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."

Throughout the first half of the 2019-20 Premier League season, the contrast between the performances of Liverpool and Manchester City has been stark.

Unbeaten and unbelievably consistent, Liverpool have been largely infallible as they have taken their form from last season's incredible title race between the two same sides to the next level. The sole blemish on the Reds' domestic season to this point is a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

City, meanwhile, have slogged through a campaign in which injuries have exposed a lack of depth at the back and left them to struggle against inferior opposition on several occasions.

Their defeat at Anfield, a stadium where City have not won since 2003, in November was no surprise given their desperate record at the home of the league leaders, but losses to Norwich City, United and Wolves - who became just the second team to complete a league double over Pep Guardiola's City - were marks on the ledger few anticipated.

The difference between Liverpool and a City side that look increasingly likely to be surrendering the title come May was laid bare at Molineux in a remarkable game.

Only 24 hours earlier, Liverpool, less than a week removed from their Club World Cup final win, breezed through what was seen as their toughest challenge of the season.

Jurgen Klopp's men came through a seemingly tricky trip to Leicester City in style, controlling the game from start to finish en route to an emphatic 4-0 success.

It was a display to silence any lingering doubters questioning whether Liverpool can finish the job from such a commanding position, and City's showing in the Midlands only served to further talk that this title race is becoming a procession for the Merseysiders.

Indeed, what City produced against Wolves was the antithesis of what Liverpool delivered at the King Power Stadium. Any hope of controlling the game was lost when Ederson raced outside the box and caught Diogo Jota as the Portuguese bore down on his goal. A straight red card forced a reshuffle in which Sergio Aguero was withdrawn to allow Claudio Bravo to slot in between the posts.

Stunningly, 10-man City did manage to assume control as a twice-taken Raheem Sterling penalty gave them the lead 25 minutes in, albeit he had to pounce to net on the rebound. WIth five minutes gone in the second half, the same man made it 2-0 at the end of a wonderfully worked break and City looked set to emerge unscathed and with a morale-boosting away win.

However, just five minutes later Wolves had hope. Adama Traore rifled in from the edge of the area to punish Sterling sloppily losing possession. Yet, even as Wolves pushed and pushed, City looked relatively comfortable, but their defensive frailties emerged once more and helped Wolves complete the turnaround.

The much-maligned Bravo proved dependable in goal, but he could do nothing about Wolves' equaliser. Benjamin Mendy, known more for his injuries and social media activity than any defensive capabilities at this point in his City career, was out-muscled by Traore on the right byline, and he teed up Raul Jimenez for a tap-in.

Matt Doherty completed the comeback as he played a one-two with Jimenez and was allowed to work his way past three City defenders before lashing a left-footed effort beyond Bravo's despairing dive.

Chelsea are the only other team to complete a Premier League double over Guardiola's City, doing so in his first season. City finished that campaign third, the position they occupy now as Guardiola's side sit a massive 14 points behind Liverpool.

Asked about that gap after the match, Guardiola was considered and stopped short of declaring the title race over, but deep down he will know overhauling Liverpool is a near-impossible task.

Whereas Liverpool look emboldened by running the champions so close last season, City appear exhausted by their astonishing exploits of the previous two terms. The frantic finale at Molineux likely ensured there will be no such grandstand finish in May and as 2019 draws to its conclusion, the title race is all over bar the shouting.

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 suffered another hammer blow in their bid to keep the Premier League title race alive with a 3-2 defeat to Wolves, making unwanted history for Pep Guardiola in the process.

City missed the chance to close the gap to leaders Liverpool to 11 points as Guardiola's side, reduced to 10 men following Ederson's dismissal after 12 minutes, threw away a 2-0 lead.

The defending champions had only 37.8 per cent of possession at Molineux – the lowest recorded by a Guardiola-led side in top-flight history.

Wolves' thrilling win also saw them become just the second team to do the league double over City since Guardiola took over in 2016, with Antonio Conte's Chelsea the only other outfit to achieve the feat in the Catalan's first season in charge.

Additionally, it was Wolves' first double over City since the 1999-2000 campaign, when both were in the second tier, and their first in the top tier since 1960-61.

With Wolves now serious contenders for a top-four finish, City have a fight on their hands just to finish as runners-up. 

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.

Jurgen Klopp warned his Liverpool players that keeping "exceptional" Wolves winger Adama Traore quiet will be even more difficult than shutting out Jamie Vardy.

Premier League top scorer Vardy was largely anonymous as Liverpool won 4-0 at second-place Leicester City on Thursday to move 13 points clear at the summit with a game in hand on the Foxes.

