Manchester City youngster Cole Palmer could have a similar trajectory to that of Phil Foden, according to Pep Guardiola's assistant Rodolfo Borrell.

Palmer played a crucial role in City's 4-1 FA Cup third-round win over Swindon Town on Friday, setting up the opener for Bernardo Silva before netting his maiden goal in the competition late on with a gorgeous strike.

It was an all-round positive display from the right-winger, whose close ball control and technical ability made him a constant nuisance to the fourth-tier opposition, while he also proved a reliable creative outlet.

No player on the pitch could match his four chances created, and his overall positivity on and off the ball led to him registering four more touches (14) in the penalty area than anyone else.

That led to a game-high total of five shots, four of which were from inside the box, including his well-taken goal.

 

The 19-year-old was making his 10th competitive appearance of the season across all competitions and looked at home alongside seasoned superstars like Kevin De Bruyne and Silva.

Borrell, who was in charge due to Guardiola testing positive for coronavirus, suggested they are looking at Palmer's development in a similar light to that of Foden.

With it put to Borrell that Palmer looked "special", the coach told ITV Sport: "Yes, it's true, we have him training with us [the first team] on a regular basis.

"He has great quality, everyone has been able to see this. He's a great player, still needs developing quite a lot but there is obviously a lot of talent there.

"Hopefully very soon he can play more minutes with us like Phil Foden a couple of years ago."

Borrell attempted to temper any comparisons between the two City youth products, but he did not hide his excitement about Palmer.

He continued: "They're completely different players and obviously Phil has shown… I'm not going say [Foden's shown] more than him, but obviously he's older than [Palmer] and has had more opportunities.

 

"At the end of the day, they're two great players. Right now, Phil is already established in our first team and in the national team.

"With Cole, he obviously has the talent and the ingredients to become [something similar] but let's see.

"It's in his hands, he has to keep working hard and performing consistently at a good level."

Ultimately there was little for City to worry about at the County Ground, with Guardiola's absence no more than a footnote.

As it turned out, he had little to do with the game once it started, such is his belief in his coaches.

Borrell added: "We were in touch at half-time. There was not a massive change because everything was as planned as before.

"He has great confidence in all of us. Not just me but all the backroom staff, we have been with him a long time.

 

"We planned all of this together but to be honest with you, after the start of the game he said, 'listen, do as if I wasn't there and obviously if you need anything, keep in touch, and we'll chat at half-time'.

"He has huge confidence in us and I'm grateful, we are grateful. Everything was as planned and it has been a great experience for me and for all of us."

Manchester City ran out comfortable 4-1 winners over hosts Swindon Town in Friday's FA Cup third-round clash.

City, under the guidance of assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell after Pep Guardiola contracted COVID-19, never looked in danger of suffering a first FA Cup defeat to a side from the fourth tier or lower since 1984.

The visitors were cruising by the half-hour mark, with Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesus getting the goals.

Ilkay Gundogan buried a fine free-kick with just under an hour played to put the game beyond doubt, before Harry McKirdy got a consolation.

Cole Palmer's gorgeous late strike finished the League Two side off and capped a great performance late on.

Swindon were lucky to hold out for 14 minutes, but Silva – who had previously wasted two great chances – was never going to miss when the excellent Palmer presented him with a tap-in.

City then pounced on Louis Reed's questionable flick just outside his own area as Swindon attempted to play out from the back, with Kevin De Bruyne feeding Jesus into the box for a simple finish.

The contest was over – if it wasn't already – in the 59th minute as Gundogan cleverly curled his free-kick around the wall and into the bottom-right corner.

The Swindon goalkeeper's wall positioning may have played a part, though Lewis Ward went some way to making amends when saving Jesus' penalty after Jordan Lyden fouled the Brazilian.

City could not keep a clean sheet, with Jonny Williams capitalising on Rodri's error and playing McKirdy into the area to finish past the suspect Zack Steffen.

But the away side had the last laugh, Palmer planting an exceptional finish into the top-left corner.

 

Reigning champions Manchester City end the year as hot favourites to win the Premier League again, but how many of Pep Guardiola's players should make it into a team of the year?

Do any of the Manchester United players Gary Neville described as "whingebags" deserve a place in an elite XI? And is there a case to be made for any players from beyond the 'big six'?

The answers to those questions are: a) five, by our estimations; b) yes; and c) yes.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform selected a dream team for 2021, packed with standout performers from the calendar year.

Safe hands? It has to be Mendy

Chelsea's Edouard Mendy had a save percentage of 74.36, which put him fourth among goalkeepers with five or more Premier League appearances. Curiously, his Blues club-mate Kepa Arrizabalaga headed that list with an 81.82 per cent record, but he only played five Premier League games: the Spaniard's previous inconsistency and propensity to make expensive errors cost him a regular place.

