Mikel Arteta has warned West Ham will know "how to hurt" his Arsenal team when the London rivals clash in the Premier League on Sunday. 

The fifth-placed Hammers sit seven points ahead of Arteta's toiling mid-table Arsenal with 10 games of the season remaining for both teams, as David Moyes continues to work wonders. 

Arsenal's best hope of qualifying for next season appears to be through the Europa League, which offers a place in the elite competition to the winners, and Slavia Prague await them in the quarter-finals. 

West Ham, however, can get there on merit through the domestic league, and three points at the London Stadium this weekend would bolster their top-four chances. 

Arteta and Moyes were appointed by their respective clubs in December 2019, and few would have foreseen West Ham being a step ahead of the Gunners 15 months down the line. 

Looking ahead to their tussle, Arteta said: "We know we will have a really tough game, they've been in great form. They've been really consistent, they know really well what to do and how to hurt opponents. I know David really well and I am sure he will prepare the match so it is a really difficult game for us." 

Arteta was asked whether West Ham's form has come as a surprise, to which he replied: "Not really. I think they have a really strong squad and they have a great manager and coaching staff. 

"They started the season with some doubts, but I know what David is capable of doing. 

"He gets the group together, they're working really hard for each other, they've recruited really well and you can start to see the things that David has done. Obviously they have a little bit more time during the week to prepare football matches and training, and I think they've been in great form and they're a really dangerous team." 

Arsenal muddled their way past Olympiacos in the Europa League last-16 on Thursday, with a 1-0 home defeat meaning the Gunners scraped through 3-2 on aggregate. As Arteta pointed out, West Ham have no European commitments this season, but it could be a different story next term.

Why are Arsenal still trailing in West Ham's wake?

West Ham were already ahead of Arsenal at the turn of the year and it will worry Arteta that the gap has grown since, yet in many aspects the teams have performed on a similar level in the Premier League.

Since January 1, the Hammers have a goals for-and-against of 19-11 in the competition, while Arsenal's shows as 21-10, and the 13.38 per cent shot conversion rate for West Ham is more or less identical to Arsenal's own (13.04).

West Ham have created 20 'big chances', to 16 by Arsenal, and both sides have 50 per cent conversion rates when it comes to those opportunities, which are defined by Opta as being "where a player should reasonably be expected to score".

Arsenal are on a par with their xG (expected goals rate) of 18.2 from 158 shots in 2021, scoring 18 non-penalty goals, while West Ham have taken 18 fewer shots and are similarly closely tracking their xG of 17.5, also scoring 18 times excluding spot-kicks.

Perhaps telling when it comes to judging the difference between the teams is the toll that errors are taking on Arsenal.

In 12 Premier League games this year, West Ham players have collectively made three errors leading to shots, none of which resulted in a goal, but Arsenal have made seven such errors and have conceded three goals as a direct consequence.

The Gunners' 2021 haul of 21 points from 12 games (W6 D3 L3) is bettered by West Ham, who have 25 points (W8 D1 L3) over the same period.

Indeed, only Manchester City (45 points from 16 games), Manchester United (27 points/14 games) and Leicester City (27 points/13 games) have taken more points than West Ham since the turn of the year.

As the Premier League season heads towards the home straight, so too do your fantasy football leagues.

Hurt by captaining Raheem Sterling last week before he twice missed out for Manchester City? Or wondering how to replace the injured Son Heung-min?

Time is of the essence when making these big calls, especially when there are only four league fixtures this weekend.

Fortunately, you can consider our weekly Opta-powered picks, this time featuring two of Son's Tottenham team-mates.
 

EMILIANO MARTINEZ

If your confidence in Spurs is wavering, with Son out and a north London derby defeat fresh in the memory, you might prefer to hedge your bets.

Aston Villa, Tottenham's opponents, have the standout goalkeeper in action this week in the form of Martinez, who is a reliable source of frequent clean sheets. His 14 is a total only topped by Ederson (16) this season.

Among keepers to play 500 minutes in the Premier League this term, ex-Arsenal man Martinez has the best save percentage (77.6).

LEWIS DUNK

The big battle at the bottom sees Brighton and Hove Albion host Newcastle United on Saturday, in a match that is unlikely to provide a wealth of goals based on the form of both sides.

However, defender Dunk is perhaps as likely a scorer as any. He has four in the league this season, making this his best top-flight campaign for goals, while only Neal Maupay (seven) has more for Brighton in 2020-21.

Add in the potential boost of a clean sheet and Dunk could be a real difference-maker.

STUART DALLAS

The versatile Dallas is listed as a defender, allowing him to accrue additional points for attacking contributions despite spending large parts of his career in midfield.

Indeed, no defender in the division has netted more goals than the Northern Ireland international (five) this season.

Dallas, set to face struggling Fulham with Leeds United on Friday, also has two assists for seven total goal involvements.

