Chelsea once again downed Tottenham at Stamford Bridge in the headline clash of the weekend's Premier League fixtures.

Fellow title hopefuls Liverpool, who still have a game in hand, closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to nine points with victory over Crystal Palace in south London.

Staying in the capital, Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by lowly Burnley as they lost ground in the race for the top four, while Leicester City shared the points with Brighton and Hove Albion.

With the action all over for a couple of weeks, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from Sunday's fixtures.

Crystal Palace 1-3 Liverpool: Reds down Eagles again as Robertson delivers

Liverpool reduced Manchester City's advantage at the top to nine points after a 3-1 victory over Palace, who have lost each of their last 10 league meetings with the Reds.

Virgil van Dijk placed Jurgen Klopp's side in control after just eight minutes at Selhurst Park with his 10th headed goal in the competition – only Sami Hyypia (17) has scored more headers for the Reds in the Premier League.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added a second after the half-hour mark as he scored in back-to-back top-flight matches for the first time since February 2020.

Both of those goals were created by Andrew Robertson, who now sits joint-second with team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold (both 43) for the most assists in the league since the start of the 2017-18 season, with only Kevin De Bruyne boasting more (52).

Odsonne Edouard halved the deficit in the second half, but Fabinho secured three points with Liverpool's 169th Premier League spot-kick – the joint-most awarded to a team in the competition's history along with Manchester United.

Arsenal 0-0 Burnley: Gunners fail to fire against Clarets

Arsenal have failed to win any of their opening five games of a calendar year for the first time since 1995 after being held to a 0-0 draw by Burnley.

Nick Pope was in excellent form, while Alexandre Lacazette spurned a glorious open-goal opportunity, as the Clarets conceded 20 shots – the most they have faced in the Premier League without conceding since May 2021 (21 versus Fulham).

Lacazette's profligacy meant the Gunners have failed to score in four consecutive matches across all competitions for the first time since December 2005.

Arsenal will be desperate to improve upon their torrid run of form to challenge for the top four, with this stalemate being the first time the Gunners have failed to beat the team starting the day bottom of the table at home for the first time since October 2008.

Leicester City 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Foxes tamed by away specialists

Leicester remained unbeaten at home to Brighton in the Premier League, though Brendan Rodgers may feel they should have claimed victory after a 1-1 draw.

Patson Daka broke the deadlock as he became just the second Foxes player to score in each of his first three home starts in the competition, after Leonardo Ulloa in the 2014-15 season.

The Zambia striker found the net just 26 seconds after the interval, the quickest goal scored in the second half of a top-flight game since February 2020.

However, Danny Welbeck levelled things up as he scored his fourth goal against Leicester in the Premier League, only bettering that haul in games with Aston Villa (five).

Neither side could find a late winner, ensuring the Foxes remain unbeaten at home to the Seagulls in the top flight since December 1980, while Graham Potter's side have only lost one of their last 11 away leagues games – a joint-low with Manchester City.

Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham: Blues make London derby history  

Chelsea registered their fourth win in all competitions this season – and third in January alone – over London rivals Tottenham with a 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge.

Harry Kane thought he had struck first before the break but a slight push on Thiago Silva saw his finish ruled out before Hakim Ziyech expertly curled in his fifth league goal for Chelsea – all five of those having come at different venues.

Silva added a second soon after as he became the oldest player (37 years, 123 days) to score in the Premier League since February 2013 to condemn Antonio Conte to his first top-flight defeat as Spurs head coach.

The defender's header was set up by a free-kick from Mason Mount, who provided his 20th assist since the start of the 2019-20 campaign – the most by any Chelsea player across all competitions in that period.

Spurs were unable to breach the Blues' goal, meaning they have now gone six matches across all competitions since last scoring against Chelsea, who became the first side to collect 500 points in Premier League London derby matches (501 points from 272 derbies).

Pep Guardiola declared James Ward-Prowse as the best free-kick taker in the world, but he added Kevin De Bruyne to second after his assist against Southampton.

Ward-Prowse was lauded by the Manchester City manager ahead of Saturday's clash, which ended in a 1-1 draw as an Aymeric Laporte's header cancelled out Kyle Walker-Peters' opener.

Southampton captain Ward-Prowse has scored 12 times from free-kicks in his Premier League career, with only David Beckham (18) managing more in the history of the competition.

But De Bruyne staked his claim for a place on Guardiola's list at St Mary's when he perfectly whipped his free-kick onto Laporte's head for City's equaliser.

That assist led to follow-up questions to Guardiola on his Ward-Prowse comments, which he firmly stood by after the game with Ralph Hasenhuttl's side.

When asked if De Bruyne had knocked Ward-Prowse off the top of the free-kick taking perch, Guardiola responded: "Absolutely not. He [De Bruyne] is the second one!"

The Belgium midfielder's expert delivery was his 80th assist in the Premier League, as many as Beckham has, but the 30-year-old has achieved the feat in 68 fewer outings than the former England international.

