This week sees the end of the group stages for this season's Champions League with honour, ambition and, yes, prize money on the line.

Two Spanish giants are being made to sweat on matchday six as Atletico Madrid need a win and a favour to stay in the competition, while Barcelona quite probably need to beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to avoid dropping into the Europa League.

Atalanta and Villarreal will battle it out for second place in Group F, while Real Madrid and Inter face off at the Santiago Bernabeu to determine who will win Group D.

Group G will perhaps be the most dramatic, with all four participants in with a chance of finishing first or second, but what exactly does each team need from their final group game? Stats Perform has the answers for you here...

 

Group A

Manchester City have already secured top spot after beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on matchday five, with the French side definitely finishing second, sitting four points behind City and four points ahead of both RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

Leipzig, who sacked coach Jesse Marsch over the weekend, host City and need to match or better Club Brugge's result to clinch third place and a Europe League spot.

The Belgians must get something from their trip to Paris and hope that they achieve a better result than Leipzig.

 

Group B

Liverpool have had first place sewn up since they beat Atletico Madrid at Anfield on matchday four and now sit 10 points ahead of second place in what had been labelled a 'group of death' when the draw took place.

It's all to play for otherwise, though, with Porto second. A win for them at home to Atletico will confirm their passage to the knockout stage. A draw will also be fine as long as Milan do not beat Liverpool at San Siro.

Milan need to win against the Reds and hope the other game is a draw, while the Spanish champions have to beat Porto and hope that the Italians fail to beat Liverpool.

 

Group C

The most straightforward group of all as every position has already been confirmed, with Ajax top, Sporting CP joining them in the knockout stage as runners-up, while Borussia Dortmund will go into the Europa League and Besiktas are out.

 

Group D

Real Madrid and Inter have both qualified, with Carlo Ancelotti's men only needing to avoid defeat to the Italians at the Santiago Bernabeu to top the group. Inter need to beat Madrid to overtake them.

Sheriff will go into the Europa League having already been confirmed in third place above Shakhtar Donetsk.

 

Group E

Bayern Munich have won the group and Dynamo Kyiv will finish bottom, but the battle for second and third is going to the wire.

Barcelona have a two-point advantage in second place, but travel to Bayern, while Benfica host Dynamo, with the Portuguese side boasting the superior head-to-head record over the Catalans.

A win in Germany sees Xavi's men safely through, but should they draw or lose, they will be reliant on Benfica failing to win as well.

 

Group F

Manchester United sealed top spot with their 2-0 win at Villarreal on matchday five.

The Yellow Submarine are a point ahead of Atalanta in second, so only need to avoid defeat in Italy, while Gian Piero Gasperini's side must win to take the other qualification place.

Young Boys can still claim a Europa League spot if they beat United at Old Trafford and Atalanta lose.

 

Group G

The tightest of groups where it all comes down to the final round.

Lille sit top on eight points, and a win at Wolfsburg will secure that spot, while a draw will still see them qualify as they have a superior head-to-head with Sevilla.

Salzburg will go through if they avoid defeat at home to Sevilla, winning the group if they win and Lille do not.

Sevilla have to win in Austria to go through. They will at least secure third and a place in the Europa League if they lose and Wolfsburg also fail to beat Lille.

Wolfsburg actually cannot finish third but can finish first or second with a win against Lille.

 

Group H

Chelsea and Juventus have both qualified from the group, and Thomas Tuchel's side will secure top spot with a win at Zenit. Juventus must better Chelsea's result when they host Malmo.

Zenit have already confirmed their place in the Europa League, while Malmo are out.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola labelled Dani Olmo a "fantastic player" ahead of Tuesday's Champions League meeting with RB Leipzig.

City have breezed through Group A as they prepare to head to Leipzig, having previously gone 14 games unbeaten against German opposition in the competition.

The Bundesliga outfit can only make the Europa League after a disappointing group-stage showing, are still without a home win in Europe this term and parted ways with head coach Jesse Marsch on Sunday amid a poor run of form.

Guardiola, though, heaped praise on Leipzig as he hailed Olmo as a standout star, although he dismissed any speculation of a reported move for the Spain international.

