Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe – the two parties have long been tipped to come together.

Mbappe is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain in 2022 and no closer to renewing his deal.

Madrid are reportedly moving closer to prising the France international to the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE POISED FOR MADRID MOVE?

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is edging closer to joining LaLiga giants Real Madrid, according to Diario AS.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap PSG for Madrid, though the Ligue 1 holds continue to try to re-sign the World Cup-winning forward.

PSG's Mbappe is determined to win the Champions League as he eyes the Santiago Bernabeu.


 

ROUND-UP

- Le Parisien, though, claims PSG are holding out hope on teaming Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi with Mbappe and Neymar in Paris. Messi is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and he has been linked with PSG and Manchester City. Neymar has also been linked with a Barca return. However, Le Parisien reports PSG are prioritising a move for Messi while trying to retain Neymar and Mbappe.

Lautaro Martinez is on the verge of signing a new contract with Serie A champions Inter, says Gazzetta dello Sport. The Inter forward has been linked with Barca previously.

- Tuttosport reports star Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is a primary transfer target for Serie A rivals Juventus. Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season and the Italy international has not agreed fresh terms with Milan.

Borussia Dortmund will ask for less than €100million (£86m) to sell Jadon Sancho amid interest from United, Chelsea and Liverpool, says Fabrizio Romano.

- The Mirror says Liverpool are eyeing Roma star Lorenzo Pellegrini as incoming Giallorossi boss Jose Mourinho looks to overhaul the squad in the Italian capital. The front page of Thursday's Gazzetto dello Sport, meanwhile, claims Mourinho is looking to bring Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic and Madrid's Isco to Roma.

- Soon-to-be free agent and City star Sergio Aguero is dreaming of a Barcelona move, according to Romano. InterTottenham and Chelsea have also emerged as options for the veteran forward.

Maurizio Sarri is a candidate to take charge of Milan if Stefano Pioli fails to guide the Rossoneri into the Champions League, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. Sarri was reportedly set to join Roma before Mourinho's appointment.

- Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli and Mikel Merino of Real Sociedad are on Barca's shortlist to replace Sergio Busquets, reports Mundo Deportivo.

The Premier League has confirmed away fans will not be allowed to attend fixtures staged in the final two rounds of the 2020-21 season.

With a further relaxing of coronavirus restrictions scheduled in the United Kingdom on May 17, up to 10,000 supporters will be allowed inside grounds to watch games again.

The penultimate set of top-flight fixtures had been pushed back to midweek dates as a result, thereby making sure all clubs have one home outing under the new guidelines.

However, visiting fans will not be permitted inside the stadiums, a decision taken to make sure there is consistency across the board for all 20 teams.

"The Premier League last week confirmed fixtures have been rescheduled to provide an opportunity for each club to host one home game with supporters before the end of the season," a statement from the governing body said.

"Match round 37 will now be played on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 May with the final matches of the season kicking off at 16:00 BST on Sunday 23 May, as planned.

"Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance.

"The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.

"Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021-22 season."

Three years ago, Harry Kane said he wanted to win trophies at Tottenham otherwise he may have to leave.

Spurs have not won any silverware since, however, prompting speculation the England striker may have move on to fulfil his ambition elsewhere.

Kane is contracted to the Premier League club until 2024 but they are set to miss out on Champions League football again.


TOP STORY - RED DEVILS PLOT STUNNING KANE BID

The Sun reports that Manchester United are set to table a £90million bid for Kane after approval from the Glazers to appease their recent fan fury.

The move would be a stunning development, but Kane is understood to be interested in joining the Red Devils.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy does not want to sell Kane to a rival, although he may be backed into a corner financially in order to re-build the squad.


ROUND-UP

- With West Brom doomed for relegation, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is hot property with Manchester United joining the race for his signature, alongside Tottenham and West Ham, according to ESPN. The Telegraph claims West Brom have slapped a £20m price tag on him.

- Chelsea have entered the pursuit for Jadon Sancho, joining Manchester United and Liverpool after Borussia Dortmund lowered their asking price, says Bild.

- Real Madrid are monitoring the status of out-of-favour Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, according to Football Insider.

- Everton head coach Carlo Ancelotti is keen to lure on-loan Tottenham forward Gareth Bale to the club as the Welshman's future at Real Madrid remains uncertain, claims El Chiringuito.

- Dutch winger Noa Lang is being tracked by Leeds United, reports The Telegraph.

In December 2018, Manchester United fans were adamant that Jose Mourinho's sacking meant he was finished at the "top" in club football.

