Manchester United missed the chance to move into the top four in the Premier League as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton on Saturday.

Ralf Rangnick expressed his frustration with United's finishing after a 1-1 draw at Burnley last time out, but he could have few complaints when Jadon Sancho put his side ahead after 21 minutes at Old Trafford.

But Che Adam restored parity just three minutes into the second half and United, who saw two goals ruled out for offside, could not find a winner against Ralph Hasenhuttl's resolute defence.
 
The draw meant United jumped up to fifth, overtaking Arsenal – who are a point behind and have two games in hand – while moving level on points with fourth-placed West Ham, though the Hammers are in action at Leicester City on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo seemed set to open the scoring after just six minutes but his effort was cleared off the line by Romain Perraud, before Adams inexplicably headed away from goal after Kyle Walker-Peters teed up a golden opportunity.  

United struck first when Sancho poked home from close range after Marcus Rashford drilled across from the right following an incisive Bruno Fernandes pass.

Stuart Armstrong went close in response as his acrobatic attempt tested David de Gea, while Paul Pogba's finish was chalked off for offside against Ronaldo in a frantic first half.

Adams atoned for his earlier miss swiftly after the interval as he equalised with a low finish off the inside of the post following Mohamed Elyounoussi's through-ball, before Fraser Forster beat away from Diogo Dalot to keep the Saints level.

Ronaldo thought he had restored United's lead with 19 minutes remaining, but his header was ruled out for offside after Sancho's flick from Fernandes' free-kick, and Forster expertly parried away Harry Maguire's stoppage-time header to earn Southampton a point.

 

Ralf Rangnick has challenged Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United to find their scoring form after blaming poor finishing for a dip in results.

United were unable to satisfactorily bounce back from the shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Middlesbrough as they drew 1-1 with the Premier League's bottom club Burnley on Tuesday.

Rangnick's side had 64.1 per cent of the possession at Turf Moor and 22 goal attempts. Five of those were on target, but Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope was in excellent form, while United also had two goals disallowed.

Ronaldo started on the bench, but came on to make his 100th career appearance as a substitute. 

He did not have the desired impact, however, having just nine touches, getting none of his three attempts on target.

Ronaldo has failed to score in any of his last five appearances in all competitions – the last time he had a longer run without a goal at club level was a run of seven games in December 2008 and January 2009.

Rangnick, though, insists United's players must all take the onus to improve and capitalise on the chances they are creating.

Ahead of Saturday's meeting with Southampton, interim manager Rangnick told a news conference: "It's not only about Cristiano. He should score more goals, it's obvious.

"We have created a lot of chances, but we didn't score enough goals based on how many chances we created. I think 70 minutes [against Burnley] was very close to the game plan, but now it's about rewarding ourselves and getting the results we should have deserved."

On Friday, reports surfaced suggesting United's players had been unimpressed with Rangnick's training sessions.

However, the former RB Leipzig boss shrugged off such talk.

"I don't know about those articles," he said. "The way the team has developed is obvious and that is due to the training, including all the analysis and the important training games, a lot of little games to increase fluidity and get better in possession of the ball.

"It's important that the players realise that there has been a good development in the last couple of weeks, that we controlled the games. But if we concede a goal, we should stick to the game plan and not all of a sudden lose shape and composure.

"This is the most harmful part, that we didn't stick to the game plan, we didn't have the same positioning on the pitch. When we analyse the games, this is what we have to do better. Not lose composure, shape. In those 15 minutes against Burnley we lost that shape."

United face a Southampton team who beat Tottenham 3-2 in their last outing, though the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last 11 Premier League games against Saints, winning five of those fixtures.

Indeed, Southampton have won just two of their 22 Premier League away games against United (D4 L16), losing the corresponding fixture 9-0 last season, and Rangnick has only overseen one top-flight defeat since replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ronaldo scored on his last Premier League appearance against Southampton, in a 3-0 win in December 2004. If he scores this weekend, it will be the third-longest gap for a player between goals against a specific opponent in the competition (17 years and 70 days), after Ryan Giggs against Norwich City (18y 84d) and Paul Scholes against QPR (17y 120d).

"We are fully aware that this will be difficult," Rangnick said of the game.

