Away-day specialists Manchester City saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 to close in on another Premier League title and equal a top-flight record in the process.

Chelsea beat Fulham by the same scoreline elsewhere in Saturday's Premier League action, thanks to a couple of goals from Kai Havertz.

A two-goal success was also the outcome when Brighton and Hove Albion welcomed Leeds United to the Amex Stadium, the Seagulls all but securing their top-flight status for another season.

In the late match, Aston Villa edged out Everton 2-1 to boost their chances of a top-half finish and derail their opponents' European prospects.

We use Opta data to take a look at the best facts from Saturday's games.

 

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City: Patient Citizens win again on their travels

Goals from Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres in the space of 83 seconds proved enough for City to pick up a victory that leaves them on the brink of another piece of silverware.

Those strikes came from the Citizens' first two shots on target and saw them reach the 700-goal mark under Pep Guardiola in all competitions.

City's 57-minute wait for their first on-target attempt of the match was their longest in a Premier League game since November 2019 against Southampton.

Torres added to Aguero's opener moments later with a good finish from 20 yards - the 11th league goal Palace have conceded from outside the box this term, which is the joint-most of any Premier League team alongside Sheffield United.

The victory was City's 11th in a row away from home in the Premier League, equalling the all-time English top-flight record held by Chelsea (April-December 2008) and City themselves (May-December 2017).

Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 Leeds United: Whites lose again on south coast

Brighton moved within touching distance of securing a fifth successive season of Premier League football thanks to a well-earned victory at home to Leeds.

Pascal Gross found the bottom corner from a 14th-minute penalty and Danny Welbeck added to that with his fifth Premier League goal of the season in his 21st outing - the forward's best top-flight return since 2017-18.

It was an all-too-familiar tale for Leeds, who have now lost five successive away league meetings against Brighton without scoring - the first time that has happened in their history against a single opponent.

In fact, Brighton have won eight of their last nine league meetings with Leeds home and away, which is more than they managed in their previous 28 against them.

Leeds managed just two attempts on target as Graham Potter's Brighton claimed a seventh home clean sheet of the season, a tally bettered only by Manchester City and Chelsea (nine each) in the Premier League this season.

 

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Havertz inflicts more derby misery on Cottagers

Kai Havertz doubled his Premier League goals tally with a brace in Chelsea's routine victory over Championship-bound Fulham.

All eight of the Germany international's goals for Chelsea in all competitions have now been scored in London, seven of those at Stamford Bridge and one at Selhurst Park.

His second goal in this game involved some nice link-up play with Timo Werner, who with that assist became the first Chelsea player to reach double figures for both goals (11) and assists (10) in his debut season for the club since Eden Hazard in 2012-13.

Werner's combined 21 goals and assists is the most of any Chelsea player this term, and he is one of five Premier League players to reach double figures for both metrics across all competitions alongside Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes, Son Heung-min and Marcus Rashford.

Fulham have now gone 19 away games without a win at neighbours Chelsea in all competitions - only versus Everton (31), Hull City (23) and Middlesbrough (21) are the Blues currently enjoying a longer unbeaten run against an opponent on home soil.

The Cottagers are also now winless in 24 Premier League London derbies since beating West Ham in January 2014 - only Palace have endured a longer such run in English top-flight history, going 31 London derbies without a win between August 1969 and March 1973.

Fulham missed some good chances as Chelsea kept an 11th Premier League clean sheet under Thomas Tuchel - the most shutouts for any manager in their first 15 games in the competition, one more than ex-Blues bosses Jose Mourinho and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Everton 1-2 Aston Villa: Toffees' poor Goodison run continues against familiar opponents

Villa dented Everton's European hopes with victory at Goodison Park in what was the 205th top-flight meeting between the clubs - the most played fixture in England's top division.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Villans have won more games (20) and scored more goals (73) in the Premier League era against Everton than they have against any other side in the competition.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his 20th goal in all competitions this season to open the scoring in Saturday's late kick-off - with that haul including a Premier League leading seven headers - to cancel out Ollie Watkins' opener.

But Anwar El Ghazi snatched all three points for the Villans 10 minutes from time with his eighth goal in 23 Premier League games this season, doubling his tally from 34 appearances in the competition last time out.

