John Stones and Gabriel Jesus applauded the subtle tactical tweak made by Pep Guardiola against Bournemouth shortly before the wonderful goal by the Brazilian, who labelled his boss a "genius".

City claimed an unconvincing 2-1 win over the Cherries at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, with David Silva scoring a free-kick before Jesus netted with a lovely solo effort.

Bournemouth piled pressure on in the final stages and did pull one back through David Brooks, but Jesus' goal proved decisive.

The Brazil international's goal came shortly after Guardiola made a slight change, moving Jesus further towards the left, and shifting Phil Foden the other way.

It led to Jesus finding space in the inside-left channel, which Silva spotted, and the striker evaded two defenders before slotting home.

This tweak was not lost on Jesus, nor Stones.

"It is no coincidence, we switch and I score," Jesus said. "He [Pep] is a genius. He changes it in a second and we score.

"We can play better. I am happy to help my team and I am happy to get this victory. I try to play football, enjoy the game, be happy in the game on the pitch. That is what we have to do, go on the pitch, give everything there.

"I try to always go for goal, score, make passes, defend with my friends."

Stones added: "He [Pep] knows the quality of the players so well and those little adjustments count.

"I think how Gabby took his goal is incredible; the feet in the box, it is a defender's nightmare really. When you get in the box nowadays with VAR and things like this, everything is watched and you have got to be so careful.

"I think Gabby, and the other strikers that get chances in the box, it is a pleasure to watch and I am sure he will be pleased with that.

"As I said, the manager knows his players so well and those little tweaks, every player knows what they can bring to the team.

"I didn't realise until the end what impact the players can have in different positions and that is credit to them; credit to Phil, credit to Gabby, I am just really pleased to get another three points."

Pep Guardiola repeated his praise for Gabriel Jesus but acknowledged his return to form in front of goal represented a boost to Manchester City.

Jesus has had a key role to play for City since the season's restart, with Sergio Aguero ruled out for the rest of the domestic campaign.

However, the Brazil striker had not scored since the February Champions League win at Real Madrid until netting in a rout of Newcastle United last week.

Jesus added to that strike in a 5-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, then scored the decisive goal as City edged past struggling Bournemouth on Wednesday.

A third goal in three games for his front man gave Guardiola some cheer, even if he insisted Jesus' earlier contributions had also been appreciated.

"Even when it was the first four or five games and he didn't score, I said many times about the amount of things he is able to do for us," Guardiola told a news conference.

"But we are very satisfied for him, for the team. In the past three games, he's scored three goals and he's playing really well.

"He can play in different positions. It's really good."

Jesus has started City's past six games in all competitions, but his involvement against Bournemouth – when others were rested – might hint at a substitute role for this weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

And Guardiola confirmed his plans for the Wembley clash were in place regardless of performances in midweek.

"No, I rotated all of the team for this period," the manager explained. "Now we have time to recover, the players who played. Some players who played are going to play."

David Silva produced a decisive display in Manchester City's 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Wednesday, leaving Pep Guardiola in awe of the departing playmaker.

Silva, 34, joined City in 2010 and has gone on to enjoy a wonderful career in Manchester, winning 11 major trophies and establishing himself as a club icon.

The veteran midfielder looks set to depart at the end of the season, with a return to Spain likely as he winds down his glittering career.

But on Wednesday he provided another reminder that his days at the top are by no means over, as he scored with a wonderful free-kick, before then setting up Gabriel Jesus.

It was an unconvincing win, but Guardiola was thrilled with Silva.

"He is in an incredible performance, he is one of the guys who came back from lockdown in an incredible position," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"He's in an incredible condition right now, incredible condition, and the way he is playing is really good.

"His mentality with and without the ball, scoring goals – it's his second in a row with the free-kick. He's really, really well."

When Silva initially joined from Valencia, there were certainly some doubts over whether the technical midfielder could adapt to the Premier League.

But he resoundingly disproved his doubters, and Guardiola hopes he gets to see out the final years of his career in a place of his choosing.

"All the people think about it with this situation, to come here and play in this league it will not be easy, but it shows the mentality of David, he has [it], so the reality was like this," Guardiola continued.

"He decided to go, so hopefully he can find the place where he wants to play his last years."

