Manchester City stretched their lead at the Premier League summit to 12 points, as Raheem Sterling's perfect hat-trick helped them to a comfortable win over struggling Norwich City.

Pep Guardiola shuffled his pack ahead of the resumption of Champions League football, resting the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Joao Cancelo, but the champions produced an assured performance as their England stars fired them to a ninth win in their past 13 league games against the Canaries.

After Sterling struck a stunning opener, Phil Foden tapped home a second and Sterling doubled his own tally with a close-range header, before the winger tapped home a rebound after missing a late penalty.

Guardiola's men now have a 12-point lead over second-placed Liverpool, albeit having played two games more than Jurgen Klopp's men, while Norwich's mini-revival was halted by their dominant visitors.

City almost took the lead five minutes in, when Bernardo Silva danced through the home backline before hitting the post, before Grant Hanley headed against the woodwork at the opposite end during a frantic start to the contest. 

Angus Gunn produced a strong save to deny Sterling on 25 minutes, but the England man was not to be denied five minutes later, as he beautifully curled home his first goal of 2022 from the edge of the area.

Norwich were reduced to chasing the ball for the remainder of the first half, with Ikay Gundogan spurning a good opportunity as the champions monopolised possession and avoided conceding in the opening half for the 22nd time in their 25 league games this term.

City needed fewer than three minutes to strike after the break, as Foden tapped across the line at the second attempt after a bizarre goalmouth scramble.

The visitors further extended their lead when the fantastic Sterling nodded Ruben Dias' cross home, recording his ninth league goal of the season on 70 minutes.

City's man of the match crowned his terrific performance by tapping home for a hat-trick after Gunn spilled his late penalty, awarded for Hanley's foul on young substitute Liam Delap.

What does it mean? Away form carrying City towards title

Guardiola's quest to bring a fourth title in six years to the Etihad Stadium remains firmly on course, with the help of a fantastic away record.

After losing at Tottenham on the opening day of the season, City are now unbeaten in their past 12 on the road, winning on 10 of those trips.

Sterling torments Canaries again

Norwich's supporters must be sick of the sight of Sterling, whose treble took his tally to 10 goal involvements in his past eight Premier League matches against the Canaries (eight goals, two assists).

Sterling has now netted 10 Premier League goals this season, more than any other City player.

Foden remains an eager traveller

Foden's scrappy finish gave his side a deserved two-goal cushion within moments of the restart and maintained his great goalscoring record in away matches. Only Mohamed Salah, with 10, can beat Foden's tally of five away Premier League goals this season, while no Englishman has scored more on their travels in the Premier League this term.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane (68) is the only English player to rack up more goal involvements than Foden since the start of last season, with the City man recording 40 in all competitions (24 goals, 16 assists).

What's next?

City now face an important week in their quest for silverware: they will follow up Tuesday's Champions League trip to Sporting CP by hosting Tottenham in a weeks' time. Earlier that day, Norwich face another tough assignment when they travel to Anfield to face Liverpool.

Reigning champions Manchester City end the year as hot favourites to win the Premier League again, but how many of Pep Guardiola's players should make it into a team of the year?

Do any of the Manchester United players Gary Neville described as "whingebags" deserve a place in an elite XI? And is there a case to be made for any players from beyond the 'big six'?

The answers to those questions are: a) five, by our estimations; b) yes; and c) yes.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform selected a dream team for 2021, packed with standout performers from the calendar year.

Safe hands? It has to be Mendy

Chelsea's Edouard Mendy had a save percentage of 74.36, which put him fourth among goalkeepers with five or more Premier League appearances. Curiously, his Blues club-mate Kepa Arrizabalaga headed that list with an 81.82 per cent record, but he only played five Premier League games: the Spaniard's previous inconsistency and propensity to make expensive errors cost him a regular place.

Mendy has demonstrated reliability and Chelsea's upturn in form under Thomas Tuchel, highlighted by their Champions League triumph, owed a lot to the man at the back. He had 18 clean sheets in 38 Premier League games and in this team of the year he edges out the likes of Arsenal's former Sheffield United shot-stopper Aaron Ramsdale, and Wolves' outstanding Jose Sa (80.28 per cent save percentage in 18 games – a half-season wonder so far).

