Retiring playmaker David Silva should be remembered as one of the best players to grace the Premier League, according to his former Manchester City team-mate Joleon Lescott.

Real Sociedad midfielder Silva announced his retirement at the age of 37 last Thursday, having suffered a serious knee injury in pre-season training.

Prior to joining La Real in 2020, Silva won four Premier League titles and seven domestic cups during a memorable spell at the Etihad Stadium, where he has since been honoured with a statue. 

Silva – who also won the 2010 World Cup and two European Championship titles with Spain – led all Premier League players for assists (89) and chances created (768) during the decade between 2010 and 2020.

Having played alongside Silva between 2010 and 2014, former City defender Lescott believes Silva deserves to be seen as a Premier League great. 

"When he joined he was obviously a World Cup winner and a Euros winner, and he turned out to be an iconic Premier League player, one of the best to ever grace the Premier League," Lescott told Stats Perform.

"I think we all are aware of what his qualities were on the pitch, but what a guy. What a human being. My biggest compliment to David is that he's equally as good a person as he is a player."

City have lost two further club icons during the current transfer window, with Ilkay Gundogan joining Barcelona on a free transfer and Riyad Mahrez signing for Saudi side Al Ahli in a £30million deal.

Lescott believes the duo will be missed by Pep Guardiola's treble winners, adding: "The qualities they'll bring to their new teams are obvious. 

"They have superior technical ability. Ilkay is recognised as one of the best leaders in the squad. Riyad is obviously one of the most skilful. 

"They'll bring that to their new teams but they'll be sorely missed, not just because of their ability on the pitch, but [because of] what they brought to the dressing room and what they were to City's fanbase."

Having delivered the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup trophies last term, Guardiola is looking to lead City to a fourth successive top-flight title this season.

Asked about Guardiola's impact on English football, Lescott said: "He's obviously changed the game, he's revolutionised different positions, the way we look at it and the way we view it.

"Every country he's managed in, I think they've tried to adapt throughout the leagues, and that's the biggest compliment for Pep. 

"Now in England there are multiple teams in multiple leagues that want to play the way they see Man City play."

Manchester City star Rodri says Pep Guardiola remains desperate to achieve even more success with the club.

Rodri scored the winner in June as City beat Inter 1-0 to win the Champions League for the first time in their history.

That victory in Istanbul secured a treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, making City only the second team – after the Manchester United side of the 1998-99 season – to achieve that feat.

City have now won five Premier League titles under Guardiola, having been champions for the last three campaigns, while they have won the FA Cup twice and the EFL Cup on four occasions.

Yet the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach remains hungry for more, so says Rodri.

When asked if Guardiola was the 'GOAT' manager, Rodri said: "I don't know. Of course, that's a question you have to ask people, what do you think about that?

"What we know is, he's been one of the greatest, for sure, and he's shown [that] everywhere he's been. And he has the hunger to go again.

"That's what can I say about him. He wants to win more things in the next year.

"So it's very, very good for us because this hunger is important for us to win again."

Indeed, City expect to reach a similar level of success next term, which for them starts on August 6, when they take on Arsenal in the Community Shield at Wembley Stadium.

"To repeat it," Rodri said when asked what City's aims were for the coming season.

"When you start a season, we always want to win everything. It was one of the most iconic successes of the club in its history. We are very, very proud of what we did.

"But we know that a new season is coming with new goals. We expect to do it again, even though we know it's going to be very, very difficult.

"We start from the pre-season, from the first game to make the team go again and to reach the best level."

Arsenal led the way for long swathes of last season, but Guardiola's juggernaut picked up pace in the run-in and eventually finished five points clear of the Gunners.

"The last part of the season is when you fight for all the titles so that is when you have to show the best football you've got inside and it's something we know from the past," explained Rodri.

"We have the experience and know how to win the trophies in the last part and we know that you have to be the best of yourself. So that's the key.

"Arrive to this moment with options to fight and then give the best and to step forward and I think it's something that the team has understood. 

"It's one of the things that identifies the mentality of the team all these years."

Erling Haaland's incredible form was crucial to City's success. The Norway striker netted a Premier League-record 36 goals, and added a further 16 across other competitions, including 12 in the Champions League.

