Barcelona are reportedly in the box seat to land Leeds United winger Raphinha in the next transfer window.

Raphinha, 25, is believed to be finished with Leeds, regardless of if they remain in the Premier League for next season.

After a season where he has so far scored 10 goals and provided three assists in 34 Premier League appearances – including a goal away at Stamford Bridge – the Brazilian international is said to have his selection from some of the world's best clubs.

TOP STORY – BARCA LEAD RACE FOR LEEDS' RAPHINHA

According to 90min, Raphinha favours a move to Barcelona if all things are equal, but the Spanish giants will have plenty of competition for his services.

If Leeds are relegated to the Championship, a release clause in Raphinha's contract will mean he can be had for £25million, although it could be double that – or more – if the Whites retain their Premier League status.

Vying with Barca will reportedly be West Ham, who supposedly made a bid in the January window, as well as Newcastle United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

ROUND-UP

– The Daily Mail is reporting Ilkay Gundogan will be allowed to leave Manchester City in the upcoming transfer window, with one year remaining on his deal.

– According to The Guardian, Chelsea have entered the Robert Lewandowski sweepstakes, although he is believed to be destined for Barcelona.

Newcastle will test the waters to see if Jose Mourinho could be lured away from Roma, according to Marca.

– Marca also reports that Kylian Mbappe has agreed to a five-year deal with Real Madrid, although The Athletic insists no paperwork has been signed and PSG still hope to retain the France star.

Bayern Munich are showing interest in Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele ahead of his contract expiring in a month's time, per Sky Sports.

A stunned Mikel Arteta says Newcastle United were "10 times" better than Arsenal and felt his side "could not cope" with the pressure in a 2-0 defeat that surely cost his side a Champions League place.

The Gunners needed a win at St James' Park on Monday to move back above fierce rivals Tottenham into fourth place heading into the final day of the Premier League season.

But Ben White scored a second-half own goal and Bruno Guimaraes sealed the Magpies' victory by doubling their lead with five minutes of normal time to play.

Arsenal were dominated by Eddie Howe's side on Tyneside, ensuring Spurs will head to relegated Norwich City on Sunday knowing a point will surely be enough to seal a top-four finish given they have a far superior goal difference to the Gunners.

Arteta's men have no chance of catching third-placed Chelsea and look destined for the Europa League next season ahead of an encounter with relegation-threatened Everton this weekend.

The Gunners head coach was bemused by such a poor display from his team with so much on the line.

He told Sky Sports: "Newcastle deserved to win the match and were much better than us. We had nothing in the game.

"They were much better in every department: in the duels, with second balls. We were poor with the ball and didn't defend as we have to do

"A lot of things happened during the night, with substitutions due to injuries, but it's not an excuse, Newcastle deserved to win the match because they were much better than us from the beginning. They were much better than us in everything that a football match requires to be on top of it."

Arteta says such an insipid display was hard to take.

"It's true that we could not cope with the game that we had to play here. We tried to change some things and it didn't make it better," the Spaniard added.

"We had moments where we looked better at the start of the second half, we understood better what we had to do but then the execution was so poor and the goals we gave away were extremely poor.

"It's extremely disappointing that Newcastle were 10 times better than us and fully deserved the match. The performance was nowhere near the level we need to be at if we want to play in the Champions League.

"I am incredibly disappointed. The team we have at the moment there are questions marks in a lot positions because of the injuries and suspensions that we had but it's no excuse. We were not at the races today. It's a really very painful one.

"It was in our hands and today it's not in our hands. We have to beat Everton and wait for Norwich to beat Spurs. There's always a chance in football and you have to be there just in case that chance appears."

Ben White's own goal and a Bruno Guimaraes strike put Tottenham on the brink of Champions League qualification as Arsenal suffered a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United.

The Gunners needed a win to move back into fourth place with one Premier League game to play against Everton on Sunday, but Newcastle did Spurs a massive favour at St James' Park.

White, making his return from a hamstring injury, turned a Joelinton cross into his own net in the second half and Guimaraes added a second late on as the Magpies dominated Mikel Arteta's side.