JESSE LINGARD

Midfield loanee Lingard was kept on the sidelines last weekend as West Ham visited Manchester United, his parent club.

But this week has already improved for the Hammers star following his return to the England fold, earning a recall following four goals and an assist in six league appearances since his temporary move. He has been on target in his past two London Stadium outings.

Now Lingard has Arsenal in his sights, and he has a great record against the Gunners. Indeed, he has not scored more against any other team in English football, having managed four goals in seven starts in all competitions against the north London giants.

GARETH BALE

Still fancy Tottenham to beat Villa? Great, we have some options for you - starting with Bale.

The winger was quiet against Arsenal but has still been involved in six goals (four goals, two assists) in his past five Premier League games, having netted just once in his first seven on his return to the competition this season.

Bale's previous meeting with Villa, back in December 2012, saw him score his first career league hat-trick in a 4-0 Spurs win.

HARRY KANE

If not Bale, then why not Kane? Or pair the two, as they are each likely to be heavily involved if Tottenham turn in a much improved performance from the Arsenal match.

Kane has six goals in six Premier League games against Villa, including five in his past three.

His most recent two meetings with Villa have seen the England captain net braces - in March 2016 and August 2019.

ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE

While Bale and Kane cannot again perform as poorly as they did in the north London derby, Lacazette will hope to match the standard he set.

Handed the captaincy and the central striking role from the start as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was disciplined, the Arsenal number nine netted the winner and is now the club's leading marksman in the Premier League this season with 10.

West Ham should be especially wary of Lacazette, who has scored six goals in his past eight league London derbies. He has been on target in four of those encounters this term and Arsenal have won all of them.

Jesse Lingard admitted it had been a "long journey" back after earning an England recall following his fine form for West Ham.

Lingard's most recent international appearance came in June 2019, as he was part of Gareth Southgate's squad that featured in the inaugural Nations League Finals, eventually finishing third in the tournament.

The 28-year-old was also a regular as England reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, yet a lack of playing time at Manchester United saw him slip down the pecking order with the Three Lions.

However, a loan spell away from Old Trafford has helped the United academy product kick-start his career. Now he has the chance to force his way back into Southgate's plans ahead of the delayed Euro 2020, receiving a place in the squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

"Buzzin [sic] to be recalled back into the England squad after two years," Lingard tweeted, along with a picture of him celebrating while playing for the national team.

"It's been a long journey, very mentally challenging but full of hard work and belief. Thank you to everyone who believed in me, this is just the start."

Lingard had not featured for United in the Premier League this term before leaving in the mid-season transfer window, with his only outings in the campaign for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coming in domestic cup competitions.

Yet a reunion with former Red Devils boss David Moyes at West Ham has allowed the attacking midfielder to thrive again.

In his six league starts since joining, Lingard has scored four goals - twice as many as any of his new team-mates - and has also provided an assist, while only Aaron Cresswell (11) has created more chances than his tally of seven.

Southgate has been suitably impressed enough to include Lingard – whose long-term future at club level still remains unclear - in his latest squad.

"We weren't sure how it would work out but we were able to give Jesse a great reference," the England boss told media at the official squad announcement.

"We were just pleased he was back playing football. It's one of those moves that has worked well for everybody.

"I can only reiterate that ideally you would've seen that over a longer period of time. He's got a great opportunity now."

Lingard is joined in the party by a familiar face in Luke Shaw, drafted back in by Southgate following the left-back's outstanding form for United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to win a trophy this season to demonstrate how Manchester United have made real progress, according to Gary Neville. 

United further enhanced their chances of a top-four finish in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over fifth-placed West Ham on Sunday, courtesy of an own goal from Craig Dawson in the second half. 

The victory, following on from their derby triumph over runaway leaders Manchester City a week earlier, sees Solskjaer's squad sit second in the table. 

However, former Red Devils defender Neville feels finishing as the closest team to Pep Guardiola's title winners is not enough, citing the importance of securing silverware ahead of a potentially pivotal transfer window. 

United have an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City coming up, though before then they face Milan in the second leg of a delicately balanced Europa League tie, the teams having drawn 1-1 at Old Trafford last Thursday following a dramatic late equaliser from the Italian side. 

"The FA Cup has become critical to this football club this season. The League Cup and FA Cup has been the starting point for Manchester United teams over the last 15 to 20 years," Neville said on his podcast for Sky Sports. 

"If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to be successful at this club, he not only needs to finish second in the Premier League, but he has to win a trophy. That would be seen as real progress. Then you're attracting players next season to try and catch Manchester City. 

"I think it's a brilliant week. Beating Manchester City the way they did, and winning on Sunday.

"If you'd have said to Solskjaer at the start of the week you'll beat Manchester City, beat West Ham and draw 1-1 with Milan, he'd have snapped your hand off. Going into that Manchester derby, they were under real pressure."