Indeed, one of the only single-season records left for Haaland to break in English football is Dixie Dean's incredible haul of 63 goals, which has stood since the 1927-28 campaign.

"I want [him] to [break more records], of course," Rodri said of the 23-year-old.

"I hope he can break the record every year, even though I know what he did last season was unbelievable.

"He's become such an important player for us and he's growing a lot. I hope that he can be even better."

Manchester City will begin their bid for a record fourth consecutive Premier League title away to Vincent Kompany’s Burnley.

The Treble winners will visit Turf Moor to face their former captain’s newly-promoted side on the evening of Friday, August 11 to raise the curtain on the 2023-24 campaign.

It will be the second time Kompany – who won the title on four occasions as City skipper – will have faced his old side as a manager, with City running out 6-0 winners at the Etihad in March’s FA Cup quarter-final.

Premier League debutants Luton will play their first top-flight fixture since 1992 away to Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton on Saturday, August 12, having to wait until the following weekend for their first home game when Kenilworth Road will become the smallest ground to host a fixture in the competition for the visit of Burnley.

The other promoted side Sheffield United kick off their season with a home game against Crystal Palace.

The outstanding fixture of the opening weekend will be at Stamford Bridge where Mauricio Pochettino begins life as Chelsea manager against Liverpool on Sunday, August 13, with both sides looking to bounce back after disappointing campaigns.

Arsenal, following an anticlimactic conclusion to last season’s title challenge, open at home to Nottingham Forest in Saturday’s lunchtime game, with fellow Champions League qualifiers Newcastle hosting Aston Villa that evening and Manchester United beginning against Wolves at Old Trafford on Monday, August 14.

Ange Postecoglou’s first game in charge of Tottenham will be away to Brentford at 2pm on Sunday, Bournemouth open at home to Europa Conference League winners West Ham, and Everton, looking to avoid a third straight relegation scrap, begin at home to Fulham.

The first north London derby of the campaign sees Spurs visit Arsenal on September 23 (with the return on April 27) while Man City travel to the Emirates on October 7 for a meeting of last season’s top two.

October 28 at Old Trafford will bring the first Manchester derby since City matched United’s Treble-winning feat of 1999 (United go to the Etihad on March 2), with the champions hosting Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on November 25.

The first Merseyside derby of the campaign sees Everton go to Anfield on October 21, while Pochettino will take his new side to face his old one when Chelsea visit Tottenham on November 4.

Mikel Arteta is unlikely to be impressed with Arsenal’s schedule, with the club’s first two Champions League fixtures in six years coming immediately ahead of games against Tottenham and City.

Pochettino will receive an early test of his Chelsea rebuild when the Blues face Tottenham, Man City and Newcastle in consecutive games in November.

Luton have been handed a seemingly kind start to life in the Premier League, their only meeting with any of the ‘big six’ in their first seven games coming away at Chelsea on August 26.

The final weekend sees all three promoted sides play at home, with Burnley welcoming Forest, Sheffield United hosting Spurs and Luton playing Fulham.

Willian understands the frustration Arsenal will have after their failure to push on for the Premier League title, but believes the Gunners can challenge again next season.

Arsenal came close to ending a 19-year wait for a top-flight title before a late-season collapse saw incumbent holders Manchester City seize another crown.

The manner of Arsenal's faltering finale represented a dramatic downturn after they had led the Premier League table for 248 days of the season.

Willian, who spent a single campaign at Emirates Stadium during the 2020-21 season, has backed his former club to be challengers again soon enough.

"When I was there, I could see that Arsenal had a bright future ahead of them very close because of the way [Mikel] Arteta was working," the Fulham attacker told Stats Perform.

"The way I saw him working the team, I had no doubt that Arsenal would be back fighting for the top in the next few years.

"Unfortunately, they were fighting with a team that [is on] another level. It's an outstanding team. It's not easy to fight for the title with Manchester City.

"They must have a sense of frustration. They were fighting for the title the whole [season], and they let the title slip away practically.

"But they are back in the Champions League. Of course, there must be a bit of frustration, but they have to be happy with what they did. 

"Without a doubt, Arsenal [had] an excellent year, and they have everything to fight for the title again next season."