A drab style of play, a similarly joyless demeanour in news conferences and seemingly incessant desire to belittle his own players marred his time in Manchester.

Disagreements with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were hardly private, while his relationship with Marcus Rashford appeared uneasy at times as well.

Tottenham paid no mind to the issues – whether that was down to Daniel Levy being convinced Mourinho wasn't finished yet or if he just wanted an entertaining figurehead for his Amazon documentary, who knows. Suffice to say, it ended prematurely on April 19 when Spurs announced his dismissal.

That was two successive high-profile jobs in club management that have, at the end of the day, yielded little – even if Mourinho insists finishing second with Manchester United was one of his greatest achievements.

It left many pondering what might be next. Given the damage to his reputation and the managerial stability of most of the biggest clubs in Europe, international management with Portugal after the Euros seemed the likeliest destination.

Yet here we are: just a few weeks on from being dismissed, he's got himself a new job lined up for next season when he will replace compatriot Paulo Fonseca at Roma. Mourinho's going back to Italy, the setting of arguably his greatest achievement in football: Inter's 2009-10 treble.

But football has changed a lot in the 11 years since then – on the evidence of his time at Tottenham and Manchester United, Mourinho hasn't.

A look at his data in the Premier League since last winning it in 2015 with Chelsea shows real decline.

A failure to evolve

Let's not forget, during Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea boss he was regarded as the best coach in the world at times. Even initially in his second period at Stamford Bridge he did well, taking them to the 2014-15 Premier League trophy.

But things quickly unravelled in 2015, and it's difficult to claim he's been on anything other than a downward spiral ever since.

He was sacked by Chelsea after winning just four games from 16 at the start of the 2015-16 season, and although he did preside over United's best season – points wise – since Ferguson's retirement, he didn't leave much of a legacy at Old Trafford.

Mourinho was then tasked with ending Spurs' 11-year trophy drought. That has since stretched to 13 years, and he left Tottenham having won just 46.6 per cent of his league games in charge.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

But why?

There are numerous theories about Mourinho's demise, but arguably chief among them is the idea he has failed to evolve with modern football, focusing on negating the threats of opponents rather than using the attacking talents available to him to take the initiative.

This fear was reportedly one reason for Spurs players apparently growing frustrated with Mourinho, and the data backs up the idea Mourinho is less forward thinking than earlier in his career, with his teams averaging 1.6 goals per game since 2014-15 finished, as opposed to 1.8 beforehand.

While not a massive difference, that change is exacerbated by the fact Mourinho no longer appears to be the shrewd pragmatic innovator he was once regarded, with his teams in the past few years rather porous.

Again, since 2015-16 started, Mourinho's teams have been conceding at a rate of 1.1 per game, whereas previously they conceded just 0.6 goals every 90 minutes.

Mourinho's teams were once tireless competitors built on a solid foundation – that no longer appears to be the case.

Spurs letting it slip

Perhaps it was expected Mourinho would at least get until the end of the season with Spurs, but with Champions League qualification looking increasingly unlikely, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Levy acted when he did.

In terms of the reasoning for his sacking, there's probably not much more to it – but if we delve a little further into the numbers, unsettling trends appear.

Granted, the 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, that had essentially been his unique selling point for years, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it's the worst season he's ever had in that regard and he didn't even see it all the way through.

Similarly, the 10 Premier League losses Spurs suffered is a career worst for Mourinho in a single season.

The frequency of defeats led to questions being routinely asked of Spurs' mentality throughout Mourinho's time there, with the 27 points they dropped from winning positions in the Premier League since his initial appointment being behind only Southampton (30) and Brighton and Hove Albion (31) before he was dismissed.

But it makes for even grimmer viewing when looking at this season alone as the 20 points they threw away was the joint-worst in the division at the time of his sacking.

Spurs were particularly concerning when it came to closing games out, losing 11 points to goals conceded after the 80th minute. It's no wonder their collective mental strength had been called into question so often.

While the fact he didn't collect more points per game than Tim Sherwood (1.91) might attract ridicule on social media, the latter's record is actually the best of any Spurs boss to preside over more than 10 Premier League games at the club.

More importantly, Mourinho's 1.64 points per game was a significant drop-off on Pochettino's (1.89), and therein lies a key issue.

Roma have been struggling to meet the expectations of a demanding fanbase for years, a situation not too disimiliar to Spurs.

He couldn't do the business in London – Roma will hope Mourinho's pragmatism can still stake a claim for relevance in Serie A.

