Ilkay Gundogan believes there are "no limits" for Raheem Sterling and has hailed his Manchester City team-mate as one of the best five attackers in world football.

Sterling opened the scoring 20 seconds after half-time in City's 3-0 win over Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, having been the only home player to impress Pep Guardiola in the first period as the Premier League champions struggled.

The forward's latest goal was his seventh of the season in England's top flight and followed a midweek Champions League hat-trick against Atalanta.

"I think he made a big step forward," Gundogan, the scorer of City's third, said of his in-form team-mate. "The way he is now on matchdays, with his mentality, with his aggressivity, with and without the ball, it is crucial for us.

"We need these kind of players, game-changing players. At the moment, he is probably the one player that can change everything for us and we want to help him keep going like that, scoring and scoring.

"I feel at the moment, there are no limits for him. It's [on] us to help him to achieve all his targets and try to get out the best possible Raheem Sterling in the next few months.

"I think he is among the best five attackers in the world right now. It's all about consistency - he has shown in the last year and a half that he is able to be that consistent. If he continues like that, he can be on the top."

Gundogan became the latest City midfielder to fill in at the heart of defence, albeit briefly, after Fernandinho picked up a second yellow card with three minutes of normal time remaining.

The Germany international added: "I got a little feeling in the last few minutes of the game [playing as a centre-back]. I think I did well, but obviously it's a position that I don't really feel very comfortable with.

"But if it's necessary, if I'm needed in that position, I will play it. I don't mind.

"I want to help the team wherever I can, so if the manager decides to put me there one day, I will give my best and I will try to help the team as much as possible."

Take your pick: Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City?

Napoli star Fabian Ruiz is in demand following his exploits in Serie A since leaving Real Betis in 2018.

LaLiga giants Madrid are keen to bring Spanish midfielder Fabian to the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEPPING UP FABIAN INTEREST

Real Madrid are prepared to offer €20million and Isco for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz, according to Mundo Deportivo.

In-demand Napoli star Fabian is wanted by Madrid, LaLiga champions Barcelona and Premier League holders Manchester City.

Fabian swapped Real Betis for Napoli in 2018 and Madrid are determined to bring the Spain international to the Santiago Bernabeu, though Napoli are reportedly uninterested in an exchange and wanted a bigger transfer fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- According the Mirror, Manchester United have been given the green light for a £125million double swoop to sign Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller. Havertz is wanted by Europe's elite, while Muller is searching for more game time.

United have been put off signing Real Madrid's Gareth Bale due to his injury record, reports the Daily Mail. Bale's name continues to be mentioned amid Madrid's interest in United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Inter are ready to make January bids for Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal and Manchester United's Nemanja Matic, according to Corriere della Sera. Sport also claims Inter are in talks with Barca for Ivan Rakitic.

- AS claims Barcelona want Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman to replace head coach Ernesto Valverde, who is out of contract at season's end. PSV's Mark van Bommel is also on the list of alternatives.

Manchester City are set to offer Wayne Rooney's son Kai the chance to join their academy, says the Mirror. Kai joined City in 2016 during Wayne's time at Premier League rivals Manchester United.

- Soccer Link reports Lyon are open to selling Manchester United target and star striker Moussa Dembele.

A superb second-half display helped Manchester City to a comprehensive 3-0 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan were all on target after the break as Pep Guardiola's side closed the gap to leaders Liverpool to three points ahead of their game with Tottenham on Sunday.

Christian Pulisic was the star of the show as Chelsea beat Burnley 4-2 at Turf Moor, the American plundering a hat-trick after being recalled to the starting XI by Frank Lampard.

Elsewhere, a stoppage-time own goal by Lucas Digne condemned Everton to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Meanwhile, Watford and Bournemouth played out a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road.

 

STERLING SHINES AS CITY SEE OFF VILLA

The England forward followed his midweek hat-trick against Atalanta with another strike as City cruised past Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling latched onto Gabriel Jesus' headed flick-on before squeezing a low effort underneath Tom Heaton to open the scoring just 20 seconds into the second period.

