Barcelona need to add some attacking options to their squad, particularly with the Lionel Messi era now over.

Ferran Torres is among those on their wish list. 

Will Manchester City let him go? 

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA STILL COVET TORRES

Barcelona are not ready to give up on their pursuit of Manchester City forward Ferran Torres, the Sun reports.  

After being rebuffed in a previous overture for the 21-year-old Spain international, Barca are ready to try again next year.  

Torres has done them no favours with his impressive showing for Spain at Euro 2020, plus his in-form start to this season for City. 

 

ROUND-UP

Xavi could be in line to replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, Marca reports. The Barca legend is head coach at Al Sadd after finishing his playing career with the Qatari club.  

Liverpool plan to renew their pursuit of West Ham's Jarrod Bowen, the Liverpool Echo reports, after they reportedly bid £20million for him during the previous transfer window.  

Alexandre Lacazette will have no shortage of suitors when the time comes for him to depart Arsenal. Atletico Madrid are interested in the France striker, says Le10 Sport, while West Ham and Crystal Palace may also bid for the 30-year-old, according to 90min. 

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund and Norway sensation.

If Haaland leaves Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit have a replacement in mind.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND OUT, CHIESA IN AT BVB?

Borussia Dortmund see Juventus forward Federico Chiesa as a replacement for in-demand star Erling Haaland, according to Calciomercato.

Haaland is tipped to leave Dortmund at the end of the season amid links with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

Should Haaland depart, Dortmund are eyeing Juve and Italy star Chiesa, who has previously caught the attention of Chelsea and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Juve, Inter and Milan are interested in Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who has been linked with a January exit.

- A contract extension for Liverpool's Naby Keita is not as close as previously thought, claims Bild. It comes as Liverpool reportedly eye Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham.

Tottenham will make a January move for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato. The Serbia international forward has also been linked with City, Arsenal, Juve and Atletico Madrid.

Defending champions Manchester City will travel to West Ham in the EFL Cup fourth round, while Arsenal host Leeds United.

Pep Guardiola's men are in search of an unprecedented fifth successive triumph in the competition and they will face Hammers, who beat City's rivals Manchester United 1-0 in round three on Wednesday.

Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 victory over League One AFC Wimbledon and they take on Leeds at the Emirates Stadium next after Marcelo Bielsa's side edged past Fulham on penalties.

There are five all-Premier League ties in total, with Leicester City pitted against Brighton and Hove Albion after being defeated at the weekend in the top flight by Graham Potter's men.

European champions Chelsea needed penalties to sneak past Aston Villa and they will host Southampton, who also required spot-kicks to defeat Sheffield United.

Burnley crushed Rochdale 4-1, but a much tougher task awaits them as they face Tottenham after their shoot-out triumph over Nuno Espirito Santo's former club Wolves, while Brentford meet Stoke City away from home in the next round.

Liverpool make the trip to Deepdale to do battle with Championship side Preston North End, who demolished Cheltenham Town 4-1 on Tuesday.

There will be at least one non-top-flight side in the last-eight stage as Sunderland face Queens Park Rangers after Mark Warburton's men upset Everton.

The fourth-round clashes are set to take place during the week commencing October 25.

EFL Cup draw:

Chelsea v Southampton

Arsenal v Leeds United

Stoke City v Brentford

West Ham v Manchester City

Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion

Burnley v Tottenham

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland

Preston North End v Liverpool

France forward Anthony Martial's future at Manchester United is unclear.

The 25-year-old is struggling to fit into United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans.

Martial signed a five-year deal with United in 2019, meaning he is contracted until 2024.

TOP STORY – MARTIAL FREE TO LEAVE IN JANUARY

Martial will be free to leave United in the January transfer window with Barcelona an option, according to Eurosport.

Red Devils officials have given Martial's representatives the green light to explore his options, although he is understood to be willing to remain in the Premier League.

Cash-strapped Barcelona are willing to take a chance on Martial who has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford with Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival along with competition from Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani.

