Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe scored dramatic injury-time goals as Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park to keep their hopes of European football next season alive.

Brazilian teenager Martinelli came off the bench to rescue his side, who go into the final day of the Premier League campaign with a chance of qualifying for the Europa League.

Christian Benteke's diving header had cancelled out Pepe's opener and put Palace on course to earn an impressive draw in Roy Hodgson's final home game as manager.

But Arsenal's attacking quality shone through as Martinelli tipped the game back in their favour before Pepe added a third with a superb individual effort.

Robert Lewandowski may be contracted to Bayern Munich until 2023 but speculation is mounting about his future.

Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the Poland international, particularly if the Parisians lose Kylian Mbappe.

The agent of the Bundesliga record-breaker is reportedly putting pressure on Bayern to re-negotiate his current deal, fuelling the rumours of a switch.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA MAKE LEWANDOWSKI ENQUIRY

Chelsea have reached out to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich to discuss a potential move for Robert Lewandowski, according to Sky Sport Germany.

Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea would face stiff competition from Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, in the event Lewandowski decides to leave Munich, where he has been based since 2014.

Chelsea have been linked with a big-money move for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, showcasing their financial strength which could be switched to Lewandowski should they miss out on the Norwegian.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester City have emerged as the frontrunners to sign Tottenham star Harry Kane reports the Daily Mail. Kane has reportedly asked to leave Spurs amid links with City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

Chelsea are also interested in signing Atalanta's Ruslan Malinovskyi, claims The Sun. Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix is also a target for the Blues, reports Sky Germany.

- The Sun says David Beckham's MLS franchise Inter Miami are pursuing Arsenal attacker Willian, who is reportedly keen on the opportunity.

Frank Lampard is on Crystal Palace's radar as they plan for Roy Hodgson's successor, according to Talksport. Hodgson will leave the Premier League club at the end of the season.  

- Corriere dello Sport claims Gennaro Gattuso is ready to leave Napoli as Fiorentina circle and he wants club captain Lorenzo Insigne to join him.

Jurgen Klopp has praised Roy Hodgson for his work at Crystal Palace but has no plans to match his fellow Premier League manager in working until he is 73.

Hodgson confirmed on Tuesday that he is leaving his role at Palace at the end of the season, insisting the moment feels right to step away from full-time coaching in the top flight.

The former Liverpool boss will conclude his Eagles tenure against the Reds at Anfield on the final day of the 2020-21 campaign, though Klopp is not sure the septuagenarian - who had spells in charge of Switzerland and England at international level - is ready to retire from the game just yet.

The German also revealed how Hodgson had an influence on his own managerial career, as well as congratulating him for his more recent work at Selhurst Park.

"Roy is one of the greats of our business," Klopp told the media.

"Years and years ago, my former manager who introduced the ball-orientated defending, he showed us a lot of videos of Arrigo Sacchi but as well from Roy Hodgson from his time in Switzerland, so he was obviously part of the inventive team of this kind of style.

"I knew him long, long before I met him, but when I met him it was even better, because he's a really, really nice guy, I have to say, and obviously highly energetic that he thinks he has to do this stressful job in this slightly advanced age.

"He did a great job. Staying in the Premier League when you are not fighting around the European spots is a massive achievement and he did that again and again with Crystal Palace. I couldn't have more respect for what he did, how long he did it and which level he did it.

"I'm not sure he will retire, maybe he stops only at Crystal Palace, searching for the next challenge, I would not be surprised about that, but on the day when he finally finishes, football will lose a really great person."

Asked if he planned to follow Hodgson's lead and work into his seventies, Klopp replied: "Nope, no chance. Hopefully I'm healthy and alive then, that would already be a great achievement, but no I will not coach anymore.

"If I'm still on the bench then you can remind me on that and tell me what rubbish I spoke years ago, but it's not in my plans at all."

While Palace are safe, this weekend's fixture could still have huge signifcance for Liverpool, albeit their first priority is picking up three points away at Burnley on Wednesday.

Goalkeeper Alisson's dramatic winner at West Brom helped keep alive their push to finish in the top four, though Klopp made clear ahead of the trip to Turf Moor that there is still plenty of work to do if his squad are to seal Champions League qualification.

"I don't want to speak about it [finishing in the top four]. For us it's very, very, very, very important, you saw that in the faces of the players when Alisson scored the goal," he said.

"We can speak about what it means if we have to speak about it on Sunday. Now we play Burnley and I really don't like this talk like we would have made it already before we play Burnley and Crystal Palace.

"It would be in my mind, at least, disrespectful, and I don't want to think about what it means.