Spurs will head to Norwich City on the final day knowing a point will almost certainly put them in the Champions League next season due to their goal difference and Chelsea are guaranteed a top-four finish, while wounded Arsenal look to be destined for the Europa League.

The Gunners made a shaky start, with Aaron Ramsdale fortunate not to gift Miguel Almiron an early goal when he took far too long on the ball following a back pass.

Dan Burn blocked a goal-bound shot from Bukayo Saka, but the Magpies continued to dictate and Ramsdale make an excellent save low to his right to deny Allan Saint-Maximin after the French winger cut in from the left at full tilt.

Arsenal lost Takehiro Tomiyasu to injury before the break and shaken Newcastle defender Fabian Schar was forced off early in the second half, having landed heavily after taking a blow to the head when he was caught by Eddie Nketiah.

It came as no surprise when Eddie Howe's side took the lead after 56 minutes, when White prevented Callum Wilson from getting on the end of Joelinton's cross but turned into his own net.

Wilson volleyed just over the crossbar and had a shot deflected wide by White, before the lively striker came close to an incredible goal with a long-range strike that went narrowly wide.

Guimaraes stuck the knife into Arsenal when he was on hand to tuck home the loose ball with five minutes to go after Ramsdale rushed out to thwart Wilson and only a sharp reaction save from the Arsenal goalkeeper prevented Ryan Fraser from adding a third.

 

Mikel Arteta is keen to focus on the future rather than Arsenal's midweek defeat to rivals Tottenham, although that match has left him with a real problem at centre-back.

Arsenal went down 3-0 to Spurs on Thursday, increasing the pressure on Arteta's side, who are one point ahead of their fifth-placed neighbours in the top four with two Premier League games remaining.

The first of those is away to Newcastle United on Monday, by which point Tottenham will have played Burnley and could be fourth.

And Arsenal may head into that match without a single senior centre-back. Rob Holding was sent off at Spurs and is suspended, while Gabriel Magalhaes went off injured. Ben White, on the bench last time out, was not considered fit enough to bring on.

Speaking on Saturday, Arteta acknowledged any decision on Gabriel and White would have to go to the wire.

"We will have to modify certain positions to try to make it work because we don't have more defenders," he said.

"And even though we have academy players, they haven't experienced those positions a lot because they are not specified central defenders. It's something we'll try to find a way [to solve]."

Arteta added: "Tomorrow [Sunday] will be the day when we will have better answers [on Gabriel and White] – probably not the answers that we want on matchday, but hopefully better answers.

"We'll probably know more tomorrow, so we wanted to extend this period as much as possible to understand how they are recovering, how they are feeling, assess them, and tomorrow we'll probably know more about how they are."

Meanwhile, Arteta was not interested in entertaining discussion of the Tottenham defeat.

"Forwards," he said. "I said it after the [post-match] press conference, I just look forward."

Even mention of Antonio Conte's claims Arteta complains too much did not prompt a response from the Arsenal manager.

Asked what he would tell Conte, Arteta replied: "That I'm fully focused on Newcastle."

Despite his clear anger at how that match played out, the Gunners boss is looking to lift his players, reminding them their performances have put them in pole position ahead of Spurs.

"That [result] was a possibility," Arteta said, "and we knew that to get into the position that we are in today, a lot has happened in the past.

"We've been through it, we have experienced it, and hopefully that can help us again on Monday."

Everton manager Frank Lampard is "not worried at all" about Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has been linked with a move away from Goodison Park.

Calvert-Lewin was superb for Everton last season, scoring 16 Premier League goals, but has endured an injury hit campaign this time around.

The 25-year-old has only scored three goals, with all of those coming in the opening three matches of the season, while two of them were from the penalty spot.

Rafael Benitez wanted to continue the trend set by Carlo Ancelotti and make Calvert-Lewin the focal point of Everton's attack, but having played with a broken toe throughout August, the forward suffered a serious quad injury that resulted in him missing over four months of action.

Calvert-Lewin returned in early 2022, towards the end of Benitez's ill-fated tenure, but has been unable to string together a run of form for Lampard as Everton have battled for their Premier League survival.

The England international came on as a substitute in Everton's 0-0 draw at Watford on Wednesday, a result that left the Toffees two points above the relegation zone with three games remaining.