That was followed in the 65th minute by David Silva's strike, the Spaniard's deft touch from Kevin De Bruyne's whipped cross given the green light after a lengthy VAR review.

Ilkay Gundogan then added a third 20 minutes from time, the German sending a fine half-volley past Heaton, before Fernandinho spoiled a fine performance with a second yellow card in the 87th minute.

 

PATIENT PULISIC MAKES HIS MARK

United States international Pulisic has had to be patient this season, with Lampard choosing not to start him in a Premier League since August.

He was chosen ahead of Callum Hudson-Odoi at Turf Moor, though, and repaid his head coach's faith in style as the Blues made it seven consecutive wins in all competitions.

The 21-year-old put his side 2-0 up at the break with a well-taken double before completing his hat-trick 11 minutes after the restart. Willian then made it 4-0 two minutes later with a clinical finish past Nick Pope.

Burnley finished on the front foot, with Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil scoring in the final five minutes, but it was too little, too late for Sean Dyche's side.

 

SEAGULLS LEAVE IT LATE TO OVERCOME TOFFEES

Everton remain in trouble near the foot of the table after Digne's own goal four minutes into stoppage time handed Brighton a 3-2 win at the Amex Stadium.

Pascal Gross had put the hosts ahead with a thunderous free-kick after 15 minutes but an own goal from Adam Webster pulled the Toffees level five minutes later.

Everton looked on course for their first away win of the season when Dominic Calvert-Lewin stroked home with 16 minutes remaining.

However, Neal Maupay levelled from the spot in the 80th minute after VAR adjudged Michael Keane to have fouled Aaron Connolly inside the penalty area, with Everton's misery completed by Digne's unfortunate intervention late on.

MOUSSET THE DIFFERENCE AGAIN FOR BLADES

Lys Mousset's second goal of the week ensured Sheffield United left London with a point.

West Ham had taken the lead shortly before the interval when Robert Snodgrass fired low past Dean Henderson for his first Premier League goal of the campaign.

Mousset – who scored the winner against Arsenal on Monday – had the final say, though, finishing past Hammers goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez just six minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench.

Watford, meanwhile, remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after they were held to a goalless draw at home by Bournemouth.

Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City they can forget about overhauling Premier League leaders Liverpool if they recreate their "relegation" performance in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

Guardiola's reigning champions trimmed the deficit to three points thanks to second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan at the Etihad Stadum on Saturday.

Liverpool can double their advantage by beating Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, but Guardiola was more willing to dwell upon his team's showing before the break against Villa, which he felt had more in common with a battle to stay in the division than a title race.

"Six days ago we were eight points [behind], now we are three. But they have to play against Tottenham," he said.

"I am not concerned about the table. I am concerned about the way we played.

"If we play the level we played in the second half we can be there until the end of the season, I am sure of that.

"If we play the way we did in the first half, we will be in the relegation positions, far away from the leaders of the table. That is my view."

"The first half we played football but not in the way we should play."

Gabriel Jesus got the nod to start ahead of Sergio Aguero at centre-forward, the Brazil international alert to flick on Ederson's long clearance to set up City's opener.

Aguero replaced Sterling to end the game operating in tandem with Jesus and Guardiola insists it does not always have to be a case of either/or when it comes to his two strikers.

"Both players together, yeah they can play. It depends on the opponent, how they use their system," he said.

"Gabriel in the national team plays sometimes on the left. He is not a specific winger like Bernardo [Silva], Leroy [Sane] and Riyad [Mahrez] but he can play there when we need more players in the box.

"He has an incredible work ethic, he can help us with runs in behind and his movement is so good."

A superb second-half display helped Manchester City to a comprehensive 3-0 win over Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday.

Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan were all on target after the break as Pep Guardiola's side closed the gap to leaders Liverpool to three points ahead of their game with Tottenham on Sunday.