"If we have on Sunday still a final for us then we had a positive result at Turf Moor. If we don't win on Wednesday then we don't have a final on Sunday, but we only have to focus on this one game."

Burnley sensationally ended Liverpool's 68-game unbeaten Anfield run earlier in the season, though Sean Dyche's side are winless in their last nine Premier League home games, their longest ever run without a win at Turf Moor in the top tier.

Mikel Arteta paid a glowing tribute to David Luiz after the Brazil defender's departure from Arsenal at the end of this season was confirmed.

The 34-year-old moved across London to join the Gunners from Chelsea in August 2019.

He has played 73 times in all competitions, scoring on four occasions and contributing to 18 clean sheets.

Arsenal have won 32 of the 69 games he has started during that time – a win percentage of 46.4 per cent – but Arteta and David Luiz mutually agreed to a parting of the ways when his contract expires at the end of his season.

"David and I, we discussed it on a few occasions and the other day we made the final decision on that," he said ahead of Wednesday's trip to Crystal Palace, which will be Roy Hodgson's final home game in charge of the Eagles.

"He's won everything in football and he has earned every right to do so because of who he is as a player and a person. I had the privilege of working with him for 18 months.

"I really enjoyed working with him, we had some great moments together and he's been really helpful. He's someone we really like and appreciate so much.

"Just to say thank you to him and wish him the best of luck in his next chapter. Knowing David, he will have many more to come – as a player and also in the future, somehow related to the game."

David Luiz's countryman and fellow former Chelsea player Willian has endured a difficult maiden season at Arsenal.

The 32-year-old belatedly scored his first Premier League goal for the Gunners in the 3-1 win over West Brom earlier this month, while five assists in the top flight is below the return from each of his last three seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Inter Miami have been linked to a move for Willian, but Arteta expects him to remain at Arsenal and will work to improve his output.

"He's a player with an incredible talent and a proven performance level in this league," he said.

"This season has been difficult and I take full responsibility because I have to be getting the best out of him.

"We had moments, but not to the level like he did before.

"These are the assessments that we are going to do individually with the players and as well, obviously, with [director of football] Edu, the board and the ownership to make the right decisions for the future.

"Every player that is under contract is very likely to be here with us next season."

Crystal Palace have confirmed Roy Hodgson will step down as manager at the end of the season, amid rumours Frank Lampard is in talks to replace him.

The 73-year-old is nearing the end of his fourth season with Palace and has kept them clear of the relegation places in each of those campaigns.

Hodgson will step away from Premier League management after his last two matches against Arsenal and Liverpool.

With Hodgson's contract due to expire, former Chelsea boss Lampard has long been linked with taking over as his replacement having been sacked by the Blues in January.

"After more than 45 years of coaching I have decided that the time is right for me to step away from the rigours of top-flight Premier League football, so our final two matches will be my last ones as manager of Crystal Palace," Hodgson confirmed in a statement to the Palace website.

"It's been a particularly rewarding period of my football life and career to have been able to spend these last four seasons with Palace. 

"I feel now that at the end of another successful season, in which we have secured our Premier League status, the moment is right for me to step down from my responsibilities of being a full-time manager.

"I have had so much support from my wife and family throughout my career and I have been contemplating this decision for some time, and now I believe the time is right to consider them and to see what the future holds for me.  

"I have really enjoyed my time at Palace, I have been privileged to work with an outstanding group of professional and dedicated players, most of whom have been with me throughout the four years."

Palace have finished 11th, 12th and 14th under Hodgson. This season they sit 13th after a dramatic 3-2 win over Aston Villa last time out.

Chairman Steve Parish said: "It has been an absolute privilege and pleasure to work alongside Roy, who is both a magnificent human and an outstanding football manager. 

"I know how much it has meant to Roy managing the club he supported as a child, adding to his distinguished and unparalleled career in football management. 

"His record with us simply cannot be overstated, he is the only Palace manager to secure four years in the Premier League and he has helped give us stability in the most turbulent of times."

Assistant manager Ray Lewington will also leave with Hodgson.

Palace have a host of players out of contract at the end of the season too, so there will be significant changes throughout the club in 2021-22.

They face Arsenal on Wednesday and Gunners boss Mikel Arteta paid tribute to the veteran Hodgson.

Arteta said: "He's an absolute legend. What he's done in football, for English football, what he transmits as a person and the work he has done at different clubs is remarkable. 

"To keep doing it for so long with the way he has always conducted himself, it's a great example as a young coach of someone I admire.

"We can count them [managers like Hodgson] with one hand. What he has done, in this league in particular, is incredible."

Champions League qualification is all that is left to be settled in the Premier League, and there was another huge twist on Sunday.