As for the fight to finish in the top four in the league, Neville feels the current situation – with Leicester and Chelsea sitting behind the two Manchester clubs – will be the same at the end of the campaign. 

West Ham only sit three points behind Chelsea with a game in hand over their London rivals, while those below them – Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – have failed to show signs they can put a run of results together to mount a genuine challenge. 

"Leicester are the one team you'd be most nervous about, because they did blow up last season. But I think there's just enough this year," the ex-England international said. 

"I don't see West Ham catching Leicester, and the teams below them are so inconsistent and seem to be all over the place. I'm not sure which one of them is going to put a run together.” 

All eyes were on the Emirates Stadium on Sunday for the north London derby and there was a lot of comforting familiarity on display.

A red card, Erik Lamela attempting a rabona (and scoring it!) instead of using his right foot, and, of course, Spurs throwing away a lead.

Elsewhere, Manchester United remained on course to finish second as they ensured David Moyes' continues to dread returning to his former employers, while Sheffield United's first game since Chris Wilder's exit arguably proved just how good the Yorkshireman was as manager.

There was also a potentially vital win near the bottom of the table for Brighton and Hove Albion, and we have taken a look at all the best Opta facts from those games.

Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham: Spurs surrender once again in a north London derby

Lamela's opening goal will be shown in north London derby highlight reels for years – his rabona finish was so good, so audacious.

But even with that being the opening goal, it never really looked like being decisive, so underwhelming were Spurs otherwise from an attacking perspective – the fact they went on to lose meant they have now dropped 45 points from winning positions against Arsenal in the Premier League, the most of any team against a specific opponent in the competition.

After Martin Odegaard levelled, becoming just the fourth Gunners player to score in his first top-flight north London derby, Alexandre Lacazette's second-half penalty secured Arsenal the points.

It was Spurs' ninth league defeat of the season, the joint-most Jose Mourinho has ever suffered in a single season, and Lamela's sending off certainly did not help their situation.

In collecting two bookings, he became only the fifth substitute in Premier League history to score and be sent off in the same game.

His goal will be the enduring moment from the match, but in the grand scheme it was meaningless for a Spurs side in increasing danger of missing out on the top four.

Manchester United 1-0 West Ham: Moyes' Old Trafford misery continues

It was not an occasion for the neutral at Old Trafford as Man United scraped an unconvincing win thanks to an own goal by Craig Dawson.

The defeat means only Harry Redknapp (15) has managed more Premier League games away to United without winning than former Red Devils boss Moyes (14 – four draws, 10 losses).

The Hammers' difficulties in front of goal were partly to blame as none of their seven attempts were on target, the highest number of shots they have had in a league game without a single accurate once since August 2013 (nine shots).

On the flipside, Man United kept a fourth straight Premier League clean sheet for the first time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the club last achieving that feat in January 2018 under Mourinho.

They have also lost just one of their previous 23 league outings having suffered three losses in their opening six games this term.

Leicester City 5-0 Sheffield United: Blades suffer bruising defeat as they venture into the Wilder-less wilderness

Less than 24 hours on from confirmation of Wilder's "mutual" departure as Blades manager, many were likely left wondering why the club did not fight harder to keep him.

While seemingly doomed for relegation anyway, Wilder retained significant respect for the job he presided over at Bramall Lane, and Sunday's result showed why.

With interim boss Paul Heckingbottom taking over for the first time, he has already shipped five goals in a single game as many times as Wilder did in 227 matches (a 5-4 defeat to Fulham in 2017). Their former manager was never beaten by more than a three-goal margin.

Heckingbottom also became only the third manager in Premier League history to lose by five or more goals in his first game, but this should not take credit away from Brendan Rodgers' ferocious Foxes.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first hat-trick and also netted in three successive top-flight games for the first time. Jamie Vardy set up two of those goals and in doing so became only the sixth player to register 100 or more goal involvements in the Premier League after turning 30.

Those to achieve this before him were Teddy Sheringham, Frank Lampard, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Gianfranco Zola – esteemed company indeed.

Southampton 1-2 Brighton and Hove Albion: Seagulls remember their shooting boots as Saints sink

Much has been said and written about Brighton's woes in front of goal this term, but they got the job done here.

Their 2-1 win at St Mary's is only the second time in 2021 that they have scored twice or more in a single Premier League game – the other instance was their 3-3 draw with Wolves in their first match of the year.

This was their 11th outing since.

The win took Graham Potter's men three points clear of the relegation zone and just four behind Saints, who are in a difficult spot.

It is 10 defeats in the past 12 Premier League games now for Southampton, with Ralph Hasenhuttl coming under increasing pressure – their previous 10 losses came across a 38-match spell.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to have four or five players back from injury when Manchester United face Milan in the Europa League last-16 second leg on Thursday.