However, how does De Bruyne match up against other top-flight set-piece specialists this term?

Ward-Prowse sits top of the direct free-kick goals chart in the Premier League, with two to his name in the 2021-22 campaign. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Maxwel Cornet, Michael Olise, Ruben Neves, Jonjo Shelvey, Marcos Alonso, Martin Odegaard, Raphinha, Son Heung-min and Matt Ritchie are all tied for second as the other players to score from a dead-ball opportunity this season.

Liverpool's Alexander-Arnold also excels in terms of chances created from set-plays (26), with a league-leading three assists from dead-ball situations.

Ward-Prowse (22), perhaps unsurprisingly, ranks second to Alexander-Arnold under that metric, while Raphinha, Son and Ritchie (all 16) make up the top five in the league.

De Bruyne is tied for 15th on the list for chances created from set-pieces, with 10 to his name from 17 appearances in the league this term. That is as many as Chelsea's Mason Mount and Aston Villa's John McGinn.

The City star has created 41 chances in total in this year's Premier League, however, with only Bruno Fernandes (57) and Alexander-Arnold (58) able to better that tally, as the reigning champions prepare for their next league clash at home to Brentford on February 9.

Kevin De Bruyne came back to haunt his old club as his fine strike handed Premier League leaders Manchester City a 1-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday.

Against no side has De Bruyne scored more Premier League goals than he has against the Blues (five), with this total the most against Chelsea by any player who has previously played for them in the competition.

Elsewhere, Manchester United threw away a two-goal lead at Aston Villa to draw 2-2, with Philippe Coutinho sealing a point on his debut following his loan move from Barcelona.

Wolves beat Southampton 3-1 and Norwich City piled the pressure on Rafael Benitez with a 2-1 win over Everton, while strugglers Newcastle United and Watford played out a 1-1 draw.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the Opta data from another eventful day in the Premier League.

Manchester City 1-0 Chelsea: De Bruyne edges Guardiola's men closer to the title

City's seemingly unstoppable march towards the Premier League title continued with a 12th straight top-flight win.

It marked the ninth run of 12 or more victories in the competition's history, with Pep Guardiola's side now responsible for four of those.

The decisive goal came from Kevin De Bruyne, the Belgium international superbly whipping into the bottom-right corner from distance with 20 minutes remaining.

De Bruyne has scored 21 Premier League goals from outside the penalty area – the most of any player since his first season with City (2015-16), and the joint-most of any Citizens player in the competition's history (level with Sergio Aguero).

Chelsea scarcely landed a blow on their hosts, failing to register a single shot in the first half. Indeed, they had just seven touches in City's penalty area – their fewest in a single Premier League match since January 2015 (also seven vs Man City).

Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United: Red Devils squander two-goal lead

A stirring late fight back from Villa meant United failed to win a Premier League away game in which they led by 2+ goals for the first time since January 2016 against Newcastle (3-3).

Bruno Fernandes' opener was the first Premier League goal United have scored from a set piece situation this season (excluding penalties), before the Portugal international doubled their advantage in the second period.  

Since making his United debut in February 2020, only Mohamed Salah (45) and Harry Kane (34) have scored more Premier League goals than Fernandes (33), while only James Ward-Prowse (seven) has scored more goals from outside the box in the competition during this period than the Portuguese (six).

Jacob Ramsey inspired a memorable comeback, though, the 20-year-old becoming the first Villa player to both score and assist against United in a single Premier League game since John Carew in April 2009, and the third-youngest player to do it against the Red Devils in the Premier League overall after Kelechi Iheanacho in September 2016 and Harry Kewell in November 1998.

Coutinho ensured the points were shared in what was his first Premier League appearance in 1477 days (for Liverpool vs Leicester City in December 2017).

Norwich City 2-1 Everton: Idah gets off the mark to put Benitez on the brink

The Canaries kick-started their bid for survival with a second win in six Premier League home games under Dean Smith – as many as they managed in their final 21 home games in the competition under previous manager Daniel Farke.

There were just 92 seconds between Michael Keane's own goal and Adam Idah's first Premier League strike, the hosts scoring as many times inside the opening 18 minutes as they had in their previous eight top-flight matches combined (one).

Idah's goal was his first in 27 Premier League appearances, while it was his first league goal since May 2021, when he scored in Norwich's final game of the Championship season.

The result meant Everton, who pulled one back through Richarlison, have won just 19 points from their 19 league games this season. Only twice previously have they had fewer at this stage of a Premier League campaign (17 in 1997-98 and 2005-06) and it looks as though Benitez's time may be up.

Wolves 3-1 Southampton: Traore off the mark as hosts' fine season continues

Wolves completed a top-flight double over Southampton for the first time since 1971-72, as well as winning three in a row against Saints in the top tier for the first time since October 1970.

Raul Jimenez and Conor Coady put them 2-0 up before the hour mark, with the latter's three Premier League goals coming from just four shots on target in 134 appearances.