With Liverpool heading for what could have been a costly draw at relegated West Brom, an unlikely hero cropped up in the form of goalkeeper Alisson.

Before Alisson's heroics at the Hawthorns, Crystal Palace overcame Aston Villa, Tottenham kept on their push for a European finish by beating Wolves, while Everton's dismal home form continued with what Carlo Ancelotti labelled an "embarrassing" defeat to lowly Sheffield United in the late game.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the best facts from across Sunday's games.

Crystal Palace 3-2 Aston Villa: Mitchell completes Eagles comeback

Sunday kicked-off with what turned out to be a five-goal thriller – Palace coming from behind twice to win 3-2. Villa have lost four of their last seven Premier League matches when scoring first (W1 D2). Prior to this, they had won 12 of their first 13 league matches this season after netting the game's opening goal.

Palace scored three goals in a Premier League match for the first time since their 5-1 win over West Brom in December, while they did so at Selhurst Park for the first time since beating Leeds United 4-1 in November.

There were 42 attempts at goal in this match (23 for Palace, 19 for Villa), with only Manchester United's 6-2 defeat of Leeds seeing more in a Premier League game this season (43).

Tyrick Mitchell became Palace's youngest top-flight scorer (21y 257d) since Clinton Morrison in May 1998 against Sheffield Wednesday (18y 361d), while he is the youngest to score and assist in a Premier League game for the club since George Ndah in January 1995 against Leicester (20y 22d).

Mitchell scored the winner after teeing up Christian Benteke – only Olivier Giroud (32) has scored more headed Premier League goals than the Belgian (31) since the start of 2012-13.

John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi netted for Villa, but Wilfried Zaha's 11th goal of the season, his most in a single top-flight campaign, levelled the scores before Mitchell's winner.

Tottenham 2-0 Wolves: Kane keeps on golden boot charge as Spurs aim for Europe

Harry Kane struck as Tottenham moved into the top six with a 2-0 win over Wolves. Kane has now scored 22 goals and provided 13 assists in the league this season – the only players who can better his 35 goal involvements in Europe's top five leagues are Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi.

Kane has also hit the woodwork nine times in the Premier League this season, the most since Kevin De Bruyne in 2016-17 (also nine). Since full shot data is available for the Premier League (2003-04), the only player to hit the woodwork more in a season is Robin van Persie in 2011-12 (10).

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg set up Kane's opener and then got Spurs' second just after the hour, scoring and assisting in a Premier League game for the first time in his 145th appearance.

Tottenham have now won each of their first three home league matches under Ryan Mason, making him the first Spurs boss to do so since Harry Redknapp in November 2008.

Meanwhile, since winning three of their first five away games in the Premier League in 2020-21, Wolves have only won two of 13 on the road in the competition (D5 L6).

West Brom 1-2 Liverpool: Alisson makes Reds history

Liverpool's Champions League chances were hanging by a thread as they won a late corner at the Hawthorns, but the most unlikely hero rescued three points.

In Liverpool's entire history since they were founded in 1892, Alisson is the first goalkeeper to ever score a competitive goal for the club, after he headed in Trent Alexander-Arnold's delivery.

His goal was Liverpool's latest Premier League away winner (94:18) since Benteke vs Crystal Palace in March 2016 (95:10), while the Brazilian scored the very first headed goal by a goalkeeper since the formation of the competition in 1992.

Hal Robson-Kanu put West Brom ahead with his first Premier League goal since November 2017, the Welshman having last started a top-flight game in December of that year.

Mohamed Salah equalised with an excellent first-time finish, his 125th goal for Liverpool in all competitions, and he is still level with Spurs' Kane in the race for the golden boot.

Liverpool have now won six of their last eight Premier League games (D2), the same number as they registered in their 19 top-flight games beforehand (W6 D5 L8), and with Chelsea and Leicester City meeting this week, the Reds are in a strong position to snatch a Champions League spot.

Everton 0-1 Sheffield United: Toffees' European hopes fall flat

European qualification may be finally beyond Everton now after they suffered their ninth home defeat of the campaign – their joint-worst total in a league season, alongside 1912-13, 1947-48, 1950-51 and 1993-94.

Bottom club Sheffield United picked up only a second win from their past 24 away league outings (D3 L19), and ended a run of seven straight Premier League defeats on the road since beating Manchester United 2-1 in January.

Only Fulham (four) have earned fewer home points in the Premier League in 2021 so far than Everton's tally of six (P11 W1 D3 L7), with the Toffees' one win the joint-fewest on home soil in the competition this calendar year (level with Burnley and Fulham).

