Manchester City star Bernardo Silva could leave the Premier League champions, according to manager Pep Guardiola.

Silva was tipped for a City exit in the off-season amid links with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona but the Portugal international remained in Manchester.

The 27-year-old has started five of City's six Premier League matches this season, while he scored the winner in the 1-0 victory at Leicester City.

After impressing in Saturday's 1-0 win away to rivals and Champions League holders Chelsea, Guardiola praised Silva.

"All I want is for Bernardo to be happy, here or anywhere. All I want is his happiness because he's a guy that deserves the best," said Guardiola.

"He's so intuitive - it's not his role as a holding midfielder but he knows exactly how to play it and how to anticipate what is going to happen, with the ball or without the ball.

"Against Norwich [City] he played exceptional, against Arsenal he played exceptional, Southampton played at the level of the team - that was not good.

"But how well he played against Chelsea is no surprise. How many times have we seen it? He was an incredible signing for us because he's an exceptional person."

Silva has won three Premier League titles since joining City in 2017 and Guardiola added: "I never forget the second Premier League we won, with 98 points, he was the best player in England. He was nominated [for an award] but he was the best.

"After that season, later he dropped a little bit, he was not in the position he prefers but now he's back and hopefully he can help us.

"If, at the end, he wants to leave and decides [to go] the only thing I can say is that the guy or the club that gets Bernardo is going to take one of the best players in the world.

"Is he happier? You cannot play in this way if you are not happy, it's impossible."

City have conceded just one goal in their six Premier League games this season – the fewest they have shipped at this stage of a league season in their history.

After his match-winning goal, Gabriel Jesus became the fifth player to score 20-plus match-winning goals in the Premier League for City, after Sergio Aguero (48), Raheem Sterling (23), Yaya Toure (22) and David Silva (20).

Samir Nasri has confirmed his retirement from football at the age of 34.

The former France international announced his decision on Canal+, where he is now a pundit, on Sunday.

Nasri came through at Marseille and transferred to Arsenal in 2008, spending three years at Emirates Stadium before he joined Manchester City.

At City, Nasri won two Premier League titles, an EFL Cup and a Community Shield. He joined Sevilla on loan in 2016-17 and seemed to have revitalised his career in LaLiga, though the move was not made permanent.

A short spell in Turkey with Antalyaspor followed, but Nasri mutually terminated his contract in January 2018, before he received a six-month ban from football by UEFA for breaching WADA rules in December 2016 by receiving an intravenous drip of 500 millilitres of water containing nutrients.

It is that ban that Nasri says made him fall out of love with football, with the playmaker always insisting he was innocent.

"One episode hurt me badly and changed my relationship with football: my suspension," he said on Canal+. 

"I found that more than unfair, I had not taken any doping product. It was just an injection of vitamins because I was sick. It cut me off in my tracks."

 

Nasri returned to play with West Ham on a short-term contract in 2018-19, playing five league games in total.

He linked up with ex-City team-mate Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht the following season, though it was another ill-fated spell and he was released in 2020.

Of his move to Anderlecht, Nasri said: "There was an emotional side, but also the idea of ​​being a player and also a little in the staff. As I would like to coach, I told myself that I would learn with him [Kompany].

"It didn't go as planned. Then the Championship was stopped because of COVID. Afterwards, I didn't necessarily want to [play]. No challenge excited me and I couldn't see myself coming back to France if it wasn't for Marseille."

Nasri impressed at Arsenal, scoring 18 league goals and setting up a further seven across his three seasons at the club, though injuries often kept his appearances down.

He never quite lived up to the billing at City after his reported £25million move, though did help the club to their first ever Premier League crown in 2011-12, while in 2013-14 he scored seven goals and created as many as Manuel Pellegrini's side clinched the title.

His appearances dwindled later in his City career, and he played just 12 times in the league in his final full season at the Etihad Stadium, starting on only four occasions before he was loaned out by Pep Guardiola in 2016.

Cristiano Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down, despite his advancing years.

But the evergreen 36-year-old is still planning for life once he decides to call it quits.

A coaching career in Manchester is believed to be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE OLD TRAFFORD

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to stay at Manchester United beyond his retirement, according to The Sun.

Ronaldo is back at United for a second spell after re-joining from Juventus before the transfer window closed, having left Old Trafford in 2009.

