Bournemouth's poor record against Manchester City is inspiring Eddie Howe to oversee an improvement and he believes halting Raheem Sterling will be vital to avoiding defeat.

The Cherries won promotion to the Premier League under Howe in 2015, yet they have never beaten City in the competition, losing all eight of their top-flight meetings by an aggregate score of 25-3.

But Howe says Bournemouth's dismal recent history in this fixture – with City set to visit on Sunday – does not cause him concern, instead providing a motivating factor.

"It inspires me," Howe told a news conference. "We've got to try to turn that around and use that record to inspire us in this game.

"I don't think we're the only team to suffer a bad record against Manchester City in recent years.

"They're an outstanding team and, every time we've played against them, we've come off the pitch learning more about ourselves and what we have to do to grow and become better.

"We try to embrace these challenges and not look at it fearfully.

"I think the two games against them last season were pretty strong [3-0 and 1-0 defeats]. We felt we were competitive without showing our best attributes, but we managed to limit their main strengths for spells of the games.

"They've just got quality and they can hurt you in any moment of the game and we've just come on the wrong side of the games against them, but I'd like to think we're getting closer.

"We know historically that, if we perform at our very best, we've got a chance of beating anybody and I think that's been the story of our Premier League journey."

Sterling has been a particularly problematic figure for Bournemouth, netting eight goals in seven meetings, along with a pair of assists.

The England forward hit the first Premier League hat-trick of his career in his first match against Bournemouth in 2015 and has since developed into a proven lscorer, netting four times in his opening two league games this term.

Howe said: "He's a player who's done very well against us in recent seasons and he's an outstanding talent.

"He's added a huge consistent run of goals to his game, which has made him even better, and he's certainly someone who we'll have to keep quiet.

"You look through their team though and they've got other players in the attacking positions that you're going to have to deal with, but we hope to keep him quiet and nullify his strengths. He's certainly in very good form at the moment."

John Stones will be missing again for Manchester City against Bournemouth but Oleksandr Zinchenko is fit to start on Sunday.

England defender Stones did not feature against Tottenham in the Premier League last week due to a thigh injury, with Nicolas Otamendi instead partnering Aymeric Laporte.

The same duo are set to start again for City this week, as Guardiola offered little update on Stones other than to confirm his continued absence.

"No, I don't know. He's not fit for this weekend," Guardiola told a news conference, before he was asked about next weekend and replied: "We'll see."

There was better news on Zinchenko's fitness, however, after the left-back looked to be struggling during the closing stages of the 2-2 draw with Spurs.

Guardiola confirmed the 22-year-old had merely been suffering from cramp and would be available at Bournemouth.

"He's fit. He has been training. It was cramp," the manager said.

"It was such a demanding game against Tottenham. We had incredibly tough games against Liverpool [in the Community Shield] and Tottenham and the people, at the end, were tired.

"If we were more clinical in both boxes, the game in the last 20 minutes might have been easy. By going to 2-2, it's always so demanding. Against top teams, the physicality is tough.

"We're not yet in the normal process of games every three days where the rhythm is there. It was cramp, but he's okay.

New signing Joao Cancelo "is ready with his understanding", according to Guardiola, but he added the full City squad will not be needed until the fixtures ramp up following the international break.

Cancelo would have been one option to replace Zinchenko had he missed out, but the City boss is not short of alternatives, with Benjamin Mendy also back in training.

"On the left, we have Oleks, we have Angelino, we have Mendy coming back now in training all week with us," Guardiola said.

"Normally, [Cancelo] would play right-back, but he can play left. Juventus played him left many times. He can play both sides and as a winger, too.

"He can play several positions, but normally we think about him playing right-back because Kyle [Walker] cannot play every week every three days. It's impossible."

Pep Guardiola acknowledged he was among those who doubted David Silva would be a success at Manchester City as he lauded the midfielder's "just incredible" longevity.

City captain Silva is set to make his 400th appearance for the club against Bournemouth on Sunday, having joined from Valencia in 2010.