Saints captain James Ward-Prowse scored his 12th direct free-kick goal in the Premier League to reduce the deficit – a haul bettered only by David Beckham (18).

However, Adama Traore's first goal in 22 top-flight appearances ensured Wolves picked up 31 points from their first 20 games of the season – their best return at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1979-80 (also 31 points) when they finished in sixth place.

Pep Guardiola was overjoyed with the match-winning performance of Kevin De Bruyne in Manchester City's 1-0 defeat of Chelsea but is convinced the Belgian has even more to offer.

De Bruyne got City's decisive goal in the second half on Saturday, curling a sumptuous effort past Kepa Arrizabalaga from 25 yards out.

It was his fifth Premier League goal against his former club, a record bettered by no other former Chelsea player, making them his favourite opponent.

Victory put City 13 points clear of Chelsea, and that could yet remain their lead at the summit if Liverpool cannot beat Brentford on Sunday.

De Bruyne now has six league goals this season, as many as he managed in 2020-21, though Guardiola's post-match praise also suggested the City boss does not think his talisman has been playing at his highest level.

"We spoke together and said since we were together, from day one, all we have won and what we have done, we have done it together," Guardiola told BT Sport.

"I want to push him to do it more, he's a world-class player. He has the humility to do everything for the team, and it's not easy to find that.

"He won three Premier League titles and lots of prizes but I still want more of him because I know he can do it. Today the action he has done, I haven't seen it in a long time.

"He has everything. He missed a bit of confidence this season and struggled. He knows what he can do, he's incredibly beloved from all of us.

"He's completely different. His mum and dad can be so proud."

Despite the victory increasing City's lead, Guardiola is not getting sucked into the trap of declaring the title race over.

"That would be a problem now, to [take the gap] for granted," he said. "If Liverpool win the games in hand, it's eight points, not like Chelsea's position.

"Now my job is take from the brains of my players, to not believe what the people say. An example is recently we were winning against Leicester 4-0 after 45 minutes then in 20 minutes it was 4-3.

"We are more than pleased with our position but we've a lot of work to do. My job is to tell them."

Chelsea already knew the odds were slim. No team that has been clear by at least 10 points at the top of the Premier League after 21 matches has ever failed to lift the trophy.

The Blues travelled to leaders Manchester City on Saturday exactly 10 adrift and desperate to improve on their showing against Pep Guardiola's men from earlier in the season.

But a familiar foe once again brought their downfall as City sealed a 1-0 win that further increases their lead at the summit and probably has them over the horizon in the title race – at least as far as Chelsea are concerned.

Thomas Tuchel spoke with great clarity and assuredness as he addressed the media on Friday, accepting Chelsea were far too negative in their 1-0 defeat to City at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season.

We say "defeat", but in reality it was as close to a 1-0 battering as they come. City tallied three times as many shots as Chelsea (15 to five), and it was a similar story in terms of touches in the opposition's box (34 to 11).

But there was little sign of a major improvement here. Tuchel flailed and flapped like a headless chicken on the touchline, his instructions ultimately powerless against a City side that smothered Chelsea with a high press that just seemed to suffocate them more as the game went on.

Initially, as much as anything, Chelsea just looked confused. Their bravery in playing out from the back was to be commended in some instances, but that mentality seemed to be completely at odds with almost everything else they did.

They would get into the midfield but then launch long balls out wide or to Christian Pulisic in the hole rather than for Romelu Lukaku to run onto. The moves would go nowhere.

 

There was no period of sustained pressure from Chelsea at all in the first half – in fact, they got to the interval without registering a single shot, the first time that's happened in a league game under Tuchel.

Lukaku, bar one early instance where he rolled John Stones before mucking up the final pass, cut a frustrated figure up top. While Chelsea's play in the build-up largely seemed unlikely to get the best out of him, his team-mates might have expected more attempts to run in behind the City defence.

The second half was just a few minutes old when such a situation did present itself, with Lukaku able to do what he's best at: running on to throughballs rather than acting as a target man.

Ederson produced a fine save to block Lukaku's effort, but it was the clearest evidence yet of how Chelsea were likely to hurt City – not that it was necessarily a sign of things to come for the visitors.

 

If anything, it served as a jolt for City, a reminder that, as good as they are, they weren't going to be able to sleepwalk to a win here.

City allowed Chelsea more of the ball, but Guardiola's men upped the intensity significantly with their pressing – the Blues started to find passing through the midfield rather trickier.

Eight of the nine times City won possession in the final third (Chelsea only did so once in the whole game) came in the second half, which was not only evidence of how they were able to impressively dig deep physically, but also highlighted how a team can take the game to an opponent even without the ball.

Of course, City relied on a moment of pure inspiration, which was somewhat predictably delivered by Kevin De Bruyne, who strode away from N'Golo Kante and saw his gorgeous curling effort find the bottom-right corner from 25 yards.