Risk-takers on the defensive flanks, no-nonsense in the middle

Top of the defenders' league for assists (13) and ball recoveries (308), Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold remains a sensational presence at right-back. He is much closer to the bottom of the league when it comes to duel success (46.77 per cent), and being dribbled past by opposition players (34 incidences), but his strengths are such that Liverpool can put up with those figures. The playmaker at full-back might be prone to an occasional error, but his service from the flanks has often been a match-winning ingredient in the Reds' mix.

Similar can be said for Manchester City's Joao Cancelo, a first-class operator on either defensive flank. He has three goals and six assists in the league over the year and has created 39 chances from open play, putting him in the top five among defenders in the latter metric (Alexander-Arnold's 67 leads the way). Cancelo has a healthy tackle success rate of 66.27 per cent, but he has also been dribbled past 53 times by opponents, more than any other defender and has made three errors leading to shots (Harry Maguire tops this list, with six errors). Cancelo is imperfect, but also often quite brilliant.

In the centre of defence, Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger might be in his last season at Stamford Bridge, amid speculation linking him with Real Madrid and others. He has been largely formidable, developing a strong alliance with Thiago Silva. Only three defenders with more than 20 Premier League appearances across the year managed to top 60 per cent for duel success (Rudiger: 63.75) and 70 per cent for tackle success (Rudiger: 73.08) while being dribbled past no more than 10 times (Rudiger: 10). Surprisingly, one of those was Newcastle's Ciaran Clark. The others were Rudiger and Silva, and you could have either in a team of the year.

Ruben Dias has been the Rolls-Royce engine in Manchester City's defence: powerful and classy, surely built to last. His passing accuracy of 93.28 per cent has been beaten only by one defender in the league – team-mate Aymeric Laporte (93.91) – with Dias also managing three goals and two assists in 2021, his first full year in English football. City are no longer crying out for a Vincent Kompany replacement: Dias, 24, could be the cornerstone of their defence for many seasons to come.

Midfield marvels... from Manchester

Is Bruno Fernandes a maestro or a "whingebag"? Neville used the latter description after Manchester United's draw at Newcastle, but he would doubtless concur on the former too, given it has not been all shoulder shrugs and finger-pointing from the mercurial Portuguese this year. In 2020, Fernandes had 18 goals and 14 assists, alongside 60 open-play chances created. He has played more games this year (39, compared to 29 in 2021) and finished up with 13 goals, eight assists and 79 open-play chances created. His 21 goal involvements lead the way among midfielders, and even if those have dried up in recent weeks – he had just one goal and one assist in his final nine league games of the year – he had already done enough.

Across Manchester, Ilkay Gundogan was a revelation for City, particularly during a purple patch last season. He ends the year with 15 goals, the most of any midfielder, adding five assists from the 44 open-play chances he created, and had a princely passing accuracy in the opposition half of 90.09 per cent. Among Premier League players with more than 30 games, that accuracy was only beaten by Gundogan's City team-mates Bernardo Silva (90.23) and Rodri (90.74).

Of course Bernardo Silva makes the team too, a flagrant example of recency bias after the Portuguese's five goals in five league games from early November to early December. With his nine goals and seven assists across the Premier League year, and his determined dribbling (109 dribbling attempts - second only to Burnley's Dwight McNeil among midfielders), the ever-elegant Bernardo just edges out Manchester City team-mate and previously perennial all-star Kevin De Bruyne.

What a year it has been for Phil Foden, another City star to make this team. Granted, it would have been better had City won the Champions League final on his 21st birthday, but the young man from Stockport has continued his growth at Premier League level, bagging 12 goals and seven assists and another title. Those goals have come at an average of 0.53 per 90 minutes, and the assists at one every 0.31 per 90. He is top five in both per-90 aspects among midfielders, but is Foden still truly a midfielder? The twinkle-toed local lad has been deployed in the frontline frequently, looking at home wherever Pep Guardiola decides he should be slotted.

