Pep Guardiola offered a solution as Jurgen Klopp bemoaned Liverpool's hectic schedule, suggesting that issue would disappear if he took up a job in the Maldives.

Manchester City are in action against Leeds United on Sunday after Liverpool have visited Newcastle United in Saturday's early kick-off.

The timing of that fixture has been the source of some frustration to Klopp, whose Reds side played in the Champions League against Villarreal on Wednesday.

But City manager Guardiola insisted it is a problem top coaches simply have to come to terms with, accepting they have little say in how the calendar is set.

The alternative, Guardiola suggested, would be leaving the Premier League for a quieter life beneath the coconut trees in "the Maldives league".

"Always I sympathise about the concerns of Liverpool," Guardiola said with a smile of Klopp's complaint.

"How many times have we discussed about what's happened to us and I've said I don't want to talk about that? Nothing is going to change.

"It's not going to change because the broadcasters are thinking about what they have to do to get more viewers. It's not about what the players need or what the teams need.

"Of course I understand it, but what can I say? We are not going to solve the problem, I've said many times. Sir Alex Ferguson was the most important icon in the history of English football and he was complaining when he was a teenager.

"Nothing is going to change, so don't ask me. With these questions, stop asking the managers. Go to the Premier League, the broadcasters, and ask the reason why. As a manager, we want the best for our players.

"We are focused on the players, concerned about the players and their recovery to make three or four competitions. Don't ask me again these questions because it wastes time. Nothing is going to change.

"We played in Madrid against Atletico, and three days later we played at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

"Chelsea played Tuesday and could have played on Saturday but played on Sunday. Do you think they think about that? No, because the next Tuesday, Liverpool play against United.

"Everyone has their own business to defend. We adapt. If they say play Saturday, we play Saturday. If they say play Tuesday, we play Tuesday. Thursday? We are going to play Thursday. Whatever they want, no problem.

"If I'm not satisfied, I go home and don't be manager of Man City. I go to another league in the Maldives, the Maldives league, and play one game a week and I'm so comfortable under the coconuts and it would be so perfect.

"But it's not the case. You are playing at 12.30pm, I'm sorry, Liverpool, but I'm not involved with that."

Few would be surprised if Manchester City and Liverpool, the Premier League's two dominant teams, each won their five remaining matches this season.

Liverpool have 12 victories in 13 games, with their sole aberration a 2-2 draw against City.

Yet that run will not be enough to take the title should City themselves continue to win, maintaining a tiny one-point gap that represents a chasm in this rivalry.

Perhaps the distraction of huge Champions League tasks could instead encourage one side or the other to take their eyes off the prize – or maybe a Premier League rival can provide an upset.

Liverpool must still tackle two of the other three opponents to have taken points off City this term (Tottenham and Southampton) but first face a team transformed since they were swatted aside by both the Reds and the champions back in December.

As back then, Newcastle United take on Liverpool and City in consecutive matches. The top two also each have Wolves and Aston Villa to play, yet it is Eddie Howe's men who look primed to be kingmakers.

After all, in this calendar year, Newcastle represent the best of the rest. Only Liverpool (2.7) and City (2.3) have earned more points per game than Newcastle (2.1), who are actually ahead of City (30) in terms of a 2022 total (32).

So, heading into a daunting double-header comfortably in midtable after 150 days in the relegation zone this season, could Newcastle shake things up?

Fortress St James'

The last time Newcastle beat Liverpool, Georginio Wijnaldum scored one goal and created the other. He has since been relegated with Newcastle, joined Liverpool, won the Champions League and the Premier League and moved on again.

The Reds are 10 without defeat against Newcastle, including a four-match unbeaten run on Tyneside – albeit two of those clashes were behind closed doors. Newcastle have failed to win in five successive home league games against Liverpool only once previously, back in the 1960s.

Liverpool did come out on top the last time they played in front of fans at St James' Park in 2019 but only courtesy of a controversial late winner. The hosts were clear of relegation trouble with little to play for after a strong second half to the season, while the visitors briefly set aside a Champions League semi-final in their pursuit of City.

That sounds familiar, and the home crowd are likely to be up for it again, with Jurgen Klopp remarking last time: "Is there any history between Newcastle and Liverpool that I don't know about? The atmosphere was like something happened in the past."

Howe's side have their own streak to extend this weekend, meanwhile, having won six Premier League games in a row at home for the first time in 18 years.

In fact, only three times previously in the competition have Newcastle enjoyed a longer such stretch at home, even if their 1995-96 record run of 14 wins remains a long way out of reach.

City at least have the benefit of playing Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium, although the Magpies' four away wins this season have all come since the turn of the year.

