Vincent Kompany is "very sceptical" over those "pointing fingers" at Manchester City after the Premier League charged the club with breaking its financial rules.

City were this week charged with 115 breaches of the Premier League's financial rules between 2009 and 2018 with a range of punitive actions possible if found guilty, including expulsion from the division.

Reigning English champions City stated they were "surprised" by the charges and Kompany, who won four Premier League titles during an 11-year stay with the Citizens during the period under scrutiny, questioned the motive of those criticising the club.

Kompany, now manager of Championship side Burnley, told reporters after the Clarets' 2-1 FA Cup win over Ipswich Town: "I look at [criticism of City] and sometimes roll my eyes a little bit.

"No doubt there's a lot of righteousness in the world to come and tell you what you've done wrong, and then if everybody looks at themselves, I think the football industry in general is not one that can afford to point the finger too many times.

"I think all of you will have a little bit of a smile on your face to know what the football industry is about. I'm very sceptical when people start pointing fingers.

"Do the best for yourself and let's try and improve all the time, but I'm a little bit sceptical when the fingers get pointed easily."

Kompany's Burnley hold a 17-point advantage on third place Middlesbrough as they bid to earn automatic promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

The former centre-back says the promotion race is taking his mind off potential goings-on at City, explaining: "I haven't had the time to even dive into what is undoubtedly an interesting topic. I've more interesting things to worry about at the moment.

"The fixtures actually help me because I've had no time to look into it or feel emotionally connected to what's happening."

Vincent Kompany is "very sceptical" over those "pointing fingers" at Manchester City after the Premier League charged the club with breaking its financial rules.

City were this week charged with 115 breaches of the Premier League's financial rules between 2009 and 2018 with a range of punitive actions possible if found guilty, including expulsion from the division.

Reigning English champions City stated they were "surprised" by the charges and Kompany, who won four Premier League titles during an 11-year stay with the Citizens during the period under scrutiny, questioned the motive of those criticising the club.

Kompany, now manager of Championship side Burnley, told reporters after the Clarets' 2-1 FA Cup win over Ipswich Town: "I look at [criticism of City] and sometimes roll my eyes a little bit.

"No doubt there's a lot of righteousness in the world to come and tell you what you've done wrong, and then if everybody looks at themselves, I think the football industry in general is not one that can afford to point the finger too many times.

"I think all of you will have a little bit of a smile on your face to know what the football industry is about. I'm very sceptical when people start pointing fingers.

"Do the best for yourself and let's try and improve all the time, but I'm a little bit sceptical when the fingers get pointed easily."

Kompany's Burnley hold a 17-point advantage on third place Middlesbrough as they bid to earn automatic promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

The former centre-back says the promotion race is taking his mind off potential goings-on at City, explaining: "I haven't had the time to even dive into what is undoubtedly an interesting topic. I've more interesting things to worry about at the moment.

"The fixtures actually help me because I've had no time to look into it or feel emotionally connected to what's happening."

Life is good at Manchester United right now – and it might be about to get better.

Erik ten Hag has guided United to third in the Premier League, perhaps still in title contention, while they will face Newcastle United in the EFL Cup final.

Rivals Manchester City and Liverpool are facing various crises, and United's ambitions moving forward could be boosted by a lucrative takeover.

After making only loan signings in January as the Glazer family consider selling up, the outlook at Old Trafford might be about to change entirely.

TOP STORY – QATARI-BACKED MAN UTD BID DUE IN DAYS

According to the Daily Mail, a group of Qatari investors plan to buy United and give manager Ten Hag "the financial backing to lead the club back to the top".

The Glazers set a deadline of mid-February for bids, and an offer from the group is expected in the coming days.

The report says the group are confident their bid would "blow the competition out of the water".

This interest in United follows on the back of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the investors eager to secure ownership of "the crown jewels" of the footballing world.

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Manchester City's pursuit of Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham is at risk of being torpedoed by their potential financial breaches.

– According to Mundo Deportivo, Cristiano Ronaldo's team Al Nassr have offered 34-year-old Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets a contract worth €18million per season.

Manchester United and Liverpool will both make a run at Eintracht Frankfurt striker Randal Kolo Muani, who impressed for France at the World Cup, per L'Equipe.