Arsenal and Newcastle United are said to hold an interest in Calvert-Lewin, with Everton likely to have to cash in on at least one of their prized assets even if they avoid the drop.

Yet Lampard has no concerns about such speculation, or the attitude of Everton's number nine.

"He is a fantastic striker, the pedigree of striker that there aren't many around. It's been unfortunate for me, I think, that I haven't had him fit," Lampard told a news conference ahead of Sunday's crucial clash with Brentford, in which a win or potentially even a draw may be enough to see Everton safe, depending on Leeds United's result against Brighton and Hove Albion.

 

"He's had little moments but we know that strikers need runs of games and fitness and confidence. We've never been able to get that for Dominic to be fair to him.

"But yes, he's a huge player, they are not very common. He is contracted to us, three years left on his contract, and I want to take this club forward and players like Dominic help that.

"I know he hasn't been playing at the minute because he's been getting fit, but now he's fit, so hopefully he will contribute in the last few games for starters and then he's our player. 

"He's a player that would be wanted by clubs because of the level of player he is. There are not many strikers out there, they cost a lot of money. I'm not worried about him at all."

Everton provided Calvert-Lewin with 31 big chances (as defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score) last season, and he scored from 14 of them.

This season, however, Calvert-Lewin has only been provided with three big chances from open play, one of which he converted, in an opening-day win over Southampton, as Everton have struggled for creativity.

Indeed, only Norwich City (27) have crafted fewer big chances than Everton (28) this season.

Kevin De Bruyne and Son Heung-min have joined Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold in being nominated for the Premier League's Player of the Season award.

De Bruyne, who won the award in 2019-20 despite Manchester City missing out on the title to Liverpool that season, is enjoying his best goalscoring campaign for the club.

He netted four goals in a 5-1 thrashing of Wolves on Wednesday, taking him to 19 in all competitions.

Salah is the only other past winner to be up for the award, having scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists (both league-high tallies) in another outstanding campaign as Liverpool battle City for the title.

Fellow Reds star Alexander-Arnold is also on the shortlist after racking up 12 assists in 31 appearances, as is Tottenham forward Son, who scored his 21st league goal of the campaign in Spurs' 3-0 win over Arsenal on Thursday.

Despite hitting 18 and 15 league goals respectively this season, Manchester United and Spurs strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane are among the highest-profile players to miss out being nominated.

The other players on the eight-man shortlist are City defender Joao Cancelo, Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka, Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse, and West Ham's Jarrod Bowen.

Bowen is one of just three Premier League players to record double figures for goals and assists this season (both 10, along with Salah and Chelsea's Mason Mount).

Meanwhile, both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp are in contention to be named Manager of the Season at the end of another enthralling title race between their teams.

Guardiola has already won the award on three occasions (in 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2020-21), the same amount as Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger. Only Alex Ferguson, with 11, has won it more often.

Klopp won the award when he led Liverpool to their first Premier League title in 2019-20, while the other three nominees all manage sides currently in the bottom half of the table.

Brentford's Thomas Frank is among them after leading the Bees to safety in their first top-flight season since 1946-47, as is Patrick Viera after an impressive first campaign with Crystal Palace.

Newcastle United's Eddie Howe is the final boss on the five-man shortlist, after the Magpies became the first side to go winless through their first 14 games in a Premier League campaign and avoid relegation (three had done so and gone down - Swindon Town in 1993-94, QPR in 2012-13, and Sheffield United in 2020-21).

Public votes will contribute towards deciding the winner of each award, with Premier League club captains also getting a vote on the players' award and a "panel of football experts" helping to choose the winning manager.

Newcastle United made Premier League history without playing on Wednesday as their top-flight status was secured.

Leeds United's 3-0 defeat at home to Chelsea meant Newcastle can no longer be relegated this season.

The Magpies are a healthy nine points clear of the drop zone, but they were not always so comfortable and have had to achieve a Premier League first to stay up.

Newcastle, who were bought by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund in October, did not win a match until December.

Under three different coaches in Steve Bruce, interim appointment Graeme Jones and current boss Eddie Howe, Newcastle became the fourth team to go winless through their first 14 matches of a Premier League season.