Everton have now won just one of their last 10 home league matches and have tasted defeat at Goodison Park eight times this season - only in 1993-94 have they lost on more occasions (nine) in a single Premier League campaign.

Kylian Mbappe should be fit to face Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final second leg, Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino says.

The France star sat out the 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Lens on Saturday after sustaining a calf injury in the first-leg loss to Pep Guardiola's side this week.

In his absence, Neymar and Marquinhos secured a narrow win for the champions to put pressure back on title rivals Lille and give PSG a morale boost ahead of game against City on Tuesday.

Pochettino could offer no guarantees over Mbappe's availability after the match, but he hopes to have the forward at his disposal.

"I'm optimistic for Kylian," Pochettino told reporters. "We assess him day by day. I think he'll be able to play."

The win moved PSG two points clear at the top of the table, with three games remaining, ahead of Lille's clash with Nice.

Pochettino admired his players' battling qualities as they held off European-chasing Lens, who got a goal back through Ignatius Ganago with half an hour remaining.

"It was a very difficult match. Lens play really good football. I really like their game – we suffered," Pochettino said.

"We deserved to win. We had to work hard to get the victory.

"We'll see tomorrow the state of the players' condition. The calendar is crazy, especially in these circumstances. We'll wait until the last moment to make the best decision."

Pochettino admitted it had been tough to recover from their defeat to City, particularly after an impressive first-half performance.

They had nine shots to City's four in the opening 45 minutes and deservedly led through Marquinhos' header, but second-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez put the visitors in the driving seat.

Given that disappointment, Pochettino was thrilled with the level of fitness and attitude displayed against Lens.

"I liked my team's character," he said. "I didn't see my team tired in the second half. They looked good physically.

"The night after City was difficult. Against [City], we played our best 45 minutes of the past four months. It wasn't easy."

Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City can get ready to pop the champagne corks, with their third Premier League title in four seasons "already there" after a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

City are one victory away from an unassailable lead and could be champions by the end of the weekend if Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday.

Guardiola does not care if his team are crowned without being on the field, telling a post-match news conference he simply wanted the title "as soon as possible" after second half goals from Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres dispatched Palace.

"We can start to think about putting it in the fridge. Not yet, but we can put it in the fridge," he told BT Sport, before discussing his football-watching plans for Sunday – juggling preparation for Tuesday's Champions League semi-final showdown against Paris Saint Germain with keeping an eye on events at Old Trafford.

"It's [about] PSG right now. We start to see the game we played there [a 2-1 win on Wednesday] and what we have to do, but I will take a look [at United v Liverpool], yeah.

"The Premier League is already there, it is in our hands. We need one more victory or two points

"Now there is a game where we need to give absolutely everything to reach the final."

Aguero has been a marginal figure during his final season at City, grappling with form and fitness issues.

But his opening strike at Palace - a fabulous touch and half-volleyed finish from Benjamin Mendy's low cross – showed the value he could still have over the closing weeks of his City career.

"I'm incredibly delighted he is back. He was many, many times injured," Guardiola told reporters.

"In the last weeks he trained really well and he is another weapon that we have on Tuesday for our semi-final."

 

Aguero is now one behind Wayne Rooney's single-club record of 183 Premier League goals and Guardiola paid a glowing tribute to the 32-year-old, who is City's all-time leading goalscorer.

"He's an absolutely top legend, extraordinary, the most humble and nicest human being. That is not easy to find," he said.

"That's why I love him as a man. Another player in his situation, he could create conflict, he would create a difficult situation.

"When one guy is beloved, like he is by all our fans, it is not just for the scoring 1,000 million goals, that is the truth. It is because he has something that the people realise, that you cannot hide away, as a person.

"This season, we took a decision, a difficult one - one of the toughest ones I took, especially because he was injured a long time. This club, next season need to make another step and maintain this level for a longer time.

"But what he has done in this club remains, will remain forever and we want to finish the best way as possible.

"He's going to help us in the Champions League [and] is going to help us in the Premier League to finish it."

Sergio Aguero reminded Pep Guardiola that he is "always ready" for action, even as his Manchester City career winds down.