City's latest title is their fifth Premier League crown in six seasons under Guardiola and looks poised to form part of a generation-defining treble with the FA Cup and Champions League finals to come.

The latter in particular remains the chief honour left for the club to win, and Willian believes that it is Guardiola's intelligent grasp of his squad that makes them such a threat.

"I think Guardiola, with his ideas, [is key]," he added. "He converges that with the execution of the players, which are, as they say here, "top class" players.

"I heard Guardiola once say that he gives the ideas, he tells them what to do, but they also have to have quality on the pitch. Otherwise, it's no use.

"He is a great manager, I think the best in the world in years, and together with the quality of the players on the field, City is very strong and hard to be beat."

Pep Guardiola believes the perceived injustice of Erling Haaland’s disallowed goal in Wednesday’s thrilling 1-1 draw at Brighton proves Manchester City are Premier League champions on their own merits.

City top scorer Haaland looked to have claimed a late winner at the Amex Stadium but his close-range header from Cole Palmer’s cross was ruled out after VAR spotted a shirt pull on Levi Colwill.

Guardiola was visibly angered by the decision after seeing a replay on the big screen inside the ground and was later shown a yellow card by referee Simon Hooper for his ongoing protestations.

The City boss claims 36-goal striker Haaland has endured similar physical contact from defenders all season and feels the incident shows his side have not benefited from favourable refereeing calls during their charge to the title.

“If it’s disallowed, every action to Erling Haaland by all central defenders is a fault,” he said.

“Every action. And we saw one or two (on Wednesday).

“It’s a goal because he’s bigger, he’s stronger, he won the position (from Colwill) and it was an incredible action from Cole Palmer and the goal should be given.

“But that proved that what we won on the pitch belongs to us, not anyone gave us anything.

“He has bruises on all of his body after the games. If he’s faulting in the disallowed goal, every action to him is a fault and never happens.”

Haaland, who squandered two excellent first-half chances, nodded home 11 minutes from time in front of the travelling fans after Julio Enciso’s stunning strike cancelled out Phil Foden’s opener.

A gripping south-coast contest halted City’s top-flight winning streak at 12 games but mattered little in the context of their season.

that proved that what we won on the pitch belongs to us, not anyone gave us anything.

Guardiola’s men enjoyed alcohol-fuelled celebrations after lifting the Premier League trophy following Sunday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea and are bidding to complete the treble with FA Cup and Champions League glory.

Following Sunday’s visit to Brentford, City face rivals Manchester United at Wembley on June 3 before attempting to become European champions for the first time against Inter Milan in Istanbul a week later.

Guardiola has defensive issues moving towards the two finals after Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Manuel Akanji missed the trip to Sussex.

Jack Grealish was also absent, while John Stones and Foden were withdrawn during the game as a precaution.

“Phil had a knock in the first half and problems in his leg and the doctor told me that in this position it is dangerous so we don’t take a risk,” said Guardiola.

“John at the end was a little tight but he didn’t feel anything and is fine, he told me, but we didn’t want to take a risk because we had just one central defender with John.

“The others are injured so hopefully they can recover as soon as possible.

“We sustained no injuries for a long time but the moment we get near the Champions League final, four or five players get little niggles – important ones – and we have to recover them.”

Sixth-placed Brighton cemented their spot in next season’s Europa League with the midweek point.

Pascal Gross, the Seagulls’ first signing following promotion to the top flight in 2017, told his club’s website: “I’m so proud of the boys, what an achievement for us.

“We can’t wait for the Europa League. What a season ahead.”

Paraguayan Enciso’s spectacular equaliser followed another goal of the season contender from the 19-year-old in last month’s 2-1 win at Chelsea.

“He can have it (goal of the season),” said Gross. “Two incredible goals.

“What I like more, he’s getting better and better. It’s not easy coming from far away abroad with no English.

“But he’s improving speaking English, he’s improving adapting to the group, a good guy and I think there’s much more to come.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claimed his newly-crowned Premier League champions “drank all the alcohol in Manchester” ahead of a pulsating 1-1 draw at Brighton.

Guardiola was concerned his treble-chasing side may suffer a hangover in Sussex following the jubilation of the weekend’s title celebrations.

