Pep Guardiola believes a demanding schedule can help Manchester City in the Premier League title race but one defeat will end their quest to be champions.

Guardiola's side will be three points behind leaders Arsenal with a game in hand if they beat relegation-threatened Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Free-scoring City extended their winning run to nine matches by beating Bayern Munich 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

City travel to face Bayern in the second leg next week before taking on Sheffield United in an FA Cup semi-final, followed by their game in hand against Brighton and Hove Albion before a potential title decider at home to the Gunners.

Arsenal can focus solely on the battle to win the Premier League, but City boss Guardiola thinks playing so many games can work in his side's favour.

Asked if the Gunners only being in the hunt for the Premier League title gives them an edge, the Spaniard said: "Honestly, I don't know. Sometimes when we play games every few days we are in rhythm, and that helps our focus. Sometimes when we've played one game, we've lost focus.

"When you play Saturday and then Tuesday or Wednesday, the mind of the players is [focused on football]. One game a week, you have two days off, you have to come back, get it back, you lose the feeling. The players do everything to keep going."

Guardiola also stressed that City's game in hand is by no means a banker.

He added: "The reality is we are six points behind no guarantee we will win the games in hand. The best team in world for build-up, the best team is Brighton, there is no better team in bringing it from the keeper to the last quarter. No team is better right now.

"Arsenal is at home but there is no guarantee. The reality in the table is that we are six points behind. We need to win our games, that is the reality. At the end of the games, that is when we will see the reality and the reality is that we are six points behind."

Leicester this week appointed Dean Smith as manager until the end of the season after sacking Brendan Rodgers, with the Foxes languishing in the relegation zone.

Guardiola warned the champions have no margin for error and does not feel their previous success gives them the upper hand over Arsenal.

"If we lose games, we lose competitions. It is the same tomorrow. If we lose we will not be champion, if we win we can still be there," he said. 

"We are six points behind Arsenal; a team that plays one game a week and loses very few points. They have time to analyse games and recover; it is difficult to drop points.

"We have to be there as much as possible.

"Everybody knows that if we lose it is over. That is the best way to compete. In every football action, the players are feeling that they have to win a due or win an action because if not they will lose.

"That is where you have the best [opportunity]. I have doubts about whether experience counts a lot for next time."

Manchester City gained ground on Arsenal last week, cutting the Gunners' lead at the top of the Premier League to six points.

City, who have a game in hand, beat lowly Southampton last time out and on Saturday face another relegation battler in the form of Leicester City, who will be under the stewardship of Dean Smith for the first time.

Arsenal, meanwhile, take on West Ham in a London Derby. The Hammers are also fighting at the wrong end of the table, though two wins from their last three league matches has given David Moyes' team some confidence.

Nottingham Forest are another team scrapping for survival, and Steve Cooper will be looking to make home advantage count against Manchester United.

Likewise, Leeds United will hope the Elland Road faithful help propel them to victory against Liverpool, who they beat at Anfield earlier in the campaign.

With the help of Opta data, here are some key predictions ahead of another fascinating weekend of Premier League action.

 

Manchester City v Leicester City

City have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against Leicester City (L2), winning the last four in a row since a 5-2 home defeat in September 2020.

Having been beaten in seven of their last eight Premier League games (D1), Leicester have now lost 19 league matches overall this term. Not since 2001-02 (20) have the Foxes lost 20+ league matches in one season, and should they lose against City, it will be the joint-second earliest they have ever hit 20 defeats in a Football League campaign.

Leicester midfielder James Maddison has scored in this exact fixture in each of the last two campaigns; only two visiting players have scored a Premier League goal at Etihad Stadium in three consecutive seasons – Collins John (2004-05 to 2006-07) and Tim Cahill (2008-09 to 2010-11).

Best bet – Erling Haaland to score: Is there any way to stop Haaland? Many teams have tried, and nearly all have failed. The Norway international is already on 30 league goals this season, averaging a strike every 73 minutes with a shot conversion rate of 33.3 per cent. Given Leicester's defensive frailties, the 22-year-old will be licking his lips.

Long shot – Leicester to keep a clean sheet: The Foxes have not prevented the opposition from scoring in a league match since November, when they beat West Ham 2-0. If they are to get out of trouble, then interim boss Smith has to find a way to tighten things up at the back.

Opta prediction: Leicester won four of their first five Premier League visits to Man City (L1) but have since lost five of their last six games at the Etihad Stadium (W1). It is no surprise, then, that Opta's supercomputer has City as huge favourites (75.1 per cent), while Leicester are given only an 8.5 per cent chance of pulling off a win. 