A stoppage-time own goal by Lucas Digne condemned Everton to a 3-2 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion and Sheffield United came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Meanwhile, Watford and Bournemouth played out a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road.

 

STERLING SHINES AS CITY SEE OFF VILLA

The England forward followed his midweek hat-trick against Atalanta with another strike as City cruised past Villa at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling latched onto Gabriel Jesus' headed flick-on before squeezing a low effort underneath Tom Heaton to open the scoring just 20 seconds into the second period.

That was followed in the 65th minute by David Silva's strike, the Spaniard's deft touch from Kevin De Bruyne's whipped cross given the green light after a lengthy VAR review.

Ilkay Gundogan then added a third 20 minutes from time, the German sending a fine half-volley past Heaton, before Fernandinho spoiled a fine performance with a second yellow card in the 87th minute.

SEAGULLS LEAVE IT LATE TO OVERCOME TOFFEES

Everton remain in trouble near the foot of the table after Digne's own goal four minutes into stoppage time handed Brighton a 3-2 win at the Amex Stadium.

Pascal Gross had put the hosts ahead with a thunderous free-kick after 15 minutes but an own goal from Adam Webster pulled the Toffees level five minutes later.

Everton looked on course for their first away win of the season when Dominic Calvert-Lewin stroked home with 16 minutes remaining.

However, Neal Maupay levelled from the spot in the 80th minute after VAR adjudged Michael Keane to have fouled Aaron Connolly inside the penalty area, with Everton's misery completed by Digne's unfortunate intervention late on.

MOUSSET THE DIFFERENCE AGAIN FOR BLADES

Lys Mousset's second goal of the week ensured Sheffield United left London with a point.

West Ham had taken the lead shortly before the interval when Robert Snodgrass fired low past Dean Henderson for his first Premier League goal of the campaign.

Mousset – who scored the winner against Arsenal on Monday – had the final say, though, finishing past Hammers goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez just six minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench.

Watford, meanwhile, remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League after they were held to a goalless draw at home by Bournemouth.

Pep Guardiola hailed Raheem Sterling's ability to cope with high expectations after the winger scored in the Premier League four days after hitting a Champions League hat-trick.

Sterling's treble in a 5-1 victory over Atalanta added weight to his billing as the top flight's most in-form forward and he lived up to the hype in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.

After a goalless first half in which City survived a number of scares at the back, Sterling broke the deadlock early in the second half to settle the champions' nerves.

Sterling's strike paved the way for David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan to increase City's lead, and Guardiola was quick to point out the difficulty many players have in delivering when under pressure in the manner that Sterling did.

"We played good for 45 minutes, but not the other one," Guardiola told reporters. "Respect and credit to Aston Villa.

"We have to be aggressive with the ball. The only person in the first half who was aggressive was Sterling. In the second half it happened.

"When everybody talks in the media how good you are, usually the next game you play like 'how good am I?'. Sterling was the complete opposite.

"That is our strength as a team in the last years together. Every game, every three days, we go together."

Guardiola also reserved words of praise for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, whose dynamic performance caused City's defence problems in the first half at Etihad Stadium.

Grealish was expected to join Tottenham after Villa missed out on promotion to the Premier League in the 2017-18 Championship play-offs, but he stayed at the club and helped them reach the top flight a year later.

Guardiola expressed his admiration for Grealish's commitment, saying: "Grealish is an incredible player. He's a top player.

"I'm happy he's an Aston Villa player. I like that he stayed and defended his club (in the Championship).

"He's fast in the final [third] and always creates something."

For a player who built his reputation as a youthful Rolls-Royce of a centre-back, there has been a jarring element of slapstick around Manchester City's John Stones of late.

During the closing stages of an eventually comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa, the England international blocked a shot flush in the face and had to be groggily helped to his feet by City's medical staff.

It was a scene that suited a cracking black eye collected at the end of last week's win at Crystal Palace.

Similarly, Stones sporting the shiner when Pep Guardiola tore into him for not putting his shin pads on quickly enough to replace an injured Rodri during the midweek thrashing of Atalanta created something of a class-clown vibe.

