Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic admitted it has been frustrating sitting on the bench this season.

Matic made his first start of the 2019-20 campaign as United edged Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday following the international break.

The Serbia international came in for the injured Paul Pogba at Old Trafford, however, Matic had been limited to just 22 minutes of action prior to Leicester's visit.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has preferred Pogba and Scott McTominay in midfield, and Matic said: "Of course [it has been frustrating]. I want to play, I always give my best for the team.

"The coach is the man who picks the team and when you are on the bench you are not happy, but I am trying to convince him to change his mind and pick me to play.

"The season is long. [Against Leicester] as you saw I played, and we won the game.

"I am happy so we will see in the future what the coach will decide. I am ready. In the last 10 years I have played in a high level and every game I try to do my best to help the team because I think I am a team player and I can help a lot I think."

When asked about knocking on Solskjaer's door about the situation, Matic – who arrived from Chelsea in 2017 – added:  "No, I never did that. I show my quality on the pitch, in training sessions and in games. This is not my way to fight for the place."

While it has been a frustrating start to the season for Matic, the 31-year-old saluted United's young players.

Marcus Rashford, (21), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (21), Daniel James (21) and McTominay (22) have all performed well for United, who are fourth and seven points off the pace after five matches.

"It doesn't matter if you are 18 or 35, you play for your team because you deserve to play," Matic said. "Manchester United are giving opportunities to the guys who grew up here in the academy and that's good because in big clubs they don't always get those opportunities. At big clubs there is always the pressure to get results.

"This season we can see who is ready to play at a high level. I am happy for them. I like to see young players on the pitch and hopefully they can bring us some fresh energy for the rest of the season."

Roberto Firmino is Liverpool's most important player as he "makes everything tick" for Jurgen Klopp's side, according to former striker Emile Heskey.

Firmino came off the bench to help the Reds beat Newcastle United 3-1 on Saturday and extend their run to 14 consecutive victories in the Premier League.

Liverpool were level when Firmino replaced the injured Divock Origi, with Sadio Mane having cancelled out Jetro Willems' opener, but the Brazil international helped set up Mane's second within three minutes of his introduction.

A sublime backheel to Mohamed Salah led to the home side's third at Anfield, which secured a result that puts them five points clear of champions Manchester City after five matches.

Heskey, who spent four years on Merseyside and was often used as a link between midfield and strike partner Michael Owen, believes Firmino turns Liverpool into a stronger side as he makes life easier for his attacking team-mates.

"I would say Firmino [is most important] and the reason I say that is he's the one that makes everything tick when it comes to the front three," Heskey told Omnisport.

"Take him out of there, yes, they will get you goals, yes, they will cause havoc but they won't do it in the same fashion that they do with him.

"He makes everything tick, everything goes through him and it just looks smoother when it goes through him, and they create more chances when he's in the team."

While Firmino's selflessness is an asset to Liverpool, Heskey believes Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford would benefit from being more single-minded.

Rashford's penalty gave United a 1-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday and took his tally to three goals in five league games this term, but Heskey thinks the England forward's versatility is perhaps holding him back from becoming a more ruthless finisher.

"I would like to think Marcus Rashford's best position is centre-forward," Heskey said. "But as you say, he can play all along the front line because he's got that ability. He's very direct, he's very quick, he's got a skill in him, and he doesn't mind providing.

"Now, if you're a centre-forward that wants to score goals, and goals only, you don't want to be pushed on the left or the right because you know you're not going to score from there. You want to be right in the middle where you can score goals. He's more of an unselfish player that you could actually play in different positions."

Norwich City caused the biggest shock of the Premier League season on Saturday when they registered a famous 3-2 win over reigning champions Manchester City at Carrow Road.

That stunning result means Liverpool are now five points clear at the summit after Jurgen Klopp's side ran out 3-1 winners over Newcastle United to maintain their perfect start to the campaign.

Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead over Watford at Vicarage Road to draw 2-2, while Tammy Abraham netted a hat-trick as Chelsea thumped Wolves 5-2.

With the help of Opta stats, we take a deep dive into the weekend's biggest stories.

 

UNSTOPPABLE PUKKI STUNS CITY

Norwich were outstanding in their dramatic win over Pep Guardiola's side, inflicting a first defeat for the champions against a newly promoted opponent since March 2015 when they lost to Burnley.

It was a defensive nightmare for City, who conceded twice in the opening half-hour of a Premier League game for the second time under Guardiola. The other occasion was against Leicester City in December 2016, when they also conceded three times in total.

Central to the Canaries' success was Teemu Pukki, who has now been involved in eight goals (six scored, two assisted) in his first five Premier League appearances. Only Sergio Aguero has been involved in more goals (nine) in the same number of games at the start of their time in the competition.

Aguero's strike on the stroke of half-time, meanwhile, saw him become just the third player to score in a team's first five Premier League matches of a season after Jose Antonio Reyes for Arsenal in 2004-05 and Wayne Rooney for Manchester United in 2011-12.

LIVERPOOL SWEEP ASIDE MAGPIES

Newcastle took a surprise early lead against Liverpool, but Jurgen Klopp's side bounced back in style to become just the fourth team to win 14 consecutive English top-flight matches.

The Reds have now won their opening five games of the Premier League season for a second consecutive campaign. The only previous two teams to do so in back-to-back seasons were Chelsea (2009-10 and 2010-11) and Manchester City (2015-16 and 2016-17).

Andy Robertson proved a handful for Newcastle with another industrious display. His assist for Sadio Mane's equaliser took him to 17 for Liverpool in the Premier League since the start of the 2017-18 season, more than any other defender in that period.

Defeat for Newcastle represented a 13th loss in their last 14 Premier League away games against 'big six' opponents, with three of those losses coming at Anfield.

AUBAMEYANG HEROICS NOT ENOUGH FOR GUNNERS

Arsenal will consider themselves lucky to have scraped a point at Watford despite holding a two-goal lead thanks to the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Since his Premier League debut in February 2018, the Gabon international has been directly involved in 46 goals in the competition (37 scored, nine assisted). Only Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (53) has had a hand in more in this time.

The Hornets were rampant in the second period, attempting 31 shots – the highest tally the Gunners have faced in a Premier League game since Opta began collecting such data in the division in 2003-04.

It should perhaps come as little surprise that Watford's leveller was from the penalty spot. Since the start of last season, no side has conceded more goals via penalties than the Gunners (10, level with Brighton and Hove Albion).

ABRAHAM MAKING HIS MARK ON THE BIG STAGE

Tammy Abraham enjoyed a day to remember as Chelsea ensured Wolves' wait for a league win this season goes on.

The England striker – who was prolific on loan with Aston Villa in the Championship last season – became the youngest ever Blues player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League and is the youngest Englishman to do so since Raheem Sterling against Bournemouth in October 2015.

He also became just the third player in Premier League history to score two or more goals in three consecutive appearances aged 21 or younger after Cristiano Ronaldo in 2006 and Dele Alli in 2017.

Wolves, meanwhile, conceded five goals in a home Premier League game for the first time since a 5-0 defeat to Manchester United in March 2012.

Unai Emery believes Arsenal's capitulation against Watford on Sunday could help his young players in the long term.

The Gunners appeared to be coasting to all three points at Vicarage Road after Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang's first-half double.

Tom Cleverley took advantage of some slapstick defending by Sokratis Papastathopoulos to reduce the deficit, however, before Roberto Pereyra ensured a share of the spoils from the penalty spot after he had been brought down by David Luiz.

The Hornets – who had 31 shots on goal – can consider themselves unlucky not have claimed all three points, leaving Emery to hope the chastening experience will be of use to some of his side's younger players.

"We have some young players and they need to have experiences like today," he told a media conference.  