For the first time since 1996-97, Newcastle have won three games in a row on three separate occasions, including an ongoing run of four straight victories in which they have conceded only once...

Built from the back

Newcastle's development into a solid defensive outfit was far from expected. They ended 2021 having conceded a record 80 Premier League goals for the calendar year, while Howe's Bournemouth team shipped at least 61 in each of their five seasons in the competition.

A 3-3 draw at home to Brentford in his first match in charge hinted at the continuation of a campaign of chaos, and Newcastle were still conceding 2.3 goals per game – on course for more than 86 for the season – when City won 4-0 at St James' Park in December.

However, Howe – widely considered an attacking coach – spent time at Atletico Madrid in his spell out of the game, and Newcastle have since represented something akin to Diego Simeone's side.

They have conceded more than once in only a single game since the City defeat, an uncharacteristic 5-1 collapse at Tottenham that included four home goals in just over 20 minutes either side of half-time.

Again, only Liverpool's Alisson (10) and City's Ederson (seven) can top Martin Dubravka's six league clean sheets for Newcastle in 2022, when he has let in 13 goals in 15 games – or a hugely impressive eight in 14 outside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Dubravka has played a key role in keeping Newcastle up in previous seasons, but this time the players in front of him are doing the bulk of the work.

Newcastle have allowed their 2022 opponents chances worth 1.0 expected goals per game, third behind City (0.6) and Liverpool (0.9). Their defence is sixth in terms of shots faced over this period (10.8 per game) and fourth for shots on target faced (3.1 per game).

The Magpies will back themselves to frustrate either Liverpool or City, yet the top two have won 10 of the 17 games this season in which they have scored no more than a single goal, so Howe's men will have to threaten at the other end, too.

Brilliant Bruno Guimaraes

Outsiders have attributed much of Newcastle's upturn to their January investment in new players, yet that ignores the improvement of previously failing individuals like Joelinton and Emil Krafth – key men in a side missing England internationals Callum Wilson since December and Kieran Trippier since February.

Howe is therefore yet to come close to naming his strongest Newcastle team, but that XI will undoubtedly have his most expensive signing, Bruno Guimaraes, at the heart of it.

With Trippier likely still out, Guimaraes is perhaps the one Newcastle player who would not look out of place in either the Liverpool or City line-ups.

The Brazil midfielder has been as outstanding as expected both in and out of possession, showing the quality that helped Lyon to knock City out of the 2019-20 Champions League.

Guimaraes has completed 85.8 per cent of his passes in the Premier League, the highest rate of any Newcastle player to play 500 or more minutes since their promotion in 2017, while also averaging a tackle every 24 minutes – third behind Arthur Masuaku and Liverpool's Naby Keita this season.

What was not anticipated was the goal threat Guimaraes has also brought. After scoring three times in 56 Ligue 1 games with Lyon, the 24-year-old has four in 13 – including just seven starts – at Newcastle.

Since first breaking into the Newcastle XI, only Cristiano Ronaldo (eight), Son Heung-min (six) and Gabriel Jesus (five) have found the net on as many occasions in the Premier League.

"Goals aren't the strongest part of my game," Guimaraes insisted when he arrived in England, but he poses as big a danger to Liverpool and City as anyone, looking to extend his streak of goal involvements in three straight matches.

Guimaraes spoke in that same interview of winning the Champions League during his time at Newcastle, while his agent this week suggested the club would be targeting qualification as soon as next season.

These next two fixtures present Guimaraes and Newcastle with the opportunity to test themselves against the best Europe can offer – and potentially decide the Premier League title race in the process.

Bruno Guimaraes gambled on a move to Newcastle United despite interest from Juventus as he "couldn't wait" in a World Cup year, his agent says.

Midfielder Guimaraes is set to play for Brazil at Qatar 2022, having scored one goal and assisted three more in just 173 minutes across six qualifying matches.

The 24-year-old maintained that form despite requiring time to settle in England following a £35million (€42.1m) January move from Lyon.

Guimaraes was linked with Juventus and Arsenal among other top sides but instead joined Premier League strugglers Newcastle and had to wait until his sixth appearance for the club to be named in the starting XI.

It is a transfer that looks to have worked out for both Guimaraes and Newcastle, though, as he has subsequently scored four goals and assisted another to lead the Magpies into the top half of the table.

Since his first Premier League start, only three players – Cristiano Ronaldo (seven), Son Heung-min (six) and Gabriel Jesus (five) – have found the net on as many occasions.

Yet Guimaraes is just as comfortable engaging in the more combative side of the game, ranking second over that period for tackles (26), duels (123) and duels won (67).

