Chelsea are not content to stick with what they have. 

The Blues are top of the Premier League but poised for major moves in January.

Three young stars and a veteran are high on their radar. 

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA EYE REINFORCEMENTS

Chelsea have their sights set on moves for Jules Kounde, Matthijs de Ligt and Lorenzo Insigne, reports Marca, while another report has them as the favourites to land Aurelien Tchouameni

The Blues are poised to revisit their talks with Sevilla over Kounde in January with multiple centre-backs set to be out of contract at the end of the season. 

Thomas Tuchel's side could also dip into Serie A and try to lure De Ligt from Juventus and Insigne from Napoli.

Chelsea are prepared to offer €60million (£51m) to Monaco for Tchouameni, says TuttoJuve, with Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus also possibilities. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are eyeing Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Hakim Ziyech as possible loan options from Chelsea, says Sport. 

- Manchester United are pushing to line up Zinedine Zidane to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, reports The Sunday Times.

- United are prepared to sell Jesse Lingard for as little as £10m in January, says The Sun. 

- Roma are in negotiations with United over a loan deal with an option to buy Diogo Dalot, claims Corriere dello Sport. 

- Inter will bring aboard Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana on a four-year deal, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

- Newcastle United will try to land Adrien Rabiot from Juventus for €10m to €15m (£8.5m-£13m), says Calciomercato. 

Former Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov has hailed Steven Gerrard's "winning mentality" and believes the Liverpool legend is an "exciting appointment" for his old club.

Gerrard, who led Rangers to their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade last season, left his post and replaced Dean Smith at Villa Park on Thursday, handed a reported three-and-a-half-year deal.

Petrov was a Villa player between 2006 and his retirement in 2013, having signed from Rangers' rivals Celtic.

The 42-year-old had a keen eye on developments in Scotland and expects Gerrard to set a high bar at his new club in his unrelenting pursuit of success.

"[Gerrard brings a] winning mentality," Petrov told Stats Perform. "I mean, you can see the way he manages, you can see the way he demands from the club.

"He made Glasgow Rangers a very solid, competitive, aggressive team, which was very hard to beat. Everybody they played against found it really difficult. So I'm sure he's going to do that with Aston Villa.

"The way he manages, the demands he has through the work process, on the training ground and in the games, will set the high targets for not just for the club but for the players, because sometimes you need that kind of manager to demand and set up different targets, a different voice in the club.

"And he showed that he won't stop until he succeeds, and his managerial journey has started very well so far."

Petrov feels Gerrard's character as a player is evident in his approach as a manager and that the 41-year-old's stature and demanding nature can turn Villa's fortunes around in the same way he transformed Rangers.

"It is an exciting appointment, I think," Petrov said. "I think everybody knows Steven Gerrard as a player [and] what he achieved as a player in the Premier League. He became an icon for the Premier League as a player, and he started his coaching journey in a completely different way.

"He wanted to become the best. He took on an incredible project at Glasgow Rangers. I think he kind of succeeded. 

"He managed to change the mentality and the way the club is thinking now is as a club, and he's been given an opportunity to manage another huge team, which is a great opportunity to go back to the Premier League and show what he can do."

Petrov added: "He was a leader. He was a captain. In every interview, he was talking about preparation. He wanted to be the best. He was going through a different mentality in training.

"He was there to compete, to push others to be the best. And I think all these values from being a player, he's kind of implementing it into his coaching abilities because you can see he coaches the same way he was as a player.

"The demands are very high. He demands from himself first, for people that work with him and the players as well, and he makes sure he gets involved in a good project.

"He got involved in a project, Glasgow Rangers, they had a target. They have to stop [Celtic's] 10 in a row. They have to change their mentality, and they have to become successful again.

"He managed to do that in the space of three years. So now we have a completely different task at Aston Villa and I believe that he analysed and he managed to understand what the club stands for and what the targets are."

Gerrard's first game as Villa boss comes after the international break against Brighton and Hove Albion on November 20.

Raheem Sterling's future at Manchester City remains unclear.

The England winger has only made three Premier League starts this season.