United manager Solskjaer expects forwards Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial to be fit, the former having missed seven of United's last eight matches and the latter having limped out of the 1-1 first-leg draw against Milan with a hip problem.

Donny van de Beek, who has been sidelined since February 22, may also be ready to return, while Paul Pogba – who last played in the 3-3 Premier League draw with Everton on February 6 – could also be back in the squad.

With Marcus Rashford having returned from ankle trouble in the 1-0 Premier League win over West Ham on Sunday and David de Gea now free to return after self-isolating, United could look in much better shape for the return fixture at San Siro, where the tie is poised at 1-1.

"Injury-wise, I hope that we have four or five players back for that game," Solskjaer said after the win over West Ham. "We hope, or it's very likely that Edinson and Anthony are fit. Donny, hopefully as well. Paul even might make the trip. David is back from isolation.

"That's more numbers. Today, we even had two goalkeepers on the bench, so we need them back."

United's hard-fought win over the Hammers, earned through a second-half own goal from Craig Dawson, lifted the Red Devils back into second in the Premier League table.

While they are 14 points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, they now have a nine-point cushion to West Ham in fifth, putting them in a strong position at least for a top-four finish.

Solskjaer was delighted with the attitude his players displayed three days on from conceding an injury-time equaliser to Milan, even if the performance was not quite up to scratch in attack.

"It's been a big week for us. We're starting to build some momentum in the league. We've opened the gap further to West Ham, which was important to us," he said.

"We want to improve on last season. We want to get to a final, we want to move up the table. This week was always going to be massive. The reaction after the late equaliser that Milan scored was really good because you never know how that can affect you.

"It looked like everyone wanted to show what they could do, the first 15, 20 minutes, maybe a little bit too eager, lacked a bit of composure. The attitude was spot on, When we got the composure, we built more and more pressure and momentum.

"We had to readjust a little bit. After 15, 20 minutes, there was a break in play and we just had to get to grips with our composure. We kept firing passes into each other and couldn't find a red shirt whatsoever.

"We've had four clean sheets now [in a row] and that's always the foundation. We want to score goals, we're creating big chances. I feel we're getting back to what we can. It's only a week ago we beat City 2-0, so I don't want to be greedy. Nobody can score four or five goals in every game in the Premier League. You've got to earn it. We always back our players to score enough goals."

Mason Greenwood performed well as the central striker but was unable to end his goal drought, with Lukasz Fabianski making a fine save to deny him in the first half before he smashed a shot off the post in the second.

The 19-year-old has only scored once in 23 league games this season, having managed 10 in just 12 starts in 2019-20, but Solskjaer is not concerned.

"His performance was really good, he deserved a goal," said the United boss. "He's played really well lately. He linked the play well for us, he held it up for us, and he had our two best chances, a great save by Fabianski and unfortunately, he hit the post on the second one.

"He kept creating chances for others as well. I'm very pleased with Mason at the moment."

United have kept four straight clean sheets in the Premier League for the first time under Solskjaer, last doing so in January 2018 when Jose Mourinho was at the helm.

Solskjaer's United have only lost one of their last 23 Premier League games (W14 D8), this after suffering three defeats in their opening six games of the season.

Manchester United battled to a 1-0 win over West Ham on Sunday to move back into second place in the Premier League.

A second-half own goal from Craig Dawson proved to be the difference as Old Trafford as David Moyes suffered a third defeat in three meetings with his old club this season.

They were three hard-won points for the Red Devils, who now have a more comfortable cushion to the Hammers in fifth, as they completed a league double over West Ham for the first time since Moyes' days in charge in 2013-14.

Marcus Rashford, a surprising starter after recovering from an ankle problem, should have scored 25 minutes in but failed to make clean contact with a header from Mason Greenwood's cross.

It was 37 minutes in until the first effort on target, Greenwood curling a strike towards the bottom-left corner that was expertly tipped away by Lukasz Fabianski, with the Hammers becoming the first team since Swansea City in March 2018 to fail to attempt a shot in the first half of a league game against the Red Devils.

The breakthrough came eight minutes into the second half, the ball flying past Fabianski off the head of Dawson after Scott McTominay had flicked on Bruno Fernandes' corner.

Fabianski made another fine one-handed stop to keep out a Fernandes strike from the edge of the box, and Greenwood blasted a shot off the base of the post after a fast break when the goalkeeper was beaten.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men conceded a 92nd-minute equaliser to Milan in their last game, but this time they held firm in the closing stages.

 

What does it mean? United edge back into second

The win moved United back above Leicester City, who had earlier thrashed Sheffield United 5-0, and also means they are nine points clear of West Ham.

With nine games to go, the 14-point gap to leaders Manchester City appears too great, but Solskjaer's men are in a good position for what is proving a fiercely contested battle for the top four.