The Spaniard has played a part in four Premier League title wins, yet, to many, his diminutive stature and silky skills did not appear a good fit for English football.

This was put to Guardiola in Friday's pre-match news conference and the City boss interjected to say he had similarly thought Silva might struggle before being proven spectacularly wrong.

"Yep, me included [in those who thought Silva would struggle]," he said. "I think it's his character. It's not just his quality to move in small spaces, it's that he's a huge competitor.

"In the training sessions, the games, in the bad moments, how he reacts, he is a huge competitor.

"For his specific qualities to survive in the Premier League is not easy for a long time. And he did it. He has to be so proud of himself and what he has done.

"He's a technical player - he's not a box-to-box - and my image of English football from the outside was that maybe he's going to falter. But I was happily, happily wrong.

"That was my first impression, but from the beginning - it's not just that David played well this season - he was playing good with other managers, Roberto [Mancini], Manuel [Pellegrini], with us.

"After I spoke with managers he had in Spain, what everybody speaks, I realised what I realised here. Everybody knows about his quality with the ball, but he's more than that. He's incredible.

"He is a competitor, a winner. Four Premier Leagues he won, and a lot of domestic prizes. This generation of players - like Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero - helped to make this club in a better position in the Premier League and in European competition."

Discussing his appearance milestone, Guardiola said of Silva: "I admire a lot. What I admire the most is when you look at these records or numbers.

"To do 400 games means many years, many bad moments, many good moments, being there day by day, week by week. I admire that a lot. You can have a good year, a good season, but almost 10 seasons here doing that is just incredible.

"Big congratulations. For the City supporters - me included - it is a privilege what he has done at this club. Hopefully in the last season he is going to be here, he can help us to achieve."

Rodri could partner Sergio Busquets in a two-man midfield for Spain because of his "incredibly quality", according to national team boss Robert Moreno.

Manchester City's club-record signing has adjusted well since moving to the Etihad Stadium, starting the club's opening two Premier League matches.

The 23-year-old honed his playmaking abilities at LaLiga sides Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, with Rodri now considered a potential long-term national team successor to 31-year-old Barcelona mainstay Busquets.

Although they perform similar roles at club level, Spain boss Moreno thinks the deep-lying pair could work in the same side.

"Of course, if there is a match in which we consider that the opponent is good in the air, or that we need more physical players we will try, without losing our identity, to include the players that can improve us in that department," Moreno told El Pais.

"I think we now have players that have many characteristics.

"Rodri has incredible quality, but Fabian [Ruiz] too.

"We have Koke and Saul [Niguez], who were not part of the squad last time, but who can give us that touch football and also that aggressiveness they have with [Diego Simeone]. We also like to have that.

"Simeone's style, while not being the football that I propose, I love it."

Spain return to Euro 2020 qualifying action next month with games against Romania and Faroe Islands.

Moreno took charge on a permanent basis in June after Luis Enrique stepped down for family reasons.

Barcelona are officially making a move for Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain are set to reject their offer.

The Neymar saga is seemingly no closer to ending as the Brazil star looks to leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Barca are set to at least make a bid as they aim to get a deal done for their former star, but it will be rejected.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO REJECT BARCELONA'S LOAN BID FOR NEYMAR

PSG have no interest in initially loaning Neymar to Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

It was reported the bid from LaLiga's champions would be for a temporary move, but PSG want an outright transfer so they can find a replacement for the forward, amid reported interest in Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

Barcelona are willing to accept a purchase option if €160million can be paid in instalments, according to Sport.

Meanwhile, the cover of Marca says Neymar is entering "Zone Florentino", referencing Real Madrid president Perez as Barca's rivals maintain hope of signing the 27-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- There could be plenty of movement at Barcelona late in the window. Juventus are discussing a potential swap deal to land Ivan Rakitic and see Emre Can head to Camp Nou, according to Tuttosport, which says the Catalans also put Luis Suarez on the table.