Sterling, who starred during England's run to the Euro 2020 final, could now be on the move.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA RESOLUTE ON RAHEEM

Barcelona are determined to sign Raheem Sterling from Manchester City despite the Premier League club's refusal to let him leave, reports Manchester Evening News.

The Catalans want to bring Sterling to Camp Nou in January on a loan deal, with the forward open to a move after losing his regular starting spot at City.

Sterling still has 18 months remaining on his City contract and the English champions have no intention of accepting an offer for him.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester City are set to launch a new bid for Tottenham forward Harry Kane in January, claims ESPN. City pursued Kane over the off-season but the Spurs skipper ultimately remained in London after Tottenham declined their approaches.

- El Nacional reports Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has told the club to sell or release Gareth Bale. The Wales forward has only made three appearances this term and is contracted to Los Blancos only until the end of the season.

Hakim Ziyech is unhappy at Chelsea and could be lured to Borussia Dortmund, claims The Mirror. The Morocco winger could move in January, having been unable to re-discover his best form at Chelsea after moving from Ajax in 2020.

Norwich City are set to offer ex-Aston Villa boss Dean Smith their vacant manager role, according to Sky Sports. Smith was sacked as Villa coach this week.

- The Daily Record claims former Feyenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst will hold talks with Rangers about taking over as manager after Steven Gerrard's departure for Villa.

Jamie Carragher does not believe former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard will use Aston Villa merely as a "stepping stone" to the top job at Anfield.

But Carragher also knows Gerrard would love to become Liverpool manager one day if he first made a success of his new role with Villa.

Gerrard was confirmed as Villa's latest head coach on Thursday, replacing Dean Smith at the helm at Villa Park after a five-game losing streak.

Smith led his boyhood club back into the Premier League and reached an EFL Cup final, winning 39.6 per cent of his 139 games in charge in all competitions.

Gerrard has had a rather different task at Rangers in the meantime, finally cutting short Celtic's run of consecutive Scottish Premiership titles at nine by triumphing in 2020-21.

Rangers were unbeaten in the league in that campaign, which included a career-best nine-game winning streak in all competitions for Gerrard between September and November 2020.

At one of Scotland's two premier clubs, the former Liverpool captain had an outstanding 64.8 per cent win rate across 193 games going back to 2018.

This success has prompted talk of a return to Merseyside, where Jurgen Klopp is under contract until 2024 but Gerrard is seen as a viable long-term successor.

Yet Carragher, a prominent Liverpool star alongside Gerrard, does not believe his old friend is simply waiting for that job to open up.

"I think it's disrespectful to Stevie and I think it's disrespectful to Aston Villa that this comes up," Carragher told Sky Sports.

"I know this is the question for everyone, but I can assure you that Aston Villa as a football club are no stepping stone for anyone. They've won a European Cup, the biggest club in the midlands, one of the biggest clubs in the UK.

"I'm sure everyone is well aware that one day, if it worked perfectly, Stevie would like to manage Liverpool, but I can guarantee you Stevie would only want to manage Liverpool if he merited it, and also the club's supporters would think that and the football club themselves. 

"Liverpool are not in a position to give a job in the future to someone just because they had a great playing career.

"If Stevie does amazingly well at Aston Villa and is qualifying for Europe, maybe could add a Carabao Cup, maybe that would put him in the equation then for Liverpool.

"But Liverpool, along with Manchester United, along with Man City, Chelsea, they will be attracting the best managers in the world. That's obviously a challenge for Stevie to make himself one of the best managers in European or world football and then, I'm sure, he'll have a great shout.

"But if he doesn't get there, I don't think Stevie would be wanting to take a job if he felt that maybe someone else could be better at Liverpool, and I don't think the club would either.

"For Stevie, I think it's just focusing on Aston Villa and don't worry about anything else."

Whether Gerrard should use his Villa opportunity to put himself in position for a Liverpool move or not, Carragher does not believe the 41-year-old would have been considered had the Reds been looking for a new boss now.

Gerrard won 26 of 53 European games at Rangers, including 12 of 30 in the Europa League proper, but the lack of domestic competition makes Villa a step up, let alone title-chasing Liverpool.