– Calciomercato is reporting Juventus will likely allow striker Dusan Vlahovic to leave at the end of the season if they receive a bid in the range of €90m.

– According to the Northern Echo, Newcastle United have made 26-year-old Leicester City midfielder James Maddison a key target.

Premier League clubs have become "incentivised to sometimes push the rules to the limit, if not beyond" and Manchester City may not be the only team to face an investigation into their affairs, according to a leading football finance expert.

The Premier League announced on Monday it had referred a number of alleged breaches of the competition's rules to an independent commission, with some of those dating back as far at the 2009-10 season.

In response, City said they had "irrefutable evidence" that would be presented in their defence against the accusations.

Kieran Maguire, author of the book The Price of Football, said isolating City could be seen as making a "scapegoat" of the Premier League champions, and he suspects investigators will also look closely at the finances of other clubs.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Maguire said: "Certainly we have seen some clubs, in terms of the financial submissions that they've made, make fairly significant claims as to the impact, for example, that COVID had on their finances, and they've claimed that COVID cost them money in a myriad of ways, some of which have certainly raised eyebrows as far as observers are concerned.

"So if Manchester City are charged, you would think that Manchester City would say to the Premier League, 'well, you've investigated us and charged us, then surely you have a responsibility to do this for other clubs as well'.

"If the Premier League don't do that, it could be seen that they're trying to make a scapegoat of Manchester City, who are unpopular with certain other elements of the English football establishment because they represent new money, and old money doesn't like new money in all aspects of life, it doesn't have to be sport.

"Therefore you can understand why there's likely to perhaps be enthusiasm for this to move on. And that's going to be bad news for football as a whole because then it becomes who's got the best lawyers, and the best accountants, as opposed to who's got the best strikers and centre-halves and midfield players."

If the independent commission finds City to have breached financial guidelines, they could face a variety of punishments, ranging from fines to points penalties, or even expulsion from the league.

City are controlled by the City Football Group, which is owned by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Since a 2008 takeover, the club have invested heavily in infrastructure and players to develop the dominant team in England.

It remains to be seen how City come out of this saga, if found to have transgressed.

"There's a lot of politics in English football," said Maguire. "I think that the preferred punishment would be a points deduction, because the argument would be that if it was just a financial punishment, given the wealth of the owners, given that it is effectively a sovereign wealth fund which is the benefactors of Manchester City, that a financial penalty would not actually particularly harm the club.

"Therefore, you need to do something which would be seen within football itself as being a punishment, and also acting as a deterrent should any other clubs with equally benevolent owners decide to take or consider a similar action."

Maguire said City face jealousy and "resentment" from rival clubs, and he believes there would not be such interest if a smaller Premier League club came under the microscope.

"It's because it is Manchester City who have won the Premier League for four years out of the last five, who have reached the Champions League final, who have spent around about $1.3billion in building their squad, that we're having this conversation," Maguire said.

"There is jealousy, there is resentment, there is envy. And there's not a lot of admiration, because football doesn't operate like that. Football is a very, very snarky business, where everybody's trying to put each put other clubs down.

"Changing the culture of football into one of ethics, morality, sustainability, is very difficult because of the nature of the people that own the clubs. They tend to be very successful in their own right. And therefore, they are used to getting their own way.

"And in the world of sport, you can't have 20 Premier League clubs all being successful at the same time. Therefore, they're incentivised to outmanoeuvre each other, and they're incentivised to sometimes push the rules to the limit, if not beyond the limit."

Maguire said world governing body FIFA, having been tarnished by scandal itself in recent years, was "unlikely to be in a position to take a moral high ground".

"And it then just simply becomes a game of whack-a-mole, as the authorities find one loophole, they bring a sticking plaster to solve it," Maguire said. "And then you're always in a room with a smarter accountant and a smarter lawyer who will come up with yet another scheme."

Manchester United will reportedly aim to sell Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial and Alex Telles after the season to fund the purchase of a new marquee talent.

The Old Trafford side are said to be investigating a number of targets expected to cost in excess of £100million, including Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, Tottenham talisman Harry Kane and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

United are very familiar with Premier League stars and England internationals Kane and Rice, while Osimhen has enjoyed a rise to prominence this season with the Serie A leaders.