Rival clubs may wonder how the breakout Selecao star ended up in a relegation battle, but agent Alexis Malavolta explained only Newcastle were willing to strike a deal in January.

In an interview with TuttoJuve.com, Malavolta said: "There was some contact with Juventus, I can confirm that.

"[But] January is a quick window to enter into negotiations, so we couldn't go too long. We had to wait halfway through the month to see some concrete movements.

"Newcastle arrived, and they were serious. Bruno couldn't wait another six months to decide his future in a World Cup year."

Malavolta added Juve were "already interested" in 2020, with Guimaraes part of the Lyon team to eliminate them from the Champions League, but the French club asked at the time for €70m.

Instead, Guimaraes is plotting his future with Newcastle, who spent 150 days in the relegation zone this season but are now up to ninth.

In 2022, only Liverpool have earned more points (38) than Eddie Howe's side (32), encouraging optimism for a potential European push next term.

"His goal was clear from the start: to help the team get out of the relegation zone and take them to the Champions League next season," Guimaraes' agent said.

"And why not try to win the Premier League?

"He has already made it clear in his interviews that he went to Newcastle to be a legend like Alan Shearer. He wants to leave his name in the history of the club.

If the battle for supremacy in your fantasy leagues is anything like as tight as the Premier League title race, there is no room for error.

That might encourage some managers to play it safe and stick with what they know, but the very best know how rewarding a risk can be.

So, should you wish to gamble and shuffle the pack, why not be guided by Stats Perform's Opta-powered picks?

Four players for the coming matchweek are highlighted below for your consideration...

MARTIN DUBRAVKA (Norwich City v Newcastle United)

It is probably safe to assume that at least until the turn of the year, few fantasy managers were relying on a Newcastle goalkeeper. Not only did the Magpies give three different keepers a run between the posts, but they conceded a Premier League record 80 goals in the calendar year of 2021.

However, it is all change in 2022. In fact, only Alisson (nine) and Ederson (seven) have kept more clean sheets than Dubravka (five) this year, with the Newcastle man now on six for the season.

He has conceded 13 goals over this spell (12 excluding own goals), but five of those came in a single match at Tottenham – and it is tough to imagine struggling Norwich similarly picking apart a now resolute Newcastle defence.

ALEX TELLES (Arsenal v Manchester United)

There may be plenty of movement of United players out of XIs this week, with none of those involved in Tuesday's 4-0 defeat at Liverpool emerging with any credit. However, Telles played no part from the bench.

Given how hapless that new-look United back line looked, it is hard to see how Telles will not come into the side four days later – and he has earned his place both in Rangnick's team and your fantasy selections.

No United player can better the left-back's three assists in 2022, with only Bruno Fernandes (35) and Jadon Sancho (21) creating more than his 13 chances.

MASON MOUNT (Chelsea v West Ham)

Chelsea will also be looking to make amends in a big game after their own shocking midweek defeat, but Mount at least continued his fine form against Arsenal, adding an assist after scoring two and creating another in his previous league outing at Southampton.

The England midfielder now has 10 goals and nine assists in the top flight this term, meaning he could soon become the first Chelsea player to reach double-figures in both categories since Eden Hazard in 2018-19 (16 goals and 15 assists). He would also be the youngest Blues man to achieve the feat at 23, with Juan Mata 24 in 2012-13 (10 goals and 10 assists).

Whether Mount gets the assist to reach that mark this weekend or not, only Mohamed Salah (34), Son Heung-min (23) and Harry Kane (20) have more than his 19 goal involvements this season, so expect him to plunder fantasy points one way or another.

IVAN TONEY (Brentford v Tottenham)

Tottenham may head into the weekend in fourth, but few will confidently back against Brentford. Spurs have lost their past five away London derbies, while only Chelsea have won more points in clashes between capital clubs this season than the Bees (14).

And if Brentford are to add to landmark victories over Arsenal and Chelsea with another against Tottenham, Toney is highly likely to have a key role to play, having scored eight goals and created another two in 2022.

Only Son (nine) – an opponent on Saturday – has netted more in this calendar year, although Kane (15) beats both for goal involvements.

Christopher Nkunku has long been on the various of Europe's big clubs, but this season has been a breakout.

The 24-year-old France attacker has contributed an extraordinary 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 league appearances for RB Leipzig this term.

Investcorp's reported takeover of Milan from Elliott Management, and the consequent injection of funds, has reportedly put Nkunku in Milan's sights.

 

TOP STORY – NKUNKU ON MILAN RADAR

A change in ownership is allowing Milan to go after RB Leipzig's Cristopher Nkunku, the Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting.