"I watched the game at Spurs during the week, they really deserved to win, tactically played a very high level. It will be a challenge, but I’m sure we will be up for the challenge. We need top performances for the whole game."

You wait nearly three weeks for a Premier League matchday and then two arrive at once…

Reigning champions and leaders Manchester City head to strugglers Norwich City, while Liverpool visit the lowly Burnley after the Clarets earned a valuable point against Manchester United in midweek.

Ralf Rangnick's Red Devils face Southampton, who impressed with a comeback victory over Tottenham on Wednesday. Antonio Conte's side will hope to bounce back at home to Wolves.

Ahead of the action, Stats Perform uses Opta data to aid your fantasy football selection dilemmas.

JOSE SA (Tottenham v Wolves)

Wolves have become specialists in securing slender wins to propel them towards an unlikely qualification for European football.

Jose Sa has been central to the success of Bruno Lage's backline, saving 69 of the 86 shots on target he has faced – the best save percentage (80 per cent) in the Premier League of any goalkeeper to play at least five games.

While he will be tasked with keeping Son Heung-min and Harry Kane out, the Portugal goalkeeper could be good shout for some important save bonus points.

ANDREW ROBERTSON (Burnley v Liverpool)

Robertson is hardly a new phenomenon for the veteran fantasy football players, but the Scotland international has been sensational on the road for Liverpool.

The left-back has provided five assists in his last four top-flight away games and has six overall for the Reds on the road this season – the last player to assist more away from Anfield in the league was Danny Murphy (seven) in 2002-03.

With Burnley struggling at the top end of the pitch as well, the former Hull City man could be a likely source of clean-sheet points as well.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Newcastle United v Aston Villa)

Philippe Coutinho has starred under Steven Gerrard in his limited time as a loanee at Aston Villa, registering a goal and two assists against Leeds United on Wednesday.

That took the Brazil international's tally to four goal involvements (two goals, two assists) in his opening three league games for Villa, averaging a goal or an assist every 44 minutes.

Eddie Howe's Newcastle United are down in the relegation mix, so Coutinho remains a smart pick with many expecting goals galore at St. James' Park.

PATSON DAKA (Leicester City v West Ham)

Leicester City have endured a tough period under Brendan Rodgers, but Patson Daka has still been a standout performer for the Foxes.

The Zambian striker has found the net in four of his five home top-flight appearances and is providing previous fantasy favourite Jamie Vardy with some stiff competition.

Daka has scored on all three of his home league starts and could be the seventh Premier League player in history to do so in his first four if he can breach the West Ham defence on Sunday.

Premier League leaders Manchester City collected a routine victory over Brentford to further their advantage at the top.

That victory saw Pep Guardiola's side extend their lead at the summit to 12 points, with second-placed Liverpool due to host Leicester City on Thursday.

Tottenham fell to a late defeat against Southampton as Antonio Conte suffered his first home league loss as Spurs boss, while Aston Villa shared the spoils in a six-goal thriller with Leeds United.

And strugglers Norwich City picked up a valuable draw at home to Crystal Palace, with Dean Smith's side now a point behind 17th-placed Newcastle United as the relegation battle continues.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the Opta data from the day's top-flight action.

Manchester City 2-0 Brentford: Citizens cruise to league double over Bees

Strikes either side of the interval from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez helped City to a 2-0 win over Brentford as the Citizens completed the league double over the Bees for the first time since 1936-37.

Mahrez opened the scoring as he netted in his seventh consecutive game across all competitions for City – only Lionel Messi (twice) and Sergio Aguero have previously achieved that feat under Pep Guardiola.

De Bruyne doubled the hosts' lead in the second half, the midfielder recording his 85th goal involvement (35G 50A) in his 96th top-flight appearance at the Etihad Stadium, where he has found the net five times in his last four games.

Brentford rarely troubled Ederson's goal and were caught offside 10 times in the match, the most by a Premier League team since January 2018 as City recorded their 100th clean sheet under Guardiola in the competition.

The Bees have now lost five consecutive league matches for the first time since December 2007, under Terry Butcher in League Two, and for the first time in the top flight since April 1947 (seven in a row).

Tottenham 2-3 Southampton: No home comforts for Conte

Southampton twice rallied from behind to earn a late 3-2 victory at Tottenham to end Conte's unbeaten start at home in the league as Spurs boss.

