Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed he received threats to his family on social media and called for more to be done to protect those in football from abuse.

Footballers being subjected to vile messages online has become an increasingly prominent issue over recent weeks, with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Chelsea's Reece James among those to have been racially abused.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce explained he had received death threats via social media and referee Mike Dean has been stood down from Premier League action this weekend after his family were abused.

Speaking ahead of Arsenal's match against Leeds United at Emirates Stadium, Arteta stated he had been placed in a similarly grim position.

"I prefer not to read it, but we're all exposed to it in this industry," he said, in a week when the Premier League launched its No Room for Racism Action Plan.

"That's why I prefer not to read because it would affect me personally much more [but] in the moment someone wants to touch my family. Because it happened, the club was aware of it and tried to do something about it.

"That's it, we have to live with it. It's not going to stop tomorrow, we know that. But medium, long-term can we do something about it? That's what I'm pushing for.

"It's part of the job. I'm not the only one who is suffering these kind of things. When you're winning, everything is beautiful and you are incredible, you are the best coach.

"When you lose it's completely the opposite. It's not pleasant. When it goes personal against me, I can take it. When the family is involved it's a different story. We are lucky that the club was very supportive when those things happened."

Arsenal have spoken to their players to offer support given the realities of the current climate and Arteta also offered his backing to Dean.

"Of course, we've spoken internally about the players and given them advice to try and protect them as much as possible," he said.

"The incident that occurred a few days ago with Mike Dean was completely unacceptable and we should stand with Mike and the referee community.

"They have an incredibly difficult role at the moment in the league, with a lot of key decisions that affect teams one way or another.

"They try to do their best, they prepare in the best possible way and we all make mistakes. We have to support them."

Asked whether he still went on his own social media platforms, Arteta replied: "No. If we were reading everything written about us probably we'd have to stay in bed a lot of days.

"It's part of it. I think it's great that people have so many platforms and ways to communicate and give their opinions.

"The only thing I'm asking is to be respectful. You don't have to battle anybody or try to hurt anybody, just give your opinion with the best intentions.

"When it's constructive everybody can take criticism. It's part of our job to look at it and think and reflect on it.

"When people do it with the intention of hurting, that's when it becomes a little bit silly in my opinion.

"It's just about finding that balance. I think there are things we can do to protect the industry a little bit better."

UEFA has announced the second leg of Arsenal's Europa League round-of-32 tie against Benfica will be played at Olympiacos' Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis.

The first leg has already been moved to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, also in response to coronavirus restrictions.

Manchester City are five points clear at the top of the Premier League after their demolition of defending champions Liverpool last time out.

With Guardiola getting the better of one managerial rival already this term in Jurgen Klopp, City's focus now switches to a clash with Jose Mourinho's Tottenham.

Key to City's superb form has been Ilkay Gundogan, who has scored nine goals this season in the league, three more than his previous best of six from 2018-19.

Given he scored twice at Anfield – while also missing a penalty – it would seem a smart decision for fantasy football managers to back Gundogan again this weekend, though which other players should make the cut?

ROBERT SANCHEZ

Another team in fine form as of late have been Brighton and Hove Albion, who have conceded just one goal in their last five top-flight matches, with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez certainly playing his part.

Sanchez ousted Mat Ryan – now on loan at Arsenal – as first choice earlier in the season, and of all goalkeepers to have played at least 10 Premier League games this season, only Ederson (one every 145 minutes) and Edouard Mendy (114 minutes) have a better minutes-per-goal conceded rate than Sanchez (one every 98 minutes). He has played 12 times, conceding 11 goals.

MATT TARGETT

Going up against Brighton this weekend are Aston Villa, and one defender to look out for could be Matt Targett.

Brighton have not scored more than once in a league match since a 3-3 draw with Wolves on January 2, and Villa left-back Targett has been involved in 11 clean sheets this season – more than any other Premier League defender apart from Ruben Dias.

AARON CRESSWELL

If you are looking for a more attacking option, however, then that player may well be West Ham's Aaron Cresswell.

The full-back has registered five league assists this season, second to only Everton's Lucas Digne (six) in terms of defenders, while only Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (38) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw (36) can better his tally of 34 chances created by a defender.

