West Brom maintained their two-point lead at the Championship summit with a slender 1-0 win over Hull City on Saturday.

Preston North End and Leeds United remain within touching distance of the Baggies after wins over Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers respectively.

At the other end of the table, Michael O'Neill inspired Stoke City to a 4-2 win over Barnsley in his first game since taking charge of the club – a result that lifts them above the Tykes at the foot of the table.

Elsewhere, Nottingham Forest edged out Derby County in the East Midlands derby, while there also wins for Fulham, Millwall, Reading and Brentford.

 

BAGGIES STAY TOP AFTER LIVERMORE STUNNER

Jake Livermore's second goal of the season was enough for West Brom to edge out Hull at the KCOM Stadium.

The 29-year-old midfielder finished off a short corner routine in spectacular style after 28 minutes, taking a touch to control the ball 20 yards from goal and unleashing a rocket of a right-footed shot into the bottom corner of the Tigers' net.

Hull started the second half brightly and Kevin Stewart missed crucial chances as Slaven Bilic's side found themselves exposed at the back.

But the visitors should have doubled their lead when Matheus Pereira – their outstanding creative player so far this season – sent a chip narrowly over the crossbar, but Bilic's table-toppers claimed all three points nonetheless.

BAMFORD ON TARGET AS WHITES WIN AGAIN

Leeds went into their clash against Blackburn unbeaten in four matches but striker Patrick Bamford was without a goal at Elland Road since April.

The former Middlesbrough striker ended his home drought after a foul on Luke Ayling earned a dominant Leeds side a penalty, Bamford coolly sending Christian Walton the wrong way as he stroked the ball home.

Bamford had a hand in the Whites' second, touching Kalvin Phillips' floated ball deftly into the path of Jack Harrison, who sent an angled shot in off the far post.

But slack marking allowed Derrick Williams to head Blackburn back into the game five minutes before half-time, the full-back rising to meet Stewart Downing's cross for his third goal of the season from 12 yards.

A combative Rovers side failed to break Marcelo Bielsa's men down, however, as they collected back-to-back Championship wins for the first time since August.

PRESTON TOO STRONG FOR RESURGENT TERRIERS

Huddersfield's recent revival came to a crashing halt at Deepdale as Preston registered a third consecutive league win with a 3-1 victory.

The Terriers were unbeaten in seven league games but never looked like clawing their way back into the game after Jayden Stockley had given the hosts a fourth-minute lead.

Alan Browne doubled that advantage shortly after the half-hour mark, while Paul Gallagher added a third with a penalty five minutes after the interval.

Juninho Bacuna pulled one back for the visitors 16 minutes from time, but it did little to take the gloss off another impressive win for Alex Neil's side.

O'NEILL MAKES INSTANT IMPACT AT STOKE

O'Neill made a superb start to life with struggling Stoke, guiding them to an emphatic win over Barnsley at Oakwell.

A Sam Clucas brace and goals from Joe Allen and Lee Gregory helped the Potters end a run of three consecutive defeats and start life after Nathan Jones in style.

Elsewhere, Lewis Grabban scored the only goal of the game as Forest edged out local rivals Derby, while Fulham registered a 1-0 win at Birmingham City.

Millwall overcame Charlton Athletic 2-1, Reading powered past Luton Town 3-0 and Brentford beat Wigan Athletic by the same scoreline.

In the day's other games, Middlesbrough drew 2-2 away at QPR and Swansea City scored deep into stoppage time to draw 2-2 with Sheffield Wednesday.

Sheffield United were the recipients of a harsh VAR decision but Chris Wilder's side battled back to draw 1-1 with Tottenham after Son Heung-min's opener on Saturday.

After Son - who was initially set to be suspended for this match but had his red card for a tackle that led to Andre Gomes' ankle injury overturned in midweek - put Spurs ahead, the Blades looked to have equalised until VAR disallowed David McGoldrick's goal.

However, George Baldock earned a share of the spoils for the Blades 12 minutes from time.

While Spurs are without a win in five league matches, their London rivals Chelsea are having no such issues under Frank Lampard, as they claimed a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Elsewhere, Everton claimed a vital away win at Southampton, Newcastle United saw off Bournemouth 2-1 and Burnley returned to winning ways in style with a 3-0 triumph over struggling West Ham.