- One midfielder not leaving Turin is Blaise Matuidi. RMC Sport reports the France international will stay at Juventus amid links to PSG and Bayern Munich, with Can seemingly more likely to depart the Serie A champions.

- Mariano Diaz's future is uncertain. AS claims Mariano is not in Real Madrid's plans for this season, but no club has come close to meeting a €20m valuation of the forward.

- Franck Ribery is set to become a Fiorentina player. The former Bayern Munich star has agreed to a deal with the Serie A club, according to Sport Bild and Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Frenchman set to sign on Thursday.

- Amid reported interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, Jadon Sancho is said to be re-signing with Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old England international has sealed a £190,000-per-week long-term deal with Dortmund, according to the Daily Mail.

- Michy Batshuayi is not ready to give up on his Chelsea career. The Belgium striker wants to stay and fight for a place in Frank Lampard's team, according to the Evening Standard.

Adapting to life as the holding midfielder in an ultra-attacking Manchester City side is no easy task, according to the club's record signing Rodri.

A £62.8million (€70m) close-season recruit from Atletico Madrid, Rodri has stepped in for Fernandinho over the opening weeks of the season, the Brazil international having returned late to club duty following his Copa America commitments.

Rodri turned in assured performances at the base of the midfield in the Community Shield triumph over Liverpool and 5-0 opening-day win against West Ham in the Premier League.

Ilkay Gundogan provided support in central areas as playmakers Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva set about Tottenham in Saturday's 2-2 draw, where City were forced to settle for a share of the spoils despite having 30 attempts at goal.

"I feel better every day," Rodri told his club's official website.

"It's good for me to play minutes [because] it is not easy to get into a team with the dynamic City have ­– overwhelming, always wanting to attack.

"I'm trying to settle well, I know I still have a lot to learn, but I'm happy because Pep Guardiola is showing me a lot of confidence.

"I want to help the team with my style, but at this current point I need to identify what the team demands."

Gabriel Jesus had what he thought was an injury-time winner ruled out at the weekend when a VAR review penalised Aymeric Laporte for handball in the build-up to the goal.

Rodri was involved in an earlier controversy when the video official decided not to advise referee Michael Oliver to award a penalty after Spurs winger Erik Lamela appeared to pull the Spain international to the ground.

"It is a little bit difficult to get used to it," the 23-year-old said of VAR. "Sometimes you don't know why some actions are checked and others aren't, but I think that the officials try to do their job the best they can.

"We can only analyse what we control, we can't control the things that are not in our hands."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes VAR is here to stay but feels the Premier League must adapt how it applies the use of technology

City found themselves on the wrong end of a marginal call on review during their 2-2 draw against Tottenham on Saturday.

Gabriel Jesus' stoppage-time winner was disallowed after replays showed the ball deflected off team-mate Aymeric Laporte's arm before the Brazilian controlled and thrashed past Hugo Lloris – sparking jubilant celebrations at the Etihad Stadium.

But, as was the case when City were eliminated from the Champions League last season against Spurs, the joy proved short-lived.

During the first half versus Mauricio Pochettino's men this time, Rodri was not awarded a penalty despite replays appearing to show he was man-handled by Erik Lamela in the area – with Guardiola joking "VAR was taking a coffee".

But, despite that complaint, he cited an initial hard line against shirt-pulling during the 2016-17 season and the subsequent relaxation as evidence the Premier League can plot its own path as it plays catch-up with the rest of Europe's major leagues in implementing VAR.

Asked whether use of technology should be suspended in the wake of the latest controversies, Guardiola replied: "No, no, no. We have to continue.

"I remember the first season when I arrived here that in the boxes when you touched like this [pulled a shirt] it was a penalty. After they re-adapted.

"But if it is hands, it's hands. For me it is not clear, when I watch it from different angles it is not clear."