The 36-year-old, however, is already planning for life after football as he eyes a coaching role with United's youth team in order to work with his son Cristiano Jr.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are interested in Juventus star Federico Chiesa, who has also been linked with Borussia Dortmund.

- Chelsea are preparing to make a big-money move for Juve centre-back Matthijs de Ligt after missing out on Sevilla star Jules Kounde, reports Diario AS.

- The Daily Mail says Arsenal and Tottenham are eyeing a January loan move for Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho.

- Staying in London and the Mirror claims Tottenham are considering an approach for Juve's Dejan Kulusevski.

Atletico Madrid are hoping to sign Fabian Ruiz from Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Determined to prise the Spain international, LaLiga champions Atletico could use Marcos Llorente as part of the deal. Fabian has also been linked with Real Madrid and Barca.

- Per Corriere della Serra, United, Chelsea and Juve are among the heavyweight clubs plotting a move for disgruntled Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has found himself on the bench since joining on a free transfer.

 

Manchester City showed exactly why they are the reigning champions as they overcame previously unbeaten Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.  

As for neighbours Manchester United, they suffered a damaging 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa, who were good value for the victory, while Liverpool were held to a 3-3 draw by Brentford, despite another record-breaking goal from Mohamed Salah. 

Elsewhere, Michail Antonio's fine start to the season continued as his late goal helped West Ham overcome Leeds United. 

Using Opta data, Stats Perform looks at the key statistics from Saturday's most notable fixtures. 

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City: Jesus seals record-breaking victory for Guardiola

City bounced back from last weekend's surprise 0-0 draw with Southampton by ending Chelsea's unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign. 

Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal of the game, the Brazilian becoming the fifth player to score 20 or more match-winning goals for the club in the Premier League, after Sergio Aguero (48), Raheem Sterling (23), Yaya Toure (22) and David Silva (20). 

It was Jesus' 52nd Premier League goal, with City never losing a game in the competition in which he has scored in (P44 W42 D2) – extending the record for most games scored in without ever losing for a single side. 

The victory also allowed Pep Guardiola to set a new club record for most wins by a manager, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss moving past Les McDowall with a 221st victory. 

Chelsea, meanwhile, have lost their last two home Premier League games against the defending champions (also 0-2 vs Liverpool last season), after going unbeaten in each of the previous 13 such matches (W7 D6). 

Manchester United 0-1 Aston Villa: Hause secures memorable win at Old Trafford

Manchester United suffered their first defeat of the Premier League season as Aston Villa sealed a first top-flight win over the Red Devils since December 2009. 

Kortney Hause grabbed the decisive goal in the 88th minute, the latest winner scored by an away team at Old Trafford in the Premier League since Patrick van Aanholt secured victory for Crystal Palace in the 93rd minute in August 2019. 

That goal meant United have now conceded in each of their past eight league games at Old Trafford, their longest top-flight run without a clean sheet on home soil since February 1972 (also eight games). 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side did have the chance to seal a point in stoppage time, but Bruno Fernandes blazed his spot-kick over the crossbar. That was only the Portugal international's second penalty miss in his 23 attempts for the club, the other coming against Newcastle United in the Premier League in October 2020. 

Brentford 3-3 Liverpool: Reds held by brilliant Bees

Premier League newcomers Brentford secured a memorable point against Jurgen Klopp's men in a pulsating match. 

The result marked the first time Liverpool had conceded three goals in a top-flight away game against a newly promoted side since January 2016 against Norwich City (a 5-4 win), while Brentford scored three goals in a top-flight game for the first time since January 1947 (4-1 against Wolves). 

Salah scored his 100th Premier League goal for the Reds, reaching that figure in 151 games – fewer than any other player in Liverpool's history. 

Indeed, only Alan Shearer for Blackburn (124 games), Harry Kane for Tottenham (138) and Sergio Aguero for Man City (147) have reached a century of Premier League goals for a single club in fewer appearances than Salah. 

Brentford have enjoyed an impressive start in the top tier, though. Their eight Premier League goals have been scored by seven different players – excluding own goals, only Chelsea (10) and Manchester City (nine) have had more different scorers in the competition this term. 

Leeds United 1-2 West Ham: Hosts suffer late Antonio hammer blow

David Moyes' side left it late to wrap up back-to-back wins at Elland Road for the first time in their history. 