ILKAY GUNDOGAN

In Kevin De Bruyne's absence, Gundogan has come to the fore for Guardiola's team, and the former Borussia Dortmund man is the highest scorer in the Premier League so far in 2021 with seven goals in eight games.

The German's previous seven goals in the competition came over a period of 62 games, dating back to 2018.

JACK GREALISH

With Brighton's Sanchez in such fine form for Brighton, it could be a tough decision for fantasy managers, especially with Jack Grealish being so prominent in Villa's attack.

Grealish, arguably the league's player of the season so far, has been directly involved in five goals in his last five appearances against Brighton in all competitions (four goals, one assist), scoring in his last two games at the Amex.

PATRICK BAMFORD

Leeds United returned to winning ways as they saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 on Monday, with a trip to Arsenal up next on Sunday.

Patrick Bamford scored Leeds' second at Elland Road against Palace, and he has been involved in five goals in his last three Premier League games, netting twice and providing three assists. Eight of his 12 Premier League goals this season have been away from home (67 per cent).

MARCUS RASHFORD

Another forward who has thrived on the road in 2020-21 is Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

He has netted eight times in the Premier League this season, with six of those goals – 75 per cent – having come away from Old Trafford. The England international has never scored more in a single campaign on the road.

The race for Premier League glory may have tipped in Manchester City's favour but Liverpool are hoping to beat their title rivals in the race for a new star midfielder.

Germany international Florian Neuhaus is the player in demand and his club Borussia Monchengladbach may not be able to hold on to one of Europe's brightest talents.

The 23-year-old is being closely monitored by five major Champions League clubs and there is set to be a battle for his signature in the off-season.


TOP STORY – GERMANY ACE NEUHAUS WANTED BY CITY AND LIVERPOOL

It is understood that Neuhaus has a €40million (£35m) release clause in his contract with Gladbach, according to German media outlet Kicker.

That means Neuhaus will have the pick of his suitors, believed to be City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Italian champions Juventus.

He has already clocked up 81 appearances in the Bundesliga and the Reds see him as a potential replacement for the outgoing Georginio Wijnaldum.

Paul Pogba's agent Mino Raiola said he will work on the future of the Manchester United star in the "shadows" amid links to former club Juventus.

Pogba's future has been a subject of discussion since Raiola claimed his client's time at United was "over" in December, prompting speculation of a possible return to Serie A holders Juve or move to LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

The World Cup winner has started 15 of United's 23 Premier League matches during his fifth season since returning to Old Trafford from Juve in 2016.

Pogba's contract is set to expire in 2022 and United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained an "open dialogue" about a new deal for the Frenchman is ongoing.

But after stoking the speculation over Pogba's in the past, Raiola now wants to keep the 27-year-old's business behind closed doors.

"Pogba must also be left alone," Raiola told tuttomercatoweb.com

"When I speak people get nervous, he doesn't sleep at night, so I don't speak anymore.

"I will do what I have to do not in front of you, but in the shadows, as I always have."

Pogba has been in inspired form since the New Year, scoring a pair of crucial winning goals in away games against Burnley and Fulham in the Premier League.

However, Pogba limped off in the 39th minute of United's last outing against Everton with a thigh injury and has been ruled out for "a few weeks".

Romelu Lukaku would prove to be a "gigantic" signing for Manchester City, according to former Citizens star Elano.

Sergio Aguero has been a fringe player for City this season, with the 32-year-old struggling with multiple injury issues as well as coronavirus-enforced lay-offs.

Aguero is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and talks are yet to begin over a new deal, while Gabriel Jesus has also struggled to solidify his place in Pep Guardiola's team in the Argentine striker's absence.

With Aguero making just five league appearances – only two of them starts – and failing to score or assist, Jesus has netted four times and teed up two more goals from 14 games, 10 of them starts.

Phil Foden, Ferran Torres, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, who is currently out injured, have all been deployed in a central attacking role this season by Guardiola, who is reportedly set to target a forward in the upcoming transfer window.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is a name that has been mooted, though all of Europe's major clubs no doubt harbour an interest in the 20-year-old.