 

It was his fifth Premier League goal against Chelsea, making his old club his favourite opposition in that regard, and a figure bettered by no other former Blue in the competition.

In the context of the match, it also highlighted the differing fortunes of players with comparable pasts: both De Bruyne and Lukaku joined Chelsea as youngsters and ultimately failed to make an impression.

The midfielder now regularly lights up the Premier League, but his international colleague is back at Stamford Bridge and struggling again, albeit for different reasons.

But the fact of the matter is, Lukaku was brought back to turn Chelsea into title contenders – that now looks impossible thanks to another familiar face.

Kevin De Bruyne hit a scorching winner as Manchester City extended their Premier League lead to 13 points with a 1-0 victory against second-placed Chelsea.

A tightly contested game at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday came to life 20 minutes from time as De Bruyne intervened decisively.

Chelsea did not see much of the ball but had their chances to get on the scoresheet too, with Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech particularly wasteful on the counter-attack.

Pep Guardiola's City have now won 12 league games on the bounce, and it is difficult to see how they can be denied making it back-to-back titles in May.

City dominated much of the first half but were grateful for poor decision-making and execution from Lukaku and Ziyech on two occasions as Chelsea looked to counter early on.

The best chance for the hosts in the opening 45 minutes came when an effective high press set Jack Grealish through on goal, but Kepa Arrizabalaga deflected the £100million man's shot behind with his left leg.

The visitors should have taken the lead two minutes into the second half when Lukaku was sent clear by Mateo Kovacic, but Ederson palmed his shot away before Ziyech lifted the rebound over the bar.

The league leaders finally broke the deadlock in the 70th minute when former Chelsea man De Bruyne cut in from the left side before expertly firing past the despairing dive of Arrizabalaga from 22 yards.

The Blues tried to find an equaliser, but City showed their solid side to clinch the three points, moving a significant step closer to lifting the Premier League trophy once more.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes Kevin De Bruyne is only going to improve following his impressive recent goalscoring form.

The midfield maestro heads into Wednesday's showdown with Brentford having found the net three times in City's past three Premier League outings.

That included a brace in the 7-0 rout of Leeds United on December 14, with no player on target more often in the English top flight since then.

De Bruyne, who also scored the opener in the Premier League leaders' entertaining 6-3 win over Leicester City on December 26, has been a revelation since arriving at the Etihad Stadium in August 2015.

Indeed, no player has registered more assists (77) or created more chances (572) than the Belgium international over the past six years.

Guardiola says the recent surge in De Bruyne's performances has been evident following a difficult spell earlier this season.

"He is getting better, by far," the Man City boss said. "He has something unique in the world. We know that he is an exceptional player. 

"He struggled in the beginning of the season, and now is much, much better. 

"The game against Leeds was really good, and [against Leicester] he played a really, really good home game. 

"He is a fighter and a guy who creates goals and assists. We know it."

Full of momentum, City travel to the Brentford Community Stadium seeking a 10th successive league victory.

Nevertheless, Guardiola insists his side cannot take anything for granted against the promoted Bees, who have already beaten Arsenal, drawn with Liverpool and given Chelsea a scare during their maiden Premier League campaign.

"They made an incredible start of the season. They are doing really well," he added.

"I saw the game against Chelsea; they lost, but they were incredible. They drew against Liverpool, they beat Arsenal. [They are a] top team."

Even numerous coronavirus-enforced cancellations could not stop the Premier League's Boxing Day schedule from delivering a mountain of goals.

Leaders Manchester City demolished Leeds United 7-0 earlier in December before a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle and followed that up with a nine-goal thriller against Leicester City.

Mikel Arteta's in-form Arsenal maintained their pursuit of a Champions League spot by smashing five past struggling Norwich City, while the reinvigorated Tottenham cruised past London rivals Crystal Palace.

Staying in the capital, West Ham's poor run of form continued in a 3-2 home loss to Southampton before Chelsea came from behind to defeat Aston Villa on the road.

After plenty of festive cheer across Sunday's top-flight action, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the Opta data.

Tottenham 3-0 Crystal Palace: Conte's deadly trio down sorry Eagles

Spurs had lost just one of their last 12 top-flight home games against Palace and continued that impressive run of form as Harry Kane equalled another record in a dominant 3-0 win.

Kane opened the scoring in the first half after Lucas Moura's set him up, netting in his sixth consecutive Boxing Day fixture as he equalled Robbie Fowler's Premier League scoring record of nine goals on the day after Christmas.

Lucas added a second as he scored and assisted in the same top-flight game for the first time, with the Brazilian registering five goal involvements in his last five league games, as many as in his previous 23 matches in the competition.

Wilfried Zaha's first-half dismissal for two bookable offences compounded Palace's misery, the winger's fifth red card for the Eagles in all competitions - three more than any other player for the club since his debut in 2010.