"It's his first job in the Premier League, and when you go into the Premier League for the first time, to get a job as big as Villa is fantastic for Stevie, it really is," Carragher said.

"It gives him a fantastic opportunity to push for European places.

"No manager is ever going to get one of the real plum jobs just on the back of what Stevie's done at Rangers. In the Premier League now, it's a league where every manager in the world wants to manage."

Liverpool great Steven Gerrard has left Rangers to take over as Aston Villa head coach.

Villa parted ways with Dean Smith on Sunday after a run of five straight Premier League defeats.

Determined to make a swift appointment, it quickly became apparent that Gerrard was Villa's leading candidate, and that move has now been confirmed.

Villa did not announce the length of their new coach's contract, although it is reported to be a two-and-a-half-year deal.

"Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new head coach," Gerrard said.

"In my conversations with Nassef [Sawiris], Wes [Edens] and the rest of the board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club.

"Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future."

The former Liverpool and England midfielder, who also played for LA Galaxy, was handed his first senior job in management when he took over at Ibrox in 2018.

Gerrard guided Rangers to second in each of his first two seasons, before they cruised to the Scottish Premiership title last term.

Rangers' success was their first in a decade and ended Celtic's hopes of a 10th consecutive crown.

The Gers are four points clear at the top of the Premiership and still in contention to make the Europa League knockout stage, but Gerrard has decided to swap Glasgow for Birmingham.

Villa have won just three league games this season and sit 16th, having sold talisman Jack Grealish to Manchester City for £100million.

Leon Bailey, Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendia were brought in to help replace Grealish, but fitness issues have meant the attacking trio have rarely featured together so far.

Villa nevertheless have a strong squad, and Gerrard will be hoping to push for Europe in his first venture into Premier League management.

"It has been very clear in our discussions with him that Steven's coaching ambitions, philosophy and values entirely match those of Aston Villa," Villa CEO Christian Purslow said.

Gerrard's first reunion with Liverpool will come on December 11, when Villa visit Anfield, while his first game in charge will be against Brighton and Hove Albion after the international break.

Xavi has his work cut out at Camp Nou following his appointment as Barcelona head coach.

Barca have struggled on the pitch amid off-field turmoil and financial problems.

But Xavi wants to make Barca great again and he reportedly has his eyes on some players across Europe.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE TRIO

RB Leipzig star Dani Olmo and Manchester City pair Ferran Torres and Raheem Sterling are transfer options for Barcelona, according to Thursday's Mundo Deportivo.

Xavi is now at the helm of Barca and the club great is tasked with restoring the fortunes of the embattled LaLiga giants.

The Barca head coach is keen to reinforce his squad in either January or at the end of the season.

Barca have also been linked with Chelsea forward Timo Werner and Manchester United veteran Edinson Cavani.

 

ROUND-UP  

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Paul Pogba is set to leave United and Juventus are trying to re-sign the Frenchman, though his salary is proving problematic. Pogba is out of contract at the end of the season and he has been linked with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

Inter are pressing Marcelo Brozovic to sign a new contract by Christmas, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. The Croatia international is reportedly wanted by Barca, Liverpool, PSG and United.

Steven Gerrard is expected to join Aston Villa as their new manager, reports Fabrizio Romano. The Rangers boss is set to be joined by his backroom staff at Villa.

Fiorentina are trying to sign River Plate striker Julian Alvarez as Dusan Vlahovic prepares to leave but Juve are also interested, according to Corriere dello Sport. Vlahovic has no plans to renew in Florence and the Serbia international has been linked with City, Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juve and Inter.

- The Mirror says United are confident of landing Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers as their new manager. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under mounting pressure at United and former Liverpool boss Rodgers has emerged as a target for the struggling Red Devils due to a release clause in his contract.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is feeling fit and ready ahead of a probable debut in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old has suffered an injury-plagued few months after moving to the English Premier League’s Aston Villa from German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.

 In a stop-start season at Villa, Bailey has managed 6 appearances at the club but only forced his way into the starting line-up for the past two games, having recovered full fitness.  In the meantime, however, Jamaica has played six World Cup qualifiers but only their first win in the last round.  Having finally joined the squad ahead of matches against El Salvador and the United States, however, the player is hoping to make an impact.