ROUND-UP

- Dean Henderson is pushing for a loan move away from United in January, according to The Sun. Henderson has lost the battle with David de Gea for the number one shirt at Old Trafford.

- TeamTalk claims Manchester City are keeping an eye on Real Sociedad's Spain international forward Mikel Oyarzabal.

- Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has set his sights on signing Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi in the January transfer window, reports the Daily Express.

- The Daily Star claims that there is a "special release clause" in Chelsea target Matthijs De Ligt 's contract with Juventus that becomes active in mid-2022.

United are monitoring Milan's Franck Kessie, who they see as a potential replacement for Paul Pogba, claims The Sun.

Pep Guardiola thanked Manchester City's academy after handing debuts to five youngsters in Tuesday's EFL Cup win over Wycombe Wanderers.

City, who have won the EFL Cup in each of the last four seasons, stormed to a 6-1 victory over their third-tier opposition at the Etihad Stadium.

Wycombe did take a shock lead through Brandon Hanlan, but Kevin De Bruyne's strike swiftly restored parity before Riyad Mahrez and the excellent Phil Foden put City in control.

Ferran Torres, Mahrez and substitute Cole Palmer – another academy graduate – got in on the act after the break.

All four of City's defenders were debutants, with each player born after the turn of the century, while holding midfielder Romeo Lavia was also making his senior bow.

Guardiola had said ahead of the tie he had no alternative but to call on City's youngsters, and he was not let down by what he saw.

"I am just going to say thank you very much to all the academy," he said.

"They have many good players, not just one or two. All of them are incredibly well-educated people. Thanks to their families. We have talented players. We can count on them absolutely."

With so much inexperience in the side, Foden – playing in midfield – was seen as an older head, despite being aged just 21.

Having had a delayed start to his campaign after sustaining an injury during Euro 2020, Foden clicked fully into gear with a hugely impressive display.

His goal was a venomous strike from long range that was too good for Wycombe goalkeeper David Stockdale, with the playmaker then providing the assist for Torres' goal having earlier teed up De Bruyne's leveller.

Foden had four attempts, while only Mahrez created as many chances (seven).

"Of course, definitely [impressed]," Guardiola said of Foden's display.

"Phil was injured for two months after the national team. Phil doesn't need many games to get his rhythm because he lives for football 24 hours a day. He is sharp."

De Bruyne also played the full 90 minutes, with Guardiola saying: "Kevin needs time for a proper pre-season. He was injured in the Champions League final and for the national team.

"He needs his rhythm to be fit. That's why it was so good for him to play 90 minutes today. Knowing he is not in the right condition. Now is the moment for Kevin to start to be ready.

"He has not been running back like he runs forward. Today he did it for the first time. He will be back because he is an incredible player."

Manchester City's much-changed side negotiated their way into the EFL Cup fourth round with a 6-1 win over Wycombe Wanderers.

As promised, Pep Guardiola called on City's academy on Tuesday, handing five players – including all four defenders – their debuts.

That inexperience proved a vulnerability when Brandon Hanlan gave third-tier Wycombe the lead 22 minutes in, though City's quality up front told as the hosts took control by half-time.

Kevin De Bruyne restored parity with a superb finish before Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden made life more comfortable for the holders.

Ferran Torres got in on the act and Mahrez grabbed a second to put the result beyond all doubt, with Cole Palmer's first senior goal adding further gloss.

City missed some presentable chances early on and were made to pay. Zack Steffen's weak punch from a corner fell to Ryan Tafazolli, who squared to the unmarked Hanlan to lash home.

Sparked into life, however, City hit straight back – De Bruyne finding the right-hand corner after cutting in from the left following Foden's pass.

A venomous Raheem Sterling effort cracked against the left-hand post as City clicked into gear, with the same upright then denying De Bruyne a second.

Yet Wycombe's luck ran out prior to half-time. Joshua Wilson-Esbrand capped off an impressive run by squaring for Mahrez to sweep home, before the power on Foden's strike did for Wycombe keeper David Stockdale.