Jan Bednarek poked into his own net to give Spurs the lead, the centre-back now on a Premier League-high three own goals since the start of 2019-20. Similarly, Tottenham have benefited from the most own goals in the competition this season (three).

But Armando Broja soon levelled up. That was the Albania striker's sixth top-flight goal this term – only Kevin Davies (nine in 1997-98) managed more in the Premier League for Southampton while aged 20 or under.

Son Heung-min restored his side's advantage with his 12th strike against Southampton across all competitions, five more than he has registered against any other team for Spurs.

Saints fought back again, Mohamed Elyounoussi equalising before Che Adams sealed victory. Both finishes were set up by James Ward-Prowse, who assisted two goals in a single Premier League match for only the second time in 290 appearances.

Having equalised in the 79th minute, Southampton's victory was the latest they had been behind in a Premier League match that they would go on to win since March 2016 against Liverpool (equalised in 83rd minute).

Aston Villa 3-3 Leeds United: Whites continue away scoring run in Villa Park classic

Aston Villa, who had Ezri Konsa dismissed late on, shared the points with Leeds in a 3-3 thriller as Dan James, Jacob Ramsey and Philippe Coutinho dominated proceedings.

James scored his third and fourth Premier League goals this term, his best-ever tally in a season, though Marcelo Bielsa found his side 3-2 down at half-time.

Coutinho initially cancelled out James' opener as he became the sixth Villa player to score in each of his first two Premier League appearances at Villa Park, and the first since Carlton Cole in August 2004.

The Brazil international then teed up a Ramsey double as the midfielder became the youngest player to score more than one goal in a Premier League game for Villa (20y 257d) since Luka Moore got a hat-trick in February 2006 (19y 356d).

Diego Llorente restored parity in the second half as Leeds recorded three goals in consecutive Premier League away games for just the second time, and for the first time since March 1995, to earn a valuable point.

Norwich City 1-1 Crystal Palace: Zaha's penalty falter costs poor travelling Eagles

Norwich City raced out the blocks at Carrow Road but ultimately had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

Teemu Pukki – who has scored 43 per cent of Norwich's top-flight this season (6/14), the highest such share of any player in the competition – netted the fastest goal in the Premier League this season as he finished after just 38 seconds. 

Wilfried Zaha pegged Smith's team back with his 80th goal involvement in England's top division (53G 27A), 79 of which have been for the Eagles.

Michael Olise teed up the Ivory Coast international's second-half equaliser, his seventh goal involvement (3G 4A) across all competitions in 2022 – the most by any Premier League player.

Palace should have secured all three points but Zaha failed from the penalty spot for the first time, on his fifth attempt, meaning the Eagles have won just one of their last 13 away games in the league.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte bemoaned his side's lack of experience in managing games after they squandered a late lead to lose 3-2 against Southampton.

Conte had won 20 of his last 21 home league matches across spells with Inter and his current club – including a five-game unbeaten start in such fixtures with Tottenham – but Ralph Hasenhuttl's side rallied impressively on Wednesday.

Jan Bednarek turned into his own net to hand Spurs the lead before Armando Broja equalised with his sixth league goal this campaign – only Kevin Davies (nine goals in 1997-98) has scored more times in a single Premier League season for the Saints while aged under 20.

Son Heung-min seemingly set the hosts on course for victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with his 12th goal in all competitions against Southampton, five more than he has managed against any other side.

But James Ward-Prowse provided two assists as Mohamed Elyounoussi and Che Adams delivered late strikes to secure a remarkable comeback victory, one which Conte believes his players must learn from.

"We made many mistakes in the first half; important mistakes," Conte told reporters after the game. 

"In the second half, we did well, scored, and then we have to be better to defend. I have seen the two goals, and we conceded two goals with the defensive line there.

"I know very well we are going to struggle to get three points. I said this before, I continue to repeat. Now, we are improving in many aspects, but we are still too emotional. 

"We have to improve because if we want to grow as a team and try to be competitive, the first thing you have to improve is to be stable, not be up and down.

"This is a situation we have to improve. Also, I repeat, it is important to have a team with experience and manage the game. 