Maguire stands tall

When West Ham at last made some concerted attacking moves in the second half, United captain Harry Maguire was resolute against Michail Antonio and Tomas Soucek.

He made a team-high seven clearances, won back the ball eight times and made a fine block to deny a fierce Jarrod Bowen strike.

Red Devils still too timid in attack

This was the fifth time in the past six games in all competitions that United failed to score in the first half, the exception being that early Fernandes penalty in the derby win at City.

Breaking down defences is something of a recurring problem for Solskjaer and it could be a concern when they head to Milan on Thursday needing to score a goal to prevent a European exit.

What's next?

United's final two games before the international break are a Europa League trip to Milan on Thursday and an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester City next Sunday. West Ham have a week to prepare for the league visit of Arsenal.

All eyes will be on Emirates Stadium on Sunday when Tottenham chase a first league double over Arsenal in the north London derby since 1992-93.

Premier League leaders Manchester City are also in the capital, giving struggling Fulham a tough task at Craven Cottage in Saturday's late kick-off.

The most intriguing tactical battle of the weekend could come at Elland Road, where Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United host Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea, while West Ham are likely to face a thorough examination of their top-four ambitions at Manchester United.

Here, we give a few pointers on which players could come up trumps in fantasy football terms.

DEAN HENDERSON

England goalkeeper Henderson has not played too frequently since opting to make a go of things with parent club Manchester United.

But when he has featured for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, the 24-year-old has generally impressed, even if his midweek outing against Milan in the Europa League contained an unwanted sting in the tail.

If David de Gea is absent once more against West Ham, Henderson's 19 saves from 22 shots faced in the Premier League this season suggests the United goal is in safe hands. His save percentage of 86.4 is the best of any goalkeeper to have played more than one game this season.

AARON CRESSWELL

Given the dearth of natural left-back options available to England manager Gareth Southgate, a strong season at West Ham for Cresswell could turn out to have been perfectly timed.

The full-back is also a threat in opposition territory, with his seven assists more than any other defender in the division. It is a left-back dominated list, with Lucas Digne up next on six from Andy Robertson, Luke Shaw (both five) and Southgate's first choice Ben Chilwell (four).

Seven assists also matches the most productive season of Cresswell's career in that regard, having provided the same number in 2017-18.

CESAR AZPILICUETA

Tuchel has overseen a defensive transformation since taking over from Frank Lampard, tightening up an unhelpfully leaky backline.

Club captain Azpilicueta has been a pillar of this turnaround. His eight clean sheets are the most for any Premier League defender in 2021.

Azpilicueta is one ahead of rejuvenated club-mate Antonio Rudiger, while Manchester City centre-backs John Stones and Ruben Dias and Manchester United duo Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka similarly have seven apiece.

WILFRIED ZAHA

Relegation-haunted West Brom would be forgiven for dreading the sight of Crystal Palace winger Zaha.

In his past four outings against the Baggies, the Ivory Coast international has scored four times.

That run includes a second-half brace from when Palace hammered the Baggies 5-1 at The Hawthorns in December – a result that would prove influential in Slaven Bilic's sacking later that month.

RAHEEM STERLING

England forward Sterling sat out City's 5-2 win over Southampton in midweek after his latest disappointment in the derby against United.

His native London is a far happier hunting ground, with the 26-year-old amassing 16 goal involvements (10 goals and six assists) in his previous 16 Premier League starts in the English capital.

Sterling continued that streak last time out at Emirates Stadium, heading the only goal early on in a 1-0 win over Arsenal.

GARETH BALE

This weekend, another wide forward on a hot streak will be foremost in Arsenal's thoughts.

A revitalised Bale scored twice in a 4-1 win over Palace last weekend, meaning he has had a hand in six goals in his past four top-flight appearances (four goals and two assists).

And, if you believe the form book stays on this side of the window on derby day, the Wales star has five Premier League goals against Arsenal – more than against any other side in his career.

DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN

As the battle for a top-four finish hots up, sides in the chasing pack will need players to weigh in with 'heavy' goals.

Thankfully for Everton, no player's goals in the Premier League this season have been worth more in terms of points gained than Calvert-Lewin's.

The centre-forward, who was rewarded with an England breakthrough following a sensational start to the campaign, has netted 13 times in the league this season – strikes that have won a total of 14 points.

Burnley, this weekend's visitors to Goodison Park, could be the next team to add to his tally.

Manchester United are in talks with Eric Bailly over a new contract, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

The centre-back, who played in his 100th game in all competitions for the Red Devils as they drew 1-1 with Milan in the Europa League last-16 first leg on Thursday, sees his deal expire next year.

Bailly joined for a reported £30million from Villarreal in 2016, making him the club's first signing under Jose Mourinho, but persistent injury troubles mean he has started just 27 league matches in the past four seasons.

