Phil Foden has been named the Premier League's Player of the Year, having been sensational for Manchester City this season.

Foden has scored 17 goals and provided a further eight assists in the top flight in 2023-24.

The 23-year-old has been pivotal in City's quest to win an unprecedented fourth Premier League title.

Pep Guaridola's team head into their final game of the season, in which they face West Ham at home, needing a win to guarantee the crown.

Only six players have bettered Foden's goal tally, with the attacker enjoying his most profitable scoring season for City.

 

Foden's 17 goals have come from an expected goals figure of 10, suggesting his finishing has been way above what would have been anticipated based on the quality of chances he has had.

The England international, meanwhile, has had 99 shots, and leads City's squad for chances created (68).

"To win this award is an achievement that I am extremely proud of," Foden told Man City's official website.

"Overall, I've been very happy with the way I have played this season and really pleased that I have been able to contribute with the goals and assists throughout the season.

"I'd like to thank all of the City staff, coaches and especially my teammates because without them this wouldn’t be possible.

"And I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted for me as the award means a lot."

It is the fifth season in a row that a City player has won the award, with Kevin De Bruyne (2019-20, 2021-22), Ruben Dias (2020-21) and Erling Haaland (2022-23) having scooped it previously.

Erling Haaland’s double and Stefan Ortega’s superb save saw Manchester City beat Tottenham 2-0 to ensure Pep Guardiola’s team head into the final day of the season leading the Premier League.

Haaland, who had opened the scoring with a tap-in in the 51st minute, slammed in a stoppage-time penalty to send the travelling City supporters into delirium at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday.

That spot-kick followed a wonderful save from substitute goalkeeper Ortega at the other end, who denied Son Heung-min a would-be equaliser on a bizarre night where the home support never truly managed to get fully behind their side, given what was at stake for their rivals Arsenal.

But with Haaland’s double, City – now on 88 points, two clear of Arsenal – are on the cusp of an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title, while Spurs’ Champions League hopes are over.

Ederson was forced into action after just six minutes as Bentancur got on the end of Brennan Johnson’s cutback, with his strike from just outside the penalty area was tipped over by City’s goalkeeper.

The best chance of the half fell to Foden, who – in the 16th minute – latched onto a dismal clearance from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but his close-range volley was superbly kept out by Vicario.

It took City less than two minutes to test Vicario once again after the break as he made an excellent diving save to palm away Kevin De Bruyne’s curling effort from the edge of the box.

But Vicario had no chance four minutes later – Haaland tapping into an empty net after latching onto De Bruyn’s drilled delivery.

Ederson had to be taken off after a nasty clash with Cristian Romero, and while City’s goalkeeper was frustrated, his stand-in Ortega turned in a fantastic cameo.

Having twice denied Dejan Kulusevski from close range, Ortega then stood up brilliantly when one-on-one with Son.

It is a save that might just win City the league – Haaland subsequently making sure of the points after Jeremy Doku was brought down by Pedro Porro, leaving the reigning champions, who face West Ham on Sunday, on the brink of glory again.

De Bruyne provides the spark but Ortega the unlikely hero

When City needed the breakthrough, it was no surprise to see De Bruyne provide it. The Belgian has now provided 10+ assists, the joint-most of any player in Premier League’s history, along with Cesc Fabregas.

De Bruyne has now assisted Haaland 12 times in the Premier League, the most from one player to another in the competition in the last two seasons.

Haaland, meanwhile, is the first City player to score a brace away to Spurs in the Premier League since Edin Dzeko in August 2011.

Yet for the efforts of the attackers, it was Ortega who came up huge with those massive stops, with that save from Son likely to go down in City folklore.

Spurs’ defensive woes continue

City only managed two shots in the opening 45 minutes – only against Aston Villa in December (two) have they had as few shots in the first half of a Premier League game this season.

Yet the hosts eventually came undone, meaning Ange Postecoglou’s team have conceded in each of their last 10 games in the Premier League, their longest run without a clean sheet in the competition since September-December 2019 (also 10).

After failing to secure the three points needed, Tottenham are now unable to catch Villa in fourth place, meaning Unai Emery’s team clinch the final Champions League spot. 

Pep Guardiola knows Manchester City have no choice but to end their Premier League hoodoo at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday, saying anything but a win will hand Arsenal the title.