"It was a pity because my players gave 120 per cent. The effort was maximum, I cannot say I didn't see the right commitment. I have seen the maximum commitment.

"For this reason, we have to try to avoid this defeat. We could have avoided this defeat, especially when you go 2-1 when there are 15 minutes to play. It happened, we have to take experience about this game and try to improve."

Tottenham failed to capitalise on the opportunity to close the gap on fourth-placed West Ham to just a point, though they still have three games in hand over their London rivals.

Conte's side will look to make amends when they next host an in-form Wolves on Sunday.

Tottenham failed to close the gap on the Premier League's top four to one point as they fell to a dramatic 3-2 loss against Southampton on Wednesday, a late VAR check robbing Spurs of a draw.

Antonio Conte's side initially led at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium thanks to a first-half Jan Bednarek own goal, but Armando Broja equalised just five minutes later.

Spurs thought they had found the winning goal with 20 minutes remaining through Son Heung-min, though Mohamed Elyounoussi headed past Hugo Lloris to draw level again.

Che Adams delivered the crucial blow in the latter stages, with Steven Bergwijn's stoppage-time header subsequently ruled out, leaving Spurs four points behind the fourth-placed West Ham and inflicting Conte's first home league loss as Spurs boss.

Earlier, Adams squandered a close-range chance in the opening stages, while Cristian Romero saw his header ruled out for offside from Son's free-kick.

A breakthrough for Spurs came soon after when Bednarek turned into his own net following Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's low delivery.

Southampton responded swiftly as Broja finished past Hugo Lloris after Romain Perraud had profited from Ben Davies' slip to cross.

Harry Kane somehow headed wide from point-blank range after the break following Sergio Reguilon's cross, but Spurs regained the lead when Son poked Lucas Moura's pass into the bottom-right corner.

Broja blasted over as he looked to level things up once more, though Elyounoussi managed to do so moments later as he headed in James Ward-Prowse's delivery.

Adams then atoned for his earlier miss as he nodded past Lloris from another excellent Ward-Prowse cross before Bergwijn saw his late header chalked off for offside as Spurs thought they had salvaged a late point.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has said he would like to retire when his contract at the Premier League club expires in 2024.

The former RB Leipzig boss was appointed in December 2018 and he signed a new four-year contract 18 months later.

Hasenhuttl, who has coached since 2007, has previously been linked with a potential move to clubs elsewhere in the Premier League.

However, he has suggested that could be his last deal at the club, with the Austrian revealing he wants to try things away from the game.

"I always wanted to prove to myself that I could very well work for a club for a longer period of time," he told German outlet Kicker.

"Hopefully it will be five-and-a-half-years here. That's a damn long time in modern football, and then that's probably it.

"Five-and-a-half-years in the Premier League, that's a lot of energy, regardless of job satisfaction. I can't imagine that I want to do anything else in coaching after that.

"And saying no to everything else is also a yes to yourself, and I want that. That's the solid plan and I hope I have the strength to pull it off.

"I want to put Southampton on a very healthy footing by 2024, but then that is it.

"I'll be 57 years old. I'd like to experience other things and not sit on the bench like Roy Hodgson [Watford manager] at 74. Definitely not."

The Saints are 12th as it stands, having picked up 25 points from their 22 games.

Middlesbrough's reward for knocking Manchester United out of the FA Cup is a home tie with Tottenham in the fifth round.

Chris Wilder's Boro eliminated the Red Devils on Friday on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford and will now face Antonio Conte's Spurs, who beat Brighton 3-1 on Saturday.

Only one guaranteed all-Premier League tie was drawn for the fifth round with Southampton hosting West Ham after David Moyes' side survived a scare at National League North outfit Kidderminster Harriers.

Among the Premier League elite, Chelsea will travel to Luton Town,  Manchester City are away to Peterborough United, and Liverpool will welcome Norwich City to Anfield should they get past Cardiff City on Sunday.

Cup holders Leicester will be at home to Huddersfield Town if they beat Nottingham Forest, while Stoke City travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace.

Frank Lampard's Everton will play either Bournemouth or Boreham Wood at Goodison Park, where the former Chelsea boss got off to a tremendous start with a 4-1 win over Brentford on Saturday.