 

West Ham v Arsenal

Arsenal have won 11 Premier League away games this season, only winning more on the road in 2001-02 (14) and 2004-05 (12). The Gunners have the most wins (11), most points (35), most goals scored (30) and fewest goals conceded (11) of any team away from home in the Premier League this term.

They have also won eight Premier League games against West Ham after conceding the first goal, including a 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture in December. It is both the most wins Arsenal have against an opponent when conceding first, and the most defeats West Ham have against a side when opening the scoring in the competition.

Arsenal have scored 72 goals from an xG of 60.1 in the Premier League this season, with their difference of +11.9 bettered only by Manchester City (12.2). Meanwhile, West Ham have scored 27 goals from an xG of 38.4, with their difference of -11.4 the biggest negative difference this term.

Best bet – Arsenal to score first and avoid defeat: The Gunners are the only team yet to lose a Premier League game when scoring the first goal this season, winning 18 and drawing three. However, they did let a two-goal lead slip in their 2-2 draw at Liverpool last time out.

Long shot – West Ham to win: West Ham have won just two of their last 29 Premier League games against Arsenal (D5 L22), who have only lost three of their 26 Premier League visits to West Ham (W14 D9) and have won nine of their last 14 away games against the Hammers (D4 L1).

Opta prediction: Given West Ham's woeful record against the Gunners, their chances of success are ranked at only 28.8 per cent by Opta, with the draw at 28.4 per cent. The likelihood of Arsenal winning is 42.8 per cent.

 

Nottingham Forest v Manchester United

This is Forest's first home league game against United since February 1999, when they lost 8-1 with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scoring four times as a substitute.

Forest are winless (D3 L6) and without a clean sheet in their last nine Premier League games. In fact, Forest are winless in all 23 league games in which they have conceded this season (D8 L15), with all six of their victories being to nil.

United have lost three of their last four away games in the Premier League (W1), having only lost three of their first 10 on the road this season (W5 D2). The Red Devils have conceded 29 away goals in 14 away league games this term; not since 1978-79 have they hit 30 goals conceded within their first 15 away matches of a league campaign.

Best bet – United to avoid defeat: United have won their last nine games against Forest in all competitions, beating them three times this season alone (once in the league, twice in the EFL Cup). The Red Devils have beaten a side four times in a season twice before, doing so against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993-94 and Chelsea in 2010-11.

Long shot – Jesse Lingard to score: Lingard has yet to score for Forest in the league. He could become the third former United player to score his first Premier League goal for a side against the Red Devils, after Keith Gillespie at Sheffield United in 2006-07, and Dan James for Fulham this season.

Opta prediction: United have won their last six Premier League games against Nottingham Forest, scoring at least three goals on each occasion, and they are the favourites for Sunday's game, with Opta suggesting they have a 52.6 per cent likelihood of taking three points. Forest are given a 20.6 per cent chance. The draw is ranked at 26.8 per cent.

 

Leeds United v Liverpool

Leeds slumped to a 5-1 defeat to Crystal Palace in their last home game, and sit just two points above the bottom three. Depending on results elsewhere, the Whites could be in the relegation zone by the time Monday's game comes around. They are looking for only their second Premier League double over Liverpool, previously achieving that feat in the 2000-01 campaign.

Liverpool have not lost any of their last five league visits to Elland Road against Leeds (W3 D2) since losing 4-3 in November 2000, with Mark Viduka scoring all four for the hosts that day.

The Reds are averaging 0.87 points per game away from home in the Premier League this season (13 points in 15 away games), their lowest in a campaign since 1992-93 (0.76 – 16 points in 21 games). 

Best bet – Mohamed Salah to be involved in a goal: Salah has seven goals in five Premier League appearances against Leeds for Liverpool, scoring in their 3-0 win at Elland Road last season. No Reds player has more Premier League goals against Leeds than Salah (Robbie Fowler also seven), while only Gordon Hodgson has more in their league history (nine).

Long shot – Under 1.5 goals: Leeds have shipped 10 goals in their three Premier League games in April (W1 L2), more than any other team so far this month. Liverpool, who are winless in their last five games in all competitions (D2 L3), have netted 15 times in their last five top-flight meetings with the Whites.

Opta prediction: Despite their dismal form on the road, Liverpool are made big favourites by Opta (61.4 per cent). A Leeds win is ranked at 15.8 per cent, with a draw forecast at 22.8 per cent.