However, the runaway leaders face a quick turnaround in fixtures as they are back in action on Sunday with a home match against Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves.

Klopp is expecting a tough test at Anfield and is particularly wary of the threat posed by versatile attacker Traore, who has starred on the right of a front three this term and scored twice in a win at Manchester City in October.

"Finally, Traore has a manager who has found a position for him," Klopp told reporters ahead of the match. "He started as a wing-back and now he can play in the front three.

"He is an exceptional player and was already exceptional as a kid when he played for Barcelona. He's probably the quickest player in the league.

"It makes it really difficult to play against them, but it should be difficult for them, too. That's the plan.

"This year they won against City. In the big space, Jamie Vardy is difficult to defend but I would say Traore is even more difficult to defend because the speed is exceptional."

Traore has a combined six goals and assists in the top flight this season, compared to two in his maiden campaign at Molineux after joining from Middlesbrough in August 2018.

The 23-year-old was part of Barcelona's famed academy and has previously been on Liverpool boss Klopp's radar.

"Of course, everybody knew him," Klopp said. "I think it was in Barcelona - I saw thousands of players, but as a kid he was at Barcelona, right?

"I saw him at Middlesbrough and he was exceptional but someone had to give him the right information, obviously, because that's a big, big challenge.

"He's still very young and now he has found it. Everybody was pretty sure that it will happen and now it happened. Good for Wolves. It makes them really dangerous."

Liverpool boast an in-form attacker of their own, with Roberto Firmino making it four goals in three games with his brace at the King Power Stadium.

That follows a run of six games without scoring, but Klopp was never concerned about a lack of goals from the Brazil international.

"I think in the last three games he's scored four goals and before that it was a little bit like he didn't score that often," Klopp said.

"Journalists told me Bobby Firmino didn't score for a while and I didn't even realise. When I think about Bobby I don't think about scoring, I think about how important he is.

"So we had a bit of a talk and I told him because he looked, for the first time since I've known him, a little bit concerned about that fact.

"I told him that I'm not interested in that number because he's the 'connecter' for our team. He's so important for us. He's not the only one who can play in the position but he can play the position in a very special way."

Pep Guardiola tried in vain to persuade Vincent Kompany to spend one more season with Manchester City.

Kompany ended an 11-year association with the club by captaining them to an unprecedented domestic treble in England last season.

The 33-year-old Belgium defender netted an unforgettable long-range effort to seal a pivotal 1-0 win over Leicester City in what would prove to be his final competitive appearance at the Etihad Stadium, with Guardiola's men going on to pip Liverpool to the Premier League title by a point.

It has been a different story this time around, with City falling way off the pace set by the Reds.

Their defence has been shaky in the injury absence of Aymeric Laporte and, if Guardiola had his way, Kompany would still be an option for him at centre-back rather than player-manager of Anderlecht.

"I tried to convince Vincent a lot to stay one more year with us," he said ahead of Friday's trip to Wolves.

"When he decided in the last few weeks [of last season], I said, 'No, no, no – you are not going to leave me. No, no, no'. But he leaves me.

"When those guys take a decision it is already taken."

 

Guardiola made reference to Kompany when discussing City's preparations for life after two other long-serving club greats.

David Silva has already announced this season will be his last in Manchester, while Sergio Aguero is out of contract in 2021 and has frequently expressed a desire to end his career back in Argentina with boyhood club Independiente.

Aguero is City's all-time top scorer and famously struck in stoppage time to snatch their first league title for 44 years on the final day of the 2011-12 – a moment atop many of this week's end-of-decade lists.

"I think Sergio is irreplaceable," Guardiola said. "We have an incredible striker in Gabriel [Jesus] and maybe another one will come when Sergio is leaving. But he is irreplaceable.

"The most important moment of this club, more important than hopefully one day when this club wins the Champions League, is when Sergio scores that goal against Queens Park Rangers to win the first Premier League after I don’t know how many years.

"That moment is much better than four titles in one season or whatever. And he was the guy."

Aguero struggled initially to meet Guardiola's demands of his centre-forward after the former Barcelona boss arrived in 2016, but the 31-year-old has arguably hit new career heights in winning his manager's considerable admiration.

"I've never seen a bigger star like him [who is] so humble, a funny guy – it is a joy to work with him," Guardiola said.

"How he accepts sometimes my decisions when it's not worked for him. A big star like him [does not usually] accept that.

"I worked with other stars who believed that they are more stars than Sergio and they were not. And it was more difficult to handle them and to be with them.

"It is not easy to find a guy with his status, his personality, what he has done in his football career, with this humility.