The result should probably have been beyond doubt despite Lamela and Lucas Moura twice pegging back goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero, as City dominated with a shot count of 30-3 – or 30-2 according to Guardiola's assertion that Harry Kane's audacious attempt from halfway during the second period "is not a shot".

The City boss has no doubts about his side's capacity in front of goal despite an early setback in their quest for a third consecutive Premier League crown.

"I don't know how many goals we scored last season. I don't have doubts that we have a team to score a lot of goals," he said. 

"Obviously, if we arrive with 30 shots [it is] to score five or six. We play for that.

"Of course you have to improve but I don't have doubts that we can score a lot of goals. In the last two seasons we were the team with the most goals. I don't have doubts about that.

He added: "I said to the players it's emotional and frustrating to lose two points in that way but football is like this. It is the only sport where you can shoot 30 and the other two and you can draw or lose.

"That's why this game is fascinating."

Guardiola expects centre-back John Stones to be out for around a week to 10 days after a thigh injury left him unavailable to face Tottenham.

Kevin De Bruyne, who suffered a succession of injury problems last season, was back to his brilliant best at the weekend with a pair of wonderful assists.

"We are incredibly happy for him because last season he suffered being injured," said Guardiola. 

"We are happy he is back and can help us to play."

Arsenal and Liverpool can boast 100 per cent records after two games of the new Premier League season, while four sides have failed to pick up a point from their opening pair of matches.

Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Southampton and Watford all suffered defeats on matchday two, while Manchester City and Chelsea dropped points at home.

With every team desperate to get into a winning habit, Opta's data helps us take a closer look at the patterns unfolding after the weekend's big games.

 

REDS WIN AGAIN TO EQUAL RODGERS' RECORD

Liverpool racked up their 11th consecutive top-flight victory with a 2-1 win at Southampton, equalling the club record set under Brendan Rodgers in April 2014.

Sadio Mane's third goal in four days sent Jurgen Klopp's men on their way just before half-time at St. Mary's and the Senegal international has scored 20 goals for the club in 2019 - eight more than Liverpool's next sharpest shooter, Mo Salah (12).

Roberto Firmino doubled the European champions' lead 19 minutes from time to ensure Danny Ings' late goal - courtesy of Adrian clearing the ball into his shin - was nothing more than a consolation as the Reds made sure they started the season with two wins for the second consecutive campaign, a feat they last achieved in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Mane also became the first player to score in his first Premier League start of four consecutive seasons since Mark Viduka did so between 2002-03 and 2005-06.

CITY DROP POINTS DESPITE DELUGE OF SHOTS

Manchester City failed to win a Premier League match for the first time in 16 games, despite attempting 30 shots in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium.

The last time Spurs faced as many shots in a Premier League fixture was against Fulham (31) in November 2011, but they emerged with a point after Gabriel Jesus' late strike was ruled out by a VAR handball decision in the build-up.

Raheem Sterling put City ahead after 20 minutes with his fifth goal in four matches against Spurs at the Etihad, and, after Erik Lamela equalised for Tottenham, Sergio Aguero scored his 97th Premier League goal at the champions' home ground.

Only Thierry Henry (114 at Highbury), Wayne Rooney (101 at Old Trafford) and Alan Shearer (97 at St. James' Park) can boast equal or better scoring records at a single Premier League stadium than Aguero, who was teed up by Kevin De Bruyne's third assist in two league games - one more than he managed in the whole of last season.

But City's hopes of extending a Premier League winning streak that began on February 3 were undone when Lamela turned provider for Lucas Moura to equalise.

Lamela has scored and assisted for Tottenham in three different Premier League matches, all of them against Manchester clubs (twice against City, once against United).

PUKKI TREBLE EXTENDS MAGPIES' TRAVEL WOES

Newcastle United have won just two of their last 29 Premier League away matches in the month of August (D10 L17) after Teemu Pukki scored a hat-trick as Norwich City beat the Magpies 3-1 at Carrow Road.