 

SON ON TARGET BUT BLADES OVERCOME VAR CONTROVERSY

Much has been made of Son's devastation after his part in Gomes' injury, but he had reason to celebrate after the forward proved his importance to Spurs in what was another impotent display from Mauricio Pochettino's side.

Tottenham successfully appealed Son's red card, and they benefitted from having the forward available when the South Korea international pounced on Enda Stevens' mistake just before the hour.

The Blades thought they had scored a swift equaliser through McGoldrick, only for VAR to come to Spurs' rescue as - after a lengthy VAR check - it was deemed John Lundstram, who also hit the post, was marginally offside.

But VAR would not deny the visitors again - George Baldock's cross-cum-shot looping in to secure a deserved share of the spoils and lift the Blades, for now, into fifth.

ABRAHAM STRIKES AGAIN AS CHELSEA MAKE IT SIX IN A ROW

Chelsea were frustrated by some stubborn Palace defending in the first half at Stamford Bridge, but Lampard's side made the breakthrough courtesy of Tammy Abraham's 10th league goal of the season.

A sublime team move culminated in Willian flicking it around the corner into Abraham, who took a superb first touch before slotting beyond Vicente Guaita.

Three deserved points were wrapped up 11 minutes from time - Christian Pulisic acrobatically firing home as Chelsea won a sixth successive league match and, temporarily at least, moved above Manchester City into second.

EVERTON CLAIM VITAL VICTORY AS BURNLEY CLATTER WEST HAM

Defeat - or even a failure to win - at St Mary's for Everton could have spelled the end for Marco Silva, but the Toffees came away with the points thanks to Richarlison's 75th-minute effort.

Danny Ings' goal five minutes into the second half had cancelled out Tom Davies' early opener, yet Southampton - who have now lost six out of their last seven league matches - could not keep up the momentum, with Richarlison having the final say as Everton held onto their first away win of the season.

Everton sit in 13th, a point behind Burnley, who ended a three-game losing streak by dismantling West Ham, whose boss Manuel Pellegrini may well be under pressure heading into the international break.

Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood - who has scored in all five of his Premier League games against the Hammers - had Burnley in control by the break, before Roberto Jimenez's calamitous own goal wrapped things up at Turf Moor. 

Marco Reus is among the substitutes for Borussia Dortmund's Bundesliga clash with Bayern Munich - but Jadon Sancho has recovered from a hamstring injury to start the game on Saturday.

An ankle injury meant Reus missed Dortmund's 3-2 Champions League win over Inter and coach Lucien Favre has opted not to risk him from the start at Allianz Arena.

Dortmund arrived in Munich unbeaten in four games in all competitions and Favre named Mario Gotze, Sancho, Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard in an attacking line-up, with Reus and Paco Alcacer on the bench.

Bayern interim coach Hansi Flick kept faith with the side that beat Olympiacos in midweek, as he aimed to help the reigning German champions bounce back from a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in their previous Bundesliga outing.

That result was the final game in charge for Niko Kovac, who left the club on Sunday.

Cologne have sacked Achim Beierlorzer after less than five months in charge.

The 51-year-old joined from 2. Bundesliga side Jahn Regensburg in July but has overseen a torrid start to the 2019-20 campaign following Cologne's promotion from the second tier.

He managed just two wins from his opening 11 Bundesliga games at the helm, with Friday's 2-1 home defeat to Hoffenheim proving the final straw for the club's hierarchy.

Beierlorzer told the club's official website: "I regret that I wasn't able to bring Cologne the desired sporting success in the four months I was here. I felt completely at home at this great club. In a good working position, I was able to work with the team constructively. For the rest of the season, I wish the team and the club all the best."

Sporting director Frank Aehlig added: "I regret that we've had to take this step, because we value Achim Beierlorzer very highly. However, the hoped-for sporting success hasn't been achieved so far and it's our job to do everything to ensure we achieve our goals."

Cologne have placed Andre Pawlak and Manfred Schmid in temporary charge.

Maurizio Sarri is hopeful Cristiano Ronaldo will feature for Juventus against AC Milan, though conceded the forward may miss out with a knee problem.

Ronaldo was substituted off with eight minutes of normal time remaining in Wednesday's Champions League meeting with Lokomotiv Moscow, as Gonzalo Higuain's last-gasp effort secured a 2-1 win.

Juve return to Serie A action against struggling Milan, who sit 12th - with new coach Stefano Pioli having managed just one win from four matches in charge.

Asked for an update on Ronaldo's fitness on Saturday, Sarri revealed he is still uncertain if the former Real Madrid star - who has six goals in all competitions this season - will be able to play.