From 15 Bundesliga appearances this term, Haaland has scored 14 goals, second to only Eintracht Frankfurt's Andre Silva (17) and Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (19) in Germany's top tier.

However, another name which has emerged in relation to City's transfer targets is former Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton striker Lukaku, who has enjoyed another strong season with Inter following a stellar maiden campaign in Italy.

The 27-year-old is a player whose style may not be an obvious fit with Guardiola's way of playing, yet Elano believes the Belgium international would be a supreme addition.

"When you play at a club at a high level, the competitiveness is huge. And if a guy like Lukaku is free, it's not only City who want him, many others do too," Elano, who became a cult hero during a two-year stint with City between 2007 and 2009, told Stats Perform News.

"The way that City play these days everybody wants to play for City don't they? It's an amazing way to play.

"Jesus has his place at City, but if a transfer like that really happens, it would be a gigantic reinforcement for the club and all three would have to fight for the opportunity. And City will have opportunities to compete in all competitions."

City are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League as it stands, having won a 10th straight top-flight match on Sunday, when they demolished defending champions Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield.

Asked if he believes City, who also have a game in hand over their title rivals, will go on to reclaim the league crown they won consecutively in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Elano said: "They went through a tough time, which is normal.

"When you rise so fast, they won two Premier Leagues, if I am not wrong, they also won the FA Cup so… after that, they went through a turbulent moment because they didn't win, but now they are playing well again, which is normal when you have an amazing squad like that.

"The manager has a good base to work from and I believe City has all the potential to win the title again.

"I consider [Guardiola] the best alongside some others. Each coach has his own way to play. But the most beautiful way to play football I guess is the Guardiola way."

WHAT WOULD LUKAKU BRING TO CITY?

Having spent the majority of his senior career in England, Lukaku would have no trouble adapting, and though his United connections may at first seem to represent a stumbling block, the Belgian never really settled during his time at Old Trafford.

Nevertheless, he still netted 28 league goals across 66 appearances for United, converting 42.22 per cent of 45 big chances he had, while also creating 54 goalscoring opportunities.

In his time at Inter, Lukaku has far surpassed that total in Serie A, scoring 37 times, while adding another four Coppa Italia goals and 13 in European competitions.

Last August, Lukaku became the first player to score in nine successive UEFA Cup or Europa League games when he netted in a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. He went on to score a penalty and an own goal in Inter's defeat to Sevilla in the final.

His partnership with Lautaro Martinez helped Inter to a second-placed finish last season and they are now battling it out with rivals Milan and Juventus for this term's Scudetto.

Lukaku's big chance conversion rate has been upped to 54.72 per cent in Serie A, while he averages a goal every 121 minutes, and with the quantity of opportunities City create – they top the Premier League for that metric this season with 259, with their big chance total of 65 matched only by United – he would surely hit the ground running.

Steve Bruce has called for social media companies to better police "absolutely vile and obscene" online abuse from "idiots and morons", having revealed he has been targeted himself.

Newcastle United head coach Bruce does not use social media but learned this week of death threats through his son Alex. 

Bruce, a Premier League-winning captain with Manchester United, was discussing the topic after top-flight referee Mike Dean reportedly asked not to officiate a match this week due to threats directed his way. 

Dean sent off West Ham's Tomas Soucek in the final seconds of their draw with Fulham last week, a decision that was later overturned. 

His dismissal of Jan Bednarek for Southampton earlier in the week, in a 9-0 defeat at Manchester United, was also rescinded on appeal. 

Football authorities are attempting to clamp down on online abuse amid a series of incidents - many of them including racist comments. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, has announced new penalties relating to the matter. 

Bruce, who came under scrutiny as Newcastle endured an 11-match winless run in all competitions across December and January, condemned the threats on Thursday. 

"Social media is a really, really powerful weapon for everybody concerned," Bruce said. "For me, these big companies have got to police it better. 

"The abuse that I've had - death threats, all this sorts of stuff - and then you see a referee wanting to come away from it because he's made a mistake, people threatening him with his life and all the rest of it, it's just absolutely obscene and totally ridiculous. 

