Manchester City became the first team in Premier League history to have five different players score at least 10 goals in a single season on Wednesday.

Riyad Mahrez moved to double figures for 2019-20 when he slotted home Kevin De Bruyne's cut-back to make it 2-0 against Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium.

De Bruyne himself has 11, as does Gabriel Jesus, who opened the scoring against Steve Bruce's side. City's top two scorers in the league this term are Raheem Sterling with 13 and Sergio Aguero on 16.

City are the first team in England's top flight to have at least five players reach the 10-goal mark since Everton in 1984-85.

Those goals from Jesus and Mahrez took Pep Guardiola's side to 83 in the league this season, nine more than newly-crowned champions Liverpool.

Despite breaking new ground in goalscoring, City found themselves 23 points behind Liverpool with five matches remaining after going down 1-0 at Southampton on Sunday - their ninth defeat of the season.

Real Madrid are planning to make a splash in the transfer market.

Reports claim three of Europe's finest – Kylian Mbappe, Kai Havertz and Eduardo Camavinga – are waiting to make the move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Could it happen?

 

TOP STORY – TRIO WAITING ON LOS BLANCOS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga are holding off contract talks as they wait for Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Wednesday's edition of Marca.

Mbappe is highly coveted by Zinedine Zidane and Madrid, Havertz has been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, while Camavinga is reportedly a Madrid target.

However, the trio may have to wait beyond this year to make the move to the Spanish capital, though Sport Bild claims Havertz has asked to leave Leverkusen before 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona still want to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, despite his release clause expiring.

Borussia Dortmund have issued an ultimatum to United. Sport Bild claims United have been told if they want to bid for Jadon Sancho, the deal must be done by August 10. Sancho has been heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford.

Arsenal want to sign Lyon's Moussa Dembele if they lose Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, reports Foot Mercato. Lacazette has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Inter, while Barca, PSG and other clubs are reportedly interested in Aubameyang.

Inter are not David Alaba's first choice should he leave Bayern, says Sport Bild. Alaba has been linked to Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Sevilla are leading Juventus and Inter in the pursuit of Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, says the Express.

- According to the Express, Tottenham are confident of signing Kurt Zouma from London rivals Chelsea at the end of the season.

- Could Inter be about to hijack Napoli's bid for Lille forward Victor Osimhen? The Nigeria international has been tipped to join Napoli in a €80million deal, however, Le10Sport says Inter are making a last-ditch attempt to sign Osimhen.

- Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri has handed in a transfer request as he looks to reunite with Antonio Conte at Inter, reports Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schira.

Milan are trying to hijack Inter's move for Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter have been favourites to land Tonali but Ralf Rangnick – who is tipped to become Milan's head coach in 2020-21 – has reportedly made the Italy international his top target.

A couple of days on, Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Southampton – their ninth loss of a limp and unsuccessful Premier League title defence – still appeared to be irritating Pep Guardiola.

How had it happened again? Such wastefulness.

Guardiola warned his players their FA Cup and Champions League hopes will go up in smoke if they remain so profligate, with his suggested remedy sounding more like exasperation than a practical solution.

"The only solution when you create 26 chances [and don't win] is to do 35," he said, recalling the precise number of attempts City had without scoring on England's south coast last weekend.

"And if 35 is not enough, 40. And if 40 is not enough, 45."

The City manager stopped before his chances to minutes ratio ran away from him entirely, but his team do create a phenomenal amount of opportunities.

In a Premier League table compiled using results from each game returned by Opta's Expected Goals (xG) metric, City would be top and not a mammoth 23 points in arrears.

Put simply, if fairly absurdly, the division's top scorers have a goalscoring problem.

NO SALVATION FOR JESUS

Sergio Aguero's knee-injury absence means Gabriel Jesus is City's only fit senior striker. This is certainly not the best time for the Brazil international to be enduring a nine-match goal drought.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's home game against Newcastle United, Guardiola made a point of praising Jesus' performance at Southampton, but his numbers make for grim reading.