Milan's Scudetto charges in recent years have fallen short up front despite the quality of their midfield, but the change of ownership can dictate a change in transfer strategy.

Meetings with Sassuolo for Gianluca Scamacca and Hamed Traore could be scuppered because the likes of Nkunku would become available.

Any such moves would reportedly not rule out a transfer for Liverpool striker Divock Origi that is already in the works, however.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool have identified Barcelona's 17-year-old talent Gavi as a potential target in an attempt to bolster their midfield at the end of the season, Sport is reporting.

– The Reds are also prepared to offer a new contract to Sadio Mane, whose current deal expires at the end of next season, per Football Insider.

Arsenal are interested in signing Lille's Kosovo attacker Edon Zhegrova, according to Sky Sports.

– Newcastle United have shown renewed interest in Torino defender Gleison Bremer, who is also on Arsenal and Tottenham's radar, Tuttomercato reports.

Bruno Guimaraes declared he wants to become a Newcastle United legend after his match-winning double against Leicester City on Sunday.

Ademola Lookman silenced the lively St James' Park crowd with his 19th-minute opener. It meant Lookman has scored on each of his last three Premier League starts, after only netting in two of his previous 22 such appearances.

However, Guimaraes bundled over the line for his first home Newcastle goal 11 minutes later, with a VAR check leading to the overruling of a foul on Kasper Schmeichel awarded by referee Jarred Gillett.

A lung-busting surge down the left flank by Joe Willock then created space in stoppage-time for Guimaraes, who profited from a deflected cross to head in and secure all three points for Eddie Howe's side.

The Brazil international's second goal, clocked at 94 minutes and 10 seconds, was Newcastle's latest winner on record in the Premier League, since Opta began recording data in 2006-07.

The 24-year-old has three Premier League goals in his last five league starts after he became just the second Brazilian to net a double for the club in the competition, after Kenedy in March 2018 versus Southampton.

After Newcastle moved 12 points clear of the relegation zone, Guimaraes expressed a hope to etch his name in history for the Magpies.

"What a feeling, what a game," he told Sky Sports. "The group deserved it. It was incredible today, to score my first goals, it was brilliant.

"It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League. The noise was incredible, I want to be a legend here.

"It was my first goal with my head. What a feeling. I don't remember it very well, when I saw the ball I didn't think twice, thanks to Joe Willock, an excellent cross.

"It was really important for me to score my first goal at St James’ Park. Here is my home now, I want to play 100 times here."

Guimaraes also reserved special praise for manager Howe, who has turned Newcastle's fortunes around since his appointment in November.

"[Eddie Howe] is very smart, the group likes him a lot, he is very important, he deserves it," he added.

Newcastle have transformed St James' Park into something of a fortress, winning their last five home games, and they will aim for three points again when they host Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

After excelling in the Champions League for Benfica, Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez has attracted interest from Newcastle United.

Darwin, who turns 23 in June, has scored 24 goals in 24 Primeira Liga games, as well as six goals in 10 Champions League appearances. No Benfica player has ever scored more goals in a single Champions League campaign.

While some of the world's biggest clubs – including Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United – are hoping to sign the breakout star, they will have to contend with an aggressive offer to bring him to St James' Park.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE MAKE £50M BID FOR DARWIN

Newcastle have been linked with all kinds of big-name signings for the upcoming transfer window, but Footmercato is reporting that they have made a £50million bid for Darwin in an effort to fend off the challenge of rival clubs.

At such a young age, he could be the kind of marquee signing the new Newcastle board can build their future side around as they also chase more experienced players, such as Christian Eriksen from Brentford on a free transfer.

The Footmercato report also mentions that if Darwin is to leave, Benfica plan to replace him with Petar Musa, who is on loan at Boavista from Slavia Prague.

 

ROUND-UP

– 90min is reporting Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri is very interested in reuniting with Jorginho, as he is unlikely to be offered a new contract at Chelsea beyond 2023.

– Erik ten Hag would like to bring Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni to Manchester United when he takes over as manager, according to ESPN.

Arsenal, Leeds United and Newcastle are set to compete for the signature of Hoffenheim's Florian Grillitsch when his contract expires after this season, per the Daily Mail.

– The Sun is reporting Kalvin Phillips will reject Manchester United's advances and sign a new deal with Leeds.

Burnley are targeting Sam Allardyce to take over as manager after the sacking of Sean Dyche, per The Sun.

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe has sympathised with Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp, but acknowledged the Reds will have to "bite the bullet" amid scheduling concerns.