"They need to clamp down on it and they need to police it better, and we need to stop it, basically. If there are vulnerable people out there, it's absolutely - in my opinion - vile, some of it." 

Asked to confirm he had been the subject of similar abuse, Bruce told reporters: "I don't go on it [social media], but of course people close to me do, who are sensitive towards their father, of course. Yes, we've had that to deal with." 

The Newcastle boss added: "When I see some of the nature of it, it is totally and utterly vile. Some of the stuff that I've had is absolutely obscene. It fuels a hatred. I don't know. 

"When I see an experienced referee - like him, loathe him, whatever you want with Mike Dean - nobody deserves that because he gets a decision wrong. 

"Let's be fair, as well, it was in the last 30 seconds of the game, nothing really hinged on it, yet he feels he has the need to step down this weekend. 

"For everybody, these big companies have got to police it better and find out these idiots and morons who write such vile abuse and make them be punished. 

"In conversations I've had with the family over the last few days - we were talking about Mike Dean and the situation he feels - it was brought to my attention that I've had it, too. 

"Horrible stuff, which I couldn't really get my breath with: they hope that I die of COVID and all this. It's absolutely vile and obscene. 

"It has to be stopped. These big companies have to start policing it better than they've been doing, that's for sure." 

Bruce was speaking at a news conference ahead of Newcastle's trip to Chelsea, where he confirmed 10-goal striker Callum Wilson is facing up to eight weeks out with a hamstring tear. 

A knee injury for Fabian Schar had already been announced, with a similar lay-off anticipated for both the Switzerland defender and Javier Manquillo, who suffered an ankle issue. 

Manchester United are considering putting together a blockbuster deal to sign Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

Ramos is in his 16th season with LaLiga champions Madrid but the upcoming free agent has reportedly rejected a two-year contract extension to stay in the Spanish capital.

The 13-time European champions are not expected to go back to the 34-year-old with an improved offer, leaving the door open for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to swoop.


TOP STORY – UNITED TO DECIDE ON RAMOS

Manchester United will decide in the coming months whether or not to lure the 178-cap Spain international to Old Trafford, according to Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano.

Ramos' contract expires in June 2021 and the Red Devils are yet to make an approach, although Champions League rivals Paris Saint-Germain are said to be interested.

Mauricio Pochettino's PSG will only pursue Ramos if he is available on a free transfer. That will remain the case unless Madrid make a late move to keep the club icon at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Thomas Tuchel insists Chelsea will conduct business behind closed doors after refusing to comment on the club's reported interest in Erling Haaland and Dayot Upamecano.

The German head coach was hired to replace Frank Lampard less than a week before the January transfer window closed and the Blues did not make any mid-season signings.

The 47-year-old will need to wait until the off-season before adding his own recruits and Borussia Dortmund's prolific striker Haaland and highly rated RB Leipzig defender Upamecano are two of the players the Blues are rumoured to be monitoring.

When asked about the reports, Tuchel said he is focused on developing his own centre-backs and forwards before discussing any new players arriving at Stamford Bridge.

"I can understand your interest in the question and the interest of every fan and supporter to talk about these subjects," said Tuchel.

"I am always a fan and am interested in what's going on. But now it is February and there is a long way to go.

"As you get to know me, you will know I will not talk about other players publicly when they are under contract. This is the type of respect we show to them but also to our own players.

"We think about our central defenders and strikers first and push them to the limits. Everything else will be decided behind closed doors. I'm sorry."

After signing an 18-month contract with the west London club, Tuchel has led the Blues to three wins and a draw from his four Premier League games in charge.

Chelsea travel to face Championship club Barnsley in the FA Cup fifth round at Oakwell on Thursday, before returning to league action against Newcastle United on Monday.

Liverpool have been forced to pay "substantial compensation" to Fulham following the transfer of England Under-17 ace Harvey Elliott.

Elliott signed his first professional contract with the Reds as a 17-year-old in July 2020, having made his debut for the club in an EFL Cup match against MK Dons in 2019, becoming the youngest player to start a game in Liverpool's history.

