Gareth Southgate would be "disappointed" if he was not linked to Premier League vacancies but the England boss still has objectives he wants to achieve with the Three Lions.

England reached a first World Cup semi-final since Italia '90 at last year's tournament in Russia, while they also made the last four of the inaugural Nations League.

Southgate then oversaw England's qualification for Euro 2020 and his side are among the favourites for European Championship glory.

In a question and answer session with Sky Sports, Southgate – who was in the past linked with the Manchester United job - was asked if a return to Premier League management is of interest.

For now, though, Southgate's immediate focus remains on the Three Lions.

"I am completely fulfilled in the role, it's a privilege to be the manager of England. Sometimes in life we are always looking at what's coming next and not relishing how fortunate we are to be in the position that we are in," he said.

"I feel like our team can still get better, there are objectives that we still want to achieve. In the future? I know realistically that I'm not going to be England manager in 10 years' time - I hope to be in six months' time. 

"Somewhere in between that, there is going to be something else. I'd be disappointed if I wasn't linked with some of those jobs if I'm honest. 

"I don't worry about it because my phone has not been ringing. I think that is because people know that I am committed to the job that I am in."

Being national team manager throws up plenty of challenges and Southgate had to deal with an internal bust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez during the last international break, with the duo having clashed in Manchester City's defeat to Liverpool prior to the squad meeting up.

Southgate opted to drop Sterling for the clash against Montenegro before restoring the City forward for their final Euro 2020 qualifier with Kosovo.

The decision to publicly confirm Sterling was dropped drew criticism in some quarters but Southgate feels the squad is more united for having dealt with the incident as a group.

"I think there are situations as a leader, where whatever decision you make will be criticised. There are some situations where there isn't a perfect solution and you all have to just work things out as a group," he added.

"Time needs to pass. I have to make a decision that is right for the team first and foremost, and also support both of the players. There are so many people involved in a situation like that - everybody is going to have an opinion. Those that have managed or coached before understand the complexities of any situation like that.

"The most important thing is the team and the performance of the team. We were able to focus internally on the football very quickly and we got the results we needed and both boys got back on the pitch.

"They definitely came closer together and Raheem's message when Joe got an adverse reaction at Wembley was a really powerful one. I think that bought some closure on the episode.

"We are dealing with young men who are going to be emotional at times. Part of the strength of some of our players is that edge that they have. Through that adversity we are stronger for it."

Raheem Sterling insists his impressive goal tally this season will "not mean anything" if Manchester City fail to win any silverware.

Raheem Sterling scored twice as Manchester City battled to a 3-1 victory at Oxford United to reach the semi-finals of the EFL Cup on Wednesday.

Joao Cancelo's first City goal opening the scoring midway through the first half, goalkeeper Jordan Archer wrongfooted by a deflection off helpless defender Elliott Moore.

League One side Oxford hit back just after the break, Matty Taylor taking his goal brilliantly to restore a short-lived parity, but Sterling - captain for the night - tucked in Angelino's left-wing centre to put the holders back in front.

Sterling struck again to seal a spot in the last four, with Pep Guardiola's assistant Mikel Arteta on the City bench amid reports the former Arsenal midfielder is set to succeed Unai Emery at Emirates Stadium.

Oxford skipper Rob Dickie made a brilliant last-gasp clearance to deny Sterling a tap-in as City turned the screw after a slow start.

The Premier League champions were in front in the 22nd minute with a fantastic team move spanning the length of the pitch, though Cancelo's finish took a big deflection.

Oxford scored a shock equaliser 21 seconds after the interval, Shandon Baptiste sent Taylor clear on the right channel and nutmegging Taylor Harwood-Bellis before steering a low shot past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

But within five minutes City led again, Phil Foden freeing Angelino on the left to deliver a low centre that Sterling could not miss.

City's progression was sealed in the 70th minute, Sterling netting his 33rd club goal of the year in all competitions with another close-range finish from Gabriel Jesus' centre, and Cancelo hit the post late on as the gulf in quality finally told.


What does it mean? City on track for third straight EFL Cup

Many big clubs do not take the EFL Cup particularly seriously, but that is not the case for City. They have won the tournament four times in six seasons, including in each of the past two years, and will be favourites to retain the crown.
 

Foden growing into his role

Having been a surprise starter in City's weekend win at Arsenal, Foden kept his place in midfield and impressed again. David Silva's anointed successor had a hand in City's first two goals and the teenager has now come up with an assist in three consecutive appearances in all competitions.