Raphinha had put the hosts ahead early on with his fifth Premier League goal from outside the penalty area, the joint-most of any player since he made his debut in the competition in October 2020, tied with Son Heung-min. 

A Junior Firpo own goal pulled the Hammers level, before Antonio sealed all three points in the 90th minute. 

That goal meant Antonio became just the third player to score a 90th-minute winner against Leeds at Elland Road in the Premier League, after Nolberto Solano for Newcastle in December 2001 and Scott Parker for Charlton in December 2002. 

Thomas Tuchel saw his tactical switch fail as Chelsea lost 1-0 at home to Manchester City in the Premier League, and he admitted: "Maybe this is on me." 

Chelsea's unbeaten start to the season ended at Stamford Bridge, where Gabriel Jesus struck early in the second half to make the difference. 

Head coach Tuchel sent out Chelsea with three defensive midfielders and lined up Romelu Lukaku alongside Timo Werner from the start of a game for the first time in attack. 

With three centre-backs and defenders running the flanks, it meant Chelsea were found wanting when it came to creativity, as City took revenge for their defeat to Tuchel's men in May's Champions League final. 

"We lost the game and I think City deserved to win," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Until the goal, we were very, very strong in the last 20 metres of the field [Chelsea's defensive area], but only there unfortunately, and in the 80 metres left we were not good enough to escape pressure, to have ball possession, and not only ball possession to breathe but ball possession to switch play and to hurt them and to grow in confidence. 

"Until then, we defended very well the box and the goal, it was excellent, but this was the only part of the match. 

"The performance was not complex enough, it was overall not on our very best level, and you need your best level to push a game like this to your side." 

Chelsea had only 40 per cent of the ball, but that was also the case in the Champions League final where they made better use of their possession, showing a greater incisiveness. 

Rodri's inclusion allowed City's creative players to rampage at times, as his defensive qualities helped to shield a defence who encountered few midfield runners. 

Chelsea had goalkeeper Edouard Mendy for keeping the score down, as he pulled off two big saves to deny Jack Grealish. 

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand, working as a television pundit at the game, described the result as "a 1-0 beating". 

"Chelsea didn't at any time look part of the game, look like a team who could get anything out of it," Ferdinand said. 

"City dominated in all areas: the intensity, the press, the possession, the chances on goal. If Mendy doesn't play today, they [Chelsea] probably concede three or four." 

Tuchel also recognised his Chelsea side got what they deserved. 

"In general, we can accept it because it was not our best game," Tuchel said of the defeat. 

"Even if we wanted to go for long balls for Romelu, it was not precise enough. I did not feel the belief that we could really escape with short balls, I did not really feel 100 per cent the belief that if we play long balls that we believe in it. 

"We lacked a little bit of freshness and energy. Maybe this is on me, maybe not the very best choices today, but OK." 

It was almost as though Thomas Tuchel was trolling Pep Guardiola, picking three defensive midfielders and two strikers. 

Guardiola had paid a high price for leaving his water carriers out of May's Champions League final battle between these teams. On Friday, he pointedly stressed he would not complain about his squad, yet also acknowledged City lacked a lethal finisher in the mould of a Romelu Lukaku. 

But this was a day when Guardiola resoundingly won the tactical battle, inflicting a first defeat of the season on Tuchel's Chelsea, ending City's sequence of three successive defeats to the men in royal blue. 

Chelsea had last enjoyed a longer run of wins against City when they strung eight together from December 2005 to March 2009, the balance of power in English football being very different in that period. 

Now City are champions of the Premier League and have been so five times in the last 10 seasons, and, A-list striker or no A-list striker, they might just pull it off again. 

Tuchel put an inordinate level of trust in the Lukaku and Timo Werner frontline combination working, as they began a game together for the first time. That smacked of cavalier coaching, an uncalled-for tactical shift in the biggest match of Chelsea's season so far, disrupting the system that last week delivered a ruthless 3-0 win at Tottenham. 

By sacrificing a midfield berth, Chelsea could not compete with City in that area, and duly the supply to Lukaku and Werner was hopelessly inadequate. 

And how did the Lukaku-Werner combination work out across the 90 minutes? Werner played one pass that found his new £97.5million team-mate, and Lukaku did not find the German with the ball at all. 

The midfields were silk and sandpaper, City with all the finesse and Chelsea the industry, but whereas City had a little snap too, with Rodri selected in the anchor role, Chelsea were woefully short of invention, utterly reliant on their full-backs pushing forward. They wanted to strong-arm their way to victory, and instead their limitations were laid bare. 

