Victor Lindelof and Mason Greenwood were recalled to Manchester United's starting line-up for Saturday's Premier League showdown with Manchester City.

Centre-back Lindelof missed Tuesday's 2-2 Champions League draw with Atalanta with a knock sustained in training and was considered doubtful for the Manchester derby.

However, the Sweden international returned for the clash at Old Trafford in place of Raphael Varane, who was injured in that midweek European match and faces a month out.

Lindelof started in a back three alongside Eric Bailly – making just a third start of the season – and Harry Maguire, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sticking to a 3-5-2 system employed in his side's last two games.

Unlike those previous two matches, there was a place in the starting line-up for Greenwood, who came in for Marcus Rashford. Edinson Cavani was not included in the squad due to injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo led United's attack as expected as he looked to build on a return of three goals in his past five Premier League meetings with City.

Fred was the other change made by Solskjaer from the Atalanta match, the Brazil international replacing Paul Pogba as he continues to serve a domestic suspension.

City also made three changes from their 4-1 win over Club Brugge in the week, with Jack Grealish's exclusion being the big talking point.

The British record signing's place in the starting line-up was taken by Kevin De Bruyne, who was expected to play through the middle of the forward line in the absence of a recognised striker.

Asked to explain the decision, City boss Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports: "We want a left foot on the left side and right foot on right side. That is the reason."

Aymeric Laporte also made way after being sent off in last week's 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace, with Ruben Dias getting the nod at the back alongside John Stones, while Gabriel Jesus came in for the benched Riyad Mahrez.

United were unbeaten in their last four league games against City heading into Saturday's meeting – their longest such run against their fierce rivals since a run of six between 2008 and 2011.

Victor Lindelof and Mason Greenwood were recalled to Manchester United's starting line-up for Saturday's Premier League showdown with Manchester City.

Centre-back Lindelof missed Tuesday's 2-2 Champions League draw with Atalanta with a knock sustained in training and was considered doubtful for the Manchester derby.

However, the Sweden international returned for the clash at Old Trafford in place of Raphael Varane, who was injured in that midweek European match and faces a month out.

Lindelof started in a back three alongside Eric Bailly – making just a third start of the season – and Harry Maguire, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sticking to a 3-5-2 system employed in his side's last two games.

Unlike those previous two matches, there was a place in the starting line-up for Greenwood, who came in for Marcus Rashford. Edinson Cavani was not included in the squad due to injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo led United's attack as expected as he looked to build on a return of three goals in his past five Premier League meetings with City.

Fred was the other change made by Solskjaer from the Atalanta match, the Brazil international replacing Paul Pogba as he continues to serve a domestic suspension.

City also made three changes from their 4-1 win over Club Brugge in the week, with Jack Grealish's exclusion being the big talking point.

The British record signing's place in the starting line-up was taken by Kevin De Bruyne, who was expected to play through the middle of the forward line in the absence of a recognised striker.

Asked to explain the decision, City boss Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports: "We want a left foot on the left side and right foot on right side. That is the reason."

Aymeric Laporte also made way after being sent off in last week's 2-0 loss to Crystal Palace, with Ruben Dias getting the nod at the back alongside John Stones, while Gabriel Jesus came in for the benched Riyad Mahrez.

United were unbeaten in their last four league games against City heading into Saturday's meeting – their longest such run against their fierce rivals since a run of six between 2008 and 2011.

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City do not have the quality to replicate Liverpool's 5-0 victory over Manchester United when they face the Red Devils on Saturday.

Liverpool recorded their biggest ever margin of victory against United in last month's contest thanks to Mohamed Salah's hat-trick and goals from Nany Keita and Diogo Jota.

It also marked the first time United have lost by five or more goals without scoring since February 1955, when going down 5-0 to City.

United have a good recent record against City, however, having gone unbeaten against them in four league meetings – their best run since between 2008 and 2011 (six matches).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's four wins from eight encounters with Guardiola in all competitions, meanwhile, is the best win rate of any manager to have faced the Catalan coach at least five times (50 per cent).

Guardiola is expected to operate with the same 4-3-3 system used by Liverpool at Old Trafford two weeks ago, but he is not anticipating the same high-scoring outcome against United, who have since reverted from a three-man defence to a back four.

"We cannot play like they did. We do not have the quality to play like how Liverpool played," he told reporters on Friday. "Football is not copy and paste. 