The Ivory Coast international, who turns 27 next month, has largely impressed when called upon this season, with United keeping eight clean sheets and conceding 12 goals in the 15 matches Bailly has played.

Indeed, since his debut in August 2016, United have won 65 per cent of matches with Bailly in the starting line-up compared with 53 per cent without him. They have also averaged more points per game (2.1 compared to 1.8) and fewer goals against (0.8 compared to 1.0).

Solskjaer is expected to pursue the signing of a new central defender in the transfer window but he appears keen to keep Bailly at the club regardless of potential incomings.

"We've started talking to Eric and Eric's representatives," Solskjaer said. "Eric's been keeping fitter for longer and you can see Eric's performances as well. I've been very happy with him.

"His playing style has sometimes made him lose too many games because 100 games is not enough for the period he's been here. He's getting more and more robust, so he's one we're talking to."

United host West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday hoping to build on last weekend's 2-0 derby win at Manchester City, while also moving nine points ahead of David Moyes' side in fifth.

While he accepts the gap to league leaders City is perhaps too big to bridge - Pep Guardiola's men are 14 points clear, having played a game more - Solskjaer is keen to strengthen the grip on second spot.

He is also happy not to have to face in-form Jesse Lingard, who has impressed on loan at the Hammers since his January move but is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Solskjaer said: "For Jesse, it's really worked out; for David [Moyes], it's really worked out. And for us as a club as well, because we know that Jesse's position is a 10 and we've got Bruno [Fernandes] there.

"For me, it was a no-brainer to get Jesse the chance to prove himself and play some football again. He's really been bright for them. He's finding back to himself.

"I think they've been brilliant. We played them in the FA Cup not long ago as well. We went to extra time, it was a tight, even game, he's got players who score goals, creative, defend really well, really difficult on set-plays, and David's done a tremendous job that we know he's capable of.

"We're very happy for him and we know this is a big game for us. It's maybe too far ahead to City, so we need to consolidate our place in the top two or three, hopefully."

United have something of an injury crisis for the match. Paul Pogba, Donny van de Beek and Juan Mata may not be fit before the international break in the final two weeks of March, while goalkeeper David de Gea may still need to quarantine for a few more days after returning from Spain following the birth of his daughter.

Forwards Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani are also unlikely to be fit, meaning 18-year-old Amad Diallo, who scored his first goal for the club as a substitute against Milan, could be called upon again.

"It's a big change for him, he's moved over here by himself but he's coming into training every day, he's working really hard, he knows he's got a lot to learn," Solskjaer added.

"He's an exciting talent, of course, but he'll have to get used to the tempo and the quality of the level he's playing at now.

"He didn't play much for Atalanta, either, so we're gradually giving him more and more, but he's been hungry to learn. His appetite in training has been spot on."

French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain are plotting an ambitious move for Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

PSG, headed up by ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, are keen to replace 34-year-old Keylor Navas.

De Gea has been with United since 2011 and has two years remaining on his contract.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO TEMPT UNITED

Mega-rich PSG would be able to offer United a significant fee for the 30-year-old De Gea and match his £375,000-a-week wages, according to The Sun.

United have been linked with a move for Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is coming off contract, while Dean Henderson has pushed De Gea this season to be number one.

PSG have also been linked with Tottenham custodian Hugo Lloris given his connection with Pochettino from their time together at Spurs.

ROUND-UP

- AS reports that Liverpool could enter the race for Kylian Mbappe, due to the alleged rift between forward Mohamed Salah and manager Jurgen Klopp.

- West Ham have turned to Stuttgart's Sasa Kalajdzic in their search for a striker, according to the Daily Mail. In the queue already are RB Leipzig and Roma.

- Limited funds means Barcelona are out of the race for Wolves' Adama Traore, according to Mundo Deportivo. The Spain international has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester City.

- UOL Esporte reports that Manchester United have registered an interest in Leeds United winger Raphinha.

David Beckham's Inter Miami are trying to woo Cristiano Ronaldo to MLS.

Ronaldo, 36, is contracted at Juventus until 2022, but his next move is seemingly already a discussion point.

And MLS could suit nicely if Beckham has his way.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM'S INTER MIAMI EYE CRISTIANO

Beckham is speaking to Ronaldo's representatives about a move to Inter Miami, according to todofichajes.com.

The Portugal international is understood to be interested by the challenge of joining the club in the United States.

The financial contract would be massive for Ronaldo but he may potentially make the move next January, lowering the transfer fee, given the MLS runs from March to December.

Lionel Messi was reportedly previously sounded out about a possible US switch.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Express are reporting that Gareth Bale's recent form upturn means Tottenham are now keen to sign him permanently, with the Welshman having joined on loan from Real Madrid. Subsequently, the funds availed from a permanent transfer could enable Madrid to enter the fray for Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

West Ham, Leicester City, Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa are among the list of clubs interested in Tammy Abraham if Chelsea deem him surplus to requirements, according to The Telegraph.

