Erling Haaland made light of his longest goalscoring drought as a Manchester City player after netting in Wednesday's crucial 3-1 Premier League win over Arsenal.

The prolific striker scored City's third goal at Emirates Stadium to seal a victory that lifted his side above Arsenal at the summit for the first time since November.

Haaland took his tally for the season to 32 goals in 30 games in all competitions, which is seven more than any other player across Europe's top five leagues.

He now has 26 Premier League goals to his name, already matching Sergio Aguero's tally from 2014-15 as the most ever by a City player in a single campaign in the competition.

Haaland's latest strike ended a run of three games without a goal since bagging a hat-trick against Wolves four games ago on January 22.
Asked how he felt after getting back on the scoresheet, Haaland told Amazon Prime: "It's been 20 minutes since I last got a goal – I have to keep working!"

A Jack Grealish strike restored City's lead against Arsenal after Bukayo Saka's penalty had earlier cancelled out Kevin De Bruyne's opener.

Haaland sealed the win from one of his game-high three attempts as City recorded their 11th successive league victory over the Gunners, who still have a game in hand to play.

City claimed a massive victory despite having just 36 per cent of the ball, which is the lowest possession registered by a Pep Guardiola-managed side in his top-flight career.

"We have to play a little bit more like this sometimes and that is what we did today," Haaland added. "I am so proud of every guy here and so happy to be here.

"We can all agree [Arsenal] have been the best team this season so to come and play against them is not easy.

"But we played an amazing game and got three really important points. We are in it again.

"I am so happy with everything. We needed this one and now we have to go on a run, because that's what Manchester City should do."

City have now won each of their past 23 Premier League games on a Wednesday – the longest winning run on a specific day of the week in the competition's history.

Next up for Guardiola's side, who lead the way on goal difference, is a trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola believes his decision to change his "horrible" first-half tactics was the key to Manchester City's crucial 3-1 victory over Arsenal.

City headed into Wednesday's vital clash at the Emirates Stadium three points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, but Kevin De Bruyne struck to give City the lead after 24 minutes.

Although Bukayo Saka levelled from the spot, Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland scored second-half goals to earn three points for City and put them top on goal difference.

Arsenal had seven first-half shots to City's four, and a much-improved display was required from the champions after the interval to hold the Gunners to no shots on target in the second period.

Guardiola, who has now won eight of his nine matches against Mikel Arteta's Arsenal after having him on his coaching staff at City between 2016 and 2019, pointed to a change in tactics at the break as the key reason for his team's excellent second-half performance.

"The first half they were much better than us," Guardiola told Amazon Prime. "The second we were much, much better.

"We were not playing, we were defending because they were so good. In the first half, my tactics, I tried something new and it was horrible.

"We adjusted in the second half and we were more aggressive towards [Martin] Odegaard and controlled more of the ball. Erling used his power to keep the ball.

"We suffered in the first half, but in the second we were there, we were more aggressive, winning duels, and when that happens we are a better team. We are built to go as a crazy team."

When asked why he felt City were better in the second half, Haaland also noted Guardiola's half-time changes, explaining: "[There were] small adjustments in half-time from Pep.

"In the end, we have good quality players and we have to get it out of every player and we did today.

"We have to play a little bit more like this sometimes and that is what we did today."

Despite City leapfrogging Arsenal to the Premier League summit, the Gunners hold a game in hand as they look to lift a first title since the 2003-04 'Invincibles' season.

Guardiola knows the title race is far from over, saying: "Now we are top of the league, but they have one game in hand. We have a lot of games to play.

"Arsenal will be back. In three days we have another one. [There are] still many, many games to play for everyone, and we are not an exception."

Erling Haaland was selected to start for Manchester City in Wednesday's vital clash with Arsenal, who were without midfielder Thomas Partey.

Haaland came off at half-time of City's 3-1 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, with Pep Guardiola explaining after the game the striker had picked up a knock that made him unsure of his availability for the clash with the Gunners.

But Premier League top scorer Haaland was named to lead the line for City at Emirates Stadium, with Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish named on the wings while Kevin De Bruyne started in midfield.

After seemingly filling in at left-back off the ball against Villa, Bernardo Silva seemed set to play a similar role against the Gunners, with Nathan Ake, Kyle Walker and Ruben Dias selected in defence.