Of the five opportunities Opta classified as big chances to pass the visitors by at St Mary's, Jesus spurned three of them. His xG figure for that barren showing was 1.36.

In 29 Premier League appearances, the 23-year-old has scored 10 times in 2019-20. This is a significant under-performance of his 14.7 xG.

Jesus' big-chance conversion rate is 25 per cent. No City player has enjoyed more than his 28 opportunities of that sort, yet just seven have ended up in the net.

However, as noted above, this is a team-wide problem for which Jesus is currently – albeit somewhat understandably – the main scapegoat.

THREE AND NOT SO EASY

As of Monday, there had been 24 occasions this Premier League season when a team registered an xG in excess of three during a single match.

City have done so six times, more than any other club. However, their xG of 3.25 against Southampton means they are also the only team to have lost when racking up such a dominant statistic.

Burnley's 3.15 xG only amounted to a 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham, but in the other 22 instances, the team creating such a high volume of quality chances prevailed.

City also had an xG of exactly three during their 2-2 draw at home to Spurs last August - an outcome Guardiola still frequently references when assessing where the campaign went awry.

AGUERO LEADS THE WAY

City's all-time leading goalscorer, Aguero turned 32 last month and is out of contract at the end of next season.

The team's recent struggles arguably give an uncomfortable insight into the not-too-distant future. None of Guardiola's other main forward options are as reliably clinical or prolific.

Aguero' 16 Premier League goals this season arrived at a frequency of one every 91 minutes. In contrast to Jesus, he out-performed his xG of 14.6. The Argentina international converted 13 of 25 big chances (52 per cent).

Raheem Sterling was on target during the recent comprehensive wins over Arsenal and Liverpool, but his haul of 13 dips below an xG mark of 14.8, in part due to 10 of 26 big chances being finished off (38 per cent).

MAHREZ AND FODEN OFFER HOPE

Elsewhere, Opta's numbers show not all City players should despair when confronted with a sight of goal.

Riyad Mahrez has an xG projection of six Premier League goals this term, but is up to nine in reality.  The former Leicester City winger isn't entirely immune to the jitters, however, with four of his six big chances missed.

Perhaps the situation calls for bold belief of a special young talent.

Phil Foden's provides a smaller sample size in terms of minutes played, yet the England Under-21 star has four goals despite an xG figure of 1.3.

All of those goals – a brace against Burnley in between strikes versus Arsenal and Liverpool – have come since lockdown and Foden is two from two when it comes to big chances.

Pep Guardiola conceded persistent injuries have hit John Stones' confidence as the centre-back enters a potentially crucial few weeks in his Manchester City career.

Stones joined City from Everton for £47.5million in 2016, with the ball-playing centre-back seen then as pivotal in terms of Guardiola implementing his trademark playing style at the Etihad Stadium.

However, the 26-year-old has been confined to the margins this season by frequent injury niggles, registering only 10 Premier League starts and making his sole Champions League appearance from the bench.

When he has appeared, Stones has struggled for his best form, something he will hope to remedy against Newcastle Untied on Wednesday after Guardiola confirmed he will start - a first outing since an ankle problem sidelined the England international before the Premier League restart.

"The quality of John is there, I never doubted for one second," Guardiola said. "It's just when you don’t play, injured again, rotated, injured again - of course that [a lack of confidence] happens.

"The players are good when they are in a routine, they’re confident. Even the top players need minutes, playing being fit or being injured. This is what happened with John in this period.

"Now it’s the moment to play for himself, focus on what he has to do. What John is, we know it. We know the quality and the perspective and everything is there."

Guardiola's latest restatement of his belief in Stones' abilities comes amid City being linked to centre-back reinforcements, with Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly thought to be a prime target.

The City boss once said that Stones would remain at the club as long as he did, but that picture seems nowhere near as clear as it once did.