Manchester City's record signing Rodri has been picking the brains of Pep Guardiola as he seeks to get to grips with the Premier League.

The 23-year-old Spain international has been a mainstay for Guardiola's men since joining City from Atletico Madrid last year, making 39 appearances in all competitions.

An elegant operator at the base of the midfield, Rodri has chipped in with some valuable goals – most notably a blistering strike from the edge of the box in a 4-1 win at Burnley and header that ultimately proved decisive in the 2-1 EFL Cup final win over Aston Villa.

However, the former Villarreal player has sometimes appeared ill at ease with the pace of the play around him, with Liverpool storming into a 25-point lead that left them on the brink of ending City's two-season reign as champions when the Premier League went on hiatus.

Whenever a resumption comes, Rodri feels he is working under the best man to learn and improve.

"To me, he is the best coach in the world. His success speaks for himself. Everything that he's won with all the clubs he's been at," he said.

"I have learnt lots of things from him, I couldn't say only one. He has lots of experience as a player and as a coach. It helps me a lot that he played in the same position as me.

"It's not easy for me as a young player, coming from LaLiga, to fit in the Premier League with such competition, [where it's] so strong physically, with great teams, but it has been an amazing experience this first season.

"I try to learn every day from him [Guardiola]. He has helped me a lot, especially tactically. It's been the first time I played alone as a holding midfielder, so I have to adapt to the new situation. I'm happy because I fit very well with the team and the club. I feel I'm growing every day."

When it comes to teething problems in the Premier League, Rodri cites a familiar problem for new imports.

"It's another style of football. You can't take a breath or relax during the 90 minutes, not even for one second," he said.

"I realised straight away that in this league you need to think really quickly. I tried to adapt my game in the first games of the season.

"When I got the pace of the Premier League, I also started adapting my game and my skills to the team.

"It wasn't easy, because we have lots of attacking players, but we need to defend as well. One of my biggest responsibilities in the team is specifically that part."

Rodri is playing a role in which Fernandinho has excelled under Guardiola.

However, form and fitness issues for specialists in the position have left the veteran Brazil international operating exclusively at centre-back this season.

"He has helped me a lot," Rodri said of Fernandinho. "He is now playing more often as a centre-back so that he can have a bigger picture of the game.

"He has helped me a lot from the back, [telling me] where to find the spaces.

"What I learnt the most from him is the experience he has. He's 35 years old, he has been at the club for seven seasons now. So I listen to him a lot and try to learn a lot from him."

Quique Setien may only have been at Barcelona for just over a month, yet he will already know the importance of winning a Clasico.

The new Blaugrana coach takes his side to Real Madrid on Sunday, with his team having a two-point lead over Los Blancos at the top of the LaLiga table.

Barca are unbeaten against their great rivals in their previous seven games, while Madrid have not beaten them in the league since April 2016.

Here we look at how Barca's past five coaches have fared in their first LaLiga Clasicos.

 

PEP GUARDIOLA. BARCELONA 2-0 REAL MADRID. DECEMBER 13, 2008.

Both dugouts featured coaches taking charge of teams in a Clasico for the first time and it was Guardiola who got the better of Madrid's Juande Ramos.

Late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi earned Barcelona the victory as they moved 12 points clear of Madrid in the table too.

That victory occurred during a 10-game winning streak in LaLiga and it was no surprise that Barca, who beat Madrid 6-2 later in the season, went on to win the title.

TITO VILANOVA. BARCELONA 2-2 REAL MADRID. OCTOBER 7, 2012.

The two clubs had already met in the Supercopa de Espana at the start of the season, Madrid winning on away goals after both teams had won a leg apiece.

Their first league meeting of 2012-13 was all about Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi as both men scored twice in a 2-2 draw.

Ronaldo scored for a record sixth successive Clasico to put Madrid ahead and, after Messi had netted a brace, Los Blancos' Portuguese star took his tally to 160 goals in 155 games since his 2009 move from Manchester United with an equaliser.

 

GERARDO MARTINO. BARCELONA 2-1 REAL MADRID. OCTOBER 23, 2013.

All eyes were on new recruits Neymar and Gareth Bale and it was the former who scored first to set Barca on their way.

