Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has cast an envious eye towards Liverpool after admitting his Manchester United side are not yet at the level he had hoped.

Solskjaer has been in the job for just over a year – initially in a caretaker capacity – with his inconsistent team heading into Christmas eighth in the Premier League.

They are seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and a whopping 24 adrift of table-toppers and arch-rivals Liverpool.

The Merseysiders appear well set to end their 29-year wait for domestic supremacy after also being crowned European and world champions over the past seven months.

It might not sit easy with the Old Trafford faithful but Jurgen Klopp's men are now the standard-bearers in English football with Solskjaer conceding his first 12 months at United have not lived up to his expectations.

He said: "We're halfway through the season. We knew this season was going to be a season of some ups and downs and this season will be used to find the team and the squad for next season.

"But, hopefully, if we can speed this process up by getting more results, I expect us to be more consistent, definitely more experienced and learning from these setbacks.

"At the moment we're a little bit further behind than I was hoping for."

Asked the areas in which he wanted to improve, he added: "We want to be a team that can go and dominate teams and break teams down.

"It's taken Liverpool a few years to get to that place and we need to keep on building, because that's where we want to get to.

"Yes, we're good at counter-attacking, yes, we've got pace, fast players, we should always keep that because that's in our transition. Now we need to be better at breaking lower blocks.

"We created loads of chances [against Watford] towards the end, but every time we lose it, there's a counter-attack, so we need to lock it down more and be better at stopping the counter-attacks – that's where this team is going to learn and grow and I'm sure that we'll see an improvement over this season and hopefully for next year."

United welcome Newcastle to Old Trafford on Boxing Day and Solskjaer has called for patience against a side that will likely try to play it tight.

"It's going to be difficult to break them down," he said.

"I expect we'll get a fair share of possession. We were disappointed we had more than 70 per cent up there when we lost the game.

"One of the good things about the team this year is we have reacted after bad results. We haven't kept the consistency as we'd like the other way, but we've never gone on a big run like we did towards the end of last season, so there will be a reaction, definitely.

"It's an easy team talk, to be fair, to get the reaction, show a reaction, get the fans on your side, which is no problem because our fans have always been on our side when we've needed them. But we've got to earn that. I'm sure you'll see a reaction."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has welcomed the return of Paul Pogba, a player he describes as the "best all-round midfielder in the world".

Pogba made his long-awaited comeback from an ankle injury by coming on as a substitute in the second half of a 2-0 defeat at Watford on Sunday and is expected to start when Newcastle visit Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

It was the France World Cup-winner's first United appearance since September and Solskjaer is looking forward to fitting Pogba into his side, even if he remains unsure as to his best position.

The United manager said: "He did really well when he came on [at Watford]. It's a big, big plus, and it might be that we do get him in from the start.

"He can play anywhere, the whole midfield. He's a box-to-box midfielder. He can drop deep, play them long passes, get higher up and combine, [play] one-twos - him and Anthony [Martial] and Marcus [Rashford] creating chances down that side - so it depends on the game.

"That's the beauty of having Paul: he is the best all-round midfielder in the world, he can do all roles, but if I play him low, he should've played high, and if I play him high, he should've played low.

"It's always going to be that discussion with him. But it's great to have him back."

Pogba will add dynamism to a United midfield that has largely underwhelmed over the first half of the season. Solskjaer's men head into Christmas in eighth place in the Premier League, seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Manchester City battled to a 3-1 comeback win against Leicester City to keep alive their slim Premier League title hopes, while Everton and Arsenal played out a bore draw at Goodison Park.

Riyad Mahrez struck against his former club to cancel out Jamie Vardy's opener in a game the reigning champions went on to win comfortably, moving them to within a point of their second-placed opponents.

Elsewhere, Miguel Almiron scored his first Premier League goal to fire Newcastle United to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, while Everton and Arsenal played out a bore draw at Goodison Park.

Paraguay international Almiron volleyed home late on to get off the mark on his 27th appearance in the competition and settle a match that was heading for a goalless draw.

Goals proved hard to come by in the stalemate between Everton and Arsenal, a low-quality match watched from the stands by respective incoming bosses Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta.