"Matteo [Guendouzi] is young and very emotional; sometimes he needs to make some mistakes to improve. In the first half he made a mistake and they didn't score.

"When we are analysing the mistakes, we prefer to speak about them collectively. I have responsibility.

"I don't want to say it's the fault of one player or another. It's my responsibility to give them the confidence to execute our game plan."

The Arsenal boss was frustrated with his side's inability to deal with Watford's aggressive pressing and says improvements are needed quickly.

"The second half was going to be difficult as they changed their plan to push more than us," added Emery, who watched his side fight from 2-0 down to draw with Tottenham prior to the international break.

"If we could break that pressing, we could connect with our midfielders and have space to continue imposing our game plan. We couldn't control the match and break their pressing. They're a good team and in the second half they showed that.

"We also spoke about the need for calm to achieve what we wanted, and we did not do that. We need to work and improve things."

The draw leaves Arsenal seventh in the table, with eight points from five matches, while winless Watford remain bottom on two.

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka admitted his side were not mentally strong enough at Watford as they squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

The Gunners appeared to be in control of Sunday's Premier League match at Vicarage Road after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice in the space of 11 first-half minutes.

But Tom Cleverley halved the deficit early in the second half following a sloppy pass from Sokratis and substitute Roberto Pereyra levelled things from the penalty spot nine minutes from time after being brought down by David Luiz.

In the end Arsenal were left holding on for a point and Xhaka confessed the visitors were "too scared", while also accusing his team-mates of hiding.

"We are very disappointed. We had a good first half and then we came out and played so bad in the second half and paid for that," he told BBC Sport.

"We knew they had nothing to lose and they would come for us but we didn't show our game. We were too scared. Nobody wanted the ball.

"Every team in the Premier League is strong enough to score so you have to stay calm, be mentally strong and we weren't."

Arsenal were architects of their own downfall as Sokratis gave away possession for Watford's opener as his side persisted with attempting to play out from the back, despite also nearly being caught out in the first half.

Xhaka, who is expected to be announced as Arsenal's permanent skipper next week, told Sky Sports: "Mistakes happen but it is not an excuse. 

"Next time we have to do better. It was not only this situation we lost the game. We lost the game all second half.

"You have to say we are happy to take a point.

"We knew they would come at us and push us hard but we have to show more character and not be scared.

"We have spoken about it. We cannot give a performance like this in the second half."

Arsenal travel to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League on Thursday and return to Premier League action next Sunday with a home match against Aston Villa.

Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead at Watford in Quique Sanchez Flores' first match in charge of the Hornets since returning, while Bournemouth confidently dispatched Everton at the Vitality Stadium.

Sanchez Flores was back in the Watford dugout having been appointed as Javi Gracia's replacement during the international break.

The former Espanyol coach spent the 2015-16 campaign at the club before being surprisingly dismissed and he appeared to have a decent impact on the team for the visit of Arsenal, though he was unable to inspire a win in the 2-2 draw.

Bournemouth did claim all three points, however, beating Everton 3-1 to stop a difficult run.

ARSENAL STUNG AS HORNET FIGHT BACK

It all looked to be going swimmingly for the Gunners at half-time, as a pair of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang efforts had them 2-0 up in the 32nd minute.

The striker produced a fine finish on the swivel for the first, even though Watford felt they were due a free-kick in the build-up, before then rounding off a 20-pass move with a tap-in for his second.

But individual errors cost Arsenal dear in the second period – Sokratis Papastathopoulos gifted Watford possession in his own area and Tom Cleverley slammed home to pull one back.

Roberto Pereyra secured a share of the spoils nine minutes from time, converting a penalty after being clumsily tripped by David Luiz.

Sanchez Flores' men remain rooted to the bottom of the table, however, while Arsenal join Tottenham, Manchester United, Leicester City and Chelsea on eight points.

WILSON LEADS BOURNEMOUTH

Everton failed to win for a sixth successive Premier League away game, as Wilson inspired Bournemouth in Sunday's early kick-off.