Mendy has demonstrated reliability and Chelsea's upturn in form under Thomas Tuchel, highlighted by their Champions League triumph, owed a lot to the man at the back. He had 18 clean sheets in 38 Premier League games and in this team of the year he edges out the likes of Arsenal's former Sheffield United shot-stopper Aaron Ramsdale, and Wolves' outstanding Jose Sa (80.28 per cent save percentage in 18 games – a half-season wonder so far).

Risk-takers on the defensive flanks, no-nonsense in the middle

Top of the defenders' league for assists (13) and ball recoveries (308), Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold remains a sensational presence at right-back. He is much closer to the bottom of the league when it comes to duel success (46.77 per cent), and being dribbled past by opposition players (34 incidences), but his strengths are such that Liverpool can put up with those figures. The playmaker at full-back might be prone to an occasional error, but his service from the flanks has often been a match-winning ingredient in the Reds' mix.

Similar can be said for Manchester City's Joao Cancelo, a first-class operator on either defensive flank. He has three goals and six assists in the league over the year and has created 39 chances from open play, putting him in the top five among defenders in the latter metric (Alexander-Arnold's 67 leads the way). Cancelo has a healthy tackle success rate of 66.27 per cent, but he has also been dribbled past 53 times by opponents, more than any other defender and has made three errors leading to shots (Harry Maguire tops this list, with six errors). Cancelo is imperfect, but also often quite brilliant.

In the centre of defence, Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger might be in his last season at Stamford Bridge, amid speculation linking him with Real Madrid and others. He has been largely formidable, developing a strong alliance with Thiago Silva. Only three defenders with more than 20 Premier League appearances across the year managed to top 60 per cent for duel success (Rudiger: 63.75) and 70 per cent for tackle success (Rudiger: 73.08) while being dribbled past no more than 10 times (Rudiger: 10). Surprisingly, one of those was Newcastle's Ciaran Clark. The others were Rudiger and Silva, and you could have either in a team of the year.

Ruben Dias has been the Rolls-Royce engine in Manchester City's defence: powerful and classy, surely built to last. His passing accuracy of 93.28 per cent has been beaten only by one defender in the league – team-mate Aymeric Laporte (93.91) – with Dias also managing three goals and two assists in 2021, his first full year in English football. City are no longer crying out for a Vincent Kompany replacement: Dias, 24, could be the cornerstone of their defence for many seasons to come.

Midfield marvels... from Manchester

Is Bruno Fernandes a maestro or a "whingebag"? Neville used the latter description after Manchester United's draw at Newcastle, but he would doubtless concur on the former too, given it has not been all shoulder shrugs and finger-pointing from the mercurial Portuguese this year. In 2020, Fernandes had 18 goals and 14 assists, alongside 60 open-play chances created. He has played more games this year (39, compared to 29 in 2021) and finished up with 13 goals, eight assists and 79 open-play chances created. His 21 goal involvements lead the way among midfielders, and even if those have dried up in recent weeks – he had just one goal and one assist in his final nine league games of the year – he had already done enough.

Across Manchester, Ilkay Gundogan was a revelation for City, particularly during a purple patch last season. He ends the year with 15 goals, the most of any midfielder, adding five assists from the 44 open-play chances he created, and had a princely passing accuracy in the opposition half of 90.09 per cent. Among Premier League players with more than 30 games, that accuracy was only beaten by Gundogan's City team-mates Bernardo Silva (90.23) and Rodri (90.74).

Of course Bernardo Silva makes the team too, a flagrant example of recency bias after the Portuguese's five goals in five league games from early November to early December. With his nine goals and seven assists across the Premier League year, and his determined dribbling (109 dribbling attempts - second only to Burnley's Dwight McNeil among midfielders), the ever-elegant Bernardo just edges out Manchester City team-mate and previously perennial all-star Kevin De Bruyne.

What a year it has been for Phil Foden, another City star to make this team. Granted, it would have been better had City won the Champions League final on his 21st birthday, but the young man from Stockport has continued his growth at Premier League level, bagging 12 goals and seven assists and another title. Those goals have come at an average of 0.53 per 90 minutes, and the assists at one every 0.31 per 90. He is top five in both per-90 aspects among midfielders, but is Foden still truly a midfielder? The twinkle-toed local lad has been deployed in the frontline frequently, looking at home wherever Pep Guardiola decides he should be slotted.