Standout Salah, remarkable Raphinha

Where would Leeds United be without Raphinha? Rumours of Bayern Munich interest surfaced in December, and his numbers tell us why the German giants might fancy the Brazilian. His 20 goal involvements (12 goals, eight assists) put him joint-fifth among Premier League forwards, with only Mohamed Salah (35), Michail Antonio (24), Harry Kane (23) and Son Heung-min (22) ahead of Raphinha. The former Rennes player attempted 194 dribbles (only Adama Traore, 252, and Allan Saint-Maximin, 238, tried more) and he also played far more passes into the final third than any other forward (198 – Leandro Trossard second on this list with 136). Raphinha got stuck in too, making 50 tackles (only Jordan Ayew, with 60, attempted more among forwards).

Mohamed Salah became the first player to score 20 or more goals in five consecutive seasons for Liverpool in all competitions since Ian Rush from 1981-82 to 1986-87 (six in a row). That is the remarkable level he has reached, and with his own long-term future still somewhat in doubt, Liverpool will be making every effort to retain the Egyptian. In the year when Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the Premier League, the Portuguese was resoundingly outshone by Liverpool's star forward. Salah had more touches in the opposition box than any other player in 2021 (383), and he made good use of those. He created 67 chances from open play, and the goals and assists hauls were both league-highs among forwards.

Pep Guardiola says he has never doubted Phil Foden's quality on the field after the youngster marked his return to the Manchester City side with the only goal against Brentford.

Foden finished superbly from a Kevin De Bruyne cross to score his fifth Premier League goal of the campaign and fire City to a 1-0 victory in Wednesday's clash in west London.

The 21-year-old, along with Jack Grealish, had been left out of City's line-up for their previous two matches after being warned about his off-the-field behaviour by Guardiola. 

That came after the pair were pictured in a nightclub mingling with others without wearing a mask a day before taking part in a recovery training session.

But Foden was back in Guardiola's good books thanks to his match-winning moment at the Brentford Community Stadium, with that goal taking City eight points clear at the top.

"Exceptional," Guardiola told Amazon Prime when asked about the performances of Foden and De Bruyne in attack. 

"With Foden, he's already a football player. We never had any doubts about his quality. We knew it. Since he came to play with us, always he's been exceptional."

Foden was fielded in a false nine position he is now becoming accustomed to and scored from one of his two attempts against Brentford, the goal allowed to stand after a VAR check for a possible offside.

At 21 years and 215 days, Foden became the second-youngest City player to score 20 Premier League goals after team-mate Gabriel Jesus (21y, 40d).

Five of those strikes have come in 921 minutes of action this season – the equivalent of just over 10 entire games – each from his left foot.

Asked about his preferred position in the side, Foden said: "Wherever the manager puts me, I will do my best for the team. I started on the left. It is good, I am adaptable.

"I've have a few goals this year that have been ruled offside so I wasn't too confident about this one. I thought I went a bit too early, but thank god the goal counted. 

"I am really happy. There were a few when I went a bit early and was offside. We could have won by more. We kept working hard."

City were not at their best but did enough to take advantage of Liverpool's defeat at Leicester City on Tuesday and Chelsea's home draw with Brighton and Hove Albion elsewhere on Wednesday.

All five previous sides to be eight points ahead at the start of a new calendar year have gone on to win the Premier League title, including City themselves in 2017-18.

Despite having racked up 10 wins on the spin for the fourth time under Guardiola, he is taking nothing for granted.

"There are 54 points left to play," he said. "So when you put it in this perspective eight points is ridiculous.

"But we've won ten games in a row and this is one of our targets. We don't have much time and on January 1 we play Arsenal, who are one the best teams right now on form."

Pep Guardiola says he has never doubted Phil Foden's quality on the field after the youngster marked his return to the Manchester City side with the only goal against Brentford.

Foden finished superbly from a Kevin De Bruyne cross to score his fifth Premier League goal of the campaign and fire City to a 1-0 victory in Wednesday's clash in west London.

The 21-year-old, along with Jack Grealish, had been left out of City's line-up for their previous two matches after being warned about his off-the-field behaviour by Guardiola. 

That came after the pair were pictured in a nightclub mingling with others without wearing a mask a day before taking part in a recovery training session.

But Foden was back in Guardiola's good books thanks to his match-winning moment at the Brentford Community Stadium, with that goal taking City eight points clear at the top.