The England international opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when found in the danger zone by Joshua King and, although Dominic Calvert-Lewin levelled just before the break, Bournemouth exploited Everton's sloppiness in the second half.

Ryan Fraser's free-kick was allowed to go all the way through a body of players and find the bottom-right corner in the 67th minute.

Wilson got his second goal five minutes later, applying a gorgeous finish on the bounce after Diego Rico's hopeful ball inexplicably split Everton's defence.

The result sees Bournemouth bounce back from consecutive defeats to Manchester City and Leicester City.

For someone who can make even the spectacular look routine, it's fair to say little has been simple for Mesut Ozil over the past year.

Underlying hints of disquiet towards him from fans were rooted in the final season of Arsene Wenger's tenure despite the German chipping in with eight assists in the Premier League.

Injuries hardly helped matters for him last term, though there were indications Unai Emery did not fully trust Ozil after a slow start to season.

Some suggested the fact he started only seven away games in the Premier League last season is evidence of Emery's indifference towards the former Real Madrid star, seemingly preferring others when Arsenal may have their backs to the wall.

But in Sunday's 2-2 draw at Watford he was back in the starting XI for the first time since April, having been held back by fitness issues and security reasons after being the target of an attempted car-jacking last month.

Few would begrudge him time to get his head straight after such an ordeal, though he initially appeared to be on right track at Vicarage Road.

In a tight first half, Ozil did well to take up position in potentially threatening pockets of space, almost finding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a low cross in the 25th minute – a defender just about deflecting it behind.

Another fine pass soon after should have released Nicolas Pepe through on goal, only for the forward's poor first touch to leave the ball behind him.

Arsenal's second strike came at the end of a 20-pass move, the longest sequence leading to a goal in the 2019-20 Premier League season – though until the ball came to Ozil, there seemed to be little threat to Watford.

The polarising playmaker drifted right, spotted the run of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and split Watford's defence with a precision pass – the Gunners' right-back laying the ball on a plate for Aubameyang.

But any first-half promise disappeared after the interval.

Although 86 per cent of his 44 passes were accurate, Ozil failed to produce another key pass as Watford upped the ante and battled their way back.

In many ways it was the same old story – a superior Arsenal dropped their intensity, allowed the opponents a way back in and Ozil went missing.

Their midfield of Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi and Dani Ceballos looked directionless without a leader, and that's surely the role a player of Ozil's ability should have been filling, orchestrating and introducing calm to Arsenal's frantic centre.

Fitness may have been an issue for Ozil, but he became a passenger and was unsurprisingly hooked for Reiss Nelson in the 71st minute.

He can point to the fact Arsenal were still ahead when he went off, but youngsters Nelson and Joe Willock looked more likely to provide the spark in attack in the second half.

Even as someone capable of the remarkable, Ozil's quest to truly earn Emery's trust and hush incessant, noisy critics shows no sign of coming to a swift resolution.

Mistakes from Sokratis and David Luiz saw Arsenal squander a two-goal lead as Watford earned a 2-2 draw in Quique Sanchez Flores' first game back in charge at Vicarage Road. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's deadly finishing, in the absence of the injured Alexandre Lacazette, looked to have steered Arsenal to victory after the Gabon international netted twice in 11 first-half minutes to take his tally to five in five Premier League games this season.

Unai Emery's men took the lead when Will Hughes was bundled off the ball and Aubameyang finished off a fast break with a cool finish, and the second arrived soon after courtesy of an astute Mesut Ozil throughball.

But Arsenal came under heavy pressure in the opening stages of both halves of an entertaining encounter and Watford pulled one back after a calamitous pass from Sokratis allowed Tom Cleverley a chance that he buried with aplomb.

David Luiz conceded a penalty nine minutes from time that substitute Roberto Pereyra confidently converted.