Following Arsenal's 1-0 win at Manchester United on Sunday, City are one point behind the Gunners at the summit with a game in hand.

Arsenal are now in the unenviable position of needing a favour from their North London rivals, as a City win will ensure they enter this weekend's final set of fixtures with the title race in their hands.  

However, City have lost on all four of their visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the Premier League without scoring, though they did manage a 1-0 FA Cup win there in January.

Only Birmingham City (seven at Old Trafford) have played more Premier League games at a specific stadium without finding the net.

Asked about the importance of ending that record, Guardiola said: "It's obvious, I would say. We have just one option, win the game. We will go from there.

"We played really well there many times but weren't able to score or win games. We are trying to do something special, so we have to do that this time.

"This is the time to do it, otherwise Arsenal will be champions."

Some Tottenham fans have expressed unease about the prospect of helping their old enemies end their 20-year wait to be crowned champions of England, but Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou has hit out at those questioning his team's motivation.

"What do you think we're going to do as a team? Like any team on this planet, aren't we just going to try and win? It's a simple, basic premise," Postecoglou said. 

"Now how that makes people feel, I'm not really fussed. I don't really care."

Touching on City's hunt for an unprecedented fourth straight English top-flight title, he added: "Sometimes people think once you win it once it becomes easier, but it becomes harder.

"It's a testament not just to Pep but the whole organisation and how they want to achieve success."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

Tottenham – Dejan Kulusevski 

Kulsevski has been directly involved in five goals in his four Premier League games against City, more than he has versus any other opponent in the competition (three goals, two assists).

The Swede scored a last-minute equaliser as the sides played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in December's reverse fixture, but he has failed to net in any of his last 11 Premier League matches.

Manchester City – Phil Foden

Foden and Jack Grealish both scored in City's reverse fixture against Spurs. The only previous players to score home and away against Tottenham in a Premier League season for the Citizens are Sergio Aguero (2013-14 and 2014-15), Ilkay Gundogan (2017-18) and Raheem Sterling (2017-18).

Foden netted his 25th goal of the campaign across all competitions in City's 4-0 rout of Fulham on Saturday, and the Player of the Season candidate will play a key role here.

MATCH PREDICTION – MANCHESTER CITY WIN

Arsenal supporters may not feel great about having to cheer on their old rivals, but history suggests Tottenham have a chance of providing a twist in the title race – regardless of how their own fans feel about that prospect.

Indeed, City have lost more Premier League games against Tottenham under Guardiola (six), than they have against any other side.

The champions, however, are in ominous form, going unbeaten through their last 21 Premier League matches (17 wins, four draws). 

Only once have they enjoyed a longer run in the competition, going 30 without losing between April 2017 and January 2018.

They have also won their last four away league games, the last three of them by an aggregate score of 10-0. Only once in their league history have they won four in a row on the road without conceding, doing so as a second-tier club between March and April 1903.

Regardless of their terrible record on this ground, it is difficult to see the champions slipping up.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Tottenham – 20.1%

Manchester City – 54.8%

Draw – 25.1%

Pep Guardiola joked Manchester City have signed "the best winger on the planet" after defender Josko Gvardiol scored twice in Saturday's 4-0 thrashing of Fulham.

Centre-back Gvardiol once again operated at full-back on the left of City's four-man defence, finding the net in either half at Craven Cottage as Guardiola's side moved back to the Premier League summit.

His first came from a dancing run inside from Kevin De Bruyne's dinked pass before curling a well-taken right-footed finish into the bottom-left corner.

That passage of play may have been expected from City's attacking riches of Phil Foden, Erling Haaland or Bernardo Silva, though Gvardiol is becoming accustomed to starring at the other end of the pitch.

The Croatia international has netted five goals in his last seven games for City after not scoring in his first 32 matches across all competitions – but Guardiola is not surprised.

"The first goal, we signed the best winger on the planet," Guardiola jested with BBC Radio Manchester. "He's an incredible guy, can play in different positions.

"After Wolves I gave [the players] three days off, he was the only one who went to the training centre for his recovery.

"He lives for his profession. We have made an incredible signing for many, many years to come."

Foden also scored his 25th goal of the season for City, becoming just the second English player to score 25+ in a season for the club in the Premier League era (across all competitions), after Raheem Sterling in 2018-19 (25) and 2019-20 (31).