With 16 goals in 17 league appearances this campaign, the 24-year-old Nigerian has already set a new personal best goal tally, and he has been one of the driving forces for a Napoli team sitting 13 points clear at the top.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED IDENTIFY LIKELY SALES TO FUND NEW SIGNING

According to the Manchester Evening News, Telles, Maguire and Martial have all been identified as players United would like to cash-in on to at least partially pay for a new £100m signing.

That report states Kane and Osimhen are the primary targets, as well as Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos and Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus.

Meanwhile, Talksport adds that United had a £100m bid for Rice turned down by West Ham before the season, but that he could be pried away at the end of the campaign for £120m plus add-ons.

United are willing to pay £107m (€120m) for Osimhen, and they expect competition from Chelsea, per The Express.

 

ROUND-UP

– AS is reporting United are interested in 29-year-old Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco. Barcelona have the option to purchase the Belgian for €20m, but if they pass, Atletico will listen to offers from the Premier League.

Paris Saint-Germain will rival Barcelona in the pursuit of Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva, per Le10Sport.

– According to The Athletic, Real Madrid believe Jude Bellingham will choose the Premier League if he leaves Borussia Dortmund. 

– 90min is reporting Chelsea are scouting 23-year-old Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa as they look to address the position at the end of the season.

Inter have added 25-year-old Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo to their list of potential replacements for outgoing centre-back Milan Skriniar, per Tuttomercatoweb.

Manchester City have welcomed their alleged breaches of financial regulations being brought before an independent commission, having been "surprised" by the Premier League's claims on Monday.

The league has referred a number of alleged breaches of the competition's rules – which stretch back as far as the 2009-10 season – to the commission.

But a City response claimed the club had a "comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence" in their defence.

"Manchester City FC is surprised by the issuing of these alleged breaches of the Premier League rules, particularly given the extensive engagement and vast amount of detailed materials that the EPL has been provided with," a statement read.

"The club welcomes the review of this matter by an independent commission, to impartially consider the comprehensive body of irrefutable evidence that exists in support of its position.

"As such we look forward to this matter being put to rest once and for all."

The Premier League said City had breached rules relating to providing accurate financial information, specifically in respect to the club's revenue, including sponsorship revenue and operating costs, between the seasons of 2009-10 and 2017-18, as well as remuneration details for managers and players between the 2009-10 and 2015-16 campaigns.

The competition also referred City to the commission due to the club's failure to comply with UEFA's Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations between 2013 and 2018.

In 2020, City had a two-year ban from European football overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for these breaches. The club were fined €10million for a failure to cooperate, down from an initial €30m, but were allowed to play in UEFA's international club tournaments.

City are also said to have breached Premier League rules around profitability and sustainability in the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

The Premier League further claimed City failed to cooperate with or assist their investigation by providing documents and information relating to each season, including the ongoing one, since the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Manchester City are facing punishment from the Premier League for alleged breaches of financial regulations.

The Premier League confirmed on Monday that it had referred a number of alleged breaches of the competition's rules to an independent commission.

These alleged breaches stretch back as far as the 2009-10 season.

City are said to have breached rules relating to providing accurate financial information, specifically in respect to the club's revenue, including sponsorship revenue and operating costs, between the seasons of 2009-10 and 2017-18, as well as remuneration details for managers and players between the 2009-10 and 2015-16 campaigns.

The Premier League also referred City to the independent commission due to the club's failure to comply with UEFA's Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations between 2013 and 2018.

In 2020, City had a two-year ban from European football overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for these breaches. The club were fined €10million for a failure to cooperate, down from an initial €30m, but were allowed to play in UEFA's international club tournaments.

City are also said to have breached Premier League rules around profitability and sustainability in the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

The Premier League also claims that City failed to cooperate with or assist their investigation by providing documents and information relating to each season, including the ongoing one, since the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

In accordance with Premier League rules, the proceedings before the commission will be heard in private, with the commission's decision to be published on the league's official website.

Liverpool are expected to bid for Athletic Bilbao duo Nico Williams and Oihan Sancet at the end of the season.