"How is Ronaldo? I still don't know, because yesterday he was with the physiotherapists and we will see today and tomorrow in the last training session," Sarri told a news conference.

"Let's see what he can do. He feels a little pain in his knee but it is nothing serious."

Ronaldo looked set to open the scoring for Juve in midweek when his free-kick squirmed out of Lokomotiv goalkeeper Guilherme's grasp, only for Aaron Ramsey to ensure the ball went over the line.

It brought up Juve's 300th Champions League goal, as well as marking a second strike of the season for Ramsey, who has been restricted to eight appearances.

Sarri, however, is looking forward to having what he sees as a crucial player more readily available.

"He has important technical qualities and can do both the roles I ask," Sarri said of Ramsey.

"He can be a modern midfielder. He can be an offensive midfielder, as an attacking midfielder he can also give cover."

Sarri has previously aired his frustrations with some profligate finishing from Juve this term, but the ex-Chelsea coach has been pleased with his side's ability to push for late winners.

"The fact is that the team is still unable to close out games," Sarri said. "The strength, however, is that until the end we go to look for the victory and often we succeed.

"Milan is a good team, which did not make a good start to the season. In football there are cycles; rebuilding to get back to a very high level is not easy. Milan have many young players and they are laying the foundations for an important future." 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a "great player" but Stefano Pioli is unsure if the striker will return to AC Milan.

The 38-year-old's contract with MLS side LA Galaxy expires at the end of the year and he has been linked with a move back to European football.

MLS commissioner Don Garber claimed this week Ibrahimovic is "being recruited" by Milan, where he spent two seasons before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.

Milan have been tipped to strengthen their squad in January following a poor start to the campaign, but Pioli was unwilling to confirm Ibrahimovic is a target.

"Ibra is a great player," he told a news conference on Saturday. "But the January market is far away. There will be time to make assessments."

Milan have won one of their four matches under Pioli, who was brought in to replace Marco Giampaolo last month.

The 18-time Serie A champions are in the bottom half of the table after 11 matches and travel to Juventus on Sunday.

Despite the 16-point gap to champions Juve, however, Pioli has full faith in his players and is relishing the chance to pick up a potentially season-defining result.

"I trust my players, even if the table says we are far away from Juventus," he said. 

"Matches start from 0-0, 11 players against 11. It's a great challenge, but the big challenges also mean having a great opportunity.

"Talking about turning points is always difficult. It is clear that on a mental level, doing well tomorrow would mean a lot for us. 

"It's a difficult challenge but a great opportunity, one that we need to be ready to fight for."

Ronaldo has failed to find the net in three of his past four outings, but Pioli is well aware of the Juve forward's capabilities.

"It is difficult to say how to stop him," he said. "He has many chances to hurt teams. We are talking about a phenomenon, a champion.

"Against him we must be much more careful and determined, giving him little space to work in. He is among the best players ever, alongside [Lionel] Messi, Pele and [Diego] Maradona."

Franck Kessie, Samu Castillejo, Mateo Musacchio and Fabio Borini are all out of Milan's squad to face Juve, but Suso returns after missing the 2-1 loss to Lazio last weekend.

Star striker Robert Lewandowski believes Bayern Munich are suffering from a lack of on-field leadership.

The German champions parted ways with head coach Niko Kovac at the start of the week and lie fifth in the Bundesliga going into a crucial Der Klassiker date with Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Hansi Flick has been placed in charge on an interim basis but the dugout is not the only place where Bayern are in need of more defined leaders.

Lewandowski attributes a below-par run of performances to the over-reliance on himself and Manuel Neuer to provide vocal guidance on the pitch, insisting they alone are "not enough".

Experienced figures Rafinha, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Mats Hummels, now of Dortmund, all left the club during the close season, creating a vacuum of authority not filled by more youthful replacements.

"There should be a leader in each area of the team, on each line: goalkeeper, defender, one in the midfield, one in attack," Lewandowski told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

"That would be perfect. It can't be on one player to lead, that's too much, that's impossible.

"What we're sometimes missing are commands.

"The young players are of course a little reserved, or they have a problem with the language. But I know that two or three months in a country are enough to be able to give orders. You have to expect that."

Lewandowski, 31, suspects the reserved nature of the younger players in the squad is the result of a changing society.

"Players today are a bit afraid to talk, or maybe don't have that desire," he said.