Standout Salah, remarkable Raphinha

Where would Leeds United be without Raphinha? Rumours of Bayern Munich interest surfaced in December, and his numbers tell us why the German giants might fancy the Brazilian. His 20 goal involvements (12 goals, eight assists) put him joint-fifth among Premier League forwards, with only Mohamed Salah (35), Michail Antonio (24), Harry Kane (23) and Son Heung-min (22) ahead of Raphinha. The former Rennes player attempted 194 dribbles (only Adama Traore, 252, and Allan Saint-Maximin, 238, tried more) and he also played far more passes into the final third than any other forward (198 – Leandro Trossard second on this list with 136). Raphinha got stuck in too, making 50 tackles (only Jordan Ayew, with 60, attempted more among forwards).

Mohamed Salah became the first player to score 20 or more goals in five consecutive seasons for Liverpool in all competitions since Ian Rush from 1981-82 to 1986-87 (six in a row). That is the remarkable level he has reached, and with his own long-term future still somewhat in doubt, Liverpool will be making every effort to retain the Egyptian. In the year when Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the Premier League, the Portuguese was resoundingly outshone by Liverpool's star forward. Salah had more touches in the opposition box than any other player in 2021 (383), and he made good use of those. He created 67 chances from open play, and the goals and assists hauls were both league-highs among forwards.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future at Arsenal is murky.

Aubameyang lost the captaincy and was suspended for disciplinary reasons last week.

The 32-year-old has been with Arsenal since moving from Borussia Dortmund in 2018.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE INTERESTED IN AUBA MOVE

Tuttosport claims that Juventus are interested in signing Aubameyang with his future at Arsenal uncertain.

The Gabon international was stripped of the Gunners captaincy last week for disciplinary reasons, creating doubts about his future under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.

The Bianconeri would be interested in signing the 32-year-old on a six-month loan deal.

ROUND-UP

- Cashed-up Newcastle United are looking to sign Anthony Martial on loan from Manchester United in January, reports the Sun.

- Barcelona have made Manchester United's veteran Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani their top January target according to Sport.

- Barcelona are also interested in forgotten Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata, claims the Star.

- The Sun claims Leeds United are considering a move for Juventus' US international Weston McKennie who is valued at £20 million.

- AS reports that Manchester United are set to enter into the race for Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Chelsea are also keen on the French defender.

- Manchester City are set to reward Bernardo Silva for his good form, with a lucrative new contract where his salary will be doubled, claims the Sun.

Though several matches have been postponed due to COVID-19, there is still plenty of Premier League action to look forward to this weekend.

Circumstances permitting, there will be lots of points for fantasy football managers to play for during the festive period.

The in-form Manchester City and Liverpool are well-represented among our picks for this weekend, along with a resurgent Aston Villa under Steven Gerrard.

Here, we take an in-depth look into why these players should be on your priority list for inclusion.

JOSE SA (Wolves v Chelsea)

Wolves may be underdogs when they welcome Chelsea to Molineux, but they have looked solid defensively in recent weeks; keeping four clean sheets in their last six matches.

It would have been five but for Liverpool's stoppage-time winner a fortnight ago, while they were only breached once by reigning champions Manchester City last weekend.

Much of the credit goes to Sa. The Portugal international has prevented more goals (4.2) than any other player in his position this season, while only four keepers have let in fewer goals so far (14).

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (Tottenham v Liverpool)

Liverpool head to north London full of momentum, having won each of their last eight matches in all competitions.

The Reds have also prevailed in the seven most recent encounters between the sides.

Alexander-Arnold grabbed a goal and assist in the 3-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in January and, averaging a higher expected goal involvement per 90 minutes played than any other Premier League defender this season, the England international will be confident of making another positive contribution here.

ASHLEY YOUNG (Aston Villa v Burnley)

Villa have enjoyed a resurgence under Gerrard; winning four of his six matches in charge, with the two defeats coming against Manchester City and Liverpool.

Indeed, the midweek win at Norwich City moved them into the top half of the Premier League table.

Young has certainly been one of the players rejuvenated under his former England team-mate. The ex-Manchester United skipper has registered two assists since, with only four players managing more during that period.

RIYAD MAHREZ (Newcastle United v Manchester City)

Leaders Manchester City will hope to remain at the summit when they travel to 19th-placed Newcastle United.

Pep Guardiola's City have won their last seven Premier League matches – as well as each of their four most recent meetings with the Magpies.

Riyad Mahrez was on target in the 7-0 rout of helpless Leeds United in midweek. That was the Algerian's 49th Premier League goal for City, with only Raheem Sterling (76), Gabriel Jesus (63) and Sergio Aguero (61) netting more since August 2018.

BERNARDO SILVA (Newcastle United v Manchester City)

Indeed, City's envious list of attacking options have all been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks.

Kevin De Bruyne scored twice in midweek and Sterling is back among the goals, but Bernardo Silva has been their star performer on the road.