Leicester City have confirmed Dean Smith as the club's new manager on a short-term deal through to the end of the season.

The Englishman, who was previously in charge of Aston Villa and Norwich City, arrives at the King Power Stadium as an interim successor to Brendan Rodgers.

With the Foxes mired in a Premier League relegation battle, his job will be to ensure their top-flight survival with just eight games left to play.

Smith will be joined by his former Villa assistant John Terry and fellow ex-Canaries coach Craig Shakespeare, who previously served as manager himself with Leicester following Claudio Ranieri's exit in 2017.

"I'm really happy to have the opportunity to lead the team during these final weeks of the season," Smith told the club's website.

"The challenge in front of us is clear, but it's one myself and my coaching team have experienced before and, with the quality in this squad and the number of games remaining, it's very much achievable."

Leicester parted ways with Rodgers, their second-longest serving manager of the Premier League era, after he failed to turn around results, leaving them one place from bottom in the Premier League.

The Northern Irishman led the club to FA Cup and Community Shield success during his time in charge, as well as consecutive European finishes in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Smith, meanwhile, was sacked at Norwich last December following a disappointing start to their first season back in the Championship.

The Foxes next play title-chasing Manchester City on Saturday, before they return home to host Wolves in what is likely to be a crucial game for their survival a week later.

City have 25 points from 30 matches, but just five points separate themselves and West Ham in 14th in a congested bottom half.

Alessandro Bastoni, 23, is a player on the rise at Inter, having made his Italy debut in 2020 and winning the Scudetto in 2021.

But the central defender's future with the Nerazzurri is uncertain amid an inability to come to an agreement with the club on a new contract.

Bastoni's contract expires in 2024 and he has been in talks with Inter on a new deal, but two of European football's giants are reportedly circling.

TOP STORY – BASTONI IN PSG AND CITY'S SIGHTS

Powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will both attempt to sign Alessandro Bastoni from Inter in the off-season, reports Tuttosport.

The report claims Bastoni has been offered an improved deal by Inter but it does not meet his salary expectations, meaning no agreement has been reached.

PSG and City are both known to have endless pockets and could swoop to sign the talented Italian defender.

ROUND-UP

Karim Benzema has turned down an offer from Saudi Arabia and instead wants to stay with Real Madrid for at least one more season, according to Marca.

Juventus are weighing up a move for Valencia skipper Jose Gaya, reports Calciomercato. Gaya extended his contract with Los Che until 2027 last October.

– Football Insider claims Tottenham have registered their interest in signing Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech.

– Calciomercato reports Milan are tracking Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun, who has impressed this season on loan with French club Reims.

– Ex-Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch has opted against taking up Leicester City's offer to become their new boss, claims The Telegraph.

Liverpool's underwhelming 2022-23 campaign has led to talk that the club will undertake a squad overhaul in the off-season.

Chief among Jurgen Klopp's priorities is a midfield revamp, with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and Chelsea's Mason Mount among those linked to the Reds.

However, there could also be another attempt at signing a France international they were beaten to in 2022 by Real Madrid.

TOP STORY – YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TCHOUAMENI MIDFIELDERS

Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni is once again high on Liverpool's transfer agenda as they look to refresh their midfield, reports El Nacional.

The Reds were interested in the 23-year-old at the end of last season but were unable to land him after he chose to move from Monaco to Madrid for a reported €100 million on a six-year deal.

Though he started Saturday's 3-2 home defeat to Villarreal, Tchouameni has been unable to establish himself as a frequent starter under Carlo Ancelotti, meaning Los Blancos may be willing to let him go to raise funds, with Liverpool reportedly still keen and willing to offer £71m (€80m).

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercatoweb claims Inter are warming to the idea of Nicolo Barella exiting San Siro, as Liverpool circle for the midfielder as part of their revamp. Inter reportedly want no less than €50m (£44m) for him.

Barcelona's discussions with Ousmane Dembele over a new contract have stopped, with the Catalans unable to offer him a pay rise, reports SPORT.

ArsenalChelsea and Villarreal are all interested in Wolfsburg full-back Ridle Baku, claims Caught Offside.

– Newcastle United and West Ham United are leading the race to sign Wilfried Zaha on a free transfer from Crystal Palace, according to The Star.

– The Mirror reports ex-Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch has agreed to a long-term deal to take over at Leicester City following Brendan Rodgers' dismissal.