Asked about a potential transfer for forward Olmo, Guardiola responded: "[The] answer is no. He is a Leipzig player.

"If we are interested, I'm sure City will contact Leipzig. Saying that, he is a fantastic, fantastic player.

"I'm happy he had the courage to leave Barcelona to develop his skills and then arrive at Leipzig."

 

Olmo caught the headlines at Euro 2020 as he became just the third player – after Cesc Fabregas (2008) and Dejan Kulusevski (2021) – to assist two goals after being substituted on at the European Championship.

But the former Barcelona man has made only three starts this season across all competitions, assisting just one goal, and he is yet to find the net after struggling with a muscle injury.

Leipzig have felt the absence of one of their key players and are down in 11th in the Bundesliga, 16 points behind reigning champions Bayern Munich at the top.

While speculation persists over who will succeed Marsch, Guardiola took the opportunity to praise the environment that has been developed at Leipzig.

"Leipzig has a culture, they won't sign a manager who doesn't want to play their way," he added. "They want to play a specific way, pressing, gegenpressing, attacking, live, sleep, eat. 

"This is the culture, and the new manager will be similar like that. The impact of a new manager is clear, players open their eyes and play for the Europa League, an incredible competition, the money from UEFA. 

"We won at home, it was difficult, what they did in Bruges [a 5-0 win over Club Brugge]. There are highs and lows this season but the philosophy, the way they play versus Paris Saint-Germain, they should win 2-0,3-0. 

"They play their style. We have to be careful, impose our game. Play to improve. We don't play for the points, we play to improve. It's a perfect training game for us. We go to Leipzig [and then] do a good dinner tonight to celebrate our qualification."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed Kevin De Bruyne will start their final Champions League group game against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.

De Bruyne missed a month of action after contracting COVID-19 but made his return off the bench in Saturday's 3-1 win at Watford.

The Premier League champions have already secured top spot in Group A after their 2-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain on matchday five.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of City's trip to Germany, Guardiola revealed the Belgian will start the game, saying: "Kevin had the corona, was growing and after had the setback.

"It's normal, the people who have the corona feel empty. Step by step he plays the minutes, tomorrow he will start and we'll see how many minutes."

Guardiola also confirmed several youth players will travel for the game, though he also made mention that five substitutions are allowed in the Champions League, two more than in Premier League games, suggesting they may come off the bench rather than start in the Red Bull Arena.

"They are fantastic young players. They need to settle but the potential is there," he said. "Of course all the guys who play tomorrow want to win, for respect for Leipzig, and respect for Brugge and PSG.

"Hopefully tomorrow some of them can play - we have five subs, not three like here, so maybe we can use them."

The game will be played behind closed doors after the German state of Saxony was placed into a partial COVID-19 lockdown.

"In Germany the situation is not good," the City boss added. "The authorities have decided. We still have to be careful. That is my concern. The situation is dangerous.

"We need to learn that the situation is not solved. Like the PM said, wear a mask, observe social distance and be careful."

City left back Oleksandr Zinchenko also spoke at the media conference, and added: "It is sad news for both teams and the fans who wanted to go to the game and for the players as well. 

"We just play for the fans but the main reason is for our health. I wish everyone is going to be healthy."

After a grand total of one day without Premier League football, the action returned on Saturday and there was a change at the top of the Premier League.

That's right, Chelsea slipped up again and handed the initiative to Manchester City and Liverpool, both of whom were victorious later in the day.

There was also a change at the bottom as Newcastle United left the foot of the table – at least until Sunday – meaning there are three sides all on 10 points in the relegation places.

Without any further ado, let's look at the best of the day's action with a pick of Opta's post-match facts…

West Ham 3-2 Chelsea: Blues dealt Hammer blow

Chelsea are off the Premier League summit as a result of their defeat at London rivals West Ham, who continue to confound doubters under David Moyes.

They found themselves behind at the break but came on stronger in the second half, becoming the first team to beat Chelsea after the Blues had been leading at half-time since Wolves in December 2018 – that was a run of 48 games unbeaten when ahead at the halfway mark of a game.