Son Heung-min then scored his sixth goal in six home top-flight games against Palace, as Antonio Conte became just the third Spurs boss to go unbeaten in their first six league games after Jacques Santini in 2004-05 and Tim Sherwood in 2013-14.

Manchester City 6-3 Leicester City: Citizens defeat Foxes in Boxing Day record thriller

City went down 5-2 in this fixture last season but triumphed in a 6-3 classic this time around, despite a spirited second-half fightback from Leicester, in the first Premier League game on Boxing Day to see as many as nine goals.

Kevin de Bruyne netted first and has now scored in five of his last six league starts at the Etihad Stadium, before Riyad Mahrez scored in his fourth consecutive appearance for the first time since he moved to England in 2014 as he converted from the spot.

Raheem Sterling, who has won the most penalties by any player in Premier League history (22), rolled another spot-kick in, while Ilkay Gundogan was on target as Leicester went 4-0 down inside 25 minutes for the first time in the top flight since Watford did so against City in 2019.

Leicester reduced the deficit after the interval as James Maddison found the net for the fourth time in his last five top-flight appearances before loanee Ademola Lookman finished past Ederson.

Those two earlier goals were teed up by Kelechi Iheanacho, who assisted twice in a top-flight match for the first time before adding a goal of his own to make it 4-3.

However, Pep Guardiola's side confirmed victory with an Aymeric Laporte header and Sterling's second – City's 112th league goal in 2021, the most a team has netted in a year since Arsenal also scored 112 in 1963.

Norwich City 0-5 Arsenal: Saka at the double as Gunners equal away record

Bukayo Saka registered a brace as high-flying Arsenal ran riott in a 5-0 victory over Norwich, who have played more Premier League games on Boxing Day without ever winning than any other side in the competition (eight).

Saka struck his first after just six minutes before his second arrived after the hour mark. At 20 years and 112 days, he is the second-youngest player to score 10-plus Premier League goals for Arsenal, after Nicolas Anelka (19y 225d).

Kieran Tierney doubled the Gunners' lead in between Saka's pair of goals, with Martin Odegaard providing his second assist of the game – the Norway international has been involved in six goals in his last six league games, two more than he had in his first 25 appearances in the competition.

Alexandre Lacazette added a fourth, while Emile Smith Rowe scored after coming off the bench once again – his league-leading third goal as a substitute. No top-flight team have bettered Arsenal's five goals from substitutes this season.

Norwich were unable to find a way past Aaron Ramsdale as the Gunners registered their joint-biggest margin of victory away from home in a Premier League match, while scoring four-plus goals in consecutive away league games for the first time since 2009.

Aston Villa 1-3 Chelsea: Jorginho penalty brace seals Blues comeback triumph

Chelsea have stuttered in recent weeks but returned to winning ways as a Jorginho brace ensured they came from behind to defeat Aston Villa 3-1.

Reece James inadvertently flicked into his own net as Villa were gifted an own goal by Chelsea in the Premier League for only the second time, after Frank Sinclair also turned past his own goalkeeper back in December 1994.

Jorginho soon restored parity from the spot after Matthew Cash had felled Callum Hudson-Odoi before substitute Romelu Lukaku headed the Blues into the lead with his ninth top-flight goal in 10 appearances against Villa.

Jorginho wrapped things up as he rolled in again from 12 yards, with his 17th Premier League strike from the spot. In fact, 89 per cent of his 19 goals have come from penalties, the highest such ratio of anyone with 10-plus goals in the competition’s history.

Since Thomas Tuchel's first game in charge in January, the Blues have scored more penalties than any other club in England's premier competition (12), with Jorginho netting 10 of these himself - more than any other club besides Chelsea in that period.

Manchester City survived a spirited Leicester City fightback to prevail 6-3 winners in a thrilling Boxing Day encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

Though pegged back to 4-3 from 4-0 up, Pep Guardiola's men moved six points clear at the top of the Premier League table following a ninth successive victory.

Kevin De Bruyne scored the first of four goals for the hosts inside the opening 25 minutes, while a pair of penalties from Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling sandwiched Ilkay Gundogan's strike.

The Foxes came roaring back after the break as James Maddison, Ademola Lookman and Kelechi Iheanacho threatened the most unlikely comeback, but Aymeric Laporte and Sterling got the Citizens back on track and secured the points.

Man City took the lead in the fifth minute following neat interplay as De Bruyne controlled Fernandinho’s lofted pass into the box before sweeping past Kasper Schmeichel.

The hosts doubled the advantage with Mahrez, who had lost in all five of his previous Premier League appearances on Boxing Day, firing home from 12 yards after Youri Tielemans bundled over Laporte.

Gundogan made it 3-0 after another lovely exchange of passes culminated in Schmeichel parrying Joao Cancelo's low cross straight to the Germany international, who made no mistake from close range.

Three became four soon after, with Tielemans the offender again as he brought down Sterling, who picked himself up and emphatically swept his penalty into the top corner.