"Exceptional," Guardiola told Amazon Prime when asked about the performances of Foden and De Bruyne in attack. 

"With Foden, he's already a football player. We never had any doubts about his quality. We knew it. Since he came to play with us, always he's been exceptional."

Foden was fielded in a false nine position he is now becoming accustomed to and scored from one of his two attempts against Brentford, the goal allowed to stand after a VAR check for a possible offside.

At 21 years and 215 days, Foden became the second-youngest City player to score 20 Premier League goals after team-mate Gabriel Jesus (21y, 40d).

Five of those strikes have come in 921 minutes of action this season – the equivalent of just over 10 entire games – each from his left foot.

Asked about his preferred position in the side, Foden said: "Wherever the manager puts me, I will do my best for the team. I started on the left. It is good, I am adaptable.

"I've have a few goals this year that have been ruled offside so I wasn't too confident about this one. I thought I went a bit too early, but thank god the goal counted. 

"I am really happy. There were a few when I went a bit early and was offside. We could have won by more. We kept working hard."

City were not at their best but did enough to take advantage of Liverpool's defeat at Leicester City on Tuesday and Chelsea's home draw with Brighton and Hove Albion elsewhere on Wednesday.

All five previous sides to be eight points ahead at the start of a new calendar year have gone on to win the Premier League title, including City themselves in 2017-18.

Despite having racked up 10 wins on the spin for the fourth time under Guardiola, he is taking nothing for granted.

"There are 54 points left to play," he said. "So when you put it in this perspective eight points is ridiculous.

"But we've won ten games in a row and this is one of our targets. We don't have much time and on January 1 we play Arsenal, who are one the best teams right now on form."

Phil Foden's first-half strike was enough as Manchester City beat Brentford 1-0 to extend their winning Premier League run to 10 matches and move eight points clear at the top.

The Citizens had scored 17 goals in their previous three league games but were made to work hard at the Brentford Community Stadium in their final game of 2021.

Kevin De Bruyne played in a teasing delivery for Foden to drill in the game's only goal after 16 minutes, with that match-winning moment arriving 56 seconds after Yoane Wissa had a header cleared off the line at the other end.

City had a couple of goals disallowed in the second half but moved further clear at the summit following Liverpool's loss to Leicester City on Tuesday and Chelsea's home draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in Wednesday's other fixture.

Brentford, without a number of key players due to coronavirus, suspension and injuries, forced Ederson into a couple of saves and had a looping Wissa header blocked on the line by Joao Cancelo in a lively start.

Wissa's chance served as a wake-up call for City, though, and they were in front less than a minute later thanks to Foden's side-foot finish from a pinpoint De Bruyne cross, the goal allowed to stand following a VAR check for a possible offside.

Foden did not time his run to such perfection when he tucked home in early in the second half, however, with a close-range finish ruled out for offside.

De Bruyne pinged the woodwork with a crisp, low effort, though City thought they had put the result beyond all doubt when Aymeric Laporte headed in late on.

VAR cut their celebrations short, but unlike their title rivals, City were not made to lament any fine margins.

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were again named as substitutes by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for the visit of Leicester City.

The England pair were pictured on a night out after City's 7-0 rout against Leeds United earlier in December and dropped out of Guardiola's starting line-up for the 4-0 win over Newcastle United last Sunday.

City staff were reported to be disappointed by the condition of the pair when they reported for a recovery session after the Leeds game and Guardiola reminded City players of their responsibilities once more on Friday.

Guardiola again decided Grealish and Foden should be among the substitutes for the Boxing Day clash with Leicester.

Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez were the three selected to start in the frontline for the reigning Premier League champions, tasked with breaching Leicester's shaky defence.

The visiting Foxes also named Jamie Vardy on the bench for the game at the Etihad Stadium, where the forward scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win in this fixture last season.

Vardy scored a first-half brace before the EFL Cup penalty shoot-out defeat against Liverpool in midweek, with the striker not fit enough to take a spot-kick after suffering from a hamstring injury.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers opted for caution with his selection, given his side again face Jurgen Klopp's side in the league on Tuesday, with Vardy dropping to the bench as former Manchester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho started up top.