Arsenal, who came from behind to draw 2-2 with Tottenham in their last outing, are now winless in three Premier League games, while Sanchez Flores doubled Watford's points tally for the season by guiding them to a draw.

Unai Emery has handed Mesut Ozil his first Premier League start of the season as Arsenal make the short journey to Vicarage Road for their clash with Watford.

Illness has kept Ozil out of Emery's side during Arsenal's mixed start to the season, with a place among the Gunners' unused substitutes in a 2-2 draw against Tottenham the closest he has come to making an appearance.

Ozil's season was also delayed by the alleged attempted carjacking in July that left him, along with team-mate Sead Kolasinac, said to be mentally unready to join the team for the latter part of Arsenal's pre-season training.

Ozil, who has made at least 20 league starts for Arsenal in the past six seasons, was handed a place behind Emery's front two of Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang against Watford, with Dani Ceballos returning to the starting line-up in place of Lucas Torreira.

Arsenal won their opening two league games of the season against Newcastle United and Burnley before suffering defeat against Liverpool and then drawing at home against Spurs.

Watford, meanwhile, have taken just one point from their opening four matches of the season.

Andy Robertson has praised Roberto Firmino for his key role in lifting Liverpool to a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Newcastle United on Saturday.

Brazil forward Firmino stepped off the bench before half-time and provided assists for Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah as the Premier League leaders recovered from an early deficit.

Jurgen Klopp had intended to give the regular starter some rest following his involvement in two Brazil friendlies in the United States during the international break.

But a twisted ankle forced Divock Origi from the pitch in the 37th minute, when the scores were level at 1-1, and proved the catalyst for a stronger Liverpool performance.

"We're gutted for big Div coming off, hopefully it's not too serious but he had to come off at that time," left-back Robertson told his club's website.

"But to bring Bobby on is always a nice sub to have.

"Obviously he came back late from internationals and the manager decided to put him on the bench.

"When he came on he showed his class and could probably have had three or four assists. He had a big impact and that's what we needed. Luckily we had enough for the three points."

The victory moved Liverpool five points clear of second-placed Manchester City, who lost 3-2 at Norwich City.

The Reds now turn their attention to this week's Champions League opener away to Napoli, the first of four games before the end of the month.

"August was relaxed in terms of what we're used to but September is back to the busy schedule," Robertson said.

"The Champions League starts on Tuesday and we'll be on a flight on Monday.

"So it's all about recovering, we need to recover properly and we need to be ready to go on Tuesday.

"September is a busy period. We need to come through it firing and get the results we need."

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revealed how a chance encounter with Javi Gracia in Spain coincided with his former team-mate's dismissal from Watford.

Gracia lost his job following a run of one draw and three defeats to start the Premier League season.

The ex-Osasuna, Malaga and Rubin Kazan head coach had travelled to his homeland during the international break and bumped into Emery in the Basque region.

The pair were discussing the forthcoming fixture between their teams when news of Watford's decision came through.

"It's amazing," Emery said. "I met him, we found each other last week in my town, in Hondarribia, when I was there with my family.

"I was walking and in front of us was Javi Gracia.

"And in the moment we started speaking about our match, and we finished it knowing he was sacked. It's a good story, yes?"

Gracia and Emery shared the Real Sociedad dressing room as players in the mid-1990s and their relationship played a part in the latter's appointment at Arsenal in 2018.

"When the possibility opened up to sign here, the first coach, the first person in the football world I called was him," Emery said.

"I asked him some questions about the football here, the clubs, Arsenal and he recommended to me that I come here."

Emery added: "He is a very good coach, as he showed last year in Watford. The club decided [to part company with him] and I have to respect that.

"He is going to work and he is going to continue his career like he is, like a great coach."

Watford, FA Cup finalists last season, immediately turned to Quique Sanchez Flores to fill the post.

Flores coached the club during the 2015-16 season and commences his second stint in charge at home to Arsenal on Sunday.