The 25-year-old was back in City's starting line-up against Villa for the first time since his second ill-timed thigh injury of a season yet to click fully into gear.

Stones' first setback denied him the chance to put down an early marker in City's post-Vincent Kompany era. Then, in September, he followed knee-injury victim Aymeric Laporte into the treatment room.

Concerns about match fitness would have been natural, but the sight of Fernandinho and Rodri – two career midfielders – starting ahead of the specialist Stones over the past week spoke of a discontentment on Guardiola's part that goes deeper than how quickly the Yorkshireman is able to dress himself.

Despite once famously commending Stones' testicular fortitude, Guardiola has shifted the man he made his first major defensive signing at City to the margins during their back-to-back triumphant title run-ins.

At the end of 2018-19, he started two games in all competitions after limping out of a 1-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth at the start of March. An unprecedented domestic treble arrived with Stones relegated to the supporting cast.

Circumstances have now aligned to make this a pivotal moment in the career of a player who should be coming into his prime.

Kompany left, Harry Maguire did not join, Laporte got injured and Nicolas Otamendi – who will never appear less accident-prone than Stones, even if the black eye lasts a lifetime – suffered a bad back.

Rodri pulled a hamstring and Fernandinho's introduction to the heart of defence, although impressive for the most part this week, cannot really escape a penalty conceded in the first half versus Atalanta and an avoidable red card against Villa in the final analysis.

Battered and visibly bruised, Stones is Guardiola's last man standing, with a season-defining trip to Anfield on the horizon.

His felt like a mixed bag against Villa. Before second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan ensured City's ambitious and pugnacious visitors ran out of road, Stones almost gave them the lead.

A pass straight to John McGinn recalled those awfully absent-minded moments that still come too frequently, such as when England's Nations League Finals ambitions came crashing down against Netherlands in June.

A brilliant Ederson save and the scrambling efforts of Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo bailed him out. Stones' own brave block shortly afterwards ricocheted against his arm and survived a VAR review.

Around all that, the centre-back won all five of his duels - proving to be quietly dominant in the air – conceded no fouls (take note, Fernandinho), made five clearances, won possession four times and completed 91.9 per cent of his passes. It amounts to a performance he can and must build on.

Into stoppage time and after the face block, McGinn's shot on the rebound bounced back off the post and hit City's number five – stationed in the goalmouth – on the back of the knee. The ball spun through his legs and into Ederson's grateful grasp. Perhaps Stones' luck is finally starting to turn.

Kevin De Bruyne reminded Premier League leaders Liverpool that there is a long season ahead after his goal in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa helped Manchester City narrow the gap at the top of the table to three points.

Raheem Sterling gave City the lead at Etihad Stadium before De Bruyne sent a curling ball into the Villa box and it drifted past goalkeeper Tom Heaton via an apparent glancing touch from David Silva.

Ilkay Gundogan added a third to put the game beyond Villa, who De Bruyne admitted caused City plenty of problems in a more evenly balanced first 45 minutes.

"In the first half we had some difficulty, a lack of intensity, and the rhythm was not really there," De Bruyne told BT Sport.

"Gabi [Gabriel Jesus] had a couple of chances to put us in front and the second half started really well with Ras' goal. After that, we had a good performance.

"In the first half they had couple of counter-attacks and we didn't cope really well. But it's going to happen, we played on Tuesday and they had the whole week [to prepare] so they're a little bit fresher but, in the end, we deserved to win."

The victory came three weeks after City suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Wolves, handing Liverpool an advantage in the title race.

The Reds can restore a six-point gap over the champions by beating Tottenham on Sunday but De Bruyne is unperturbed by such an advantage.

"It's a long competition," said the Belgium international.

"We answered really well after the international break, won three in a row, so let's keep it going."

Even the sending-off of Fernandinho three minutes from time did not faze De Bruyne, who backed City's squad to cope with a list of defensive absentees that already includes Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Asked about the prospect of Fernandinho's suspension, De Bruyne replied: "You guys say the same whatever is happening, whoever gets injured.