The visitors were without Timothy Castagne and Jonny Evans as Rodgers remained hampered by injuries in defence, while Harvey Barnes also missed out with Ademola Lookman taking over his usual slot on the left wing.

Pep Guardiola has reminded his Manchester City players of their responsibilities after Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were pictured on a night out.

Earlier this week, photographs were published in the Telegraph showing the unmasked England duo believed to be at a nightclub posing for selfies with fans following City's 7-0 rout of Leeds United. 

The pair, whose condition when they reported for a recovery session the following day reportedly angered club staff, were dropped to the bench during last weekend's 4-0 win over Newcastle United.

Guardiola said after the game the changes were made due to behavioural issues off the pitch, though he did not specifically refer to Grealish and Foden.

The club has issued guidelines for their players and staff to follow in light of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in England, but it is unclear whether the midfielders broke any rules.

Addressing the media ahead of his side's scheduled clash with Leicester City on Boxing Day, Guardiola said: "They are not rules, I'm not police. They are old enough to know what they have to do.

"We are not alone in the world, we are living with people. Being careful, we are exposed. Just be careful, that's all.

"In this career, the work on and off the pitch is so important. The managers, too, we have to live for the profession – all the time.

"Otherwise, there are guys who live every second in the profession, they sustain for longer. This message I give to them six years ago, and many times [since].

"You have to prepare, there are a lot of players who live this way, that's why we are consistent."

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden have been warned about their off-field behaviour by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola after being pictured on a night out.

Grealish and Foden dropped out of City's starting line-up for Sunday's 4-0 win at Newcastle with Guardiola hinting post-game that the decision was not rotation.

On Monday, The Telegraph published a photo of the pair believed to be at a nightclub following last Tuesday's 7-0 rout of Leeds United.

According to the report, City staff were unimpressed with the condition of Grealish and Foden when they arrived at a recovery session the next day, with Guardiola absent to attend Sergio Aguero's retirement conference in Barcelona but kept informed on the situation.

"I pay a lot of attention to behaviour on and off the pitch," Guardiola said after Sunday's game.

Guardiola added on BBC Radio 5 Live: "And when off the pitch is not proper they are not going to play.

"So they have to be focused all the time because the distractions in the Christmastime and everything that happens - you have to still be focused."

Grealish and Foden along with John Stones were the only changes from the starting XI that beat Leeds, with the latter used as a 70th-minute substitute against the Magpies.

The City manager had labelled Grealish as "outstanding" after he scored in the win over Leeds last week.

Manchester City scored their 500th Premier League goal under Pep Guardiola in Tuesday's clash with Leeds United.

Phil Foden put City ahead against Leeds at the Etihad Stadium as they reached the landmark figure in record time under a manager.

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

City required just 207 games to score the 500 goals, bettering the 234 games it took Liverpool to net that amount under Jurgen Klopp.

Next on that list is legendary Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson (265 games), followed by Arsenal great Arsene Wenger (271).

Sergio Aguero, who departed City at the end of last season, has scored the most goals for City during Guardiola's five and a half year tenure with 82 to his name.

Raheem Sterling has been responsible for 76 of the goals, Gabriel Jesus 52, Kevin De Bruyne 37 and Ilkay Gundogan 31 among those to have netted 30 or more.

City's highest-scoring season under Guardiola was in 2017-18 when finding the net 106 times.

Pep Guardiola has explained how Phil Foden is finding it difficult to move on from an ankle injury due to Manchester City's intense schedule.

Foden's start to the season was delayed after he returned from Euro 2020 with England, but the midfielder contributed three goals and an assist in his first four Premier League starts.

An ankle knock has since disrupted his momentum, however. Although Foden added another assist against Watford last time out in the league, he has been restricted to just 688 minutes – ranking 12th among City players.

Following the Watford game, the 21-year-old lasted only 45 minutes against RB Leipzig in the Champions League before he was substituted as a precaution.

Foden was set to be assessed again on Friday after Guardiola faced the media to acknowledge there was no opportunity for a break, with City in the middle of a December that will see them play eight times in all.

"When you have an injury in your ankle and two months of holiday, you will recover incredibly well – but when you have every three days games, you will have niggles," Guardiola said.