Williams is one of LaLiga's brightest young stars, with the 20-year-old winger having already earned seven senior caps for Spain, including four appearances at the World Cup in Qatar.

Attacking midfielder Sancet, 22, netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Cadiz on Saturday to take his tally of LaLiga goals this season to seven.

Williams in particular received heavy interest during the January transfer window, but Bilbao will reportedly be faced with tough decisions about both players at the conclusion of the campaign.

 

TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE SIDES TAKE A LIKING TO BILBAO PAIR

According to AS, Liverpool were joined by fellow Premier League side Aston Villa in testing Bilbao's resolved over Williams in January, although they were informed no figure would be accepted below his €50million (£45m) release clause.

That report also mentions Sancet's release clause is only slightly lower at €45m (£40m), while Fichajes add he has received interest from Chelsea and Bayern Munich.

Both players only have 18 months remaining on their contracts, meaning Bilbao will either need to sort out some extensions or be prepared to cash in.

ROUND-UP

– The Sun is reporting Manchester City, Milan and Inter are all admirers of Fulham left-back Antonee Robinson, although they will not meet the £35m asking price.

– According to the Daily Star, City will look to avoid any further depletion of their full-back stocks by offering Rico Lewis a new contract that would quadruple his salary.

– Journalist Rudy Galetti is reporting Galatasaray have agreed personal terms with out-of-favour Roma attacker Nicolo Zaniolo, and have offered a fee of €22m to the Serie A club.

Newcastle United and Fulham target Sander Berge wants to remain with Sheffield United until his contract expires in 2024, with the Norway international excited by the club's potential Premier League promotion, per The Sun.

– According to Football Insider, Newcastle will return after the season for another attempt at signing Conor Gallagher, with the belief Chelsea would have allowed him to leave in January if their signing of Enzo Fernandez had been completed sooner.

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."

Pep Guardiola congratulated the "exceptional" Harry Kane after his record-breaking strike for Tottenham downed Manchester City on Sunday.

City head coach Guardiola has been a long-time admirer of England star Kane, trying and failing to bring the striker to Manchester ahead of the 2021-22 season.

The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss labelled Spurs as the "Harry Kane team" back in 2017, with his reference to Tottenham's reliance on their talisman irking then-coach Mauricio Pochettino.

Guardiola opted to not repeat that back-handed compliment this time around at the risk of infuriating Pochettino, but offered his congratulations after Kane surpassed Jimmy Greaves' 266-goal Spurs record.

"I'm not going to say the Harry Kane team otherwise Poch will be grumpy with me and I don't want that," Guardiola told reporters at his post-match press conference. 

"On behalf of Man City, I can say congrats on this incredible milestone. He's an exceptional player."

While Kane broke the all-time scoring record for Tottenham, he also joined Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney in an illustrious club of men to score 200 Premier League goals.

A memorable outing for Kane was improved by Spurs holding on for a narrow 1-0 win that moved them within one point of fourth-placed Newcastle United and kept City trailing leaders Arsenal by five.

City overturned a two-goal deficit to secure a 4-2 home victory over Tottenham just last month, but Guardiola acknowledged a "different" challenge at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"Two weeks ago we were able to come back from a more difficult result. Just 1-0 this time but different with the stadium and the interruptions," he added.

"We started really well in the first 15 minutes until the goal we conceded. After that we played a good first half, the second half was not as good.

"There were too many interruptions and we cannot control. We had our chances against a team that defend very well."

It marked a fourth straight away league defeat for Guardiola's side at Spurs, with City failing to score in each of those visits for just the third time in the Premier League against a single opponent.

Guardiola has lost all five games at Spurs' new home ground across all competitions, the most he has managed at one away venue without winning in his career.

He was unable to explain why, adding: "They defend with nine players really well. The squad is fantastic.

"I think we always play really well against them but for whatever reason, we cannot seem to win or score goals."

Harry Kane was lauded as the greatest of all time after his record-breaking strike against Manchester City.

The England captain moved past Jimmy Greaves' Tottenham scoring record with his 267th goal for the London club on Sunday.

His calm 15th-minute finish proved the difference in a 1-0 win over City as Kane joined Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney as the only men to score 200 Premier League goals.