Knee and hamstring problems on the back of meniscus surgery last June have hindered Aguero during his 10th and final season at the Etihad Stadium.

However, the Argentina striker produced some of his vintage best on Saturday, taking a single touch to control Benjamin Mendy's cross before netting a blistering half-volley to open the scoring in City's 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

The result means Guardiola's side are within two points of the Premier League title and their status as champions will be confirmed if Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday.

"Yeah, finally I could play so I am so happy," Aguero told BT Sport.

"All the time not playing 90 minutes… the goal is good. Maybe we can win the Premier League tomorrow.

"Always Mendy tries to pass to me. [That was] the only one inside the box, I needed one touch or two touches – that is my show.

"Finally I got the goal, I am happy for that."

It was only Aguero's second Premier League goal of the campaign and first from open play.

He was only starting due to Guardiola's decision to make eight changes to the side that beat Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, with City defending a 2-1 advantage back in Manchester on Tuesday.

Aguero, whose 182 Premier League goals for City overall is only one shy of Wayne Rooney's single-club record of 183 set at Manchester United, believes he can still be the man for the big occasion before his contract expires next month.

"Always I'm ready. Like I said before, I'm feeling good, my knee is so good," he said.

"I just wait for the opportunity to play like today. If on Tuesday, I don't play, it doesn't matter - I want to be with my team-mates.

"Every player wants to play, but we'll see."

Manchester City could be crowned Premier League champions by the end of this weekend after Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres secured a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

Aguero, City's all-time record goalscorer, will leave the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires next month and has endured a campaign ruined by fitness issues.

But the Argentina striker relocated some of the old magic with a sublime touch and thumping finish to find a 57th-minute breakthrough and his second league goal of the campaign.

There were just 83 seconds between Aguero's opener and Torres' calmly taken second, and City will win the title for a third time in four seasons if Liverpool beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Palace full-back Tyrick Mitchell made an important block when Torres met Benjamin Mendy's ninth-minute cross on the volley.

Raheem Sterling darted onto Aymeric Laporte's lofted pass and inside a couple of Palace challenges, but Mitchell was able to get back for another vital intervention.

Christian Benteke had a chance to breakthrough before the half hour – the Belgian striker's shot on the turn smothered at close quarters by Ederson.

As their phalanx of playmakers rested up on the bench, City struggled for their usual fluency. Gabriel Jesus volleyed home Fernandinho's 36th-minute cross but had strayed needlessly offside.

With attempted intricacy failing, Aguero opted for something more uncomplicated – in terms of conception rather than execution – when he controlled Mendy's low cross then thumped a half-volley past the helpless Vicente Guaita.

City's four-pronged attack went for the kill and Aguero was involved once more in a swarming attack as Torres picked out the bottom left corner from the edge of the area.

As in their 2-1 Champions League semi-final first-leg win at Paris Saint-Germain, City were a team transformed after the break. Sterling thumped Jesus' pass against the base of the post and Benteke made the last-ditch block to prevent last weekend's EFL Cup final hero Laporte from adding to his tally.

Joao Cancelo thundered just over from a Torres backheel and Sterling curled agonisingly wide as Guardiola's men swaggered towards full-time and overall glory.

A fine week could yet get better for Manchester City, who may clinch the Premier League title this weekend.

But any celebrations will take place in their living rooms, rather than on the pitch.

If City win at Crystal Palace on Saturday, they will be keenly watching on Sunday as Liverpool travel to Manchester United.

A peculiar development could see reigning champions Liverpool beat their bitter rivals to hand their own crown to City.

It would be the sixth time the Premier League title has been settled at Old Trafford, the most of any stadium, while City's 2017-18 success was also confirmed by a United home defeat – to West Brom on that occasion.

This could be the 11th occasion in the competition's history the championship has been secured with the victors watching from elsewhere.

Using Opta data, we run through four of the most memorable examples.

Arsenal 0-3 Middlesbrough: Gunners giftwrap United's title

It was a case of when not if United would win the title in 2000-01, but rivals Arsenal might still have preferred to put up more of a fight.