Indeed, the Portugal international has been on target in each of his side's last three away games, including a brace in the 3-1 win at Watford.

MOHAMED SALAH (Tottenham v Liverpool)

Along with Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool's impressive recent form and record against Tottenham also bodes well for Salah.

The Premier League's top scorer, Egypt international Salah has netted 15 times already this season; six more than his nearest challenger Jamie Vardy.

He has scored four goals in as many English top-flight matches, and six in Liverpool's nine meetings with Tottenham since he arrived from Roma in 2017.

OLLIE WATKINS (Aston Villa v Burnley)

The departure of talisman Jack Grealish undoubtedly proved a major factor behind Villa's tricky start to the season.

Nevertheless, Ollie Watkins is one of their more influential performers who can potentially fill the void.

After a goal and assist during the 2-0 win at Norwich, the England international has been directly involved in 25 goals (16 goals, nine assists) since arriving from Brentford – almost twice as many as any other player currently at the club.

He will be confident of adding to that tally against a Burnley side without a win in five.

Bernardo Silva is still wary of the threat posed by Liverpool and Chelsea despite Manchester City moving to the top of the Premier League following a 3-1 win over Watford. 

Chelsea had been at the summit but suffered a 3-2 defeat to West Ham and allowed Liverpool and City to leapfrog them. 

Just two points now separate the trio, and Silva is not getting carried away despite a dominant performance in which the champions enjoyed 77.1 per cent of the ball and took 26 shots, more than they have attempted in any top-flight game this season, and hit the target with 13. 

"It was definitely a very good job in the first half," Silva said to Sky Sports. "The team started very well, creating chances and not allowing them to counter-attack. We scored two in the first half but should have scored more. 

"It's always better to be top of the league than second, third or fourth, but it's still early. It's so close – Liverpool are just one point behind us, Chelsea are two points behind us. 

"Liverpool and Chelsea are having an amazing season. It's tough for us to compete with each other. We know the level and standards are very high. We know how tough it is to win the most competitive league in the world. We're going to try our best, like we always do." 

Silva is enjoying a superb season on an individual level, scoring twice against Watford to take his tally to seven – matching his best return in a Premier League campaign. 

The Portugal midfielder is City's top scorer in the league – four goals clear of any of his team-mates – so is shouldering much of the goalscoring burden in the absence of an elite central striker in the squad. 

"This season I've been scoring a lot and I'll try to keep it that way," Silva continued. "What matters is that we're top of the league now and the team are doing very well at the moment. At the end of the season we want to celebrate some titles. 

"My first four goals this season were all tap-ins. My last few goals have been quite good, but it doesn't matter – what matters is putting the ball in the back of the net. I'm happy to help the team. 

"We know we don't have a striker. We have a lot of players who try to get in the box and finish. We try to put numbers in the box. If we arrive in the box, we're going to score goals. 

"We're happy with the moment and happy with our form. We have to keep working because this season is going to be very tough." 

Having only just finished an exciting batch of midweek games, the Premier League returns with the potential for more drama, goals, and perhaps some fantasy points to boot.

Everton boss Rafael Benitez will be hoping to arrest his team's downturn in form when Arsenal come to Merseyside, but despite defeat at Manchester United on Thursday, the Gunners have a couple of form players to keep an eye on.

Antonio Conte will be looking to continue a promising start at Tottenham as they host Norwich City, and it will be no surprise to anyone if one of his wing-backs ends up having a decisive impact again.

Another electric wing-back has returned for Brighton and Hove Albion in recent weeks; Manchester City boast one of the form players in Europe; and the bottom, two teams look to their star strikers for much-needed points.

Plenty of fantasy teams are just as desperate for points, so here are Stats Perform's suggestions for possible picks ahead of the weekend, powered by Opta data.

AARON RAMSDALE (Everton v Arsenal)

Aaron Ramsdale has been rather busy since his arrival from Sheffield United, and he faced another ten shots on target from United on Thursday.

However, he has broadly impressed in Mikel Arteta's side, and ranks third in the Premier League this season for goals prevented (2.57).

He is also set to face an Everton side fresh off a chastening Merseyside derby defeat, and who have scored only four times over their past six league games, the joint-fewest of any side in the division with Wolves.

 

SERGIO REGUILON (Tottenham v Norwich City)

Conte's new Tottenham side are unbeaten in their opening three league games, the Italian head coach utilising a three-man defence again after successes with Chelsea and Inter.

Sergio Reguilon has been the main beneficiary of the change in system, with the left wing-back directly involved in a Spurs goal in each of his last two league games, scoring against Leeds United before assisting against Brentford last time out.

The Spaniard next faces strugglers Norwich, who have scored the fewest goals of any side in the Premier League this season (eight), while conceding the second-most (28).