Daniel Jebbison (17y 309d) marked his full Premier League debut with the winner, the teenager becoming the youngest player to ever score on his first start in the competition, breaking Danny Cadamarteri's (17y 343d) record set for Everton against Barnsley in September 1997, which was also scored at Goodison Park.

Jebbison is also the youngest player to score a match-winning goal in a Premier League game since Federico Macheda (17y 232d) in April 2009.

What does the future hold for Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez?

The pair helped Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10.

But both could depart San Siro as Inter look to cut costs.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU AND LAUTARO TO LEAVE INTER?

Inter could be forced to sell star forwards Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Antonio Conte's Inter have been crowned Serie A champions this season, but the Nerazzurri have financial problems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lukaku has been linked with former club Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, while team-mate Martinez has long been tipped to join Barca.

Alessandro Bastoni is also listed in the report amid links to Manchester City and Liverpool, while star full-back Achraf Hakimi is said to be of interest to Arsenal and Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Thursday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barca look at the idea of signing City's Sergio Aguero favourably. Aguero is out of contract at season's end and he has been linked with Inter, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham. But the Argentina star reportedly wants to play alongside countryman Lionel Messi. A move for Aguero would not prevent Barca from signing fellow free agent and Lyon captain Memphis Depay. Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is also a target for the LaLiga giants. It comes amid doubts over the future of head coach Ronald Koeman.

Manchester United and Arsenal are battling to sign Sparta Prague sensation Abdallah Sima, claims the Mirror. Sima is reportedly valued at £25million (€29m).

- Sky Sports says United are interested in Juventus defender Cristian Romero, who could cost £34m (€40m). The 23-year-old Argentinian joined Atalanta on a two-year loan deal from Juve and the Serie A side have an option to buy Romero. United have also been linked with Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Lille defender Sven Botman, Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres and Real Madrid duo Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could replace Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace after emerging as a leading contender, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Manchester City will have to wait to get their hands on a third Premier League title in four years after they fell to a 2-1 home defeat against Chelsea on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero in particular will want to forget the game in a hurry after a failed Panenka attempt, which he later apologised for on social media.

Liverpool kept their first home clean sheet in nine top-flight games as they overcame Southampton 2-0, while Leeds United cruised past Tottenham 3-1 at Elland Road.

Elsewhere in Yorkshire, Crystal Palace inflicted yet more misery on Sheffield United, running out 2-0 winners at Bramall Lane.

Stats Perform News uses Opta data to take a look at the best facts from the four games.


Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea: Aguer-woe for leaders as Blues hit back

City suffered more penalty woe as they missed the chance to be crowned Premier League champions.

It had started well for the hosts, however, with Raheem Sterling giving them the lead with his 10th Premier League goal of the campaign. The England international has now reached that total in four successive seasons, with only Aguero (nine) hitting double figures more regularly in the competition for City.

Aguero should have doubled their advantage before the interval, but his woeful Panenka attempt from the spot was comfortably gathered by Edouard Mendy. City have now failed to score more penalties (four) than any other side in the Premier League this season, while they are the first to miss at least four spot-kicks in consecutive top-flight seasons since Tottenham in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Hakim Ziyech made the most of that reprieve, levelling with his first Premier League goal in 18 appearances since scoring against Burnley in October.

There was worse to come for Pep Guardiola, who has now lost four home league games this season – twice as many as he had lost in any other campaign in his managerial career.

At 91 minutes and 54 seconds, Marcos Alonso's scuffed finish was the latest winning goal scored by the visitors in a Premier League game at City since Paul Scholes for Manchester United in April 2010 (92:41).

Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane helps sink former employers

Liverpool kept their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive with victory at Anfield in the late kick-off.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the first half with his second goal in three Premier League games, having found the net just once in his previous 14 outings in the competition before that.

He was teed up by Mohamed Salah, marking the first time the pair have combined for a top-flight goal this season.

Thiago Alcantara added a second in the 90th minute to become the 140th player to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool, though the first to get off the mark for the Reds from outside the box since Divock Origi in December 2015.

Southampton, meanwhile, have now earned just 11 points from their 18 Premier League games in 2021, fewer than any other side this calendar year.

Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham: VAR bars Kane as Spurs suffer

Leeds' superb record against the Premier League's 'big six' continued.

Marcelo Bielsa's side became the first to remain unbeaten at home in the top flight against each of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs in a season since West Ham in 2015-16, and only the third newly promoted team to do so, after Ipswich Town in 2000-01 and Birmingham City in 2009-10.

Stuart Dallas broke the deadlock to become the first Northern Ireland player to score as many as eight Premier League goals in a season since Chris Brunt in 2008-09.