A quite remarkable defeat to Middlesbrough saw the Gunners score two of their opponents' three goals for them. It is one of just two occasions in Premier League history Arsenal have scored two own goals in the same game (also v Blackburn in 2011).

Brazilian pair Edu and Sylvinho were the guilty parties, meaning this remains the only occasion two non-British players from the same country have scored own goals for the same team in a Premier League match.

Arsenal 2-3 Leeds United: Highbury delight again for Fergie

United's run of three straight championships was ended in 2001-02 with defeat against Arsenal at Old Trafford, but the Gunners' own home was the setting again 12 months later when Alex Ferguson's side reclaimed their crown.

Ian Harte grabbed one of three Leeds goals, scoring direct from a free-kick at Highbury for the third season running. No other player in Premier League history has done so in three straight away games against an opponent.

United's triumph was sealed by Mark Viduka, though, his 88th-minute winner the latest from an away player at Highbury since Roy Keane's August 1999 effort for United. Arsenal did not concede a decisive goal as late again at home in the Premier League before their 2006 move to Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham: Spurs implode to prompt Vardy party

Sunday's match at Old Trafford comes five years to the day since the 'Battle of the Bridge', an epic affair that had Leicester City's players celebrating a stunning success from Jamie Vardy's house.

Tottenham needed to win to keep their hopes alive and raced into a two-goal lead at the home of Chelsea, champions a year earlier but awful in their title defence.

An extraordinary collapse followed. Spurs had nine players booked – one of them, Mousa Dembele, was later suspended for six games for an eye gouge – as the Blues battled back and Eden Hazard's first home league goal in a day shy of a year sealed Leicester's triumph.

Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City: Blues at it again at the Bridge

Stamford Bridge provided the scene again last season as Liverpool's first Premier League title win was confirmed. It meant three of the past six titles had been decided at Chelsea's home, including the Blues' own triumph against Crystal Palace in 2014-15 and the Tottenham game the following season.

With Chelsea also sealing the title with a win at West Brom in 2016-17, they have been involved in four of the past six clinching matches.

Willian's penalty secured the points after a Fernandinho red card, and Guardiola will be glad to this year avoid a late-season trip to SW6, where he has a joint-high four away defeats in his coaching career. City do still have to welcome Chelsea to Manchester, though, and each are well-placed in their respective Champions League semi-finals.

Erling Haaland is hot property right now with a long list of suitors keen on the Norwegian forward.

Financially powerful clubs Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea are among those jostling for the Borussia Dortmund man but Barcelona are in contention too.

Haaland and his agent Mino Raiola visited Barcelona along with Madrid in April as talks commenced.

 

TOP STORY - MESSI PAY CUT TO FUND HAALAND DEAL

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is willing to take a pay cut in order to help Barcelona land Erling Haaland according to Eurosport.

Messi wants to renew with Barca under the assumption the club is ambitious and contending for top honours.

Contract talks have commenced between Messi and the Catalans, with reports that they will offer Messi a new 10-year contract.

 

ROUND-UP

- Marca reports that Real Madrid are looking to extend Lucas Vazquez's contract with a new and improved offer.

- Raheem Sterling could be offloaded by Manchester City this off-season, in order to fund moves for Erling Haaland and Jack Grealish, claims Football Insider.

- Chelsea are in the race for Juventus' French midfielder Adrien Rabiot, along with Barcelona, reports Calciomercato.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Napoli have made a €10 million offer to Club Brugge for 20-year-old Belgium international Charles De Ketelaere.

- Gazzetta dello Sport also reports that Juventus wants to lure Massimiliano Allegri back to the club to replace head coach Andrea Pirlo.

When Pep Guardiola started to list competitions like a malfunctioning fixture computer – "Premier League, Premier League, Premier League, Carabao Cup" – it was clear that even such seasoned campaigners in elite level football had found the past couple of weeks a little disorientating.

On April 14, Manchester City progressed to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time under Guardiola's management.

Fourteen days later, on Wednesday, they won a Champions League semi-final match for the first time in their history, coming from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 at the Parc des Princes.

In the interim period, City lost an FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea, briefly tried to join a European Super League and got their Premier League title charge back on track at Villa Park before returning to Wembley to retain the Carabao Cup.