"This is a generation that writes a lot of text messages, communicates a lot on the internet, makes fewer phone calls. It's just another culture. 

"Previously you had 20 players in the dressing room, everyone said something, often loud, and the next day it was okay again to talk."

But the centre-forward's fears about the next generation are not shared by team-mate Javi Martinez, who feels one future captain has already emerged.

The versatile Spaniard is adamant Germany international Joshua Kimmich, an ever-present member of the starting XI, will prove a strong long-term successor to captain Neuer.

"He's a player that fits perfectly with Bayern," Martinez wrote in a column for sports magazine Socrates. "He's internalised all the values of the club from an early age. It feels like he's already made 1000 games for the club.

"That's why I'm convinced he'll play for many, many years and one day lead the team."

Diego Simeone has demanded greater consistency from Atletico Madrid if his side are to challenge Real Madrid and Barcelona for this season's LaLiga title.

Atleti sit fourth after 12 games, winning five and drawing six with one defeat, heading into Sunday's meeting with Espanyol - who beat Ludogorets 6-0 in Europe on Thursday but have lost their last two league matches.

Los Rojiblancos are just two points behind current leaders Real Sociedad, though could have - temporarily at least - moved top themselves last week had they overcome Sevilla.

A defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in Wednesday's Champions League encounter means Atleti are now without a win in their last three matches in all competitions, and Simeone acknowledged his side - who have been hit by injuries to Jose Gimenez, Stefan Savic and Joao Felix - must regain the consistency which has made them regular title contenders in recent seasons.

"We keep thinking about the match. On Saturday, we play against an opponent with an important motivation with the new coach and it will be a complex match," Simeone told a news conference when asked if Atleti could challenge their city rivals and Barca.

"It is complex. We have three important players injured, Joao Felix, Savic and Gimenez. When they are all fit we have more strength and competition. We need to convince ourselves of what we can do and from that find the consistency, which is what we are looking for.

"There are good passages, other bad ones and we need to work on concentration. That is what you get on the field, not from words. It is given by training and matches.

"We want to keep improving and our thinking does not go beyond the match against Espanyol."

Western United overcame a contentious VAR decision to claim a 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers and second spot in the A-League on Saturday.

Andrew Durante and Kwabena Appiah-Kubi scored either side of half-time at GMHBA Stadium to complete the home side's recovery from Mitchell Duke's cool fifth-minute opener.

Their task was made more difficult by a curious call that went against Scott McDonald in the early stages of the second half.

Wanderers goalkeeper Daniel Lopar blocked McDonald's close-range header but not before it crossed the line, or so it seemed on television replays.

VAR reviewed the footage and eventually determined the ball had not completely entered the goal, despite seemingly convincing evidence to the contrary.

United's anger gave way to joy when Appiah-Kubi cushioned Ersan Gulum's wayward effort and clinically beat Lopar on the turn, his 58th-minute winner sending Mark Rudan's men above Western Sydney by virtue of goals scored.

There was late drama in the early game as Perth Glory salvaged a 1-1 draw away to winless Newcastle Jets.

Diego Castro forced in an 86th-minute equaliser amid a goalmouth scramble to cancel out Jason Hoffman's well-taken finish, which had given Newcastle a first-half lead.

Alex Grant was shown a second yellow card a minute after Castro's goal but 10-man Perth saw out the draw, their third in five games.

There is simply no stopping Robert Lewandowski right now, despite Bayern Munich's relative struggles.

Bayern were fourth in the Bundesliga heading into the weekend and have sacked coach Niko Kovac, yet Lewandowski has 21 goals in 17 games in all competitions.

Even after caretaker boss Hansi Flick revealed on Tue Lewandowski requires groin surgery, the striker went out the next day and scored against Olympiacos.

Now, as he prepares to face former club Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker, the latest incredible record of a sensational career is within sight.

With the help of Opta data, we break down Lewandowski's ridiculous goalscoring form.
 

THE BEST FORM OF HIS CAREER

Lewandowski has been a prolific goalscorer throughout his Bayern career but never has he netted at the frightening rate he is currently maintaining.

The Poland international's best minutes-per-goal rate in a season for Bayern prior to this campaign was a strike every 92 minutes in 2017-18. His foremost conversion rate across a season was previously 27 per cent in both 2016-17 and 2018-19.

This term, Lewandowski has scored every 69 minutes, hitting the net with a staggering 31 per cent of his shots.