Alexis Sanchez would double that lead and though Jese Rodriguez pulled one back, Madrid fell to a defeat that left them six points behind Barcelona after just 10 league games.

Both teams would finish the campaign on 87 points, a total not good enough to win the league as Atletico Madrid claimed 90 to be crowned champions.

LUIS ENRIQUE. REAL MADRID 3-1 BARCELONA. OCTOBER 25, 2014.

The Blaugrana had claimed 22 points from the first 24 available but they suffered defeat at Santiago Bernabeu in October 2014.

Barca debutant Luis Suarez, back after a four-month ban for biting, set up Neymar for a fourth-minute opener but the home side stormed back.

An in-form Ronaldo levelled from the spot with his 21st goal of the season before Pepe and Karim Benzema scored in the second half. This remains Madrid's most recent home LaLiga win over Barcelona.

 

ERNESTO VALVERDE. REAL MADRID 0-3 BARCELONA. DECEMBER 23, 2017.

Los Blancos' awful start to the 2017-18 campaign continued as Barcelona moved 14 points clear of the defending champions with a comfortable win at the Bernabeu.

Suarez, Messi and Arturo Vidal all scored while Madrid, who had beaten Barca in both Supercopa de Espana legs at the beginning of the campaign, had Dani Carvajal dismissed for handball.

It was the first time Barcelona had won three successive league matches at the Bernabeu in Clasico history, and they come into Sunday's game with four straight victories at the ground.

Barcelona have denied allegations they hired a company to "damage the image" of people associated with the club by spreading negative messages on social media platforms.

Spanish radio network Cadena SER on Monday published a story claiming Barca had been working with a company to produce online content through unofficial accounts aimed at protecting president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board.

Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Carles Puyol and former president Joan Laporta were said to have been the subjects of negative posts, while current players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were also targeted, according to the report.

But Barca are adamant the claims are false, insisting I3 Ventures – the company they have worked with – is not behind the accounts in question.

A club statement read: "With regards to information published today about the contracting of a company dedicated to creating opinion on social media with a view to damaging the image of third parties related directly or indirectly with the club, Barcelona: 

"1.- Roundly deny any relationship, and furthermore, the contracting of services linked to social media accounts that have broadcast negative or disparaging messages related to any person, entity or organisation that may be, or have been, related to the club. 

"2.- I3 Ventures, a service provider to the club, has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship was to come to light, the club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests. 

"3.- As such, Barcelona confirm that it has services contracted relating to the monitoring of social media with the aim of analysing both positive and negative messages about the organisation itself. 

"4.- With the contracting of these services, the club is attempting to look after and preserve its reputation as well those of people related to the club (sponsors, players, board members, members, supporters' club members...), as far as the protection of this reputation is a fundamental element and responsibility for those who work for the organisation. 

"5.- The club demands an immediate rectification of the information published and reserves the right to exercise legal action against those who continue to implicate the club in such practices."

Barcelona have denied allegations they hired a company to "damage the image" of people associated with the club by spreading negative messages on social media platforms.

Spanish radio network Cadena SER on Monday published a story claiming Barca had been working with a company to produce online content through unofficial accounts aimed at protecting president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board.

Pep Guardiola, Xavi, Carles Puyol and former president Joan Laporta were said to have been the subjects of negative posts, while current players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were also targeted, according to the report.

But Barca are adamant the claims are false, insisting I3 Ventures – the company they have worked with – is not behind the accounts in question.

A club statement read: "With regards to information published today about the contracting of a company dedicated to creating opinion on social media with a view to damaging the image of third parties related directly or indirectly with the club, Barcelona: 

"1.- Roundly deny any relationship, and furthermore, the contracting of services linked to social media accounts that have broadcast negative or disparaging messages related to any person, entity or organisation that may be, or have been, related to the club. 

"2.- I3 Ventures, a service provider to the club, has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship was to come to light, the club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests. 

"3.- As such, Barcelona confirm that it has services contracted relating to the monitoring of social media with the aim of analysing both positive and negative messages about the organisation itself. 

"4.- With the contracting of these services, the club is attempting to look after and preserve its reputation as well those of people related to the club (sponsors, players, board members, members, supporters' club members...), as far as the protection of this reputation is a fundamental element and responsibility for those who work for the organisation. 