Now, in their sixth consecutive game away from the Etihad Stadium, victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday can take them to the brink of a third Premier League title in four seasons – an achievement that would be confirmed if City win and, on Sunday, reigning champions Liverpool beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"These two weeks were so difficult, strange for me even," Guardiola said.

"Finally, go through from the quarter-finals in Champions League, then three days later the FA Cup against Chelsea, Aston Villa Premier League, final of the Carabao Cup, Champions League again, Premier League again.

"I don't even know which competition we're playing for! These two weeks were a little bit weird."

If results go their way, City could this week be celebrating regaining supremacy in England and reaching their first European final for 51 years.

Such a scenario appeared unlikely when defeat at Tottenham in November left City languishing 11th in the Premier League, with 12 points from eight games.

Guardiola credited his assistants Rodolfo Borrell and Juanma Lillo for their part in the turnaround, because they are "colder… in the bad moments".

But the majority of the plaudits were reserved for a squad who have negotiated a relentless schedule – winning 35, drawing three and losing three of 41 outings since that reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – with unblinking form throughout the second half of the season.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the four weeks ahead of us, but the season has been extraordinary already," he said.

"We have an incredible title ahead of us and we have 95 per cent of the chance to win it. It is incredibly close. And after we will try to do a good game to reach the [Champions League] final, but what can I say? How could I complain about what the players have done? It is impossible.

"It’s a tough year, the lockdown. The team has been more resilient and calm. When you play every three days, you don't have time to see things clearly, because it's [about] the next one.

"This is the most difficult thing when you play a lot of games, but the difference here is lockdown – our lives have changed completely – and it's a shorter period of time.

"That makes this season so special for everyone. Winning one title already, close to another and play another final on Tuesday. It has been exceptional."

By contrast, Guardiola was keen to give any plaudits for his own half-time tactical tweaks during the victory in Paris the short shrift – pointing to the stroke of fortune his team enjoyed when Riyad Mahrez's decisive free-kick snuck through PSG's disintegrating defensive wall.

"I am a genius today because Riyad Mahrez shot a ball that passed between two hips and scored a goal. I am a genius and that is the reason why," he proclaimed, with typically mocking sarcasm. "Situations are analysed on these stupid things.

"We are good and the manager is incredible – Oh! A tactical masterclass! The wall from the Paris players was correct as they jumped, but the ball came inside two hips and we analyse how good we are as a team.

"We could draw or lose doing absolutely the same, like in the past. Against Lyon [in last season's Champions League] we missed and everything was a disaster.

"That's why the consistency during 10 months and being there is the most important thing as a club.

"After that, in the final moments, if the opponent makes an incredible action and you can't stop it, what can you do?"

In the Premier League at least, those 10 months of toil leave the final moments very much in Guardiola's and City's hands.

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester United's prolific form means Manchester City still cannot take Premier League glory for granted.

City need a maximum of five points to win their third title in four seasons and Guardiola's side could complete the job if they win at Crystal Palace on Saturday and second-placed United lose at home to rivals and reigning champions Liverpool a day later.

The City manager feels it would be foolish to be distracted by the looming finish line, however, particularly in light of United's 6-2 Europa League demolition of Roma on Thursday.

"Let me try to beat Crystal Palace. Don’t ask me what I'll feel [if I win the title] because I didn't experience it, it didn't happen," he told a pre-match news conference.

"I know you anticipate it, but the reality is yesterday we saw another example of which contender we are playing. United are an extraordinary team who arrived in the last two months in their best form all season.

"We need five points to be champions and tomorrow we have an incredible opportunity to make this step.

"If we win that game, we are going to think about what happens. Just in case it does happen, you can ask me about my feelings. But I cannot explain about my feelings in the future because I did not experience it."

Since a run of two wins from eight Premier League matches from the end of January to the beginning of March – a prolonged slump that allowed City to streak clear, United have been in imperious form.

A 2-0 derby win over City began a run of five consecutive top-flight wins, checked by last weekend's 0-0 draw at Leeds United.