The Fulham youth product went on to make 13 appearances for Jurgen Klopp's side before moving to Blackburn on a season-long loan in October 2020 and he has played 23 games and scored four goals this season for Rovers.

Elliott became the Premier League's youngest ever player while at Fulham, playing in a 1-0 defeat to Wolves in May 2019, and has been capped at England under-15, under-16 and under-17 level.

After the clubs could not agree a fee at the time of his transfer, the case went to tribunal, and the Professional Football Compensation Committee (PFCC) made its judgement on Wednesday.

The London club revealed in a statement that they are "very pleased" to be awarded a record compensation fee for a 16-year-old player.

"The Professional Football Compensation Committee has today given its decision with regards to the compensation payable following Harvey Elliott's move to Liverpool in 2019," said the statement.

"Under the Youth Development Rules, the PFCC is tasked with assessing the compensation due for a player who leaves an Academy at the end of his registration, if the parties cannot agree the figure between themselves.  

"After a full hearing, the PFCC has decided that Fulham should be entitled to substantial compensation. 

"The award [undisclosed] is a record amount for a 16-year-old player and, in the circumstances, Fulham is very pleased and thanks the PFCC for its careful consideration of the arguments we put forward."

Jose Mourinho expressed surprise over Gareth Bale ruling himself out of Tottenham's FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Everton.

Spurs took their hosts to extra time in a wonderfully chaotic game, eventually falling 5-4 to Bernard's 97th-minute winner.

Davinson Sanchez gave the visitors a third minute lead a Goodison Park and completed an unlikely brace to make it 3-3 before the hour - Erik Lamela having reduced the arrears after Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson were all on target during a crazy seven-and-a-half-minute spell.

Harry Kane came off the bench to net Tottenham's second equaliser, Richarlison having brilliantly doubled his tally, although Bale was not among the options on the bench to bolster Mourinho's attempts to save the game.

"I think it’s better for me to say," he said at a post-match news conference when asked to explain the Wales star's absence.

"So, we played against West Bromwich on the Sunday and he didn't play. On Monday, I was a bit surprised by him wanting to have a scan because he was not comfortable with some muscular area.

"So, he didn’t train on Monday and then on Tuesday he trained with the team but I was informed that his desire was to work with the sports scientists for a couple of days to strengthen that area. That's the reason why he’s not here.

"I don’t think it’s an obvious, clear injury. I would say he feels uncomfortable. Because of that he could not be 100 per cent, but I don’t think an injury."

Asked to elaborate further on whether Bale had disappointed him, Mourinho replied: "This is Everton post-match and Gareth was not here. The only thing I can say is I am being completely open and honest."

The incident marks another unhelpful chapter in Bale's as-yet deeply underwhelming return to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid, with the chances of a permanent switch back to north London looking increasingly remote.

A scorer in two of his four Champions League final successes at Madrid, fitness problems dogged Bale over recent seasons as he fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane.

The 31-year-old has four goals in 16 appearances for Spurs this term, although only two of his six Premier League outings have been starts.

Matters at the other end of the pitch look to be a more immediate concern for Mourinho ahead of Saturday's trip to face in-form Premier League leaders Manchester City.

"I enjoyed the way we played when we had the ball from the first minute," he told BT Sport after the breathless affair on Merseyside. "We had a great dynamic, great movement and great character to fight against incredible mistakes

"But attacking football only wins matches when you don't make more mistakes than what you create.

"We scored four goals and four goals was not enough.

"It was the mouse and the cat. The mouse was our defensive mistakes and the cat was trying to compensate for that and playing very well."

Spurs must now lick their wounds after a punishing encounter, having seen City rotate their XI and saunter to a 3-1 win in their own last-16 tie at Swansea City earlier on Wednesday.

"Of course, City are great team, they rested a big percentage of their team," Mourinho added. "We have this situation but you can't cry."

Thomas Tuchel has told Kepa Arrizabalaga to not put too much pressure on himself as he bids to take advantage of a "new start" under the German. 

Kepa became the world's most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea from LaLiga outfit Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71.6million (€80m) two years ago.