In December 2018, Manchester United fans were adamant that Jose Mourinho's sacking meant he was finished at the "top" in club football.

A drab style of play, a similarly joyless demeanour in news conferences and seemingly incessant desire to belittle his own players marred his time in Manchester.

Disagreements with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial were hardly private, while his relationship with Marcus Rashford appeared uneasy at times as well.

Tottenham paid no mind to the issues – whether that was down to Daniel Levy being convinced Mourinho wasn't finished yet or if he just wanted an entertaining figurehead for his Amazon documentary, who knows. Suffice to say, it ended prematurely on April 19 when Spurs announced his dismissal.

That was two successive high-profile jobs in club management that have, at the end of the day, yielded little – even if Mourinho insists finishing second with Manchester United was one of his greatest achievements.

It left many pondering what might be next. Given the damage to his reputation and the managerial stability of most of the biggest clubs in Europe, international management with Portugal after the Euros seemed the likeliest destination.

Yet here we are: just a few weeks on from being dismissed, he's got himself a new job lined up for next season when he will replace compatriot Paulo Fonseca at Roma. Mourinho's going back to Italy, the setting of arguably his greatest achievement in football: Inter's 2009-10 treble.

But football has changed a lot in the 11 years since then – on the evidence of his time at Tottenham and Manchester United, Mourinho hasn't.

A look at his data in the Premier League since last winning it in 2015 with Chelsea shows real decline.

A failure to evolve

Let's not forget, during Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea boss he was regarded as the best coach in the world at times. Even initially in his second period at Stamford Bridge he did well, taking them to the 2014-15 Premier League trophy.

But things quickly unravelled in 2015, and it's difficult to claim he's been on anything other than a downward spiral ever since.

He was sacked by Chelsea after winning just four games from 16 at the start of the 2015-16 season, and although he did preside over United's best season – points wise – since Ferguson's retirement, he didn't leave much of a legacy at Old Trafford.

Mourinho was then tasked with ending Spurs' 11-year trophy drought. That has since stretched to 13 years, and he left Tottenham having won just 46.6 per cent of his league games in charge.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

But why?

There are numerous theories about Mourinho's demise, but arguably chief among them is the idea he has failed to evolve with modern football, focusing on negating the threats of opponents rather than using the attacking talents available to him to take the initiative.

This fear was reportedly one reason for Spurs players apparently growing frustrated with Mourinho, and the data backs up the idea Mourinho is less forward thinking than earlier in his career, with his teams averaging 1.6 goals per game since 2014-15 finished, as opposed to 1.8 beforehand.

While not a massive difference, that change is exacerbated by the fact Mourinho no longer appears to be the shrewd pragmatic innovator he was once regarded, with his teams in the past few years rather porous.

Again, since 2015-16 started, Mourinho's teams have been conceding at a rate of 1.1 per game, whereas previously they conceded just 0.6 goals every 90 minutes.

Mourinho's teams were once tireless competitors built on a solid foundation – that no longer appears to be the case.

Spurs letting it slip

Perhaps it was expected Mourinho would at least get until the end of the season with Spurs, but with Champions League qualification looking increasingly unlikely, maybe we shouldn't be surprised that Levy acted when he did.

In terms of the reasoning for his sacking, there's probably not much more to it – but if we delve a little further into the numbers, unsettling trends appear.

Granted, the 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, that had essentially been his unique selling point for years, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it's the worst season he's ever had in that regard and he didn't even see it all the way through.

Similarly, the 10 Premier League losses Spurs suffered is a career worst for Mourinho in a single season.

The frequency of defeats led to questions being routinely asked of Spurs' mentality throughout Mourinho's time there, with the 27 points they dropped from winning positions in the Premier League since his initial appointment being behind only Southampton (30) and Brighton and Hove Albion (31) before he was dismissed.

But it makes for even grimmer viewing when looking at this season alone as the 20 points they threw away was the joint-worst in the division at the time of his sacking.

Spurs were particularly concerning when it came to closing games out, losing 11 points to goals conceded after the 80th minute. It's no wonder their collective mental strength had been called into question so often.

While the fact he didn't collect more points per game than Tim Sherwood (1.91) might attract ridicule on social media, the latter's record is actually the best of any Spurs boss to preside over more than 10 Premier League games at the club.

More importantly, Mourinho's 1.64 points per game was a significant drop-off on Pochettino's (1.89), and therein lies a key issue.

Roma have been struggling to meet the expectations of a demanding fanbase for years, a situation not too disimiliar to Spurs.