“I played my first 90 minutes on the weekend, so I am feeling ready to go,” Bailey said.

“We haven’t had a great start, but I hope we can turn things around very quickly because this means a lot not just to players but also the country,” he added.

I think as a team we need to do better, and we will.  Hopefully, we’ll get the results because it will be a dream for us all to make it to the next World Cup.”

Jamaica are currently 6th in the eight-team standings on five points, three outside of the final qualifying spot.

Aaron Ramsey has become an issue for Juventus, being on a bumper contract but having fallen out of favour.

Ramsey signed with Juve in 2019 on a four-year deal from Arsenal.

The 30-year-old has only made 70 appearances across almost two-and-a-half seasons, including only five this term.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE PAIR KEEN ON RAMSEY

Juventus are shopping around Aaron Ramsey with Premier League pair Everton and Newcastle United in the mix, claims Goal.

The Bianconeri are keen to find a buyer for the Wales international midfielder in January although his salary may be a stumbling block.

No formal offers have been tabled yet for the ex-Arsenal star.

ROUND-UP  

- The transfer saga involving Paul Pogba continues to twist and turn with The Star claiming Manchester United are willing to sell him in January, with his contract expiring at the end of the season. Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus have been linked with the French midfielder.

- AS claims Manchester United are hoping to win the race for Sevilla's Jules Kounde , with Chelsea 's admiration long known.

- West Ham will turn down any approaches for England international Declan Rice , reports The Sun. The midfielder has been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea .

- Newcastle are angling to land Ousmane Dembele as a free agent if he refuses to pen a new deal with Barcelona, reports Express.

- Internazionale could also seal a free transfer for Andre Onana from Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano, who claims a verbal agreement was reached months ago. Barcelona have also shown an interest in Onana.

- Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah has interest from German club Monchengladbach for a January move according to The Sun.

- Goal claims that Liverpool legend and current Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is Aston Villa 's first choice to take their vacant managerial role following Dean Smith's dismissal.

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard should be in strong contention to replace Dean Smith at Aston Villa, according to former midfielder Paul Merson.

After suffering a fifth straight defeat by going down 1-0 to Southampton on Friday, Smith became the fifth Premier League manager to lose his job this season.

The former Brentford boss spent three years at Villa Park, guiding his boyhood club back into the Premier League at the first attempt before establishing their top-flight status with a creditable 11th-place finish last term.

However, the 50-year-old ultimately paid the price after the Southampton defeat left Villa just two points and two places above the relegation zone.

Merson, who spent four years at the club between 1998 and 2002, sympathised with Smith and believes his impressive work warranted the opportunity to turn their fortunes around.

But the former Arsenal man has urged his old club to consider replacing Smith with either Lampard and Gerrard.

While Merson acknowledges it would be difficult to persuade Gerrard, who guided Rangers to the Scottish Premiership title last season, he feels the lure of the Premier League would be tough to turn down.

Merson told Sky Sports: "I would like to see a Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard get the job.

"It's going to be hard to prise Steven away, he's managing a massive club in Rangers.

"He's got them buzzing again; he stopped Celtic winning 10 in a row, they are in the Europa League, and they've got a chance of winning the Scottish Premiership.

"Everyone wants to manage in the Premier League; that is no disrespect to the Scottish Premiership. Rangers and Celtic are bigger clubs than probably half of the teams in the Premier League.

"But it's the Premier League, and when you start out managing, I'm sure in the back of people's minds if you could get a job like Aston Villa – wow."

Merson also highlighted the credentials of former Chelsea boss Lampard who, though restricted by financial sanctions imposed on the club, guided the Blues to the 2020 FA Cup final and Champions League qualification.

The 43-year-old, who previously steered Derby County to the Championship play-off final, also regularly gave youth the opportunity to shine at Stamford Bridge, the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James all stepping up to the plate. 

Merson feels that quality would certainly complement the scenario at Villa.

"I think you have to put Frank's name in the hat as well," he added. 

"He's managed Chelsea, where he did a great job in steadying the ship at the time.

"If you look at all the kids who have come through at Chelsea since, and then look at Aston Villa's academy, it's very good as well.