Son Heung-min equalised for the visitors, but Patrick Bamford restored Leeds' advantage to move onto 22 Premier League goal involvements this term (15 goals, seven assists). Harry Kane is the only Englishman to have been involved in more (34).

Rodrigo then added a third late on as Spurs suffered a fifth defeat in 10 top-flight away games in 2021 – more than they experienced in the entirety of 2020.

Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace: Benteke helps Eagles deal with blunt Blades

After a run of three consecutive defeats, Palace could not have wished for more accommodating opponents than the already relegated Blades.

Christian Benteke opened the scoring after just 66 seconds, registering the club’s earliest Premier League goal since James McArthur's strike against Everton in November 2017 (51 seconds).

Benteke has now scored more goals this season (seven in 27 appearances) than he managed in his previous three Premier League campaigns combined (six in 71).

Eberechi Eze continued his impressive season with a second late on. Only Wilfried Zaha (12) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals for Palace this season than Eze (four goals, five assists), while no Eagles player has laid on more goals than the former Queens Park Rangers man.

The result meant United have failed to score in 20 matches within a single league season for the first time in their history, while in terms of the Premier League, only Derby County in 2007-08 (22), Leeds United in 1996-97 (21) and Huddersfield Town in 2017-18 (21) have failed to score in more games in a single campaign.

The Premier League has confirmed away fans will not be allowed to attend fixtures staged in the final two rounds of the 2020-21 season.

With a further relaxing of coronavirus restrictions scheduled in the United Kingdom on May 17, up to 10,000 supporters will be allowed inside grounds to watch games again.

The penultimate set of top-flight fixtures had been pushed back to midweek dates as a result, thereby making sure all clubs have one home outing under the new guidelines.

However, visiting fans will not be permitted inside the stadiums, a decision taken to make sure there is consistency across the board for all 20 teams.

"The Premier League last week confirmed fixtures have been rescheduled to provide an opportunity for each club to host one home game with supporters before the end of the season," a statement from the governing body said.

"Match round 37 will now be played on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 May with the final matches of the season kicking off at 16:00 BST on Sunday 23 May, as planned.

"Following consultation with clubs, it was agreed matches would not be open to away supporters due to varying operational challenges across the league and the need to deliver a consistent approach, while maximising the opportunity for home-fan attendance.

"The safety and security of supporters is of paramount importance. Clubs have a proven track record of providing Covid-safe environments and have operational plans in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to their stadiums.

"Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021-22 season."

Away-day specialists Manchester City saw off Crystal Palace 2-0 to close in on another Premier League title and equal a top-flight record in the process.

Chelsea beat Fulham by the same scoreline elsewhere in Saturday's Premier League action, thanks to a couple of goals from Kai Havertz.

A two-goal success was also the outcome when Brighton and Hove Albion welcomed Leeds United to the Amex Stadium, the Seagulls all but securing their top-flight status for another season.

In the late match, Aston Villa edged out Everton 2-1 to boost their chances of a top-half finish and derail their opponents' European prospects.

We use Opta data to take a look at the best facts from Saturday's games.

 

Crystal Palace 0-2 Manchester City: Patient Citizens win again on their travels

Goals from Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres in the space of 83 seconds proved enough for City to pick up a victory that leaves them on the brink of another piece of silverware.

Those strikes came from the Citizens' first two shots on target and saw them reach the 700-goal mark under Pep Guardiola in all competitions.

City's 57-minute wait for their first on-target attempt of the match was their longest in a Premier League game since November 2019 against Southampton.

Torres added to Aguero's opener moments later with a good finish from 20 yards - the 11th league goal Palace have conceded from outside the box this term, which is the joint-most of any Premier League team alongside Sheffield United.

The victory was City's 11th in a row away from home in the Premier League, equalling the all-time English top-flight record held by Chelsea (April-December 2008) and City themselves (May-December 2017).

Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 Leeds United: Whites lose again on south coast

Brighton moved within touching distance of securing a fifth successive season of Premier League football thanks to a well-earned victory at home to Leeds.

Pascal Gross found the bottom corner from a 14th-minute penalty and Danny Welbeck added to that with his fifth Premier League goal of the season in his 21st outing - the forward's best top-flight return since 2017-18.

It was an all-too-familiar tale for Leeds, who have now lost five successive away league meetings against Brighton without scoring - the first time that has happened in their history against a single opponent.

In fact, Brighton have won eight of their last nine league meetings with Leeds home and away, which is more than they managed in their previous 28 against them.

Leeds managed just two attempts on target as Graham Potter's Brighton claimed a seventh home clean sheet of the season, a tally bettered only by Manchester City and Chelsea (nine each) in the Premier League this season.