"United made changes, adapted against Tottenham and it worked, but against Atalanta, after the injury to Raphael Varane they changed to a back four. 

"They put on more strikers because they were losing. I know United's style is when they are losing they put on a lot of strikers and when they are winning they put on defenders."

Guardiola, whose side have failed to score in three of their 10 Premier League games this season, added: "If you want to do what Liverpool did then Jurgen Klopp has to come here and then [Sadio] Mane can come and Salah can come. 

"We cannot play how Liverpool play because we have different players, different ways to play. I think if you see the last four, five or six years in the Premier League, the games when Liverpool have played City, we play differently. 

"We are not going to do the same as they do. It would not be wise. We are going to try our way to play because we have completely different players, the quality in a different way. 

"Maybe right now, United would play against Liverpool in a different way, I'm pretty sure about that, and maybe it would not be the result they had at Old Trafford, because everyone learns. 

"The manager learns from the previous game what worked or didn't work, and tries to fix it, that's why we cannot do it, that's normal."

City suffered a shock 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace last time out in the Premier League, a result that leaves them five points behind leaders Chelsea with 10 games played.

The reigning English champions have lost three of their last four league clashes with United, as many as in the previous 16, and have failed to score in three successive meetings with them.

Guardiola acknowledged the importance of picking up a positive result on enemy territory this time around if City are to avoid losing further ground in the title race.

"We're going to try to win the game," he said. "We try to do it and afterwards we see what happens.

"I am not thinking about the calendar, how many points we are in front or behind. We know the quality of the contenders, we know how difficult our opponent is. We will just try to play."

Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo will have the hunger to score goals long after calling time on his playing career, says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

The Portugal international has picked up from where he left off since returning for his second spell at United in August, scoring nine goals in 11 appearances.

That includes a dramatic double last time out against Atalanta in the Champions League to make it five goals in four games in the competition, three of those after the 81st minute.

Ronaldo is two goals shy of 800 goals in all competitions for club and country, a milestone he could reach in Saturday's crunch Premier League showdown with City.

Former Sporting CP, Real Madrid and Juventus man Ronaldo has scored three goals in his last five Manchester derbies, the most recent of those coming in May 2009.

Guardiola hailed the 36-year-old's longevity on the eve of the match as City look to end a run of four league games without a win against their fierce rivals.

"He will score goals all his life," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "He will be 75 years old, maybe retired, but he would be at his own barbecue playing a game and he'll score goals.

"Guys like [Lionel] Messi, like him, what they have done in the last decade in world football, scoring goals and goals and goals and helping their team win, speaks for itself."

Ronaldo finished as top scorer in Serie A last season with 29 goals, making him the first player to top the scoring charts in Italy, Spain and England.

That proved to be the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's third and final season with the Bianconeri before rejoining United in a shock transfer at the end of August.

City had been strongly linked with Ronaldo in the days prior to his United return being made official, but Guardiola was unwilling to confirm if his side were indeed in for the forward.

"You have to ask [United]," Guardiola said. "Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] said that he could not imagine him to be here. You have to ask them.

"Do you think both are happy to have each other there? That's what's most important. It's good for the Premier League that he's back. United belongs to Cristiano and Cristiano belongs to United. It's a good fit.

"All that was in the past. Maybe it will be in the present and the future. We'll see."

Ronaldo is expected to start the derby between United and City at Old Trafford, but the Portuguese does not only have positive memories of this fixture.

He is the only player to have been sent off more than once in Premier League meetings between the neighbours, seeing red in January 2006 and in November 2008.

Kevin De Bruyne has been backed to roar back to form by Belgium boss Roberto Martinez as the Manchester City playmaker looks to come through a sticky patch.

Ahead of Saturday's derby against Manchester United, De Bruyne is looking to improve on his unusually quiet start to the season.

In 13 appearances across all competitions, he has managed three goals but just one assist and has played a full 90 minutes only three times, with Pep Guardiola suggesting his chief creator is feeling a little fatigued.

Martinez has selected De Bruyne in his squad for World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Wales later this month, and quelled concerns about the 30-year-old's performance levels.

He pointed to City's EFL Cup penalty shoot-out loss to West Ham, and the Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace, and suggested those results had turned up the heat.

"When you play in a team expected to win every game, you'll get that level of scrutiny when you don't," Martinez said.