Harwood-Bellis switches off

Karl Robinson's enterprising Oxford side flew out of the traps in the second half and teenage defender Harwood-Bellis was caught cold. Taylor beat him far too easily, though the striker deserves lots of credit for a goal he will never forget.


What's next?

Guardiola's men host Leicester City in a huge Premier League clash on Saturday, when they might well be without Arteta. Leaders Wycombe Wanderers are less glamorous visitors to the Kassam Stadium in League One, but it will be another big match for Oxford in the battle for promotion.

Points were dropped by several Premier League sides with top-six aspirations on a weekend when leaders Liverpool were rescued by Mohamed Salah's finishing as they extended their winning streak and their cushion at the top.

The Reds beat Watford 2-0 at Anfield to move 10 points clear of Leicester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by struggling Norwich City.

There was also frustration for a top-four side at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea failed to score for the second time in three Premier League home games as they succumbed 1-0 to Bournemouth.

Manchester City suffered no such slip-up when they travelled to Arsenal on Sunday, as a 3-0 win for the third-placed defending champions moved them to 14 points behind Liverpool.

Tottenham nudged up to fifth after beating Wolves 2-1 to offer further evidence that Jose Mourinho has addressed some of the problems his side faced on the road under Mauricio Pochettino.

Take a deep dive into the big stories of the weekend in our Premier League Data Diary.

REDS STREAK RANKS THIRD AFTER TRICKY HORNETS TEST

Goals from Mohamed Salah and some wayward Watford finishing ensured Liverpool claimed a 2-0 win at Anfield to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to 34 games.

Only Arsenal (49 between May 2003 and October 2004) and Chelsea (40 between October 2004 and October 2005) can boast longer undefeated sequences in the competition, and the Reds have won their last 16 league games at Anfield.

Five more consecutive home wins would see Jurgen Klopp's men match the record (21) set by Bill Shankly's title-winning Liverpool side between January and December 1972.

Salah's double takes his goal tally to 84 in 126 appearances for Liverpool, eclipsing Luis Suarez's record of 82 goals in 133 games for the Reds.

Watford have taken just nine points from 17 league games this season, and the omens for them are not good: all of the nine teams to accumulate nine points or fewer after 17 Premier League matches have been eventually relegated.

 

HONEYMOON PERIOD A DISTANT MEMORY FOR LAMPARD

After seeing Chelsea lose just two of his first 12 Premier League games in charge, Frank Lampard watched his charges slip to a fourth defeat in five against Bournemouth on Saturday.

The 1-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge came courtesy of Dan Gosling's first league goal since April and left the Blues with just one fewer home defeat (five) in all competitions this season than they suffered in 62 games over 2017-18 and 2018-19 combined.

Chelsea have lost two of their last three top-flight home games, as many as they had in their previous 28 at Stamford Bridge, and failed to score in both of those defeats.

Since their promotion in 2015, no side has won more Premier League away game at Chelsea than Bournemouth (three, level with Liverpool).

 

MOURINHO'S MEN MAKE PROGRESS ON THE ROAD

Prior to Jose Mourinho's arrival as Tottenham boss, Spurs had failed to win a Premier League away game this season. But since he took charge they have won two out of three in the league on the road.

Lucas Moura's spectacular solo goal gave them the lead at Molineux and the Brazilian has now scored three goals in five top-flight appearances under Mourinho.

Wolves pulled level after 67 minutes of a scintillating game, Adama Traore scoring his fourth goal in 26 appearances in all competitions this season - twice as many goals as he scored in his previous 82 matches.

But Jan Vertonghen restored Tottenham's lead in second-half stoppage-time, inflicting a third home league defeat for Wolves in 2019 while extending Mourinho's record of not losing Premier League games when his side score first to 54 games since October 2015.

 

CHAMPIONS CRUISE AGAINST SHOT-SHY GUNNERS

Arsenal shipped three goals in 40 first-half minutes as they lost 3-0 at home to Manchester City, which left the Gunners with one win from their last nine Premier League matches.

Freddie Ljungberg's men are without a win at home in six games across all competitions - the club's longest such run since an eight-game streak between December 1994 and February 1995.

Kevin De Bruyne produced a masterclass at the Emirates, scoring either side of Raheem Sterling's tap-in, which he set up, to take his goal involvement tally to 19 in the league this season (seven goals and 12 assists).