Everton failed to record a shot on target in a top-flight home match for the first time since January 2018, while Gabriel Martinelli went closest to scoring for the visitors.

Elsewhere, Burnley, Sheffield United, Wolves and Southampton all won away from home, the latter seeing off relegation rivals Aston Villa 3-1 to boost their survival hopes.
 

City comeback flattens Foxes

Pep Guardiola's side entered Saturday's late kick-off sitting four points behind Leicester and 14 adrift of Liverpool, meaning only victory would do if they were to keep their outside title aspirations alive.

Those hopes were further dented when Vardy got on the end of Harvey Barnes' pass and scored through Leicester's first effort at goal but, inspired by another Kevin De Bruyne masterclass, the champions roared back to claim back-to-back league wins.

Mahrez, who won the Premier League title with Leicester in 2016, fired a deflected shot past Kasper Schmeichel to pull one back and Ilkay Gundogan converted from the penalty spot after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Ricardo Pereira.

De Bruyne picked up the assist his performance deserved in the second half by setting up Gabriel Jesus - who had not previously scored on home soil this season - to seal the victory.

Arsenal's poor form continues

With Arteta not officially taking charge of his first Arsenal match until the Boxing Day trip to Bournemouth, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg oversaw yet another below-par display from his side.

The Gunners looked the more likely side to score on Merseyside but lacked cohesion all over the field and had to settle for a point, making it just one win in 13 matches in all competitions.

Arsenal did at least manage to test Jordan Pickford - the England international doing well to keep out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the second half - with the Toffees rarely troubling the opposition defence.

Ancelotti was confirmed as Everton's new manager on a four-and-a-half-year deal shortly before kick-off, giving him a chance to witness up close just how big a task he has on his hands when taking the reins from stand-in boss Duncan Ferguson.

Almiron ends drought to extend Palace's winless run

A third victory in four Premier League matches for Newcastle was secured thanks to Almiron, who has had a tough time of things since arriving from Atlanta United for a reported £20million in January.

Almiron converted with a first-time finish seven minutes from time after being teed up by Andy Carroll's header, ending his long-running goal drought and sending United up to ninth place.

Palace, now without a win in three league outings, saw more of the ball and had the better of the chances, but Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke were unable to find a way past home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Ings inspires Southampton to vital victory

Southampton leapfrogged fellow strugglers Aston Villa into 17th place with a Danny Ings-inspired win, the one-cap England international reaching double figures for the season before Christmas.

Ings scored either side of Jack Stephens' towering header as Ralph Hasenhuttl's charges raced into a three-goal lead at Villa Park with 51 minutes played.

Jack Grealish scored a fine goal to reduce the arrears, but Villa left themselves with too big a mountain to climb and are now in the relegation zone after a fourth defeat on the spin.

Norwich cut further adrift

Norwich City failed to make their first-half dominance count in a 2-1 home loss to Wolves that leaves them six points adrift of safety at Christmas.

Todd Cantwell pounced on a loose ball to give Norwich a deserved 17th-minute lead, but they could not build on their advantage and Wolves hit back.

After a subdued opening hour, Romain Saiss sparked his side into life with a powerful header and Raul Jimenez made it 16 goals for the season across all competitions late on to condemn Norwich - who have one point from their last five home matches - to another defeat.

Wilder's men overcome more VAR frustrations

Sheffield United continued their march up the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, despite the frustration of having two goals ruled out by VAR.

John Egan's bundled finish was chalked off for handball and Jack O'Connell was denied for offside - the third and fourth goals United have been awarded on the field this term, only for VAR to intervene.

Not that it mattered, though, as Oli McBurnie's third goal of the season - a powerful strike past Mat Ryan after 23 minutes - proved enough for Chris Wilder's men to keep their unbeaten away record this season intact as they moved into the lofty heights of fifth place.

Rodriguez settles contest between shot-shy sides

Burnley edged out Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium in a game that saw the sides register just five shots between them - the fewest recorded in a Premier League game since records began in 2003-04.

The one and only attempt on target arrived in the final minute of the game, Jay Rodriguez heading in Ashley Westwood's cross from close range to settle a dreadful game.