"Man City have been playing their normal brand, they lost a shoot-out then a game at home. I saw Kevin against Brugge [in the Champions League] and his body language was good. I'm not worried at all. We feel that his best football is coming back."

De Bruyne managed 10 goals and 18 assists for City in all competitions last season, creating 28 big chances for others in all. He has carved out five big chances so far in 2021-22, with such opportunities defined by Opta as openings from which a player should reasonably be expected to score.

 

At his best, Eden Hazard was producing spectacular numbers for Chelsea – peaking with 21 goals and 17 assists in 2018-19 – but De Bruyne's Belgium team-mate is enduring a difficult run now he is at Real Madrid.

After four goals and two assists in 21 games last term, Hazard has just a single entry in the latter column for his efforts after 10 outings this term.

Hazard warmed up extensively but was unused by Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti in this week's Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk, prompting an apology from the coach.

"Getting upset is normal. I believe getting upset is the fair reaction to manage this situation," Ancelotti said after the game. "I am so sorry. I told the players: I am sorry, but I didn't want to make any substitutions."

Hazard can stake a claim for greater involvement at Madrid by hitting top gear with Belgium, says Martinez.

"Eden is not playing as many minutes as we all thought," the Belgium boss said. "We've got a close relationship with the Real Madrid physical department and he's fully fit.

"His focus and attitude has given us a positive feeling. I know he's doing extra work to stay in shape, but he needs to be on the pitch to pick up the pace of the match. Coming to the national team can help him in that sense.

"It's important for every player to be on the pitch and achieve what he wants to achieve. It's a difficult situation when you can't, and it has been a difficult two years, but the signs are positive that he can get himself ready for a strong finish in the campaign."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is bemused by criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo, who again rescued Manchester United a result in midweek at Atalanta.

After a Champions League brace, Ronaldo now has nine goals in 11 games for United this season heading into Saturday's Old Trafford derby against Manchester City.

The veteran forward scored three goals in his last five Premier League Manchester derbies in his first stint with United. Indeed, his final strike for the club before joining Real Madrid came against City in May 2009.

However, he is also the only player to have been sent off in two Manchester derbies in the Premier League.

Despite Ronaldo's goals, United have been unconvincing since he returned to the club this season, prompting some to suggest his role in the team was an issue, especially with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood subsequently pushed to the fringes.

But Solskjaer said on Friday: "He's one of the best players that has ever walked on this planet.

"His impact so far, on and off the pitch, has been absolutely immense. The goals he scores, the way he conducts himself around the place. How people can say he's a negative, I can't see that one.

"We're really pleased the way he's started off. But that's what he does. He scores goals, he works for his team, and he is a top, top professional."

United's bigger problems may well be in defence, where Raphael Varane is out for "four to five weeks" with a hamstring injury.

"It's a blow for us, because Raphael has come in and been really influential, but Eric [Bailly] came in last time and was excellent," Solskjaer said. "That's why we have big squads, to cope with absentees at times."

The return of Victor Lindelof would at least provide a boost, with Solskjaer describing the centre-back as "a doubt" but still hoping he could feature.

"I would expect him to be ready, put it that way," the manager said.

United have kept three consecutive Premier League clean sheets against City, as many as in their previous 18 meetings, but they have conceded in 13 home matches in a row in all competitions.

They have only twice endured a longer sequence (21 games between April 1958 and March 1959, and 14 between September 1954 and February 1955).

Pep Guardiola does not believe the Manchester derby can be viewed as his side's most important game, at least at this stage of the season.

Manchester City, on the back of a frustrating 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace in their last Premier League outing, make the short trip to Old Trafford to take on their rivals on Saturday.

Guardiola has struggled to get the better of Manchester United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since the Norwegian took over from Jose Mourinho at the end of 2018, with the Red Devils winning three of the five league meetings between the sides in that time.

United have scored six goals in those matches, conceding just three in return. In total, Solskjaer has won four of his eight meetings with Guardiola in all competitions, the best win rate of any manager to face the Catalan coach at least five times.

Indeed, United are unbeaten in their past four league games against City (W3 D1), their longest such run against them since a sequence of six between 2008 and 2011. They have won as many league games against their neighbours in this spell as they had across their previous 16 meetings.