Sterling's effort was his seventh away goal in the league this season - his joint-highest return on the road in a single campaign (also seven in 2017-18).

While City were prolific, Arsenal mustered just one shot on target all game - their joint-fewest in a Premier League game at Emirates Stadium (one v Everton in 2010, and v Chelsea in 2015 and 2016).

Kevin De Bruyne produced a masterclass as Manchester City breezed to a 3-0 win over a listless Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday 

The Belgium midfielder scored two high-quality goals and provided an assist for Raheem Sterling in a one-sided victory for City.

Defending champions City are 14 points behind leaders Liverpool and four behind second-place Leicester City.

Arsenal remain in ninth – seven points off Chelsea in fourth spot – in a defeat that will have done little to enhance interim boss Freddie Ljungberg's prospects of landing the job on a permanent basis.

Gunners forward Gabriel Martinelli brought an early save out of City goalkeeper Ederson but Pep Guardiola's side began the rout in the second minute.

An intelligent pass from Fernandinho released Gabriel Jesus down the left flank, and he cut the ball back for De Bruyne, who side-footed a clinical half-volley high into the net.

City strengthened their grip on the game when De Bruyne rounded off a brisk counter-attack with a low ball across the box – via a slight deflection – that Sterling steered home from close range.

De Bruyne curled in City's third from outside the box five minutes before half-time after a smart pass from Phil Foden, on his first league start of the season.

Only a spectacular fingertip save from Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, on the stroke of half-time, denied De Bruyne a first-half hat-trick.

The second half was largely a non-event as City dominated possession and Arsenal, who managed one shot on target in the contest, chased shadows.

Boos and jeers from the home supporters at half-time and near silence at full-time at the Emirates summed up the current mood of the Arsenal fanbase while the visitors chanted De Bruyne's name.

 

What does it mean? City rediscover swagger

Liverpool have been near flawless as the Premier League season closes in on its mid-point while City have stuttered and stumbled in their wake.

On their day, though, Guardiola's side are still capable of some mesmerising football. Against Arsenal they regained some of their swagger as they rebuilt confidence following last weekend's chastening Manchester derby defeat.

City are clinging onto the coattails of Liverpool, and this was a reminder to Jurgen Klopp's side that, despite their strong position, they will need to keep glancing over their shoulder.

Masterful display from majestic De Bruyne

Afforded the freedom of the Emirates, De Bruyne produced a peerless midfield display. He showed superb technique with his right and left feet for his two goals. 

A first Premier League hat-trick was the only thing missing from an individual showing among the best from any player this season.

Ozil among AWOL Arsenal players

The list of pitiful performances by Arsenal's players was a long one: Matteo Guendouzi, Calum Chambers and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all dreadful.

However, a traffic cone may have provided more impetus in attack than Mesut Ozil against City, such was his anonymity. He cut an equally unenthusiastically figure as he trudged off the pitch when substituted just before the hour, before kicking his gloves in frustration.

What's next?

Manchester City head to Oxford United in the quarter-final of the EFL Cup on Wednesday before they return to Premier League action with a key home fixture against Leicester on Saturday. Arsenal head to Goodison Park next Saturday in the day's early kick-off.

Real Madrid teenager Vinicius Junior says he is "working hard" to follow the path of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling by becoming a more regular goalscorer.

Vinicius slotted home from close range for his first goal since September in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League.

The Brazil international has netted six times in 43 appearances for Madrid, who he joined from Flamengo in July 2018, a year after his reported €45million buyout clause was triggered.

Vinicius does not believe his game is suited to scoring goals freely, but he hopes to improve in that department over time.

Citing the example of Sterling, who has become increasingly clinical in front of goal over the past few seasons, the 19-year-old attacker said: "I don't play to score. I play to help the team.

"Sterling at City also had trouble scoring goals. I left Brazil very early and I'm working hard to do great things."

Vinicius' compatriot Rodrygo Goes was also on target for Madrid in Belgium, taking his tally to six goals for the campaign.

Rather than being envious of Rodrygo's impressive start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu, though, Vinicius is pleased for his team-mate.

"We're friends," he said, according to Marca. "I'm happy because he is doing things very well."

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been rewarded for his brilliant display up against Raheem Sterling in the Manchester derby, earning inclusion in FIFA Ultimate Team's latest Team of the Week.

Manchester United claimed a fine 2-1 win at the home of the champions on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial getting the goals.