"Champions of Europe, we know what we are", sang the Chelsea fans at kick-off, followed by "Champions of Europe, you'll never sing that". 

Their songs soon fell flat. 

Guardiola left Rodri and Fernandinho out of his Champions League team, when at least one of them had played in 59 of City's 60 games up to that point of the 2020-21 season, and Chelsea got the better of a team lacking its usual steel. 

It was a decision that felt over-thought, Guardiola outwitting himself in his eagerness to surprise Chelsea. But Rodri was back here, helping to shield a defence that might have expected a busier afternoon. 

Of course N'Golo Kante started for Chelsea, after his starring role against City in that European showpiece, but did Chelsea really need both Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic alongside him, leaving Kai Havertz, goal hero of the May final in Porto, and Hakim Ziyech on the bench? No ship requires three active anchors, and their inclusion suggested Tuchel had gone overboard. 

Chelsea had just 33.3 per cent of first-half possession, and that figure was bolstered by them seeing more of the ball in the final 10 minutes, having been under 30 per cent until then. 

City had six shots to Chelsea's one by the break, and the visitors were winning 56.3 per cent of the duels, Rodri finding his man with 41 of 42 passes by the break, also winning possession seven times, more than anyone. 

Come full-time, City led 15-5 on shots, 4-0 on shots on target, Rodri had completed 74 of his 78 passes (94.9 per cent) and finished with a team-high 10 possession wins. His presence was colossal, allowing the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden to rampage. 

Guardiola said City would "do it as a group" as they aim to come up with the goals a world-class striker might score. He missed out on Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo, but in Gabriel Jesus he has a Brazil international who might just fancy showing his boss he can be a 20-goal hitman again. 

Chelsea were undone in the 53rd minute when Joao Cancelo's shot after a short-corner move only ran as far as Jesus, who turned sharply and fired, with the help of a deflection of Jorginho, into the bottom left corner. 

That was the first shot to hit the target in the match, Opta said, and there was almost a second City goal moments later when Grealish sidestepped Cesar Azpilicueta on the left and curled towards the far post, with Edouard Mendy's fingertips pushing the ball wide for a corner. 

Thiago Silva cleared off the line from Jesus, then Mendy denied Grealish late on as City pushed for the second goal they surely deserved. 

Chelsea had just 39.62 per cent of possession in the Champions League final but dominated the chances there, with an expected goals (xG) total of 1.45 to City's 0.45 reflecting their greater threat in the final third. 

Here, it was City with 1.45 xG against Chelsea's paltry 0.2, Guardiola getting one over the team who have given him plenty of anguish over the years, inflicting eight defeats, more than any other against a Pep side. 

Guardiola's players celebrated with their fans, who included Oasis' Noel Gallagher, tossing shirts into the crowd, knowing this time they and their coach had implemented a master plan. 

Pep Guardiola is proud to have set the record for the most ever wins as Manchester City manager with Saturday's 1-0 victory over Premier League title rivals Chelsea.

The Catalan coach clocked up his 221st win in all competitions since arriving at City in 2013, overtaking the record previously held by Les McDowall.

City's well-earned victory at Stamford Bridge, secured courtesy of a deflected Gabriel Jesus strike, moves the reigning English champions level on points with Chelsea.

It snapped a three-game losing run for Guardiola against Chelsea, each of those with Thomas Tuchel in charge of the Blues, including May's Champions League final in Porto.

Guardiola's men dominated possession (60 per cent) and outshot their opponents 15 to five, leaving the ex-Barcelona boss to reflect on an impressive triumph for his side.

"The guys were outstanding today," he told BT Sport. "At this stadium, against this opponent, to do what we did makes me so proud.

"We came here and played our game. Sometimes you can't do it because the opponent is better. We were encouraged to press high and they could not make the build-up.

"Setting the win record makes me proud. We've done it at Stamford Bridge, against the Champions League winners. 

"We've been magnificent together. It makes me proud, not just for myself but especially for the club."

Jesus proved the hero for City in west London with a shot on the turn that deflected off Jorginho and wrong-footed Edouard Mendy, who starred with a couple of fine saves later in the match.

The Brazil striker has three goals and four assists in his last seven Premier League starts and has never been on the losing side when netting in the competition, a run spanning 44 games.