Anthony Stewart tried his luck from range as Wycombe searched for a way back into the game, before Jordan Obita was denied by Steffen.

Any slender comeback hopes were swiftly ended, though, with Foden sliding across for Torres to tuck in from close range.

There was time for more – Mahrez helping himself to a second before substitute Palmer rounded off an emphatic win with a crisp finish.

Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 trip to Metz on Wednesday with a knee injury that also renders him doubtful for a reunion with Pep Guardiola next week.

The Argentina international sustained the problem during PSG's late 2-1 win against Lyon on Sunday as they made it six wins from six to begin their new league campaign.

Messi made his home debut in that match but was substituted off with the scores level, meaning he has yet to score in three appearances since joining from Barcelona last month.

PSG will not have Messi in their squad to face Metz at Stade Saint-Symphorien, with that game coming six days before a Champions League trip to Guardiola's Manchester City.

The French giants confirmed the injury blow in an injury update posted on their official website on Tuesday.

"Messi, following the blow received on his left knee, underwent an MRI which confirms the signs of bone contusion," the update read. "A new test will be carried out in 48 hours."

PSG also confirmed that Marco Verratti returned to training on Tuesday, while Sergio Ramos – yet to feature since joining from Real Madrid – is continuing to train individually.

Pochettino's decision to bring on Achraf Hakimi for Messi with his side chasing a goal against Lyon dominated all the talk after last weekend's contest.

Messi was involved in six shots (four attempts, two chances created) – only Kylian Mbappe against Clermont (seven) has managed better in a league game for PSG this term.

Pochettino insisted there were "no issues" with Messi when speaking after the game and has once again defended his decision to bring off the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"I understand the situation and accept it as it is," Pochettino said at a news conference on Tuesday previewing the clash with Metz.

"The priority is always the players and their well-being. We thought the best decision was to take him off. But of course, all champions want to be on the pitch all the time."

Asked to elaborate on Messi's injury, Pochettino said: "The club have already communicated that. During the match we saw he was checking his knee after being struck.

"When we saw that we made a decision. We were happy with his performance and I am happy with his commitment. He didn't score but was otherwise very good."

Mbappe had a quiet game against Lyon before assisting Mauro Icardi's late winner as he touched the ball just five times in the opposition box and failed to get a shot on target.

The Frenchman spearheaded a 4-2-3-1 formation that also included Messi, Neymar and Angel Di Maria in attack and Pochettino insists it will take time for system to work.

"We have to create these connections in training over time, not just in matches," Pochettino said. "We used a 4-2-3-1 against Lyon and that's not the same as we've used before.

"That's why I was happy with the team's performance. We were also organised in defence and recovered balls high up the pitch.

"Leo, Neymar and Di Maria know each other well and have already built a connection. Now we have to integrate Kylian into the side and that will take a while."

Mbappe is expected to start against Metz on Wednesday, an opponent he has either scored or assisted against in all five previous Ligue 1 encounters.

PSG also have a great record against Metz, having defeated them in 10 successive league fixtures in a run stretching back to August 2007.

Manchester United and Liverpool have been urged by Rio Ferdinand to consider rescuing Raheem Sterling from "the wilderness" at Manchester City.

Sterling has played a big part in helping City to three Premier League titles since arriving from Liverpool in 2015, but his playing time has reduced this season.

The England international, who was late returning for pre-season training after reaching the Euro 2020 final with his country, has started two of City's six matches this term in all competitions.

He was linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium during the close season at a time when Pep Guardiola's side were trying to bring in striker Harry Kane from Tottenham.

Barcelona are reported to be showing an interest in signing Sterling on loan in January, meanwhile, and fellow LaLiga giants Real Madrid have also been credited with an interest.

United great Ferdinand is unsure why Guardiola has not used Sterling more often of late and believes the 26-year-old will have plenty of suitors waiting should his situation not improve.

"Where is Raheem Sterling? He's lost confidence because he’s been taken out of the team," Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel.