However, the 26-year-old's unreliable form in the past year saw his place come under threat and he has now been usurped as Chelsea's number one goalkeeper by Edouard Mendy, who was signed from Rennes in September. 

Kepa has started both of Chelsea's FA Cup games this season and Tuchel confirmed he will once again be between the sticks for the Blues' fifth-round clash at Barnsley on Thursday. 

Tuchel, who has overseen three wins in four Premier League games since replacing Frank Lampard in January, has challenged Kepa to forget his struggles so far in England and wants him to start afresh under his tutelage. 

"We had a view on his situation and some difficulties on the sporting side," Tuchel said. 

"Maybe, also, the circumstances of his transfer are a little bit on his shoulders. The good thing for him is that this is a new start for him because I don't have a history with him.

"It is a special position. If you do make mistakes, everybody sees it and talks about it so you need a lot of mental strength and quality. I see this in all of the three goalkeepers. I absolutely believe [Kepa can turn it around].

"This is an opportunity [against Barnsley] and hopefully he does not want to overachieve. I want him to play a normal match. He does not have to show me or anybody else that he is ready to be Spain's number one."

Chelsea are aiming to claim their first FA Cup win against Barnsley, having lost to the Yorkshire outfit in their two previous meetings in the competition in 1989 and 2008.

Bernard settled a topsy-turvy FA Cup thriller as Everton beat Tottenham 5-4 after extra time to claim a place in the quarter-finals.

The hosts were second best during the opening stages at Goodison Park, either side of falling behind to Davinson Sanchez's third-minute header, although Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson – the latter from the penalty spot – were all on target in a crazy seven-and-a-half-minute spell.

Then it was time for Tottenham's comeback, with Erik Lamela reducing the arrears before half-time and Sanchez improbably poaching his second of the match.

Richarlison arrowed a high-quality finish beyond Hugo Lloris on the angle to convert Sigurdsson's brilliant 68th-minute throughball and, although Harry Kane had the desired effect from the bench to bring extra time, fellow substitute Bernard had the final word.

Tottenham's dominant start gave little indication of what was to come, with Lamela's header forcing a superb reaction stop from Robin Olsen, while Lucas Moura blazed the follow-up over.

Everton did not heed that warning and stood passively as Sanchez headed in Son Heung-min's corner.

Olsen was alert to deny Steven Bergwijn at close quarters after the half-hour mark and his team-mates soon turned the contest on its head.

Lloris kept out a dangerous Calvert-Lewin effort earlier in the half, despite a slight deflection off Ben Davies, but the England striker's sweetly struck 36th-minute effort on the end of Sigurdsson's clever flick proved too hot to handle.

Calvert-Lewin, who limped off early int the second half with a suspected hamstring injury, turned provider with a slick backheel of his own for Richarlison to smash in from the edge of the penalty area with similar venom.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was culpable on the first goal and fouled Calvert-Lewin for Sigurdsson to make it 3-1 from the spot.

That could have been game over, but the defending remained generous and Lamela played a one-two with Son that Yerry Mina failed to cut out and finished with aplomb.

Mina's Colombia team-mate Sanchez prodded in when Olsen kept out Toby Alderweireld's 57th-minute header – Everton's set-piece defending again leaving plenty to be desired.

But there was only fine attacking at which to marvel when Sigurdsson and Richarlison combined, the Brazil forward whipping home a wonderful left-footed finish.

Abdoulaye Doucoure's goal-line clearance to deny Lamela a brace was in vain as Kane converted the latest fine Son cross with a diving header.

Another repeated theme decided matters in the seventh minute of extra time, when Sigurdsson produced an exquisite drag-back and chip for Bernard to lash past Lloris.

Manchester City made history on Wednesday as they cruised to a routine 3-1 FA Cup fifth-round victory at Swansea City.

It was the 15th consecutive win across all competitions for Pep Guardiola's Premier League leaders – setting a new record for any top-flight team in English football.

Sunday's comprehensive 4-1 triumph over Liverpool at Anfield brought them level with Arsenal's 1987 vintage and Preston North End back in 1892, who won 14 in a row.

Goals from Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus in Wales ensured City now hold the record outright.