 

TARIQ LAMPTEY (Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion)

Tariq Lamptey played an integral part in Brighton snatching a late equaliser against West Ham as he crossed in for Neal Maupay's acrobatic brilliance in the closing minutes.

The Englishman was brought on with 20 minutes to go and, as an impact sub, did exactly what he was asked to ensure Graham Potter's men did not return south empty-handed.

The right wing-back ranks fourth for chances created per 90 minutes among defenders in the English top flight this season, creating 2.4 opportunities on average as he prepares to face Southampton.

BERNARDO SILVA (Watford v Manchester City)

Pep Guardiola hailed Bernardo Silva as the best player in the league after the Portugal international nailed an expert first-time volley in the 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

The 27-year-old, who reportedly wanted a move away in the previous transfer window, has scored four goals in his last seven league games for City, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.

With the reigning champions perhaps a striker short still, Silva will continue being of central importance for City's attacking returns as they travel to Watford.

 

EMILE SMITH ROWE (Everton v Arsenal)

Emile Smith Rowe may have converted in bizarre circumstances at Old Trafford, but as many fantasy players will tell you: they all count!

The England international has had a hand in eight goals in his previous 11 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal (six goals, two assists), with only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bettering that total this season (nine).

He heads to Benitez's Everton, who have conceded more goals than any other team in the league over their last six games (15).

 

TEEMU PUKKI (Tottenham v Norwich City)

There is one man for the job of keeping Dean Smith's Norwich away from the Championship and that is Teemu Pukki, a budget fantasy favourite for the Canaries.

The Finland goal poacher has managed three goals in his last four top-flight outings, as many as he had in his previous 24 appearances.

Indeed, if Norwich can breach Tottenham's resurgent defence, it is likely to be Pukki, who has scored five of his side's eight goals this term.

 

CALLUM WILSON (Newcastle United v Burnley)

In similar fashion to Pukki, Newcastle United's attacking hopes largely rest on the shoulders of Callum Wilson, who converted from the penalty spot in his last game against Norwich.

Another cheaper option compared to the likes of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Bournemouth man has scored 17 Premier League goals for the Magpies.

That is more than twice as many as any other player for Newcastle since he joined the club at the start of last season, and Eddie Howe will be hoping his main man can deliver once more.

Pep Guardiola claimed Bernardo Silva is "on another level" after the Manchester City midfielder helped his boss collect a 150th Premier League win on Wednesday.

Guardiola became just the fourth manager to the 150-win mark in the English top flight after defeating Aston Villa 2-1, achieving the milestone in 204 games to surpass Alex Ferguson's record of 247 matches.

Ruben Dias proved the unlikely scorer of City's first before Silva netted his fourth goal in seven league games, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.

Ollie Watkins' fifth goal in three outings against the reigning champions halved the deficit, but City comfortably held on for another win to remain a point behind leaders Chelsea.

Guardiola's post-match focus was on Silva, who he feels is a class above in the Premier League at the minute.

"He scored a fantastic goal," Guardiola told Amazon Prime Video. "We depend on him, when a player has this quality it depends on them. He is a player on another level."

Guardiola reiterated the same sentiments to reporters at the post-match news conference: "He's the best. He was the best when we got 98 points three seasons ago and he's the same now."

City face a gruelling December schedule, in which they play seven times before the end of the month as they search for domestic and European glory.

But Guardiola insisted all his side can do us front up the challenge as he praised the visitors' performance at Villa Park.

"No words," he continued on City's showing. "The game we played was fantastic. What a team against Aston Villa.  

"A difficult game, we knew it, with the new manager, we understand why they won two in a row. The way we reacted to conceding the goal... We played really well.

Asked about December's fixtures and a potential title challenge, he added: "Do we have another alternative? No. So we're going to face the challenge.

"You see the Liverpool machine scoring goals and the consistency from Chelsea. What is important is being there.

"We had an incredibly tough first part of the league with tough games away and we are only one point off."

Manchester City picked up from where they left off before the international break with a 3-0 win over Everton to move back into second place in the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola's side strolled to a 2-0 victory over Manchester United two weeks ago and were just as comfortable in Sunday's contest at the Etihad Stadium.

Raheem Sterling, making his 300th appearance in the English top flight, linked up with Joao Cancelo to fire City ahead after earlier having a penalty awarded and overruled.

Rodri scored an equally impressive goal from long range and Bernardo Silva then capped a win that moves City, who handed a full league debut to Cole Palmer, above Liverpool and within three points of leaders Chelsea.

 

Ilkay Gundogan looped a header on top of the crossbar after Jordan Pickford kept out Silva in a one-sided first half that saw Demarai Gray limp off for injury-hit Everton.