Klopp expressed his annoyance with the Premier League calendar and broadcaster BT Sport after it was confirmed Liverpool will visit Newcastle in the early kick-off on Saturday, April 30.

That leaves less than 72 hours to recover from the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Villarreal before the return meeting three days after the visit to St James' Park.

With the Merseyside club still in contention for the Premier League, one point behind leaders Manchester City – who they also face in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday – Klopp called for "common sense" to be used.

While Howe appreciated the German's frustrations, the Magpies manager suggested the scheduling problems were a result of the success of Liverpool, who have requested the fixture to be moved.

"It's a very difficult situation. They've been very successful this year, they've ended up playing a lot of games, so I understand it from their viewpoint," Howe told reporters on Friday.

"I’d probably have the same opinion if I was them.

"For us, we've been in their position many times over the years where you look at it and you think, 'How has it ended up this game being moved to this time or this day?'.

"But we have very little say in the fixtures in terms of when they come and how they sit, and you just have to react and deal with it.

"I have every sympathy with Liverpool, but they're winning lots of games and they're in lots of competitions, naturally it's going to be that way."

Asked if a fixture change would be unfair on Newcastle, Howe added: "We get told when to play and we'll turn up and do our best. It's not up to us to decide when games are played.

"We ended up with four away games in very quick succession recently, which was far from ideal for us, but we had to bite the bullet and get on with it.

"As I said, we don't decide the fixtures, we'll play the game. But I do have every sympathy."

Along with Brenden Aaronson and Luka Sucic, Karim Adeyemi is part of a young core enjoying a breakout season at Salzburg.

In his third season in the Austrian Bundesliga, the 20-year-old has come up with 16 goals and three assists in 24 league appearances, and earned his first international cap for Germany last September.

Reports also suggest that a return to Germany at domestic level is imminent.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND CLOSE IN ON ADEYEMI

Borussia Dortmund and Salzburg have reached a basic agreement over the transfer of Karim Adeyemi, according to reports from Sky Sport Germany.

After several rounds of talks, this week has finally seen a breakthrough between the two clubs, with €35million the reported fee the two clubs have agreed on.

However, Dortmund are still to arrive at a point that satisfies Adeyemi and his representatives on personal terms.

According to the report, all three parties are looking to finalise the deal, but RB Leipzig, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain also remain interested.

ROUND-UP

Harry Kane is set to turn down a move to Manchester United, with Erik ten Hag reportedly due to take over at Old Trafford instead of Kane's former boss Mauricio Pochettino, the Mirror reports.

– United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger however, as talks with Barcelona have reportedly stalled, according to the Sun.

Newcastle United have targeted Sevilla's Diego Carlos as a viable alternative if Sven Botman opts to join Milan, per the Chronicle.

– Football Insider reports Villarreal are seeking to permanently sign Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham, having had the 26-year-old on loan since January.

– Meanwhile, Football Insider also reports that Manchester City have made Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni their top priority to replace Fernandinho.

Darwin Nunez insisted his focus will remain on Benfica for the rest of this season after displaying his obvious potential in a Champions League quarter-final tie against Liverpool.

Along with Paris Saint-Germain, striker Darwin has been linked to a host of Premier League clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Two matches against Liverpool were therefore seen as something of an audition – one Darwin passed with flying colours.

The 22-year-old scored in both legs as Benfica were beaten 6-4 on aggregate, putting the ball in the net three times in Wednesday's second leg at Anfield, only for the offside flag to twice intervene.

The two goals that did stand took Darwin to 32 in 37 matches in all competitions this season, a significant leap after 14 in 44 last term, when Benfica failed to qualify for the Champions League.

Following the first leg, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described the Uruguay international as "a really good boy", who "has a big career ahead of him".

Having netted again against Klopp's men, Darwin told CNN Portugal: "Benfica are a great team that can give much more. It's difficult to play here [at Anfield], not just anyone comes here to do what we did.

"We congratulate Liverpool and we'll go with our heads held high, that we've given everything.

"What the Liverpool coach said is a compliment, but my mind is on Benfica until the end of the season. I'm leaving everything for Benfica and for these fans, who are incredible.

"My job is to take advantage of this luck that is happening to me. Last year I didn't play at all, but this season has been incredible. The credit goes to my team-mates, too."

Darwin's 24 goals in Portugal's Primeira Liga have been scored once every 68 minutes on average, with ex-Benfica man Jonas the last player to net more in a campaign (34 in 2017-18).

But it is in the Champions League where Darwin has really caught the eye, hitting six goals against elite opposition in Liverpool, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. No Benfica player has ever scored more in a single campaign.