Even when he was available earlier in the season, while Aymeric Laporte was rehabilitating from a cruciate knee ligament injury, Guardiola frequently overlooked Stones in favour of redeployed midfield veteran Fernandinho and the accident-prone Nicolas Otamendi.

Reports of a move to Arsenal or a return to Everton have surfaced in recent weeks, with the appeal of a fresh start for Stones not hard to identify.

"I said many times, I'm more than delighted with John Stones. As a person, as a professional, everything," Guardiola restated, before sounding a more pragmatic tone.

"What I want is the best for him. At the end of the season we are going to speak about what is going to happen, because sometimes my wishes are not the wishes of the player.

"I am honest with them and at the moment that we feel we have to change, we are going to tell them. John is a young player, always we want the consistency to train regularly.

"Some players can play every three days for 11 days. Other players struggle more to be fit. What we have to do is find the key to be able to train and play every three days. This is what we want."

The latest obstacle to any potential Stones resurgence is the form of teenage defender Eric Garcia, who started alongside Laporte for clean-sheet victories against Arsenal and Liverpool and the 1-0 loss at Southampton last time out.

"They are two guys, especially Eric, who do not make mistakes," Guardiola added, in a claim not easily applied to Stones, for all his talents.

"Again, against Southampton he doesn't make one mistake defensively. This is what we want.

"I saw Eric and Ayme incredibly well together against Arsenal and in the other games. I want to give more minutes to them to play together."

Laporte's knee injury, suffered during a 4-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion last August, has been cited as a major factor in City's title defence falling apart.

The man himself, however, is not so sure.

"They have to say that if they think that, but I don't think that," Laporte said.

"When I am on the pitch I try to do my best. If I can give us more chances to be on top of the league then that is better for me and the team too."

In a sentiment Stones would surely echo, Laporte added: "Hopefully in the next year I will be there all season and enjoy playing many games."

Jurgen Klopp feels Manchester City's attempts to dethrone his Liverpool side in the Premier League next season could be compromised if they reach the latter stages of the Champions League.

Liverpool stormed to their first domestic league title for 30 years in dominant fashion and their lead with five games remaining stands at an unassailable and mammoth 23 points.

City served notice of their intentions to make it three Premier League crowns in four seasons next time around with a dominant 4-0 victory over the Reds last week, although how their inconsistent 2019-20 will be judged rests upon whether they can add the FA Cup and the Champions League to the already-retailed EFL Cup.

Pep Guardiola's side hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the delayed second leg of their last-16 tie, which will take place on August 7 before the winner progresses to an eight-team mini-tournament in Lisbon that is slated to run from August 12-23.

Should City at least go close to getting their hands on the trophy that has eluded them in the modern era – not to mention one they stand to be banned from contesting over the next two years, pending the outcome of an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – Klopp believes recuperation for the 2020-21 campaign will be tricky given the expectedly quick turnaround.

"For pretty much all the teams, it is the same, apart from the teams still in Europe," said Klopp, who knows Liverpool's season ends with the July 26 trip to Newcastle United.

"I don't know how they'll sort that. If City go through to the Champions League final, that's the end of August. It's really tough then.

"Or [Manchester] United and Chelsea and Wolves – they're all still in Europe. That's really tough.

"For us, it's already tough, but we can deal with it. We cannot start until other teams have finished.

"It will be September, I guess, when we start again. This period we will use for a break and pre-season."

Fatigue is a present concern for Klopp in this compressed Premier League schedule.

Brighton and Hove Albion are up next on Wednesday for Liverpool, who travelled overnight to England's south coast after finding a hotel in line with the coronavirus protocols they are required to meet.

"When we heard about the fixtures, it was tough. It's tough for everybody, but when you get yours, you don't look where others play," Klopp said.

"We know we have these kind of fixtures around Boxing Day, where we play 48 hours after the last game, which makes absolutely no sense and never will make sense. I stick to the opinion that's a crime, but three days [to recover] is kind of okay.