Spurs talisman Kane achieved the feat in two games fewer than Shearer (306), while Rooney needed 462 to hit a double century, and coach Cristian Stellini believes no player compares to the 29-year-old.

"Harry Kane, in his DNA, he has football. He understands football in every moment," Stellini, standing in for Antonio Conte after the Tottenham head coach underwent gallbladder surgery, told Sky Sports.

"He can play in any position. He is the GOAT [greatest of all time] in this league, in this sport. He is a great example."

A narrow victory, in which Cristian Romero saw a late red card for two cautions, moved Spurs within one point of fourth-placed Newcastle United, having played a game more.

Videos emerged after the game of Conte congratulating the record-setting Kane, as Stellini hailed a battling performance in the absence of the Italian.

He added: "It was a tough week and we have to give a great compliment to all the players and the staff.

"It was a tough week because we lost Antonio, hopefully he'll be back next week. He'll be back happy now. I spoke to him on the phone just now and he said congratulations to the team and especially Harry.

"The key was the capacity to suffer when City has the ball. We know when we play against this team we have to suffer because they have the ball a lot, but we moved well in the defensive situation and defended the goal in a brilliant way.

"We knew very well that in that game [the 4-2 defeat to City last month] we lost our key – our capacity to suffer. We lost that last time, we spoke about that situation and that we had to be angry, motivated.

"To reach our target, we have to suffer more, to fight. When you are winning against City, they can play with great pace. You have to be strong and we controlled the space very well."

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are "not in the position to think about being champions" after they were beaten 1-0 at Tottenham on Sunday.

Harry Kane became Spurs' all-time top scorer with the only goal of the game, striking a blow to City's chances of retaining the title and doing fierce rivals Arsenal a big favour.

A day after the table-topping Gunners slipped to a shock loss against Everton, City were unable to capitalise and trail Mikel Arteta's side – who have a game in hand – by five points.

City boss Guardiola told Sky Sports: "We are not in the position to think about being champions. [We can only think about] the next game.

"Tottenham have a fantastic team, and they punish you. They have a lot of quality up front. [We must] give a lot of credit to them.

"We started really well, but after we made a mistake, they punished us. At 1-0 down, it is different. It is not easy. We dropped three points.W

It was a fifth loss from as many visits to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for City, who have also failed to score in any of their trips to the ground.

Guardiola said of that record: "Sooner or later, it is going to change, but it is strange we haven't scored one goal.

"To find an explanation is not easy. We found the positions, [we] made good balls to the channels, but [we] missed [that] last action up front."

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.

Harry Kane hailed a "magical moment" after breaking Tottenham's all-time scoring record and surpassing "complete hero" Jimmy Greaves.

The England striker surpassed Greaves' 266-goal benchmark for Spurs as his 15th-minute strike proved the difference in a 1-0 triumph over Manchester City on Sunday.

His first-half winner was also Kane's 200th Premier League goal, hitting the mark in two games fewer than Alan Shearer (306), while Wayne Rooney needed 462 matches to reach his double century.

Kane told Sky Sports: "It's a magical moment. I was so desperate to do it with a win – once we went 1-0 up, it was about the clean sheet.

"To do it in front of the fans is a special moment. There has been so much talk about it, I just wanted to get it done. So, to do it in a big game against one of the best teams in the world is special.

"[Greaves] is a complete hero, one of the best strikers to play the game, so to be in that conversation is special. And to overtake him is a huge moment for me."

Shearer's 260-goal Premier League record will be Kane's next target, and the 29-year-old acknowledged he will have time for many more top-flight strikes.

"When I started playing regularly, it wasn't even in my imagination to score 200 Premier League goals," he added. 

"To be there now is exciting, and I've got plenty of years left, so there will be a few more to come."

Newcastle United and England great Shearer welcomed Kane to an illustrious Premier League club after his strike left City trailing leaders Arsenal by five points and moved Spurs within one of the top four.

"Congratulations @HarryKane passing the great Jimmy Greaves record at [Tottenham]," Shearer posted on Twitter.

"Also @WayneRooney and I were wondering where you've been! Well done on joining the 200 @premierleague club."

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