Further to that, it was only the third time in Thomas Tuchel's 53 games in charge that Chelsea have conceded more than one goal in a game.

One of West Ham's goalscorers surely felt confident – after all, Manuel Lanzini's goal was his 11th in London derbies, or 48 per cent of his Premier League total (23), the highest ratio of any player in the competition's history with at least 20 goals scored.

There was also a first to celebrate. Arthur Masuaku opened his West Ham account in his 96th match, with the left-back's momentous goal also proving to be the winner.

The win moved West Ham to within six points of their visitors, with the Hammers fourth.

Watford 1-3 Manchester City: Hornets are cannon fodder

Even if Pep Guardiola's City did not arrive in fine form, few would have given Watford a chance here – and the match went just as most were expecting.

Watford's record against City was woeful at best already – now they've conceded 41 goals in 13 meetings with them in the Premier League, the most they have let in against any single side in the competition.

Similarly, the 3.2 goals per game they concede on average in this fixture is the most by one side against another among all Premier League fixtures played at least 10 times.

That one-sided nature also reflects on Guardiola, who has won all 10 of his managerial games against Watford in all competitions by an aggregate score of 42-4, his best 100 per cent winning record over any side.

City are now unbeaten across their past 19 meetings with Watford (W17 D2, all competitions), netting 62 goals in this run – they've only ever had a longer unbeaten run once before against a specific team (22 games against Norwich from 1965-1981).

Wolves 0-1 Liverpool: Origi comes up trumps as Reds steal it at the death… again

It wasn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but Liverpool got the job done to move above Chelsea and stay just a point behind new leaders City.

Only just, though.

Divock Origi spared Jurgen Klopp's blushes with a stoppage-time winner, the Belgian continuing his habit of being a decisive and useful option off the bench.

That was his 10th goal as a substitute in the Premier League for the Reds, a club record.

Liverpool have now scored the winning goal after the 90th minute on 39 occasions in the Premier League, at least 13 more than any other team.

There was also good news for Mohamed Salah – he didn't score, but his assist for Origi's winner ensured he's been involved in a goal in each of his last 13 top-flight appearances, a record only Jamie Vardy (15) has ever surpassed.

Newcastle United 1-0 Burnley: Howe's about that?

At long last, every team in this season's Premier League now has at least a one in the wins column – Newcastle defeated Burnley at St James' Park to finally get off the mark.

Newcastle had not won any of their previous 15 matches in all competitions, losing seven and drawing the other eight.

Additionally, it was only their second clean sheet of the season, the other also coincidentally coming against Burnley in the EFL Cup back in August.

Of course it was also Eddie Howe's first win since being appointed by the club, with Callum Wilson – who also played under the manager at Bournemouth – delivering the goods.

It was Wilson's 43rd Premier League goal for Howe, a record only Joshua King (48) has bettered for him.

While it remains to be see if Howe is able to keep Newcastle up, there's no doubt he's got them playing on the front foot more, as they are averaging 15 shots (five on target) each game compared to 11 (three) prior to his arrival in 2021-22.

Southampton 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Saints give it up

Just when Southampton thought they had the points in the bag, Brighton pulled it back.

Brighton were down to 10 men, having had Leandro Trossard taken off injured after using all their substitutes, but Neal Maupay struck deep into stoppage time to seal a draw.

That was Brighton's fourth (of eight) away Premier League goal to have been scored in the 89th minute or later this term, and the third netted by Maupay.

Brighton remain winless in 10 league games, their longest top-flight run since 1983, but they celebrated it like a win – for Southampton, it felt like a defeat.

Saints have now dropped 71 points from winning positions in the league under Ralph Hasenhuttl, 15 more than any other team since his December 2018 appointment.

Bernardo Silva is still wary of the threat posed by Liverpool and Chelsea despite Manchester City moving to the top of the Premier League following a 3-1 win over Watford. 

Chelsea had been at the summit but suffered a 3-2 defeat to West Ham and allowed Liverpool and City to leapfrog them. 