Chelsea and Manchester United are reportedly both in discussions with Benfica about a potential deal for striker Goncalo Ramos – although he is said to be neither team's top choice.

Ramos, 21, has enjoyed a breakout season in Portugal. After scoring eight goals in 46 appearances in the previous campaign, Ramos has replaced Darwin Nunez as Benfica's main man up top and netted 25 goals in 38 games.

He also shone on the world stage, scoring a hat-trick in Portugal's round-of-16 World Cup clash against Switzerland after replacing Cristiano Ronaldo, and despite his contract tying him to Benfica until 2026, the club are willing to listen to substantial offers.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA JOIN UNITED IN MAKING RAMOS THEIR BACKUP PLAN

According to Football Insider, Chelsea's top priority up front is Napoli's Victor Osimhen, while United have Tottenham's Harry Kane at the top of their shopping list, but both view Ramos as the ideal consolation prize.

Kane is expected to fetch a fee in the range of £100million, and Osimhen's asking price is even higher, but while Ramos has a £105m release clause in his contract, the report states Benfica will accept bids around £70m (€79m).

Improving Chelsea's chances is the fact Ramos is represented by the same agency as Joao Felix, who is on loan at Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid.

ROUND-UP

– Cadena SER is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have joined the race for Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham and would be able to pay him more than any other club.

– After recently making his senior debut for Italy, 23-year-old Argentine-born striker Mateo Retegui will make a move to Europe at the end of the season, with Eintracht Frankfurt and Inter showing the most interest, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Football Insider is reporting Newcastle United, Arsenal and Barcelona are all expected to make a run at signing Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Harvey Barnes has warned his Leicester City team-mates time is running out for them to "put things right" in their quest to avoid Premier League relegation.

Managerless Leicester have taken just one point from their past seven games ahead of Saturday's huge showdown with fellow strugglers Bournemouth at the King Power Stadium.

City are one place below Bournemouth in 19th, but just three points separate themselves and Wolves in 14th, meaning victory this weekend could change the relegation picture entirely.

"The quality is there. You see it when you look around at the players we have here, and it's difficult to see that we're in this position, but we are," Barnes told Leicester's website.

"There are teams who are doing a lot better than us in the league that on paper may not have the quality that we do here, but they've got it right and everything is working well.

"That's what we've struggled with this year, and we've got to put things right. We're obviously not happy with the position that we're in; that's clear for everyone to see."

First-team coach Adam Sadler will remain in caretaker charge of Leicester this weekend following the sacking of Brendan Rodgers.

Bournemouth themselves have a chance to climb out of the relegation zone, having kept their hopes alive with three wins in their past seven games.

Following a run of fixtures against top-half sides, Bournemouth head coach Gary O'Neill is expecting a real battle in the six-pointer with Leicester.

"We've had six games on the trot against a team in the top 10, and we've had a right go in all of them," he said.

"We've taken a decent amount of points and put ourselves in a decent position to have a right good crack at the last few games.

"It doesn’t mean the next ones are going to be any easier. Going to Leicester will be tough. There's no doubt they will be scrapping for everything."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Leicester City – Jamie Vardy

There is no denying that Vardy is no longer the prolific striker he was for Leicester, having scored just one goal in 28 Premier League games this term – 12 of those being starts.

However, he has been involved in eight goals in 13 league games against Bournemouth (seven goals, one assist), with six of those coming in six games on home soil.

Bournemouth – Marcus Tavernier

Tavernier has grown more and more in importance for the Cherries, the versatile midfielder assisting four goals and scoring four more in his past seven outings.

He has scored in Bournemouth's past two away Premier League games and could become the second player to score in three in a row for the club after Joshua King in March 2017.

MATCH PREDICTION – LEICESTER WIN

Bournemouth have won their past two games against Leicester and are seeking a first home-and-away league double in this fixture since the 1988-99 campaign.

The Cherries have lost eight of their past nine Premier League away games, however, and have kept just one clean sheet in their last 24 top-flight games on the road.

Leicester have never lost a home Premier League game against Bournemouth in five previous meetings, meanwhile, and will consider this a big opportunity to kick-start their season.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Leicester City – 61.8 per cent

Bournemouth – 15.3 per cent

Draw – 22.9 per cent

Following the two-week international break and then a double gameweek, the Premier League fixture schedule returns to normal this weekend with 10 fixtures across two days.

That is not to say there are not still some huge selection decisions to make when it comes to picking your fantasy side in what is now very much the business end of the campaign.