"On Friday night, Dean Smith had five or six players from the academy in the squad for what was his final game."

The weekend's fixtures in the Premier League felt like they could be pivotal for so many teams, especially near the top of the table.

It proved to be a mixed weekend for the title chasers with Manchester City beating Manchester United with ease, Chelsea throwing away two points at home to Burnley, and Liverpool losing their unbeaten start to the season against an in-form West Ham.

Deeper impacts were felt at the other end of the table as both Aston Villa and Norwich City felt the need to sack their bosses, despite the latter actually winning their first game of the season.

Find all that and more as Stats Perform looks at the quirky Opta facts behind the weekend's action.

 

United soft and unstable

The Premier League's favourite Jekyll and Hyde team, Manchester United, were at it again on Saturday as they 'entertained' neighbours Manchester City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men had dusted themselves down following their last home game against Liverpool where they were dispatched 5-0 to win well at Tottenham, and then rescue a vital late point at Atalanta in the Champions League. But the 2-0 defeat to City was another reminder of how far they are off the title contenders.

To emphasise the need for improvement at Old Trafford, Eric Bailly's own goal to open the scoring on Saturday meant that United are now without a clean sheet in their last 14 home games in all competitions. The only longer run in the club's history without a home clean sheet was a 21-game stretch between April 1958 and March 1959.

In the Premier League era, only under David Moyes (1.18) have United conceded more goals per game than under Solskjaer (1.13). 

Solskjaer may point to the fact that the away team has won nine of the last 12 meetings between United and City in all competitions (D1 L2), including each of the three games in 2021. Perhaps it would all have been fine for the Red Devils had Saturday's game taken place at the Etihad?

Villa hate Fridays

Aston Villa were a team on the rise and Dean Smith was doing a great job at his boyhood club, until they were not, and he was not.

The Villains began the season well enough, with notable victories at home to Everton and away at Manchester United. Then, before you knew it, they had lost five league games in a row, leading to Smith being relieved of his duties on Sunday.

Could it have been the day of the week's fault, though? Heading into the game, Aston Villa had won none of their previous 13 away top-flight matches played on a Friday (D3 L10), with their last win coming in April 1950, a 4-1 victory at Charlton Athletic.

Unlucky for some? It certainly was for Smith and Villa, with the record now at 14 games.

Newcastle cannot buy a win

Excitement continues at Newcastle United right now as the club eagerly anticipates the January transfer window, with an opportunity to finally flex their financial muscle.

However, that remains almost two months away and the Magpies could be in a bit of trouble by then as their 1-1 draw at Brighton on Saturday meant that they are now 11 games into the season and still waiting for their first league win, the only team yet to register a victory.

It is now their longest winless run from the beginning of a league campaign, and most concerning of all to the new owners at St James' Park will be that each of the last four Premier League sides to endure a similar start to a top-flight season have gone on to be relegated. Then again, none of those sides have the wealth Newcastle do now. Then again, is Eddie Howe the right manager to turn their form around? 

Only Norwich City (26) have conceded more goals than Newcastle (24) this season, while the Magpies' opponents have had a league-high 21.6 expected goals. Howe's Bournemouth side conceded at least 61 goals in each of their five seasons in the top flight. 

Norwich's unconventional response to first victory

Unlike Newcastle, the Canaries finally won their first league game of the season on Saturday, and then sacked head coach Daniel Farke immediately after.

The 2-1 success at Brentford was Farke's 49th and final Premier League game in charge at Carrow Road. His 12.2 win percentage is the second-worst of any coach to preside over 40 or more matches in the competition. Only John Gorman at Swindon Town in 1993-94 achieved a worse win percentage (11.9).

It seems the decision was taken before the game, with Norwich bottom of the Premier League table having lost eight of their first ten games since promotion back to the top flight.

One bright spot other than the three points though was the fact that it was the first time they have scored more than one goal in a game in 28 attempts in a Premier League match.

Hope for whoever comes in to replace Farke, at least.

Aston Villa have sacked head coach Dean Smith after five consecutive defeats left the club just two points clear of the Premier League's bottom three heading into the November international break.