Nevertheless, Leicester responded brilliantly after the break. The visitors halved the deficit by the hour mark with a couple of quickfire counters resulting in Iheanacho well-timed throughballs for Maddison and Lookman to finish.

Former Man City forward Iheanacho then got in on the act to reduce the arrears to a single goal, but the hosts pulled clear from two Mahrez corners, with Laporte and Sterling profiting. 

Sergio Aguero has confirmed his retirement, at the age of 33.

The Barcelona forward announced his decision in a statement on Wednesday that was delivered at an event featuring president Joan Laporta and the club's first-team players.

Aguero, who starred for Atletico Madrid before becoming a Manchester City great, suffered chest pain in the draw with Deportivo Alaves on October 30, which the club confirmed was down to a heart arrhythmia.

He scored just one goal for Barca – an injury time consolation in October's Clasico defeat to Real Madrid.

But it will be his time at City that will be most fondly remembered, and he undoubtedly goes down as one of the club's greatest signings.

Aguero's arrival in 2011 came three years after the Abu Dhabi United Group's stunning takeover of City drastically altered the trajectory of the club and the Premier League.

September 1, 2008 began with news of City's new ownership group – funded by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan's lavish wealth – and ended with the club-record signing of Robinho from Real Madrid, after an unlikely deadline day tug-of-war with Manchester United for Tottenham's Dimitar Berbatov.

Stats Perform marks Aguero's retirement by looking at City's best signings of the Mansour era.

DAVID SILVA

Often regarded as City's finest ever player, the mercurial playmaker arrived from Valencia for £25million in 2010 with a newly acquired World Cup winners' medal in his pocket. Silva has been integral to every City title triumph since. Whether gilding around in Roberto Mancini's powerful line-up, dazzling as the creative inspiration under Manuel Pellegrini or lifting Pep Guardiola's current vintage to new heights, City were always been a significantly better team with Silva in the line-up.

He left for Real Sociedad following the expiration of his contract in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic robbing him of a farewell in front of fans at the Etihad Stadium.

YAYA TOURE

Derided in some quarters as an over-priced defensive midfielder when he joined from Barcelona for £24m during the same close-season as Silva, Toure proved to be so, so much more. The most dominant and complete midfield presence of the era, he became City's 'clutch' player, amassing a collection of memorable goals in Wembley showpieces and title run-ins.

The towering Ivorian was indisputably at his peak when he scored a staggering 20 Premier League goals from central midfield on the way to the title in 2013-14.

SERGIO AGUERO

Aguero scored 30 or more goals in all competitions in five separate seasons during his time at City, for whom he netted 16 hat-tricks. He is the fourth-highest scoring player in Premier League history with 184 goals in 275 games, behind Alan Shearer (260), Wayne Rooney (208) and Andrew Cole (187), making him the highest-scoring overseas player, and he also holds the Premier League record for most goals scored at one club.

The most famous of them all will always be that incredible, last-gasp, Premier League-title clinching winner against QPR in 2012. His 259th and 260th goals for City came in the form of a double from the bench in a 5-0 rout of Everton in front of 10,000 supporters at the end of the 2020-21 season. 

KEVIN DE BRUYNE

Eyebrows were raised when City broke their transfer record to bring in the reigning Bundesliga Player of the Year from Wolfsburg in August 2015 following his failed spell at Chelsea. The Belgium star soon made the £55m fee seem wholly worthwhile as a relentless work-rate, vast range of passing and rasping shot from either foot established him as one of the leading lights in England's top flight.

An assist machine he was Guardiola's standout performer as City stormed to Premier League glory in 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2020-21, while his injury in last season's Champions League final was a huge blow to the Citizens as they went down 1-0 to Chelsea.

EDERSON  

Guardiola spent heavily on defensive reinforcements as he overhauled the squad left to him by Pellegrini but nobody has been a more important recruit for the Catalan than the man stationed behind his backline. Ederson brought much-needed authority to City's defence after Claudio Bravo's haphazard first season, while his composure and skill with the ball at his feet has come to define the team's style.

Without the Brazil international, it would have been impossible for Guardiola to so fully realise his footballing vision at the Etihad Stadium, and Ederson has also proved a fantastic shot-stopper. Indeed, Saturday's win over Wolves brought up his 100th clean sheet for the club in just 212 games.

RUBEN DIAS

With Vincent Kompany having left in 2019, City struggled to replace their talismanic leader the following season. Indeed, he had scored a brilliant, crucial goal as Guardiola's team went on to edge out Liverpool in the 2018-19 title race.

However, they found the heir to Kompany's throne a year later with the £65m purchase of Ruben Dias from Benfica. The centre-back slotted straight into the side and has become the key cog in a formidable defence. He was named Footballer of the Year by the FWA after his first season with City and signed a new six-year deal in August.

Pep Guardiola hailed his "brilliant" Manchester City attackers as the decision to play without an established striker against Leeds United paid off with a 7-0 victory.