He had never previously scored 21 goals - his present tally - in fewer than 21 matches at the start of a campaign, doing so in that number last season, while his best haul after 17 games of a single season was 18 in 2015-16.

THE BEST FORM IN EUROPE

It is not just that Lewandowski is blowing away his previous career bests, he is the standout striker in European football right now.

Lewandowski's 21 goals are comfortably the most by a player in Europe's top leagues in all competitions this term, with Ciro Immobile next on 15. Raheem Sterling has 14, with Timo Werner and Sergio Aguero next on 13 each.

That outstanding minutes-per-goal rate of one every 69 minutes is the best around, too, although Immobile is pushing Lewandowski close with a goal every 70 minutes.

Aided by his remarkable total so far this term, Lewandowski has netted 212 goals since joining Bayern at the start of the 2014-15 season - the third most in that time behind Lionel Messi (255) and Cristiano Ronaldo (232). Not bad company to be keeping.
 

HISTORY-MAKER, RECORD-BREAKER

Between a 2-0 DFL-Supercup defeat to Dortmund on August 3 and a substitute DFB-Pokal appearance against Bochum on October 29, Lewandowski struck in 13 consecutive Bayern games - two matches short of Gerd Muller's club-record streak.

His run of Bundesliga games with goals remains unbroken, though, as Lewandowski became the first player in league history to net in the first 10 matches of a campaign.

Klaus Allofs and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have each scored in 10 straight games across two seasons, but another goal against Dortmund on Saturday would make Lewandowski the first to extend such a streak to 11 matches.

There appears to be no end to the 31-year-old's form and he continues to climb the all-time Bundesliga goals list, reaching fourth with his haul of 216 in 300 games for Bayern and Dortmund. Former coach Jupp Heynckes (third) is next in his sights on 220.

Paris Saint-Germain have identified their priorities and an extension for Neymar is seemingly not among them.

Neymar, 27, reportedly almost left the Ligue 1 champions in the close season amid strong links to LaLiga giants Barcelona.

The Brazil international is contracted until 2022 and PSG appear to be in no rush to extend his stay.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STOP NEYMAR TALKS AMID MBAPPE FOCUS

PSG's negotiations with Neymar about a contract extension have stalled, according to L'Equipe.

However, the report says PSG have not ruled out a potential extension for Neymar in the future.

It comes amid talk the club are eager to re-sign Kylian Mbappe, who is also contracted until 2022 and has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Like Neymar and Mbappe, the talk around Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will not go away. Sport reports Juventus want to bring the midfielder back to Turin, while Tuttosport says Pogba is also eager to return to the Serie A giants.

- Ivan Rakitic has made just one start for Barcelona this season and the midfielder could be on the move in January. Mundo Deportivo reports Juventus and Inter have the Croatia international – who is contracted at Camp Nou until 2021 – in their sights.

- Nicolo Zaniolo's impressive performances for Roma are leading to renewed interest in his services. Juventus are ready to pay more than €40million for the midfielder, according to CalcioMercato, although Roma are eager to keep Zaniolo, who has scored three Serie A goals this season.

- Unai Emery is under fire at Arsenal and the Premier League club are already eyeing his replacement. Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is being earmarked for the job at Emirates Stadium, according to The Sun.

- Staying at Arsenal and AC Milan are considering a €40m (£34.5m) move for midfielder Lucas Torreira in January, according to Fichajes.com. Meanwhile, Turkish-Football reports Arsenal have made contact with the representatives of Juventus defender Merih Demiral about a potential move.

- Alessandro Florenzi could make a move from Roma in January, according to CalcioMercato. Fiorentina and Inter are reportedly interested in the right-back.

In the past six meetings between Manchester City and Liverpool in major competitions Pep Guardiola used notably different tactical setups on each occasion.

Defensive problems with a 3-5-2 despite a 5-0 win over the 10-man Reds in September 2017 prompted a switch to his tried and trusted 4-3-3 as City swept all before them on the way to a 100-point haul and Premier League glory in 2017-18.

Well, almost all. Liverpool won a thriller 4-3 on Merseyside in the January of that campaign – persuading Guardiola to select a diamond midfield for the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final three months later.

That didn't work either, as City were ransacked 3-0 and were unable to turn the tie around despite an all-or-nothing 3-1-4-2 line-up tearing into the return leg at the Etihad Stadium with gusto.