He couldn't do the business in London – Roma will hope Mourinho's pragmatism can still stake a claim for relevance in Serie A.

Jose Mourinho will be back in management next season after landing a three-year deal at Roma just 15 days after being sacked by Tottenham.

The Portuguese will take the helm at Roma for the 2021-22 campaign after the Serie A club announced the 58-year-old as Paulo Fonseca's replacement. 

It will be the next chapter in a career that has yielded major silverware across Europe, but one that has taken a notable downturn after a trophy-less spell at Spurs.

The cracks had already started to show for Mourinho prior to his Spurs exit on April 19, which came following a series of comments from the former Inter boss that hinted at significant unrest at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Here is a selection of the quotes which capture the Special One's descent into ignominy, a fate Mourinho will be desperate to avoid in the Eternal City as he seeks to recapture his glory days. 

 

SAME COACH, DIFFERENT PLAYERS

After Spurs stayed painfully true to form and surrendered a 2-1 lead to draw 2-2 with lowly Newcastle United, Mourinho promptly laid the blame at the feet of his players.

When it was put to him that his teams are normally good at holding onto leads, he said: "Same coach, different players."

YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO FEED YOUR KIDS

In one of the more bizarre post-match media conferences, Mourinho started ranting about the importance of feeding your kids.

It was after Spurs had lost 3-1 to Manchester United, with Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer criticising Son Heung-min for what he considered a bit of play acting.

The Norwegian said if his child had behaved like that, he would have deprived them of their food. It was, evidently, a joke.

Mourinho addressed this, entirely unprompted, but for him it was no laughing matter.

"It is very, very sad," he said. "I think it's really sad that you don't ask me about it. It's really sad that you don't have the moral honesty to treat me the same way you treat others.

"I just want to say, Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better person than Ole, because I think a father – I am a father – you have always to feed your kids, it doesn't matter what they do.

"If you have to steal to feed your kids, you steal. I am very, very disappointed, and like we say in Portugal bread is bread and cheese is cheese, I told Ole already what I think about his comments."

IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, OR IS IT?

Modesty appears to be an alien concept to Mourinho, who had no hesitation in comparing himself to NASA scientists.

Addressing the seemingly justified criticism he was receiving in light of Spurs' underwhelming campaign, the Portuguese went on the defensive.

"I don't think anybody is going to discuss rocket science with the guys from NASA, with everybody around the world," he said.

"They think they can discuss football with one of the most important managers in the game. That's the beauty of football.

"I got used to it, I appreciate that, so that's fine for me."

MOURINISTAS LOVE ME

The criticism never seemed to leave Mourinho too disheartened, such is the strength of his conviction that he has an army of loyal followers.

He calls them 'Mourinistas', and they are the source of his strength.

He said: "Honestly, I get my strength from myself but mainly from the people that I love and the people who I know they love me, even if many of them I don't know them, I haven't met them.

"I used to call them the 'Mourinistas', because in Portugal we use 'ista' in the end of the name of the club that we love, to express the support."

BALE SAGA

Gareth Bale's signing on loan from Real Madrid gave Spurs fans hope of a genuine title challenge, but that too proved a false dawn.

There were many hints that all was not well with Bale's second coming at Spurs, with Mourinho left fuming by an Instagram post in which the Wales star had suggested he had been involved in full training, despite the head coach insisting he was not fit.

"There was a contradiction between the post and the reality," said Mourinho.

SORROW SHOWS AFTER DINAMO BLOW

It wasn't all strength and defiance, though, as was evident after the shock Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb.

"To say I feel sad is not enough," he lamented. "What I feel is much more than sadness."

INDIVIDUAL MISTAKES

Going back to January, the willingness to turn on his own players was clear for all to see.

After a 1-1 draw with struggling Fulham, Mourinho saw "individual mistakes", though he did not confess that any were his own.

"There are things that are individual, that are down to individual qualities and individual mistakes," he said. "Basically I cannot say much more than that."

DIER DISAGREEMENT

After Eric Dier sat out Spurs' 2-0 win over West Brom in February, Mourinho said the England international was suffering a crisis of confidence.

However, in an open show of dissent, Dier insisted: "Confidence-wise, I don't feel like I've been in a bad place all season."

Jose Mourinho will join Roma as head coach for the 2021-22 season, the Serie A club have announced.

The news came on the same day the club announced Paulo Fonseca would leave his position as coach at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Mourinho was dismissed by Premier League side Tottenham on April 19 after a disappointing 17 months in charge.