"Gabriel always gives us everything," Guardiola said. "You cannot say anything more about him. Every single game he runs for his team-mates.

"Having players like him in our team makes me so happy."

Jesus became the fifth player to score 20 or more match-winning goals in the Premier League for City, following in the steps of Sergio Aguero (48), Raheem Sterling (23), Yaya Toure (22) and David Silva (20). 

"I turned well and I was able to shoot," he told BT Sport when asked about his latest match-clinching strike against Chelsea.

"I was a bit lucky but I'm very happy to score that goal. The most important thing is that everyone played so well.

"We were against one of the best teams in Europe. They play so good and have a lot of amazing players. We knew it was going to be difficult for us. We played very well and won the game.

"Sometimes we don't play well, but if we suffer a little bit we can attack. We have a lot of top players to create chances and try to score goals."

Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal as Manchester City beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to move level on points with their Premier League title rivals.

City lost three times to Chelsea in the space of six weeks at the end of last season, including in the Champions League final, but Pep Guardiola finally got the better of Thomas Tuchel in Saturday's contest.

After dominating the first half without managing to test returning Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, the visitors opened the scoring eight minutes after the restart through a heavily deflected Jesus shot.

That sparked the game into life as City missed two big chances and Romelu Lukaku had a goal ruled out, though Jesus' strike proved to be the difference as top-flight champions City inflicted a first defeat of the season on European champions Chelsea.

Tuchel shifted from his usual 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 to accommodate Timo Werner and Lukaku up top for the first time and Chelsea struggled to get going.

All City had to show for their dominance of possession in a quiet first half, though, was a sliced Jesus shot at the back post after being found by Phil Foden.

Guardiola's side picked up from where they left off in the second half and opened the scoring with the game's first attempt on target.

Joao Cancelo's long-range effort hit Jesus and the Brazil striker took over with a shot on the turn that flicked off Jorginho on its way past a wrong-footed Mendy.

Mendy pulled off a fine low save to help Jack Grealish's shot past the post and substitute Thiago Silva blocked Jesus' drive on the line as City pressed for a second.

Those missed chances almost came back to haunt City when Lukaku tapped the ball into the net at the other end, but Kai Havertz was offside in the build-up and it was ruled out.

Chelsea desperately went in search of a leveller, yet the best of the remaining opportunities fell to City's Grealish, the midfielder again denied by Mendy when through on goal.

Thomas Tuchel has partnered Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku in the Chelsea attack from the start for the first time for the visit of Manchester City, who have a number of stars back fit.

Chelsea head into Saturday's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge top of the table, three points ahead of champions City.

The Blues have beaten City in all three meetings since Tuchel took charge – including the Champions League final – and are looking to become the first side to defeat Pep Guardiola in four consecutive matches.

But Tuchel has mixed things up for this game, shifting from his usual 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 formation, including N'Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in central midfield after the trio excelled in the second half of last week's 3-0 win at Tottenham.

Most notably, that switch has created space for Werner in the front line next to record signing Lukaku.

Werner assisted Antonio Rudiger's strike at Spurs and then scored in the midweek EFL Cup tie against Aston Villa, as he aims to build on a disappointing 2020-21 campaign in which his 12 goals hugely underperformed his 21.1 expected goals.

The Germany forward and Lukaku have only previously played 61 minutes together so far in all competitions, although Chelsea have netted two goals and conceded none in that time.

Thiago Silva – outstanding at Tottenham – only made Tuchel's bench, but Edouard Mendy was passed fit to start in goal, facing an attack-minded City line-up.

Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden each came in for their first league starts of the season, yet it was Gabriel Jesus – playing from the right in the early stages of the campaign – who looked set to lead the line.

Guardiola had named a different midfield for all three prior meetings with Tuchel's Chelsea in 2021 but has reverted back to Rodri, who started the league defeat.

In a familiar 4-3-3, Aymeric Laporte was also cleared to line up alongside Ruben Dias.

Anthony Martial has reportedly been permitted to explore his options by Manchester United.

Martial has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo's return.

France international Martial scored four league goals for United last term, after netting 17 times in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND PLOTS MARTIAL MOVE

Borussia Dortmund are bracing for Erling Haaland's departure by plotting a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, claims 90Min.

Haaland, who has a release clause in his contract that activates in mid-2022, is being chased by a host of top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Liverpool and United.