Leeds recently beat a heavily rotated City line-up, something Guardiola is expected to repeat with a fully fit squad and the second leg of their Champions semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain on the horizon.

City came from behind in stirring fashion to win 2-1 in the French capital in midweek, aided by some half-time tactical tweaks by their manager.

However, Guardiola again insisted the credit should rest with his players – acknowledging relatively little squad upheaval over recent years as a virtue when negotiating this season's compacted schedule.

"In our period together, these five seasons, we are almost the same guys as the first Premier League we won," he said.

"I said many times all the managers at top clubs when you play every three days, we don’t have training. I'm a manager but I don't feel like on the pitch we can develop because have time.

"The only reason is the quality of the players that we have, who can understand what we are looking for and change some ideas immediately because they are intelligent.

"There are no more secrets. In one season you can be a successful, win something important, but to be consistent through the years there is just one secret - have quality players. Don't sell it on any aspects other than that.

"When you have a team like this you can sustain it for a longer time."

Even so, Guardiola believes fatigue might be a factor for a sixth successive game on the road – including Wembley visits for the FA Cup semi-finals and EFL Cup final over the past two weekends – against an opponent who have previously proved a tricky proposition.

"It is a lot of trips, a lot of travel, we are tired in many aspects," he added.

"The reality is Crystal Palace, a Roy Hodgson team. Every time we faced them we had a lot of problems to win the game."

Kylian Mbappe will miss Paris Saint-Germain's game against Lens on Saturday due to a calf injury that could also rule him out of the Champions League trip to Manchester City.

Mbappe played the full game as PSG lost 2-1 to the Premier League leaders in the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday.

However, the France international – who did not have a shot against City, though he did create four chances – is not fit to feature against Lens in Ligue 1, denying him the chance to add to his tally of 25 goals in the competition this season.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino was vague in his response when asked about the chances of Mbappe returning in time to play at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

"Kylian has a problem with his right calf," Pochettino told the media. "We hope it is not serious and that he can be back with us as soon as possible.

"He is an important player for us and when you don’t have a key player, it always has an impact. But we have players in the squad who can do well and fill in for him.

"This will get us close to the victory that we want, which is the most important thing."

PSG led 1-0 at half-time against City, captain Marquinhos heading them in front in the 15th minute at Parc des Princes. However, Pep Guardiola's side hit back impressively after the break, turning the game around thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.

Despite the disappointing result, Pochettino insists the mood within the squad remains positive - and made clear the immediate focus is on the Ligue 1 title race, rather than the return meeting with City.

"After losing in the Champions League, the players want to be competing again to get over that bad feeling," Pochettino said.

"The players are doing well. We lost the first leg but are motivated and convinced that we can turn it around.

"With all respect to Manchester City, we will go there to play the game. The mood is good; we are motivated for the game tomorrow, which is the most important one."

Asked about the tactical approach for the second leg, he replied: "We want to reaffirm the positive things that we did in the first leg – and there were many of them. I think we have to analyse that.

"We did very well in the first half and were superior to City. We were in the second half as well, but after conceding two goals, which were tough blows for us to take, plus the sending off [of Idrissa Gueye], meant that we played with less players.

"The team remained mentally strong against a very good Manchester City team. In terms of tactics, we will be ready for a battle."

The Premier League elite are playing for prizes, along with Champions League and Europa League places, and at the foot of the table there may still be dreams of a great escape.

Reality brings its rewards and regrets, and managers across England, from Pep Guardiola to Big Sam Allardyce are hoping to end the season on a high note.

For fantasy football managers, the same applies. This is the run-in and the time when marginal gains could count for so much in your own rivalries and leagues come the season's end. One masterstroke signing could make a world of difference and earn those bragging rights.

With that in mind, here is a look at some potentially shrewd picks for the weekend ahead, powered by Opta data.

EDOUARD MENDY

Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy has a long way to go before he can be defined as a Premier League great, but the September arrival from Rennes is making a terrific impact in his debut season. Heading into Saturday's derby with Fulham, Mendy has managed 15 clean sheets from his 27 Premier League games so far, with only Manchester City's Ederson keeping more (17 from 32 games).