FA Cup fifth-round draw in full:

Luton Town v Chelsea, Crystal Palace v Stoke City, Peterborough United v Manchester City, Liverpool or Cardiff City v Norwich City, Southampton v West Ham, Middlesbrough v Tottenham, Nottingham Forest or Leicester City v Huddersfield Town, Everton v Bournemouth or Boreham Wood.

Ties will be played week commencing February 28.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pep Guardiola became the fastest manager in Premier League history to accrue 500 points with Manchester City's 1-1 draw against Southampton on Saturday.

The Catalan coach, who first took charge of City in August 2016, reached the milestone figure in 213 matches – 18 fewer than previous quickest Jose Mourinho.

Jurgen Klopp is next on the list having reached 500 points in 236 games with Liverpool, while legendary Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson needed 242 matches to do so.

Arsene Wenger (249 games) completes the top five, with Rafael Benitez (267), David Moyes (340), Martin O'Neill (351), Mark Hughes (367), Sam Allardyce (386), Harry Redknapp (392) and Steve Bruce (441) also members of the 500 club.

City have taken more points against Arsenal (34) than any other opponent under Guardiola, followed by Burnley, West Ham (both 31), Leicester City and Watford (both 27).

Reigning Premier League champions City have put together four runs of 12-plus victories in the competition in Guardiola's five-and-a-half-year tenure, the most recent of which came to an end with their draw against Southampton.

The Citizens dropped points for the first time in 13 matches in a run stretching back to a 2-0 home loss against Crystal Palace on October 30, leaving them 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool having played two games more.

Kyle Walker-Peters fired Southampton into an early lead with a sensational outside-of-the-boot strike – just the third first-half goal City have conceded in the league this term – but the visitors hit back through Aymeric Laporte's header.

Despite his side's losing run coming to an end, Guardiola was pleased with their display at St Mary's Stadium.

"We played really well. Unfortunately, in the first half we conceded a goal, but I think this was one of our best performances of the season, by far," he told Sky Sports.

"They were incredibly organised and this is one of the best performances we played against them. Yes, the result was not good, but in terms of performance and the way we played, it was excellent.

"We played better than in the Arsenal game, when we won, and today we drew. Sometimes you deserve it and you don't win, but the way we played here was excellent.

"Southampton are a really good team. They are organised, they play 4-4-2, long balls, good pace in counter-attack, good build up. But we were brilliant today.

"Why should we lose belief in what we have done? It was a good performance. We are going to drop points, but the way we behave is very good."

Liverpool could move to within six points of City should they win their games in hand, while the sides still have to meet at the Etihad Stadium in April.

"People will say the Premier League race is not over and that is good for this side," Guardiola added. "We have many tough games ahead of us, but we will try to behave until the end.

"I would like to have a 40-point lead ahead of Liverpool, but that is not possible in January. I didn't expect to have this lead, but now we will rest and come back as best as possible."

Manchester City's 12-match winning run in the Premier League came to an end with a 1-1 draw against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday. 

The runaway league leaders conceded a first-half goal for just the third time this season through Kyle Walker-Peters' sublime finish on the half-volley after seven minutes.

Southampton had an Armando Broja goal ruled out for offside and continued to pose a threat, though City dug deep and levelled through Aymeric Laporte's 65th-minute header.

City dominated possession and looked the more likely side to claim all three points, but they failed to do so in a league game for the first time since October 13.

Walker-Peters gave Southampton a shock early lead with his first Premier League goal after carrying the ball down the right, exchanging passes with Nathan Redmond and sending a controlled outside-of-the-boot strike away from Ederson.

Having survived another scare when Broja had a goal chalked off, City showed signs of life and would have been level before half-time if not for a fine close-range save from Fraser Forster to deny Raheem Sterling, who had plenty of the goal to aim for.

The lively Broja headed against the post from a couple of yards out and Jan Bednarek skewed the follow-up off target, while Rodri skimmed the top of the crossbar at the other end as the game opened up.

Southampton had conceded in each of their last 10 league matches, however, and they were once again undone by a set-piece as Laporte got away from his marker and guided home Kevin De Bruyne's free-kick. 

That sparked a City onslaught, with De Bruyne hitting the post from range and having a penalty appeal rejected, but Southampton held on to make it two points from their two meetings with the champions this term.