"It's part of the game. We have a lot of injuries, but we've been coping really well. It's not nice because you want everyone to be there, but it is what it is."

Raheem Sterling capped a fine week of goalscoring with the opener as Manchester City returned to winning ways in the Premier League at Etihad Stadium, beating Aston Villa 3-0.

The England forward scored a hat-trick in City's midweek thrashing of Atalanta and plundered his seventh league goal of the season to help City see off in-form Villa, who matched the champions for 45 minutes.

Villa boss Dean Smith, taking charge of his boyhood club for the 50th time, might have picked up a result had it not been for the swagger with which Sterling is playing this season and he made no mistake when put through at close range just 20 seconds after the restart.

Kevin De Bruyne curled in a contentious second after 65 minutes, the suspicion of offside dismissed following a lengthy VAR review, and an Ilkay Gundogan strike killed Villa off before Fernandinho blotted a fine performance with a second yellow card.

John Stones allowed John McGinn to force a good one-handed save from Ederson, but City began to dominate possession and David Silva squandered a golden chance when he side-footed narrowly wide on the cusp of half-time.

The second half was 20 seconds old when Ederson's long, high ball forward was knocked down by Gabriel Jesus to Sterling, who slid the ball through Heaton's legs from six yards out.

Tyrone Mings turned a Jesus effort over the crossbar with his knee moments later to keep Villa in the contest until De Bruyne's cross-cum-shot bounced within a whisker of David Silva and Sterling, who was offside when the ball was kicked, before beating Heaton into the far corner of the net.

Buoyed by good fortune on the second, Pep Guardiola's men went for the jugular and bagged a third when Fernandinho and Bernardo Silva took turns at flashing the ball across the face of goal before Gundogan scissor-kicked home his first league goal of the season.

After picking up a yellow card for a foul on Jack Grealish, Fernandinho made a clumsy challenge on Keinan Davis and was sent off, souring an otherwise excellent afternoon for Guardiola who could do without defensive suspensions.

Mings made his second goal-line clearance of the day after Gabriel Jesus' chip hit the crossbar and Ederson made a fine save to deny Davis at the other end before John McGinn hit the post at the death.

What does it mean? All eyes on Anfield

The result moves City back to within three points of leaders Liverpool ahead of their clash with Tottenham on Sunday, and buries the memory of a shock home defeat to Wolves on October 6.

Sterling shows polish

It looked like one of those games when City could do everything but score until Sterling was presented with his first clear chance and showed just why he is one of the league's most feared forwards.

Mings lets Jesus in

Villa's plans for the second half were upended when Mings let Jesus win the header that put Sterling through for the opener, and there was no way back for the visitors.

What's next?

City play the first of their back-to-back games against Southampton when they meet in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, while Villa face a Black Country derby at home against Wolves in the same competition the next day.

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid are among a host of major clubs interested in signing Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali, according to the club's owner and president Massimo Cellino.

Tonali, 19, is one of Italy's brightest prospects, having broken into Brescia's first-team picture at the age of 17.

A technically gifted deep-lying playmaker who is often likened to Azzurri great Andrea Pirlo, Tonali made his first appearance for Italy in the Euro 2020 qualifying win over Liechtenstein on October 15.

He played 34 league games last season as Brescia were crowned Serie B champions and earned promotion back to the top flight, with many expecting the midfielder to be snapped up by a bigger club.

Brescia have managed to hold onto him, though, with Cellino suggesting it would take an eye-watering €300million for the club to part with him.

Asked by La Gazzetta dello Sport who was interested in Tonali, Cellino said: "All the big Italian clubs. Abroad there's Atletico Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, but in my view, he'd be better off remaining a key player with Brescia.

"His agent and his parents were telling me about this €50million evaluation. I replied that for me he is worth €300million, which means I don't want to sell.