Jefferson Lerma's 30-yard effort over the bar was as good as things got for a Bournemouth side that have lost six of their last seven league matches to slip into relegation danger.

Miguel Almiron scored his first Premier League goal to fire Newcastle United to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, while Everton and Arsenal played out a bore draw at Goodison Park.

Paraguay international Almiron volleyed home late on to get off the mark on his 27th appearance in the competition and settle a match that was heading for a goalless draw.

Goals proved hard to come by in the stalemate between Everton and Arsenal, a low-quality match watched from the stands by respective incoming bosses Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta.

Everton failed to record a shot on target in a top-flight home match for the first time since January 2018, while Gabriel Martinelli went closest to scoring for the visitors.

Elsewhere, Burnley, Sheffield United, Wolves and Southampton all won away from home, the latter seeing off relegation rivals Aston Villa 3-1 to boost their survival hopes.

Arsenal's poor form continues

With Arteta not officially taking charge of his first Arsenal match until the Boxing Day trip to Bournemouth, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg oversaw yet another below-par display from his side.

The Gunners looked the more likely side to score on Merseyside but lacked cohesion all over the field and had to settle for a point, making it just one win in 13 matches in all competitions.

Arsenal did at least manage to test Jordan Pickford - the England international doing well to keep out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the second half - with the Toffees rarely troubling the opposition defence.

Ancelotti was confirmed as Everton's new manager on a four-and-a-half-year deal shortly before kick-off, giving him a chance to witness up close just how big a task he has on his hands when taking the reins from stand-in boss Duncan Ferguson.

Almiron ends drought to extend Palace's winless run

A third victory in four Premier League matches for Newcastle was secured thanks to Almiron, who has had a tough time of things since arriving from Atlanta United for a reported £20million in January.

Almiron converted with a first-time finish seven minutes from time after being teed up by Andy Carroll's header, ending his long-running goal drought and sending United up to ninth place.

Palace, now without a win in three league outings, saw more of the ball and had the better of the chances, but Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke were unable to find a way past home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Ings inspires Southampton to vital victory

Southampton leapfrogged fellow strugglers Aston Villa into 17th place with a Danny Ings-inspired win, the one-cap England international reaching double figures for the season before Christmas.

Ings scored either side of Jack Stephens' towering header as Ralph Hasenhuttl's charges raced into a three-goal lead at Villa Park with 51 minutes played.

Jack Grealish scored a fine goal to reduce the arrears, but Villa left themselves with too big a mountain to climb and are now in the relegation zone after a fourth defeat on the spin.

Norwich cut further adrift

Norwich City failed to make their first-half dominance count in a 2-1 home loss to Wolves that leaves them six points adrift of safety at Christmas.

Todd Cantwell pounced on a loose ball to give Norwich a deserved 17th-minute lead, but they could not build on their advantage and Wolves hit back.

After a subdued opening hour, Romain Saiss sparked his side into life with a powerful header and Raul Jimenez made it 16 goals for the season across all competitions late on to condemn Norwich - who have one point from their last five home matches - to another defeat.

Wilder's men overcome more VAR frustrations

Sheffield United continued their march up the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, despite the frustration of having two goals ruled out by VAR.

John Egan's bundled finish was chalked off for handball and Jack O'Connell was denied for offside - the third and fourth goals United have been awarded on the field this term, only for VAR to intervene.

Not that it mattered, though, as Oli McBurnie's third goal of the season - a powerful strike past Mat Ryan after 23 minutes - proved enough for Chris Wilder's men to keep their unbeaten away record this season intact as they moved into the lofty heights of fifth place.

Rodriguez settles contest between shot-shy sides

Burnley edged out Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium in a game that saw the sides register just five shots between them - the fewest recorded in a Premier League game since records began in 2003-04.

The one and only attempt on target arrived in the final minute of the game, Jay Rodriguez heading in Ashley Westwood's cross from close range to settle a dreadful game.

Jefferson Lerma's 30-yard effort over the bar was as good as things got for a Bournemouth side that have lost six of their last seven league matches to slip into relegation danger.

Liverpool kept their first home clean sheet of the Premier League season in a 2-0 win over Watford as Mohamed Salah's double rescued the off-key Reds.