The last time Newcastle won their first away league game of the season was in 2011-12 against Sunderland and they failed to cope with the threat of Finland international Pukki as Canaries boss Daniel Farke became the first Norwich manager to win his opening Premier League home game since Mike Walker in 1992.

Norwich fans had to think back 26 years to remember the last time they had a player score a Premier League hat-trick, Efan Ekoku doing so against Everton in September 1993.

Pukki, who also scored in Norwich's opening day defeat at Liverpool, has scored 33 league goals for the club since the start of last season, more than any other player across the top four tiers of English football.

LEICESTER LEAVE LAMPARD WINLESS IN THREE

Leicester City came from behind to draw 1-1 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and make Frank Lampard the first Blues boss since Rafael Benitez (2012-13) to fail to win any of his first three games in charge.

After a Premier League opening day defeat at Manchester United and a UEFA Super Cup loss on penalties to Liverpool, Chelsea took the lead through Mason Mount's home debut goal only to be pegged back by Wilfred Ndidi's second-half equaliser.

Mount's opportunist strike made him the first English player to score on his first home Premier League appearance for Chelsea since Paul Hughes netted against Derby County in January 1997, while Ndidi's bullet header was his fifth goal in 90 Premier League appearances.

Ndidi scored from a corner by James Maddison, who has created 50 chances from set-pieces in the Premier League since the start of 2018-19 - at least six more than any other player in the division.

Kevin De Bruyne believes he is still yet to reach his best despite putting last season's fitness struggles behind him by making a tremendous start to the new Premier League campaign.

The Belgium international was named City's Player of the Year in 2017-18 but was restricted to just 11 starts in the Premier League last term due to knee and hamstring injuries.

However, De Bruyne has started this campaign in impressive style with three assists in his side's first two matches - a 5-0 win over West Ham and 2-2 draw with Tottenham - and is confident of maintaining that form.

"I feel good and I'm becoming better," he told City's official website. "It's still the beginning of the season, so sometimes it's heavy [going], but I feel fine, so everything will be OK this season."

De Bruyne was seemingly at the centre of everything good for the reigning champions on Saturday, the 28-year-old setting up Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero with teasing crosses.

Tottenham twice pegged City back to earn a point, but De Bruyne felt his side did enough to win the match and has targeted a response away at Bournemouth next Sunday.

"We played well and I think we deserved to win," he said. "The team played really well and played offensively the way we want to play.

"We didn't get the three points, but that's the only thing we didn't get. We want to win every game but it's very difficult.

"We deserved to win and we will go again next week and everything will be fine."

First Romelu Lukaku. Now Alexis Sanchez?

Lukaku left Manchester United for Inter and former team-mate Sanchez could join the powerhouse Belgian in Milan.

Antonio Conte's Inter are set to be active before the transfer window closes.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHEZ SET FOR INTER

Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez has agreed terms with Inter, according to Sky Italia.

Sanchez has endured a nightmare spell since joining United from Premier League rivals Arsenal in 2018, managing just five goals in all competitions.

While United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has publicly declared Sanchez will play a significant role this season, the Chilean is reportedly poised to join former Red Devils striker Romelu Lukaku at Inter.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Real Madrid will make a late €65million (£60m) bid to sign Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, The Sun reports. The Danish star has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Juventus, while Madrid have been talking to Ajax about Donny van de Beek as they struggle to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

- Le Parisien says Neymar remains convinced he will leave Paris Saint-Germain before the transfer window shuts. It comes as Sport claims Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has taken command to re-sign the Brazilian, who left for a world-record fee in 2017.

- According to the Mirror, Manchester United are ready to pay defender Marcos Rojo to leave Old Trafford. With two years remaining on his contract, Rojo was linked with a deadline-day move to Everton. The Argentina international is now reportedly pushing for a loan switch to Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

Bayern Munich want to re-sign Mario Mandzukic from Juventus, claims Bild. Mandzukic spent two years at Bayern, where he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the Champions League.