But the Spaniard was pleasantly surprised by the performance of his players during a gripping south-coast contest.

Phil Foden fired City ahead at the Amex Stadium before Julio Enciso’s stunning equaliser cemented sixth-placed Albion’s place in next season’s Europa League.

Erling Haaland was denied a late winner due to VAR spotting his shirt pull on Seagulls defender Levi Colwill.

“I was a little bit worried about how much we would drop our (level) with what we had done the last four, five, six months,” said Guardiola.

“Forty hours (ago) we drank all the alcohol in Manchester and the way they played was outstanding.

“I enjoyed it a lot, especially being champions.

“You have to come here to win the game, we know it will be tough. They are a fantastic team in all departments, that’s why they are in the Europa League, well deserved.

“And also we showed why we are the best team in England.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was unhappy with Everton defender Yerry Mina for what he implied were underhand and unsporting tactics during their 3-0 win at Goodison Park.

The Colombia international was involved in one visible incident with Aymeric Laporte at a corner in the first half in which the City centre-back slapped his opponent in the stomach following an altercation and Mina fell to the floor.

But at the final whistle Guardiola confronted the Everton defender and remonstrated with him as he followed him off the pitch. All City’s players also refused to shake Mina’s hand.

While Guardiola refused to say what Mina had actually done, his unhappiness appeared to centre on the Colombian’s handling of opponents.

“Mina? It’s not necessary what he does. Away from the football, it is not necessary to do what he does every single game,” said Guardiola.

“And I told him, ‘You are a good enough player to avoid these kind of things’.”

Asked to elaborate on his complaints, the City boss added: “He knows. Ask him. This is not physical, this is not mental.

“There are things that are not necessary to do that he does. This time with Aymeric, Jack (Grealish), everybody. Ask him. Invite him to the press conference.”

The row detracted from the ease with which City dealt with Everton, with Ilkay Gundogan scoring twice for the second game running either side of the obligatory goal – his 52nd of the season – from Erling Haaland.

Gundogan is out of contract in the summer and has been linked with a move to Barcelona, but Guardiola is more than happy for him to captain the side, as he did at Goodison where he led from the front with two superbly-taken goals.

“He can show again and again and again the quality and importance and his commitment, to all of us, to the club, not just scoring goals, now he has his momentum,” said Guardiola, who wants the Germany international to extend his stay.

“He doesn’t talk much, but when he talks everyone listens and this is the power of the leader. He show his leadership in every training session – arriving on time, living 24 hours your job and play like he is playing.

“He is a player that when he gets close to the box he has an incredible sense of goal. He can play as a holding midfielder no problem, he proved it years ago when Fernandinho was injured, he played in games like Burnley, long balls, you think you need a physical player, but he is so clever and he is a guy who handles the pressure well.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche said he was unaware of any allegations against Mina and the player had not mentioned anything to him.

“If he did it all the time, I wouldn’t know where he had seen it because he (Mina) hasn’t been on the pitch for weeks,” he said.

City’s 11th successive league victory leaves them requiring a maximum of six points for a fifth title in six seasons.

They inflicted a record 10th home league defeat of the season on Everton, who remain 17th and a point above Leeds, but of equal concern was the withdrawal of striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin at half-time.

While the England international has scored only one goal in five games since returning from two-and-half months out with a hamstring injury, he has provided a much-needed focal point and performances have improved as a result.

Dyche, who realistically has to find one win from their two remaining matches against Wolves and Bournemouth, said he took the injury-prone striker off as a precaution.

“I had to make a call because he felt his groin and tight groins can lead to damaged groins,” he said.

“It would have been harder at 0-0 than 2-0. He wanted to carry on, but I said, ‘Dom, you are coming off’.”

On his side’s display, in which they did not trouble City, he added: “A lot of the performance was right against a top side, but you get punished if you make the slightest mistake.

“We arguably had the best chance with Mason Holgate (who missed a difficult close-range opportunity at 0-0).

“There were some outstanding performances, Dwight (McNeil) was outstanding, Doucs (Abdoulaye Doucoure), Conor (Coady) came on and affected it in a change of shape (to a 5-4-1).”