"In the box he is an incredible player. But I was with other guys who were not bad. I remember Ronaldo – the Brazilian guy, I remember Romario, I remember [Samuel] Eto'o. Eto'o was one of the most incredible strikers I'd ever seen in my life. He could do everything.

"Sergio is one of them, of course he is one of them. Okay, [Lionel] Messi is a little bit higher than all of them, but Sergio is one of them."

While Guardiola acknowledges City will have to enter the transfer market when Aguero calls time on his Premier League career, he feels the likes of Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva mean a playmaking replacement for David Silva is probably not required.

"Maybe I'll change my mind, it depends on the next six months, but I have other priorities and I don't think I am going to buy because we have many there," he added.

"Bernardo can play there, Phil is there, we have Gundogan, we have Kevin. In this position I think we are not going to do anything."

Pep Guardiola insists it is too early for him to be thinking about signing another contract with Manchester City.

Guardiola's current deal expires at the end of the 2020-21 season, though reports – which Guardiola has denied – have claimed there is a clause which would allow him to leave at the end of the current campaign.

City have won the Premier League twice in his three full seasons at the club, but sit 11 points behind leaders Liverpool in third spot.

Guardiola claimed he is happy at the club, though stated talk of a new deal is premature.

"I have been here already four seasons at the end of this year and at the end of next year it will be five because I want to be here until then," Guardiola told a news conference.

"So it's a long time. Look what happens, clubs sack their managers week by week. I have answered this many times. I am incredibly good here.

"To sign a contract I need to see how this works and if I deserve it. The level, we increased a lot in the last years and the expectations are higher, we have to see if we can handle it.

"It’s not just my decision, the club didn't talk. Now it's a little bit of a break with the family for Christmas, then we prepare for Wolves, then we can think about the future."

Guardiola lost his assistant Mikel Arteta last week, with the Spaniard being appointed as Arsenal's head coach.

"I've said many times lately, he's now the manager of Arsenal," Guardiola said when asked how City had adapted without his compatriot.

"We have prepared the last two games without him, tried to readjust how we’ve worked for the last three-and-a-half years, try to adjust the people to do the job he has been doing and work a little bit harder, that's all."

City play Wolves on Friday, before welcoming Sheffield United to the Etihad Stadium less than 48 hours later, much to Guardiola's frustration.

"I don't know exactly [what the minimum time between games should be] but what I know is less than 48 hours is not the perfect time," Guardiola said.

"But all of the time in this country, Christmas time is like this. So we adapt, no problem."

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.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is coveted at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His French connection with Zinedine Zidane means there is constant speculation.

However, Pogba is set to remain at United for the time being.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE UP ON POGBA… FOR NOW

LaLiga giants Real Madrid will not sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba in January, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Pogba – still recovering from injury – continues to be linked with Madrid amid doubts over his United future.

Madrid, however, recognise there is "no chance" of prising the Frenchman from Old Trafford in the New Year.

 

ROUND-UP

- A return to Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake looks likely, claims Bleacher Report. Chelsea have a £40million buyback clause for Ake, who left Stamford Bridge permanently in 2017. Manchester City have also been linked to the 24-year-old defender.

- Barcelona defender Jean-Clair Todibo has turned down a move to Milan, reports RMC. The 19-year-old has also been linked to Ligue 1 outfit Monaco and Premier League giants Manchester United.

- Qatari outfit Al Rayyan have re-opened talks with Juventus regarding the transfer of out-of-favour striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. United and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund are also reportedly interested in the veteran Croatian.

Napoli have offered Dries Mertens a two-year contract extension, says Sky Sport Italia. The Belgian, who is out of contract at season's end, has been the subject of reported interest from Dortmund.

- Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to swap Leandro Paredes for Juventus midfielder Emre Can, reports the Daily Mail.

- La Nazione says Fiorentina are looking to bring former Milan striker Patrick Cutrone back to Serie A. The Italian left San Siro for Premier League side Wolves at the start of the season.

- Former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is in talks to join Javier Mascherano at Argentine outfit Estudiantes. Iniesta currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan, however, TNT Sports claims the 35-year-old midfielder could move in 2020.

Mikel Arteta looks to be on his way out of Manchester City, and it may not be long before he is followed by Pep Guardiola.

That is if reports linking Paris Saint-Germain with a move for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach are to be believed.

Meanwhile, Arteta is not the only big managerial appointment expected imminently in the Premier League, with Carlo Ancelotti close to being confirmed as Everton boss, and reports suggest a big-name could be in line to follow the Italian to Goodison Park.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA LINED UP BY PSG

According to Le10 Sport, Paris Saint-Germain will look to swap Thomas Tuchel with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola next season.