Of all goalkeepers to have started at least 25 games in Premier League history, Mendy is the only one to keep a clean sheet in more than half of them (56 per cent). Looking down the list, Ederson has an impressive 49 per cent from 141 games, while former Chelsea and Arsenal shot-stopper Petr Cech had a nifty 46 per cent clean sheet record from 443 appearances.

LUKE SHAW

Tough love did not particularly work for Luke Shaw during Jose Mourinho's reign, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has found a way to unlock the brilliance within Manchester United's left-back, who was a £30million buy as an 18-year-old almost seven years ago.

Shaw, who looks likely to face Liverpool at Old Trafford on Sunday, has been directly involved in six goals (1 goal, 5 assists) in the Premier League this season. That is as many as he managed between the start of the 2016-17 season and the end of the 2019-20 campaign (also 1 goal, 5 assists). He is impressing going forward as well as when defending, so could bring valuable points to your team.

RUBEN DIAS

No Premier League defender has more clean sheets than Ruben Dias this season. With 14 so far, he is level with Aston Villa's Matt Targett. Manchester City stifled Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on Wednesday, but can they keep Crystal Palace's forwards at bay on Saturday?

The Premier League title is almost within City's grasp, and Dias could be a great signing this weekend, but do bear in mind that Guardiola could shuffle his team given the second leg with PSG is coming up on Tuesday.

City have a strong Premier League record against Palace, having won 13 of their last 17 matches (D2 L2) against the Eagles in the competition, earning 10 clean sheets across that run of games.

MATHEUS PEREIRA

Going down with the Baggies? Even if West Brom are relegated, which seems likely, there will surely be top-flight teams eyeing Matheus Pereira.

The Brazilian has been involved in six goals in his last four Premier League games (4 goals, 2 assists), and he enhanced his hero status among supporters when he scored twice - both penalties - in the derby against Wolves earlier this season.

West Brom won that one 3-2 and the teams meet again on Monday. Pereira is a player to keep an eye on in that game.

RAHEEM STERLING

Guardiola rhapsodised about Sterling after Manchester City's win against Tottenham in the EFL Cup final, despite erratic finishing meaning the winger again finished without a goal. He has not scored for City since February, but one could spark a flood, such is his established talent.

Facing Palace could be the ideal game for Sterling, should he be selected this weekend.

The England international has been involved in seven goals in his last seven starts against Palace in the Premier League (6 goals, 1 assist).

AYOZE PEREZ

Kelechi Iheanacho is the striker in form at Leicester City, but in horses for courses terms, Perez might be the man for Friday's clash with Southampton.

Perez has scored more Premier League goals against Southampton than he has against any other side in the competition (7). This includes two hat-tricks against Saints, including one in Leicester’s 9-0 win in this fixture last season.

HARRY KANE

Did Kane look off the pace in the EFL Cup final after his recent ankle knock? It was so hard to tell, given it felt he was constantly having to come looking for the ball, the service to him so inadequate.

If caretaker boss Ryan Mason considered him fit for that one, then it seems safe to expect the Tottenham talisman to face Sheffield United on Sunday, and surely he will find more opportunities against the blunted Blades than he enjoyed against City.

Kane has been involved in 34 goals in 30 Premier League games for Tottenham this season (21 goals, 13 assists), only registering more goal involvements in a single campaign in 2016-17 (36 – 29G 7A). The England striker has been involved in nine goals in his last six league games (7 goals, 2 assists), netting three braces in that run.

Everton have been busy in the transfer market in recent times and they are preparing for another splash.

The Toffees, who are led by two-time Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti, brought in James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan this season.

Everton remain in the hunt for European football with a top 10 finish looking assured but owner Farhad Moshiri's ambition still burns for more.

 

TOP STORY - EVERTON SET FOR COUTINHO SPLASH

Everton are set to land former Liverpool forward Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona in a £35million deal, according to The Sun.

The Toffees are allegedly already house hunting for the 28-year-old Brazilian, who would join countrymen Richarlison, Bernard and Allan at Goodison Park.

Coutinho has never quite settled at Barcelona since leaving Liverpool for Camp Nou in 2018, spending time on loan on Bayern Munich, while he has had injuries this term.