But arguably just as vital was the performance of Wan-Bissaka at right-back, as the England Under-21 international played an integral role in nullifying Sterling, one of the Premier League's form players.

Wan-Bissaka completed a match-high five tackles – one a last-ditch challenge to deny Sterling what looked set to be a certain goal – and also made seven clearances.

Liverpool star Sadio Mane is back in the TOTW for the second time, while Serie A's chief creator Luis Alberto lines up in midfield having set up another two goals in Lazio's 3-1 win over Juventus, taking his campaign tally to 11, five more than anyone else in the competition.

Unsurprisingly there is also a place in the team for Real Betis' Joaquin after he became the oldest player in LaLiga history to score a hat-trick, while Memphis Depay and Marco Reus lead the line.

Below, we take a look at the latest squad in full.

FUT TEAM OF THE WEEK

GK: Martin Dubravka (Newcastle United) – 83

CB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) – 82

CB: Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 83

CB: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) – 86

LM: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 90

CDM: Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen) – 85

CDM: Luis Alberto (Lazio) – 87

CM: Morgan Sanson (Marseille) – 82

RM: Joaquin (Real Betis) – 83

CF: Memphis Depay (Lyon) – 86

CF: Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) – 89

SUBSTITUTES:

GK: Luigi Sepe (Parma) – 81

CB: Guillermo Maripan (Monaco) – 82

LM: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino) – 82

CAM: Matheus Pereira (West Brom) – 81

ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – 84

ST: Cristhian Stuani (Girona) – 82

RF: Lukas Podolski (Vissel Kobe) – 81

RESERVES:

CM: Cristian Battocchio (Brest) – 78

CM: Carlos Sierra (America de Cali) – 73

ST: Vinicius (Benfica) – 79

ST: Adam Le Fondre (Sydney FC) – 78

ST: Josh Maja (Bordeaux) – 75

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has his sights set on a slice of Champions League history when Tottenham visit the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

The Poland international needs two goals against Jose Mourinho's side to claim the record for goals in the group stage of a single campaign – an honour held by Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 11 in 2015-16 for Real Madrid.

Atletico Madrid will book their place in the last 16 if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow, while Shakhtar Donetsk will join Manchester City in progressing from Group C if they overcome Atalanta.

In Group A, already-qualified Paris Saint-Germain host Galatasaray and Real Madrid – who have also booked their place in the knockout stages – travel to Club Brugge.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

Club Brugge v Real Madrid

7 - This is the seventh Champions League group stage campaign which Club Brugge have failed to progress from. No side has ever competed in more group stages without progressing from any in the history of the competition.

2 - Karim Benzema has scored two goals in each of his last two Champions League games. Only four players have scored two or more in three consecutive games - Giovane Elber (2001), Filippo Inzaghi (2002), Cristiano Ronaldo (2013, twice in 2017) and Lewandowski (2018).

Paris Saint-Germain v Galatasaray

18 - PSG striker Kylian Mbappe has scored 18 goals in 29 appearances in the Champions League. If he scores twice in this game, Mbappe would become the youngest player in the competition's history to reach 20 goals, aged 20 years and 356 days.

1 - Galatasaray scored their first goal of the 2019-20 Champions League campaign in their last game against Club Brugge, ending a run of 38 shots without scoring from the start of the campaign. In total, they have only scored once from 43 shots in the competition this term.

Bayern Munich v Tottenham

16 - Bayern Munich had 16 shots on target in their 6-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on matchday five; the most by a team in this season's Champions League. Bayern last had more in a Champions League game in October 2013 against Viktoria Plzen (18).

2 - New Spurs manager Mourinho has lost both of his previous away games against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, losing in the quarter-finals with Chelsea in 2004-05 and the semi-finals with Real Madrid in 2011-12.

Olympiacos v Red Star Belgrade

1 - Olympiacos have picked up just one point from their five Champions League games this season. Only in 2017-18 (one) have they picked up one point or fewer from a completed group stage.

19 - Red Star have conceded 19 goals in their five Champions League games this season, more than any other side. There have been just five occasions of a team conceding 20+ goals in a single group stage in the competition, most recently by Legia Warsaw in 2016-17 (24).

Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City

5 - Dinamo Zagreb have picked up five points in this season's Champions League. Only in 1998-99 (eight points) have they won more in a single group stage in the competition. 