"We had to make a decision: would we travel on the matchday? But Brighton is not around the corner, especially the airport is not around the corner, so we would have had to travel a lot."

Klopp added: "We decided to do it like we would do it in the middle of the season. It should be okay, but then we're coming back in the middle of the night and playing a few hours later again against Burnley.

"But Burnley has the same situation; they are in London against West Ham and then play us. It's not easier for them or easier for us. It's just tough for all of us and the logistics are really difficult."

Pep Guardiola has reiterated he wants to see Lionel Messi stay at Barcelona.

Barca talisman Messi is out of contract in 2021 and there is fresh speculation the six-time Ballon d’Or winner may wish to leave the club, who have not won the Champions League since 2015.

The forward has often been linked with a move to Manchester City to play under his former Camp Nou coach Guardiola.

But the City boss was reluctant to discuss transfers ahead of Wednesday's Premier League home match against Newcastle United.

He also stressed his stance on Messi has not changed, having previously expressed his hope the Argentine remains with Barca when questioned on the topic.

"I'm not going to speak about transfers until the end of the season," he said. "My wish is that Messi is going to stay in Barcelona."

Asked if a new centre-back was in his plans, he added: "At the end of the season. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted he had no influence on where City's Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid will be played, with a decision due this week.

City lead the tie 2-1 after a win at Santiago Bernabeu before the coronavirus lockdown and reports suggested Guardiola had lobbied UEFA over playing the return leg in Manchester rather than at a neutral venue.

"I am not strong enough to have this impact," he said.

"I am not a president. They have protocols. I have never spoken with UEFA. I have said many times that we want to play in Manchester but we are going to accept wherever UEFA decide to play.

"What I want is to play against Madrid. This is what I want but I didn't make phone calls, I don't have this power."

The club are also getting closer to finding out the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as they appeal against their two-year Champions League ban.

"On July 10 it is the [Champions League quarter-final] draw and [July] 13 will be the sentence," Guardiola added.

"After that, I will give my opinion. We wait for the resolution from UEFA. This season is not going to change. It is so beautiful what we have in front of us."

Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players that failure to turn dominance into goals and making mistakes will cost them if repeated against Arsenal and Real Madrid.

City fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Sunday, their ninth loss of the Premier League campaign leaving them 23 points adrift of champions Liverpool.

Che Adams lobbed goalkeeper Ederson after City lost possession and despite 26 shots from the visitors – just six of which were on target – it proved to be the only goal of the game.

Guardiola feels one-off mistakes and his side being unable to take their chances has proven damaging this season.

He insists there is no room for a repeat ahead of key upcoming matches against Arsenal and Madrid in the FA Cup semi-final and Champions League last 16.

"We played really good in terms of what we wanted to do, the commitment with the players after two or three successful seasons is still unbelievable," Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday's home league game against Newcastle United.

"But we are in the point that sometimes we make a mistake that we have to avoid in some games and are punished as a team. And in some games the lack of goals punish us as a team.

"In the semi-final against Arsenal and Madrid this is the reality. We can play the way we played, I don't have doubts this is going to happen and if we are consistent in both boxes, we have a big chance or opportunity to go through.

"But if what happened against Southampton and other games this season like Tottenham home and away or Norwich away, where we dropped points, we will be out and Arsenal and Madrid will go through.

"That is the reality we have to accept. We can be lucky to convert what we produce and defend the less we concede.

"But I don't have any doubts that the team will be there to compete like we have done all season. That is my feeling. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

Guardiola acknowledged a lack of consistency compared to title rivals Liverpool was what really set City back.

He added: "Our consistency has been missing. We've not converted our game plan and in this business you have to win. 

"When you lose nine games you cannot win the Premier League right now – maybe years ago. The champions have to score above 90 points so when you lose nine games you cannot win the league. 

"I was not able to solve the problem that we have had since the beginning. I remember the game against Tottenham at home, they had two shots on target and we shot more than 20 and we drew. 