Just two points now separate the trio, and Silva is not getting carried away despite a dominant performance in which the champions enjoyed 77.1 per cent of the ball and took 26 shots, more than they have attempted in any top-flight game this season, and hit the target with 13. 

"It was definitely a very good job in the first half," Silva said to Sky Sports. "The team started very well, creating chances and not allowing them to counter-attack. We scored two in the first half but should have scored more. 

"It's always better to be top of the league than second, third or fourth, but it's still early. It's so close – Liverpool are just one point behind us, Chelsea are two points behind us. 

"Liverpool and Chelsea are having an amazing season. It's tough for us to compete with each other. We know the level and standards are very high. We know how tough it is to win the most competitive league in the world. We're going to try our best, like we always do." 

Silva is enjoying a superb season on an individual level, scoring twice against Watford to take his tally to seven – matching his best return in a Premier League campaign. 

The Portugal midfielder is City's top scorer in the league – four goals clear of any of his team-mates – so is shouldering much of the goalscoring burden in the absence of an elite central striker in the squad. 

"This season I've been scoring a lot and I'll try to keep it that way," Silva continued. "What matters is that we're top of the league now and the team are doing very well at the moment. At the end of the season we want to celebrate some titles. 

"My first four goals this season were all tap-ins. My last few goals have been quite good, but it doesn't matter – what matters is putting the ball in the back of the net. I'm happy to help the team. 

"We know we don't have a striker. We have a lot of players who try to get in the box and finish. We try to put numbers in the box. If we arrive in the box, we're going to score goals. 

"We're happy with the moment and happy with our form. We have to keep working because this season is going to be very tough." 

Bernardo Silva scored a stunning goal as Manchester City beat Watford 3-1 at Vicarage Road to go top of the Premier League.

Raheem Sterling headed in an early opener after being found in acres of space in the box with less than four minutes on the clock before Silva fired in a second at the near post to give City a two-goal lead at the break.

The in-form Portugal midfielder then stole the show with a superb strike, cutting onto his left foot from the right and curling sweetly into the top-left corner.

Watford pulled one back through Cucho Hernandez, who steered home the rebound after his initial shot came back off the post, but the champions cruised to a victory that moved them to the summit.

City nearly took the lead when Aymeric Laporte's header from a corner was cleared off the line, but they opened the scoring in the fourth minute, when Phil Foden's cross from the left was nodded in by an unmarked Sterling at the back post.

The visitors continued to carve Watford apart with ease after going in front and Daniel Bachmann was forced to make three saves - one from Sterling, two from Jack Grealish - before the 11-minute mark.

City squandered several more opportunities to extend their advantage, with Grealish particularly wasteful, before Silva lashed home from a tight angle after Bachmann had parried Ilkay Gundogan's low effort in the 31st minute.

Silva added a third in the 63rd minute with a sumptuous strike into the top corner from just inside the box that left Bachmann rooted to the spot.

Watford substitute Hernandez reduced the arrears 11 minutes later, squeezing home from a tight angle after his drilled effort across goal struck the upright and fell back into his path, but the Hornets still slumped to a third consecutive defeat.

Manchester City star Ederson does not believe he has been a huge influence on the way goalkeepers in England play as he bids to keep a 100th clean sheet for the club.

The Brazil international will reach a century of shut-outs on Saturday if he does not concede against Watford, a team who have never beaten City in the Premier League and lost the previous 10 meetings by an aggregate score of 37-4.

Since signing from Benfica in 2017, Ederson has been an integral part of Pep Guardiola's set-up, his distribution proving both a valuable counter-attacking weapon and a vital component to City's possession-based approach.

However, he feels the importance of keepers using their feet is simply part of the evolution of the game.

"Nowadays, having a goalkeeper with good feet is essential in any team that likes to build up play from the back," he told Sky Sports.

"I don't think I influenced much. In fact, I have been influenced by other goalkeepers with good feet in the past. But football evolves and players need to evolve with the game as well.

"I just play naturally. It's a matter of concentration. If a goalkeeper misses a pass, there is nobody there who can help you. The goalkeeper is key in our team because we can't make any mistakes in the build-up. But my team-mates offer me a lot of options for the pass, so I'm very relaxed."