Each of the previous three – Swindon Town in 1993-94, QPR in 2012-13 and Sheffield United in 2020-21 – were relegated, but the Tyneside club have survived.

Newcastle co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi took to his Twitter page to celebrate the achievement after Leeds' defeat.

"When all odds were against us, when everyone doubted us, we united and forged ahead," he wrote. "Tonight is the result of that hard work.

"Thank you Eddie, you have been incredible, thank you to the coaching staff, our squad and everyone at the club, and of course our fans."

Brentford, promoted last season, and Aston Villa are also now sure of Premier League football next season.

Roma will target Champions League qualification next season, Jose Mourinho has insisted.

The capital club are in a tussle with city rivals Lazio for fifth place in Serie A, and have a Europa Conference League final against Feyenoord to look forward to on May 25, with Mourinho becoming the first coach to reach the final of a major European competition with four different clubs.

Success in Europe would mark a brilliant achievement in Mourinho's first season at Roma, who are 10 points adrift of the top four in Italy's top flight.

Regardless of the final outcome of Roma's campaign, Mourinho's goal for the 2022-23 campaign is clear.

"We want to try and get into the Champions League but when you look at the level of investment at Inter, Milan and Juventus, you realise three of these spots should be closed," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"There is a fourth spot, last season it was Atalanta, this season it's Napoli, can we get there next season? I think we can.

"In this second part of the season, after the January transfer window, we did small [changes] enough to improve the squad. I'm not as lucky as some coaches who can buy what they want.

"We can improve things. Next season after this year of work and evolution at every level I think we have a chance and that's the next target for next season."

Mourinho was also questioned over his future, but he has no plans on leaving Roma any time soon.

"In this moment, everything is very calm because I have two more years of a contract," Mourinho said.

"The club didn't approach me to try to extend so they don't put me in a situation of accept or don't accept. Everything is calm, stable and that is the way it has to be.

"I have to finish the season as best we can and 100 per cent start next season because I am not looking for a change, my people know that. I couldn't leave the club in my second season, I couldn't do that to the club. So next season I am here."

Newcastle United were one of the sides linked to Mourinho before they appointed Eddie Howe, who has since guided them to Premier League safety.

"I learned what Newcastle is and how to like the club very much through Bobby's [Robson] eyes and heart," Mourinho said.

"I'm very happy that they found their stability. Eddie is doing good work, the club gave the tools for a change in the January market and I wish them the best."

Sadio Mane has been speculated as a potential Ballon d'Or winner in recent weeks.

And the Liverpool forward is also gathering speculation about his club future.

The 30-year-old helped Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations in February and has netted 15 goals in Liverpool's Premier League title challenge.

TOP STORY – BARCA TO SWOOP FOR BAYERN TARGET MANE

Barcelona are ready to swoop in to sign Liverpool's Mane amid reported interest from Bayern Munich, Mundo Deportivo claims.

The Senegal international is reportedly interested in a switch and is moving into the final 12 months of his Liverpool contract.

Barcelona have missed out on Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland who will join Manchester City and are determined to land an elite forward this off-season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry is drawing attention from several clubs, with Real Madrid among the clubs interested, according to Fichajes.

- Newcastle United have made contact with Philippe Coutinho about a move, reports Goal. Coutinho is currently on loan with Aston Villa from Barcelona.

- The Guardian claims that West Ham United are plotting an off-season move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins. Villa would demand a £50m fee for the forward.

- Manchester United and Newcastle are both interested in signing Napoli's Victor Osimhen, claims Calciomercato. Napoli want 100m euros (£85.5m) for the Nigerian forward.

- Super Deporte claims that Sevilla are interested in a transfer for Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe.

Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool are the neutrals' favourites for the Premier League title, but he knows it will not matter if Manchester City keep winning with the support of their fans. 

City endured a difficult week in which their Champions League hopes were dashed for another season, yet they reached Sunday evening in pole position for their latest domestic triumph. 

A 5-0 home win against Newcastle United moved City three points and, perhaps crucially, four goals ahead of Liverpool, who were held by Tottenham on Saturday. 

However, in a remarkable post-match interview with beIN SPORTS – in which he also highlighted Liverpool's lack of Premier League heritage – Guardiola suggested City's potential title success would not be popular in England. 