Last season it was out with the cavalier and in with control, whether that was Bernardo Silva playing in a deeper central midfield position during a 0-0 draw in Liverpool or Aymeric Laporte playing on the left of a defence able to pivot from a four to a three in a gripping 2-1 triumph in Manchester.

City will search for a first Anfield win in 16-and-a-half years on Sunday, with Liverpool's six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table compromising their ambitions of a third straight title.

Ederson this week joined an injury list featuring Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane, David Silva and Oleksandr Zinchenko, meaning an even taller order for Guardiola against the most persistently challenging adversary of his coaching career.

Here, we look at how Guardiola might approach his latest crack at the Klopp conundrum.

4-4-2, 1-4-4-1 – Guardiola's 2019-20 shape experiments

During August's Community Shield encounter against Liverpool, where a typically tight game went City's way on penalties after a 1-1 draw, Guardiola debuted a tweak to his 4-3-3. One of the attacking midfielders – in this instance Kevin De Bruyne – would press high and close to the centre forward, forming a 4-4-2 shape without the ball.

Ostensibly, this ploy has been designed for an aging David Silva to be able to press in a more economical fashion. The master playmaker is likely to miss out at Anfield with a muscular injury, however, and namesake Bernardo seemed a good fit for the role during the first half against Atalanta.

The Portugal international's positioning allowed him to play an astute pass to create Raheem Sterling's opener after the goalscorer won back possession with an interception.

Expect to see more of that when the hosts have the ball, while a new configuration when building play from the back might be used to try and neutralise Liverpool's formidable press.

Ederson's supreme ability with the ball at his feet is simply not replicated by Claudio Bravo, despite the Camp Nou credentials of the man who will deputise for City's injured Brazil international.

This will undoubtedly compromise the construction of the visitors' attacks on Sunday, meaning Fernandinho's accelerated progression from makeshift to mainstay at centre-back is likely to be locked in.

A notable ploy in the games against Crystal Palace away and Atalanta at home, when Guardiola paired Fernandinho with fellow defensive midfielder Rodri in the heart of defence, was one of the centre-backs moving alongside the holding midfielder when City started their build-up.

This created another passing option for the goalkeeper and deeper centre-back and amounted roughly to a 1-4-4-1 shape.

Fernandinho's superb passing range and John Stones' smooth style being suited to this approach means there is another argument for Nicolas Otamendi being the odd man out in defence, before considering his ranking alongside Bravo in the accident-prone stakes.

A time for Foden?

Ever since his maiden first-team appearance two years ago, the understandable clamour for boyhood City fan Phil Foden to feature more frequently has steadily grown.

The difference this season is a case can be made beyond romanticism and the importance of the 19-year-old's development; in certain matches and situations, City look better with Foden in the side

He dazzled for the most part when he started the 5-1 win over Atalanta, only to blot his good work with a pair of needless late bookings. That red card is a reason for Guardiola to stick with more tried and tested names, but he cited the England Under-21 star's box-to-box capabilities as the reason for his selection and frequent success against the Serie A side.

The playmaker's presence lends a dynamism to City's midfield that was notably lacking from this season's Premier League defeats to Norwich City and Wolves, and meeting Liverpool's verve and energy head on feels like a must.

Guardiola's midweek trident of Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and De Bruyne might well have been road tested with Anfield in mind, but throwing Foden into a high-stakes encounter – as when he scored the winner in last season's vital 1-0 victory over Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium – is being given strong consideration.

"Phil Foden has a great stamina capacity, a great thing against Liverpool," a source close to Guardiola told Omnisport before David Silva's injury made Foden's path to the first XI theoretically more straightforward.

"I think City are not interested in a crazy match versus Liverpool, but to try to be in control of the ball. But finally, that [picking Foden] is the crucial decision around Pep's match plan."

 

Aguero or Jesus… or both?

Sergio Aguero has started 2019-20 in typically prolific form, scoring 13 times in 14 appearances, despite sometimes appearing to be operating shy of top gear.

At the same time, Gabriel Jesus is also enjoying a strong run of form and, given Guardiola's frequently stated admiration for the Brazil striker's high-pressing, there could be a temptation to switch his attacking spearhead.

However, as separate as it remains from what he brings in open play, Jesus' feeble penalty at San Siro will not have helped his case. Also, Aguero's pedigree in big games – even allowing for the anomaly of him never finding the net at Anfield – surely sways the argument in his favour.