Since his City debut, Ederson has created six goalscoring chances, a tally bettered by two keepers in that time: Ben Foster (nine) and Nick Pope (10), each of whom have played for teams with a more direct style.

His contribution to his side's overall approach dwarfs that of any other keeper, though. Ederson has been involved in 226 sequences to end in a shot in the Premier League, with Alisson (138) and David de Gea (127) the next highest on that list. Thirty-four of those involvements have ended in a goal, which is at least 14 more than any other keeper has managed.

Ederson has also started 66 shot-ending sequences, 22 more than anyone else in his position since his debut, having made 3,390 passes in that time – again, by far the most among keepers.

There may be an element of risk to the way Ederson plays, but it is not without its reward: no keeper comes close to his 78 clean sheets in the league since his arrival in England, and his brilliant save to deny Carney Chukwuemeka helped City win 2-1 at Aston Villa on Wednesday.

"The most important things for a goalkeeper are concentration and decision-making," he said. "In most of the games, we control the ball and we only concede one chance to the opposition team, so concentration is key.

"It's something that comes with my personality: calm and concentration," he adds. "I'm aware that, if I lose focus during any moment of the game, it can end up in a goal for the opponent.

"We can't be attacking all the time, so we need to know how to defend during some stages of the game too. We all know, myself and my team-mates, how important it is to be focused."

On the prospect of 100 clean sheets in what would be his 211th appearance, he added: "It's an important achievement for me, because it means I have kept a clean sheet in almost half of my games for Manchester City.

"The forwards, the midfielders, the defenders, they all do exceptional pressing and defending. The clean sheets involve the whole team, not just me."

Kylian Mbappe has had an extended flirtation with Real Madrid.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward is out of contract at the end of this season.

Mbappe has stalled on signing a new deal with PSG amid speculation of a move.

TOP STORY – REAL CONVINCED OF MBAPPE DEAL

Real Madrid are convinced they will win the race for Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe's signature, according to AS.

Los Blancos are certain the 22-year-old France international will join the club on a free transfer at the end of this season.

Mbappe has long flirted with Madrid and has decided he will not renew with PSG. The LaLiga giants are already planning Mbappe's arrival at the sporting and commercial level.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City have joined the race to sign Fiorentina's hot property forward Dusan Vlahovic, claims La Repubblica.

- Barcelona have held discussions with Manchester City about the potential to sign Spanish forward Ferran Torres in January, according to ESPN.

- Fichajes reports that Liverpool are interested in signing Lille's Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches. Lille have valued him at £34m.

- Arsenal are homing in on Lille's Canada international forward Jonathan David, according to the London Evening Standard. David is currently Ligue 1's leading scorer.

- Calciomercato claims Christian Eriksen is close to terminating his deal with Inter, having been unable to play since his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

- Bayern Munich midfielder Marc Roca is in the sights of Roma who have considered a move for the Spaniard, claims Corriere dello Sport.

- Chelsea have opened talks with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy over a new deal, claims Football Insider.

- Everton have joined the race to sign Zenit striker Sardar Azmoun, according to 90min.

Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City "must be careful" against Watford as the Spaniard hailed the career of Hornets manager Claudio Ranieri.

City are a point behind leaders Chelsea after 14 games following the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Wednesday, while Thomas Tuchel's side edged past the champions' next opponents.

Ranieri's side crushed Manchester United 4-1 at home in late November, though, and Guardiola insisted his side must be cautious against the strugglers despite winning their last six games across all competitions.

"I know what [Watford] want to do, and what they do, they do really well," Guardiola told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"Against United they played well, against Chelsea they did a really good game. They are close results. 

"Against Leicester they lost but had more chances. Every game is there. We have to be careful tomorrow and do another good performance."

Guardiola, who has won all nine meetings with Watford across all competitions by an aggregate score of 39-3, also hailed his opposite number Ranieri for his work in football.

"Football has to be grateful to still live with important people like Claudio Ranieri," he added. "What he has done in his career is amazing, Leicester is the benchmark. 

"[He's worked] in Spain, Italy, France – I admire this type of person. What they have done, have the passion, energy to go there. 