Martial is still contracted to the Red Devils until 2024, having penned a five-year deal in January 2019, amid reported interest from Barca, Tottenham and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Transfer Window podcast claims City owner Sheikh Mansour wants to hijack Madrid's bid for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and sign him "at any cost". Mbappe has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- Barcelona are looking at Reims' Spanish head coach Oscar Garcia as a replacement for under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman, per RMC Sport.

- Madrid midfielder Isco has held numerous rounds of negotiations with Serie A challengers Milan about a move to Italy, according to Todo Fichajes.

Barca are considering a move for Porto's Colombia international forward Luis Diaz next off-season, claims El Nacional.

- Diario AS says Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to Milan amid interest from PSG and City.

Pep Guardiola admits Manchester City must cope without the "weapon" of a 25-goal clinical striker after being unable to replace Sergio Aguero.

On Saturday, City will face a Chelsea team which has been strengthened by the addition of Romelu Lukaku from Serie A champions Inter, for a shade under £100million.

For much of the transfer window, City were expected to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham, but that failed to come to fruition and they are instead looking for a squad-wide contribution to the goals account.

The Stamford Bridge test will give an indication of how well City can compete against fellow elite teams as they bid to retain the Premier League title.

With Champions League holders Chelsea adding Lukaku, Manchester United beating City to a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo, and Kane staying at Spurs, there are major clubs in England that have obvious focal points in attack.

Guardiola declared strikers to be unique in their sensibilities, saying: "They live outside of the bubble a team creates.

"They say, 'I am here to win the game'. We had privilege to have Sergio. These are the hardest players to take."

Aguero suffered with injuries during the closing stages of his 10-year City career, before leaving for LaLiga powerhouse Barcelona, and manager Guardiola found ways to cope without the leader of his attack, notably opting at times for a 'false nine', meaning his team was often stacked with attacking players but had no natural spearhead.

"We don't have this weapon like other teams have, like [Manchester] United, Chelsea or Tottenham. We have to use what we have as a team," Guardiola said.

"We don't have a player who scored 25 goals himself. We do it as a group and that is what we will try this season."

Guardiola has previously confirmed he would have liked to sign Kane, if he became available.

He reflected on his career as a coach and manager, pointing to always having had identifiable leaders and prolific scorers in his forward lines. Although Gabriel Jesus remains at City, Guardiola considers him a slightly different front player to a central striker.

"Always I had a striker in my career," said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.

"Like goalkeepers, strikers are the biggest specialists. I played with Samuel Eto'o [at Barcelona], maybe the best or one of the best strikers I ever trained. And [Thierry] Henry [at Barcelona].

"I don't know if he's a striker or what he is, but Lionel Messi was able to score a few goals. There was [Robert] Lewandowski, Thomas Muller [at Bayern Munich], Sergio here.

"Always I play with a striker. Gabriel [Jesus] likes to play more in lateral ways than central. We want it as a club because I think the club knows, not for me, that it needs a striker in the next years."

Guardiola still believes City are a formidable prospect, and the Chelsea game followed by next week's clash with Paris Saint-Germain are tantalising prospects.

"When our squad is fit – all of them – I know what we can do because I have seen it in previous years," he said.

"It is a privilege to go to London and play there and then Paris. You will not hear me one single second complain about this season or about the players I have."

City have won three of their last six Premier League away games against Chelsea (L3), more than they had in their previous 23 visits to Stamford Bridge in the top flight (W2 D8 L13). Guardiola's side are looking to win back-to-back away top-flight games against Chelsea for the first time since January 1955.

In his managerial career, Guardiola has lost more games against Chelsea than he has versus any other opponent in all competitions (eight). Indeed, the Blues could become the first team to win four consecutive matches against the Spaniard.

Brazil have summoned eight Premier League players for October's World Cup qualifiers – and former Middlesbrough star Juninho is hopeful a deal will be struck to avoid more quarantine chaos.

Coach Tite called nine English-based stars for the last batch of internationals at the start of September, but none travelled, with top-flight English clubs refusing to release a number of players travelling to countries on the United Kingdom's travel red list.

Anyone returning from those countries would have been required to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days upon their return, regardless of vaccination status, which was an unacceptable situation for the clubs.

There are hopes that a deal can be struck to allow footballers to travel in bubble conditions, with Juninho pointing to talks involving the Premier League, world football's governing body FIFA and British government officials.