Asked about the change in the title race this weekend, the City manager quickly pointed out his side had already been in control. 

"One week ago, we were one point in front," he said. "But everybody in this country supports Liverpool, the media, everyone, because Liverpool has an incredible history in European competitions. 

"Not in the Premier League, because they've won one in 30 years. 

"But it's not a problem at all. The situation is what it is. We have to do nine points or maybe six right now – it depends on what is going to happen in the next two games in terms goal difference. 

"Now, Wednesday [against Wolves] is the real, real, real final for us. We are going to try to go there to win. Our destiny is in our own hands, and that's important. We have to look at ourselves. With one point or three points, nothing changed." 

Later in the same interview, Guardiola was asked to explain his comments. 

"Liverpool alongside [Manchester] United are the most important teams in history in terms of legacy, titles, history, dramas, for many, many things," he replied. 

"But we are in the last 10, 11, 12 years always there. I know we are sometimes uncomfortable, but I don't care. If the people want more [for] Liverpool to win than us, it's not the issue. It's normal. 

"Maybe there are more supporters all around the world for sure and here in England that support Liverpool more than us, but this is not the question. The question is, today, before the start of the game, the people cheering and supporting us more than ever in one home game. 

"They know that even being out of the Champions League, we can rely on these players. The support was amazing, and hopefully we can arrive at the last game here with the chance to be champions." 

Manchester City edged closer to the Premier League title, while there was significant change at the bottom of the table on Sunday.

City were eliminated from the Champions League semi-finals in dramatic fashion by Real Madrid in midweek, but saw their domestic hopes boosted when Liverpool dropped points against Tottenham on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side subsequently breezed past Newcastle United to move three points clear of the Reds with three games remaining, while West Ham hit relegated Norwich City for four.

Elsewhere, Arsenal continued their charge for Champions League qualification with a narrow victory over 10-man Leeds United, who ended the day in the relegation zone after Everton triumphed at Leicester City.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the Opta data from the day's top-flight fixtures.

Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United: Sterling provides as title charge continues 

Raheem Sterling was at the double as City strengthened their grasp on top spot with a 5-0 rout of Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling and Aymeric Laporte struck in the first half, with Joao Cancelo teeing up the England international's opener as the full-back became the fourth of Guardiola's players to reach 10 assists in all competitions this season (also Kevin de Bruyne with 13, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus - both 11).

City are the only team in Europe's big five leagues to have four or more different players reach 10 assists in all competitions this campaign, and Guardiola's men furthered their advantage after the interval.

Rodri then scored following a corner, as Laporte did in the first half, as City managed their 19th and 20th goals from set-piece situations this term in the league, excluding penalties. They have conceded just once from set-pieces themselves, with their plus-19 differential the best figure recorded in a single season in the Premier League since such records are available (2006-07 onwards).

Foden added a fourth before Sterling capped a fine victory with his 51st Premier League goal at the Etihad, becoming only the second player to pass 50 strikes for City at home in the competition after Sergio Aguero (106).

City have beaten Newcastle 28 times in the Premier League (D8 L8), more than they have any other side in the competition. In their league history, they have only beaten Everton (72 times) more often than the Magpies (68 times).

Meanwhile, Eddie Howe has lost all 12 of his Premier League meetings with City – 10 of those against Guardiola – the worst 100 per cent losing record a manager has against a single opponent or against another boss in the competition.

Arsenal 2-1 Leeds United: Ill-tempered Whites fall into relegation zone

An Eddie Nketiah double kept Arsenal on course for Champions League qualification as they triumphed 2-1 against 10-man Leeds, who dropped into the bottom three for the first time since October 30.

Nketiah fired the Gunners into a 2-0 lead as he became just the second Arsenal player to score twice in the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League game after Kanu (versus Sunderland in October 2002).

With Alexandre Lacazette out of favour, Nketiah has stepped up as Mikel Arteta's talisman, scoring four goals in his last four league games – just one fewer than he had managed in his first 52 top-flight appearances.

Luke Ayling was then dismissed for a mindless two-footed lunge on Gabriel Martinelli after 27 minutes, Leeds' earliest red card in the competition since April 1998 (when Lucas Radebe saw red after 17 minutes against Everton).