"5.- The club demands an immediate rectification of the information published and reserves the right to exercise legal action against those who continue to implicate the club in such practices."

While Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to record-breaking levels with an easy win over Southampton, the battle beneath them for places in the top four heated up.

The Reds thumped the Saints 4-0 at Anfield to open up a 22-point gap over Manchester City - the biggest lead any team has ever held at the top of the English top-flight - and Pep Guardiola's men lost 2-0 in a chaotic game at Tottenham a day later.

Fourth-placed Chelsea looked set to narrow the gap to Leicester City above them when they took the lead at King Power Stadium but the Foxes fought back in a 2-2 draw, while Sheffield United briefly moved up to fifth before Spurs' win after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Two sides just outside the European qualification places, Manchester United and Wolves played out a goalless draw at Old Trafford but there was no shortage of goals at West Ham or Watford.

The weekend's Opta data tells the story of 15 goals across four of the most entertaining clashes of matchweek 25, with fortunes affected at both ends of the table.

BUTTERFINGERED FOXES FRITTER LEAD AGAINST BLUES

Leicester City came from behind to lead 2-1 against Chelsea but the trend that has seen them regularly drop from winning positions continued.

Antonio Rudiger, who opened the scoring after 46 minutes, became the first defender to score twice for Chelsea in a Premier League match since John Terry against Fulham in April 2013 to ensure the points were shared.

Leicester have dropped eight points from winning positions in their last four league outings, more than they had in their previous 59 matches since the start of the 2018-19 campaign (six).

Chelsea have failed to win six of the games in which they have scored the first goal this season (D5 L1), pegged back as they were by Harvey Barnes' third goal in three league games and Ben Chilwell's 64th-minute strike.

Those goals took the Blues' tally of goals conceded on the road to 22 in 13 games, and manager Frank Lampard must address his side's defensive frailties if they are to keep their place in the Premier League top four.

CHERRIES EXPLOIT VILLA'S PROBLEMS ON THE ROAD

Back-to-back victories have moved Bournemouth up to 16th and they leapfrogged Aston Villa after beating Dean Smith's men 2-1 at Vitality Stadium.

Prior to their wins over Brighton and Hove Albion and Villa, the Cherries had only won two of their previous 17 Premier League matches but Eddie Howe's side took advantage of a defence that does not travel well to make it two wins from two.

Villa are the only side in the division yet to register a clean sheet away from home this season and they fell behind when Phillip Billing scored his first league goal for Bournemouth in his 23rd appearance for the club.

Nathan Ake extended Bournemouth's lead before Mbwana Samatta scored Villa's first headed Premier League goal in almost four years.

The consolation strike came on Samatta's league debut, making the Tanzanian attacker Villa's first first player to score on his league bow since Rudy Gestede scored against Bournemouth in August 2015.

JOY OF SIX FOR MOURINHO AFTER BERGWIJN'S DEBUT DELIGHT

Jose Mourinho enjoyed his sixth victory over Pep Guardiola after goals from Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min helped Tottenham beat the champions at home.

Mourinho has now beaten Guardiola's sides with Inter, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Spurs, with Sunday's victory Tottenham's first over City in the Premier League since they won by the same scoreline in October 2016.

City had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off as they slipped to a sixth Premier League defeat of the season - their joint-most in a single campaign under Guardiola (six in 2016-17).

Bergwijn became the Premier League's 13th Dutchman to score on his debut and the competition's 250th player to do so, before Son scored his fifth goal against City in all competitions since the start of 2016-17 - only Jamie Vardy (six) has scored more against them in that period.

 

HAMMERS IN THE DROP ZONE AFTER POINTS SHARED IN THRILLER

West Ham were 2-0 up at half-time against Brighton but left London Stadium still winless in the Premier League against the Seagulls, who fought back to draw 3-3.

The Hammers have drawn three and lost three of their six Premier League clashes with Brighton and this was not the first time they have dropped points from a winning position this season.

In fact, David Moyes' team have lost more points from winning positions than any other top-flight team this season (19) but the last time they failed to win a game in which they led by two goals was back in October 2017 when they drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace.