Having had chances worth just 3.14 expected goals, his over-performance of 2.86 ranks fifth in the competition – behind Karim Benzema (5.54), Christopher Nkunku (3.17), Roberto Firmino (3.11) and Cristiano Ronaldo (3.07).

Among players with five or more goals, Darwin's shot conversion rate of 35.29 per cent also puts him fifth. Sebastien Haller (45.83), Firmino (45.45), Robert Lewandowski (41.94) and Nkunku (41.18) are all ahead of the Benfica sensation.

After a cardiac episode at Euro 2020, there were questions about whether Christian Eriksen would ever be able to play football again, let alone at the highest level.

But less than a year after being released from his contract at Inter, the Denmark international is a hot commodity once again.

Since signing with Brentford on a six-month deal, Eriksen has displayed the quality that saw him net 69 goals over six and a half seasons for Tottenham, and now Premier League teams are circling.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE WANT ERIKSEN AS FLAGSHIP SIGNING

Tottenham have been linked with Eriksen in a potential reunion in the upcoming transfer window, but they are reportedly going to have to contend with Newcastle United, who wish to make him a "flagship" signing, per the Northern Echo.

Being out of contract, Eriksen will have his pick of potential suitors, yet Newcastle will likely have deep enough pockets to contend with anyone serious about adding the midfielder.

Since his return from the bench against Newcastle, Brentford have won all four Premier League matches in which Eriksen has played 90 minutes, including a 4-1 away win at Chelsea, where he scored.

 

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider is reporting Mohamed Salah is close to signing an extension with Liverpool that will pay him £400,000 per week.

West Ham have entered the race for Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby, per Calciomercato.

– 90min is reporting Edinson Cavani may be Manchester United's "secret weapon" in their quest to sign fellow Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez from Benfica in the upcoming transfer window.

Cardiff City and Tottenham are joint-favourites to land the services of Wales international Gareth Bale when his contract with Real Madrid expires in June, per Wales Online.

– According to the Chronicle, both Arsenal and Newcastle are heavily linked with Lyon midfielder Lucas Paqueta, who is expected to fetch a price of around £58million.

Jesse Lingard's future with Manchester United is unclear.

The 29-year-old England international is out of contract at the end of the season.

Lingard had a brilliant loan spell at West Ham United last season but has remained out of favour at Old Trafford this term.

 

TOP STORY – ITALIAN OPTIONS FOR LINGARD

Lingard could reunite with Jose Mourinho at Roma, with the Italian club joining the race for the forward, according to the Mirror.

Lingard is being pursued by West Ham following his impressive loan spell, while Newcastle United are also interested in the 29-year-old.

Serie A clubs Milan and Juventus also have an interest in Lingard, with a move to Italy offering a lucrative alternative option.

English pair Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham have enjoyed productive spells at Roma, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on loan from Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid are moving on from their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe , who appears set to stay with Paris Saint-Germain, by turning their attention to landing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, claims the Mirror.

- Inter will make a move to sign Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, following his August exit from the Italian champions, reports Football Insider. Lukaku previously expressed his regret at leaving Inter.

- The Sun claims that Arsenal and Tottenham will battle to sign Leicester City midfielder James Maddison who is rated at £60million and could be put up for sale.

- Danny Ings could be on his way out of Aston Villa as manager Steven Gerrard plans a clear-out, according to the Mirror.

- CBS Sports claims Liverpool and West Ham are no longer interested in Leicester City's Youri Tielemans, leaving the door open for Manchester United to land the midfielder.

- Juventus are circling for Chelsea midfielder Jorginho , reports Tutto Mercato.

The Premier League will reach a new milestone on Sunday when Manchester City face Liverpool in a titanic title tussle.

This will be the 50th match between the top two teams in the division in the competition's history, with City boasting a one-point advantage over Liverpool heading into this encounter.

Victory would move Jurgen Klopp's men top for the first time since October, having trailed by as many as 14 points back in January.

Of the 49 previous top-two meetings, the leaders have come out on top in 20, 11 have been drawn and 18 won by the second-placed team – including one of only two previous examples when City and Liverpool have been the sides at the summit. City thrashed newly crowned champions Liverpool 4-0 in July 2020.

The title race may already have been run on that occasion, but the hunters have consistently fared better than the hunted in such clashes across recent seasons.

The top team have beaten their nearest rivals in only one of the past eight matches to take place in the final 10 games of a season.

Consensus has it that victory for Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium – following that theme – would be followed by a successful title charge for the Reds.

But it has not always been so straightforward, as Stats Perform analyses a history of Premier League title deciders.