"He was the go-to guy when they needed a goal, for so many years, and now all of a sudden he's in the wilderness. I'm baffled by it, I just don't understand. 

"With Pep, he gets things right more often than not, but with this one there must be clubs sitting there going, 'Let's see how this pans out because I would take Sterling all day!'

"If I'm Liverpool, I'd buy Sterling tomorrow... If I'm him, I wouldn't go to Barcelona or Real Madrid right now, that's why I said Liverpool. Man United will take him!"

Sterling finished as City's top scorer in the Premier League two seasons ago with 20 goals in 33 games, while his 10 goals last season were bettered only by Ilkay Gundogan (13).

Since Guardiola's first campaign at City in 2016-17, Sterling has been directly involved in 160 goals in all competitions – 104 goals of his own and 56 assists.

No City player has directly contributed to more goals across that period, while only 14 others in Europe's top five leagues can better that return, with Lionel Messi (309) leading the way.

Former Liverpool attacker Sterling has played just 265 minutes so far this season, however, with his only two starts coming in the two games City failed to score in, against Tottenham and Southampton.

Manchester City's academy players will get the chance to shine when the holders face Wycombe Wanderers in the EFL Cup.

The Premier League champions host third-tier Wycombe in the third round on Tuesday.

City head into the tie on the back of a frustrating goalless draw with Southampton, albeit they were fortunate to come away from that match with a point after a contentious VAR decision to overturn a Saints penalty.

Aymeric Laport, John Stones, Rodri and Oleksandr Zinchenko all missed the Southampton draw, and Guardiola suggested Ilkay Gundogan is also likely to sit out the tie against the Chairboys.

Guardiola has often used the early rounds of the competition to blood younger players, with the likes of Liam Delap, Tommy Doyle and Taylor Harwood-Bellis handed opportunities last season.

The latter two of that trio have now moved out on loan, though Guardiola said he will be turning to City's youth once again.

"I don't have any alternative… we are going to play a few young players," Guardiola told reporters.

"We have John, Aymeric, Oleks, Rodri and I think Gundogan – all of them injured. It's a good opportunity for the academy – that's why they are there."

It is not just injuries that Guardiola is being wary of, as he also looks to hand rests to players who have been ever-presents for City so far.

"Some players might rest for the games we have coming up ahead of us," said Guardiola, whose side take on title rivals Chelsea next weekend.

"Ruben [Dias] played all of the minutes so far and Joao [Cancelo] played all of the minutes, too, so I don't think they will be able to play in this game."

Tuesday's game will be the first meeting between City and Wycombe since April 1999, with Wanderers winning 2-1 at Maine Road on that occasion. On the same weekend, Guardiola was playing for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.

City have not been eliminated from this competition by a side from outside the Premier League since September 2008 against Brighton and Hove Albion and even when utilising the academy, it is unlikely that record will change.

Indeed, a side from either League One or League Two have never won an away game against the EFL Cup holders, while the last team from outside of the top flight to do so were Grimsby Town in 2001.

Could a Premier League switch be on the cards for Kingsley Coman?

Coman is reportedly disgruntled at Bayern Munich amid talks over a new contract.

Liverpool and Chelsea are believed to be ready to pounce.

 

TOP STORY – COMAN WANTED IN ENGLAND

Premier League giants Liverpool and Chelsea are monitoring Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman, according to The Mirror.

Coman is contracted to Bundesliga champions Bayern until 2023 but the Frenchman has been previously linked with Manchester United.

The 25-year-old is tipped to leave Bayern as clubs reportedly queue up.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona are dreaming of signing RB Leipzig's Dani Olmo, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and United midfielder Paul Pogba, who is out of contract at the end of the season. Haaland has been linked with United, Bayern, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. Pogba is also reportedly wanted by PSG, Madrid and Juve.

Paulo Dybala is close to signing a new contract at Serie A giants Juventus, reports TyC Sports.

- Tuttomercatoweb claims Roma are trying to prise Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach.

- Jaime Ojeda claims Bayern are among the teams interested in United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi.