"When they lost against Liverpool, the press conference after…the confidence he showed, I would be depressed. The first game to lose the way I lose and go there [to say], 'Follow me, we are going to win'. 

"I admire a lot still they have this passion, this energy. It will be a pleasure to see him again, I know the results against him always aren't good."

Rodri, along with Bernardo Silva – who has four goals in his last seven league games, as many as his previous 55 in the competition – has been a standout performer for City.

The former Barcelona head coach, whose side have won more Premier League away games (72) than any other side since his first season in charge, noted the Spain international's performances as he again credited Silva.

Asked about Silva's recent showings after he claimed the Portugal international was a class above, Guardiola said: "Take a video in Anfield, in Stamford Bridge, in the last game. You will know it.

"It's no secret. We have no top scorer upfront who creates something out of nothing. We have to do it as a team, it's good everyone is involved and has the permission to score goals. I never said in my career, 'Don't score a goal.' They have the feeling to go and try.

"Rodri is 23, 24. Everything is a process. Last season he played good, maybe the last part of the season drop a little bit but we gave him more minutes last season. You have to be careful this season. 

"The fact we are out of the EFL Cup is good for that. He is playing at an extraordinary level, the consistency. 

"He has to be [number] seven or an eight [in terms of position] all the time, he cannot be three or four because it destroys the team, he cannot be 10 because 10 is for the strikers. He is playing consistently, defensively, offensively."

Having only just finished an exciting batch of midweek games, the Premier League returns with the potential for more drama, goals, and perhaps some fantasy points to boot.

Everton boss Rafael Benitez will be hoping to arrest his team's downturn in form when Arsenal come to Merseyside, but despite defeat at Manchester United on Thursday, the Gunners have a couple of form players to keep an eye on.

Antonio Conte will be looking to continue a promising start at Tottenham as they host Norwich City, and it will be no surprise to anyone if one of his wing-backs ends up having a decisive impact again.

Another electric wing-back has returned for Brighton and Hove Albion in recent weeks; Manchester City boast one of the form players in Europe; and the bottom, two teams look to their star strikers for much-needed points.

Plenty of fantasy teams are just as desperate for points, so here are Stats Perform's suggestions for possible picks ahead of the weekend, powered by Opta data.

AARON RAMSDALE (Everton v Arsenal)

Aaron Ramsdale has been rather busy since his arrival from Sheffield United, and he faced another ten shots on target from United on Thursday.

However, he has broadly impressed in Mikel Arteta's side, and ranks third in the Premier League this season for goals prevented (2.57).

He is also set to face an Everton side fresh off a chastening Merseyside derby defeat, and who have scored only four times over their past six league games, the joint-fewest of any side in the division with Wolves.

 

SERGIO REGUILON (Tottenham v Norwich City)

Conte's new Tottenham side are unbeaten in their opening three league games, the Italian head coach utilising a three-man defence again after successes with Chelsea and Inter.

Sergio Reguilon has been the main beneficiary of the change in system, with the left wing-back directly involved in a Spurs goal in each of his last two league games, scoring against Leeds United before assisting against Brentford last time out.

The Spaniard next faces strugglers Norwich, who have scored the fewest goals of any side in the Premier League this season (eight), while conceding the second-most (28).

 

TARIQ LAMPTEY (Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion)

Tariq Lamptey played an integral part in Brighton snatching a late equaliser against West Ham as he crossed in for Neal Maupay's acrobatic brilliance in the closing minutes.

The Englishman was brought on with 20 minutes to go and, as an impact sub, did exactly what he was asked to ensure Graham Potter's men did not return south empty-handed.

The right wing-back ranks fourth for chances created per 90 minutes among defenders in the English top flight this season, creating 2.4 opportunities on average as he prepares to face Southampton.

BERNARDO SILVA (Watford v Manchester City)

Pep Guardiola hailed Bernardo Silva as the best player in the league after the Portugal international nailed an expert first-time volley in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

The 27-year-old, who reportedly wanted a move away in the previous transfer window, has scored four goals in his last seven league games for City, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.