"I have a dream. If Sandro accepts, I am ready to make a big financial sacrifice to extend his contract. It's up to him to decide. He can stay here and enjoy his football or go to a big club and risk being left on the bench."

Kylian Mbappe is long admired by Real Madrid and they are again intent on adding the 20-year-old to their front line, it seems.

Mbappe was linked with a switch to the Santiago Bernabeu before opting to stay in Ligue 1 when joining Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco in the 2017-18 season.

The Spanish giants have not forgotten about the France international, though, and are planning to move two superstars on in order to get their man, according to reports.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE BACK ON MADRID'S RADAR WITH BALE AND JAMES TO MAKE WAY

Real Madrid were unable to land Kylian Mbappe a couple of seasons ago, but they are keen to sign him over the next few transfer windows, according to Calciomercato.

Mbappe is one of world football's star names and would fit into the old Galactico culture at Madrid, although Los Blancos would need to offload two star names in order to raise finances and complete a deal with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

One of those names is Gareth Bale, who is still reportedly unhappy at Madrid, while Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez could also move on having struggled at times to find form this season following a loan spell at Bayern Munich.

It remains to be seen whether any club is willing to pay the substantial transfer fee and wages required to secure either of the duo, but if they do make way then it could pave the way for Mbappe's move.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying in Madrid and ElDesmarque believe Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba could be heading to Real Madrid in exchange for Gareth Bale and €90million.

- Bleacher Report claim Mesut Ozil's advisors are trying to convince the Arsenal playmaker to make a switch to MLS.

- Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly is the number one transfer target for Manchester City, according to Calciomercato.

- Manchester Evening News are reporting City may also take up their option to buy back Douglas Luiz from Aston Villa.

- Frank Lampard is hopefully of securing Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham to new contracts at Chelsea, Goal have said.

- Athletic Bilbao defender Unai Nunez is a January transfer target for Bayern Munich, say Spox.

- Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez's contract talks with Inter have been put on ice as Barcelona and United circle for the 22-year-old's signature, according to Calciomercato.

Jamie Vardy's injury-time penalty against Southampton gave Leicester City a piece of Premier League history by sealing a 9-0 win at St Mary's.

Vardy and Ayoze Perez both scored hat-tricks in a triumph that equalled the previous best in the competition's history, while also representing the biggest top-flight win away from home in 131 years of league football in England.

Here, we look back at the matches that proved to be the stuff of wildest dreams or darkest nightmares for the teams on the respective sides of a yawning gulf in class.

 

Southampton 0-9 Leicester City – October 25, 2019

Ryan Bertrand was sent off for a challenge in the build-up to Ben Chilwell's 10th-minute opener but that was scant excuse for the manner in which Ralph Hasenhuttl's side unravelled. Youri Tielemans was granted ample room to double the lead, then Perez began romping towards a hat-trick he completed a minute before Vardy's headed second made it 7-0 in the 58th minute. A James Maddison free-kick and a Vardy penalty took this defeat in to uncharted territory for a home side.

Manchester United 9-0 Ipswich Town – March 4, 1995

No longer the outright worst after a quarter of a century out on their own, Ipswich's beleaguered XI from this Old Trafford outing might well raise a glass to Vardy and his colleagues. Andy Cole scored five after Roy Keane began the rout in the 15th minute. Former Southampton manager Mark Hughes hit a quickfire second-half double and Paul Ince also got in on the act. Peter Schmeichel watched it all unfold from the other end, just as his son Kasper did in goal for Leicester on Friday.

Tottenham 9-1 Wigan Athletic – November 22, 2009

Wigan had a slither of hope when Paul Scharner pulled a goal back to make it 3-1 before the hour at White Hart Lane. Ultimately, the only significance of that strike was to keep them off the top of this list. Jermain Defoe was the Cole of the piece, rattling in five goals from the 51st minute onwards, while Aaron Lennon, David Bentley and Nico Kranjcar piled on the pain. Remarkably, Peter Crouch's ninth-minute header was the only goal of the 10 scored before half-time.