Pep Guardiola reiterated his admiration for the free-kicks of James Ward-Prowse, insisting the Southampton midfielder is the world's best over dead balls.

The Manchester City manager described Ward-Prowse as the best free-kick-taker he had ever seen in December 2020 after his side won 1-0 at St Mary's Stadium.

The England international scored a spectacular long-range goal in the 3-1 loss to Wolves last week that took him to 12 goals from direct free-kicks in the Premier League, a tally bettered only by David Beckham (18) in the history of the competition.

Since the start of 2012-13, Ward-Prowse's first in England's top flight, only Hakan Calhanoglu (14), Miralem Pjanic (15) and Lionel Messi (33) have scored more often directly from set-pieces. His 12 goals have come from just 90 attempts, though, giving him a 13.3 per cent conversion rate, a figure only bettered by Paulo Dybala (13.5 per cent) among players to score at least 10 such goals in that time.

Ward-Prowse's repertoire goes beyond spectacular goals, though: he has created 224 chances from set-pieces over the past 10 seasons, providing 19 assists, numbers only beaten by Calhanoglu and Dani Parejo in Europe's top leagues.

Ahead of Saturday's match on England's south coast, Guardiola again drew attention to the threat the 27-year-old poses.

"He is the best taker I have ever seen, right now in the world," he said. "No player is a better taker than Ward-Prowse.

"He is so good, maybe we miss a little bit this quality of a football player: a guy who adapts in the same position, a team player, great quality without the ball, with the ball, understanding the game.

"Set-pieces and corners are exceptional. We need to pay more attention."

Beating Southampton away on the final day of the 2017-18 season saw City win their first Premier League title under Guardiola and become the first side in England's top tier to score 100 points in a single season.

Their latest visit offers the chance of another moment of history, as a draw will see Guardiola reach 500 points since he took charge in 2016. City have already accrued at least 38 more than any other team in the competition in that time, and 108 more than Manchester United.

However, when asked about the milestone, Guardiola said: "I'm not thinking of this when it hasn't happened. It will happen sooner or later. Southampton.

"We struggled in the first game last season when we played there. When we played home, we won, but we struggle in the actions. Southampton are a tough team. A real tough team."

Guardiola, who confirmed Riyad Mahrez has been given a week off after Algeria exited the Africa Cup of Nations, has seen his side build up an 11-point lead at the top of the table with one game to go until the Premier League takes a two-week break.

He said there will be no warm-weather training camp in Abu Dhabi during that interval due to concerns around coronavirus.

"We spoke with the club and it’s not safe to go all together with the virus," he said. "Instead, we decided everyone to go for themselves with family and friends."

The Premier League is a week away from its winter break, but a feast of football awaits us before then, along with fantasy point-scoring opportunities.

Leaders Manchester City head to Southampton and will look to extend their 12-game winning run in the competition, at the expense of opponents who are unbeaten in their last seven league games at St Mary's.

Manchester United have a tricky assignment against David Moyes' West Ham, and you might consider a Hammers forward to break down Ralf Rangnick's defence at Old Trafford.

If the time is right to back your strong start to the season, there are proven fantasy league performers to choose from here among this week's picks, and a strong case to be made for others you may not have considered.

EDERSON (Southampton v Manchester City)

Pep Guardiola's trusted City goalkeeper has kept more Premier League clean sheets (12) and faced fewer shots on target per 90 minutes (2.2) than any other goalkeeper this season.

City have faced 50 shots on target across 22 games and have conceded only 13 goals, so another shut-out must be a realistic proposition on the south coast.

Ederson has played in all but one of those Premier League assignments for City this term, and although Southampton have won three and drawn four of their last seven 2021-22 home league games – their best record since going nine unbeaten from March to October 2016 – it is the visitors who start this clash as strong favourites.

JOAO CANCELO (Southampton v Manchester City)

City's defence has been close to watertight this season, but Cancelo's role at full-back is more than just about stopping the opposition.

Only the Liverpool duo of Trent Alexander-Arnold (10) and Andrew Robertson (6) have provided more Premier League assists among defenders this season than Cancelo (5).

He has also had 44 goal attempts, with 15 of them finding the target, and his tally of one goal scored will surely grow soon enough.