Some players are quite simply undroppable at this stage, while others look good value for those willing to take a gamble and make up some points.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform has picked out four players – one for each position – that look good value to help your side this weekend.

Emi Martinez (Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest)

Villa conceded against Leicester City last time out, but they have kept six Premier League clean sheets in 2023, with that tally bettered only by – surprisingly – Liverpool (seven).

Martinez has been in goal for five of those games, the Argentina international bringing the form he showed at the World Cup with him back to Villa Park.

He has made 38 saves this calendar year and has prevented 2.02 goals – only three goalkeepers have fared better – and is up against a low-scoring Forest side this weekend.


Timothy Castagne (Leicester City v Bournemouth)

Leicester are enduring a poor campaign and have struggled badly to keep clean sheets, doing so just six times all season in the Premier League.

Right-back Castagne has masked defensive inadequacies with some solid attacking play, however, with only three other defenders being involved in more goals this term (four).

In fact, of the defenders to have created at least 15 chances, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (33 per cent) has a higher proportion that are big chances than Castagne (31 per cent).


Kaoru Mitoma (Tottenham v Brighton and Hove Albion)

Brighton attacker Mitoma is not quite the unknown figure he was a few months back, with more and more flocking to put him in their team as the weeks go by.

The Japan international is the first Brighton player to register a goal involvement in five successive Premier League games, with that the longest ongoing run in the competition.

All 11 of his goal involvements this season have come since his first start on October 29 – only four midfielders have been involved in more during that period.

 


Gabriel Jesus (Liverpool v Arsenal)

Having slowly built up his fitness since returning from a three-month lay-off, Jesus marked his first start in the win over Leeds United with two goals.

The Brazil international, whose most recent start at club level prior to that was against Wolves in November, now has seven goals and five assists in 17 league games this term.

Jesus tends to perform well against next opponents Liverpool, too, as only against three other sides has he been directly involved in more goals than he has versus the Reds (six).

Chelsea's dismissal of Graham Potter and decision not to rush into an appointment has generated speculation about their next permanent manager.

The Blues are destined to miss out on the Premier League's top four this season, thus will not qualify for the Champions League via the league.

As a result, there appears a lack of urgency as they look to get back on the right direction after sacking both Potter and Thomas Tuchel this term under new owner Todd Boehly.

TOP STORY – BLUES MULL OVER ENRIQUE, NAGELSMANN AND CONTE

Fabrizio Romano reports Frank Lampard will take over as Chelsea's interim manager, but that ex-Spain boss Luis Enrique is 100 per cent interested in the permanent position.

Enrique has flown into London for talks on the role, while the Blues will also continue talks with ex-Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann who is the leading candidate.

The Independent claims the Blues are also considering a shock return for Antonio Conte after initial contact between intermediaries.

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider reports Manchester United are keen on Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse. United may take advantage of the Saints' possible relegation to bolster their midfield with the 28-year-old free-kick specialist. Aston Villa and Newcastle United are also interested in him.

Liverpool are willing to cough up €40 million (£35m) for Atletico Madrid's Argentinian World Cup winner Rodrigo De Paul to bolster their midfield next term, reports Fichajes. Inter Live claims Tottenham are also interested in De Paul.

Arsenal are pondering an off-season move for Lazio midfielder Sergei Milinkovic-Savic who will be a free agent in 2024, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. The reported fee would be around €40m.

Luka Modric is disgruntled with his contract situation at Real Madrid, with his future not yet resolved with only a few months left on his deal, claims Goal.

– Fichajes claims West Ham, Leeds United and Nice are all circling for Real Madrid's Mariano who will be available on a free transfer at the end of this season.

Leicester City have shortlisted Ralph Hasenhuttl, Jesse Marsch and Oscar Garcia for their vacant managerial role according to Fabrizio Romano. The Independent's Miguel Delaney claims the Foxes are also interested in experienced pair Martin O'Neill and Rafa Benitez.

Lionel Messi appeared set to re-sign with Paris Saint-Germain late last year, but the situation has changed.

There have been reports that the Argentinian World Cup winner is unhappy at PSG, with links to an MLS move.

Messi is contracted until the end of this season and had initially agreed to a one-year extension to stay in the French capital.

TOP STORY – MESSI AND PSG RELATIONSHIP IRREPARABLE

L'Equipe claims Messi's relationship with PSG irreparable and he is all but certain to exit at the end of this season, with a return to Barcelona appearing increasingly likely.

Messi spent more than 20 years at Camp Nou, before Barca's financial challenges led to his departure for PSG in August 2021, with the club keen to welcome him back.