Brighton have avoided defeat after trailing by two goals on three occasions, the first two coming in September 2018 when they drew 2-2 with Fulham and Southampton.

Steven Bergwijn scored a superb volley on his debut as Tottenham earned a 2-0 victory over Manchester City, who dominated possession but missed a penalty and had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off.

Pep Guardiola's men were perhaps guilty of overplaying in front of goal across the course of a game that exploded into life when Hugo Lloris saved an Ilkay Gundogan spot-kick in a frenetic climax a tense first half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The champions remained on top until Zinchenko received a second booking and his marching orders, leaving Spurs to capitalise on their man advantage almost immediately with Bergwijn's memorable strike after 63 minutes.

Son Heung-Min's seventh top-flight goal of the season left City with too much to do in the final 20 minutes and they suffered a first defeat in six league outings that all but extinguishes their already faint title hopes with Liverpool 22 points clear at the top of the table.

Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero missed early chances in the Spurs box and Raheem Sterling escaped with just a yellow card after a dangerous challenge that almost buckled Dele Alli's ankle.

Riyad Mahrez turned his back on a shooting chance when he mistakenly thought he had been flagged offside but moments later his threaded pass sent Aguero through for a shot against the foot of the post as Spurs came under fire.

The half ended in chaos, with a belated VAR review overturning referee Mike Dean's decision not to award Aguero a penalty following a clumsy challenge by Serge Aurier.

After Gundogan's spot-kick was saved by Lloris, there was an angry melee as Tottenham's players fumed over Sterling's attempt to win another penalty when he tumbled over the goalkeeper's arms, with Toby Alderweireld and Zinchenko booked for their contributions.

A mix-up between Lloris and Japhet Tanganga allowed Aguero to loop a shot towards goal that was cleared as far as Sterling and he squared to Gundogan, who blazed over the crossbar with the net gaping.

Zinchenko was shown a second yellow card for barging Harry Winks as the Spurs midfielder broke towards the half-way line and shortly after the hosts were ahead.

Lucas Moura chipped the ball to the edge of the box where Bergwijn controlled it with his chest and volleyed into the bottom-right corner of the net with exquisite technique.

Eight minutes later, Tanguy Ndombele carved an opening for Son, whose deflected shot from just inside the box beat Ederson at his near post to double Tottenham's lead and the closest City came to pulling one back was a Davinson Sanchez header against his own crossbar at the death.

 

What does it mean? Liverpool's title party plans come forward

With City trailing so far behind, Liverpool need just 18 more points to clinch the Premier League title and at the rate they are winning games that will not take long.

Tottenham, meanwhile, are up to fifth in the table and will be confident of closing the four-point gap to Chelsea above them after beating the champions.

Winks fares well in De Bruyne battle

Kevin De Bruyne tends to control games from his position in the City engine room but Harry Winks broke up the play and put Spurs on the front foot at key moments to help turn the game.

Rodrigo fades after promising start

Rodrigo showed glimpses of his silky passing abilities early on but by the second half was little more than a bystander as Spurs turned the screw.

What's next?

City are back at Etihad Stadium on Sunday when West Ham are the visitors, while Spurs travel to Aston Villa in the league after their midweek FA Cup replay against Southampton.

Clashes between teams managed by Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have affected many a title race over the years, but pride might take precedence over Premier League points during Sunday's meeting between Tottenham and Manchester City.

Mourinho has lost more games in all competitions against teams coached by Guardiola than against any other manager, and he will be desperate to send City packing after Tottenham ended a torrid run of Premier League results with a 2-1 win over Norwich City.

But Spurs were far from convincing against the Canaries, Son Heung-min's 79th-minute winner sparing them the ignominy of a fifth consecutive winless league outing after a lacklustre performance at home to the division's bottom club.

City arrive at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in buoyant mood, meanwhile, having recovered from a disappointing December and put together a five-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League that included a 6-1 thrashing of Aston Villa.

The title looks beyond City given Liverpool's comfortable lead at the top of the table, but with third-placed Leicester City faltering, Guardiola will be keen for his men to tighten their grip on second and remain poised to close the gap at the summit should the Reds suffer an unlikely blip.

 

GUARDIOLA GUNNING FOR NORTH LONDON RECORD

No top-flight team have ever won six consecutive away matches against Arsenal and Tottenham, but if City claim three points against Spurs on Sunday, Guardiola's side will claim that record.