Partey's precautionary absence due to a tight muscle meant Jorginho, signed from Chelsea in the January window, was called in for his first start for Arsenal.

Oleksandr Zinchenko was selected to feature against his former team in the Premier League for the first time, though he did come on against City in the 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round defeat last month.

A victory for City would see them move above the Gunners and top the Premier League table on goal difference.

Thierry Henry believes Harry Kane would have been a better fit at Manchester City than Erling Haaland.

Norway striker Haaland has scored a phenomenal 31 goals in 29 games since joining from Borussia Dortmund, including 25 in 21 Premier League games.

But some pundits have suggested the total sum of City's parts is weaker than in previous seasons due to Haaland's arrival, with Pep Guardiola's side having trailed leaders Arsenal for most of the campaign.

Tottenham striker Kane, Haaland's nearest rival in the Golden Boot race with 17, was previously linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium but a move failed to materialise before the 2021-22 campaign.

Arsenal great Henry, speaking as a pundit on CBS, believes Kane's all-round game would have been a better fit for Pep Guardiola's system than Haaland.

When asked if he would prefer Kane in his side over the prolific Haaland, Henry said: "I would say that if I had to build a team to win. 

"For example, I thought Man City were going to go for Harry Kane. We all know they wanted him but I thought they were going to come back in.

"I thought he is the typical striker for city. I think it would've been better.

"He became complete, he became an all-around player and this is what I like about him.

"We all know what he can do and all know what he can do in the box, but what he does outside of the box now for his team this is something that I have to respect massively. He became for me, over the last two, three years, a complete striker."

Henry believes the arrival of Haaland has made City easier to play against because teams know the gameplan will be to hit their star striker early.

"We all know when Kevin De Bruyne has the ball he can find him," he added.

"There was one piece of advice that Arsene Wenger gave me that stayed with me, he said: 'What can you do when your team is not feeding you?'

"I think he did stop what they were about. They had a certain way of playing. I think they are more predictable."

City face Arsenal in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, with the Gunners three points clear having played a game less.

Erling Haaland's long-term future has been a source of speculation for months and reports of a release clause in mid-2024 in his Manchester City contract have put Barcelona and Real Madrid on high alert.

The Norwegian was pursued by a host of clubs last off-season, with City winning the race ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Haaland has since scored 25 Premier League goals in 21 appearances and 31 in all competitions after joining City.


Erling Haaland has decided he wants to leave England for Spain next year when the release clause in his City contract can be activated, reports Fichajes.

The report claims Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two viable options for Haaland, who will exit City at the end of the 2023-24 season, with playing in Spain a dream for the 22-year-old.

City's potential sanctions for alleged breaches of the Premier League's financial rules have also played a part in Haaland believing mid-2024 is the right time to leave.



- Big-spending Chelsea are set to join the race to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, reports The Telegraph. Liverpool, Manchester City and Real Madrid are already keen on the 19-year-old England international.

- Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United have "genuine interest" in a move for Roma's English striker Tammy Abraham in the next transfer window.

- Barcelona's Ansu Fati will resist overtures from Tottenham, Arsenal and Bayern Munich to remain with the Blaugrana, reports Mundo Deportivo.

- AS reports Tottenham will turn to Sevilla's Morocco international goalkeeper Yassine Bounou in their search for a long-term successor to Hugo Lloris.

- Leicester City have ramped up talks with James Maddison on a new contract amid interest from Newcastle United, Arsenal and Tottenham, claims The Telegraph.

- FotoSpor claims Turkish club Fenerbahce have reached out to Manchester United about signing Mason Greenwood, who is under club investigation despite criminal charges being dropped against him recently.

- Calciomercatoweb reports Massimiliano Allegri could leave his position as Juventus head coach to replace Roberto Mancini in Italy's top job.

Pep Guardiola is unsure if Erling Haaland will be available for Manchester City's huge Premier League showdown with title rivals Arsenal.

Norway international Haaland was substituted at half-time of City's 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday with what Guardiola described after the game as "a big knock".

The 22-year-old is therefore considered a doubt for Wednesday's trip to leaders Arsenal, despite taking part in Monday's recovery training session with the rest of his team-mates.

Providing an update at a press conference on the eve of the match at Emirates Stadium between first and second, Guardiola gave little away on Haaland's fitness.