- The Star claims the Hammers are also keen on two other young English strikers; Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah and Brentford's Ivan Toney.

- Deportivo Alaves goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco is being pursued by Premier League pair Leeds United and Southampton, according to todofichajes.com.

Pep Guardiola knew Manchester City would be unable to "paint anything beautiful" early in a 2-1 win over West Ham, admitting they were lucky to secure what was a milestone victory for the Spaniard.

The runaway Premier League leaders extended their advantage over nearest rivals Manchester United and Leicester City to 13 points with a staggering 20th consecutive win on Saturday.

Fourth-placed West Ham made life difficult for the champions elect, Michail Antonio equalising late in the first half with the first goal City had conceded at the Etihad Stadium since December.

Ruben Dias had opened the scoring with his first goal for City and John Stones won it when he netted for the fourth time this year with 22 minutes to play.

City were not at their best as Guardiola rung the changes, but the former Barcelona boss was able to celebrate his 200th victory for the club and a 500th win in charge of a top-flight side in all competitions.

Guardiola told BT Sport: "It was really difficult. They have the physicality. They have the quality of players in [Jesse] Lingard, [Pablo] Fornals.

"After 10-15 minutes today we realise we are not going to paint anything beautiful. Second half we were much better than the first half. When you play a lot of games, in the league and then the Champions League, this is normal.

"We were lucky to get all three points. The mathematics matter at the end of the season."

Stones has been outstanding this season alongside record signing Dias and the former Everton man was full of praise for his fellow centre-back.

"I try and chip in [with a goal]," Stones told Sky Sports.

"Some days it doesn't come off for the forwards and today me and Ruben chipped in. It is part of us being a team. We are just glad to get three points and keep the run going.

"I can only give credit to Ruben for moving to a new country and club and how he has played straight away. He has been outstanding.

"We go about our business in our own way and keep fighting. We are playing the football we were a few seasons ago.

"We have fighters in the dressing room. It has been an incredible few months. We are in every competition to try and win them."

John Stones was on target after Ruben Dias scored his first Manchester City goal as the Premier League leaders extended their winning run to 20 matches with a 2-1 victory over West Ham.

Dias opened the scoring with a first-half header, before Michail Antonio levelled just before the break with the first goal City have conceded at the Etihad Stadium since December.

Fourth-placed West Ham were proving to be hard to break down but Stones joined his central defensive partner Dias on the scoresheet to put City back in the lead 22 minutes from time.

The Hammers were unable to respond as City moved 13 points clear of Manchester United and Leicester City, extending their unbeaten run to 27 matches.

Ederson was called into action to block an Antonio header in an encouraging start from the well-drilled Hammers, operating with three centre-backs, but City were in front with their first attempt on the half-hour mark.

Kevin De Bruyne was the architect, delivering a majestic pinpoint left-footed cross for an unmarked Dias to nod beyond Darren Randolph, who until then had been untroubled after stepping in to replace the injured Lukasz Fabianski.

Antonio scuffed a shot against the outside of the post, although Jesse Lingard appeared to be offside, but the Hammers striker equalised two minutes before the break.

Lingard failed to get a clean contact on a cutback from the marauding Vladimir Coufal, but the on-loan Manchester United midfielder's shot was turned in by the alert Antonio.

Randolph continued despite picking up an injury while taking a goal kick, and the Hammers breathed a sigh of relief when there was no City player on hand to turn in De Bruyne's cross at the end of a surging run down the left.

Gabriel Jesus replaced a rusty Sergio Aguero, starved of service in his first start since October, with an hour played, but it was another centre-back who put Pep Guardiola's men back in front.

Riyad Mahrez teased Ben Johnson in the penalty area and picked out Stones, who drilled clinically beyond Randolph after 68 minutes.

Visiting boss David Moyes introduced Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma in a bid to salvage a point, which Issa Diop failed to do when he headed wide from close range right at the end as City took another stride towards regaining the title.

Pep Guardiola is relishing the competition for places at Manchester City that means "unique" Kevin De Bruyne may no longer be an automatic selection. 

De Bruyne made his return from a month-long hamstring injury lay-off as a late substitute against Everton last week and started the 1-0 win against Arsenal four days later.

However, the reigning PFA Players' Player of the Year was an unused substitute for City's trip Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek, despite Guardiola confirming the playmaker was fully fit.

City won that Champions League last-16 first leg 2-0 through a Bernardo Silva header and Gabriel Jesus' strike, having also won all five-top-flight games De Bruyne missed during his time on the sidelines, scoring 15 times and conceding just once.

And with Bernardo continuing to excel in City's midfield three alongside Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri, Guardiola has reiterated De Bruyne is no longer indispensable.