Tempers continued to flare before the interval as Leeds picked up their 95th and 96th yellow cards of the season, setting a new record for the most bookings for a club within a single Premier League campaign.

Diego Llorente offered Jesse Marsch's visitors brief hope as he poked home with Leeds' first shot on target, which marked the first home league goal Arsenal have conceded from a corner since February 2021 (also against Leeds).

However, Arsenal held on for victory to move four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who they face on Thursday knowing victory will secure Champions League football next campaign.

Leicester City 1-2 Everton: Toffees move out of bottom three

Mason Holgate's second-half header proved the difference as Everton climbed out of the relegation zone with a battling 2-1 victory at Leicester.

Before this game, Leicester had won eight of their last nine top-flight matches against sides starting the day inside the relegation zone (D1), but the Foxes were caught cold by Vitalii Mykolenko's early volley.

That made Mykolenko the first Ukrainian to score a Premier League goal for Everton, the 39th different nationality to find the net in the competition for the Toffees, the sixth most of all clubs.

Patson Daka restored parity five minutes later, with all five of the striker's Premier League goals coming at the King Power Stadium – only Jamie Vardy (6) has netted more often at home for the club in the top-flight in 2021-22.

Holgate delivered the decisive finish in the 30th minute with his second league goal in his last five matches, one more than he had managed across his previous 109 top-flight appearances beforehand (one).

Brendan Rodgers will be left frustrated by the nature of Holgate's goal, given it was the 15th Premier League strike Leicester have conceded from a corner this campaign – the most by a side in a single campaign since Brighton and Hove Albion in 2017-18 (16).

Victory marked the first away league win in 15 games for Everton, ending a seven-game losing streak on the road as Frank Lampard's side moved a point clear of Leeds and Burnley having played one game fewer.

Norwich City 0-4 West Ham: Bowen and Benrahma on song to down Canaries

Said Benrahma scored twice as West Ham responded to Thursday's Europa League semi-final heartbreak by cruising past relegated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road.

Benrahma struck after 12 minutes before Michail Antonio ended his joint-longest goal drought in the top-flight with his fifth Premier League strike against the Canaries, only against Tottenham (six) has he scored more in the competition. 

Algeria international Benrahma doubled his tally before the interval, taking him to 21 direct goal contributions in the competition (nine goals, 12 assists). Since his debut in 2020, Jarrod Bowen (30) and Antonio (28) are the only other Hammers to register 20+ top-flight goal involvements.

Bowen assisted both of Benrahma's strikes as the former Hull City man became just the second player for West Ham to register at least 10 goals and 10 assists in a Premier League season, and the first since Paolo Di Canio in 1999-00 (16 goals, 13 assists).

Indeed, only Harry Kane (32) has been involved in more goals among English Premier League players in all competitions than Bowen this season (27 – 16 goals, 11 assists).

Manuel Lanzini's second-half penalty rounded off the victory as West Ham won a Premier League away game by at least a four-goal margin for just the third time, while it was the first time the Hammers have put at least four goals past a side in consecutive league visits since doing so against Tottenham in November 1966.

Meanwhile, Norwich have failed to score in 20 different league games this season, becoming the first side to do so in at least 20 matches in three different Premier League campaigns (also in 1994-95 and 2019-20).

Pep Guardiola revealed Manchester City will be without three key defenders for the Premier League title run-in and joked Phil Foden might have to step in at the back.

Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias have been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury, with Dias forced off at half-time against Newcastle United on Sunday with a muscle problem.

City won 5-0 and were dominant against a sluggish Newcastle side, but there are testing away games at Wolves and West Ham to come for Guardiola's team, before they round off their campaign at home to Aston Villa.

A three-point lead over second-placed Liverpool could come under threat if the situation becomes any worse.

Aymeric Laporte was partnered in central defence by veteran Fernandinho for the second half of the one-sided Newcastle clash, after which Guardiola told a media conference the news about Walker, Stones and Dias.

"In this situation it is not a problem. If Rodri has to play in that position it is not a problem, or if it's someone from the academy," Guardiola said.

Guardiola had earlier told Sky Sports: "If Phil Foden has to play as a central defender, he will play as a central defender."