 

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Havertz inflicts more derby misery on Cottagers

Kai Havertz doubled his Premier League goals tally with a brace in Chelsea's routine victory over Championship-bound Fulham.

All eight of the Germany international's goals for Chelsea in all competitions have now been scored in London, seven of those at Stamford Bridge and one at Selhurst Park.

His second goal in this game involved some nice link-up play with Timo Werner, who with that assist became the first Chelsea player to reach double figures for both goals (11) and assists (10) in his debut season for the club since Eden Hazard in 2012-13.

Werner's combined 21 goals and assists is the most of any Chelsea player this term, and he is one of five Premier League players to reach double figures for both metrics across all competitions alongside Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes, Son Heung-min and Marcus Rashford.

Fulham have now gone 19 away games without a win at neighbours Chelsea in all competitions - only versus Everton (31), Hull City (23) and Middlesbrough (21) are the Blues currently enjoying a longer unbeaten run against an opponent on home soil.

The Cottagers are also now winless in 24 Premier League London derbies since beating West Ham in January 2014 - only Palace have endured a longer such run in English top-flight history, going 31 London derbies without a win between August 1969 and March 1973.

Fulham missed some good chances as Chelsea kept an 11th Premier League clean sheet under Thomas Tuchel - the most shutouts for any manager in their first 15 games in the competition, one more than ex-Blues bosses Jose Mourinho and Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Everton 1-2 Aston Villa: Toffees' poor Goodison run continues against familiar opponents

Villa dented Everton's European hopes with victory at Goodison Park in what was the 205th top-flight meeting between the clubs - the most played fixture in England's top division.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Villans have won more games (20) and scored more goals (73) in the Premier League era against Everton than they have against any other side in the competition.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his 20th goal in all competitions this season to open the scoring in Saturday's late kick-off - with that haul including a Premier League leading seven headers - to cancel out Ollie Watkins' opener.

But Anwar El Ghazi snatched all three points for the Villans 10 minutes from time with his eighth goal in 23 Premier League games this season, doubling his tally from 34 appearances in the competition last time out.

Everton have now won just one of their last 10 home league matches and have tasted defeat at Goodison Park eight times this season - only in 1993-94 have they lost on more occasions (nine) in a single Premier League campaign.

Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City can get ready to pop the champagne corks, with their third Premier League title in four seasons "already there" after a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

City are one victory away from an unassailable lead and could be champions by the end of the weekend if Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday.

Guardiola does not care if his team are crowned without being on the field, telling a post-match news conference he simply wanted the title "as soon as possible" after second half goals from Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres dispatched Palace.

"We can start to think about putting it in the fridge. Not yet, but we can put it in the fridge," he told BT Sport, before discussing his football-watching plans for Sunday – juggling preparation for Tuesday's Champions League semi-final showdown against Paris Saint Germain with keeping an eye on events at Old Trafford.

"It's [about] PSG right now. We start to see the game we played there [a 2-1 win on Wednesday] and what we have to do, but I will take a look [at United v Liverpool], yeah.

"The Premier League is already there, it is in our hands. We need one more victory or two points

"Now there is a game where we need to give absolutely everything to reach the final."

Aguero has been a marginal figure during his final season at City, grappling with form and fitness issues.

But his opening strike at Palace - a fabulous touch and half-volleyed finish from Benjamin Mendy's low cross – showed the value he could still have over the closing weeks of his City career.

"I'm incredibly delighted he is back. He was many, many times injured," Guardiola told reporters.

"In the last weeks he trained really well and he is another weapon that we have on Tuesday for our semi-final."

 

Aguero is now one behind Wayne Rooney's single-club record of 183 Premier League goals and Guardiola paid a glowing tribute to the 32-year-old, who is City's all-time leading goalscorer.

"He's an absolutely top legend, extraordinary, the most humble and nicest human being. That is not easy to find," he said.

"That's why I love him as a man. Another player in his situation, he could create conflict, he would create a difficult situation.

"When one guy is beloved, like he is by all our fans, it is not just for the scoring 1,000 million goals, that is the truth. It is because he has something that the people realise, that you cannot hide away, as a person.

"This season, we took a decision, a difficult one - one of the toughest ones I took, especially because he was injured a long time. This club, next season need to make another step and maintain this level for a longer time.

"But what he has done in this club remains, will remain forever and we want to finish the best way as possible.

"He's going to help us in the Champions League [and] is going to help us in the Premier League to finish it."

Sergio Aguero reminded Pep Guardiola that he is "always ready" for action, even as his Manchester City career winds down.