"We train this afternoon. Right now, I don't know. Yesterday was a recovery day after playing Aston Villa. That's all."

Haaland has found the net 31 times in 29 appearances since joining City from Borussia Dortmund – six goals more than any other player across Europe's top five leagues.

That tally includes 25 goals in 21 Premier League outings, though he has scored in only two of City's six games in the competition this calendar year, albeit netting four times.

City will give Haaland every chance of being available for the huge contest as the reigning champions look to close the three-point gap on Arsenal, who have a game in hand.

Guardiola's side have won three of their past four league games, whereas Arsenal have just two victories in their past five outings.

The two sides face off again in April and Guardiola insists nothing will be decided on Wednesday in terms of where the title ends up.

"So far, they are the best team in the league," Guardiola said. "We felt it a couple of weeks ago when we played them [in the FA Cup]. The commitment, they are sharp. 

"It will be a big, big battle. In all departments, you have to be ready.

"Every game is different. You can play good and win and everything is perfect but tomorrow you could lose. There are many games to play. 

"Tomorrow is an important one, everyone knows it, and we'll try to do our best. It's important because we can take the points, and stop the best team [in the league] from doing so.

"But I have a feeling many things can happen. Tomorrow can help us be there, but there are many games, tough games. We cannot deny it's important to prove ourselves."

Mikel Arteta enjoyed a successful period working alongside Guardiola, but City are the only side he has failed to beat in the league as Arsenal manager, losing all five games.

Regardless of Arsenal's poor record in this fixture, Guardiola believes Arteta's experience of winning the Premier League could be a factor come the end of the campaign.

"I would say if there are three or four games left and the difference is one point, maybe it could be important," he said. 

"There are a lot of points to play for. This is an important match, but there are many more to come."

City have won each of their past 22 Premier League games on a Wednesday, with that the longest winning run on a specific day of the week in the competition's history.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe have all been named on FIFA's FIFPro Men's Team of the Year 26-player shortlist for 2022.

Ronaldo's inclusion was arguably the major surprise after a difficult back half to the year where he was dropped by both Manchester United and Portugal, ultimately parting ways with the Red Devils in November.

The Portuguese star has made the Team of the Year, along with Messi, every year since 2007, but will face stiff competition among the forwards alongside Erling Haaland, Mbappe, Neymar, Robert Lewandowski and reigning Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema.

Last year, four forwards were named in the final XI; Ronaldo, Haaland, Lewandowski and Messi.

World Cup stars Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez are named in the shortlist for the first time in midfield, alongside Casemiro, Kevin de Bruyne, Gavi, Luka Modric, Pedri and Federico Valverde.

The defenders nominated are Joao Cancelo, Virgil van Dijk, Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Alphonso Davies, Josko Gvardiol, Achraf Hakimi and Theo Hernandez.

The goalkeepers in contention are Alisson Becker, Thibaut Courtois and Emiliano Martinez.

Pep Guardiola is unsure on the severity of Erling Haaland's injury ahead of Manchester City's crucial clash with Arsenal.

City got back to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

With Arsenal having dropped points against Brentford on Saturday, a win at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday would see City move top of the Premier League, albeit the Gunners would still have a game in hand.

Yet Haaland's status for that game is unclear after the striker, who assisted Ilkay Gundogan for City's second goal, went off at half-time against Villa with a knock.

"I don't know, he had a big knock, he was uncomfortable," Guardiola, who was managing his 250th Premier League game, told Sky Sports when asked about Haaland.

"At 3-0 we didn't want to take a big risk. We will see, we will assess in the next days.

"If he's not ready, we;ll play another one. Hopefully he's ready, like everyone. We'll see what it is."

Haaland cut a frustrated figure against Tottenham last week but was more involved against Villa, with his team-mates seemingly quicker to attempt to find their star striker, who now has 29 goal contributions in the Premier League this season, 11 more than any other player in the competition.

"His presence is really good," added Guardiola. "When we have no pressure on the ball, when the opponent has a high line, we will be able to find him even more. We will do it in the future."

Haaland might have got on the scoresheet had Riyad Mahrez, who teed up Rodri's opener, not taken the ball for the penalty for City's third goal.

The former Borussia Dortmund striker seemed perplexed, but nevertheless celebrated with Mahrez after the winger slammed home the spot-kick.