"It happened in the second game in the league and the last game against Southampton was similar. I was not able to change this dynamic."

Already rivals on the field, Manchester United and Manchester City might be set to clash off it.

Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and Milan Skriniar of Inter are both reportedly wanted in Manchester.

An off-season battle may therefore be set to take place between the two foes.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED, CITY EYEING DEFENDERS

Manchester United and neighbours Manchester City are going head-to-head for centre-backs, according to the Independent.

United and City are both reportedly eyeing defensive reinforcements as they look to catch Premier League champions Liverpool next season.

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and Inter defender Milan Skriniar – also wanted by Real Madrid – have been strongly linked to the Manchester clubs.

 

ROUND-UP

Ralf Rangnick has agreed a deal to become the head coach of Milan in 2020-21, says The Guardian. Rangnick will replace Stefano Pioli, who was only appointed in October. The German is also set to hold talks about combining the coaching role with that of sporting director – a position held by Milan great Paolo Maldini.

- Qualifying for the Champions League will be the first step of any deal to bring Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho to United, reports the Evening Standard. Sancho has been linked to Liverpool, Chelsea and Madrid.

- According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Paris Saint-Germain are poised to make an €80million offer for Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The Ligue 1 champions, however, are wary of competition from United, Madrid and Chelsea.

Kai Havertz is aware of interest from Chelsea but the Premier League side are yet to make an offer for the Bayer Leverkusen star, claims Bild's Christian Falk. Liverpool, United, Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have also emerged as possible destinations.

Juventus, Inter and Atletico Madrid are eyeing Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, according to L'Equipe.

- A cross-town move? Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter are continuing to pursue Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.

Nathan Ake to United? The Daily Mail claims Bournemouth could be forced to sell some of their stars as they battle to avoid relegation. The defender has previously been linked to City.

Juve are interested in Arkadiusz Milik but Napoli would prefer not to sell to their Serie A rivals, reports Calciomercato. Napoli are said to be prepared to move Milik abroad amid links to Atletico and Tottenham.

Pep Guardiola thought he knew better than Bayern Munich's medical staff during his time with the Bundesliga giants, according to the club's former team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.

Muller-Wohlfahrt ended his 40-year tenure as Bayern's chief doctor in June, with Hansi Flick's side having wrapped up yet another Bundesliga title.

The 77-year-old was at the helm of Bayern's medical department during Guardiola's time at the club, with the Spaniard taking over at the Allianz Arena in 2013.

Guardiola led Bayern to seven major trophies during a three-year spell, before leaving for Manchester City in 2016.

Muller-Wohlfahrt has revealed he often clashed with the ex-Barcelona boss, though insisted the pair maintain a good relationship.

"It was just that I couldn't put up with the fact that a young trainer – who was very successful and who is probably one of the really, really big ones – interfered in medical matters and knew everything better than I did,"  Muller-Wohlfahrt told BR24.

"We met and talked to each other, and then it's over. 

"We appreciate each other and he appreciates my work above all. He never questioned that."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola does not believe Sunday's surprise Premier League loss to Southampton highlights the need for the club to sign new players.

Guardiola's City suffered their third consecutive away defeat in the Premier League after going down 1-0 to Southampton at St Mary's on Sunday.

After routing newly crowned champions Liverpool 4-0 last time out, City – who rested Kevin De Bruyne and others – succumbed to Che Adams' first Premier League goal as they fell 23 points adrift in second position.

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and Bayern Munich's David Alaba have been among the players linked with moves to City at the end of the season.

But when asked if City's defeat was a question of needing new players, Guardiola told reporters: "No, I don't think so.

"I think we play good, honestly. We play with the character and desire to drive until the end. We played against Southampton who had 10 players in the penalty area. We did it really well.

"We will review the game, and with the chances that we had, we can do more. It's difficult to create more chances than we created and the way we did it.

"I'm so proud, so I liked the way we played but it's not enough. There's no complaint about the players. We played really well, I like it but it's not enough to win the games."