City were awarded a penalty for Michael Keane's apparent challenge on Sterling, but referee Stuart Atwell overturned the decision after a lengthy wait due to a lack of contact.

But the home side made the breakthrough on the brink of half-time thanks to Sterling's first-time finish after being picked out by a sublime outside-of-the-boot pass from Cancelo.

Rodri gave City some breathing space with a rocket drive from 25 yards that flew past Pickford into the top-left corner with 55 minutes played.

Guardiola's men were beaten 2-0 by Crystal Palace in their most recent home league match, but they made certain of a fourth top-flight win in five games through a simple finish for Silva late on.

 

What does it mean? City ease past out-of-form Toffees

The pressure was on City to pick up a victory against the Toffees following wins for Liverpool and leaders Chelsea on Saturday.

From the moment Sterling deservedly opened the scoring for the Citizens, an eighth successive league win against Everton – scoring 24 times in that run – was never in doubt.

Rafael Benitez's side are now without a victory in six Premier League matches, making this their longest winless run since January 2018 and heaping pressure on the Spaniard.

Sterling stars on landmark appearance

At 26 years and 348 days, Sterling became the fourth-youngest player to make 300 Premier League appearances and marked the occasion with a superbly taken half-volley.

Cancelo deserves credit for his assist, which was his sixth of the season in 18 outings – as many as he produced in his first two seasons with the club combined.

 

 

Shot-shy Everton offer little

City may be in good form, but defeat to Palace at the Etihad Stadium less than a month ago is proof that they can be beaten with the right gameplan.

Whatever tactics Everton deployed here did not work, with the Toffees registering just two attempts on target, neither of which truly troubled Ederson.

What's next?

City turn focus to the Champions League on Wednesday, with a point required at home to Paris Saint-Germain to guarantee a place in the last 16. Everton travel to Brentford in their next Premier League outing in a week's time.

Bernardo Silva apologised to Portugal fans following a dramatic 2-1 loss to Serbia in Lisbon on Sunday that left the Selecao facing a World Cup qualifying play-off.

Portugal only needed to avoid defeat in order to finish top of Group A and secure an automatic qualifying spot for the tournament in Qatar next year.

Renato Sanches' early strike put the hosts in the lead, but Dusan Tadic levelled and Aleksandar Mitrovic headed in a 90th-minute winner to seal sensationally seal Serbia's World Cup spot.

Manchester City midfielder Silva pulled no punches with his verdict on Portugal's performance.

"[It was a] terrible game for Portugal," Silva told O Jogo. "We managed to score the goal early, but then we stopped playing. Words fail me. We have to do more than we did today.

"We have a play-off, where we'll give our best. At home, with 65,000 people we had to do better. I want to apologise because they came to see a game they shouldn't have seen.

"The plan was to try to win the game. To have the ball. Something that didn't happen in any moment of the game. That at home and with the quality of our players is unacceptable. We have to see what failed and try to improve from there on."

Joao Palhinha agreed with Silva's assessment of the team's negative performance, but insisted they are good enough to qualify for the World Cup.

"We are here to take responsibility," Palhinha told RTP. "We didn't play a good game, we just defended in the second half and Serbia ended up having happiness in the final minutes, but [qualification is] still within our reach.

"Serbia played a good game, but we had the capacity and level to be superior. We are very sad, the dressing room is on the wane for not having achieved the direct qualification, but we have to go chasing them in the next games, because we have more than value to be in the World Cup.

"Life is not a constant of victories, all people who are successful in life go through difficulties and this feeling has to give us more strength."

Manchester City inflicted another humbling home defeat on bitter rivals Manchester United with a routine 2-0 derby victory in Saturday's Premier League clash.

Pep Guardiola's side had failed to win any of their previous four league meetings with United but were deservedly two goals ahead at half-time.

Eric Bailly became the first United player to score an own goal against City in the Premier League and Bernardo Silva profited from some terrible defending to squeeze in a second shortly before the interval.

United, beaten 5-0 by Liverpool in their most recent match at Old Trafford, failed to offer any sort of response in the second half as the pressure continues to grow on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United had kept three successive clean sheets against City in the league but were behind inside seven minutes when Bailly sliced Joao Cancelo's whipped cross from the left into his own net.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a powerful volley kept out by Ederson – United's only on-target attempt of the first half – but only David de Gea kept the scoreline down as City took complete control.

However, after keeping out Gabriel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne and team-mate Victor Lindelof, De Gea was far too easily beaten by Silva, who ghosted in behind Luke Shaw and turned in Cancelo's cross from a tight angle.

Chances were hard to come by in a far quieter second period, with the visitors going closest to finding the net through a Phil Foden strike that grazed the outside of the post late on.