That same season, Wigan lost 8-0 at Chelsea, who beat Aston Villa by the same margin at Stamford Bridge two years later. Newcastle United claimed the division's first 8-0 scoreline at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday in 1999.

Southampton 8-0 Sunderland – October 18, 2014

The St Mary's faithful at least know what it feels like to be on the joyous end of what they endured against Leicester. The boot was on the other foot five years ago, although what exactly Sunderland defender Santiago Vergini and his boots were trying to achieve when he inexplicably walloped into his own net after 12 minutes remains anyone's guess. But that was 1-0 at that stage, with Graziano Pelle scoring the first of a brace six minutes later. Jack Cork, Dusan Tadic, Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mane also scored, with Liam Bridcutt joining Vergini in putting through his own goal.

Manchester City 8-0 Watford – September 21, 2019

United's outright record surprisingly remained intact despite their neighbours racing into a 5-0 lead inside 18 minutes against Watford last month. David Silva netted from close range inside a minute, with Riyad Mahrez winning a penalty for Sergio Aguero before scoring himself. Bernardo Silva opened his tally on the way to a hat-trick, with Nicolas Otamendi a more unlikely first-half goalscorer. Kevin De Bruyne masterfully orchestrated the destruction of a side City demolished 6-0 in May's FA Cup final and wrapped up the scoring with an emphatic strike into the top corner.

Nottingham Forest 1 Manchester United 8 – February 6, 1999

The biggest away win the Premier League had seen until Leicester went about their savagery. This seemed fairly standard stuff for Alex Ferguson's majestic treble-winning side as Dwight Yorke and Cole scored twice against an overmatched Forest, who would finish the season bottom of the table. Standard, that was, until Ole Gunnar Solskjaer emerged from the bench and pilfered four goals in the final 10 minutes at the City Ground.

Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City's recent injury problems will not persuade the Premier League champions to enter the January transfer market.

Rodri (hamstring) and Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee) this week joined long-term knee injury victims Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane on the sidelines.

Expected recoveries the other side of November's international break mean both defensive midfielder Rodri and left-back Zinchenko will miss the crunch trip to Liverpool in a fortnight's time.

Left-winger Sane and centre-back Laporte are not due back in action until the new year, with the latter's absence having been particularly keenly felt after City opted not to bring in a specialist replacement for outgoing captain Vincent Kompany during the close season.

It meant Rodri and fellow midfielder Fernandinho starting their past two matches in the heart of defence as John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi built fitness following respective hamstring and back problems.

Despite speculation linking City to the likes of Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Benfica's Ruben Dias, Guardiola believes any significant incomings at the Etihad Stadium are unlikely once the window opens.

"After the international break – November, December, January, February – yeah, I am a little bit concerned because in a few positions we do not have enough players," he told reporters ahead of Saturday's Premier League match at home to Aston Villa.

"[But] in the January window I do not think we are going to buy. The club did not introduce me to players they thought could help us.

"Without that, it is not going to happen. The players we need are not just for six months, it is for a long time. And I think the important players will not be sold.

"We are going to stay all the season, I think, with the players that we have right now."

Knee operations in each of the past two seasons left Benjamin Mendy sidelined and gave Zinchenko – a midfielder by trade – a chance to establish himself in Guardiola's plans at left-back.

After Zinchenko's surgery to "clean the knee", as Guardiola put it, the roles are now reversed, with France international Mendy having a chance to put a run of games together.

There was plenty of promise in his all-action efforts in wins over Crystal Palace and Atalanta over the past week, but Guardiola is remaining understandably cautious.

Mendy spent the opening weeks of this season concluding his most recent round of knee rehabilitation, while a hamstring strain earlier this month checked his progress.

"We have Angelino, Joao [Cancelo] can play there too. We have other options," Guardiola said when discussing the full-back.

"[Mendy] played 90 minutes against Crystal Palace and then three days played another 75 in an incredibly demanding game against Atalanta. And he's not injured.