Smith was appointed at Villa Park in October 2018 and quickly led his boyhood club back to the top flight via the Championship play-offs.

Villa just about survived relegation in their first season back up and also reached the EFL Cup final, before kicking on last term and finishing 11th.

But Villa sold talismanic captain Jack Grealish to Manchester City for a British record £100million fee before the start of the 2021-22 campaign and have struggled in his absence.

Smith's side did win away at Manchester United on September 25, but they have lost every match since then, most recently 1-0 at Southampton on Friday.

Villa have lost seven of their 11 Premier League games this season, conceding 20 goals. It was not until their 18th league game last season that they lost as many games and conceded as many goals.

But Smith, who won 39.6 per cent of his 139 games in charge, departs with the best wishes of Villa supporters – including Grealish.

"No1 will ever compare," Grealish wrote on Twitter. "The real goat."

Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said in a club statement on Sunday: "The board would like to sincerely thank Dean for his many excellent achievements, on and off the pitch, during this time.

"Everyone knows how much Aston Villa means to Dean and his family. He has represented the club with distinction and dignity – universally liked and respected by everybody associated with Aston Villa, our staff, players and supporters alike. We wish him the very best."

With basement side Norwich City also dismissing Daniel Farke this weekend, there have now been five managerial departures in the Premier League this season (also Xisco Munoz, Steve Bruce and Nuno Espirito Santo).

There were only four in the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign (Slaven Bilic, Frank Lampard, Chris Wilder and Jose Mourinho).

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United remains unclear with his contract winding down.

The 28-year-old midfielder has so far opted against re-signing with the Red Devils.

Pogba had started the season brightly with United but was sent off in Sunday's 5-0 loss to Liverpool.

TOP STORY – UNITED WILLING TO LET POGBA GO FREE

Manchester United will not sell Paul Pogba in January despite the France international becoming a free agent at the end of the season, reports The Telegraph.

United face missing out on recouping some of the £89million they spent on Pogba in 2016 when he joined from Juventus, who are one of the teams who have shown an interest in signing him.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked with the World Cup winner.

 

ROUND-UP

Nicolo Barella will re-commit to Inter and sign a new five-year contract with the Italian champions next week, reports Fabrizio Romano. Barella had been linked with the likes of PSGAtletico Madrid and Liverpool.

Eden Hazard will be permitted to leave Real Madrid by boss Carlo Ancelotti if he wants to go, according to Marca. Former club Chelsea and Newcastle United have been linked with the winger.

Tottenham are making plans for Hugo Lloris' exit with Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, formerly of rivals Arsenal, top of their list, claims the Independent.

Liverpool are hoping for Mohamed Salah to agree to a bumper new deal before the January transfer window opens, reports Football Insider.

Any hopes of Paul Pogba remaining at Old Trafford appear to be fading. 

The Manchester United stalwart has halted contract talks with the club. 

Multiple European clubs are said to be interested in the 28-year-old. 

 

TOP STORY – POGBA ENDS MAN UTD TALKS

Paul Pogba has ended talks over a potential new contract at Manchester United amid an apparent row with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, The Sun reports. 

The France international will be out of contract in June and appears likely to move on. 

The Sun reports he apologised to his team-mates but did not speak to Solskjaer after being sent off 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute in Sunday's 5-0 thrashing by Liverpool. 

His former club Juventus could be an option, while Paris Saint-GermainReal Madrid and Barcelona are also said to have shown interest. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona would prefer to have Jurgen Klopp take over whenever they sack Ronald Koeman, says Sport. Klopp is under contract with Liverpool through 2024. 

- Newcastle United are prepared to offer Alex Ten Hag £6million a year after taxes if he leaves Ajax for St. James' Park, reports the Mail. 

- Arsenal and Manchester City are interested in Barcelona's Spain international Sergi Roberto, says Fichajes. 

- Inter have had talks with Sampdoria midfielder Morten Thorsby's agent over a potential move, claims Calciomercato. 

- River Plate forward Julian Alvarez is drawing interest from Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Aston Villa, says Calciomercato. 

Mikel Arteta says Arsenal laid down a marker for how he wants his side to play in their dominant 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Friday.