The manner in which Jurgen Klopp's men can win when out of sorts must be hard to swallow for second-placed Leicester, who drew 1-1 at home to Norwich City, and third-placed Manchester City, who travel to Arsenal on Sunday.

Chelsea failed to put pressure on the top three as they succumbed to a 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth, but Sheffield United moved up to fifth after brushing Aston Villa aside in a 2-0 win.

Chris Wood's goal was enough to bring Burnley's three-match losing streak to an end and condemn Newcastle United to a first defeat in four league outings.

 

Watford make Reds work for 16th straight home win

New manager Nigel Pearson left Anfield with every reason to be proud of his Watford side's performance on an afternoon when the Hornets had enough chances to claim a shock victory against the Premier League leaders.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue were guilty of wasteful finishing that let Liverpool off the hook and Salah made Watford pay in spectacular style.

The Egypt international curled a spectacular opener into the top corner after 38 minutes and then wrapped up a hard-fought win with a cheeky tap-in in the last minute.

The satisfaction Jurgen Klopp took from an ugly win was dulled by an injury to Georginio Wijnaldum, who suffered a muscle strain that looks set to rule him out of Liverpool's trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup.

Liverpool have now won 16 straight home Premier League games, with their lead up to 10 points.

Four defeats in five for Lampard's Blues

Bournemouth arrived at Stamford Bridge in the midst of a five-game Premier League losing streak but emerged with all three points after Dan Gosling's late goal clinched a surprise 1-0 victory over Chelsea.

Any hopes the Blues had of a return to strong domestic form following their 2-1 midweek victory over Lille began to fade as chances went begging while Bournemouth grew in confidence.

As the Cherries piled forward, Jefferson Lerma's looping header into the box six minutes from time found Gosling unmarked and he lifted the ball over Kepa Arrizabalaga and over the line.

Chelsea had 18 shots at goal throughout the match but failed to force an equaliser and Frank Lampard's men trudged off the field with a record of one win and four defeats in their last five Premier League outings.

Foxes come up short as winning streak ends

Teemu Pukki's third goal in four Premier League matches gave Norwich City the lead at King Power Stadium, where Leicester City's eight-match Premier League winning streak came grinding to a halt.

The Finland international fired Norwich ahead after 26 minutes, but their advantage did not last long, with Tim Krul palming Jamie Vardy's header into his own net seven minutes before half-time.

Daniel Farke's Norwich fought hard for their share of the points in a second half that saw Leicester heap pressure on their goal, attempting 12 shots on goal.

Ben Chilwell's cross forced a late corner from which substitute Harvey Barnes fired agonisingly wide for the hosts, who remain second in the table.

Blades up to fifth after victory over Villa

Any doubts over which of this season's promoted sides has the best chance of a top-half finish appeared to be resolved at Bramall Lane, where Fleck scored both of Sheffield United's goals in a 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

Chris Wilder's men have proved themselves extremely tough to beat and Villa's hopes of inflicting what would have been only United's second defeat in 10 league games suffered a blow when Scotland international Fleck finished a neat passing move with a goal after 50 minutes.

Fleck coolly slotted home his second 23 minutes later before Jack Grealish hit the crossbar with a penalty, leaving Villa winless in four Premier League matches and in trouble towards the foot of the table.

Rafael Benitez says he would like to go back to the Premier League in the future but insists there is "no chance" of an imminent return.

The Spaniard left Newcastle United following the expiry of his contract at the end of June before joining Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang – a move Magpies managing director, Lee Charnley, said was motivated by money.

Everton and Arsenal are in the market for new managers after recently sacking Marco Silva and Unai Emery respectively, while West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini is under intense pressure.

Benitez says he remains open to a return to the English top flight but has no intention of leaving China just yet.

"Obviously in the future I would like to come back to the Premier League, but at the moment I must be very clear, there is no chance I will come back now," he told Sky Sports' Monday Night Football.

"I am happy, really pleased, they trust me, we have a lot of staff working on a big project.

"We want to leave a legacy, it's a challenge for me, and I'm learning a lot, it's a great experience, and I'm quite happy at the moment."