"I think [his form is] coming. If he can play regularly for months – games, games, games, games – he will get his best level.

"Still he is not at the level we believe [he can be] but that's normal after two seasons out. He needs time. Hopefully he can [stay] fit. 

"If he is fit, training every day, it is going to happen. Hopefully he cannot be stopped."

Pep Guardiola believes Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz had the quality to play for Manchester City, who were frustrated previously in their efforts to secure a work permit for the Brazilian.

Douglas Luiz was on City's books from 2017 to 2019 but was forced to go out on loan to Girona in consecutive seasons before sealing a reported £15million switch to Villa.

Guardiola spoke of his disappointment at failing to get the midfielder a permit in 2018, when City were short on options to cover Fernandinho.

The Premier League champions have since signed Rodri, although he is out injured, and Guardiola suggested there could still be the option for Douglas Luiz to return to City in the future.

"He would be here if the work permit had been possible," Guardiola said of Douglas Luiz ahead of City's meeting with Villa.

"The work permit was not possible, so loan, loan, and now he's at Aston Villa. I think we have an option to bring him back.

"But sometimes life is like this. We wanted him because in the last season we had a problem in that position because we didn't buy a holding midfielder in the last three or four seasons.

"Douglas Luiz - we thought about that. But with the rules in England with the work permit, it was not possible. So that's why - or I think he would have been here.

"He played in the pre-season last season in the United States, and he was really good. I think he has the quality to play with us but he could not do that."

Asked for an assessment of Douglas Luiz's primitive Premier League career, which has already included two stunning goals in seven games, Guardiola replied: "The talent is always there.

"He has played some games - he didn't play other ones. We will see at the end of the season how his level is. But the quality was there and is there."

Another midfielder predictably on the agenda this week was Phil Foden, who shone after being handed a start in the Champions League against Atalanta but was later sent off.

Guardiola, who has repeatedly talked up the teenager despite his limited appearances, suggested only time on the training pitch can get Foden to the required level.

"It's training by training - 19, 20, 21, 22, 23," the City boss said. "Every season will be better. It's time, a process of time.

"It's not that I do that and tomorrow he will get it. It's being in the stadium, playing the minutes, sometimes you have to pass, sometimes you have to run, these decisions.

"It's time. At 23, he will be better than now. At 26, he will be better than at 23. He's an incredible work ethic guy. In the training sessions, he's a fighter, and the quality is there."

Rodri is unlikely to feature again for Manchester City before the next international break, but Pep Guardiola was able to shed some light on Oleksandr Zinchenko's mystery injury.

Spain midfielder Rodri, who lined up at centre-back in City's past two matches, pulled up with an apparent hamstring problem during the 5-1 Champions League win over Atalanta in midweek.

Guardiola was hoping for positive news following scans but was told Rodri would likely not return until after the November internationals, which follow immediately after City's huge trip to Premier League leaders Liverpool.

"They told me that after the international break, [Rodri] will be ready again," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of facing Aston Villa on Saturday.

Another defensive option who will miss the Liverpool game is Zinchenko, who was ruled out of Champions League action this week with an unspecified knee injury.

The Ukraine international then uploaded a picture from a hospital bed, seemingly after surgery, but Guardiola is expecting the left-back to be back within four to six weeks.

"[Zinchenko] had a contact with the knee and felt something in the bone," he said. "He has to stop for four weeks, five weeks, more or less.

"He had something [surgery] to clean the knee. It's not a big issue, but five weeks, six weeks he will be out."

Rodri's absence could spell a return to first-team action for John Stones, who has started only twice in the league this season after ending the previous campaign out of the team.

"First choice? It's not about being first choice, it's about being fit," Guardiola said. "For a long time, [Stones] was injured in this period - a long, long time, many, many injuries.

"He could not play. Then he came back last season and Vinny [Kompany] and [Aymeric] Laporte were in incredible top form in a part of the season where I want to have regularity in the central defenders.

"This season, injury, injury, injury, injury. Sometimes, to get a rhythm, you need more time."

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