United rewarded for holding their nerve (1992-97)

Manchester United won four of the first five Premier League titles after three times holding their nerve against fellow contenders during the run-in.

Norwich City may now prop up the table, but they led the way at the start of April in the inaugural 1992-93 campaign, while United were back in third.

Although that is not the latest eventual champions have emerged from outside the top two – City were third at the start of May in 2013-14 – United had to do it the hard way by heading to Carrow Road in their next match.

Their performance there set the standard for two decades of dominance, as a scintillating first-half display saw three stunning breakaway goals in a 3-1 win. Five days later, Steve Bruce scored a pair of famous late goals against Sheffield Wednesday and United were top.

Alex Ferguson's side retained their title despite losing late in the next campaign to Blackburn Rovers, who were themselves champions the following season, but one of the most notable deciders went United's way in 1995-96. The Red Devils had trailed Newcastle United by 12 points in January but knew a win at St James' Park would trim the deficit to a single point.

That was exactly how it played out, too, as Eric Cantona – who created the first and netted the third at Norwich in 1993 – hit a winner against the run of play.

That was the start of a career-best run of six games in a row in which Cantona scored and the first of five consecutive United goals that came courtesy of their talisman – a feat since repeated only three times (Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007 and Robin van Persie in 2013). Four of the six games ended 1-0.

Newcastle would also end 1996-97 as United's closest challengers, but it was the turn of Liverpool – who finished fourth – to blow a big lead.

The gap to United was 10 points in December, when Ferguson's side were sixth, yet Liverpool were two points behind by the time they welcomed their rivals to Anfield in mid-April. A pair of David James errors gave the visitors a precious victory en route to another title triumph.

Double delight for Arsenal at Old Trafford (1997-2004)

From the 1997-98 season onwards, United had consistent title rivals in Arsenal. And although United finished top in four of the next seven seasons to Arsenal's three, there were a pair of painful defeats for Ferguson.

While Newcastle's collapse from 12 points in front is most widely remembered – chiefly because the Magpies are still to win the Premier League – the competition record belongs to United's class of 1997-98, who allowed Arsenal to make up a 13-point deficit in the first season after Cantona's retirement.

There were still nine points between the sides before they met at Old Trafford in mid-March, but Arsenal had three games in hand and won 1-0 courtesy of a Marc Overmars goal – their first away to United in the Premier League – that capped a dazzling individual display. They led the table a month later.

That season ended with a double for Arsenal, and so too did the 2001-02 campaign, in which they again claimed a 1-0 victory at United. The Sylvain Wiltord-inspired success, days after winning the FA Cup, came in the penultimate game of the season and made Arsenal champions.

It was the first of only two occasions on which the title has been won in a match between two teams who were still in the running, while the top two in the Premier League have never met later in a campaign.

Chelsea take challenge to United (2004-2011)

Chelsea replaced Arsenal as perennial threats to United and their second consecutive title in 2005-06 was sealed with a 3-0 win over Ferguson's men, although the championship was essentially a formality at that point.

Meetings in subsequent years were more keenly contested. There was precious little between the two teams in 2007-08, when the Champions League final was decided on penalties, and a late-season Chelsea win at Stamford Bridge moved the teams level on points. However, the Blues' inferior goal difference and final-day draw with Bolton Wanderers allowed United to take the title regardless.

It was a different story in 2009-10, though. There was just a point separating leaders United from chasing Chelsea this time, and an away win at Old Trafford through goals from Joe Cole and Didier Drogba put the Blues in command, able to themselves seal the deal on the final day.

And yet the two dominant teams of this era were not done there. A May meeting back at Old Trafford the following season could have seen Chelsea snatch the championship away from United again, but Javier Hernandez scored inside a matter of seconds to set the Red Devils on course for a victory that crucially moved them six clear. That represents the last time the leaders beat the second-placed team during the run-in.

City serene since crucial Kompany winner (2011-2022)

United have won the title only once since 2010-11, while neighbours City have been crowned on five occasions in that time – and they have largely avoided the drama Ferguson's side made their benchmark.

Of course, their breakthrough triumph in 2011-12 was an exception to that, as City had to beat United even before Sergio Aguero's last-day heroics. Vincent Kompany's header moved the teams level on points, with goal difference vitally working in his side's favour.

Only four times since then have the top two faced off over the final 10 matches of the season, including Liverpool's 2013-14 defeat to Chelsea when neither team won the title and City's 2019-20 thrashing off the Reds when the league had already been settled.

City, in 2012-13, and United, in 2017-18, each claimed away derby wins that restored pride but could not prevent title processions. United's win at least denied City the delight of clinching the title against their neighbours.