Asked if that could really happen, Guardiola replied: "No."

Foden the attacker would be an obvious misfit in the backline, and City will hope they do not have excessive defending to do over the closing fortnight of the campaign. Wolves away is the next test, at Molineux on Wednesday.

Guardiola said City were "outstanding" and delivered a "perfect" display against Newcastle, four days after their agonising Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.

"With what this team have done, did you have any doubts?" Guardiola said.

"We've been five years doing this, every three days. If some people doubt us, it's because they still don't know this team and what it is able to do.

"I'm not talking about winning or losing. It's not about one afternoon or one night. How many years, being there every three days, every time."

City have scored five or more goals in a Premier League game 30 times in the Guardiola era now.

Newcastle, meanwhile, are winless in 32 away games in the competition against teams starting the day inside the top two places in the table (D4 L28) since beating second-placed Arsenal at Highbury in December 2001.

City chief Guardiola was unsure why critics, including former players, might question the character in his ranks.

"It's one of the best groups I've ever trained in my life," Guardiola said.

"We passed through two tough days, but today we spoke for the first time [since Madrid] and I said, 'You have a perfect life, in the perfect club'.

"We are three points up front, nine points to play for, goal difference four goals ahead. Another final on Wednesday."

Jack Grealish hailed a "perfect" response from Manchester City as a 5-0 thumping of Newcastle United banished their Champions League blues. 

City will not be champions of Europe this season after their dramatic semi-final exit to Real Madrid, but they are red-hot favourites for the Premier League title after this weekend's turn of events. 

Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Tottenham, which halted the Reds' 12-game winning run in the league at Anfield, allowed City to pull three points clear on Sunday. 

With only three rounds of games remaining, City would have to throw it away. They have Wolves, West Ham and Aston Villa to come, and the onslaught against Newcastle saw City go four ahead of Liverpool in the goal difference stakes too. 

As Grealish acknowledged, the destiny of the title is very much in City's hands. 

Grealish told Sky Sports: "We always knew there was going to be pressure on us today, especially after what happened in midweek, but we bounced back perfectly. 

"We've stuck together as a team and a unit in the past few days, which was needed. We'll just try to end the season strongly, and we've certainly done that today." 

City were 5-3 ahead on aggregate against Madrid heading into the closing moments in the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, but Rodrygo's late double and a Karim Benzema penalty in extra time left Pep Guardiola's visitors shaken. 

"Today was a perfect response and a perfect performance," Grealish said. 

"We're in the driving seat. We can't look at what's going on around us. It's in our hands, and we have to go and win every game as we would anyway." 

It was the 30th time that City have scored five or more goals in a Premier League game since Guardiola took charge at the start of the 2016-17 season. 

Grealish teed up Oleksandr Zinchenko to cross for Phil Foden to score City's fourth, and the former Aston Villa man played in Raheem Sterling for the fifth in stoppage time. 

Rodri had earlier headed the third, and the Spanish midfielder said: "The personality we saw today was unbelievable – 5-0 after what happened [in Madrid] is incredible. 

"The mood wasn't very high as you can see, but on Friday the team woke up and focused on the game." 

Pointing to his head, Rodri added: "I think we do unbelievable work here. Sometimes it's more important than in the legs and that's what the champion teams do." 

Manchester City can sniff silverware after moving three points clear of Liverpool at the Premier League summit with a ruthless 5-0 win over Newcastle United.

Raheem Sterling started and ended this rout, with Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phil Foden also on the scoresheet as City made no mistake at the Etihad Stadium.

Rocked by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday, City did not play as though they were nursing a hangover from that bitter blow.

Pep Guardiola said the Madrid game was sure to be on his players' minds, but a welcome distraction arrived when title rivals Liverpool were held by Tottenham on Saturday, a major blow to the Reds' hopes. On this evidence, City should be celebrating a successful title defence back at this stadium in two weeks' time.

Newcastle's Chris Wood missed a glorious chance after eight minutes when he put a tame header straight at Ederson from Allan Saint-Maximin's cross, and from a corner moments later at the other end Laporte skied a close-range shot.