What does it mean? United lose again at Old Trafford

City may not have managed the five goals Liverpool scored here two weeks ago, but the manner of the victory was just as straightforward and was never in doubt from the moment they scored their second goal.

United have now lost eight matches at Old Trafford in all competitions this calendar year, which is their worst-such record since 1989, and could find themselves 11 points off top spot should Chelsea beat Burnley later on Saturday.

Guardiola's men looked far more like their usual selves on the back of last week's shock 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace, meanwhile, as they moved back to within two points of leaders Chelsea, who have that game in hand.

Cancelo runs the show

The attacking left-back played in the cross for Bailly's own goal and sent in a delightful delivery, albeit one that should have been dealt with, for Silva's strike – the Portugal international's third goal in his last four appearances at Old Trafford.

Cancelo had more touches (125) than any player on the field – Lindelof was United's most involved player with 67 – while nobody managed more shots (four) and tackles (four) in what was an impressive all-round display.

United's calamitous defending

From Bailly turning an easy-to-deal-with cross into his own net – one that should never have been allowed to enter the box in the first place – to De Gea and Shaw watching on as Silva turned in a second, United's defending was yet again shambolic.

The Red Devils have now conceded at least once in each of their last 14 home games in all competitions, their longest run without a clean sheet at Old Trafford since a club-record run of 21 between April 1958 and March 1959.

What's next?

United travel to Watford on their return to Premier League action after the international break. City host Everton at the Etihad Stadium on November 21.

Bernardo Silva is glad to have rediscovered his best form for Manchester City after being hailed as an "extraordinary" player by Pep Guardiola following Saturday's win against Burnley.

The Portugal international opened the scoring for City in their 2-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium and had other opportunities to double his tally before Kevin De Bruyne sealed the three points.

He played a game-high three key passes against Burnley from a central position that he has become familiar with this campaign, standing out for the reigning champions in an otherwise disjointed display.

Silva asked to leave City during the close season due to what he perceived to be an unfair lack of playing time last season, but the 27-year-old is pulling the strings once again this term and is eager to maintain his form.

"It's tough when you don't play the minutes that you want to," he said. "It happened with me, it's happened with most of the players here. It's how it works. You have to go and fight for your place.

"I'm happy that I am helping the team and I am happy with the momentum but it's just the beginning."

Silva has two goals from 10 appearances in all competitions this season and, alongside fellow midfielder Rodri, Guardiola believes the former Monaco man is his side's best-performing player right now.

"He and Rodri are in the top form. They have both played incredibly well in the last four or five games," Guardiola said. "Bernardo is at the same level as in our second season together when we won 98 points. He was out of this world, the way he played.

"He always gives us the extra touch, the extra pass we need and he doesn’t lose balls. He scored a goal, which was important for him. The performance of Bernardo has been extraordinary again. 

"We are incredibly lucky to have him. He is a joy to have with us and is playing in an incredible top level right now."

Silva's goal against Burnley was his second in eight Premier League appearances against them. He has also assisted five goals in the fixture, making the Clarets his favourite opponents in the competition.

With their victory over Burnley, City have now kept six clean sheets in their opening eight Premier League games this season – more than any other side.

"My players always play good because they give everything and they gave it in a difficult game after the international break," Guardiola added.

"Burnley are organised and you have to adjust and adapt to the way they play. I am so satisfied for the game we played and the victory we got."

Pep Guardiola was delighted with the fighting spirit his Manchester City team showed as they edged past Burnley 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

City had won their previous four home games against Burnley 5-0, but the visitors caused Guardiola's men some problems after Bernardo Silva opened the scoring.

That was Silva's seventh goal involvement against Burnley in eight Premier League outings – his most against any one opponent – but did not trigger the sort of landslide scoreline that was anticipated.

However, Kevin De Bruyne scored in a second consecutive City match 20 minutes from time to secure a ninth straight victory over Burnley in all competitions.

Although City now have six clean sheets in eight league games this season and struggling Burnley are winless in 11 in the competition, Guardiola acknowledged his team had been in a battle.

"We run and fight for every ball," he told BBC Sport. "Burnley play for long balls and they're a master at this.

"You have to defend set pieces well, and anything could have happened if Chris Wood had scored that goal near the end. We had chances but couldn't score more, unfortunately.

"The importance is improving our game. I am satisfied that the second half was better than first. The team showed me the way we want to play and the shape we want to play in.

"All the guys gave everything. It doesn't matter if the performance is good or not; it's important that you fight for your team-mates, and everyone was incredible."

Guardiola brought in John Stones and Raheem Sterling for rare starts following the international break and said both "played really well".