Pep Guardiola insisted revenge was not his motivation as he prepares Manchester City for their Champions League semi-final rematch with Real Madrid.

City were beaten in heartbreaking fashion by the Spanish giants in the last four a year ago and have a chance to make amends this term.

The first leg of their latest encounter takes place at the Bernabeu on Tuesday and Guardiola is focusing on the game in hand rather than looking back 12 months.

The City manager said: “It was tough but we made an exceptional first game in Manchester and played a really good game here.

“In general it was a good performance but it was not enough. You congratulate them and accept it and now one year later we are here.

“We are not here for revenge. It is another opportunity. One day we will get it. We will get to the final and win it.

“It didn’t happen last season as we played Real Madrid and in this competition they know exactly what they have to do.”

Guardiola admitted, however, last season’s loss was hard to stomach at the time.

City controlled the tie in the second leg and looked on course for the final, leading 1-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate heading into injury time.

Yet they dramatically capitulated, conceding twice in quick succession and going on to lose in extra time.

It added to the catalogue of near misses experienced by the club since Guardiola took charge in 2016, which includes defeat in the 2021 final.

Guardiola said: “Seven years ago we wanted to win the Champions League. Last season it was (like) the end of the world but here we are again.

“Being stable is the most important thing. The important thing is we are trying to get better every year.

“We were prepared last year too. We are the same manager, mainly the same players but completely different games.

“The difference is the second leg is at home and everything will be decided in Manchester.”

Unlike Guardiola, midfielder Rodri admitted revenge was on his mind.

The Spain midfielder said: “Football gives you the option to have revenge.

“We have the philosophy you can always learn from past experiences. We did a great two games but football is like this and we didn’t go through.

“We will fight again. We will try to learn from what we did bad in that moment.”

City are without defender Nathan Ake after the Netherlands international suffered a calf injury in Saturday’s Premier League victory over Leeds.

Pep Guardiola hopes Manchester City can replicate the dominance they showed against Leeds when they face Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Aside from a frantic final five minutes, the Premier League leaders were in a different class to the relegation-threatened Yorkshire side at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

They eased ahead with two Ilkay Gundogan goals in the opening half-hour and could have scored several more – with Gundogan missing a penalty and Erling Haaland twice hitting the woodwork among their better chances – before an 85th-minute Rodrigo strike left them hanging on for a 2-1 win.

Their next challenge is a lot tougher, as they face holders Real in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu, but Guardiola feels his side are in good shape.

The City manager said: “I would love to play on Tuesday the way we played Saturday. We played really good.

“They played a back six, so you have to read the spaces and pick the right moments to attack.

“Erling had two, three or four chances to score. He played an exceptional game, all of them did.

“Before 2-1 and that situation, it was really good.”

Guardiola made seven changes for the game with Jack Grealish, Rodri, Ruben Dias, John Stones and Bernardo Silva along those to get a rest.

That should ensure he can again freshen the team up in Madrid but Guardiola insists it is not a case of prioritising the Champions League now they look to be in command of the domestic title race.

He said: “I didn’t rotate the team because I was thinking in Madrid. I rotated because some players told me they are so tired.

“I take the Premier League so seriously. In October, November, December you can drop points but now if you drop points the damage is huge.

“I would be naive to prioritise.”

Treble-chasing City are unbeaten in 20 matches – 17 of which they have won – and are approaching what could be a glorious end of the season in fine form.

Guardiola said: “We have to still be focused but the moment we beat Arsenal, destiny was in our hands.

“We have done it against Fulham, West Ham and Leeds. After Madrid we have five days to recover well and go to Goodison Park and win the game.

“Every time we win we are closer to doing something exceptional.”

Guardiola was clearly annoyed when Gundogan missed from the spot on Saturday. Regular penalty-taker Haaland deferred to the German to allow him to complete a hat-trick but, by hitting the post, he failed to put the result beyond doubt before Leeds scored.

The City boss felt Haaland should have taken it and did not acknowledge Gundogan after substituting him, but he calmed down after the final whistle.

Guardiola retains high regard for the 32-year-old and would like to see him recommit after his contract expires at the end of the season.

He said: “It is not necessary for him to score two goals to know how I like this player and how I would like to work with him in the future.