Arsenal continued to recover after a dreadful start to the season with a successful trip to Burnley, but Manchester City dropped points at home to Southampton. 

City's failure to find the net was a welcome boost for Liverpool, who cruised past Crystal Palace thanks in part to Sadio Mane making Premier League history with his 100th goal for the Reds. 

Brentford became the 14th promoted side to accrue eight or more points after five games, and the first since Wolves, as they recorded a 2-0 win at Molineux in the early kick-off, while Norwich City remain stuck without a point to their name after going down 3-1 at home to Watford. 

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

Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace: Mane registers century as Reds gain early ground in title race

Liverpool headed into the weekend on an eight-match winning run against Palace in the Premier League and they extended that further with yet another success over the Eagles - only against Bolton have they had a longer winning streak (10 between 2007-2011.). 

Unsurprisingly, Mane and Mohamed Salah were both on the scoresheet, with the former becoming the 18th player to score 100 goals in all competitions for the Reds. His first-half finish also means the Senegal forward is the first individual in the Premier League era to score in nine consecutive matches against the same opponent. 

Mane had Salah to thank for his opener and the Egypt forward brought up his 134th goal involvement - which is 24 more than any other player since his debut under Jurgen Klopp - with his second-half strike. 

Naby Keita added the other goal, Liverpool's 16th from a corner in the league – the most by any top-flight side since the start of last season (including all three against Palace). 

Manchester City 0-0 Southampton: Champions held to unlikely draw

It took until the 90th minute for City's one and only attempt on target through Phil Foden, making it their lowest tally in a top-flight game since March 8, 2017 against Stoke City. 

This was City's first Premier League draw in 31 games, dating back to December 2020 as Raheem Sterling became the ninth player – and second Englishman after Joe Hart – to bring up 200 appearances for Pep Guardiola's side in the competition. 

In James Ward-Prowse's 100th consecutive appearance in the division, Southampton will have been delighted to collect just a second point from their past 11 visits to the Etihad Stadium, with this a first clean sheet there since 2003. 

However, the Saints are now winless in seven league games, including drawing four in a row for the first time since March 2002. 

Burnley 0-1 Arsenal: Clarets continue torrid run against resurgent Gunners

'1-0 to the Arsenal' used to ring around Highbury and Mikel Arteta's current crop are following that lead, with this result making it consecutive 1-0 league wins for the first time since December 2014. 

Martin Odegaard's direct free-kick, the 40th scored by 17 different Arsenal players in the Premier League, proved the difference as Sean Dyche's side failed to beat Saturday's opponents for a 10th consecutive league meeting. 

The Clarets attempted shots through 11 different players – only against Wolves in 2010 have they had more (12) - but still failed to avoid reaching 13 league games without a win at Turf Moor. 

Aaron Ramsdale maintained his run of clean sheets with a third in a row in his first three appearances for the Gunners, making him the first Arsenal goalkeeper to do so since Wojciech Szczesny in 2009-10.

Aston Villa 3-0 Everton: Substitute Bailey shines as Begovic struggles

Leon Bailey appeared as a second-half substitute, scored and was then brought off 21 minutes after his introduction as Aston Villa downed Everton, in the process extending their Villa Park unbeaten run in the league to five games – their longest such run since January 2015. 

Matthew Cash was also on target for a first goal in his 33rd Premier League appearance, while Lucas Digne netted his third own goal, the most of any player since his arrival at Everton ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. 

All three goals games came after half-time as Villa recorded their biggest win over the Toffees in all competitions since 2005. 

Asmir Begovic was granted his first Premier League appearance in 896 days but the goalkeeper has now conceded 22 goals in seven appearances since his last clean sheet. 

Pep Guardiola felt "guilty" that Manchester City misfired against Southampton but stressed it was not because they failed to sign a new striker. 

The Premier League champions were held to a goalless draw by Saints at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and only registered one shot on target, that attempt coming from Phil Foden in the 90th minute. 