The 35-year-old was jeered by PSG fans during Sunday's 1-0 home loss to Lyon amid speculation of his departure.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Athletic reports signing Tottenham forward Harry Kane is Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag's "absolute priority" in the off-season. Kane is out of contract with Spurs in 2024.

– The Sun claims United are strongly considering selling under-performing winger Jadon Sancho in the off-season, with a view to using the sum generated to purchase their next forward.

United have also held exploratory talks with Bayern Munich defender Benjamin Pavard, per The Athletic.

Real Madrid have been linked with Chelsea's Reece James and Football Insider claims they are willing to pay £90m (£102.5m) for his services, with 31-year-old right-back Dani Carvajal struggling with injuries.

Arsenal are plotting a move for Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins during the next transfer window, according to Fichajes.

– Talksport claims  Graham Potter has declined the opportunity to become Leicester City 's new manager, with The Mail reporting that he will wait until the off-season before taking on a new role.

Sunday saw two more Premier League bosses dismissed from their roles.

Graham Potter's sacking by Chelsea followed on from Leicester City cutting ties with Brendan Rodgers.

That pair of dismissals took the total count of managerial departures for the season to 13 in England's top tier. Twelve of those have been sackings.

According to Opta, it is the most managerial sackings in a Premier League season by three.

The previous high mark of 10 (set in the 2013-14 season and equalled in 2017-18) was matched last season.

Yet this campaign has been even more extreme. Here, Stats Perform assesses the 13 managers to have departed.

 

Scott Parker - Bournemouth (August 30)

Just four league games had passed when Bournemouth became the first club to blink, sacking Parker on the back of a humiliating 9-0 defeat to Liverpool. Parker went on to join Club Brugge in Belgium, but lasted less than three months, winning just two of 12 matches. His replacement at Bournemouth, Gary O'Neil, has the Cherries in 16th, far from down and out.

Thomas Tuchel - Chelsea (September 7)

Arguably the biggest shock sacking of the season came early on, when Tuchel was shown the door by Chelsea's new owners. Not long over a year on from leading the Blues to Champions League success, Tuchel was out of work. He is now back in a job, having succeeded Julian Nagelsmann at Bayern Munich in March.

Graham Potter - Brighton and Hove Albion to Chelsea (September 8)

Potter will feature again in this list, of course, but he does count as two of the 13 departures on Opta's list, given he left Brighton to fill the Chelsea vacancy. The Seagulls had enjoyed a brilliant start to the season and Potter had earned his shot at a big club. It would not, of course, go according to plan.

Bruno Lage - Wolves (October 2)

A full month had not passed by the time a third coach was given the boot. Lage had a decent first season at Wolves, but their form had tailed off towards the back end of the 2021-22 campaign, going winless in seven games. That poor form carried into this term, and having won just one of their first eight league games, Wolves decided to make a change.

Steven Gerrard - Aston Villa (October 20)

Gerrard made a bright start at Villa in 2021, and had been given a large transfer budget across two windows, but the former Rangers boss was struggling to make matters click, either with his team or the fanbase. Villa made the call to end the project before the World Cup, and moved efficiently to bring in Unai Emery, who has got them well clear of any danger. Since his first game in charge, only Arsenal (13) and Manchester City (10) have more Premier League wins than Villa.

Ralph Hasenhuttl - Southampton (November 7)

Hasenhuttl had provided Southampton with fresh life when he was appointed in 2018, but since reaching a pinnacle of topping the table in November of the 2020-21 season, it had been a constant struggle. Saints managed to scrape 40 points last season but were firmly in the relegation scrap when they decided time was up for the Austrian. His replacement, however, did not fare well.

Frank Lampard - Everton (January 23)

That glut of changes prior to the World Cup break was followed by the halting of Lampard's Everton tenure in late January. Results had been terrible, with Lampard managing just three wins all season - a tally already matched by his successor Sean Dyche. However, the nature of dismissing a manager so late in the transfer window left Everton with little time to reinforce their squad, and they are still firmly in the mire. Losses to Wolves, Brighton, Southampton and West Ham marked the end of Lampard's time at Goodison Park.

 

Jess Marsch - Leeds United (February 6)

After one relegation candidate blinked, so did another. Marsch was ditched by Leeds following a 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest, with the Whites - like Everton - once again faced with a scrap for their lives. Marsch, like Lampard on Merseyside, had managed to garner enough spirit and resolve to keep Leeds in the division last season, but the American was not an entirely popular figure among Leeds' fanbase, and whatever system he was trying to implement was clearly not working.