- It comes as Soccerlink reports Serie A champions Juve have turned to Lyon forward Moussa Dembele, with Inter outcast Mauro Icardi proving difficult to sign.

Napoli are preparing to relaunch a €60m bid to sign Icardi, according to Corriere dello Sport. Juventus are willing to offer Paulo Dybala in a swap deal but Inter are reluctant to deal with the Bianconeri. Napoli are also reportedly set to complete the signing of PSV's Hirving Lozano, who will undergo a medical on Wednesday.

AC Milan have asked Tottenham for full-back Serge Aurier on loan with an option to buy, claims Soccerlink.

Aymeric Laporte and several of his Manchester City team-mates have expressed frustration over Gabriel Jesus seeing a late strike against Tottenham disallowed by VAR.

City and Spurs were drawing 2-2 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday when Jesus struck in added time, firing into the bottom-right corner from inside the box.

But celebrations were cut short by VAR with replays showing the ball hit Laporte on the arm during the build-up - and the goal was duly disallowed.

A frustrated Pep Guardiola told Sky Sports "they need to fix" VAR, City having seen video replay decisions go against them in a game with Spurs for the second time this year following April's Champions League drama, when Raheem Sterling had a goal disallowed for offside.

And Guardiola's players steadily followed suit on social media following the game, led by Laporte.

"Tough game! Learning to get used to external factors! Keep working!" the centre-back posted on Twitter.

Jesus was visibly upset by the call, despite referee Michael Oliver attempting to calm him down on the field.

"Great game, lads. Well played, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win," the Brazil striker said. "We scored the goal we needed, but....."

Kyle Walker was at fault for the second Spurs goal, losing Lucas Moura in the City box, but he also pointed a finger of blame at the technology.

"Vary frustrating today. But both teams fought well," he said on Twitter, with a deliberate typo. "Well done to Spurs. Always good to see the boys and fans."

Ilkay Gundogan, meanwhile, agrees with Guardiola's suggestion that rules involving VAR need to be amended for the good of the game.

"Today's VAR decision is really hard to take," the midfielder wrote on social media.

"Any attacker that commits handball, intentional or not, is now ruled a free-kick?? And if you’re defending it’s fine?? It only disadvantages the attacking team.

"In my opinion, this rule needs to be changed."

Mauricio Pochettino accepts Tottenham remain vulnerable to losing players while the European transfer window remains open.

Although the deadline to sign new players has passed for Premier League clubs, teams on the continent can still add to their squads.

September 2 is the last day clubs from Europe can buy players, with Christian Eriksen among the Spurs stars linked with exits.

Eriksen is into the last year of his contract and is reportedly a target for Real Madrid, while Jan Vertonghen's deal is also expiring.

Pochettino, though, is unwilling to blame uncertainty over his squad for Spurs being outplayed at Manchester City on Saturday, his side claiming a 2-2 draw at the home of the champions after Gabriel Jesus' late goal was disallowed by VAR.

"I think it's not an excuse. I am not complaining about the situation, only explaining it," he told reporters. "Of course, we still need to wait to see what happens with our squad. Maybe some players are still in a situation where things can happen.

"We are not a closed squad where nobody is going to move. Maybe nobody will move. The circumstances are that things are still open. The market in Europe makes things difficult in the way that we work and this type of situation doesn't help the coaching staff to create a good dynamic.

"Of course, we are going to start our sixth season at Tottenham and I think we're world champions at adapting ourselves to different circumstances. It's a great experience. We are going to be one of the best coaching staffs in the world at adapting to circumstances.

"Today when you play against a team like Manchester City, with all the circumstances we have inside our team, I think 2-2 and a point is massive.

"Credit to the team and everyone who is working hard, trying to keep going, working, trying to not be focused on the circumstances, just positive, faith and hope. That is massive.

"I don't know if people realise or not. I don't care about that. Only that the circumstances are not the best and the challenge is massive. So happy because the will of the players, their commitment and with all the circumstances we're trying to get a good result for the club and for our fans."