19 - City’s Raheem Sterling has scored 19 goals in 46 appearances in the Champions League. He could become the sixth Englishman to reach 20 goals in the competition after Wayne Rooney (30), Paul Scholes (24), Frank Lampard (23), Steven Gerrard (21) and Harry Kane (20). Should Sterling score in his 47th appearance, he would be the second quickest Englishman to 20 Champions League goals after Kane (24 appearances).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta

5 - Shakhtar Donetsk are without a win in each of their last five Champions League home games (drawn three, lost two). It is their longest ever winless run at home in the competition.

2 - Atalanta have lost their last two away games in the Champions League, conceding nine goals in the process. They last lost three consecutive away matches in all European competition back in October 1987.

Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

2 - Atletico Madrid have lost consecutive matches in the Champions League; they've never lost three in a row in the competition. The Spanish side last lost three consecutive games in all European competitions back in October 1984 in the UEFA Cup.

0 - Lokomotiv Moscow have never won an away game against Spanish opposition in all European competition, losing six of their seven such games and failing to score in each defeat.

Bayer Leverkusen v Juventus

3 - Bayer Leverkusen have benefited from three own goals in this season's Champions League, with only two teams benefiting from more in a single campaign: Inter in 2002-03 (four) and Barcelona in 2017-18 (five).

27 - Juventus forward Ronaldo has scored 27 goals in 24 Champions League appearances against German clubs; the most a single player has accumulated against sides from a particular nation in the competition's history.

Few, if any, Manchester City players will receive a bigger roar of approval than Raheem Sterling when the teams are read out before kick-off at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The England forward will aim to inspire victory in the Manchester derby against United for his adoring public, before basking in its glow the following day – his 25th birthday.

Whatever the result, Sterling's quarter-century also marks the one-year anniversary of bleak but life-altering day.

"The way they were looking at me, I had to see where all this anger was coming from," he told the New York Times, remembering how he observed a small number of irate fans in the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge, while retrieving the ball for a corner during a Premier League match City would lose 2-0 to Chelsea.

"I was listening in to hear what they were saying… 'Nah, that can't be what I heard'."

Television replays that quickly went viral on social media suggested Sterling's suspicions he had been subjected to racist abuse were correct.

This July, Chelsea also reached that conclusion as they banned one supporter for life and handed out sanctions from between one to two years for incidents at the same Premier League match. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to initiate criminal prosecutions.

By this stage, Sterling had long since altered the conversation.

'Have a second though'

"Regarding what was said at the Chelsea game, as you can see by my reaction, I just had to laugh because I don't expect no better," he wrote in an Instagram post the day after the game, in what remains a damning assessment of the atmospheres and sickening attitudes too often allowed to fester in football stadia – supposedly places of celebration and work for young athletes.

But Sterling was keen to turn the focus outwards, taking the opportunity to highlight the contrasting tones with which the Daily Mail reported on two of his young team-mates Phil Foden and Tosin Adarabioyo – one white, one black – buying houses for their mothers.

"This young black kid is looked at in a bad light, which helps fuel racism an aggressive behaviour," Sterling posted, before imploring news outlets to "have a second thought about fair publicity"

Troy Townsend, head of development at anti-racism and discrimination organisation Kick It Out, felt this reframing was particularly timely given the events a week earlier at the north London derby, where a Tottenham fan threw a banana skin at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

"My response was, literally, 'Well done, Raheem'," Townsend told Omnisport.

"The week before, [the Aubameyang incident] wasn't racism to many. That wasn't racism to people who have never experienced the act of the banana being thrown at them or being called a monkey.

"So, Raheem's was a massive, great step. It let the media look at each other and I think that's massive. In one post he's made elements of the media change."

Far from being hindered by the increased focus upon him as an eloquent and reluctant role model, Sterling has gone from strength to strength on the field.

That treble feeling

A brace in May's FA Cup final saw him conclude last season with 25 club goals in all competitions as City claimed an unprecedented domestic treble – the first part of which, the EFL Cup, came as Sterling steered the decisive kick in a penalty shoot-out against Chelsea into the top corner.

There have been hat-tricks in the Champions League and for England, who he captained in June's Nations League Finals semi-final versus the Netherlands. Now a reliable goalscorer for his country, he netted eight in qualification for Euro 2020.

The industry he urged to take a look at itself honoured Sterling, the 2018-19 Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year. The BBC's Sports Personality of the Year gong could be added to his collection this month.

"It's all about mentality. Mentality, maturity and growing up," Sterling said ahead of the showdown with United.

