our team."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Stones was omitted from the Manchester City squad to face Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday after he was injured during the Manchester derby.

Stones limped off in the second half of Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Manchester United, which dealt another blow to City's fading hopes of winning a third straight Premier League crown.

The England defender missed training on Tuesday and was subsequently left out of the group for the trip to Croatia's capital, with David Silva and Sergio Aguero also missing out alongside long-term absentees Leroy Sane and Aymeric Laporte.

Pep Guardiola's side are boosted by the presence of Oleksandr Zinchenko, who returns from two months out with a knee injury to add to City's options at their problem left-back position.

City, already through as winners of Group C, have included teenage defenders Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis in their squad.

Guardiola, who led Barcelona to two Champions League triumphs as coach, is seeking his first European title with the English club.

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