City have won on their past five trips to North London - enjoying as many victories as they claimed in their first 40 Premier League games at Arsenal and Spurs - and another happy day in the capital looks well within their reach.

Victory for the champions would see defender Aymeric Laporte break the record for most wins (43) in his first 50 Premier League appearances, currently shared by Didier Drogba, Arjen Robben and Ederson (all 42).

Kevin De Bruyne provided the assist as Sergio Aguero scored the winner in City's 1-0 win at Sheffield United last time out in the league, and the Belgium international has averaged an assist every 180 minutes in the Premier League - the best ratio in the competition's history.

But Tottenham also have a man in form in Dele Alli, who has had a hand in nine goals in 16 games in all competitions under Mourinho - three times as many as he had registered under Mauricio Pochettino this season (two goals, one assist in 10 appearances).

HEAD-TO-HEAD: PEP GUARDIOLA V JOSE MOURINHO

Spurs are the fifth team Mourinho has taken charge of against Guardiola as the two coaches prepare to do battle for the 23rd time in their managerial careers.

Mourinho has tasted victory in home games against Guardiola's teams just twice, getting one over his old nemesis when Inter beat Barcelona 3-1 in April 2010 and when Manchester United edged out City 1-0 in October 2016.

But Guardiola is unbeaten on the road in league fixtures against Mourinho, overseeing three victories and one draw against teams managed by the Spurs boss.

Only against Manuel Pellegrini (6) and Unai Emery (5) has Guardiola faced a manager more times on the road without losing a league game.

FORM GUIDE

City are yet to win three consecutive Premier League away games this season, but that will change if they claim maximum points in North London.

The champions are in a rich vein of form, winning six and drawing one of their past eight league games. Although they lost to Manchester United in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, City still advanced into the final on aggregate.

Guardiola will be relishing the prospect of a chance to condemn Spurs to a third defeat in seven home league games under Mourinho, who is struggling to shore up a leaky defence.

Tottenham have kept just two clean sheets in their past 19 Premier League matches, during which time they have scored 27 goals and conceded 26, but they will aim to make home advantage count against City.

Only Norwich (71 per cent) and Everton (70 per cent) have claimed a higher percentage of league points from home games this term than Spurs (68 per cent), who have not earned back-to-back top-flight wins since they beat Burnley and then Wolves in early December.

HISTORY SAYS…

There was a time when Tottenham looked forward to Premier League clashes with Manchester City, who they have beaten 23 times in the competition.

But none of the past six league meetings between the two sides have resulted in a Spurs victory, the Lilywhites claiming two draws and suffering four defeats since beating City 2-0 in October 2016.

That defeat was the only game in City's most recent 18 clashes with Tottenham in which they have failed to score.

Spurs twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Etihad Stadium when these sides last met in the league, and if the points are shared again on Sunday, it will be the first season since 2003-04 to produce two top-flight draws between them.

Pep Guardiola is adamant Manchester City will not prioritise cup competitions over the Premier League for the rest of the season because he worries about them missing out on European places.

City are 14 points behind league leaders Liverpool thanks to Friday's 3-2 defeat at Wolves, meaning their title defence looks beyond Guardiola's men.

Although Ederson's early red card left City in a precious position at Molineux, they found themselves two to the good just after the interval thanks to a pair of Raheem Sterling goals.

But Adama Traore pulled one back soon after and he then played a vital role in an 82nd-minute equaliser, making the most of Benjamin Mendy's woeful error to set up Raul Jimenez.

The Mexican teed up Matt Doherty late on and he secured the win that leaves City well adrift of Liverpool, who also have a game in hand.

But giving up on the Premier League is a dangerous game Guardiola is unwilling to play.

"We can't give up otherwise we won't be in Europe," Guardiola told reporters.

"I never prioritise competitions. Now we're back at home, playing another game in less than 40 hours [at home to Sheffield United]. We have to prepare, see how they are and how they feel.

"Our response is always good; we are used to being top and now we are fighting."

Friday's result meant Manchester City were unable to move back up to second above Leicester City, who lost 4-0 to Liverpool on Boxing Day.