In 2017-18, they prevailed in 20 consecutive matches, although there was a penalty shoot-out win over Wolves in the EFL Cup during that run and Opta classifies such matches as draws.

Given their recent record from the spot, it is perhaps handy that City have not required penalties in their current streak.

Here, we look at the numbers behind a dominant run unprecedented in scope.

Gundo in the goals

Sterling scored the goal that set City on their way into the record books, netting decisively in a 1-0 win at Southampton on December 19.

His goal at Swansea takes him to six in 10 starts during the period in question, the same as England colleague Phil Foden, who has played 905 minutes to Sterling's 856.

But it is Ilkay Gundogan who leads the way. The Germany international's brace against Liverpool improved upon what was already the most prolific season of his professional career.

In 13 appearances and 12 starts during the winning run, Gundogan has eight goals at an average of one every 124.5 minutes.

Jesus had to reckon with a positive coronavirus test during City's prolific stretch, although he now has five goals from seven starts, with a strike every 139.8 minutes second only to Gundogan in terms of frequency.

Kev the creator

PFA Players' Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne was typically influential before suffering a hamstring injury during last month's 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

Despite being restricted to eight appearances and 621 minutes on the field, his five assists are more than any of his team-mates have managed during this period.

Foden, Bernardo Silva (who also has three goals) and defensive midfielder Rodri are up next on three assists.

Extra time on the pitch has allowed Foden to rack up 28 chances created, ahead of De Bruyne with 24.

Gundogan's all-round importance is highlighted by his 21 opportunities laid on for others, while Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez have crafted 18 and 17 respectively. All three have two assists apiece.

 

Dominant Dias

Ruben Dias was the only ever-present during the winning run until Guardiola allowed him to sit out the trip to Swansea.

The Portugal centre-back has been a transformative presence since joining for a club-record £62million from Benfica last September and was involved in nine clean sheets over the course of the 15 matches – one more than his centre-back partner John Stones and first-choice goalkeeper Ederson.

Dias' 21 interceptions are the most during this time from any City player, as are his 1,141 passes at a completion rate of 92.81 – better than any colleague to have played three games or more.

Headed clearances and aerials won are also categories where Dias performs strongly, although Rodri leads the way here with 18 and 41 respectively.

The Spain international has won 31 one of his aerials, level with Aymeric Laporte and no one can better his 27 tackles – a stock in trade for a man operating at the base of the midfield.

Rodri's importance to the cause means the sight of him limping off during the second half at the Liberty Stadium could compromise City when the look to swagger on this weekend against Tottenham – the last side to beat them competitively, 23 matches ago.

Jurgen Klopp has paid an emotional tribute to his mother Elisabeth after she died at the age of 81.

The Liverpool manager will be unable to attend his late mother's funeral due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Klopp had not been able to visit his mother in Germany since her 80th birthday and will return to his homeland for a memorial service when he is permitted to travel.

The Reds boss told Schwarzwaelder Bote newspaper: "She meant everything to me. She was a real mom in the best sense of the word.

"As a devout Christian, I know she is in a better place now."

Klopp added: "Not being at the funeral is due to the terrible times. Once conditions allow it, we will hold a wonderful memorial service."

Premier League champions Liverpool tweeted on Wednesday: "You'll Never Walk Alone, Jurgen."

Manchester City will need to take their search for a new striker elsewhere with top transfer target Lautaro Martinez set to snub the Premier League giants.

Pep Guardiola had reportedly lined up the Argentina international as the long-term replacement for club legend Sergio Aguero.

But Martinez is on the brink of a sensational U-turn to remain in Serie A to the delight of coach Antonio Conte and the Milan-based club.


TOP STORY – LAUTARO SET TO REJECT CITY AND STAY WITH INTER

Eurosport reports that City's pursuit of their player at the top of their shopping list has come to an abrupt end with Martinez set to sign a new deal with Inter.

The report suggests the 21-cap international will double his money to stay in Italy, dealing a blow to City after they have monitored his situation closely for a year.

While City continue to prepare an offer for Lionel Messi should he decide to leave Barcelona, they are also set to turn their attentions to Dortmund striker Erling Haaland. 

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.