Nathan Jones - Southampton (February 12)

To put it frankly, Jones' time at St Mary's Stadium was downright bizarre. Brought in from Luton Town, Jones clearly had no lack of self-belief, but he lost his first four league games at the helm. Southampton appeared to be clicking into gear under Jones when they beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, Manchester City in the EFL Cup and then Everton in the league, yet the Weslhman – who was not shy at reeling off his strengths despite the lack of results – received his marching orders following the EFL Cup semi-final loss to Newcastle United and a 3-0 top-flight defeat to Brentford, with Saints bottom of the pile, where they remain.

Patrick Vieira - Crystal Palace (March 17)

A run of 13 games in all competitions without a win led to Vieira getting the boot midway through March. Palace lost 4-1 to league leaders Arsenal under the interim charge of Paddy McCarthy, and turned to former, supposedly retired, boss Roy Hodgson to try and push them away from danger. Hodgson made a good start, with the Eagles coming from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 on Saturday.

Antonio Conte - Tottenham (March 26)

An unhappy marriage came to an end when Conte left Spurs by mutual consent, just over a week on from lambasting his "selfish" squad, along with the entire club's mentality, following a 3-3 draw at Southampton. Conte had never seemed content at Tottenham, and now Cristian Stellini will oversee the rest of the season. The international break was a turbulent one for Spurs, with director of football Fabio Paratici now on a leave of absence after his ban from Italian football was made a worldwide one by FIFA last week.

Brendan Rodgers - Leicester City (April 2)

Leicester played the April fools on Saturday in their defeat at Selhurst Park, a result that left them in the relegation zone. Rodgers had earned the Foxes' backing with his achievements since taking over in 2019, having won the FA Cup and led Leicester into Europe twice. However, Leicester had won just two league games since the season restarted, and a change felt overdue.

Graham Potter - Chelsea (April 2)

Not long after the dust had settled on Rodgers' departure, Chelsea confirmed the news that Potter was no more. Well, not literally, but the man who had managed so much magic with Brighton could not replicate those tricks at Stamford Bridge. A three-game winning streak in March seemed to suggest a turnaround was in the offing, but a home draw with Everton and Saturday's 2-0 loss to Villa marked the end for Potter, who will perhaps regret leaving Brighton. He leaves Chelsea with the joint-lowest points-per-game total of any of the Blues' Premier League coaches (1.27).

Chelsea sacked Graham Potter on Sunday after barely seven months as their manager.

Potter, who took over from Thomas Tuchel in September, led the Blues to 12 wins, eight draws and 11 defeats.

His demise comes amid numerous changes of managers at Premier League clubs, with Tottenham last week parting with Antonio Conte.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA APPROACH TOP CANDIDATE NAGELSMANN

Chelsea have identified ex-Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann as their top candidate and approached him already, claims Fabrizio Romano.

Romano said talks will be ongoing before a final decision, while he added the Blues hierarchy are admirers of Sporting boss Ruben Amorim.

However, Sky Sports Germany claims Nagelsmann is not interested in taking over at Chelsea.

TalkSPORT claims the dismissed Potter could be offered an immediate return to management by Leicester City who sacked Brendan Rodgers earlier on Sunday.

 

ROUND-UP

– AS claims that Paris Saint-Germain winger Kylian Mbappe has told the Real Madrid board that he intends to join Los Blancos as a free agent in 2024. According to the report, Madrid are not willing to negotiate a transfer fee with PSG, following their long-running interest in Mbappe, with the player needing to get out of his contract to move to the Spanish capital.

Liverpool will consider an off-season move for Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, reports The Independent.

– Fichajes claims Liverpool are also weighing up a surprise move for Real Madrid midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

– Football Insider claims Arsenal have identified three midfield targets in Everton's Amadou Onana, West Ham's Declan Rice and Brighton and Hove Albion's Moises Caicedo.

Manchester United's hopes of signing Eintracht Frankfurt forward Randal Kolo Muani have been set back with the Frenchman keen to join Bayern Munich in the off-season.

Brendan Rodgers has left Leicester City by mutual agreement with the Foxes in the bottom three of the Premier League.

Rodgers leaves the King Power Stadium having led Leicester to their first FA Cup trophy in the 2020-2021 campaign as well as the Europa Conference League semi-final last term.

But this season has been a far cry from his previous successes, with a dismal run of just two wins in their past 13 Premier League matches leaving the Foxes in the drop zone.