Guardiola had infuriated some supporters by calling on more to turn up for the top-flight clash after a crowd of 38,062 attended the 6-3 Champions League thumping of RB Leipzig in midweek. 

There were 52,698 watching the stalemate against Southampton and Guardiola felt responsible as City were unable to put on a show. 

"[The fans] come to see a show, to see a game. When it doesn't happen I feel a bit guilty because we didn't play good,” he told the media. 

Guardiola reiterated that he was not being critical of fans following the rout of Leipzig. 

"I didn't say anything wrong after the Leipzig match," the Spaniard added. "I said we need support from our fans. I never complained about how many come or don't come. I've never done this in my life. 

"I am grateful for 100 people, 85 people extra in the stadium. I thank them for coming. Of course they were awesome especially in the last minute when we pushed more. It was difficult to ask them to get right behind us when we are not good or we have lost." 

City were linked with Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo during the transfer window after Sergio Aguero moved on, but they did not add to their forward line. 

Guardiola, who had Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling in the starting line-up, refused to put a frustrating result against Ralph Hasenhuttl's side down to their inability to land a striker. 

"Today we didn't not win because we didn't have a centre forward," Guardiola said. 

"We didn't win because our process in the build-up was wrong or the better balls for players up front were not good. When they are good, they can run, arrive in other positions. 

"That (a lack of a striker) is not the reason. The reason is because we didn't do our process from our back four and Fernandinho. The five guys who have to bring the ball to the other players were not good today." 

City were relieved when a second-half penalty awarded against Kyle Walker was overturned, ensuring the England defender stayed on the field after he was initially shown a red card. 

Sterling had a late goal disallowed for offside as City slipped up, leaving them three points behind leaders Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola felt Manchester City were simply not good enough to beat Southampton in a controversial goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium.

The champions could only muster one attempt on target - from Phil Foden in the 90th minute - in a frustrating stalemate, their lowest tally in a Premier League match since March 2017.

City were relieved when a second-half penalty awarded against Kyle Walker was overturned, ensuring the England defender stayed on the field after being shown a red card.

Raheem Sterling had a late goal disallowed for offside as City slipped up, after Guardiola had called for a big turnout from fans following a 6-3 Champions League thrashing of RB Leipzig in midweek.

The City boss made it clear his side did not do enough to secure all three points.

He told Sky Sports: "We drew a game against a good opponent that defended really well. They have very good players in the middle like [Oriol] Romeu, one of the best midfield players in the Premier League.

"It was a tight game, we were not comfortable in our build-up and lost more balls than usual and we created a feeling that was not good, that's why we struggled."

Guardiola added: "Every game is completely different. all the time when you play Champions League, the game after is difficult, especially with this opponent.

"We didn't have this pace, calm and precision with the ball like we normally have and that's why we struggled."

Guardiola said he did not have a clear view of either of the incidents that resulted in huge calls following VAR checks.

"I didn't watch both, not even now in the locker room. The penalty was maybe disallowed because it was not a penalty and the goal because it's no goal." the Spaniard said.

Manchester City scraped a controversial goalless draw at home to Southampton on Saturday at the end of a difficult week for manager Pep Guardiola.

The Premier League champions were far less impressive against Saints than they had been in beating RB Leipzig 6-3 in midweek – a victory that was overshadowed by Guardiola's post-match comments.

The Catalan coach upset fans by appearing to question the attendance for another big home triumph, urging "all our people to come" for a clash against "so, so dangerous" Southampton.

Guardiola later insisted his comments about fans had been misinterpreted, but Southampton certainly lived up to his pre-match lofty billing and were left disappointed to head home with only a point after a second-half penalty awarded against Kyle Walker was overturned – albeit Raheem Sterling also had a late goal struck off.

Chances were few and far between up until the penalty incident, although Che Adams dragged wide as pressure built on the City goal.

It appeared as though Southampton would have a huge opportunity to win at the Etihad Stadium for the first time since 2004 when Walker barged Adam Armstrong to the ground and was shown a red card on the hour mark.