DAVINSON SANCHEZ (Chelsea v Tottenham)

Can Tottenham be trusted to keep a clean sheet against Chelsea, in Sunday's headline game? This choice would represent a gamble, albeit one that can to an extent be rationalised by data.

Since December 1, Sanchez has been involved in a Tottenham defence that has kept four clean sheets in seven Premier League appearances. Indeed, only Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte (5) has kept more clean sheets during that time among top-flight defenders. New boss Antonio Conte is making a difference at Spurs, no doubt about it.

The counter-argument here comes with the fact Chelsea have won five of their last six league games against Spurs (D1), and beat them in both legs of the EFL Cup semi-finals.

RAPHINHA (Leeds United v Newcastle United)

Leeds United have woken from their slumber in the Premier League, winning twice in a row to climb to 15th place, just three points behind Leicester City in 10th spot.

Last time out it was Jack Harrison who was the hero, with a hat-trick at West Ham, but Raphinha is their Mr Consistency.

The Brazilian set up Harrison's match-winning third goal at the London Stadium, and since the beginning of the 2020-21 Premier League season, Raphinha is one of just five players to have registered 10 or more goals, 10 or more assists and created over 100 chances in the English top division.

JARROD BOWEN (Manchester United v West Ham)

Former Hull City forward Bowen has been involved in 13 goals in the Premier League this season (6 goals, 7 assists) and opponents Manchester United will be wary of his quality.

Indeed, only Mohamed Salah (25) and Bowen's West Ham team-mate Michail Antonio (14) have been involved in more Premier League goals this term.

To strike a slight note of caution, Bowen only has an expected assists (xA) total of 2.94, meaning West Ham have made more of his chances created than they would ordinarily be expected to, while Bowen is slightly lagging behind his expected goals (xG) total of 8.29. That said, the Red Devils will surely not underestimate his threat.

ROBERTO FIRMINO (Crystal Palace v Liverpool)

With Salah and Sadio Mane still away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Brazilian forward Firmino again looks set for a starting role as the Reds travel to Selhurst Park on Sunday.

Firmino has been involved in six Premier League goals against Palace in his last five appearances (4 goals, 2 assists), having been involved in just two across his first seven games against the Eagles in the competition (2 goals).

Starting with a double in a 7-0 win in this exact fixture last season, each of Firmino's last 10 Premier League goals have all come away from home. Liverpool have won their last six Premier League away games against Palace.

ALLAN SAINT-MAXIMIN (Leeds United v Newcastle United)

Can Newcastle beat the drop? Their best hope before the transfer window opened up a new world of possibilities appeared to lie with the fast feet of Saint-Maximin, and he remains their star attacker for now.

The French winger has scored in each of his last two Premier League appearances, with those goals earning 1-1 draws with Manchester United and Watford.

Now here lies the problem with trusting such form: he has never scored in three successive appearances in the competition. However, Saint-Maximin did score in the reverse fixture against Leeds in September, another 1-1 result for the Magpies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kylian Mbappe is widely expected to join Real Madrid as a free agent at the end of this season.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has stalled on signing a new deal with the French giants.

Madrid have long courted Mbappe with a view to signing him, but PSG remain determined to keep their man.

TOP STORY – PSG RE-ENTER TALKS WITH MBAPPE

PSG have launched a determined attempt to retain Mbappe after making the France frontman a new contract offer, claims Telefoot.

The Parisians are said to have offered Mbappe a massive two-year deal to fight off attempts to woo him by Real Madrid.

Mbappe is reported to be unwilling to make a decision yet and could let his contract expire. It runs only until the end of June.

 

ROUND-UP

- La Repubblica reports Arsenal are closing in on a deal for Serbian striker Dusan Vlahovic, with Fiorentina said to be considering accepting a £58million offer from the Gunners.

- Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano claims both Barcelona and Bayern Munich are keen to sign Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen at the season's end.

- Manchester United are interested in Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi taking over as their manager next season, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- Southampton have contacted Manchester United about signing goalkeeper Dean Henderson, reports Football Insider. Saints also want to sign Chelsea's Armando Broja permanently but will stiff competition, claims Sky Sports.

- Lille are pursuing former Newcastle United winger Hatem Ben Arfa, reports L'Equipe. Ben Arfa left Bordeaux at the end of last season.

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