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were unused substitutes as Guardiola backed his playmaking magicians to show they can wreak havoc.

The likes of Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and particularly Kevin De Bruyne tormented Leeds, with Rodri employed in the holding role.

"Congratulations to the team, it was a good performance from us," Guardiola said afterwards.

"The vibes of the stadium was nice today. It was sold out and they supported us incredibly well. We started in a good rhythm. We were patient with the ball and the quality of the players did the rest."

Ten-man Leeds pulled off a shock 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium last season, and held Guardiola's men to a draw at Elland Road, but there was never any danger of stalemate or a City defeat this time.

"We lost five points last season when we were playing Leeds," Guardiola told NBC. "I'm pretty sure every opponent knows what it means to play against Leeds."

Foden's eighth-minute opener was City's 500th Premier League goal under Guardiola, in just his 207th game in charge. It is the fastest any manager has seen their side reach 500 goals in the competition, beating Jurgen Klopp's record of 234 games.

And with seven goals, who needs strikers?

"You're not going to convince me... When we lose a game you're going to say, 'Yes it's because they don't have a striker'," Guardiola said. "I know this theory quite well. We have strikers, but sometimes we play [this way] because I could say Phil is a guy who scores a lot of goals.

"But it is the way that we try to play. This is the reason why today we did a good performance."

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola added: "When you get these results, it's because individually they are brilliant. 

"Kevin in this type of game when we're open up and down, Kevin is devastating and so he can do whatever he wants."

Nathan Ake got in on the goals, heading in the seventh after a double for De Bruyne, with Foden, Grealish, Mahrez and John Stones also finding the net.

Mahrez has both scored (10) and been directly involved in (13 – 10 goals, 3 assists) more goals in all competitions for City this season than any of his team-mates.

This was his 100th Premier League appearance for City and he marked it with a deflected strike. He also scored on his 100th game in the competition for Leicester City and is the only player in the competition's history to score on his 100th match for two different sides.

Grealish, meanwhile, scored his 17th Premier League goal and second for City, but it was his first headed goal in the top flight. Mahrez supplied the cross.

"From the first minute, I think you could see we were on it," said Dutch defender Ake.

"We had a lot of energy, a lot of drive going forward, and then we scored the goals."

Ake was reluctant to set goals, but City's is obvious enough. They are hunting a fourth league title in five years and on this form will take some stopping.

"I think we do it game by game," he added. "There's another one on Sunday [at Newcastle], but we're in a great flow, we're doing really well, everyone feels good and we just want to continue that."

Kevin De Bruyne described Manchester City's 7-0 thrashing of Leeds United as "a booster for the whole team" after he returned to scoring form with an exceptional double.

De Bruyne was one of five attacking players fielded by Premier League champions City, with not a natural centre forward among them, and the quintet's marauding was more than Leeds could handle at the Etihad Stadium.

Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez joined De Bruyne on the scoresheet, while defenders John Stones and Nathan Ake also got in on the act late on.

De Bruyne was starting a Premier League game for the first time since the derby against Manchester United on November 6, after working his way back to fitness from a recent COVID-19 lay-off.

"There's been a lot happening this year, a little bit out of my control, so the only thing I can do is try to work hard and come back as quick as possible," City playmaker De Bruyne told NBC.

"It's unfortunate with everything that happened, and at the time I was coming back in a good rhythm until I got COVID. So it happened and now we're working hard to come back in a good level.

"I think we played incredibly well, especially with the way they press; we found the right time to attack them."

City's seven goals came from an expected goals (xG) tally of 2.2, which suggests their finishing was outstanding, as it plainly was.

A curiosity was that they also had an xG of 2.2 in last season's corresponding fixture, but lost that 2-1 to a smash-and-grab Leeds.

This time City built a big early lead – 3-0 in 32 minutes – and stretched clear.

"When you're three or four-nil up it gets tougher for them," said Belgium international De Bruyne. "They tried to keep it a little more tight in the second half, but I think we had enough chances to score a lot more.

"It's good for everybody. A lot of people who maybe didn't play a lot played today chipped in, so for the whole team it's a booster.

"We were patient at the beginning and at the right times we found the gaps to go forward and punished them."

De Bruyne's second goal, a fizzing 25-yard shot, moved City 5-0 in front and was his 20th successful strike from outside the penalty area in the Premier League since his debut for the club in September 2015. That is more than anyone else has managed in the same time frame.

City moved four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table after inflicting Leeds' heaviest defeat of the Premier League era.

While Leeds totter in the bottom five, City have eyes on the big prize again, and a seventh consecutive win in the league means they are in great shape to push towards that target.

De Bruyne expects a tough battle for the title though, saying: "It's a hell of a competition. It's going to be a hell of a race this year, but we're trying to be there."

Kevin De Bruyne turned on the style with a brilliant double, and you could only marvel as Manchester City savaged Leeds United 7-0 in the Premier League.

Long-time friends Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa watched with contrasting emotions from the touchline as City inflicted the biggest defeat Leeds have ever suffered in the competition.