“He is so intelligent, so clever, so competitive. He is one of the best players I have trained in my career. Top class.”

Pep Guardiola agrees with Sam Allardyce’s assertion that he is as good as him as the Manchester City boss launched a defence of experienced English managers.

Embattled Leeds raised eyebrows this week by turning to the 68-year-old Allardyce in a last-ditch attempt to stave off relegation.

Allardyce’s unveiling on Wednesday was similarly surprising as he claimed “there’s nobody ahead of me in football terms – not Pep, not (Jurgen) Klopp, not (Mikel) Arteta”.

The new Leeds boss will get a chance to show that on Saturday afternoon when his relegation-threatened side travel to treble-chasing City.

Allardyce’s comments were put to Guardiola after Wednesday’s 3-0 win against West Ham and elicited a surprisingly positive response.

“He is right,” the City boss said. “I want to be honest. Now look what happened with, for example, Neil Warnock in Huddersfield.

“Now there’s a tendency for these incredible managers, they have done this Premier League or this competition in better position.

“It looks like now the young managers are there with the tactics or whatever… so they are really good, they help us to be what we are.

“Look at the managers, Roy Hodgson for Crystal Palace, what they have done.

“They are really good, they have incredible experience, they know the game perfectly and if he feels that it is because of this.

“It will be tough because he has the charisma, he will put out the pressure to the players and he knows exactly what to do in this kind of situation in a relegation battle.

“It looks like this type of old managers… I’m honest, so what they have done for the club (is dismissed as) ‘they are old, whatever’.

“Now the people who are 35, 40, 45, we invent football or we create football.

“No, football is already created and these guys belong to that league and helped us to do it and that’s why.

“So, Neil Warnock, Huddersfield was in the last (spot) and now already out of the dangerous positions.

“I could not experience what Harry Redknapp has done in this country.

“There are many, many English managers that have done really, really well.

“You don’t have to be young to be a good manager. As much experience you have, you are good.”

Pep Guardiola said “special striker” Erling Haaland richly deserved the guard of honour by his Manchester City team-mates after breaking the Premier League single-season scoring record.

The 22-year-old has made a mockery of those doubting whether he could repeat his goalscoring feats after last summer’s switch from Borussia Dortmund to the Etihad Stadium.

Haaland took his tally to 51 in all competitions on Wednesday night, when his cool finish moved his Premier League haul on to 35 and broke Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s competition record.

The Norway international scored between Nathan Ake and Phil Foden’s efforts in a 3-0 win against West Ham that was followed by what Guardiola says was a pre-planned guard of honour.

“It was (special), I think he deserved it,” the City boss said. “All the team deserved it because without the team he couldn’t do it, but he is a special striker.

“We are very pleased for him because he is a joy, not just to work with him as a manager. I think everyone is happy to have him with us.

“Of course this record will be broken sooner or later, maybe by him in the future or maybe another one but they’ll have to score a lot of goals because he scored a lot.

“Of course (we planned the guard of honour). We thought about that and in football when there is a special occasion, we have to show how special it is.

“Today it was with Erling. Another one, another day will happen but of course to score and overcome the position of Andy Cole and Alan Shearer – incredible, top, top strikers – is special.”

Guardiola said “we cannot achieve many things without a good striker”, namechecking previous City frontmen like Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.

But this night was all about Haaland, who still has five Premier League matches to increase his eye-watering record even further.

“At the end when you buy a player in Erling we know he score goals everywhere and we thought he could do it (here),” Guardiola said.

“But at the end we don’t know. You have to work and see the process.

“He understands what we want to do, the players understand his movement and whatever, so a question of time.

“The impact or how he adjusted to the league was so quick.

“The first two goals was against West Ham. It’s a coincidence as he breaks the record against West Ham when he scored the first goals against them.

“Immediately we saw he is a guy when you provide him with balls, he scores in all situations – except free kicks, but maybe in the future.

“But penalties, crosses, combinations and transitions, he is a guy who can do many, many things. That’s why he scored a lot of goals.”

Haaland’s latest goal helped calm any nerves at the Etihad Stadium, with Wednesday’s victory seeing title favourites City usurp Arsenal and reclaim top spot.