Inter Miami are continuing their stunning bid to sign Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, can reportedly leave Barcelona at the end of any season for a club outside of Europe despite being contracted at the LaLiga champions until 2021.

Linked with a shock switch to David Beckham's MLS outfit Inter Miami, the club are continuing to make moves for the Argentina superstar.

 

TOP STORY – INTER MIAMI REPRESENTATIVE MEETS MESSI'S DAD

Beckham sent Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough to London for talks with Messi's dad Jorge, according to The Sun.

Inter Miami are set to enter MLS in 2020 and are looking for a big-name signing, with Messi undoubtedly the biggest of the names linked.

It comes just days after Messi said in an interview with Sport that he wanted to remain at Camp Nou for "as long as possible".

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid could chase Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba again in January. Sport Bild reports Real Madrid are planning to use Toni Kroos in an exchange deal to land the France international, who was heavily linked with a switch during the close season.

- Sadio Mane re-signed with Liverpool until 2023 less than 12 months ago, but the European champions are already looking for the attacker to recommit. Liverpool have opened talks with Mane for an extension, according to Soccer Link.

- Seemingly unwanted at Juventus, Mario Mandzukic's future remains a talking point. Qatari club Al-Gharafa have offered €6million net per year to the striker and can meet Juve's demands, according to CalcioMercato, which reports Los Angeles FC are also interested in the Croatian despite the MLS transfer window not reopening until February.

- Inter are already looking to lock down a couple of stars. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants want to extend the contracts of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic – until 2022 – and forward Lautaro Martinez until 2024. The report says Inter would also double Martinez's salary from €1.5m to €3m per season amid interest from Barcelona.

- Sam Allardyce is ready for a return to management. The Sun reports the former England boss, who left Everton in May last year, is eyeing a return to Sunderland if the reported takeover by an American consortium is completed.

Daniel Farke will celebrate Norwich City's surprise victory over Premier League champions Manchester City with "a coffee and a piece of cake" after training on Sunday.

Norwich produced a brilliant display to see off City 3-2 at Carrow Road on Saturday and claim their second win of a vibrant start to the 2019-20 season that has included some good moments in defeats to Liverpool, Chelsea and West Ham.

Kenny McLean and Todd Cantwell put the Canaries two goals ahead, before Sergio Aguero reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time.

Teemu Pukki restored Norwich's advantage after Emiliano Buendia caught Nicolas Otamendi napping, with Rodri's late effort proving solely a consolation for Pep Guardiola's side.

Asked how he would celebrate the famous victory, Farke said: "To be honest, it was a really complicated week and I'm happy when I'm back on my sofa this evening because I'm too old and too exhausted to celebrate.

"We have training Sunday morning and we have to analyse the game so for that I have to watch the game back.

"So it will be a pretty late night for me to be prepared, but hopefully on Sunday afternoon on the sofa I can have a coffee and a piece of cake, I will celebrate with this.

"All our supporters are definitely allowed to celebrate and enjoy this day because if you don't value these moments you lose your motivation, but we will definitely stay calm."

Norwich were without seven players due to injury and Farke felt that provided additional sweetness to an unexpected success, though he always sets his team out to "reach something excellent".

"It is definitely a proud night, without any doubt," he said. "To win against the best team in the world, with world-class players, a world-class coach, a top club, as Norwich City, as a newly promoted side who has no chance to spend an unbelievable amount of money in the summer in a situation with an unbelievable amount of injured players, it's really special.

"I always believe in my players. We know we were not the favourites and everything has to come together. But we play football to reach something excellent, not just realistic things.

"We have had several good games but the outcome in terms of points was not perfect because we played some really decent sides and so you struggle with self-confidence.

"It was important to give them back the belief and some self-confidence - but it seems like we found the right words and decisions.

"Against such quality you have to play slightly different because you can't control possession against Manchester City. We had to try and allow Manchester City possession in certain areas and with certain players.

"It was complicated to prepare this game, but my lads fulfilled everything we tried to work on in the last few days in a perfect way."