Jesus' revival after an underwhelming 2018-19 came playing on the right-hand side of Brazil's attack. Guardiola has not played Aguero and Jesus together in the same 4-3-3 forward line with any frequency since the early months of 2017-18 and a bold Jesus-Aguero-Sterling frontline would certainly raise eyebrows on Merseyside.

It could also cause plenty of problems. Nevertheless, Bernardo Silva's tireless work rate to negate Andy Robertson or Riyad Mahrez looking to atone a wretched penalty miss of his own on the same ground 13 months ago remain far more likely options on Guardiola's right flank.

Omnisport's predicted Manchester City line-up to face Liverpool: Bravo; Walker, Fernandinho, Stones, Mendy; Gundogan, De Bruyne, Foden; Bernardo Silva, Aguero, Sterling.

Luis Suarez is back for Uruguay for his nation's friendlies against Hungary and Argentina this month.

The Barcelona star last featured for his country at the Copa America earlier this year, but is set for a return after being named in a 22-man squad on Friday.

Suarez missed Uruguay's matches against Peru last month, instead staying in Barcelona to undergo medical treatment.

The 32-year-old has found form for his club, moving onto eight goals in 12 games in all competitions this season.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani, Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde and Inter pair Diego Godin and Matias Vecino are also part of the squad.

Uruguay face Hungary in Budapest on Friday before taking on Argentina in Israel three days later.

Uruguay: Martin Campana (Independiente), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray); Sebastian Coates (Sporting CP), Diego Godin (Inter), Giovanni Gonzalez (Penarol), Diego Laxalt (Torino), Bruno Mendez (Corinthians), Gaston Silva (Independiente), Mathias Suarez (Montpellier), Matias Vina (Nacional); Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Brian Lozano (Santos Laguna), Nahitan Nandez (Cagliari), Lucas Torreira (Arsenal), Federico Valverde (Real Madrid), Matias Vecino (Inter); Edinson Cavani (PSG), Maxi Gomez (Valencia), Brian Rodriguez (Los Angeles FC), Jonathan Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Cristhian Stuani (Girona), Luis Suarez (Barcelona).

Marcelo Gallardo played down rumours he could take over as Barcelona coach, saying his focus was on River Plate.

Gallardo has been linked with a move to Camp Nou amid reports Ernesto Valverde will leave no later than the end of the season.

However, the River coach discussed the rumours ahead of a big finish to the year, including a Copa Libertadores final clash against Flamengo on November 23.

"No party came forward to start a conversation, especially knowing that we are in a very important phase for our club, playing decisive matches," Gallardo told a news conference on Friday, via Globo Esporte.

"Of course there is nothing that takes my focus off the goals ahead."

"I can't echo the rumours," he added. "No one came to suggest a meeting or analysis of what to do in the future.

"This is not the time for that."

Gallardo has been in charge of River since 2014, winning two Copa Libertadores titles.

River are third in the Argentinian Primera Division, a point adrift of Argentinos Juniors and Lanus through 12 games.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed the Premier League giants have "absolutely no chance" of signing Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe, 20, has been linked with a move away from the Ligue 1 champions, with Liverpool emerging as a potential surprise destination despite reported interest from Real Madrid.

But Klopp, whose side host Manchester City in a blockbuster clash on Sunday, dismissed talk Liverpool could add the France forward.

"Buying this calibre of player is difficult. I don't see any club at the moment who can buy Kylian Mbappe from PSG," he told the media.

"I don't see any club, that is how it is. And we are involved in the clubs that cannot do it. It is as easy as that.

"Okay, from a sporting point of view, there are not a lot of reasons to not sign him. What a player he is. But it is about the money of course. No chance. Absolutely no chance. Sorry for killing that story."

Liverpool were quiet during the previous transfer window, opting against adding any new faces to the first team.

Klopp again talked up the importance of keeping his squad together, saying the players he wanted were out of Liverpool's reach financially.

"The players we thought about to make this team better were really expensive and we could not spend the money. That is how it is," he said.

"To see a player better, or with potential to be better or play the same is difficult. That is what it was. That was the situation. It was not that we were not ready, but we did not want to make five or six changes. Not at all. They are at a wonderful age with still space for improvement.

"We wanted to do something and we could have done a lot, but we only wanted to do the right thing. That is the reason we kept this squad because it is really good and if you want to improve it you have to go for the right players, not just some players to fix whatever."

Liverpool hold a six-point lead at the top ahead of the clash against City at Anfield.

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