Guardiola's City were sensational, with Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Riyad Mahrez, John Stones and Nathan Ake joining De Bruyne on the scoresheet, City passing the 500-goal mark in the Premier League under their Spanish boss.

The pick of the goals was De Bruyne's second and City's fifth, as his land-to-air missile from 25 yards left Illan Meslier helpless, with City surging four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table.

Foden made the eighth-minute breakthrough when he finished off from the edge of the penalty area after the rampaging Rodri was beaten in a dash to the ball by Leeds goalkeeper Meslier.

By that stage Bernardo Silva had already missed a sitter from in front of an open goal. Leeds were in disarray and trailed 2-0 inside 13 minutes when Grealish headed in Riyad Mahrez's whipped cross from the right – his first headed goal in his Premier League career.

De Bruyne made it 3-0 in the 32nd minute, a classy finish on his left foot from Rodri's throughball. Foden then shot fractionally wide of the right post, with Meslier beaten, before seeing another shot blocked by Luke Ayling, as City looked to boost their goal difference.

Mahrez gave City a fourth in the 49th minute, a deflection off Junior Firpo diverting the Algerian's skidding shot wide of the unlucky Meslier and into the left corner.

Foden prodded in from Mahrez's pass but was inches offside; however, a fifth City goal arrived emphatically in the 62nd minute when De Bruyne smashed high and handsome into the net from distance.

Stones lashed in the sixth and fellow defender Ake headed goal number seven as City outclassed despairing visitors.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain each have four nominees in the 23-man shortlist for the FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11 for 2021.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold are also included, although there is no place for Mohamed Salah.

PSG's attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are among the forwards, as is Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Veteran Dani Alves also won enough votes to make the list, even though the 38-year-old, who recently rejoined Barcelona, only played 16 times in domestic competition in Brazil this year.

Professional footballers across the world were asked to vote for the three players they considered to have the best seasons during the 2020-21 season among goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

FIFPRO said: "For the first time in 17 years, FIFPRO is updating the announcement about the most-voted players, reducing the shortlist from 55 to 23. This has been done to resemble a real-life 'squad' which, usually for international competitions, is the number of players involved. 

"The three goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and six forwards with the most votes earned a place in the 23-men World 11 'squad'. To complete this elite selection, the two remaining outfield players with the most votes were added."

The keeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards with the most votes will be chosen for the World 11, with the remaining spot assigned to the outfield player with the next highest number of votes.

The final 11 will be announced at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on January 17.

 

FIFA FIFPRO MEN'S WORLD 11 23-PLAYER SHORTLIST:

Goalkeepers:
Alisson (Liverpool, Brazil)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan/Paris Saint-Germain, Italy)
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, Senegal)

Defenders:
David Alaba (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid, Austria)
Jordi Alba (Barcelona, Spain)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool, England)
Dani Alves (Sao Paulo/Barcelona, Brazil)
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy)
Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal)

Midfielders:
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, Spain)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal)
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona, The Netherlands)
Jorginho (Chelsea, Italy)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea, France)

Forwards:
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United, Portugal)
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway)
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland)
Romelu Lukaku (Inter/Chelsea, Belgium)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil)

Cristiano Ronaldo lost ground in his quest to claim more Ballon d'Or awards than his rival Lionel Messi, finishing sixth while the Argentine claimed a historic seventh award.

It is the first time the Portugal forward, who was not in attendance at the ceremony in Paris on Monday, has not been named in the top three since 2010, when Messi – who won his second prize that year – was joined by then Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

Ronaldo managed 30 goals at club level in 2021 for Juventus and Manchester United, while also becoming the all-time top scorer in men's international football.

The 36-year-old finishes above Paris Saint-Germain pair Gianluigi Donnarumma and Kylian Mbappe as well as Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Liverpool attacker Mohamed Salah.

Salah and Mbappe both outscored Ronaldo at club level this calendar year, scoring 32 and 37 goals across all competitions, but finished seventh and ninth respectively.

Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and Real Madrid centre-forward Karim Benzema claimed the fifth and fourth spots, with Ronaldo's former team-mate enjoying a prolific year, managing 34 goals and 12 assists for Los Blancos in all competitions.

Jorginho, who won the Euros with Italy and claimed the Champions League with Chelsea, makes it into the top three behind Messi and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who finished second but won the inaugural Striker of the Year award.

Lewandowski had been considered the favourite before then, partly due to breaking Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season, while he has netted 53 times in 2021.

The Poland striker looked likely to have won the award in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ballon d'Or top 10:

1. Lionel Messi (PSG and Argentina)
2. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich and Poland)
3. Jorginho (Chelsea and Italy)
4. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid and France)
5. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea and France)
6. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United and Portugal)
7. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool and Egypt)
8. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City and Belgium)
9. Kylian Mbappe (PSG and France)
10. Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG and Italy)

Page 1 of 9
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.