“I said after Arsenal (last week) when everybody said it’s over, I said it was not over in my press conference,” Guardiola said of the 4-1 win last midweek.

“Yesterday Arsenal proved it. They will not give up. I know quite well Mikel (Arteta), how competitive he is and I know a few players.

“Arsenal is one of the historical teams and they will be there. I said to the players.”

As for West Ham, the 3-0 defeat came on a night when illness ruled out Declan Rice, Nayef Aguerd and Tomas Soucek on the day of the game.

David Moyes, whose side face Manchester United on Sunday, said: “I have got to hope they are (back).

“Two of them we’re not sure if it’s maybe a bit of food poisoning they’ve picked up whether at the training ground or hotel.

“One of them we think has got a virus, so, I’m not a doctor, whether antibiotics fix that not quickly or how you work it I’m not quite sure.

“So, hopefully they’ll have a chance for the weekend but I think the biggest thing I have to praise the players who came in and did such a good job.

“For long periods against a really good team we made it quite difficult”

Sam Allardyce claimed he is as good a manager as Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta as he was unveiled as Leeds’ new boss on Wednesday.

Leeds have turned to former England manager Allardyce, 68, in a last-ditch bid to retain their Premier League status after sacking Javi Gracia with four games remaining.

Allardyce, relegated from the top flight for the first time in his 30-year managerial career in his last job at West Brom two years ago, said: “Far too many people think that I am old and antiquated, which is far from the truth.

“I might be 68 and old, but there’s nobody ahead of me in football terms. Not Pep, not Klopp, not Arteta.

“It’s all there with me. They do what they do, I do what I do. In terms of knowledge and depth of knowledge, I’m up there with them. I’m not saying I’m better than them, but certainly as good as they are.”

Former Bolton, Newcastle, West Ham and Everton boss Allardyce takes charge of his first game for Leeds at Guardiola’s title-chasing Manchester City on Saturday.

Having already removed director of football Victor Orta, Leeds announced the departure of Gracia on Wednesday morning along with his backroom staff.

Allardyce said: “I’ve had a lot of responses from many people that I know sending their congratulations. A few others said I must be mad.

“But I enjoy the game so much and to try and save this club and keep it in the Premier League is a big responsibility and a big challenge. But it’s one I’m prepared to take because of who Leeds are.”

Allardyce is the club’s third permanent manager of the season, with Gracia having replaced Jesse Marsch in February.

The former England boss is hoping for an immediate response from a demoralised squad who are languishing in 17th place, out of the relegation zone only on goal difference.

 

Sam Allardyce must find a way to keep Leeds up with only four matches remaining (Lynne Cameron/PA)

 

“It’s probably only the biggest challenge (of my career) because of the shortness of games that are left,” he said.

Allardyce is reported to have agreed a basic salary of £500,000 for his four games in charge, with a £2.5million bonus if he can keep Leeds up.

When asked if there was a chance he would stay at Elland Road beyond the remainder of this season, he said: “Never say never.

“It depends what happens at the end of the four matches and what the conversation is all about, how I feel and more importantly how my wife feels.”

Former MK Dons, Charlton and Oxford boss Karl Robinson will be Allardyce’s assistant and ex-Leeds striker Robbie Keane has also joined the backroom staff.

Allardyce had hoped to have been assisted by Sammy Lee, who is unavailable after being refused permission to cancel jury duty.

“The judge has left Sammy unemployed and wouldn’t let them off,” Allardyce added. “I think it’s very poor judgment indeed. It’s a real shame because he loves being with me and I love having him with me.”

After Allardyce’s first game at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, Leeds face Champions League hopefuls Newcastle at Elland Road the following week.

The final two games of the season are a trip to West Ham, one of Allardyce’s former clubs, and the visit of Tottenham, who are bidding to qualify for Europe.

Leeds have lost five of their last seven games, with Sunday’s 4-1 reverse at Bournemouth following 4-1, 5-1 and 6-1 defeats to Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Liverpool respectively last month.

On Sunday, fans’ group the Leeds United Supporters Advisory Board issued a vote of no confidence in both the club’s board and Gracia.

The players subsequently issued a statement on Monday apologising for their performance at Bournemouth and for failing to acknowledge fans at the team hotel.