Benitez enjoyed a successful spell in charge of Liverpool between 2004 and 2010, guiding them to Champions League success in 2005, before leading Chelsea to the Europa League as caretaker boss in 2013.

Leicester City registered a club-record eighth Premier League win a row with a resounding 4-1 defeat of Aston Villa on Sunday.

The result – aided by a Jamie Vardy brace – means Brendan Rodgers' side go back to within eight points of leaders Liverpool and sees them open a six-point advantage over Manchester City following their defeat to Manchester United on Saturday.

Sheffield United's impressive return to the top flight continued as they came from behind to beat Norwich City 2-1 at Carrow Road, while Newcastle United left it late to scrape past Southampton by the same scoreline.

In the day's final game, Diogo Jota scored twice as Wolves and Brighton and Hove Albion played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Amex Stadium.

 

Foxes maintain sensational run

Vardy's stunning streak continued as he became the first player to score in eight consecutive Premier League games since he previously achieved the feat himself in 2015.

The 32-year-old claimed goals in a record-breaking 11 matches in a row during Leicester's remarkable title-winning campaign and is now threatening to match or even improve upon that landmark.

He put Leicester ahead at Villa Park before Kelechi Iheanacho doubled the Foxes' advantage from close range.

Jack Grealish suggested the hosts could stage a comeback when he scored on the stroke of half-time, but Jonny Evans and Vardy's second sealed yet another three points for Rodgers' relentless side.

Blades bounce back to overcome Canaries

Sheffield United remain unbeaten away from home in this season's Premier League after a narrow victory over Norwich City.

Alexander Tettey had given the hosts a first-half lead, but Chris Wilder's side bounced back after the break courtesy of goals from Enda Stevens and George Baldock.

The Canaries thought they had been handed an opportunity to claw their way back into the game when Chris Basham was shown a straight red card for a lunge on Kenny McLean, only for a VAR review to downgrade the dismissal to a yellow card.

The result moves the Blades up to eighth, while Daniel Farke's side remain four points away from safety in 19th.

Jota double seals away point for Wolves

Wolves stretched their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 11 games after a draw with Brighton that saw all four goals scored in the first half.

Jota put the visitors ahead in the 28th minute after playing a one-two with Raul Jimenez before the hosts turned the game on its head with two goals in 96 seconds.

First, Neal Maupay drew Graham Potter's side level and then Davy Propper put them ahead with a fine header from Leandro Trossard's cross.

Jota ensured a share of the spoils a minute before the interval, though, turning inside the penalty area and firing past Mat Ryan.

Magpies' revival continues with hard-fought win

Jonjo Shelvey scored for a third consecutive game as Newcastle made it four wins from their past six in the Premier League with a late victory over Southampton.

The Saints went ahead courtesy of Danny Ings' fifth goal in as many games seven minutes into the second half, but Shelvey restored parity in the 68th minute.

Federico Fernandez had the final say, firing in from close range after Sean Longstaff's shot was parried by goalkeeper Alex McCarthy with three minutes of normal time to go.

Newcastle United inflicted a first defeat on Sheffield United since September as the visitors ran out 2-0 winners in the Premier League at Bramall Lane.

Allan Saint-Maximin headed Steve Bruce's side into a 15th-minute lead and Jonjo Shelvey made sure of the points in odd circumstances 20 minutes from time.

Javier Manquillo supplied the cross for Saint-Maximin's opener, before Andy Carroll - making his first start of the season - provided the flick-on that sent Shelvey clear to double the Magpies' advantage, after he ignored the offside flag and found VAR was in his favour.

That was enough to condemn the Blades to their first loss since a 1-0 reverse at home to runaway leaders Liverpool on September 28.

Liverpool have been drawn at home to Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round, while holders Manchester City will start the defence of their title at home to third-tier Port Vale.

The Toffees face Jurgen Klopp's side on Wednesday in the Premier League and will make the short trip to Anfield for a second time this season during the first week of January.

Pep Guardiola's City thumped Watford 6-0 in last season's final and have been given a favourable draw to kick-start their 2019-20 campaign, with John Askey's League Two side pitching up at the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester United face a difficult away tie against Premier League rivals Wolves, who knocked them out of the competition last season's quarter-finals, while Arsenal welcome Championship leaders Leeds United to the Emirates Stadium.

New Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho takes his side to Middlesbrough, managed by former Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate, and Chelsea host Nottingham Forest.

Ties will take place between January 3 and 6.

Phil Foden says Manchester City must set their sights on the daunting task of winning every remaining Premier League game this season after they slipped 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

A 2-2 draw at Newcastle United, who twice came from behind on Saturday, saw Pep Guardiola's champions fail to win for the fifth time in 14 league fixtures.

Liverpool, by contrast, have dropped only two points and a subsequent 2-1 home win for the Reds over Brighton and Hove Albion boosted their already considerable advantage over City.

Guardiola has urged his side to stop thinking about the title race and instead divert all their energy into claiming victories in each individual game.

City won their final 14 league games last term to pip Liverpool to top spot and Foden knows a similar streak is now required as they approach a hectic period in the domestic calendar.

"It's not in our hands now. All we can do is win every game. It's going to be a big challenge for us," said the 19-year-old, who came off the bench as a second-half replacement for David Silva at St James' Park.

"I think [December] is the most important time of the season. Teams usually drop points.

"It's going to be interesting. All we can do now is to try to win all our games and see where it takes us."

Foden acknowledged Jonjo Shelvey's superb 88th-minute equaliser represented a painful blow for a City side who had not long retaken the lead through a magnificent Kevin De Bruyne half-volley.

"We thought that [De Bruyne's goal] was going to be the winner," he added.

"But they kept going and they managed to score a great strike in the end, unfortunately for us. We were all gutted in the changing room. We need to move forward and focus on our next games."

Liverpool remain on course for a first ever Premier League title after a nervy 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, while Manchester City could only manage a 2-2 draw at Newcastle United.

Jurgen Klopp's side endured a tense finish at Anfield after goalkeeper Alisson was dismissed with 14 minutes remaining, but they held on for a 13th win in 14 games this season.

City, meanwhile, were far from their fluid best at St James' Park and were denied a vital win by Jonjo Shelvey's superb late strike.

Jose Mourinho racked up a second consecutive Premier League win since taking over at Tottenham, Dele Alli proving to be the star man in a 3-2 win over Bournemouth, while West Ham pulled off a surprise 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

REDS SURVIVE ALISSON RED CARD

Runaway leaders Liverpool survived a nervy finale to equal their longest unbeaten run in the top flight and capitalise on City's slip-up.

A Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick set up the opener for Van Dijk in the 18th minute and the same combination soon provided a second goal as Brighton were found wanting at a corner.

Brighton were given an unexpected lifeline when Alisson was sent off for handling outside his box – meaning he will miss Wednesday's derby clash with Everton – and Lewis Dunk caught out replacement goalkeeper Adrian with a quick free-kick.

The Seagulls could not find a late equaliser, though, and while Leicester City can cut Liverpool's advantage at the summit to eight points by beating Everton on Sunday, there looks to be no stopping a team who have now gone 31 league games unbeaten, matching their record streak from May 1987 to March 1988.

CITY'S TITLE HOPES SLIP AWAY

City's hopes of claiming a third consecutive Premier League title suffered a fresh blow, with Shelvey's late intervention leaving them 11 points behind leaders Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola's side looked set to cruise to all three points when Raheem Sterling scored his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign midway through the first half, but they were pegged back by Jetro Willems' fierce drive three minutes later.

Kevin De Bruyne restored City's lead with a sumptuous half-volley in the 82nd minute, the Belgium international using his chest to control a headed clearance before unleashing a stunning effort that crashed in off the underside of the crossbar.

Newcastle bounced back in style to ensure a share of the spoils two minutes from time, though, when Shelvey whipped home from 25 yards after Christian Atsu had picked him out with a short free-kick.

MOURINHO'S PERFECT START CONTINUES

Tottenham beat West Ham and Olympiacos in Mourinho's first two matches and were good value for their latest triumph at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, despite another late collapse.

The hosts made a slow start but took the lead midway through the opening period through Alli, who slotted the ball underneath Aaron Ramsdale after being teed up by Son Heung-min's first-time pass.