Asked for his view on the incident, Guardiola said: "I don't know, I need to talk to them. Normally Erling is the first taker, Riyad is the second one – Rodri was involved. We will see what they say."

While City could be top of the table by full-time on Wednesday, Guardiola is just glad his side have managed to keep themselves within touching distance, having failed to take advantage when Arsenal lost to Everton last week.

"They have one game in hand. Last season, we had 12, 14 points in front of Liverpool but they had two or three games in hand," Guardiola said.

"We will see when the Premier League is finished. We will go to London to try and win the game.

"When one team has 50 points it is because they are doing really, really well. Finally, when they dropped points we were there to reduce the difference.

"In the past all the time when they dropped points we failed. Finally we could do it. Mainly because the performance was really good."

While all three of City's goals came before the break, Guardiola was happier with his team's second-half display, despite Ollie Watkins scoring a consolation for Villa.

Sunday's match came against the backdrop of City having been accused of breaching over 100 of the Premier League's financial regulations between 2009 and 2018, something the club has denied.

The home crowd jeered the Premier League anthem ahead of kick-off, and Guardiola was delighted with the atmosphere.

"The support was really good before," he added.

"I know they know our team score goals, we had many chances, unfortunately we could not always finish it. In general, a really good game."

Erling Haaland may have picked the wrong club by choosing to join Manchester City, claims Jamie Carragher.

The Norway international leads the Premier League's scoring charts this season with 25 goals in 20 games, though City have often been a shadow of their former selves.

In Sunday's 1-0 defeat against Tottenham, Haaland did not have a single touch in the opposition box – the first time in his debut season in England when that has occurred.

City's defeat saw Pep Guardiola's side miss the opportunity to cut Arsenal's lead at the top of the table to just two points, and they sit only three points ahead of neighbours Manchester United.

It has been suggested City are a weaker team with Haaland in the side, but Carragher went further by claiming the former Borussia Dortmund player may have joined the wrong side for his needs.

"I think we've only seen 60 per cent of Erling Haaland. You think of the goal he got versus West Ham when there was space in behind and he gets in behind," Carragher told Sky Sports.

"I know that's not there every time due to the way City play. He's come from a counter-attacking league [the Bundesliga] where it's end to end.

"You saw his blistering pace there – we don't see it here. He might have picked the wrong club to actually get the best out of him.

"We're not seeing everything of Haaland. City have scored the exact number of goals as last season. He's got 25 of them, but City overall have scored the same number overall.

"However, they've conceded more and are easier to counter-attack against now. They are a different – and lesser team – with Haaland in the team. That's not his fault.

"City won't play end-to-end football. That's not Pep Guardiola's way. His players don't have the energy or power to play that way – they build up slowly and push the opposition back to their box and play from there.

"When they lose it, they win it back quickly and keep the team pinned back. Haaland has scored 25 league goals and lots of them are ones that come into the box, and he puts them in.

"But we're not seeing the full package of what the player can do because of the team he's joined."

A victory to unite north London. Harry Kane's record 267th goal for Tottenham sank Manchester City and pushed Arsenal a step closer to the Premier League title.

But if the Arsenal aspect is a bitter pill for Spurs to swallow, then surely everything else about this day would have pepped up the recuperating Antonio Conte, absent after midweek gallbladder surgery.

As for Pep Guardiola, another big-match masterplan has to be called into question.

If every match at this stage of the season is a final, as managers are wont to suggest, then how is it justifiable to make Kevin De Bruyne, the Premier League's most creative player, a substitute?

The Belgian's benching was the pre-match bombshell from the City camp, and by the time he came on, just before the hour mark, City were not only trailing but they were ragged.

Erling Haaland was seeing nothing of the ball – he did not have a shot all game long, or even a touch in the Spurs penalty area – and City's possessional dominance was getting them nowhere.

Arsenal, beaten by Everton on Saturday, would have been fearing their lead at the summit being trimmed to two points, but the longer this game went on, the more Mikel Arteta would have been perked up.

So too Conte, who was said by captain Hugo Lloris to be at home in Turin. It was decided on Saturday that Conte should skip this game, and assistant Cristian Stellini saw Tottenham show battling qualities that have not always shone through this season.