Leicester fell to a sixth defeat in their previous seven in all competitions on Saturday against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace, as Jean-Philippe Mateta scored a 94th-minute winner, with the Foxes mustering just three shots compared to the London side's 31.

With just 10 matches left to fight for their top-flight survival having famously won the Premier League in the 2015-16 season, Leicester's owners have decided to act and end Rodgers' four-year spell with the club.

First-team coaches Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell will assume Rodgers' responsibilities while the Foxes seek a new manager they believe is capable of keeping them in the division.

In a statement, Leicester's chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: "The achievements of the team under Brendan's management speak for themselves – we've experienced some of our finest footballing moments under his guidance and will always be grateful to him and his staff for the heights they helped us to reach on the pitch.

"Off the pitch, Brendan embraced the culture of the Club and helped cultivate an outstanding developmental environment. His place in Leicester City history is assured.

"However, performances and results during the current season have been below our shared expectations. It had been our belief that continuity and stability would be key to correcting our course, particularly given our previous achievements under Brendan’s management.

"Regrettably, the desired improvement has not been forthcoming and, with 10 games of the season remaining, the board is compelled to take alternative action to protect our Premier League status.

"The task ahead of us in our final 10 games is clear. We now need to come together – fans, players and staff – and show the poise, quality and fight to secure our position as a Premier League club."

Sadler and Stowell's first game in caretaker charge will be at home to Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Josko Gvardiol won plenty of admirers during Croatia's run to the 2022 World Cup semi-finals.

The 21-year-old central defender is contracted until 2027, but has a hefty release clause that will become active in 2024.

As a result, clubs are likely to be competing to secure the Croatian's services in the next transfer window.

TOP STORY – CITY AND REAL PRIORITISE GVARDIOL SIGNING

Manchester City and Real Madrid have both made RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol their priority centre-back target for the next transfer window, according to 90min.

The report claims Leipzig wants £75m (€85m) for the Croatian defender, who almost joined Chelsea last off-season.

City and Real are also both in contention to sign Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham, complicating the Gvardiol move.

The report also claims City are willing to offload Aymeric Laporte to help facilitate any move.

 

ROUND-UP

Liverpool are the favourites ahead of Manchester City in the race to sign Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount in the off-season, reports Football Insider.

Manchester United are keeping an eye on Joao Felix 's situation with the Atletico Madrid forward currently on loan at Chelsea, claims Mundo Deportivo. Chelsea have been linked with a permanent deal for the Portuguese.

– The Sun claims Leicester City are keen on re-signing Harry Maguire on loan from Manchester United amid talk he will exit Old Trafford.

Arsenal 's desire to land Dusan Vlahovic from Juventus could see the Gunners offer up Granit Xhaka and Nicolas Pepe as part of a deal, reports Calciomercatoweb.

– Fichajes claims Manchester City and Chelsea will battle it out to sign Milan full-back Theo Hernandez.

Barcelona have prioritised a move for Liverpool winger Luis Diaz in the next transfer window, according to Fichajes.

Roy Hodgson celebrated Crystal Palace's dominance during their 2-1 victory over Leicester City, after the Eagles posted a 28-plus shot advantage at Selhurst Park.

The veteran boss returned to Palace for a second spell in charge last month following Patrick Vieira's dismissal after a 12-match winless streak in the Premier League.

In his first game back, the 75-year-old saw his side dominate against the Foxes, notching 31 shots to their opponents' three, though it took Jean-Philippe Mateta's injury-time winner to seal three points.

Even with the first-half loss of captain Wilfried Zaha, Palace were uncharacteristically dominant on Hodgson's return.

Indeed, they registered 20 shots during the first half - the most in a Premier League game since Liverpool did so against Leicester in December 2015.

And the former England boss could not hide his delight at such a triumphant return to the dugout.

"That was a fantastic way to win a game, and I'm not just talking about the fact it was a last-minute goal," he told BBC Match of the Day.

"The way the team played throughout the 94 minutes was worthy of a lot of credit. The scoreline certainly didn't flatter us."

Hodgson acknowledged Zaha's loss was a significant blow, though he was unable to put any timeline on a return from what he believes to be a muscle strain.

"I'm certainly concerned," he added. "If we're very lucky, it might not be as long as [we fear]. I just have to wait and trust the physios.

"In the first half, he looked like he was almost going to win the game off his own back. He was almost unplayable at moments. That does have a bit of a psychological influence on everybody."

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