With the reigning champions perhaps a striker short still, Silva will continue being of central importance for City's attacking returns as they travel to Watford.

 

EMILE SMITH ROWE (Everton v Arsenal)

Emile Smith Rowe may have converted in bizarre circumstances at Old Trafford, but as many fantasy players will tell you: they all count!

The England international has had a hand in eight goals in his previous 11 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal (six goals, two assists), with only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bettering that total this season (nine).

He heads to Benitez's Everton, who have conceded more goals than any other team in the league over their last six games (15).

 

TEEMU PUKKI (Tottenham v Norwich City)

There is one man for the job of keeping Dean Smith's Norwich away from the Championship and that is Teemu Pukki, a budget fantasy favourite for the Canaries.

The Finland goal poacher has managed three goals in his last four top-flight outings, as many as he had in his previous 24 appearances.

Indeed, if Norwich can breach Tottenham's resurgent defence, it is likely to be Pukki, who has scored five of his side's eight goals this term.

 

CALLUM WILSON (Newcastle United v Burnley)

In similar fashion to Pukki, Newcastle United's attacking hopes largely rest on the shoulders of Callum Wilson, who converted from the penalty spot in his last game against Norwich.

Another cheaper option compared to the likes of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Bournemouth man has scored 17 Premier League goals for the Magpies.

That is more than twice as many as any other player for Newcastle since he joined the club at the start of last season, and Eddie Howe will be hoping his main man can deliver once more.

Is Robert Lewandowski's time at Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich coming to an end?

Lewandowski has called Bayern home since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in 2014.

However, the 33-year-old Poland international is reportedly ready for a new challenge.

 

TOP STORY – LEWANDOWSKI SET ON MADRID MOVE

Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has ordered his agent to finalise a transfer to LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Diario AS.

Lewandowski has repeatedly excelled for Bayern, where he has broken numerous records, while he was unfortunate not to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or.

Previously linked with a move to the Premier League, Lewandowski appears to be set on a switch to Madrid, where his former team-mate David Alaba now calls home.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport claims Fiorentina want to sell Dusan Vlahovic abroad but the Serbia international is not interested in Arsenal as he eyes Juventus. Vlahovic has also been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Bayern. It comes as Sky Sport Italia says Fiorentina are close to signing Lille forward Jonathan Ikone.

- Interim United manager Ralf Rangnick will try to convince Erling Haaland to leave Dortmund for Old Trafford, per Bild. Rangnick and Haaland worked together at Salzburg. Haaland is a player in demand amid interest from Madrid, Barcelona, Juve, Bayern, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain. Since Rangnick's arrival, United have also been linked with RB Leipzig pair Christopher Nkunku and Amadou Haidara, as well as Chelsea forward Timo Werner.

- Record reports Dortmund are keen on Benfica and Uruguay attacker Darwin Nunez amid uncertainty over the future of Haaland.

- Premier League champions City have scouted Bologna and Sweden sensation Mattias Svanberg, according to Nicolo Schira.

Pep Guardiola claimed Bernardo Silva is "on another level" after the Manchester City midfielder helped his boss collect a 150th Premier League win on Wednesday.

Guardiola became just the fourth manager to the 150-win mark in the English top flight after defeating Aston Villa 2-1, achieving the milestone in 204 games to surpass Alex Ferguson's record of 247 matches.

Ruben Dias proved the unlikely scorer of City's first before Silva netted his fourth goal in seven league games, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.

Ollie Watkins' fifth goal in three outings against the reigning champions halved the deficit, but City comfortably held on for another win to remain a point behind leaders Chelsea.

Guardiola's post-match focus was on Silva, who he feels is a class above in the Premier League at the minute.

"He scored a fantastic goal," Guardiola told Amazon Prime Video. "We depend on him, when a player has this quality it depends on them. He is a player on another level."

Guardiola reiterated the same sentiments to reporters at the post-match news conference: "He's the best. He was the best when we got 98 points three seasons ago and he's the same now."

City face a gruelling December schedule, in which they play seven times before the end of the month as they search for domestic and European glory.

But Guardiola insisted all his side can do us front up the challenge as he praised the visitors' performance at Villa Park.