He said last week he would wait for a club with the "right culture" to resume his managerial career.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea boss previously coached in Serie A with Inter between 2008 and 2010.

He guided the Nerazzurri to two Scudettos and a Champions League triumph during his time at San Siro.

"Thank you to the Friedkin family for choosing me to lead this great club and to be part of their vision," Mourinho told the club's official website.

"After meetings with the ownership and Tiago Pinto, I immediately understood the full extent of their ambitions for Roma. It is the same ambition and drive that has always motivated me and together we want to build a winning project over the upcoming years.

"The incredible passion of the Roma fans convinced me to accept the job and I cannot wait to start next season.

"In the meantime, I wish Paulo Fonseca all the best and I hope the media appreciate that I will only speak further in due course. Daje Roma!"

Jose Mourinho will join Roma as head coach for the 2021-22 season, the Serie A club have announced.

Tottenham defender Eric Dier has questioned the "unfair" criticism he has received since shifting to centre-back but accepts he can still improve in that position.

The England international, formerly deployed in holding midfield, was dropped towards the end of Jose Mourinho's tenure for what the ex-Spurs boss put down to "a lack of confidence" following some high-profile errors.

Dier returned to the side for Mourinho's final two games in charge, however, and has retained his place in the heart of defence for interim manager Ryan Mason's first three games, including the EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City.

He impressed in Sunday's 4-0 win over Sheffield United by making more clearances (five) than any player on the field, while he was involved in four times as many aerial duels (eight) as any other Spurs player, 75 per cent of which he won.

After looking more commanding since being recalled to the starting line-up, Dier feels that he has been harshly judged in the past.

Asked if Tottenham fans have seen the best of him since moving into a deeper position, Dier said: "I think they've seen it in periods. I've got mixed emotions towards it really. 

"At times, I feel like it's a bit unfair and a bit – I'm trying to think of the right words – sometimes I've made a mistake or something has led to a goal and one mistake is talked about like it's four or five.

"I've felt that at times. As defenders, you're always going to make mistakes at times and the most important thing is how you react to them."

While Dier has not made any errors that directly resulted in a goal this term, he has conceded two penalties in the Premier League, the joint-most in the division.

This is likely partly to blame for criticism of Dier, though he has also proven himself ready to put his body on the line for Spurs.

Dier has made an average of 1.1 blocks per 90 minutes in the Premier League this term, with only Japhet Tanganga averaging more among Tottenham players – but he has only featured four times.

The 27-year-old's tackle-success rate of 65 per cent is similarly high in the context of the Spurs squad, with Moussa Sissoko (72.7 per cent) and Giovani Lo Celso (81.8 per cent) the only individuals to have made more than four appearances to post a better record.

"I'm really happy to have played the last few matches. I've felt good in those games. I want to be playing, I want to be performing to a level I know I can," Dier added.

"I think I had a very good first six months and it dropped a little bit for a few games, but I feel like I've been back to a good place for a couple of months now.

"I believe I can still perform to a much higher level. I'm happy to be playing, obviously, and I've just got to keep working hard and improving."

Gareth Bale's future is uncertain as his loan spell at Tottenham from Real Madrid draws to an end.

Bale has said he intends to return to Madrid for the final year of his contract.

Spurs' interest in keeping the Wales star beyond this season is not clear as they are in the market for a new head coach after Jose Mourinho's dismissal.

 

TOP STORY – NEW SPURS BOSS TO DECIDE ON BALE

The Daily Mail reports that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will let the club's new head coach decide whether or not to re-sign Bale.

The option remains for a second loan deal for the Welshman to re-join Spurs from Madrid next season.

Spurs have first option on a second loan but they would require Bale's agreement, although he appears out of favour in Madrid.

Triggering the clause will cost Tottenham £12million.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Dortmund's asking price for Jadon Sancho is down to £87m (€100m) according to ESPN, which may interest Manchester United and Liverpool. Dortmund previously demanded more than £100m (€115m) for the England midfielder.

- Arsenal are interested in signing Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara, with a five-year deal on the table, according to Football Insider.

- The Athletic claims Brentford striker Ivan Toney is drawing interest from Leicester City and Everton as well as a "host of clubs" preparing bids for his services.

- Newcastle United are considering a move for Vitesse defender Danilho Doekhi, reports De Telegraaf.

- Bayer Leverkusen are in the mix to sign Santos' teenage forward Kaio Jorge, claims Kicker.