"I'm obsessed with football, obsessed with scoring goals, obsessed with recovering quicker and obsessed with improving myself."

Spiralling numbers show how fruitful that obsession has been, while Sterling's maturity – a scuffle with Joe Gomez on international duty aside – is frequently evident.

Every time he intervenes on issues of racism, be it responding to he and England team-mates receiving abuse in Montenegro and Bulgaria, defending Italy striker Moise Kean or supporting Newport County Under-14 goalkeeper Ethan Ross, Sterling strikes at the heart of the issue and is a force for good.

He covered the funeral costs of Crystal Palace youth player Damary Dawkins, who tragically lost his battle with leukaemia, having dedicated an England goal against the Czech Republic to the 13-year-old.

Raheem the role model

Other examples of Sterling's community mindedness could be found when he arranged tickets to City's FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion for 550 pupils from his old school, while last month he urged those able to among his 2.2million Twitter follows to register to vote in the upcoming UK general election.

"He's a young, black role model for so many young people. His status will go far and beyond football, that's for sure," said Townsend, who feels Sterling can align with some of British football's true pioneers and icons.

"You will have young people not just wanting to be Raheem Sterling the footballer, but who will want to be Raheem Sterling the human being.

"I take that as the kind of impact John Barnes had, when he was almost fighting racism by himself. Or Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson when they were at West Brom.

"With those forefathers, the generation before him, he will be recognised as someone who's had a massive influence and impact.

"That's probably the most powerful legacy of that post a year ago. He will have empowered many people to stand up for themselves, stand up for their rights and stand up for who they are as human beings."

Townsend is at pains to point out Sterling cannot be the "be-all and end-all" in the fight against racism, and that burden must never be placed upon any single person.

But, as Manchester United look to repel the City star's on-field obsession, it is to his immense credit he has managed to shed so much light a year on from that dark day.

Raheem Sterling believes he has transformed from a player who was not "living the way I should" into a football obsessive.

Sterling heads into Saturday's derby against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City's premier attacking threat, particularly in the injury-enforced absence of Sergio Aguero.

The England forward has become indispensable for club and country, converting his promise into prolific returns over recent seasons.

Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, former Liverpool star Sterling blossomed with 18 and 17 goals respectively in City's back-to-back Premier League triumphs in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The 24-year-old has eight in 14 top-flight outings this time around, the same number of goals he amassed during England's successful Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

"It's all about mentality. Mentality, maturity and growing up," Sterling said.

"I think now I'm living for football. I'm obsessed with football, obsessed with scoring goals, obsessed with recovering quicker and obsessed with improving myself.

"You have every facility here so you have to use it to the best of your advantage to try to be the best you can be. I was decisive but I wasn't 100 per cent committed. I wasn't 100 per cent living the way I should be living to be a professional footballer. I realised that and changed it.

"You see the improvements on the pitch and so that's why you continue to do it. Because you see how you feel on the field and what your output is.

"You look at what your numbers are doing. It's a good thing and, as a professional, you have to learn, take it in your stride and keep learning. That’s all I do."

An uncomfortable number for City to look at right now is the 11-point gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp's men won 3-1 when the sides met at Anfield last month and have only dropped two points all season, although Sterling is not giving up on three consecutive league titles just yet.

"We just need to keep winning games and hope they lose some," he said.

"It's as simple as that. They're playing some good football at the moment, but it's a long season. We have got to keep winning, keep believing.

"Football is a funny game and in one moment it can change. You have to be ready. At the moment, they're leading, and we just have to keep working and keep winning."

First of all, that means no slip ups against United, who won two and drew one of the previous three derbies at the Etihad Stadium before City ran out 3-1 winners last term.

"We're always fighting against each other to be the number one team in the city," Sterling added.

"That's always a great thing to do. Both teams have great players and great managers; I think this weekend we'll show nothing less.

"Playing against United is always difficult and we know it'll be a tough game."

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has been voted 18th in the final list for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, a fall of 15 places from last year.

Griezmann finished behind only Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo 12 months ago after winning the World Cup with France and impressing for Atletico Madrid at club level.

However, an underwhelming end to his Atletico career and a tough start to life at Barcelona - who he joined in a €120million deal in July - has seen him drop down the list.

It marks the second time the 28-year-old has slipped from third to 18th, having done likewise in 2017.

Griezmann's Barcelona team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen finished 24th and Frenkie de Jong, who spent the first half of the year with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, was voted 11th in the standings.