At one point last month it appeared the players who did not join their national teams could be obligated to miss club games, effectively as a punishment, but that threat eventually receded.

Some Premier League players did travel to their national teams, however, and Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero, plus Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez, joined up with Argentina. They were then at the centre of incredible scenes in Sao Paulo when Brazilian health authority officials stormed onto the pitch to stop the Selecao's game against Argentina proceeding.

Brazil's travel rules demand individuals to isolate if they have been in the UK within 14 days of their arrival in the country.

The English-based contingent selected by Brazil for October's games includes captain Thiago Silva, goalkeepers Alisson and Ederson, Fred, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino. Everton's Richarlison misses out due to a knee injury, but Leeds United's Raphinha and Tottenham's Emerson Royal are in the squad.

Juninho, now a co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, said the players were selected this time because of the belief a solution could be found.

"There have been several meetings with FIFA, the Premier League and the British government," Juninho said, quoted on Brazilian sport website Lance.

"We trust that next week there will be a resolution on these cases."

Brazil travel to play Venezuela on October 7 and Colombia three days later, before a home clash in Manaus against Uruguay on October 14.

The players are due to assemble in Bogota, Colombia, on October 4. Brazil's eight wins from eight have put them firmly at the front of the race to qualify for next year's finals in Qatar.

 

Brazil squad: Alisson (Liverpool), Ederson (Manchester City), Weverton (Palmeiras); Danilo (Juventus), Emerson Royal (Tottenham), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Guilherme Arana (Atletico Mineiro), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Lucas Verissimo (Benfica); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Gerson (Marseille), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fred (Manchester United), Lucas Paqueta (Lyon), Edenilson (Internacional); Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Antony (Ajax), Raphinha (Leeds United), Gabi (Flamengo), Matheus Cunha (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says Manchester City remain the benchmark for his side in their pursuit of the Premier League title ahead of Saturday's meeting at Stamford Bridge.

The sides will face off for the first time since May's Champions League final at Estadio do Dragao in Portugal, which Chelsea won 1-0 through a Kai Havertz goal.

The Blues have now won their last three meetings with City, doing so in three different competitions in the space of six weeks at the end of last season.

Chelsea have carried that form into the 2021-22 campaign with seven wins and a draw to their name in all competitions.

They are joint-top of the league and are three points better off than City, but Tuchel believes the reigning champions remain the side to beat if they are to finish top this term. 

"It's a six-pointer between two teams who are rivals for the top four or the best outcome possible," Tuchel said at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"Any team can, of course, steal three points from a direct competitor. Does it change anything? No, but there's no need to play it down.

"We could play a draw, though. Things will be tough and I mean that. They are the benchmark for many years now and I am very happy we're able to produce this kind of performance and result consistently. 

"We need to prove we can deliver with the same consistency. City remain the benchmark. We have to stay hungry and close the gap. This is what we have to do for 90 minutes. It's a marathon, not a sprint."

None of the last 12 Premier League meetings between Chelsea and City have been drawn, with the Blues winning five to their opponents' seven.

Another victory for Tuchel's men this weekend would move them six points clear of City, but Tuchel acknowledged the title race still has a long way to go regardless of Saturday's result.

"We are aware of the situation but I don't think it will provide any extra motivation for us," he said. "If it was three games before the end of the season, maybe.

"We need to be at our best, best level and that does not change. This is what I feel and it's what is important. 

"In the last three matches against them, we isolated the situation and if we wanted to compete with them in a 50/50 match, we needed out top level.

"It doesn't matter how many points we have and they have. Tomorrow against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, it's on. And we need to be fully on."

Tuchel added: "Let's be honest, if we win tomorrow we will not be champions and if City win tomorrow we will not be champions and we won't be in depression.

"It's an important match, a big match that we like to be involved in, and the situation we face this match is a good one because we feel ready for this kind of competition."

Tuchel confirmed he will be without Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount, the latter – who set up Havertz's winner in the Champions League final – sustaining a minor injury in the midweek EFL Cup penalty shoot-out win over Aston Villa.

"He is very disappointed and I didn't feel it during the last match because it was the second half and he played through the injury," Tuchel said.

"He finished the game, was confident to take an important penalty. So it was a surprise.The steps he is taking are huge. Maybe it was possible if the game was one day later. 