Barcelona are reportedly keen to offload Coutinho, who underwent knee surgery earlier this month, even for a cut-price fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims that Inter have rebuffed Manchester City's advances for Romelu Lukaku, insisting they are not willing to listen to any offers for the Belgian marksman.

- Aston Villa are monitoring Tammy Abraham's situation at Chelsea after it emerged that Blues are willing to sell him for a reported £40 million price tag, claims The Mirror.

- The Sun reports Brighton's Ben White has attracted interest from Borussia Dortmund who join the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal in pursuing him.

- Tottenham are hoping to speak to Ajax coach Erik ten Hag about taking up their vacant position following Jose Mourinho's sacking, according to The Guardian.

Reggae Girlz striker Khadijah Shaw could be making a move to England next season based on reports that she is to sign with Manchester City.

Five high-profile club executives have resigned from their roles on Premier League sub-committees following the European Super League debacle.

Stats Perform News understands Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Liverpool chairman Tom Werner have stepped down from the club broadcast advisory group, while Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has left the audit and remuneration committee.

Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and his Manchester City counterpart Ferran Soriano have both resigned from the club strategic advisory group.

The moves came to light just 11 days after these clubs, and Tottenham, declared on April 18 they would be joining a new Super League competition, which faced scorn before it was formally announced after news leaked out in the preceding hours.

It provoked fury, with the 'closed-shop' element of the proposed new competition set to see six of the Premier League's biggest clubs guaranteed riches far beyond those available to their domestic rivals.

Within 48 hours, the project had collapsed as the Premier League clubs withdrew, but by showing they had been willing to join in the new league, and doing so without consulting others that may be affected, domestic rivals were left incensed.

There were calls for points penalties or financial punishments to be imposed, but those now seem unlikely.

By losing their executive representation on the sub-committees, at the apparent behest of the 14 aggrieved clubs, the influence of the 'breakaway' teams is diminished for now.

It was reported by Sky News last week that Premier League chief executive Richard Masters contacted each of the affected executives and asked them to step down.

Tottenham did not have a representative on the sub-committees, ESPN reported.

United's Woodward is due to leave his Old Trafford role at the end of the year, a decision that was announced following the Super League fiasco but was said by sources not to be a consequence of that episode.

Managers including City's Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp spoke out against the Super League concept, along with many players, fan groups, major football bodies, politicians and even royalty.

The Premier League has made no official comment on the resignations of the executives.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe left Fabio Capello cold with their performances for Paris Saint-Germain against Manchester City.

Italian coaching great Capello sees little prospect of a PSG comeback in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, after City snatched a 2-1 win at Parc des Princes.

The Ligue 1 giants took a 15th-minute lead through captain Marquinhos, but Kevin De Bruyne's cross bounced beyond Keylor Navas and into the corner just after the hour mark to put City level.

The PSG defensive wall then cracked to allow Riyad Mahrez to score from a free-kick seven minutes later.

Neymar had two shots in the first 15 minutes, which both hit the target, but Mbappe did not have a single goal attempt.

Neither reached the heights they are capable of scaling, leading former Milan and Real Madrid boss Capello to wonder why they were so underwhelming.

"There were two of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or on the pitch and they weren't filled with enthusiasm," Capello told Sky Sport Italia.

"We thought we were going to see fireworks and instead they just showed a lot of tension towards the opponent. I expected more from Mbappe and Neymar.

"The Champions League is not only about beauty, but it is also a competition in which small incidents count for a lot.

"City won with two strokes of luck. Firstly, the very serious error by Navas on De Bruyne's cross, then the bad luck PSG had on the second goal with the ball passing right through the hole in the wall."

The outcome meant PSG lost after leading at half-time in the Champions League for the first time since March 2001, when they were beaten 4-3 by Deportivo La Coruna in an epic game.

PSG were 3-0 in front early in the second half of that game but folded.

Twenty years on from that match, PSG will hope that City's lead in their last-four tie can be whittled away in the second leg next Tuesday.

Yet Capello reasoned that PSG "are unlikely to overturn" their deficit against Pep Guardiola's team, adding: "When City play calmly, they are difficult to beat."

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