"He still has these niggles and has to live with that. But every time, he is better and better.

"I don't think [he would want a break]. He will dictate and say how he feels after games. At this moment, in December, with this amount of games, and knowing Phil, he will want to fight to be there.

"So we will see how he feels. We will see game by game."

Foden may not be City's only injury worry by the end of the month, but Guardiola acknowledges there is little prospect of a packed festive fixture list easing in years to come.

"It's good, it's historic," he said. "I like to play in winter time. My words are not going to change anything.

"When you play with just two days' rest between Christmas time and New Year's Eve, there is no time to recover for the players.

"But every season for the past 20, 30, 40 years, we are discussing but there is no change. So we just adapt, adjust, pray the players don't get injured and go forward."

City have already won 31 Premier League games in 2021, giving them every chance of beating Liverpool's top-flight calendar-year record of 33 in 1982.

Their next test is against Wolves, who did the double over City two seasons ago and pushed title rivals Liverpool close last time out.

While this fixture has the highest goals-per-game ratio among those played 60 times or more in English league football (3.83 – 437 goals in 114 meetings), Wolves matches have this season seen fewer goals than any other Premier League side (25 – 12 scored, 13 conceded).

"It's not just about the game against Liverpool," Guardiola said. "When you have played 15 games and you can take a look at goals scored, goals conceded - [Wolves'] balance is so stable, few on both sides.

"It's quite similar – we played against Wolves last year, always tight, tight games. We lost a few, when we won, always tight.

"It has always been a difficult, difficult game, for the quality they have, for the structure, the pace they up front, the set-pieces, the personality, the character, the players, good keepers.

"They are up there. They are doing an incredible season so far. We know it, but at the same time, we are in a good position to continue our run in the Premier League."

Pep Guardiola insisted he was more than satisfied with Manchester City's work in the Champions League group stages despite a 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig.

City travelled to the Red Bull Arena on Tuesday on the back of a 14-game unbeaten run against German opposition in the competition but fell behind to Dominik Szoboszlai's first-half strike.

Andre Silva then doubled the hosts' advantage before Riyad Mahrez pulled a goal back for the visitors, who were hampered by the late dismissal of Kyle Walker for a reckless challenge on Leipzig's second scorer.

Guardiola's side were unable to mount a late comeback, though their place at the top of Group A was already confirmed before the final matchday.

City failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their six group stage games and have only recorded one shutout in their past 11 European outings, but Guardiola was pleased with his team's work.

"In the first half we lacked rhythm, we had problems connecting and they have a really good team – we knew from before the group stage," Guardiola told reporters.

"The second half was much better but unfortunately we made one or two mistakes and they punished us. 

"We played better in the second half. We were more aggressive, we played to win the game and we lost. Congratulations to Leipzig.

"We made an incredible group stage, we qualified with one game left from a tough group, so I am more than satisfied with the performance in every single game and in February hopefully we can arrive in the best condition possible."

Alongside Walker's needless dismissal, Guardiola also left Leipzig with two injury concerns, with Phil Foden – who became the youngest Englishman to reach 30 Champions League appearances – and Nathan Ake suffering knocks.

"Phil [Foden] had problems in the beginning with his ankle, as a precaution I decided to play Raheem [Sterling] in his position," he continued.

"Nathan [Ake] has a back problem, we'll see tomorrow [Wednesday]."

Premier League leaders City return to domestic action at home to Wolves on Saturday as they look to return to winning ways.

Kevin De Bruyne is set to miss Manchester City's next three matches after testing positive for coronavirus.

City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday that De Bruyne will have to isolate for 10 days after returning a positive test.

That means he will miss Sunday's clash with Everton, Wednesday's huge Champions League showdown with Paris Saint-Germain and the Premier League meeting against West Ham next weekend.

"Kevin has tested positive for Covid so he must isolate for 10 days," Guardiola told a media conference.

"We have to be careful, people are dying from Covid, he is vaccinated so hopefully he will be okay.

"Now he has to recover well. The human being is more important than anything else."

De Bruyne's absence may be magnified by injuries to fellow attacking midfielders Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, who returned from international duty with England with knocks.