The England international scored a second early in the second half before Moussa Sissoko added a third with his first league goal in his past 69 appearances.

Harry Wilson pulled two goals back for Bournemouth in the closing stages - one of which was a superb free-kick - but Tottenham held on for back-to-back league wins for the first time since April to climb to fifth, six points off a Champions League place.

PRESSURE EASES ON PELLEGRINI AFTER FINE WIN

Aaron Cresswell scored the only goal of the game as West Ham eased the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini and ended their seven-game Premier League winless streak at Chelsea.

The Hammers became only the second side to win at Chelsea in the league this season and Frank Lampard's side, who lost at Manchester City a week prior, could have few complaints about the result.

Cresswell scored the winner early in the second half and West Ham could have extended their lead before surviving a late rally from the hosts to secure their first victory since they beat Manchester United on September 22.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, beat Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor courtesy of goals from Wilfried Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp.

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City cannot think about the Premier League title after losing further ground on Liverpool with a 2-2 draw at Newcastle United.

City led twice at St James' Park through Raheem Sterling's 15th goal of the season for club and country and a blistering Kevin De Bruyne strike.

But after Jetro Willems, a goalscorer at Anfield earlier this season, had his latest say in the title race, Jonjo Shelvey matched the quality of De Bruyne's intervention with a stunning leveller two minutes from time.

Guardiola saw his side embark on a 14-match winning run after a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle in January that appeared terminal to their hopes of retaining the title.

After falling 11 points behind Jurgen Klopp's men - 2-1 winners over Brighton and Hove Albion despite having Alisson sent off - the City boss does not believe contemplating similar heroics should be at the forefront of his players' minds as they turn towards a week featuring games against Burnley and Manchester United.

"It's not the time. We have another opponent in front of us," he said when asked about City's fading prospects of a third title in a row at the post-match news conference.

"We now have to try and win games, win games and see what happens.

"It's not a good idea to think about the Premier League and how many points. We have to win games. If we do not win, it will be more difficult.

"Last season [against Newcastle] we played bad. Today I think we did everything to win the game and that is the truth.

"We played on a good level, defending, set pieces and everything. We moved the ball well, we found the spaces outside and we arrived in front of the goal many, many times.

"Unfortunately, we could not score [enough to win]."

Having two leads cancelled out swiftly represented a new frailty for a City side that has looked increasingly vulnerable over recent weeks, but Guardiola was keen to credit Newcastle.

"It's better to score one, take time and score the second one. But they play," he said.

"In one situation, they defend deep and make a good action; in the second one, Shelvey puts it in the corner."

Asked whether former Liverpool midfielder Shelvey had done his part in securing a first league title for 30 years on Merseyside, Newcastle manager Steve Bruce replied: "I don't know about that!

"I do know it's his second goal in [four] games and, very quietly over the last few weeks, I've been very, very pleased with Jonjo.

"He's responded to what we want to do, and we all know he's got that ability in his locker."

Pep Guardiola insists he was happy with his side's performance despite Jonjo Shevley's late strike for Newcastle United denying Manchester City all three points on Saturday.

City looked like they were heading for a slender win after Kevin De Bruyne's stunning 82nd-minute strike, but Shelvey whipped home from 25 yards to seal a 2-2 draw for Steve Bruce's side.

City were far from their fluid best at St James' Park and could end the day 11 points behind leaders Liverpool if Jurgen Klopp's side overcome Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield.

Guardiola, though, felt his players performed well enough to have taken all three points.

"We played at a good level," he said. "We moved well, we created enough chances – unfortunately that happens [Shelvey's goal]. In general, we played good. I think we played at the level of last season."

Asked if he was frustrated by the perceived negative tactics of the hosts, Guardiola responded: "It's what we have lived with for the last four years – it's always like this. We found a way today but at the end we conceded a goal."

Despite the gap to leaders Liverpool, defender John Stones says City have no intention of throwing in the towel in their bid for a third consecutive title.

"From elation to deflation; it's a difficult one to take," he said.

"It's still on because we will still fight until the last day like we did last season. The spirit has always got to be there because anything can happen in any game."