And Guardiola reiterated that they are now City's target, acknowledging it is not realistic to continue aiming for Liverpool's lofty perch.

"We have to move on," he said. "We played the first season and we were there [near the top] all the time, in some situations we are far away. We have to catch the second one and see where we are.

"It's unrealistic to think about Liverpool, we think about Leicester. We have the chance to recover second, I know the quality of the team, but that's the situation."

Bernardo Silva acknowledged Manchester City's 14-point gap to Premier League leaders Liverpool is a "really bad situation" after Friday's dramatic 3-2 defeat to Wolves.

Liverpool – who have a game in hand on City – thrashed Leicester City 4-0 on Thursday to increase their lead at the top and Pep Guardiola's men were unable to make a dent in that at Molineux.

Despite having Ederson sent off in the 12th minute, City found themselves two up early in the second half thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace.

But Adama Traore inspired Wolves, scoring from 25 yards before setting up Raul Jimenez's equaliser in the 82nd minute – picking the Mexican out after capitalising on a woeful Benjamin Mendy error.

Matt Doherty clinched the win following a clever interchange with Jimenez, and Silva accepts City's position is frustrating.

Speaking on Amazon Prime, he said: "It is a really bad situation for us. A frustrating first half of the season.

"Nobody expected us to be this far away from Liverpool at this halfway point. We have to continue now.

"We know that winning the title is very complicated. I wouldn't say impossible but very difficult."

Guardiola's post-match comments struck a similarly exasperated tone as he practically ruled out a title challenge.

"It's big [the gap behind Liverpool] for a long time now," he said. "It's not realistic to think about it. The same question for a long time, but the same answer."

Manchester City blew a two-goal lead at Wolves as Raul Jimenez and Matt Doherty netted late on at Molineux to secure a thrilling 3-2 home victory, with the 10-man champions' hopes of usurping runaway leaders Liverpool taking another huge blow.

City found themselves with an unlikely 2-0 lead just after half-time thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace, the lead remarkable given the 12th-minute dismissal of Ederson, but Wolves fought back spectacularly in the second half – Adama Traore playing a vital role.

Ederson's early sending off left City in a tricky position, though they initially responded well and went ahead through Sterling – the attacker tapping in a penalty rebound after Rui Patricio had saved two of his spot-kicks, the first ultimately being retaken due to encroachment.

Sterling doubled his tally with a lovely finish early in the second half and it looked as though it would be enough, but the lively Traore pulled one back before then setting up Jimenez in the latter stages following a woeful error from Benjamin Mendy.

There was still time for a stunning winner as Doherty finished off a fine move in style in the 89th minute to clinch the win, leaving City – who hit the crossbar through Sterling in stoppage time – 14 points adrift of Liverpool.

A A gripping first half looked to be going Wolves' way when Ederson was dismissed for catching Diogo Jota after rushing out of his box in the 12th minute, with Sergio Aguero's return from a month-long injury absence ending prematurely as he was hooked for replacement goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

But Riyad Mahrez was tripped by Leander Dendoncker in the opposing penalty area soon after and, following a lengthy VAR review, the spot-kick was given.

Sterling's subsequent effort was stopped by Patricio, only for VAR to penalise Wolves following encroachment from Conor Coady. The retake brought about another save, but this time the England forward converted the rebound.

City managed to reach half-time with their lead intact and Sterling got his second just after the interval, racing on to Kevin De Bruyne's throughball and beating Patricio with a clever chip.

But Sterling gave possession away a few minutes later and Traore capitalised, sending a 25-yard drive crashing in off the left-hand post.

Mendy was the next City player to make a costly error, trying to shepherd the ball out of play only to be out-muscled by Traore, who teed up Jimenez to steer home.

And Doherty completed the turnaround with a left-footed strike from the edge of the box following a clever interchange with Jimenez – Sterling's last-gasp free-kick causing a brief moment of worry as it clipped the bar.

Manchester City blew a two-goal lead at Wolves as Raul Jimenez and Matt Doherty netted late on at Molineux to secure a thrilling 3-2 home victory, with the 10-man champions' hopes of usurping runaway leaders Liverpool taking another huge blow.