"They are quite similar but Kevin gives us something Bernardo doesn't give and vice versa," Guardiola said. "Every player has his own skills but they do it for the benefit of the team. That's why they are so stable.

"It's good for us, this competition between themselves. It was the same for [Kyle] Walker in the last game - because he knows Joao [Cancelo] is playing so good. It's the only way to maintain consistency. 

"Every three days there's a game and there's a competition among them. Our transitions with Kevin are much better - he is unique in the world. Without Kevin maybe we are more calm and have more time to pause, but it's not that we want one way or the other, it's the quality of the players we have."

De Bruyne's 10 assists in the Premier League this term are bettered only by Harry Kane's 11, the Tottenham striker having played three games more, while only Mason Mount (62), Bruno Fernandes (71) and Jack Grealish (75) can better his 58 chances created.

Bernardo may lag some way behind De Bruyne in both categories - assisting three goals and laying on 16 opportunities for team-mates - but Guardiola believes the Portuguese brings other qualities to the side.

City dominated possession away to Gladbach with 61 per cent of the ball and the manager said: "Sometimes you need more passes and Bernardo has that quality when he receives the ball.

"With opponents behind him, he can make two or four touches then give it. Kevin is a different player, more of a free mind, more explosion, and we need it.  He sees something that other ones cannot see and he provides passes others can't see. Sometimes I need him to be more behind, Bernardo up front. 

"It depends on the opponent. Sometimes the striker jumps, it depends on our movement, it depends on every game."

City are looking to make it 20 wins in a row in all competitions when they take on West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, a run that includes 13 successive victories in the top flight. Only on five previous occasions has a side won 14 or more on the spin.

Guardiola jokingly said earlier this week that money was the most important factor behind his side's incredible winning streak, which has them on course for a clean sweep of silverware.

But while the Catalan coach is thankful to have been financially backed by the club's wealthy owners, he insists there is more to his project at City than simply spending big sums of money, with others doing likewise during his time in England.

"I'm proud for the fact that [after] one team wins the Premier League they struggle a lot but we won back-to-back," he said. "Last season we could not fight against Liverpool - it was incredible. We were second but today, this season, again we are there - this is what I'm proud of most. 

"Four Carabao Cup finals, this is what I am proud of the most. And of course, we created this ourselves. But to do this you need top talents, top players and top players cost money. But honestly, I think United spent money too and Chelsea spent money, and Barcelona spent a lot and in Madrid they spend, as do all the clubs in that position."

Guardiola has used Joao Cancelo in a hybrid full-back/midfield position during City's ongoing winning streak but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, who has won 29 trophies during his managerial career, does not believe he deserves more credit than his players for their success.

"You are not convincing me," he said. "The difference is the players. "I didn't invent anything. It's just the way I do it. I can play like this but sometimes I'm going to play in a different way. It's not about that. I would tell if I believed the reason why was me. I would tell you. 

"I would be grateful to say that the reason behind this success is because I'm so handsome and that's the reason why. It's not like that. It's the players. The big clubs have incredible success, in South America and Europe, and it's due to the quality of the players, the mentality."

He added: "Still I have the feeling when we finished the game against Gladbach maybe it will not be enough to reach the last stages of the Champions League if we don't improve in some departments. It’s the only way to getting better. 

"If I did not feel we could get better, I would not have extended my contract here. One hundred per cent. If I extend my contract, it's because they convinced me for different issues and still that we can do better. If not, [my time with] the team would be over."

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has been given the all-clear to chase Erling Haaland, while Liverpool are also eyeing a forward.

Borussia Dortmund star Haaland is wanted by numerous European giants, with Manchester City among those reportedly interested.

But Chelsea are also targeting the 20-year-old forward.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA GIVEN ALL-CLEAR TO CHASE HAALAND

Chelsea boss Tuchel has been given the green light to go after Dortmund star Haaland ahead of next season, according to Bild.

Haaland has scored 27 goals in 25 games for Dortmund this season.

Chelsea spent big ahead of 2020-21, but are seemingly eager to land Haaland to strengthen further.

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently eyeing a forward of their own. Diario Gol reports Jurgen Klopp wants Real Madrid forward Rodrygo.

- After starring for Burnley, Nick Pope is linked with a move. LancsLive reports the Premier League club want around £50million for the goalkeeper, who is said to be a target for Tottenham.

- Manchester United continue to be linked with West Ham midfielder Declan Rice. 90min reports United are willing to offer any of Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones to West Ham in their bid to land Rice.

- Staying at Manchester United and the Daily Express reports they may give up on Norwich City right-back Max Aarons due to a £35m asking price.

- With Napoli seventh in Serie A and out of the Europa League after being eliminated by Granada, the pressure is on head coach Gennaro Gattuso. But CalcioMercato reports Gattuso is safe for now despite his side's struggles.

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