However, City have won seven Premier League away games against United, the joint-most of any visiting team at Old Trafford in Premier League history (also Liverpool).

With 10 league games played in 2021-22, just two places and three points separate the sides, with third-placed City five adrift of leaders Chelsea.

But Guardiola suggested this game does not carry any extra significance for himself or his squad.

"I don't think so. Maybe for some people, maybe, but we try to make every game important," Guardiola told a news conference when asked if the derby was City's biggest game.

"Of course this is a derby, it is special for the city, for many sentimental issues, but in the end it is not a final or a semi-final.

"I don't feel [the atmosphere in the city]. I wake up in the morning, come to this bubble in the training centre, 10, 12, 14 hours here, then go home. So I'm not going to the restaurants, the pubs, I don't know the atmosphere.

"I can imagine how important it is for both sides, it's normal, that's why it's nice, football, this emotion to try to win the derby, to do it well, but I have to be cold in my mind, in my head, to do exactly what we want to do, to do our best. No more than that."

Asked about United's recent success against City, Guardiola said: "Congratulations for United, for winning these games against us, or some of them.

"Incredible physicality, a lot of talent, people up front with the ability to win games by themselves, a lot of runners in the channels, in behind. United, should I say, for the last century is always a good team. We have to prepare well.

"We did good games against them, maybe not good results apart from one game last season where we draw against them, it was not a good game, maybe a little bit boring, both teams a little scared. We were not in a good moment.

"They are so good up front, with Cristiano [Ronaldo] now they are even better, generally it makes a good game. We were ourselves every time we played against them, sometimes we win, sometimes lose."

Guardiola will be boosted by the news that Raphael Varane will not be fit for United, while fellow defender Victor Lindelof is also a doubt, with the Red Devils' defence having looked particularly vulnerable even with their regular starters fit. They have conceded at least once in each of their past 13 home games in all competitions.

United have lost seven home matches in all competitions in 2021, their most since 2001 when they also lost seven – they have not lost more than seven times at Old Trafford in a single year since they did so on eight occasions in 1989.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has no concerns about Manchester United's return to Old Trafford for another big match against Manchester City, despite their humiliating defeat to Liverpool in their previous home game.

United were hammered 5-0 by Liverpool last month, their largest ever home defeat in that famous fixture.

After a 3-0 win at Tottenham and a 2-2 draw with Atalanta, Solskjaer's side are back on home turf for the visit of rivals City.

City have matched Liverpool with a record seven away wins at Old Trafford, but Solskjaer is not concerned a result he described as his "darkest day" last time out will still be on his players' minds.

"We've moved on from that one," he said during a news conference. "Of course, it's going to be in the history books, but we've had a good week with good results away from home in difficult games.

"The mindset is positive. Of course, we've got to go into this game believing we can do good things. It's a local derby and we know what's at stake.

"It's a special one, of course. The last time we had a Manchester derby with fans in the stadium, the atmosphere was electric. I think everyone will remember that one more than any dark moments we've had.

"When Scott [McTominay] scored that winning goal in extra time, that was a special moment.

"We know it's a one-off game. We have to start on the front foot, start ready, because a lot of it depends on who starts on the front foot."

Solskjaer has won half of his four games against Pep Guardiola in all competitions, the best win rate versus the City manager of any boss to face him at least five times.

But he said: "I'm not one to talk about what I've done. I've got a great respect and admiration for Pep and what he's done.

"We've had a few good results against them, some good games, some tight games, and we need another performance like this.

"Sometimes you need luck – we know this is a game where we're going to have to work hard, suffer a lot, but we have to believe in ourselves. We have to trust ourselves."

Solskjaer's future has been the subject of speculation since the Liverpool game, yet he responded: "I stepped in the doors here in December 2018, three years ago, and there's been speculation ever since. That's no problem.

"We've moved on from the Liverpool game – of course, it's always going to be there as a dark moment in our careers, but we've had a good week with two good results away from home and we're ready for this game.

"You don't expect an easy ride when you become manager of Man United, so that's how it is."

Cristiano Ronaldo came to Manchester United's rescue yet again on Tuesday, with a brilliant volley sealing a 2-2 draw with Atalanta.

It was Ronaldo's second goal of the game, and his fifth in the Champions League this season. Three of those goals have come after the 80th minute.