It was another Premier League weekend where off-the-pitch (well, sort of) matters dominated the headlines, with Manchester United's home game against Liverpool postponed as a result of anti-Glazer protests.

That also meant Pep Guardiola had to put the Cava back on ice for another week, with Manchester City's title celebrations on hold.

Nevertheless, there was still plenty to keep us occupied, with Mike Dean adding another to his red card haul for the campaign and Gareth Bale proving he can cut it against the best with a hat-trick against *checks notes* relegated Sheffield United.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches…

 

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City: Guardiola's men unrivalled going forward

City and Guardiola being rather good is nothing new, but in terms of how effective they are going forward, you may not know how much better than everyone else they really are.

During Saturday's 2-0 win at Crystal Palace, which put them within one win of the title, City reached 700 goals under Guardiola across all competitions.

To put that into context, over the same period Liverpool have scored the second most among English clubs – 543. Then it's Tottenham (532) and – perhaps surprisingly so – Arsenal (522).

The only club among Europe's top five leagues to have outscored City over this time is Paris Saint-Germain (712), a club that spent roughly €400million on just two forwards back in 2017 and have – for the most part – dominated Ligue 1.

Of the 700, Sergio Aguero – who scored against Palace – has the most with 122, followed by Raheem Sterling (102) and Gabriel Jesus (81).

 

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Tuchel has Blues switched on at the back

Ever since Thomas Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard in January, Chelsea have been better almost across the board.

Arguably their greatest improvement has been at the back, where suddenly the Blues look incredibly strong despite Tuchel having the same pool of players to pick from as Lampard.

Under the former England international they had conceded 23 goals in 19 Premier League games this term, but they've let in just eight in 15 with Tuchel at the helm.

People might be keen to suggest it's just luck, but the fact the Blues' xGA (expected goals against) is 7.8 shows their eight concessions is bang on.

Granted, Lampard's xGA figure of 18.4 was a fair bit lower than the 23 let in, so they were perhaps conceding to particularly remarkable finishing.

Nevertheless, the xGA per game of the two coaches are significantly different: Tuchel's 0.5 is exactly half Lampard's 1.0, but why? What's changed?

One potential explanation is that Tuchel has Chelsea pressing more intensely from the front, as shown by PPDA data. PPDA is the number of opposition passes allowed outside of the pressing team's own defensive third, divided by the number of defensive actions by the pressing team outside of their own defensive third.

Under Lampard they had a PPDA of 11, whereas it's 9.4 under Tuchel, the lowest in the Premier League over that time. Chelsea are now facing fewer shots (7.4 per 90 minutes, compared to 10.1), and this could be down to the greater off-the-ball intensity implemented by the German.

 

Newcastle United 0-2 Arsenal: Mike Dean loves a red

Few referees in the modern game have fascinated and infuriated fans quite like Mike Dean, who is – for want of a better phrase – absolutely box office.

From his self-assured facial expressions and body language, to his frankly baffling mannerisms and showmanship: when Dean is in charge of a match, you're virtually guaranteed a talking point of some description.

But above all, it's his eagerness to pull out that red card that is the most noteworthy aspect of his officiating.

He was the man in the middle as Arsenal beat Newcastle 2-0 on Sunday and had his say right at the end as he showed Fabian Schar the red card for a nasty lunge on Gabriel Martinelli.

It stretched his record as by far the most red-card-happy referee in Premier League history. It was his 112th, 45 more than any other official.

Remarkably, it was the eighth he's shown this season alone, which is at least double the next strictest referee in the Premier League, with Graham Scott and Peter Bankes next on the list with four each.

 

Tottenham 4-0 Sheffield United: Bale makes a statement

Bale was in inspiring form on Sunday as Tottenham smashed Sheffield United 4-0, with the Wales international scoring a hat-trick – his first in a league competition since January 2016 when he put Deportivo La Coruna to the sword.

Granted, netting a treble against the Blades might not be quite as impressive as doing so against… well, any other Premier League side for that matter.

However, his overall performance coupled with his "I play well when I'm happy" comments at full-time seemed almost directed at former Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who had Bale in and out of the team for much of the season.

Those three goals took him to 11 goal involvements (nine scored and two assisted) in 16 Premier League games this term, an average of one every 66 minutes.

That is the best such record in the league this term. The next best (among players with more than two involvements) is his team-mate Harry Kane (34 involvements, one every 80 minutes).

Bale's future is uncertain for the time being, but such a record must have club officials contemplating keeping him around for another year.

Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku appear to be the top forwards on English clubs' shopping lists this off-season.

But Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski may enter the frame amid rumours about his future.

Manchester City and Chelsea are known to be eager to bolster their attacking options and have the funds to finance a major move.

 

TOP STORY – ENGLAND ON LEWANDOWSKI'S RADAR

SportBild reports that Robert Lewandowski's likely next destination will be the English Premier League, if Bayern Munich opt to sell their Polish forward.

The report claims that Lewandowski's agent Pini Zahavi is trying to put pressure on Bayern for a lucrative contract extension or to sell him to one of England's financially powerful clubs.

Lewandowski still has two years to run on his Bayern contract and the Bavarians are believed to not be ready to negotiate.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Romelu Lukaku is not planning to leave Inter amid interest from Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona, pointing to comments he made following the club's Serie A title triumph on Sunday.

- Romano also claims that Watford, who have won promotion to the Premier League, have begun talks with Inter's Ashley Young who may be available as a free agent.

- Marca reports that PSG are increasingly concerned that Neymar will not sign a contract extension with the club amid talk of a Barcelona move.

- Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer is being tracked by Premier League club Newcastle United, claims the Daily Record.

- Tottenham are interested in Brazilian teenager Rodrigo Varanda who is currently with Corinthians, says The Sun.

Tottenham interim head coach Ryan Mason reiterated any talks between the club and loanee Gareth Bale will not take place before the end of the season following his hat-trick performance.

Bale – on loan from LaLiga giants Real Madrid – improved his scoring run to eight goals in eight Premier League games with a treble in Sunday's 4-0 rout of relegated Sheffield United.

The Wales star forward has had an indifferent campaign, having been largely under-utilised when fit by former boss Jose Mourinho, who was sacked last month.

Bale has previously indicated he will return to Madrid next season where he is contracted until mid-2022 but performances like Sunday may sway Spurs to push harder to retain him.

"I think that is a conversation at the end of the season between Gareth, the club and his parent club, our main focus and priority should be the next game," Mason said.

"It sounds a cliche but it is true. I am glad he is happy, he should be because he has another match ball to add to the collection. It was an excellent performance as well.

"I think the decision at the moment and the priority is Gareth is ready to train and he is happy in training.

"We have got another big week of training because we have got a massive game next weekend and hopefully we can have a happy Gareth next weekend."

Bale scored the seventh hat-trick of his club career, three of which have come at Tottenham (four for Madrid). The Welshman's other trebles for Spurs came against Aston Villa in December 2012 in the Premier League, and in October 2010 against Inter in the Champions League.

He became the sixth Welshman to score 50 Premier League goals, and the first since Craig Bellamy reached this total back in December 2006.

All nine of Bale's Premier League goals this season have come at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – the most goals by a player with 100 per cent of them coming at a single venue in the competition in 2020-21.

Mason, who is unlikely to have any say in the final decision, added he felt Bale was "outstanding" and "world class" against the Blades.

Gareth Bale says the key to his improved form is down to playing more regularly since Ryan Mason replaced Jose Mourinho as Tottenham boss.

The Wales international scored his second Premier League hat-trick, and first since December 2012, in Tottenham's routine 4-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday.

He was a second-half substitute in last week's EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester City, but the forward has started both league games under Mason, scoring four times in total.

That compares to five goals in 14 appearances under Mourinho in the Premier League this season, just six of those being starts.

And Bale, who is due to return to parent club Real Madrid at the end of the season for the final year of his contract, is glad to be enjoying his football again.

"You have to take your chances when they come so I'm feeling good," he told Sky Sports. 

"I just needed to play games and get a run of games and I'm doing that now. I'm happy and when I'm happy I play well.

"Winning always makes everyone happy and gives a winning mentality to the dressing room. It's not going to happen overnight but I feel we're taking a step in the right direction.

"It seems a while ago since the last hat-trick so it's nice to get it, but it is more important to get the three points."

Bale's three goals against Sheffield United came from six shots in total, five of those on target as he became the sixth Welshman to reach 50 Premier League goals.

Mason, who follows Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino and Glenn Hoddle in winning his first two Premier League games as Spurs boss, is unsure if "world class" Bale will stay on.

"That's a conversation for the end of the season," the caretaker boss told BBC Sport. "The priority and main aim now is the next game at Leeds.

"When you score a hat-trick you'll get the headlines. Everyone who has watched football over the past 10 years knows what he can do. His finishing was outstanding."