"So it's a minor injury but there is disappointment for him and us because he is a player that we count on. But no matter the importance, no matter how we rely on him, the task is to find solutions without him and bring him back as soon as possible."

Tuchel still has a number of other players to call upon in midfield and attack, yet arguably more intriguing will be the team opposite number Pep Guardiola fields.

The Catalan coach, often accused of overthinking his team selection in big matches, has failed to win all three encounters with Tuchel in English football.

Chelsea could become the first team to win four successive games against Guardiola in all competitions, though Tuchel has the utmost respect for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss.

Asked if he believes he is a better coach than Guardiola, Tuchel said: "This question does not even exist for me and I can't answer it. 

"It's a question for you guys and you can endlessly debate. I am a huge admirer for the impact he had from his first day of his professional coaching.

"The impact at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, he has my biggest respect. 

"There is not reason to ask myself if I am a better coach. I do the best I can, I am in a place I am very happy, and I am a better coach today than yesterday."

Mauricio Pochettino is hopeful over Lionel Messi's fitness ahead of next week's huge Champions League meeting against Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side beat PSG over two legs to progress to last season's Champions League final, before going down 1-0 to Chelsea in the showpiece match.

The two sides will meet again in the group stage on Tuesday - PSG having drawn their first match, at Club Brugge, while City defeated RB Leipzig 6-3.

It is a headline fixture of the group stages, with PSG's star-studded front line going up against the Premier League champions.

However, there is a fitness doubt over Messi, who was absent for PSG's dramatic 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Metz in midweek because of a knee injury.

Messi will also miss Saturday's Ligue 1 encounter with Montpellier, but Pochettino said it is too early to rule the 34-year-old out for the match against City.

"Leo has started to run today and as you have seen in the medical update we are going to assess him and we hope he improves," Pochettino told a news conference on Friday.

"On Sunday, we hope we will be able to give a positive update. We hope everything goes well and he will be available again.

"Yes, we hope he can play. We have to be cautious and we have to see how he evolves in the next few days."

Messi has played just three games since his stunning departure from Barca and has yet to find the net for PSG.

He hit the crossbar against Brugge and then also hit the woodwork with a long-range free-kick against Lyon on Sunday before he was substituted off.

Mauro Icardi scored a late winner against Lyon, and Pochettino has been delighted with the striker's form this season despite the former Inter man missing a chunk of games through injury.

"Mauro Icardi, he is player who contributed a lot until his injury," said Pochettino.

"He recovered and has made a big impact. He scored against Lyon and of course, he offers us an alternative in our attacking play."

Pep Guardiola hailed the quality of the Premier League as Manchester City prepare to visit fellow title contenders Chelsea with early ground to make up. 

City sit fifth in the table after they were surprisingly held to a goalless draw by Southampton last weekend, having already lost their opener to the new campaign away at Tottenham. 

After being shut out by Ralph Hasenhuttl's team at home, City have now failed to score twice in five top-flight games, as many as in their previous 30 in the competition. 

However, Guardiola preferred to focus on the quality of opposition this season as the title race already starts to take shape, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea all leading the way, the trio sitting three points ahead of the reigning champions. 

"Every year the second season is harder than the first one and the third and fourth," Guardiola told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference. 

"It is really tough, an incredible challenge for us. But we accept the challenge and we go for it. 

"It's a big compliment for the Premier League, for the fantastic, brilliant contenders, managers in all the clubs. 

"[There are] top quality players in every squad, 15-17 exceptional players. We have to be here and enjoy the Premier League in this country." 

Thomas Tuchel's side, who have recorded 15 Premier League clean sheets in 24 outings since the German's appointment, have won the last three meetings against City in all competitions. 

That run of results includes last season's Champions League final and also an FA Cup semi-final clash, with Guardiola now having lost more games against the Blues than any other team (eight). 

The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona head coach insists his side will not prepare any differently for the trip to Stamford Bridge, despite recent results between the sides. 

"We prepare the game like we prepare Southampton before and the previous games, try to read what they are and what we have done in recent games against Chelsea," he continued. 

"Every game is a new challenge, to improve and learn and be better. A final is completely different, the FA Cup was like a final, in the Premier League it was already done. 

"The Champions League was a massive game. We try to learn, it's one more game for the Premier League. Prepare the game from the points we have and improve what we have to be better." 

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