City found themselves with an unlikely 2-0 lead just after half-time thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace, the lead remarkable given the 12th-minute dismissal of Ederson, but Wolves fought back spectacularly in the second half – Adama Traore playing a vital role.

Ederson's early sending off left City in a tricky position, though they initially responded well and went ahead through Sterling – the attacker tapping in a penalty rebound after Rui Patricio had saved two of his spot-kicks, the first ultimately being retaken due to encroachment.

Sterling doubled his tally with a lovely finish early in the second half and it looked as though it would be enough, but the lively Traore pulled one back before then setting up Jimenez in the latter stages following a woeful error from Benjamin Mendy.

There was still time for a stunning winner as Doherty finished off a fine move in style in the 89th minute to clinch the win, leaving City – who hit the crossbar through Sterling in stoppage time – 14 points adrift of Liverpool.

Mikel Arteta is the latest man to be charged with restoring success to a failing Arsenal, and Gunners fans will hope his previous working relationship with Pep Guardiola gives the Basque coach a head start.

Arsenal ditched another Basque tactician in Unai Emery last month and the process to appoint a replacement has been anything but swift.

Freddie Ljungberg took charge in an interim capacity but managed just a single win in five matches, highlighting the sorry state of the situation inherited by Arteta, whose appointment as head coach was confirmed on Friday.

It is former Arsenal captain Arteta's first job in management, having spent the three years since he retired from playing working as an assistant to Guardiola at Manchester City.

Guardiola has credited Arteta with improving him as a manager and believes the San Sebastian native is "absolutely ready" to strike out on his own after a "magnificent" time together at City.

Given his success in management, Guardiola has unsurprisingly been mentioned as a major inspiration for many coaches.

Here, we examine four others to have worked closely with Guardiola and enjoyed success.

Tito Vilanova

Guardiola and Vilanova came through Barcelona's youth academy together as youngsters, though the latter went on to spend much of his playing career in the lower divisions. They reunited as coaches in 2007, with Vilanova assuming the role of assistant with the Barcelona B side, before taking up a similar position when Guardiola was promoted to the senior team the following year.

They worked together until Guardiola departed in 2012, with Vilanova subsequently appointed his successor. He led Barca to LaLiga success despite requiring a leave of absence for cancer treatment, but he officially stepped down in July 2013 due to a relapse. Vilanova died in April 2014 due to complications from cancer.

Luis Enrique

Although Luis Enrique never worked specifically in tandem with Guardiola, he did succeed his friend and former team-mate when taking charge of Barca B in 2008. That meant Luis Enrique's team fed directly into Guardiola's senior side for three seasons.

"You could see from the start he was special," the City boss once said of the former attacking midfielder, who like Guardiola also won a treble in his debut season in charge of the Barcelona first team after spells at Roma and Celta Vigo. Luis Enrique has since gone on to become Spain coach.

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag had already coached a senior team when he was put in charge of Bayern Munich's second string in June 2013, having led Go Ahead Eagles to a sixth-placed finish in the Eerste Divisie. Despite managing separate teams at the club, Ten Hag and first-team boss Guardiola worked closely. Guardiola said last season: "I was lucky to meet him at Bayern and he was an assistant from the second team. We had a lot of chats."

Ten Hag left Bayern the year before Guardiola and led Utrecht to fifth and fourth in the Eredivisie, earning him a shot at the big time with Ajax. Since his December 2017 appointment, the Dutchman has won a league title and taken Ajax to the Champions League semis last term. A return to Bayern – but this time with the senior side – appears likely.

Domenec Torrent

It is unlikely there is anyone in world football more familiar with Guardiola's work than Torrent. After first teaming up with Barcelona B, the pair worked side by side for 11 years until 2018. "When we started in La Tercera [fourth tier in Spain], I never thought I would be with him so much, but then we won every possible title," Torrent told El Diario earlier this year when he was in charge of New York City FC.

He presided over the MLS side as they won the Eastern Conference this year, before stepping down in November. Although keen to continue his management career, don't rule out a return to Guardiola's side. "If Pep calls me, I will go [to him]," Torrent said in May. "I am grateful and I know that I owe it all to him. If I had not been his assistant, I would not be here. I like being a head coach and I will only stop being one if Pep thinks I can be useful [to him]."

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