Son Heung-min rounded off the scoring for Tottenham, having earlier had one ruled out for a marginal offside, as they moved to within five points of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Spurs have won back-to-back league games for the first time in two months and Mason was pleased with the response on the back of last week's cup final loss at Wembley.

"It was a disappointing game last week," he said. "We had a really good training week that allowed us to work with the team. The attitude and desire today was outstanding. 

"To couple it up with some of the quality, it was a really positive performance. The attitude, competitiveness, first balls, second ball, desire to fight for 90 minutes. 

"We stuck together and had some real moments of quality. It was a really pleasing performance and a positive night."

Despite the comfortable margin of his side's victory, Mason felt John Fleck was fortunate to avoid a red card for catching Giovani Lo Celso on the face with his studs early in the second half.

"I am so shocked that it wasn't a red card," he said. "I'm shocked the VAR team didn't at least tell the referee to have a look. I think it's a stonewall red card. 

"I don't think there's a clearer red card. You see the replay once and he's endangered an opponent. I cannot believe it wasn't given as a red card. It's avoidable."

Already-relegated Sheffield United have picked up just four points from a possible 51 away from home this season, losing 15 of their 17 such matches.

United have lost 27 of their 34 Premier League games this season - the most they have ever suffered in a single Football League campaign in their entire history - and caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom is not looking for excuses. 

"Spurs were ruthless on the counter, but where we lost the ball on occasions and how we conceded the goals was poor," he told BBC Sport.

"That is not a performance that we want to see. It was so passive and I can't wait until the fans are back in because in a stadium like this it's absolutely dead. We tried to generate our own atmosphere in the second half but the game ran away from us."

Gareth Bale surpassed 50 goals in the Premier League as his hat-trick saw Tottenham keep their top-four hopes alive with a 4-0 win over Sheffield United.

With Chelsea having beaten Fulham on Saturday, the onus was on Spurs to claim three points against the relegated Blades to boost their Champions League ambitions, especially after seventh-place Liverpool saw their game at Manchester United postponed due to anti-Glazer protests by home fans.

Bale put the beaten EFL Cup finalists ahead with a deft finish in the first half before bringing up his half-century in the competition with an emphatic strike after good work from Son Heung-min.

The Real Madrid loanee completed his hat-trick with a low strike from the edge of the box before Son completed the rout with an excellent curling effort.

The visitors have now won just once in their past 26 Premier League games in London and saw goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale set a competition record of 27 consecutive away starts without keeping a clean sheet.

After a quiet opening, Son was denied by a fine Ramsdale save before Harry Kane shot low towards the right-hand corner only for Chris Basham to clear.

Sheffield United had begun to grow into the game when they were undone by a brilliant chipped pass from Serge Aurier, which allowed Bale to flick the ball left-footed over Ramsdale's head.

John Fleck was arguably lucky to escape punishment when he caught Giovani Lo Celso in the face with his studs when the Spurs midfielder was on the ground early in the second half.

Son thought he had doubled the lead after running onto a simple Toby Alderweireld long pass and blasting a shot beyond Ramsdale, but the goal was disallowed for a fractional offside.

Bale did make it 2-0, though, the Wales star rifling a strike into the top-right corner for his 50th goal in England's top flight after Son led the break from a Sheffield United corner.

His second Premier League hat-trick was completed eight minutes later as he wrong-footed Ramsdale with a crisp strike after Aurier teed him up on the edge of the penalty area.

Son added gloss to the scoreline with a superb strike that went in off the right-hand post, having earlier reached 10 league assists for the second season in a row.


What does it mean? Spurs can still believe in top-four chase

The result left Spurs five points behind fourth-place Chelsea with just four matches remaining, meaning they could yet snatch a Champions League spot.

However, with West Ham and Liverpool both able to climb above them should they win their games in hand, Spurs' chances of a return to Europe's top competition still appear slim.

For Sheffield United, who stay bottom on just 17 points, the season cannot end quickly enough.

Brilliant Bale

Bale's first Premier League treble since December 2012 highlighted the threat he still possesses in the attacking third – a threat too seldom seen for Spurs this season.

Still, if he can sustain such form over the final four games of the season and lead Spurs back into the Champions League, there will be few complaints from fans.

Brewster needs a booster

Rhian Brewster has now played 25 times in the Premier League this season without scoring, and his performance here made it easy to see why.

His only shot in a lifeless first-half showing was a speculative attempt that swerved closest to the corner flag, and he managed only 10 touches before being hauled off at the break.

What's next?

Spurs head to Leeds United and Sheffield United host Crystal Palace next Saturday.

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