So what of the De Bruyne gamble? Was it up there with Guardiola's 2021 Champions League final punt on starting without a natural holding midfielder, giddily capitalised on by Chelsea?

De Bruyne plays the sort of high-tariff passes and crosses that bring chances and goals, but they also often result in a turnover of possession. Guardiola would have looked at the likes of Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski, and decided City did not need that pair sprinting away on the counter-attack.

Before this game, De Bruyne had lost possession on over 200 more occasions this season than the four players Guardiola selected in Sunday's midfield. De Bruyne had lost possession 469 times, compared with Rodri's 258, Bernardo Silva's 248, Riyad Mahrez's 237 and Jack Grealish's 219.

On average per 90 minutes, De Bruyne had lost possession 19.91 times, and among Sunday's quartet the worst offender during the season had been Mahrez (13.36 per 90).

Nobody in City's ranks has come close to De Bruyne's 16 assists, however, with five from Rodri and Bernardo Silva the next most from a City midfielder.

So this was unmistakably a gamble, Guardiola trusting his midfield to be robust and fend off the risk of Tottenham bursts, but also sufficiently creative to unlock the home defence.

And when you pick a team to keep the ball, it helps if they avoid doing silly things on the edge of their own penalty area.

Rodri was back-tracking and almost off-balance in the 15th minute when he looked to play out through the centre of the pitch, spotting team-mate Rico Lewis but not the lurking Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Spurs' Danish midfielder stole in to snatch the pass intended for Lewis and burst a telling five yards forward before flicking the ball into Kane's path.

What followed was not the cleanest strike of Kane's career, but the bobbling shot beat Ederson and found the left corner. The late Jimmy Greaves, Spurs' record scorer for so long, didn't mind how they found the net, and nor does Kane. Elation spread across his face. It was just his second touch of the game.

City had 78.7 per cent of possession over those opening 15 minutes, but Spurs had the lead and Kane had his 200th goal in the Premier League.

Later, Kane would tell Sky it was "a moment I'll never forget", but he put it to the back of his mind for the rest of the game.

Riyad Mahrez rattled the Spurs crossbar just before half-time, and that was as close as City came.

Ben Davies flashed a header a foot over the City bar from a corner in the 57th minute, just as De Bruyne was stripping for action at pitchside.

Off went Mahrez. De Bruyne fired wide from a half-chance, and then Spurs went close to a second goal in the 66th minute, Son skipping away on the counter and Ivan Perisic's skidding cross from the left just too heavy for Kane to reach.

Haaland was bristling at the lack of service, this season's Premier League 25-goal leading scorer shaking his head in frustration, imploring team-mates to do better.

City were becoming desperate. Julian Alvarez tried his luck from 20 yards and flashed the ball just wide of the top-left corner, then Kane bundled his way through Kyle Walker at the other end and only had Ederson to beat, with the goalkeeper this time winning that duel.

Tottenham had won five of their previous seven Premier League games when leading at half-time this season, but the exception came only a fortnight ago and it came at City, when a 2-0 interval lead swung around to a 4-2 defeat.

This time Spurs were sturdy, and they are back to just one point behind fourth-placed Newcastle United now, albeit having played one more game than the Magpies.

In the end it hardly mattered that World Cup winner Cristian Romero was sent off in the 87th minute.

The Argentinian's clumsy challenge gave away a free-kick 25 yards from goal in a central spot: De Bruyne territory. Up stepped the Belgian, and his shot smacked into Kane in the wall, ricocheting into Hojbjerg, who went down as though hit by a sniper.

Hojbjerg was excellent, winning possession a team-high eight times across the piece, and Tottenham have now beaten City four times in a row at home in the Premier League, without conceding in any of those games.

Only twice before had City lost four in a row to a specific opponent without scoring – against Chelsea between 2006 and 2009, and Sunderland between 2010 and 2013 – so there's another touch of history.

This is a bogey ground for City and Guardiola, make no mistake. They have lost on all five of their visits without scoring, when you throw in the Champions League quarter-final loss four years ago.

Kane, the man they wanted 18 months ago, a player praised to the hilt by Guardiola before this game, a man with history in his sights, was the last man they needed to run into.

The last thing City should have done was sit down their main man for the first hour.

Erling Haaland still needs time to settle into the "unique" Manchester City "process" after suffering an unwanted Premier League first at Tottenham, says team-mate Kyle Walker.