For a man whose coaching career has been defined by brief, intense and trophy-laden tenures, Pep Guardiola has offered uncharacteristic hints towards a long-term future at Manchester City over the past two weeks.

Of course, the headline phrases of him not having "any reason" to leave the Etihad Stadium and him being "open" to a stay beyond the end of his current contract have been heavily caveated.

If Guardiola remains with his back-to-back Premier League winners until his current deal expires in June 2021, he will have led City for longer than his four years in charge of boyhood club Barcelona or three at Bayern Munich.

The temptation might be to regenerate a team and begin a fresh cycle – something greats such as Alex Ferguson were celebrated for doing and a challenge the cut-and-thrust of the modern game rarely allows even the finest tacticians. Just ask Mauricio Pochettino.

Saturday's evidence at St James' Park, where Kevin De Bruyne and Jonjo Shelvey exchanged second-half howitzers meant City twice conceded leads in a damaging 2-2 draw, suggested version 2.0 of Guardiola's Mancunian machine might need to be hurried through the developmental phase.

Back at the ground where their title hopes looked to have suffered a terminal blow last season, City dropped more points to hand further initiative to the Liverpool juggernaut. The imperious 14-match winning streak that saw them outlast the Reds last season looks entirely beyond the champions in their current guise.

Raheem Sterling's opening goal came following some genial work from David Silva, but seeing City's masterful playmaker lift the tempo was an exception against a Newcastle backline that clogged the pipes of this spluttering City.

Interplay was frequently laboured, balls chipped hopefully towards the penalty spot were repelled by the three central defensive pillars of Federico Fernandez, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett.

Gabriel Jesus cut a forlorn figure in their shadows before springing on to a shaft of Silva-flecked light and shooting too close to Martin Dubravka in the 68th minute.

That was the first time City had really looked like scoring since a well-worked 25th-minute equaliser from Jetro Willems. Was this really the team that beat Watford 8-0 two months ago, having taken a 5-0 lead inside the first quarter of an hour? It was certainly the team who have been flat and one-paced far too often since

Silva made way for his presumed heir Phil Foden, a keenly awaited transition that will take time. There are batons that City and Guardiola must ensure pass smoothly next year and beyond.

At the end of this season, Silva will end a decade-long association with the club as arguably their greatest ever player. Fernandinho is out of contract in 2020 too.

The Brazil international turned in another fine performance at centre-back, until the foul that lead to Shelvey's leveller. He finds himself permanently stationed there nowadays, City's midfield devoid of his irresistible bite, since Aymeric Laporte's knee injury followed Vincent Kompany's departure.

Leroy Sane is also sidelined for the long-term, while fellow winger Riyad Mahrez took a step backwards after last week's decisive goal against Chelsea. The only major signing to arrive in between the consecutive title wins, his has been a frustrating City career of fits and starts.

The same can also be said for Jesus, who does not look like the successor to Sergio Aguero he once did. Currently sidelined, City's all-time record goalscorer is out of contract, like Guardiola, in 2021.

Any certainty Sane and Laporte will lift City when they return - for a tilt at a maiden Champions League crown that must now become their priority - is undermined by Benjamin Mendy's re-emergence. Fit again after two bouts of knee surgery, the France left-back was utterly abysmal at St James' Park. Again, these things can take time.

The individual and collective problems Guardiola needs to address feel like a large part of the reason why he is looking to the longer term. The next challenge already seems like the most pressing, with the dream of three in a row having almost certainly slipped out of reach.

Manchester City's hopes of claiming a third consecutive Premier League title suffered a fresh blow as Jonjo Shelvey's superb late strike helped Newcastle United to a 2-2 draw at St James' Park.

City looked like set to cruise to all three points when Raheem Sterling scored his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign midway through the first half, but they were pegged back by Jetro Willems' fierce drive three minutes later.

Kevin De Bruyne restored City's lead eight minutes from time with a stunning half-volley, yet Pep Guardiola's side were denied a vital victory by Shelvey's equally wonderful strike in the 88th minute.

Sterling squandered a huge chance to win it in stoppage time, and the result means City could end the day 11 points behind leaders Liverpool if Jurgen Klopp's side overcome Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield.

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