City thought they had claimed all three points in added time when Jesus finished well, but the goal was ruled out after a VAR check found the ball hit Aymeric Laporte on the arm in the build-up.

"I accept now that the VAR is in football. I was a little bit critical in the past," Pochettino added. "That wasn't nice for the people to hear from me. I love football that was 30 years ago or more.

"Still I am watching football from the past. I love it and the way the referee was the boss. It's not another person who can make a decision. It's up to him if he sees it or not, not whether it was wrong or right.

"Now we give it to technology and the new era in football. We're going to accept the rules. I will accept in the future because for sure in the future some decisions will be against us. I'm going to accept it in the same way with the same face. The rules are the rules and the VAR is here."

Pep Guardiola insists the use of VAR must be more consistent after Manchester City were denied a late winner in the 2-2 draw against Tottenham.

Gabriel Jesus thought he had slammed in a last-gasp third goal for City, only for VAR to chalk the strike off due to a handball from Aymeric Laporte - in scenes similar to those from the epic Champions League clash against Spurs last season.

While the video review system came to Spurs' rescue, it did not aid City earlier in proceedings, when Erik Lamela clearly man-handled Rodri from a corner.

Guardiola was swift to point out the discrepancy, joking VAR was taking a break during the incident. 

"In the first half, the penalty? Ask the two referees around the corner. Then go to London to ask the VAR," he said in a news conference.

"Go to London, ask the big bosses. I'm not VAR. They make an example to Premier League manages, which I saw. But what can I say?

"It was a penalty. Lamela goes over Rodri, and it was a penalty. Maybe in that moment, VAR was taking a coffee.

"Why is it not handball with [Fernando] Llorente in the Champions League quarter-final last season, but why is it hands today? Why?

"That is what needs to be clarified. Why is [Andreas] Christensen not hands, and the Wolves game is hands? 

"It's a pity because it's the last minutes. We lived through the Champions League and today it's the last action and we scored a goal. But ask the VAR guys."

Jesus replaced Sergio Aguero, who appeared to argue with Guardiola as he left the pitch, but City's boss shrugged off any suggestion of a serious dispute.

"He believed that I was unhappy with him for the goal we conceded," Guardiola said.

"But it was just the fact that I wanted movement in that moment and Aguero could not do that. But it's part of our game, it's emotions and we talked after and talked during. I love him a lot."

Pep Guardiola said the use of VAR has to change after Manchester City dramatically drew 2-2 at home to Tottenham in the Premier League.

Gabriel Jesus seemed to have struck an injury-time winner for the champions on Saturday but a VAR check ruled Aymeric Laporte had handled the ball in the build-up.

For City, there were clear parallels with the Champions League quarter-final against Spurs in April, where Raheem Sterling's late winner was also cancelled by VAR as Mauricio Pochettino's side progressed on away goals.

Guardiola feels changes have to be made to the way VAR is used in football, particularly when it comes to applying updated rules such as hand ball and goalkeepers needing to stay on their lines for penalties.

"Deja vu. I thought we left that situation in Tottenham in the Champions League last season. But it is the same," Guardiola said to Sky Sports. 

"The referee and VAR disallow it. It's the second time [it's happened] - it's tough. It's honestly tough but it's the way it is.

"They have to fix it. The whistle inside matches now isn't quite clear. But they believe it's hands. Sometimes it's not - against [Spurs striker Fernando] Llorente in the Champions League.

"It was incredible it wasn't a penalty in the first half [when Erik Lamela tussled with Rodri in the box] but VAR said it wasn't and then at the end they did [disallow Jesus' goal]."

Expanding on his theme in a post-match news conference, Guardiola added: "It was hands for the Llorente goal in the quarter-finals in the Champions League.

"At Wolves it was hands, but [Andreas] Christensen in Liverpool v Chelsea [the UEFA Super Cup] was not hands. And then the goalkeepers must stay on their lines in penalties, and the last penalty Adrian was not on the line.