Three Liverpool players missed out on the top 10, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in 26th, 19th and 17th, respectively.

Fellow Premier League side Manchester City were also heavily represented in the 30-11 rankings, as were Dutch champions Ajax following their run to the final four of last season's Champions League.

Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk are the frontrunners to win the most prestigious individual accolade in world football during Monday's ceremony.

Ballon d'Or 30-11 list in full:

=28. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

=28. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

=28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

=26. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

=26. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

23. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

=20. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

16. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

13. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

12. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

11. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

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.

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.

Pep Guardiola remains fully committed to Manchester City and the club intend to maintain managerial "continuity", according to chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

Guardiola is in his fourth season at the Etihad Stadium, equivalent to the time he spent in charge of Barcelona.

The Catalan's contract runs until 2021 but there have been rumours of interest from Bayern Munich, the club he guided to three successive titles before moving to England.

But after welcoming a new $500million private equity investment in the City Football Group, the Premier League side's Abu Dhabi-based owners, Al Mubarak intends to keep hold of the prized head coach.

"Pep has been an incredible asset to this organisation. We can speak about his managerial accomplishments for hours," Al Mubarak told Sky Sports.

"But I think as a person, as an individual, as a friend, he's been a core part of what we've accomplished here over the last three years.

"He's very committed. We're committed to him. You've seen his interview a couple of days ago.

"We have a great relationship. We have a great environment here. The people around him, the team we have in place today, the relationships I have with them, this is really an environment that's conducive to success for both him and everyone involved.

"So I'm very satisfied with his commitment and our commitment to him and I'm looking forward to the continuity of this for years to come."

City's long-term planning has reportedly led the club to open contract discussions with star forward Raheem Sterling.

Al Mubarak would not divulge details of a potential new deal but said: "I'm very proud of what Raheem has done over the last couple of years.

"His evolution as a player, but more importantly as a person I think has been exceptional.

"He's become a leader both on and off the pitch. He's become a leader in this squad at Manchester City, he's becoming a leader at England serving his country. And I think he's been a leader in the community.

"I'm so happy for him because I think he's a wonderful young man and I think his talent, listen, there's one thing I'm sure of - Raheem is only going to improve and only going to grow as both a player and a leader, so the future is incredibly bright for Raheem and it's a pleasure to have him as a part of our team."

David Villa believes Pep Guardiola can lead Manchester City to Champions League success after hailing the Spanish manager.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola lifted the trophy twice during his time at Camp Nou, most recently in 2011.

Guardiola failed to go all the way in three seasons with Bayern, however, and has fallen well short in his three full campaigns at the Etihad Stadium.

City were eliminated in the last-16 stage in 2017 and have failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals in the last two years, but Villa is convinced Guardiola can guide them to glory.

"For all the coaches and all the big clubs, it's normal to focus on the Champions League, because it's the best tournament you can play with a club," he told The Mirror.

"Pep is obviously one of the best coaches in the world and obviously the subject of his focus is to win all the trophies.

"Manchester City have never won this trophy, they've been behind in terms of it for many years, so it's normal they have a big obsession with this kind of trophy.

"It's the best tournament you can play as a soccer player, but it's difficult to win for everyone, not just one or two clubs.

"It's very difficult to win, and obviously you need to do a lot of work to win it."

Villa, part of the Barcelona side that won the Champions League under Guardiola eight years ago at Wembley, has not been surprised by his former coach's domestic success in England.

"He's a great coach," Villa said. "I was with him for two fantastic years at Barcelona and he helped me a lot.

"He will have success wherever he goes. He managed in Spain and was successful, the same in Germany, and now in England.

"So wherever he manages, he will be successful, because he's such an amazing coach."

City will be through to the knockout rounds of Europe's showpiece competition if they avoid defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

Key to their European hopes is the form of England international Raheem Sterling, who Villa labelled a unique type of player.

"He's amazing, a player with qualities that it's difficult to find in any other player," added Villa, who is retiring from football next month after a glittering and trophy-laden career with Barca, Atletico Madrid and Spain.

"He's fast, he's really good in one-on-ones, and this year he's scoring a lot of goals. He's improving year by year, which is the most important thing for a soccer player.

"When you're 18, 19, 20, and playing at the highest level, for teams like Liverpool and City, the most important thing is to get better every year.

"It's important to grow as a player and every year Sterling has done it. You see he's a better player day by day, year by year, and he's still very young."

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