Julian Alvarez then wrapped up proceedings with a last-gasp penalty, taking the spot-kick from Gvardiol, who passed up the chance to score a hat-trick out of respect for his team-mate.

That domination ensured City will end the day in first place for just the eighth time in 2024 – overall, this will be the 72nd day they have ended in top spot this season, behind Liverpool (87) and Arsenal (74).

Guardiola's side are two points clear of Arsenal, who play Manchester United on Sunday, and still have a game in hand to come when visiting Tottenham on Tuesday.

The City manager told his post-match press conference: "Our dream is as we said a few weeks ago when [Arsenal] lost against Aston Villa was to arrive in the last games with it in our hands.

"We wanted to play West Ham at home with the destiny belonging to us."

Destiny remains in City's hands as they search for a sixth Premier League title in the last seven seasons.

While Pep Guardiola feels Rodri was deserving of a nomination for the Premier League's Player of the Season award, he expects the midfielder to shrug off that rejection and stay focused on the title race.

Rodri was surprisingly omitted from the eight-man shortlist for the league's top individual prize when it was revealed on Thursday, with team-mates Phil Foden and Erling Haaland making the cut.

That is despite the Spaniard playing a key role as City chase an unprecedented fourth straight league title, and three wins from their last three matches will ensure they edge out Arsenal to retain their crown.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Fulham, where City have a chance to go top of the table before Arsenal face Manchester United on Sunday, Guardiola said there was no doubt over Rodri's importance.

"He has been one of the best. The nominated players deserve it, other players also deserve it. The winner of the trophy will deserve it, and the ones who don't will too," Guardiola said.

"We know what we think of the importance of him, how magnificent and extraordinary he is as a player. He should not be worried about it.

"When I won [Manager of the Season], it's because we won. It's because your team won a title, won games. The award is not for me – I didn't play one minute."

Fulham caused a stir earlier this week when their social media accounts posted a video of some players flying kites during a training session, sparking fears among Arsenal fans that the mid-table side may be 'on the beach'.

Boss Marco Silva, however, insists that is not the case, saying: "They had one moment after training. It's not even a case to be talked about.

"I have been asked, as we say in England, whether the players are going to be on the beach. It's not the case. If my players are a little bit relaxed, I am the first one to put some pressure on them."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fulham – Rodrigo Muniz

Fulham's recent drop-off in form has coincided with the goals drying up somewhat for Muniz, who will be looking to return to form on Saturday.

He scored eight times in eight Premier League appearances through February and March but has since netted once in his last six – in a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace last time out at Craven Cottage.

Manchester City – Rodri 

Rodri has assisted six goals in his last eight Premier League appearances, including two last week against Wolves. 

City have not lost any of their last 47 Premier League games in which the Spaniard has featured, the fourth-longest unbeaten run any player has ever recorded in the competition.

MATCH PREDICTION – MANCHESTER CITY WIN

City have won their last 15 meetings with Fulham in all competitions. It is the joint-longest winning run any team has ever managed against another in competitive English football history, with theCitizens also having 15-game sequences against Bournemouth and Watford.

Fulham have only won one of their previous 15 home Premier League games against City (five draws, nine defeats), winning 2-1 under Chris Coleman in November 2005.

They have also gone three home games without victory, drawing with Crystal Palace and losing to Newcastle United and Liverpool in what represents their worst run on home soil this season.

With City unbeaten in their last 20 Premier League games (16 wins, four draws), it's difficult to see a surprise taking place on Saturday.

Guardiola's champions have been truly rampant in recent weeks, winning their last six league games while netting four or more goals in five of them – against Aston Villa (4-1), Palace (4-2), Luton Town (5-1), Brighton and Hove Albion (4-0) and Wolves (5-1).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Fulham – 15%

Manchester City – 61.7%

Draw – 23.3%

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes it is only a matter of time before England get over the line at a major international tournament and gives them every chance of triumphing at Euro 2024.

England are among the favourites to win this summer's Euros in Germany along with the host nation, France, Spain and Portugal.

The Three Lions were runners-up at Euro 2020 after losing in heart-breaking fashion on penalties to Italy in the final at Wembley.

They have also come close in the last two World Cup tournaments, making the semi-finals in 2018 and the last eight in 2022.