The closest City and Liverpool have come to a true decider might be a January epic in 2018-19, but that should all change on Sunday.

James Maddison's importance to Leicester City is of little debate, but the Foxes are considering selling the playmaker.

Though the 25-year-old's sole senior England cap came in 2019, he has provided 13 goals and eight assists in 41 appearances across all competitions this season.

However, Maddison's sale might be required to facilitate the Foxes strengthening in other areas.

 

TOP STORY – MADDISON SALE TO FUND LEICESTER REVAMP

Leicester are weighing up the prospect of Maddison's sale in order to make new signings, the Daily Mail has reported.

Manager Brendan Rodgers wants three new additions to propel the Foxes up the Premier League following a season in which they have plateaued.

Leicester will reportedly back Rodgers, but the impact of coronavirus on their finances would likely mean outgoing as well as incoming transfers, and Maddison holds one of the higher market values at the club.

The 25-year-old's £50million price tag would provide serious flexibility in the transfer market, while the club also has to make decisions on Caglar Soyuncu and Youri Tielemans.

ROUND-UP

–  Barcelona want to confirm a contract extension for Ronald Araujo , who has received an offer from Manchester United, according to Sport, but the 23-year-old has viewed this club's pursuit of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen with caution.

–  Arsenal and Tottenham are keen to sign Lautaro Martinez , but Inter will only sell if they meet a transfer demand in excess of €80million (£67.3m), per Calciomercato.

– The Sun is reporting Newcastle are preparing a £20million offer for Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, while also showing interest in Watford's Ismaila Sarr.

–  Manchester United target Manuel Akanji wants to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and is considering a move to the Premier League, according to Sport1.

Tottenham roared to fourth in the Premier League with a 5-1 thumping of Newcastle United as Son Heung-min scored one and created another.

Fabian Schar gave visitors Newcastle a first-half lead when he struck a free-kick past Hugo Lloris, but Ben Davies levelled within four minutes when he converted Son's cross.

Antonio Conte's home side required just three minutes of the second period to turn the game around as Matt Doherty's header gave them the lead, before Son rifled home after 54 minutes and Emerson Royal added gloss with a 63rd-minute fourth. Steven Bergwijn made it a five-goal show for the hosts when he struck in the 83rd minute.

Spurs now sit fourth in the Premier League table, above local rivals Arsenal on goal difference, ahead of the Gunners facing Crystal Palace on Monday.

Harry Kane finished without a goal but was heavily involved. He shot wide of the bottom-left corner after 15 minutes, before Cristian Romero made a stunning block to deny Joe Willock at the other end.

The Magpies took a shock lead when Schar's free-kick found the bottom-right corner after 39 minutes, with Lloris getting a weak hand to the ball on its way past him.

Spurs were soon level though, with Davies meeting Son's left-wing cross to divert a superb glancing header past Martin Dubravka.

Having found the perfect response at the end of the first half, Tottenham made a superb start to the second, Doherty stooping to head home Kane's cross at the back post after 48 minutes.

The much-improved hosts effectively ended the contest after 54 minutes, the impressive Son latching on to Kulusevksi's right-footed cross before powering a close-range shot past Dubrakva.

Emerson stabbed home a close-range fourth shortly after the hour mark, before Son missed a glorious one-on-one chance after latching onto Kane's pass. Spurs still found time to add a fifth, with substitute Bergwijn slotting past Dubravka from Lucas Moura's pass to complete the rout.

What does it mean? Spurs boost top-four hopes with quickfire turnaround

Four goals from the 43rd minute to the 63rd minute turned a difficult contest into a rampant win for Conte's men, who have now won five of their last six league games.

Conte's men have also scored two or more goals in each of the six matches, last doing so in more consecutive league games between February and April 2017 (a run of seven).

Son continues home hot streak

Son's goal was his ninth in his last nine league outings at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while his tally of 11 home goals cannot be matched by any other Premier League player this term.

This is the first campaign in which Son has ever reached double figures for home league goals, as the in-form South Korea international continues to play a crucial role in Spurs' top-four charge.

Davies ends long drought with help from creative Son

Davies' equaliser represented his first Premier League goal since September 2017 (against Huddersfield), and ended the Wales man's run of 108 league appearances without netting.

Meanwhile, Son's assist was his 45th in the Premier League, matching the tally Aaron Lennon managed for Spurs in the competition. Only Darren Anderton (68) and Christian Eriksen (62) now have more for the club.

What's next? 

Tottenham's next Premier League outing sees them travel to Aston Villa for an early evening kick-off next Saturday, while Newcastle will host Wolves on Friday.

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