Guardiola is currently under contract with City until 2021, though has said he is open to extending his deal. However, these reports claim PSG will aim to bring in the Spaniard, along with former Barca star Xavi, who will act as his number two.

While City are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, PSG are top of Ligue 1 and will face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16.

 

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- The Sun claims Mauricio Pochettino is holding off on making any commitment to Real Madrid as he waits to see how Guardiola's situation at Manchester City plays out.

- According to The Telegraph, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is open to linking up with former boss Carlo Ancelotti at Everton. Ancelotti is reportedly set to be appointed by the Toffees and Ibrahimovic – who has been linked to Milan and Napoli – could follow him to Merseyside.

Mesut Ozil is close to securing a loan move from Arsenal to Fenerbahce in January, according to Turkish newspaper Fotomac.

- Madrid winger Vinicius Jr. has been linked with a move to the Premier League. El Desmarque reports Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Wolves are all interested in the Brazilian.

- Another potential outgoing from Arsenal could be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with The Mirror saying one of Arteta's first tasks will be to convince the Gunners' captain to stay put.

- Sky Sports reports Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs are all monitoring Lille forward Victor Osimhen, who has scored nine Ligue 1 goals this term.

- Inter great Dejan Stankovic is poised to become head coach of Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade. After Vladan Milojevic stepped down on Thursday, reports in Serbia claim the former Red Star midfielder will be unveiled on Friday. This is set to be Stankovic's first senior job.

Tottenham are considering a January move for Leicester City full-back Ricardo Pereira, says Het Nieuwsblad.

Arsenal and Everton are moving closer to confirming their new bosses.

According to reports, the Premier League clubs have identified their preferred candidates and commenced discussions.

But while supporters appear to be onside, it seems Manchester City have been left upset by recent developments.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL MAKE PROGRESS WITH ARTETA PURSUIT

Arsenal have opened talks with City assistant Mikel Arteta and the Premier League champions are not pleased, according to The Athletic.

Arteta, 37, reportedly met with Arsenal's head of football Raul Sanllehi last week and discussions regarding his potential appointment are said to have advanced following discussions with key officials Vinai Venkatesham and Huss Fahmy.

The Athletic's report suggests that though the Spaniard has kept his employers informed, City have received no official approach from the Gunners – an oversight that has "angered" those at the Etihad Stadium, according to the Mirror.

Arteta spent five seasons with Arsenal as a player and was in the running to succeed Arsene Wenger in 2018, before the job went to Unai Emery.

 

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- Arteta has also been linked with a return to Everton but the Toffees look set to land a vastly more experienced candidate. According to The Telegraph, Carlo Ancelotti is on the verge of becoming their new manager on a deal running through to 2024. Everton, however, have denied issuing any contract offers in the wake of Marco Silva's dismissal.

- "Senior stars" at Tottenham have urged Jose Mourinho to sign Wolves winger Adama Traore, reports Football Insider. Traore scored a goal and ran the Spurs defence ragged in his side's 2-1 defeat at Molineux on Sunday.

- LaLiga title hopefuls Real Madrid are taking a close look at teenage Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, claims L'Equipe. Camavinga has already accrued 20 Ligue 1 starts at the tender age of 17.

- Bayern Munich hope to sign Sevilla winger Lucas Ocampos but may be forced to wait until the end of the season, says Sky Sport Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio.

- Remaining with Bayern and, even though the Bundesliga champions sit six points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig, club executives are keeping the faith with interim head coach Hansi Flick, reports Bild. That means Thomas Tuchel will not be making a mid-season switch from Paris Saint-Germain.

- Serie A table-toppers Inter admire 20-year-old River Plate midfielder Cristian Ferreira and have discussed the possibility of a transfer with his agent, reports CalcioMercato. 

The full draw for the Europa League's round of 32 is: 

Wolves v Espanyol

Sporting CP v Istanbul Basaksehir

Getafe v Ajax

Bayer Leverkusen v Porto

Copenhagen v Celtic

APOEL v Basel

Cluj v Sevilla

Olympiacos v Arsenal

AZ v LASK Linz

Club Brugge v Manchester United

Ludogorets v Inter

Eintracht Frankfurt v Salzburg

Shakhtar Donetsk v Benfica

Wolfsburg v Malmo

Roma v Gent

Rangers v Braga

The first legs will take place on Thursday 20 February, with the return fixtures scheduled for a week later.

Club chiefs will return to Nyon for the last-16 draw on February 28.

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