Joao Cancelo smashed wastefully wide after Kevin De Bruyne's cross from the left, but City were soon ahead. The opener came in the 19th minute when Ilkay Gundogan's floated pass was headed across goal by Cancelo for Sterling to nod in from close range.

Wood had the ball in the City net, but his close-range finish was disallowed for an offside against Bruno Guimaraes, and the hosts doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Martin Dubravka spilled Gundogan's 20-yard volley from a corner routine and Laporte bundled in.

Rodri made it 3-0 on the hour when De Bruyne's corner from the left found him at the near post, and the midfielder's header pinged low past Dubravka.

Oleksandr Zinchenko had a fierce drive tipped over by Dubravka as City looked to boost their goal difference.

They grabbed a fourth in the 90th minute when Foden converted from close range after Jack Grealish and Zinchenko combined on the left, and Grealish fed Sterling to drive home a fifth to rub it in for both Newcastle and Liverpool.

What does it mean? Who can stop City now?

Guardiola must take his team away to Wolves and West Ham before they host Aston Villa on May 22, the final Sunday of the season. Few would have expected Newcastle to take anything from this game, regardless of their improvement since the turn of the year.

Newcastle have never won a Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium (D2 L15), losing each of their past 13 visits to the stadium now, and when Wood's feeble header let City off the hook early on, it was pretty clear that dire run was not about to end.

Sterling brings up his fifty

City's opener was notable for it being the 50th goal that Sterling has scored in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium. He added number 51 in the final seconds. Only one player has beaten that total, with Sergio Aguero bagging 106, including five in one game against Newcastle in October 2015.

City's set-piece supremacy

The goals from Laporte and Rodri stemmed from corners and were City's 19th and 20th goals from set-piece situations this season in the Premier League, excluding penalties. They have conceded just once from set-pieces themselves, with their plus-19 differential the best figure recorded in a single season in the competition since such records are available (2006-07 onwards).

What's next?

City face a tricky trip to Wolves on Wednesday. Newcastle are not back in action until May 16, when they host Arsenal.

Pep Guardiola accepts his Manchester City players will not be able to forget Wednesday's defeat to Real Madrid, but he does not believe that should hamper their Premier League title bid.

City suffered yet more Champions League pain as Madrid scored two late goals and another in extra time to beat Guardiola's men 3-1 in their semi-final second leg, securing a 6-5 aggregate triumph.

Despite being four games away from another domestic league title, with Liverpool just a point behind, the Madrid match dominated Guardiola's pre-match news conference ahead of playing Newcastle United.

The manager imagines it will be the same inside the minds of his players, yet that does not concern him.

"They don't have to forget it," he said. "How are we going to forget it? We are going to play against Newcastle thinking about that, for sure.

"All the players in the training sessions, the meeting rooms, the warm-up, they are committed, they are going to do it. I don't have any doubt about that."

Guardiola made the assertion despite claiming he has not spoken to his City squad since returning from Madrid, allowing them time to recover before facing Newcastle.

Asked what he had said to the players, the Catalan coach said: "Nothing, we didn't speak. No words can help what all of us feel. It's just a question of time.

"Tomorrow will be the first day we'll be together, and we are going to talk about who we are as a team, what we have done in this semi-final of the Champions League, how good we have been – not just in these two games but all season – and trying to do an excellent last week.

"Probably it's one of the moments since I've been manager [when I have been] the most proud I am to be in this club, this organisation."

Guardiola's explanation for much of what happened in midweek was simple, repeating several times: "It's football."

He bristled at the idea Rodrygo Goes' dramatic last-gasp double exposed a mental fragility in his City side.

"There is no time for 'mental'," Guardiola said. "It was 45 seconds later."

He added: "Now people say it's a lack of character. A lack of character? What happens if Jack Grealish scores the two goals?

"Where is the character in Atletico when Ederson saves from [Angel] Correa. That's character, but if he scores it's not character?

"When [Thibaut] Courtois saves with his feet and it goes one centimetre to the corner, that is not character?"

City will certainly have to show character against Newcastle, surely fatigued from a draining European encounter in which they appeared to again lose Kyle Walker to injury.

However, Guardiola assured Kevin De Bruyne's substitution in Madrid was only "tactical". "He's good," the City boss added.

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