Knee and hamstring problems on the back of meniscus surgery last June have hindered Aguero during his 10th and final season at the Etihad Stadium.

However, the Argentina striker produced some of his vintage best on Saturday, taking a single touch to control Benjamin Mendy's cross before netting a blistering half-volley to open the scoring in City's 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

The result means Guardiola's side are within two points of the Premier League title and their status as champions will be confirmed if Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday.

"Yeah, finally I could play so I am so happy," Aguero told BT Sport.

"All the time not playing 90 minutes… the goal is good. Maybe we can win the Premier League tomorrow.

"Always Mendy tries to pass to me. [That was] the only one inside the box, I needed one touch or two touches – that is my show.

"Finally I got the goal, I am happy for that."

It was only Aguero's second Premier League goal of the campaign and first from open play.

He was only starting due to Guardiola's decision to make eight changes to the side that beat Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, with City defending a 2-1 advantage back in Manchester on Tuesday.

Aguero, whose 182 Premier League goals for City overall is only one shy of Wayne Rooney's single-club record of 183 set at Manchester United, believes he can still be the man for the big occasion before his contract expires next month.

"Always I'm ready. Like I said before, I'm feeling good, my knee is so good," he said.

"I just wait for the opportunity to play like today. If on Tuesday, I don't play, it doesn't matter - I want to be with my team-mates.

"Every player wants to play, but we'll see."

Manchester City could be crowned Premier League champions by the end of this weekend after Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres secured a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

Aguero, City's all-time record goalscorer, will leave the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires next month and has endured a campaign ruined by fitness issues.

But the Argentina striker relocated some of the old magic with a sublime touch and thumping finish to find a 57th-minute breakthrough and his second league goal of the campaign.

There were just 83 seconds between Aguero's opener and Torres' calmly taken second, and City will win the title for a third time in four seasons if Liverpool beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Palace full-back Tyrick Mitchell made an important block when Torres met Benjamin Mendy's ninth-minute cross on the volley.

Raheem Sterling darted onto Aymeric Laporte's lofted pass and inside a couple of Palace challenges, but Mitchell was able to get back for another vital intervention.

Christian Benteke had a chance to breakthrough before the half hour – the Belgian striker's shot on the turn smothered at close quarters by Ederson.

As their phalanx of playmakers rested up on the bench, City struggled for their usual fluency. Gabriel Jesus volleyed home Fernandinho's 36th-minute cross but had strayed needlessly offside.

With attempted intricacy failing, Aguero opted for something more uncomplicated – in terms of conception rather than execution – when he controlled Mendy's low cross then thumped a half-volley past the helpless Vicente Guaita.

City's four-pronged attack went for the kill and Aguero was involved once more in a swarming attack as Torres picked out the bottom left corner from the edge of the area.

As in their 2-1 Champions League semi-final first-leg win at Paris Saint-Germain, City were a team transformed after the break. Sterling thumped Jesus' pass against the base of the post and Benteke made the last-ditch block to prevent last weekend's EFL Cup final hero Laporte from adding to his tally.

Joao Cancelo thundered just over from a Torres backheel and Sterling curled agonisingly wide as Guardiola's men swaggered towards full-time and overall glory.

When Pep Guardiola started to list competitions like a malfunctioning fixture computer – "Premier League, Premier League, Premier League, Carabao Cup" – it was clear that even such seasoned campaigners in elite level football had found the past couple of weeks a little disorientating.

On April 14, Manchester City progressed to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time under Guardiola's management.

Fourteen days later, on Wednesday, they won a Champions League semi-final match for the first time in their history, coming from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 at the Parc des Princes.

In the interim period, City lost an FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea, briefly tried to join a European Super League and got their Premier League title charge back on track at Villa Park before returning to Wembley to retain the Carabao Cup.

Now, in their sixth consecutive game away from the Etihad Stadium, victory at Crystal Palace on Saturday can take them to the brink of a third Premier League title in four seasons – an achievement that would be confirmed if City win and, on Sunday, reigning champions Liverpool beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

"These two weeks were so difficult, strange for me even," Guardiola said.

"Finally, go through from the quarter-finals in Champions League, then three days later the FA Cup against Chelsea, Aston Villa Premier League, final of the Carabao Cup, Champions League again, Premier League again.

"I don't even know which competition we're playing for! These two weeks were a little bit weird."

If results go their way, City could this week be celebrating regaining supremacy in England and reaching their first European final for 51 years.

Such a scenario appeared unlikely when defeat at Tottenham in November left City languishing 11th in the Premier League, with 12 points from eight games.