The Norway international has enjoyed a record-breaking start to life in England, scoring 25 goals in the Premier League for Pep Guardiola's champions.

But the former Borussia Dortmund striker was largely a passenger in City's 1-0 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday, failing to register a single attempt on goal in a tepid outing.

Haaland had only 27 touches at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with none of those in the box for the first time in the league this season, but Walker dismissed questions around the 22-year-old's struggles.

Right-back Walker told Sky Sports: "It's a process – he's come to Manchester City and it's a difficult team to fit into as the manager demands so much, and the way we play, it's unique.

"Erling has been fantastic. No one says anything when he's scoring goals and winning. All of sudden now when we don't win and he doesn't score, they say, 'is it the problem, do we play better without him?' 

"I hear it all the time. But no one is complaining when he's scored his 25th goal of the season. This is the team we've got now until the end of the season. We'll fight until the end."

City will indeed have to "fight until the end" after a missed opportunity at Spurs left them still trailing leaders Arsenal by five points, despite the Gunners falling to a surprise 1-0 defeat at Everton on Saturday.

It marked a fourth straight away league defeat to Tottenham for Guardiola's side without scoring, as City achieved that unwanted feat against a single opponent for just a third time in the Premier League.

With City having played a game more than title hopefuls Arsenal, Walker believes his side need to start creating more clear-cut chances to translate their possessional dominance into victories.

"I'm not being negative with anyone, but there are certain things we can do better around the box," the England full-back added.

"Making that clear-cut chance, making the goalkeeper make a save, just creating more clear-cut actions, rather than having possession around the box. Sometimes you need to have shots and shots on target."

City will look to bounce back when they host Unai Emery's Aston Villa on February 12 ahead of visiting Arsenal three days later.

Pep Guardiola says his admiration for Harry Kane has not dwindled since missing out on the Tottenham star, who he considers one of the greatest strikers he has ever seen.

Manchester City fell short in their pursuit of the England international ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, with Tottenham standing firm on their huge valuation at the time.

The reigning English champions instead turned to Erling Haaland a year later and the 22-year-old is currently the most prolific striker in world football.

While pleased with the impact Haaland has made since arriving from Borussia Dortmund, Guardiola still remains a fan of Kane.

"We are extremely happy with Erling and, of course, I think Tottenham are extremely happy with Harry Kane," Guardiola said.

"What an exceptional player – the numbers and, more than the goals, the quality. That they didn't win a title [doesn't mean] he is not a good player. I think he proved that.

"Harry Kane remains one of the best strikers I have ever seen in my life."

Haaland has scored 31 goals in 27 matches for City this season – six more than Europe's next highest goalscorer, Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe (25).

Kane has himself been in good form this campaign for an inconsistent Spurs side, with his tally of 18 goals bettered only by Haaland, Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski (23).

He has scored 16 goals in the Premier League this season and is now just one short of overtaking club legend Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham's all-time record goalscorer.

The 29-year-old also needs one more goal to become the third player after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208) to reach the 200 mark in the Premier League.

Those records will be in Kane's sights when Spurs host City on Sunday, a little over two weeks on from the sides facing off in a thrilling clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola criticised his side after they recovered from two goals down at half-time to win 4-2, but they have since won back-to-back matches without conceding.

"From the results since then, if we'd lost or drawn it would have been seen as a bad approach," Guardiola said.

"But I explained my feelings. I know my team, I know the players. It doesn't matter what happened.

"The decisions we take are to do our best and for our benefit. I take responsibility for that, that's why I'm in charge. I didn't know what would happen when I said my comments. 

"I just expressed my feelings, first to the team and then in public and that's all. It's just three games after that and we have to continue."

Guardiola has lost all four of his visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in all competitions, making it the away ground he has managed at the most without winning.

Jadon Sancho was flooded with support from team-mates and Premier League rivals after declaring he was "so happy" to be back in action for Manchester United.

The former Borussia Dortmund winger had been absent due to what manager Erik ten Hag described as "circumstances with fitness and mood".

He played his first game since October 22 when he came off the bench in Wednesday's EFL Cup win against Nottingham Forest.

Ten Hag said Sancho's issues had been physical and mental, and the club have been careful not to rush him back. After three months out of action, however, Sancho will be hoping to repay United's patience on the pitch.