"Always we will have these types of situations, so that's what it is, accept it."

Guardiola and opposite number Pochettino were engrossed in conversation during the VAR ruling and the Spurs boss was more accepting of the technology's use.

"I'm very pleased with a point and but also knowing we need to improve," Pochettino told BBC Sport. "We are in a process where we need to improve in all areas and the team is going to improve step by step, but we need time.

"It was an unbelievable goal [Lucas' equaliser]. Always when you play a team like Manchester City, you have to play your best.

"We need to accept that [VAR]. I was a little bit critical of VAR but now we have to accept the rules. Now it benefits us. No doubt it won't benefit us at other times. It's a rule we need to accept."

Manchester City are not perfect after all. VAR can stop them.

Last weekend's 5-0 demolition of West Ham at London Stadium led to some suggestions the 2019-20 Premier League title race could become a procession, with Pep Guardiola's side in irrepressible form and Raheem Sterling hitting a hat-trick.

But despite being completely outplayed at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, Tottenham were able to claim a 2-2 draw that may offer hints as to how this City team, winners of an unprecedented domestic treble last term, can be halted.

It is fair to say City could and probably should have been out of sight with a rampant first-half display, the 2-1 scoreline hardly a fair reflection of their total dominance in the opening 45 minutes.

Kevin De Bruyne ran the game, as he did in spectacular style in that remarkable Champions League quarter-final second leg against the same opposition in April, when VAR also came to the fore in memorable fashion.

But Erik Lamela cancelled out Sterling's headed opener by converting the only shot Spurs managed before the break, the visitors displaying a clinical edge Guardiola's men lacked.

City retook the lead before the interval, De Bruyne providing his second assist by laying a low cross on a plate for Sergio Aguero, but Spurs could expose defensive weaknesses in the champions even though they were mainly camped in their own half.

Set-pieces have been City's soft underbelly throughout Guardiola's reign but the arrival of Rodri, a club-record signing from Atletico Madrid and a towering presence at the base of midfield, was supposed to help them defend corners better.

A mere 19 seconds after his introduction for Harry Winks, though, Lucas Moura rose above Kyle Walker in City's problem near-post area to flick home the equaliser for Spurs.

It was the first corner the champions had conceded, and they defended it dreadfully. Walker turned to look for someone to blame but it was the right-back who did not properly track the run of Lucas as City's preferred zonal marking system failed.

Mauricio Pochettino's side rarely looked like going on to win the match but they managed to keep City out despite some erratic goalkeeping from captain Hugo Lloris, who was making his 300th appearance for the club.

And a flashpoint on the sidelines when Guardiola hauled off Aguero after 65 minutes, the striker replaced by Gabriel Jesus, perhaps indicated everything is not quite rosy in the City garden.

Aguero made his displeasure clear and, while it is never a surprise to see a player unhappy to be withdrawn, the dissent he showed to a clearly annoyed Guardiola was notable. Such rows are typically kept to the dressing room rather than played out in front of the world's watching media.

Guardiola put the incident down to "emotion" and something of a misunderstanding, but the pair have seemingly had an uneasy relationship. Guardiola often preferred to use Jesus in attack during his first season with City before Aguero's increased work rate and continued weight of goals convinced his manager he should be first choice.

It was Jesus who forced a late winner only for VAR to rule Aymeric Laporte handled the ball in the build-up to his cool finish. City fans, who had to watch VAR cancel out a late Sterling goal for offside in the European tie between the sides four months ago – a moment that sent Spurs into the semi-finals – could hardly believe it.

In the first half City, could also have easily been given a penalty when Lamela appeared to drag Rodri down in the Spurs box. Guardiola will hope VAR decisions even themselves out over the course of the season.

With an element of fortune, Spurs held out despite allowing the champions 30 shots to their own meagre haul of three, with City now already two points behind last season's title rivals Liverpool.

That heavy win over West Ham never really proved anything new, but the title race is certainly alive now.

Page 1 of 98
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.