Guardiola credited his assistants Rodolfo Borrell and Juanma Lillo for their part in the turnaround, because they are "colder… in the bad moments".

But the majority of the plaudits were reserved for a squad who have negotiated a relentless schedule – winning 35, drawing three and losing three of 41 outings since that reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – with unblinking form throughout the second half of the season.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the four weeks ahead of us, but the season has been extraordinary already," he said.

"We have an incredible title ahead of us and we have 95 per cent of the chance to win it. It is incredibly close. And after we will try to do a good game to reach the [Champions League] final, but what can I say? How could I complain about what the players have done? It is impossible.

"It’s a tough year, the lockdown. The team has been more resilient and calm. When you play every three days, you don't have time to see things clearly, because it's [about] the next one.

"This is the most difficult thing when you play a lot of games, but the difference here is lockdown – our lives have changed completely – and it's a shorter period of time.

"That makes this season so special for everyone. Winning one title already, close to another and play another final on Tuesday. It has been exceptional."

By contrast, Guardiola was keen to give any plaudits for his own half-time tactical tweaks during the victory in Paris the short shrift – pointing to the stroke of fortune his team enjoyed when Riyad Mahrez's decisive free-kick snuck through PSG's disintegrating defensive wall.

"I am a genius today because Riyad Mahrez shot a ball that passed between two hips and scored a goal. I am a genius and that is the reason why," he proclaimed, with typically mocking sarcasm. "Situations are analysed on these stupid things.

"We are good and the manager is incredible – Oh! A tactical masterclass! The wall from the Paris players was correct as they jumped, but the ball came inside two hips and we analyse how good we are as a team.

"We could draw or lose doing absolutely the same, like in the past. Against Lyon [in last season's Champions League] we missed and everything was a disaster.

"That's why the consistency during 10 months and being there is the most important thing as a club.

"After that, in the final moments, if the opponent makes an incredible action and you can't stop it, what can you do?"

In the Premier League at least, those 10 months of toil leave the final moments very much in Guardiola's and City's hands.

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester United's prolific form means Manchester City still cannot take Premier League glory for granted.

City need a maximum of five points to win their third title in four seasons and Guardiola's side could complete the job if they win at Crystal Palace on Saturday and second-placed United lose at home to rivals and reigning champions Liverpool a day later.

The City manager feels it would be foolish to be distracted by the looming finish line, however, particularly in light of United's 6-2 Europa League demolition of Roma on Thursday.

"Let me try to beat Crystal Palace. Don’t ask me what I'll feel [if I win the title] because I didn't experience it, it didn't happen," he told a pre-match news conference.

"I know you anticipate it, but the reality is yesterday we saw another example of which contender we are playing. United are an extraordinary team who arrived in the last two months in their best form all season.

"We need five points to be champions and tomorrow we have an incredible opportunity to make this step.

"If we win that game, we are going to think about what happens. Just in case it does happen, you can ask me about my feelings. But I cannot explain about my feelings in the future because I did not experience it."

Since a run of two wins from eight Premier League matches from the end of January to the beginning of March – a prolonged slump that allowed City to streak clear, United have been in imperious form.

A 2-0 derby win over City began a run of five consecutive top-flight wins, checked by last weekend's 0-0 draw at Leeds United.

Leeds recently beat a heavily rotated City line-up, something Guardiola is expected to repeat with a fully fit squad and the second leg of their Champions semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain on the horizon.

City came from behind in stirring fashion to win 2-1 in the French capital in midweek, aided by some half-time tactical tweaks by their manager.

However, Guardiola again insisted the credit should rest with his players – acknowledging relatively little squad upheaval over recent years as a virtue when negotiating this season's compacted schedule.

"In our period together, these five seasons, we are almost the same guys as the first Premier League we won," he said.

"I said many times all the managers at top clubs when you play every three days, we don’t have training. I'm a manager but I don't feel like on the pitch we can develop because have time.

"The only reason is the quality of the players that we have, who can understand what we are looking for and change some ideas immediately because they are intelligent.

"There are no more secrets. In one season you can be a successful, win something important, but to be consistent through the years there is just one secret - have quality players. Don't sell it on any aspects other than that.

"When you have a team like this you can sustain it for a longer time."

Even so, Guardiola believes fatigue might be a factor for a sixth successive game on the road – including Wembley visits for the FA Cup semi-finals and EFL Cup final over the past two weekends – against an opponent who have previously proved a tricky proposition.

"It is a lot of trips, a lot of travel, we are tired in many aspects," he added.

"The reality is Crystal Palace, a Roy Hodgson team. Every time we faced them we had a lot of problems to win the game."

Page 5 of 8
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.