"No words," he continued on City's showing. "The game we played was fantastic. What a team against Aston Villa.  

"A difficult game, we knew it, with the new manager, we understand why they won two in a row. The way we reacted to conceding the goal... We played really well.

Asked about December's fixtures and a potential title challenge, he added: "Do we have another alternative? No. So we're going to face the challenge.

"You see the Liverpool machine scoring goals and the consistency from Chelsea. What is important is being there.

"We had an incredibly tough first part of the league with tough games away and we are only one point off."

Manchester City kept pace at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa as Jack Grealish managed only a late cameo against his former club.

Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva put the visitors into the ascendancy with first-half strikes as City claimed their 11th win in 12 meetings with Villa.

Ollie Watkins halved the deficit after the interval prior to the introduction of Grealish, who returned to Villa Park for the first time since joining Pep Guardiola's side for a British record £100million fee.

City remain a point behind leaders Chelsea, who triumphed 2-1 in their away fixture at Watford on Wednesday.

Rodri stung Emiliano Martinez's hands as City dominated the opening stages before Leon Bailey saw a seemingly goal-bound effort blocked at the other end.

Dias then proved the unlikely first goalscorer with a deflected left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner following Raheem Sterling's cutback to the edge of the area.

City doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time when Gabriel Jesus raced away on the counter and clipped across for Silva, who converted with an expert first-time volley.

Watkins pegged Guardiola's team back as he hooked a low volley just inside the right-hand post from Douglas Luiz's corner before Ezri Konsa poked narrowly wide amid claims for a penalty for a Nathan Ake foul.

Jesus looked to add a third but miscued a half-volley well over, while Ederson was required to deny Carney Chukwuemeka in excellent fashion as City held on for another victory.

What does it mean? City keep in pursuit of Chelsea

City have now won 13 of their past 15 Premier League meetings against Villa and Guardiola's side remain a point behind Chelsea and one ahead of third-placed Liverpool after 14 games.

Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard – who was looking to become the first Villa boss to win all three of his opening games – sees his side left in 13th after being outclassed by the reigning champions.

Sterling and Silva shine

Silva has been in fine form for City in recent weeks, scoring four times in his past seven leagues appearances, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.

But fellow attacker Sterling also shone as he laid on a joint-high five key passes – one of those the assist for Dias' opener – in a classy creative showing.

City forward search remains prominent

City were in the market for Harry Kane as Guardiola searched for a striker in the last transfer window.

Jesus remains the sole nominal striker and the Brazil international failed to fire as only one of his game-high six attempts found the target and he produced a woeful second-half miss from Silva's cross.

What's next?

City travel to Watford on Saturday, while Villa host Leicester City the following day.

Manchester United's search for a new permanent manager continues, with Mauricio Pochettino the favourite.

Ralf Rangnick has been appointed on an interim basis until the end of the season, though Michael Carrick is set to preside over a third game as caretaker manager on Thursday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked last month after a poor run of results at the end of a trophy-less tenure.

 

TOP STORY – MANCINI EMERGES AS SHOCK MAN UTD CONTENDER

Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has emerged as a contender for the vacant Man Utd managerial role, claims The Telegraph.

The current Italy head coach, who led the Azzurri to the Euro 2020 title, is under "careful consideration" by United chiefs, according to the report.

Mancini is contracted with Italy until 2026 on a lucrative deal but may potentially be available to take over from Rangnick pending Italy's World Cup qualification play-offs in March.

 

ROUND-UP

Milan want to sign Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette as soon as possible and will make a move for him in January rather than wait for him to become a free agent at the season's end, according to Sport Italia journalist Rudy Galetti.

Man Utd have been offered the opportunity to sign Brazil attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho by Barcelona, reports Sport.

- Sport also claims Barcelona have a "total agreement" to sign Man City's Spanish forward Ferran Torres, although they want the English champions to lower their asking price of £60million.

Ajax are looking to do a deal with Tottenham to sign Dutch forward Steven Bergwijn on loan, according to De Telegraaf.

- Calciomercato claims Juventus have pulled out of the race to sign Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, with Chelsea leading the contenders.

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