Guardiola does not expect Grealish to be available to face Everton and is unsure on whether Foden will be ready for the visit of the Toffees.

"We have Jack getting better after he went to the national team," he added. 

"Phil Foden came back with a knock and a problem in his leg, but he is getting better.

"Jack, I don't think so [will be available]. Phil we will see."

Though he enjoys the impact international breaks have on his appearance, Guardiola is happy City can now focus on their Premier League challenge and qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League without interruption until January.

"As a club manager, it is a dream because I have a week's holiday," Guardiola said about international breaks. "Look at my tan, it's much better than at the United game.

"But at the same time I'm concerned because every international break we're unlucky.

"Players come back from the national team and they get injured, this time is not an exception. We get them fit, they come back not fit.

"Now until January, there is no international break and hopefully we can get a point and qualify for the Champions League and fight for the title at the end of the season."

Phil Foden declared he and his Manchester City team-mates "had the game of our lives" after Saturday's straightforward victory over Manchester United.

City eased into a deserved 2-0 lead before half-time at Old Trafford through an Eric Bailly own goal and Bernardo Silva's toe-poke from a tight angle, and that is how the scoreline remained.

While the reigning Premier League champions did not rack up the five goals managed by Liverpool against United two weeks ago, the manner of the loss was just as chastening for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Red Devils had just four touches in the opposition box – their fewest in a league game since 2008-09 when Opta first began recording such data.

Those four touches were also the fewest by a home team in a Premier League game since Fulham against Arsenal in September 2020.

To further underline City's dominance, they completed 753 passes – the most any team has completed in a Premier League match against United since 2003-04.

Foden feels it was close to a perfect display from his side at Old Trafford as they returned to winning ways in the league on the back of last week's shock home loss to Crystal Palace.

"We had the game of our lives today. Everything went right, with a lot of possession and chances. We dominated from start to finish," he told Sky Sports.

"I'm really pleased. We picked the right moments when in possession to hurt them. We knew we could exploit the space in behind and we picked the right times to do it. 

"My team-mates found me a few times in behind and on another day I could have finished the chances. We got in at half-time and said we had to keep up the possession game and I thought we did that really well.

"It gives us massive confidence going into the international break – it was important to get the win before that. It was very important to get back to winning ways."

City's eight away wins at Old Trafford in the Premier League era is the most of any side in the competition's history.

Pep Guardiola's team toyed with their rivals in the second half, meaning City's manager had no concern that the scoreline did not accurately reflect his side's dominance.

"Here at Old Trafford we always produce a good performance in general since we've been together," he told Sky Sports.

"We have won many times here, much more than at any other stadium. It was a solid performance, a good game and deserved victory. Three more points.

"You have to put the ball in the fridge. A lot of passes, a lot of passes. Except 10 minutes in the middle when I thought we lose stupid balls, really good.

"Not scoring more is okay. I am so demanding, we are so demanding for ourselves but I am very pleased. This is the game we needed."

City ended the game with 67.7 per cent of the possession and had an expected goals value of 1.85, compared to 0.74 for their outclassed opponents.

"United are so dangerous," Guardiola added. "That is why we had a game with a lot of control. If you let them run at Old Trafford it is a little bit like Anfield. They are built for that.

"We played the game we needed today. You have to play quick, to move the ball and do the touches every player need but also try to put the ball in the pocket."

Asked where his side now rank in terms of the favourites to win the title, Guardiola said: "Right now, Chelsea are unstoppable. 

"We know we cannot drop much points to be close to them but against the big six we have performed well.

"The most important thing is we came to Old Trafford and can say these guys played good. This is what I am happy the most about after six years here. We tried to play our game."

Pep Guardiola said he gets greater satisfaction from his success with Manchester City because "nobody helps" them, unlike with other major clubs. 

City went top of Champions League Group A on Wednesday following a 4-1 win over Club Brugge at the Etihad Stadium, though they endured a difficult first half after John Stones' own goal cancelled out Phil Foden's 15th-minute opener. 

The Premier League champions were much improved after the break and claimed an important victory through second-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus. 

It was enough to send City top as Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 2-2 draw at RB Leipzig following Dominik Szoboszlai's stoppage-time penalty. 