Gracia leaves Leeds after only 11 league games in charge. The Spaniard collected 10 points from his first six fixtures, but a dreadful run of results in April left the club in a downward spiral.

Gracia said in a statement: “I’m grateful for this opportunity and proud of the team, both players and coaching staff. That’s how I would like to summarise my time at Leeds United.

“I would have preferred a different moment, but the circumstances have changed. We arrived on a short three-month contract, and we did it because we believed in this team.”

David Moyes compared Erling Haaland to a machine as West Ham prepare to keep Manchester City’s record-levelling striker at bay on Wednesday in the Premier League.

Haaland’s opener in City’s win over Fulham on Sunday marked his 50th goal in all competitions – a record-equalling 34 of them have come in the Premier League.

Moyes talked up the striker’s explosive debut top-flight season and admitted his physical and technical attributes make him unplayable for defenders.

“It has taken them time to get used to Haaland just like we are with a few of our players…they have needed to get used to his goals because he provides those like a machine,” Moyes said.

“You are maybe hoping he has a weakness, that he cannot run or he is not good in the air, or his touch is not good but, he is all-round, and surrounded by team-mates who can provide him with balls in the air, balls through the middle, cut-backs for finishes, he can finish with his left, right.”

“He’s the icing on the cake for them. I think they’ve got so many good players who can create chances, he’s such a good finisher and if you get him in those right positions he’s capable of scoring.”

The West Ham boss attributed parts of Haaland’s success to City manager Pep Guardiola, who has lost just once to Moyes in 13 meetings during his career.

A win on Wednesday would keep the prospect of a historic treble-winning season alive – City play Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League before taking a trip to Wembley in the FA Cup final against rivals Manchester United.

“I think he’s a super coach (Guardiola) who has got really good players, but I think he’s also made those players better and when you make players better that says something about him,” Moyes added.

“Wherever he’s been, he’s been incredibly successful and managed all the big clubs. You don’t get the big jobs if you’re not good, he’s very, very good.

“Pep, tactically, is fantastic. They have also had an awful lot of money to get the best players. You cannot take that away, but the praise could be big enough because of the way he is changing football.”

Moyes insisted pressure has mounted on both clubs with City leading the title race and West Ham four points clear of danger. He believes City’s ‘cannot afford to drop points’ mentality will make them more potent than usual.

The Scot explained: “It makes them a difficult opponent (City having the title to play for), there’s a lot of pressure for the teams at the bottom of the league but there’s incredible pressure for the teams at the top of the league.

“When you’re one of the top clubs your job is to win all the games and when you have got so much at stake, every game you’re needing to win so that’s pressure, pressure for Manchester City as well.”

Julian Alvarez admitted “every game is a final” after Manchester City returned to the Premier League summit for the first time since February with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Fulham.

City were pushed all the way by Marco Silva’s men who were resilient throughout, recovering well after conceding an early penalty which Erling Haaland converted.

Carlos Vinicius levelled the game briefly in the 15th minute, but Alvarez’ stunning strike from distance restored City’s advantage and they held on.

“This is where we wanted to be at the start of the season,” Alvarez told City’s website.

“Everyone’s put in really good work and now we’ve reached the top we need to defend it.

“Every game is a final for us and everyone’s going to pull together to make that final effort.”

The Argentinian, who has had to wait for opportunities in Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up, added: “It was really nice to score here, a really important goal at an important point of the match. Really nice to contribute.

“We knew it would never be easy coming here because of the pitch, because of how good Fulham are as a team. We were very happy to withstand the pressure and hold out.”

Fulham manager Silva was left to ponder his side’s small defensive lapses following a largely impressive performance against a team still in the hunt for the treble.

“We had a clear plan for the game. We wanted to go through the centre of the pitch, with our wingers a little more inside,” Silva said.

“If you try to block certain areas, they will look to expose others. The players, they stuck to their plan and did it well.

“The moment after we equalised the game was probably our best moment in the match.

“We cannot concede the goal in the way we did. A great strike from Alvarez, I know, but the way we build in certain areas we cannot lose the ball in that way and we gave them a chance in their counter-attack.

“In the second half we were really competitive again. We didn’t create many chances, this is true, but we didn’t give many things to them either.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.