While United have struggled since Ronaldo arrived back at Old Trafford, there is no doubting his quality and ability to stand tall in decisive moments – something that has arguably saved Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's job after a difficult start to the campaign.

Ronaldo's stunning volley set United on their way to a 3-0 win over Tottenham last time out in the Premier League, with the 36-year-old then turning provider for Edinson Cavani.

United's 3-5-2 set-up negated Spurs, albeit the Red Devils face an altogether different task when they host neighbours Manchester City in Saturday's early kick-off.

Solskjaer might have bought himself time, but United have a tendency to drag their manager back from the brink. He has a good record against City, but given United's last home game saw them lose 5-0 to Liverpool, Solskjaer may well not survive another drubbing.

 

Milestone coming up for Ronaldo

United's defensive frailties were exposed again by Atalanta and if not for Ronaldo's lethal finishing, their Champions League progress would have been in significant doubt.

Ronaldo is now on 798 goals, scoring that total from 1,088 matches. The majority (450) came during his nine-year stint at Real Madrid, while he has netted 127 for United, a further 115 for Portugal, 101 at Juventus and five while at Sporting CP.

He has not scored many times against City, however, managing four goals in 13 appearances, with 11 of those coming as starts. His record in terms of wins is better, with Ronaldo tasting victory eight times against the Citizens, suffering three defeats.

When going up against sides coached by Pep Guardiola, Ronaldo has scored eight goals across 16 appearances.

It was not until the fifth game against a Guardiola team that Ronaldo found the net (in April 2011 in a Clasico draw), while he has only scored more than once in such a game on one occasion.

This was, however, in his last appearance against one of Guardiola's sides, which came way back in 2013-14 as he scored twice in Madrid's Champions League semi-final win over Bayern Munich.

A quick turnaround 

"If it was tomorrow, we would play tomorrow," Guardiola said after the 4-1 home win over Club Brugge on Wednesday, which finished approximately 63 hours before City and United are due to take to the pitch on Saturday.

"The schedule is the schedule, sometimes we play Tuesday, sometimes Friday. Sometimes it is 12:30 or sometimes 5:30pm. I am pretty sure at 12:30 on Saturday we will be at Old Trafford. When you are Manchester City you realise nobody helps you – no one."

Guardiola, like Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp has been on many occasions, will likely be fairly irked by the swift turnaround his players face, though it has to be pointed out there will at least be no notable travelling involved for City's stars.

History is also on City's side. Of the 11 times they have played at 12:30 on a Saturday following a Wednesday Champions League match under Guardiola, they have won eight, drawn two and lost just once.

That sole defeat came last season, when Leeds United ran out 2-1 victors at the Etihad Stadium in April.

Does Solskjaer have the edge?

Despite his struggles, Solskjaer can have some confidence heading into Saturday's match based on his own promising record against City and Guardiola.

Solskjaer has lost just one of his five league derbies, winning three of them. The Norwegian has often deployed a counter-attacking set-up in these matches, and has enjoyed success with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard picking apart City on the break.

As opposed to the hap-hazard pressing approach deployed in the Liverpool thrashing, Solskjaer reverted to counter-attacking against Spurs, with excellent results. United did press, but kept their shape while doing so, and were happy to surrender the possession to Nuno Espirito Santo's team, seeing just 41.8 per cent of the ball, but managing more shots (10 to nine).

It would seem almost certain that Solskjaer looks to utilise a similar set-up against City, who had 67.6 per cent of the possession and managed 14 attempts in a frustrating 2-0 home defeat to Crystal Palace last week.

United have averaged two goals per game in the league derbies that Solskjaer has taken charge of, conceding just three times in total across the five fixtures. It is a tactic that has proven its worth.

However, it is a risky one. In their seven meetings in all competitions since the start of the 2019-20 season, United have recorded expected goals (xG) values of below 1.0 in all but three games.

A similar lack of cutting edge on Saturday, combined with the type of defending that has left United so vulnerable at the back, could prove Solskjaer's downfall.

This weekend sees Manchester United host Manchester City in a derby that feels like it may play a pivotal part in where each teams' season heads, and there is an outside chance that the match-winner might not even be Cristiano Ronaldo.

Elsewhere, there is a certain Egyptian King who will be worth consideration for the handful of people who for some reason do not already own him in their fantasy team, along with a Newcastle player who could prove a useful differential.

There is also a former fantasy football favourite at Wolves who could be due a run of form.