The Gunners snapped a run of three successive defeats to Villa in the Premier League, moving up to ninth place thanks to goals from Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Emile Smith Rowe at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal were two goals ahead at the end of a first half that saw them register 14 shots to Villa's none – the first time they have managed to stop their opponents from getting a shot away before half-time in the league since May 2018 against Burnley. 

The win extends Arsenal's unbeaten run to six matches in the top flight since kicking off their campaign with three straight losses and Arteta was delighted with what he saw.

"The way we started the game and the way we continued was good," he told BBC Sport. "We attacked them really aggressively, we won every duel. We were creative, a threat. I'm proud of the team, they played really well.

"This is how we have to play. This is when we are good, when we play with real desire, real commitment and can have clear ideas of how to attack them. We are closer together as a team. Our decisions were good. We have good players."

Arsenal had an Aubameyang goal rightly ruled out and hit the crossbar through Partey's strike before the latter found a way through with his first goal for the club on his 40th appearance in all competitions.

It looked as though Arteta's side would only have that one goal to show for a dominant first half, but they were awarded a penalty just before half-time after a lengthy VAR review for a Matt Targett foul on Alexandre Lacazette. 

Aubameyang's spot-kick was saved by Emiliano Martinez, but the Gabon international beat his former team-mate from the follow-up as he scored a home league goal for the fourth game running.

Star man Smith Rowe went on to put Arsenal out of reach early in the second half, before Jacob Ramsey's late consolation, but Arteta admitted he was concerned his side's profligacy may have cost them before the second goal went in.

"That was the worry," he said. "That [Aubameyang] goal was really helpful. We deserved many more. Villa are a really good side. When they had a little bit of the ball in your half they can cause problems.

"It was really impressive what they did, especially Nuno Tavares. This was his first start. To play with courage, credit to the boy. We reviewed the Crystal Palace game, how we started and why we weren’t consistent in the game. We put it right today."

Smith Rowe pulled the string for Arsenal from midfield by playing a game-high four key passes, including the assist from a corner for Partey's opener, which he added to with a deflected strike of his own to round off a counter-attack.

"Emile was terrific," Arteta told Sky Sports. "He's scoring goals, but I feel it was more about the team today. Scoring should be a habit and he should demand that in his game as he's capable of doing it. He's developing more in other areas.

"The other night against Crystal Palace, he wasn't 100 per cent fit but he wanted to step forward with the injury he had. 

"He's changing his ways in terms of the eating habits that he had and I thought he was superb. This was an example of why we wanted to keep him and we're very happy with him."

Arsenal returned to winning ways and moved into the top half of the Premier League with a well-earned 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta's side had been held in back-to-back games but Friday's win never seemed in doubt after Thomas Partey deservedly headed them in front with his first goal for the club.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a second just before half-time from a rebound after Emiliano Martinez had saved his penalty, which was awarded after VAR intervened.

Villa substitute Jacob Ramsey pulled one back late on after Emile Smith Rowe had further extended Arsenal's lead, as the Gunners stretched their unbeaten league run to six matches and condemned their opponents to a third loss on the bounce.

 

Aubameyang had a goal rightly ruled out for an Alexandre Lacazette foul in the build-up and Partey turned a shot against the crossbar in a dominant start from Arsenal.

The hosts deservedly took the lead with 23 minutes played, when Partey got away from John McGinn and guided Smith Rowe's corner past Martinez.

Former Arsenal keeper Martinez produced a fine save to deny Bukayo Saka from a one-on-one on the half-hour mark, but he was beaten for a second time from the penalty spot right at the end of the first half.

After being asked to check the pitchside monitor, Craig Pawson adjudged Matt Targett went through the back of Lacazette to win the ball and Aubameyang fired past Martinez at the second attempt after his former team-mate kept out the initial spot-kick.

Villa squandered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 against Wolves last week, but any hopes of a comeback of their own were extinguished by a Smith Rowe strike that deflected in off Tyrone Mings.

Ramsey curled a delightful shot past Aaron Ramsdale eight minutes from time following some nice play from fellow substitute Leon Bailey, though that proved nothing more than a consolation.

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