Guardiola, meanwhile, does not feel City goalkeeper Ederson is to blame for the loss to Southampton.

Adams scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute, catching the Brazilian keeper off his line after Oleksandr Zinchenko had been dispossessed of the ball.

"We use our keeper to build up our play. We use our keeper to play better," Guardiola said. "It gives us a lot. The mistake is part of the game but we didn't lose for that reason.

"It happens many times this season this situation. The amount of chances we have but it's football. The amount of chances we have but not able to score goals."

Bernardo Silva accepts Manchester City cannot afford to drop points away from home with such regularity if they are to compete for the Premier League title again next season.

Deposed champions City thrashed title-winners Liverpool 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium in midweek but came unstuck on the road at Southampton, losing 1-0 to a stunning Che Adams goal on Sunday.

It was a third consecutive defeat away from home in the league for City, manager Pep Guardiola's worst such run of his coaching career.

City star Silva could not explain the disappointing streak but recognised the team must improve before the 2020-21 campaign.

"I don't know. I don't have the answer to that," the Portugal international said. "Of course, it's always better to play at home, a place where we're used to being.

"But there's no excuse for that. We need to improve next season if we want to win again the Premier League."

However, after mustering 26 shots and forcing Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy into six stunning saves, Silva felt City had performed well in defeat.

"I honestly think we played well today," explained Silva, whose City are second and 23 points behind Liverpool with five games remaining. "We created plenty of chances but couldn't score them. Then little mistakes cost us the game.

"Overall, I think 88 minutes of the 90 of this game were spent in the Southampton half of the match. But congratulations to them.

"We didn't play a bad game. I thought we started well in the second half especially - we put a lot of pressure onto them - but we couldn't finish our chances.

"I think we need to improve. We need to check the mistakes that we made today, the little mistakes that, for example, cost us the goal and the few chances they had.

"But overall, the way we played, I honestly thought it was good."

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Sunday told the story of their Premier League season.

Just three days after thrashing champions Liverpool 4-0 in a stunning response to the failure of their title defence, City could find no way past Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

McCarthy made a series of superb saves, while Che Adams pounced on an Oleksandr Zinchenko error to score from 40 yards and pinch the points for Southampton.

The result – a third consecutive away league defeat – left City 23 points behind Liverpool again, with manager Guardiola bemused as he reflected on a largely positive display.

"It was a little bit our season," the Spanish boss said. "We played really well but allowed mistakes in our box and they punished us a lot.

"Afterwards, we created a lot and we could not score. It was a little bit today resuming what happened this season in the Premier League.

"We must improve, but in terms of performance, in terms of the way we played, there's nothing to say. We attacked incredibly well and had 10 guys in the box.

"They scored a goal and they had one chance at the end, but no more than this. We played really, really well."

Reflecting on the season, Guardiola added: "This season, in the Premier League, we've lost a lot of games - but not for a lack of [good] games.

"In general, I think we've played really well in most of the games. But when you have 20 shots and 10 players in the box, you have to score goals.

"When one team has a lot of chances and they beat us and we don't create enough chances, it can happen. But it happened very few times in all competitions.

"We create a lot, but we struggle. In a few they do, they score a goal. We do a lot and we cannot score."

But Guardiola was hopeful City could take a lesson from their setbacks as they prepare for key FA Cup and Champions League ties against Arsenal and Real Madrid respectively.

"Maybe it's going to help us, this situation, to arrive in key moments a little bit better," he said. "But we have to get better.

"The first goal in Chelsea [a 2-1 defeat] was our present to them. In a lot of games, always we give them a chance. When an opponent does a good thing and scores a good goal, it's okay. But that didn't happen."

Che Adams ended his wait for a first Premier League goal with an incredible long-range strike to see Southampton to a shock 1-0 win over Manchester City.

Adams was making his 25th top-flight appearance for Saints since his £15million signing just over a year ago, but he picked a fine time to break his duck.