Below are Stats Perform's weekly suggestions for fantasy football players, powered by Opta data...

 

JOAO CANCELO (Manchester United v Manchester City)

Try to predict the potential difference-maker ahead of the Manchester derby and you will likely say Kevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden, unless you expect United to win in which case you will probably say Cristiano Ronaldo or… Cristiano Ronaldo.

How about another Portugal international, though?

Manchester City's Joao Cancelo has been involved in more shot-ending sequences of play (66) than any other full-back in the Premier League this season, while he also leads all players in his position for the total xG of the sequences that he has been involved in (6.96).

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of fit defenders, there may be plenty of space for Cancelo to maraud into at Old Trafford on Saturday.

 

AARON RAMSDALE (Arsenal v Watford)

This feels slightly unimaginative as we also tipped Ramsdale last week, but in fairness the former Bournemouth and Sheffield United stopper was sensational in Arsenal's 2-0 win at Leicester City.

Ramsdale made eight saves against the Foxes and deservedly took home the man of the match award, and may well be called upon to shine again this weekend.

Watford showed in their recent 5-2 thrashing of Everton that they can attack well on the road, having 20 shots at Goodison Park and hitting the target eight times.

Only Edouard Mendy (90 per cent) has a better shot save percentage than Ramsdale's 85.7, and given the Gunners continue to allow several shots against, he could put plenty of points on your board as well as his own team's.

 

MATT RITCHIE (Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United)

It will be a tough game for moneybags Newcastle down at Brighton, with Graham Potter's men starting the season superbly, culminating in a well-earned draw against Liverpool at Anfield last time out.

You are never entirely sure what to expect with the Seagulls, though, especially defensively, and the Magpies may fancy troubling their opponents in the battle of the bird nicknames on the south coast.

Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (26) has created more chances among defenders than Newcastle's Matt Ritchie (24) in the Premier League this season. Ritchie, however, does jointly lead all players in the competition this term for chances created from set-plays (13), along with Alexander-Arnold.

With Callum Wilson back and scoring goals, you could look to Ritchie as a potential differential before he is inevitably replaced by a £60million player in January.

 

JAMES WARD-PROWSE (Southampton v Aston Villa)

The Friday night football from St Mary's promises to be an enticing clash between two teams that cannot decide if they are good or not.

Aston Villa have lost four in a row in the league, and the very last thing they will want to see is James Ward-Prowse lining up against them.

Ward-Prowse has been directly involved in more Premier League goals against Villa than he has versus any other side in the competition (5 – 2 goals, 3 assists). These five goal involvements have come in his last five games against them, with three coming in Southampton's 4-3 win at Villa Park last season.

 

RAPHINHA (Leeds United v Leicester City)

Having the fans back at Elland Road this season was supposed to be the not-so-secret weapon for Leeds to push on after an impressive first year back in the Premier League.

That has not quite been the case so far as the Yorkshire side have only won two of their six home games, but with the impressive Raphinha at his disposal, boss Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping to make it three against Leicester.

As well as scoring 40 per cent of Leeds' Premier League goals so far this season (4/10), the Brazilian has created the most chances (18), had the most shots (32) and completed the most dribbles (26) of any player for the Whites so far this term.

 

MOHAMED SALAH (West Ham United v Liverpool)

It may not be the most ambitious shout in the world, but you would need to have a very good excuse to not have Mohamed Salah in your fantasy team right now.

The Egyptian is averaging a goal or assist every 56 minutes in the Premier League this season; the best ratio of any Liverpool player in a campaign in the competition with at least 10 appearances.

He has also scored nine goals in eight games against the Hammers since joining Liverpool, the joint-most he has scored against any Premier League team apart from Watford (also 9).

RAUL JIMENEZ (Crystal Palace v Wolves)

It was a delight to see Jimenez return at the start of this season after nine months out with a fractured skull. Prior to the injury, the Mexican striker was a talisman at Molineux, and he is starting to look like he might be ready to return to form.

Although his strike in the 2-1 win against Everton last week was only his second of the campaign, he is still making a big difference for his team.

His two goals and two assists have been worth seven points to Wolves in the Premier League this season – only Michail Antonio (9) and Son Heung-min (8) have been more valuable to their sides through goals and assists.

Is a move to London on the cards for Kingsley Coman?