But referee Jon Moss was called to the pitchside monitor and ruled in City's favour, giving Walker an unlikely reprieve.

City were well supported throughout – despite the empty seats clearly visible in the stands – but could not capitalise on their narrow escape, even with Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden introduced from the bench.

Sterling did appear to have stolen victory as he turned in the rebound when Alex McCarthy got down to Foden's 90th-minute header, yet another VAR review found the England forward just offside.

Pep Guardiola stood by the comments he made about Manchester City's support after the win over RB Leipzig, despite facing criticism from a fan group.

City beat Leipzig 6-3 in their Champions League opener on Wednesday, yet the Etihad Stadium was far from full.

Guardiola said afterwards that he hoped fans would come and back the team in their next outing, against Southampton on Saturday.

This led to anger from City's official supporters' club, whose general secretary Kevin Parker told Sky Sports: "[What he said] did surprise me. I'm not sure what that's got to do with him.

"He's absolutely the best coach in the world but, in the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that."

The subject was broached again in Friday's pre-match news conference, and a spiky Guardiola said: "Did I say after the game against Leipzig that I was disappointed because the stadium was not full?

"An interpretation is an interpretation, I am not going to apologise for what I said. I am surprised. It is not the first time I have said it in my career. When you play a game like in the Champions League, so tough like it was, with three days with a lack of preparation, and Southampton have had a full week, we know how difficult it will be.

"So to make an approach to do something together again the next Saturday. What I said is we would love, we need the support, of 10,000 people, 40,000 people, 50,000 people, it doesn't matter how many people come. But I invite them to enjoy another game because we need their support.

"After five seasons, if people can't understand my behaviour about the fans, it's because they want to misunderstand what I said. I'm not going to apologise for a second.

"We would be incredibly happy for you to come against Southampton because I know how difficult it will be and I prefer it to be with the people than without the people. But if they don't come for whatever reason, it is perfect, I never say why you didn't come. If you don't come, don't come. So I will not apologise, absolutely not."

It was a subject Guardiola seemed unwilling to drop, even when asked how satisfied he was with so many different players getting on the scoresheet so far this term.

"When we lose a game, it will be said that we need a striker. What we have to do is to try to play better, to do it in another way," he said.

"We know we don't have a player who scores 25 goals, we don't have this player with this quality so we have to do it as a team. It is important that everyone is involved. We are going to try and do it again against a really tough opponent.

"[Southampton] played against [Manchester] United at home really well, United was lucky. And some of the toughest games we had last season. At home we won 5-2 in the end, but in the first 30 minutes they were the team that created more problems. They were so brilliant, incredible and I know Ralph [Hasenhuttl] from when he was in Germany and it will be a similar game as against Leipzig.

"They are clear with what they have to do. With a lack of rest, playing Champions League is so demanding. They have had a long week to prepare the game and that's why we need everyone to help us to do our best, and I know our fans will be there tomorrow to support us and hopefully Mr Parker will be there to watch us."

Southampton drew 1-1 with United last month but have yet to win a Premier League game this season, picking up three points in four games so far.

Guardiola went on to insist he is happy with the support his City team have received during his time at the club.

"We are who we are, we are proud about who we are," he said. "I know the history, I learned the history about how in the lower divisions and what it means to travel and support the team. I respect it a lot.

"I don't want to be like United, like Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern, Madrid, all the big clubs. We are who we are, I like it. Don't put words in my mouth, I don't like that. I never have a problem with the fans, I am one of them since day one. I like to play in the stadium with my fans.

"I was incredibly happy after Leipzig, I saw how exhausted my team were and I was thinking in that moment of Southampton, in three days, and I said, 'Come to join us guys, come to do it together', because I know how difficult it will be. This is my message.

"If guys want to misunderstand the situation or my comments, this is the problem, but I'm here to defend what I said. If I make mistakes, I will say, 'Sorry guys, I apologise'. In this case, I will not apologise for exactly what I said and my intentions. I know who we are, and the team and I like the fans that we have."

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