He wrote on Instagram: "Wow! Just want to say a massive thank you to everyone for the support I've received over the past few weeks especially to the fans. My focus is to give my all to my team and the club, I'm so happy to be back out on the pitch, see you soon."

Sancho played the last 27 minutes against Forest, receiving a huge ovation from the Old Trafford crowd, and Ten Hag spoke afterwards of the England international's "really high standards" and "great capabilities".

United team-mates Lisandro Martinez, Diogo Dalot and Christian Eriksen sent messages of approval in emoji form, the modern footballer's conversational currency.

There was also backing from Sancho from rivals Manchester City, with Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland sending emojis signalling thankfulness and congratulations as he welcomed his former Dortmund team-mate back to the field.

City's Jack Grealish also sent emojis of applause and love to Sancho, while Aymeric Laporte posted a similar message, and Riyad Mahrez sent a heart and the message: "Welcome back bro."

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior noted his approval with applauding hands and a white heart.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson, Dortmund's Jude Bellingham, Forest's former United man Jesse Lingard and Roma striker Tammy Abraham added to the groundswell of goodwill, while Sancho's good friend, Newcastle United's Joe Willock, wrote: "Love you bro."

Erling Haaland holds "the key to the door" when the striker decides he wants to leave Manchester City, according to his agent Rafael Pimenta.

The Norway international has taken the Premier League by storm since signing for Pep Guardiola's side from Borussia Dortmund ahead of this season.

Haaland has 25 goals after just 19 top-flight appearances for City following his fourth league hat-trick of the season in a 3-0 thumping of Wolves on January 22.

After already surpassing the tally that Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min (23 each) recorded to win the 2021-22 Golden Boot, the 22-year-old is the most clinical finisher in world football.

Real Madrid have repeatedly been credited with an interest in the forward, whose agent suggested Haaland has the freedom to choose to leave City whenever he pleases.

"I am in favour of freedom. It's my battle," Pimenta told Spanish outlet AS. "I always say that one of my priorities as an agent is to offer the player what I call 'the key to the door'.

"When a player goes to a club, I do everything I can to create the conditions for the key to the door to be in his hands. And if tomorrow you can't stand being there anymore because you don't like it, or you're not paid well, or because your wife wants to live in Paris? Then you leave, right?

"I don't like it when my player is not free to decide. I've done every contract in this agency for the last 25 years. There wasn't a single time a player said 'I want to leave' and couldn't do it."

Haaland's main focus at present, though, will be surpassing Alan Shearer and Andy Cole's single-season Premier League record of 34 goals, with 18 league games remaining for title hopefuls City.

Erling Haaland needs support from his Manchester City team-mates to deliver the Premier League title, says Sergio Aguero, who believes only Lionel Messi can carry a side to major honours on his own.

Haaland reached 25 goals for the Premier League season with a hat-trick as City thrashed Wolves 3-0 in their most recent outing in the competition.

The Norwegian's fourth Premier League treble took him beyond the tally of 23 goals managed by last term's joint Golden Boot winners Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min with 18 games of the campaign remaining. 

Despite Haaland's exploits, Pep Guardiola's side trail league leaders Arsenal by five points having played an additional game, and City great Aguero says the striker cannot do it alone.

Asked whether Haaland can inspire City to a fifth league title in six seasons, Aguero told "We'll have to see that yet.

"There's still plenty of the season to go. Haaland, who has been racking up numbers that will break historical records, will play a major part in it. 

"In any case, except Leo, there's no one player who can win a league on their own. 

"It's about the team, and City have got a very talented roster and exceptional staff. They've given plenty of evidence of their great stature, and you know they'll fight until the very end."

While City have struggled to keep pace with Arsenal so far this season, five-time Premier League winner Aguero remains confident Guardiola's men can overturn the Gunners' lead.

"I wouldn't say that Man City aren't clicking. The Premier League is the most competitive league there is," he continued. 

"It's perfectly normal to see the top contenders get reinforcements and go back to their historical standards. 

"City have won four out of the last five Premier Leagues. They're still in the fight, and that needs to be recognised. [They are] prowling from the second position, ready to strike. Anything can happen."

City will travel to Arsenal for the duo's first league meeting of the season on February 15, after facing Tottenham and Aston Villa in their next two fixtures.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.