City rested Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, among others, after crushing champions Liverpool in midweek and lacked fluency from the outset at St Mary's, although Adams' wonderful finish preceded a flurry of chances for Pep Guardiola's men.

Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was in inspired form, however, and the hosts held on to hand City their ninth league defeat of the season and their third in a row away from home.

The second-placed side were made to pay for their sloppy start when Stuart Armstrong stole possession from Oleksandr Zinchenko on halfway and the ball ran for Adams – without a goal since April 2019 – to sweep a stunning 40-yard effort over the stranded Ederson and into a gaping net.

Pressure subsequently built on the Southampton goal, where McCarthy watched Gabriel Jesus miss the target from close range before getting to work.

In a frantic spell, McCarthy parried from Raheem Sterling, dived after a Fernandinho shot that bounced away off the post and then sprang back to his feet to brilliantly repel David Silva's header.

Riyad Mahrez was next to find the insoured keeper blocking his path, before a stretching Danny Ings volleyed over when he might have doubled Saints' lead just before half-time.

McCarthy was at it again following the interval, keeping out Jesus' header and then smothering from Silva after a pinpoint Zinchenko pass.

De Bruyne and Foden soon arrived from the bench, but the withdrawals of Mahrez and Sterling only seemed to hurt City further and Ederson had to stop an Armstrong blast as his side stuttered to a surprise loss despite applying plenty of late pressure.


What does it mean? City miss key men

All 20 teams in the Premier League are adapting to a packed schedule that ensures a number of star players must be rested regularly. This time, it was the turn of City pair De Bruyne and Foden.

But with Sergio Aguero also out through injury, City lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Guardiola will hope to have all three fit and firing by the time the Champions League rolls around again.

McCarthy makes amends

In Southampton's previous home game, their hopes of beating Arsenal were hindered by a poor McCarthy error that allowed Eddie Nketiah to net the opener. The goalkeeper's display on Sunday ensured that mistake will be quickly forgotten.

While the energy of the hosts' outfield players forged opportunities in attack, they were grateful to McCarthy for save after save to improbably keep City at bay.

Defensive difficulties

Many have highlighted frailties in the centre of the City back line as the root cause of their failed title defence, but Aymeric Laporte has usually avoided criticism.

The Frenchman was uncharacteristically shaky on the south coast, though, hastily hacking at two mistimed clearances, while partner Eric Garcia almost played in Adams to net again midway through the second period.

What's next?

In-form Everton lie in wait for Southampton at Goodison Park on Thursday, by which point City will have faced Newcastle United in Manchester.

Virgil van Dijk has revealed the Jurgen Klopp factor was the reason he joined Liverpool instead of Manchester City or Chelsea.

The centre-back left Southampton for Anfield in January 2018 for a reported fee of £75million, which represented a record transfer for a defender.

There were other interested parties in Van Dijk's services, notably City and Chelsea, but the Netherlands international only had eyes for the Reds due to manager Klopp, who led Liverpool to their first Premier League title this season.

"I had the chance to go to Chelsea and Man City," Van Dijk said in quotes published in several national newspapers.

"When you compare the clubs, you look at the history, the town, the current squad, their plans for the near future.

"But the most important thing you look at is the manager - and Jurgen Klopp is an important reason why I chose for Liverpool.

"Klopp has something special. Is it his energy? Is it his overall image?

"I sometimes sit and think about what he does and what he has more than others.

"I think it is his man-management. These days that is more important than anything in football.

"Klopp gives you this great feeling. He is genuinely happy when you walk into the club in the morning. It may sound daft, but that really inspires you as a player."

Van Dijk, 28, has already lifted the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup as a Liverpool player.

In the coming weeks he will get his hands on the Premier League trophy too, with Liverpool's status as champions confirmed last month with seven games still to play.

"I have always said that lifting the Premier League ­trophy would be a dream. That dream has become reality now," he added.

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.