Coman and Bayern Munich have so far been unable to reach an agreement over a new deal.

Chelsea are reportedly ready to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TARGETING COMAN

Chelsea are monitoring Bayern Munich forward Kingsley Coman, according to Bild.

Coman has been in negotiations with Bundesliga champions Bayern regarding a new contract, but up until now, the Frenchman has been unwilling to re-sign.

Champions League holders Chelsea are keeping tabs on Coman, who has also been linked with Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

- It is set to be a busy time at St James' Park. Sky Sports reports Eddie Howe has agreed to become Newcastle United's manager, while El Nacional claims the Magpies have made Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen a transfer priority.

Barcelona are prioritising a January move for RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo, per Diario AS. Should they fail in their pursuit, out-of-favour Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling is the alternative.

- Sport1 claims the agent of Salzburg sensation Karim Adeyemi has met with LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid. The 19-year-old has also been linked with Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG and Bayern are eyeing Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic on a free transfer, says Calciomercato. United and Barca are also reportedly interested.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen has signed a new contract at Manchester City and immediately vowed to keep the pressure up on Ederson.

United States international Steffen has agreed terms on a new deal which will keep him with City until June 2025.

The 26-year-old joined City in July 2019 and spent the majority of the 2019-20 season on loan with Bundesliga club Fortuna Dusseldorf, where he kept two clean sheets in 17 appearances, conceding 36 goals and making 64 saves.

Since his return to City his appearances have largely been restricted to cup competitions and he was an ever-present in the side which won the EFL Cup last season.

He has had made two Premier League appearances for City, conceding one goal and keeping one clean sheet.

"This is a fantastic moment me – I am so happy to be committing my future to Manchester City," Steffen told City's website.

"In my opinion, this is the best team in world football, with the best manager and best coaching set-up. It's a privilege to be here and contribute to this team achieving its targets.

"I feel I learn every day and I have definitely improved as a goalkeeper since coming here. I contributed to our success last season, which was an amazing experience.

"I want to keep pushing Ederson every single day and take my chances when they arrive."

Steffen, who has been capped 24 times by his country and played in MLS for Columbus Crew, fits the profile of what City boss Pep Guardiola wants from a goalkeeper, according to director of Football Txiki Begiristain.

He added: "Zack is an excellent goalkeeper and a brilliant professional who brings so much to Pep's squad.

"He fits the blueprint of what a Manchester City goalkeeper should be. Not only is great with his hands, but he is also calm on the ball and provides outstanding distribution, which is a vital part of our style.

"This is a man who trains to an exceptionally high standard every single day. He always wants to learn and improve.

"Our coaching staff love having him here and we want to see him continue his development over the next years."

After their lucrative takeover, Newcastle United are set to make a transfer splash in January.

The Magpies are winless and second last in the Premier League table this season.

Newcastle remain without a manager, following Steve Bruce's dismissal a fortnight ago.

 

TOP STORY – MAGPIES IN FOR COUTINHO LOAN DEAL

Newcastle United look set to make a move for Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho in January, according to Spanish newspaper Sport.

Financially embattled LaLiga giants Barca are said to be keen to offload the former Liverpool forward, who arrived at Camp Nou from the Reds in 2018.

Barcelona are reportedly ready to accept a loan deal that includes a mandatory option to buy with Newcastle.

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are bullish about signing up Ousmane Dembele to a fresh three-year deal with the option for a further season, claims Mundo Deportivo. Dembele has been linked with LiverpoolManchester United and Juventus.

- Barca are also considering a move to sign Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele on loan, reports Sport. Ndombele has made nine appearances this season.

- Brazilian club Palmeiras have entered the race to sign Manchester United's Edinson Cavani, claims the Daily Express. The Uruguayan signed a one-year contract extension in May.

- Former Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho wants to bring Spurs midfielder Harry Winks and Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Roma, reports Corriere dello Sport.

- Sky Sports reports ex-Roma head coach Paulo Fonseca is still interested in the vacant Newcastle managerial role. Fonseca nearly took over at Tottenham in the off-season. Magpies candidate Unai Emery announced he was staying with Villarreal on Wednesday.

- La Nazione says Tottenham are firmly in the race to sign Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Inter, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid and Juve.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does it mean? City back on track  

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

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

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

Wow Cancelo  

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

Sterling stakes his claim 

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

What's next?  

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

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.