When it was suggested Leipzig had done City a favour, Guardiola replied to BT Sport: "We help each other. What we've done these years... I promise you, when you're at Manchester City, you realise nobody helps you. No one. 

"Everything we have done, we've done it. When you're in high ranking and big clubs, I understand maybe. Here, no. When we win, we do it." 

He continued, with a smile: "All the titles I won before were because I was at big clubs. 

"Absolutely, the pleasure is higher [in winning things with City]. The fight to win the hierarchy in the Premier League is good." 

Foden's goal was his seventh in the Champions League – Wayne Rooney (nine) is the only English player to have scored more aged 21 or younger – but City did not register another shot on target until the second half. 

The England international said Guardiola's advice at half-time was crucial in helping them record a ninth consecutive Champions League home win. Manchester United are the only Premier League club to have enjoyed a longer such streak in the competition, having been victorious in 12 straight at Old Trafford from September 2006 until April 2008. 

The victory was a much-needed tonic after a disappointing week that saw an EFL Cup exit at the hands of West Ham followed by a surprise 2-0 Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace. 

"I thought we were sloppy in the first half and let them get back into the game. We got in at half-time and spoke about what was going wrong," said Foden. 

"We changed it in the second half and played better. The manager wasn't happy [at half-time]. You have to take his advice. We changed a couple of things and were better in possession and hurt them a lot more. 

"Once we get the rhythm, we play our lovely football. I'm delighted with the second half." 

Raheem Sterling ended his goal drought as Manchester City edged closer to the Champions League knockout stages by grinding their way to a 4-1 victory over Club Brugge. 

Second-half substitute Sterling, who has become a peripheral figure at the Etihad Stadium since declaring his openness to a move away, struck for the first time since August in what ended up being a comfortable victory for Pep Guardiola's side, who moved top of Group A. 

Phil Foden put City ahead inside the opening quarter of an hour, but an own goal from John Stones restored parity two minutes later and the hosts struggled to create further chances in the first half. 

However, unlike in their 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace at the weekend, City found a way to break down a low block and secured all three points thanks to goals from Riyad Mahrez, Sterling and Gabriel Jesus – enough to leapfrog Paris Saint-Germain, who were held by RB Leipzig.

Brugge sat deep from the off, at times operating with a six-man defence, but City took just 15 minutes to make the breakthrough.  

After seeing a lovely lifted effort hit the upright, Joao Cancelo drilled a low cross into the centre of the box that Foden tapped home for an easy finish.  

The hosts were only in front for two minutes, though, with Charles De Ketelaere's cutback deflecting off Bernardo Silva onto Stones' head and into the back of the net.  

City did not manage to get another shot on target before half-time, but they regained their lead nine minutes after the restart when Mahrez got in front of Eduard Sobol to nod Cancelo's cross home.  

Guardiola sent Jesus and Sterling on and three minutes later the latter tucked home his second goal of the season from inside the six-yard box after a neat team move, though his celebrations were muted. 

Jesus made the scoreline appear more comfortable than it looked like it would for a long time when he was teed up by Cancelo in the second minute of stoppage time. 
 

What does it mean? City back on track  

They may have had their chances of winning a fifth straight EFL Cup ended by West Ham and lost to Palace in the league last week, but City got exactly what they needed against Brugge.  

It was far from a vintage display – it looked like an upset could be on the card when Stones became the first City player to score an own goal in the Champions League for more than five years.  

However, they avoided the ignominy of becoming the first English side to lose a home game against Brugge in European competition, with the Belgian side having now lost 12 and drawn two of their 14 such games.  

Wow Cancelo  

Driving runs from left-back and pinpoint deliveries saw Cancelo make a pivotal impact against Brugge. He supplied seven key passes, three of which were assists, and went very close to scoring himself when he struck the upright in the first half.  

Sterling stakes his claim 

Having only started six games in all competitions this season, Sterling showed he still has the quality to make the difference for City. He has now been involved in 25 goals in 28 home games for the club in the Champions League – only Sergio Aguero (27) has played a part in more.

What's next?  

City have a trip to arch-rivals Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday, while Brugge do not face Standard Liege in the Pro League until Sunday.

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