He added: "It was a difficult game. I tried to tell them to forget about the previous 5-0s, because Burnley always fight and never give up.

"They are able to go to any stadium and create a problem and know what they have to do, so I give a lot of credit to them today."

Silva, whose goal came from one of three shots while he also created three chances, said: "[It was] very hard. We know how tough it is to play against Burnley.

"We started well, the first 20 minutes were good. Then the rhythm was a bit low, we should have scored a few more goals in the first half.

"We know how tough it is, they play very direct, they're a very physical side.

"In the second half, we controlled the game well. We should have scored a bit earlier again. But it's three very important points and onto the next one."

Manchester City star Bernardo Silva could leave the Premier League champions, according to manager Pep Guardiola.

Silva was tipped for a City exit in the off-season amid links with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona but the Portugal international remained in Manchester.

The 27-year-old has started five of City's six Premier League matches this season, while he scored the winner in the 1-0 victory at Leicester City.

After impressing in Saturday's 1-0 win away to rivals and Champions League holders Chelsea, Guardiola praised Silva.

"All I want is for Bernardo to be happy, here or anywhere. All I want is his happiness because he's a guy that deserves the best," said Guardiola.

"He's so intuitive - it's not his role as a holding midfielder but he knows exactly how to play it and how to anticipate what is going to happen, with the ball or without the ball.

"Against Norwich [City] he played exceptional, against Arsenal he played exceptional, Southampton played at the level of the team - that was not good.

"But how well he played against Chelsea is no surprise. How many times have we seen it? He was an incredible signing for us because he's an exceptional person."

Silva has won three Premier League titles since joining City in 2017 and Guardiola added: "I never forget the second Premier League we won, with 98 points, he was the best player in England. He was nominated [for an award] but he was the best.

"After that season, later he dropped a little bit, he was not in the position he prefers but now he's back and hopefully he can help us.

"If, at the end, he wants to leave and decides [to go] the only thing I can say is that the guy or the club that gets Bernardo is going to take one of the best players in the world.

"Is he happier? You cannot play in this way if you are not happy, it's impossible."

City have conceded just one goal in their six Premier League games this season – the fewest they have shipped at this stage of a league season in their history.

After his match-winning goal, Gabriel Jesus became the fifth player to score 20-plus match-winning goals in the Premier League for City, after Sergio Aguero (48), Raheem Sterling (23), Yaya Toure (22) and David Silva (20).

Pep Guardiola hailed match-winner Bernardo Silva after Manchester City made it three wins on the bounce on Saturday.

Silva was the standout performer as City beat Leicester City 1-0 at the King Power Stadium to sit one point behind Premier League pacesetters Manchester United.

The Portugal playmaker scored the decisive goal in the 62nd minute, had two other attempts on target and created three chances, behind only Ilkay Gundogan and Jack Grealish (both four).

Silva had been expected to leave City in the recent transfer window, with Guardiola confirming in August that the 27-year-old was hoping to find a new club.

Yet with no suitors coming in, Silva has nevertheless kept up his level over the early part of the season, filling in for the injured Kevin De Bruyne in midfield and often working in tandem with £100million man Grealish.

"Bernardo is back in the best form and mentality. He is an exceptional player and we know it," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

Expanding further in his news conference, Guardiola said: "He [Bernardo] played really well the last two games. Again today the connection with Jack and Joao Cancelo was brilliant.

"In general, it was all of them. We had the quality to put the ball in the right spots. 

"I like to have one or two players in the side who go to the natural side. So when Grealish plays right and Gundo plays right, they have to turn. When Bernardo plays with Jack he can make a cross. We need some on their natural side."

With City failing in their pursuits of Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo – who netted twice on his second United debut on Saturday – Guardiola is without an out-and-out centre-forward, though the Premier League champions have still scored 11 goals across their last three matches.

Nine players have been responsible, and Guardiola insisted sharing the goals around has to be the way forward for City this term.

"We score the last 11 goals from nine different players," he continued. "It's the only way to sustain our level. 

"We played really well from the first minute. After the international break, you always have doubts. We were a high level again for three weeks in a row. We had many chances and could have scored more goals. This is a step we still need to take."

City had 25 shots to Leicester's six, dominating the Foxes, who thrashed them on the road last season and also won the Community Shield game last month.

"What can I say? The keeper is the best player of the Leicester team because we did many, many good things," reflected Guardiola.

"You have to be patient. Of course I'm happy with the three points. Our performance was outstanding.

"Leicester, like the last years, have always been fighting until the end. I'm very pleased. If you are able to score or shoot, I don't know how many, it is because you are doing very good things. Kasper Schmeichel is an incredible keeper and saves these goals."

Page 1 of 3
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.