Pep Guardiola congratulated Norwich City after they inflicted one of the biggest shock results in Premier League history on champions Manchester City.

Norwich were without 11 players due to injury and head coach Daniel Farke had to include two goalkeepers as substitutes in order to fill his bench, but they pulled off a stunning 3-2 home win.

The Canaries led 2-0 thanks to goals from Kenny McLean and Todd Cantwell and held their nerve despite Sergio Aguero halving the deficit before half-time.

Nicolas Otamendi's error led to Teemu Pukki making it 3-1 and although Rodri's late strike set up a nervous finale, the promoted outfit were able to hold on for a famous victory.

City's first loss in the Premier League since January leaves them five points behind Liverpool, who have won all five of their games in the 2019-20 campaign, as Guardiola's men seek a third consecutive title.

"Sometimes games like this happen – we had our chances to score but didn't, so congratulations to Norwich," Guardiola said. "It is football – we had many opportunities today, they had three or four and scored three goals.

"The first one was a set-piece we didn't defend, the second we were caught on the counter-attack and the third came from a mistake, but we know what we are as a team, we know what we have done and we know what we are going to do.

"I love my players and it's a pleasure to be with them. They didn't create so many chances, but they got three goals – we played Bournemouth and they had more chances than Norwich did today, but we won that game – football can sometimes do this."

Guardiola sprang a surprise by starting with Kevin De Bruyne on the bench and while he introduced the Belgium star in the second half, along with Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez, City could not find an equaliser.

"Even at 2-0, we knew we were still in it because we can create a lot of chances in a short space of time," Guardiola added.

"But the third goal hurt us because we had started [the second half] well and we were there, but in the end it didn't happen. In football you can't always avoid mistakes.

"They are a really good team with good players who have quality, we saw that in the Championship last year, they were clinical today.

"We did not have urgency in the final third that we normally have. Even at 3-2 we had chances to make it 3-3 – this team never gives up and that's why we have done what we have done."

Pep Guardiola insists he does not need to bring in defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window despite Manchester City's surprise 3-2 loss at Norwich City. 

Aymeric Laporte is expected to be out until the new year after undergoing surgery on a knee injury, with the Premier League champions losing at Carrow Road in his absence on Saturday.

Goals from Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki earned the injury-hit Canaries a famous win, while Sergio Aguero and Rodri were on target for City.

Before the game Guardiola indicated City would not enter the market to replace Laporte despite being left with only two senior centre-backs, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, after the departure of club captain Vincent Kompany.

Stones and Otamendi were both at fault in a dreadful defensive performance as City lost in the league for the first time since January, with McLean's headed opener coming from a corner.

Asked if City have a problem defending near-post corners in particular, Guardiola said: "In four seasons, yes. Our quality of play is different but we defended incredibly well in the past."

Guardiola, who surprisingly left talisman Kevin De Bruyne on the bench, feels Stones and Otamendi can still form a reliable partnership in the wake of their error-strewn display, while Kyle Walker was involved in conceding a cheap second goal to Cantwell.

"It's football," he added. "We talk and improve from this, Kyle knows it and this happens sometimes, try to improve for the next time.

"They [Stones and Otamendi] play how many times together? A lot, they are the centre-backs we have. Maybe Fernandinho or Rodri can play there. I'm not worried, it's football. How many games John and Nico played in more than three games together? A lot.

"Normally I count their chances and I think they didn't create too much, three goals, I don't know from how many shots on target but I don't have that feeling they had many, many chances, but sometimes this happens."

An injury crisis left Norwich without 11 players and Daniel Farke could not even fill his bench of seven substitutes without including two goalkeepers.

"Of course it is special day for us and for the club," he told BBC Sport. "Against one of the best teams in the world and when we have so many injuries.

"We had to be special in our plan for City because they are the best team in the world, but we had setbacks too with our injuries.

"We deserve the win, we were exceptional."

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