Guardiola, who has England stars like Phil Foden, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Jack Grealish in his Man City squad, drew comparisons his side knocking on the door in the Champions League for many years before their eventual continental success in 2023.

He would also have closely watched many of his former Barcelona players play a key role in the Spain team at Euro 2008, which would prove to be the first of three straight major tournament successes after many years of near misses for La Roja before that.

With Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham among England's options for the tournament, Guardiola likes what he sees.

"The national team? Really good. But it's not just the talent of the strikers, it's the whole package, the whole group. Gareth [Southgate] knows perfectly what he has to do," Guardiola told reporters.

"I have the feeling, everyone has the feeling, that the England national team, in the last events, the World Cup and European Championships, they made steps.

"They are on the verge, they are really close. They lost a final and got to a semi-final.

"When you arrive at these stages every two years, it's going to happen.

"It's quite similar to us – we were close and, in the end, we lifted it. Just believe it. If they believe it they can do it, believe it and they can do it."

The Euros begin on June 14 and England will be expected to top a group that also contains Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia.

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City's players cannot dine out on their past achievements and must prove themselves all over again in their last four games of the Premier League season, starting against Wolves on Saturday. 

The title race remains in City's hands despite Arsenal leading the way by a single point, with Guardiola's men possessing a game in hand as they chase a fourth successive crown.

After welcoming Wolves to the Etihad Stadium, they face back-to-back trips to London to take on Fulham and Tottenham, then host West Ham on the final day.

Guardiola says City – who should have Ederson, Ruben Dias and Phil Foden back on Saturday – cannot assume this title rice will go the same way as others. 

"We have to prove it tomorrow against Wolves and then in the next games," Guardiola said.

"We know we have to win and get all 12 points, otherwise it will be difficult because Arsenal are so strong and so consistent. It's difficult to drop points.

"It depends on us. It's just tomorrow and then three games in one week, no more complicated than that to analyse.

"I would love to say what we have done in the past is going to happen this season, but nobody knows."

Wolves, meanwhile, are still eyeing a top-half finish after halting a six-game winless run by beating struggling Luton Town 2-1 at Molineux last week, with goals from Hwang Hee-chan and Toti Gomes.

A spate of injuries saw their European hopes slip away, but with Pedro Neto back in full training alongside Hwang and Matheus Cunha, they could start with their first-choice front three for the first time since October.

Boss Gary O'Neil, who will serve a one-match touchline ban on Saturday, said: "To have all the senior players back and the group starting to look stronger again takes me back to October and how we felt at that moment. 

"So we're looking forward to seeing them all back together."  

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne

De Bruyne has started six Premier League matches against Wolves, recording five goals and five assists against them, though nine of those involvements came at Molineux (five goals, four assists).

The Belgian also laid on two assists against Nottingham Forest last week to move to 110 overall in the Premier League – just one behind second-placed Cesc Fabregas in the all-time rankings.

Wolves – Hwang Hee-chan

Hwang scored 10 Premier League goals before the turn of the year, then went exactly four months without a goal due to international duty and injuries before netting against Luton last week. 

Both he and Cunha have 11 Premier League goals this season, and there have only been three previous instances of a player netting more for the club in a single campaign – Steven Fletcher in 2011-12 (12) and Raul Jimenez in both 2018-19 (13) and 2019-20 (17).

MATCH PREDICTION – MANCHESTER CITY WIN

Wolves inflicted City's first defeat of the Premier League season back in September, and they now have the chance to complete just their second top-flight double over them since 1960-61, having previously achieved the feat in 2019-20.

However, City are in ominous form, going unbeaten through their last 19 Premier League games (15 wins, four draws). 

They have already enjoyed four unbeaten runs of 20 or more matches in the competition – three of them under Guardiola – and could become just the second team to achieve the feat five times (Manchester United have done so seven times).

All five of Wolves' away Premier League wins this term have either been against either teams starting the day in the relegation zone (two) or versus London clubs (three). 

They have lost 18 of their 20 Premier League away games against sides starting the day inside the top two, winning the others at Tottenham (in December 2018) and City (October 2019). The champions have no margin for error, and a slip-up from them looks unlikely at this stage.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Manchester City – 71.2%

Wolves – 9.6%

Draw – 19.2% 

Jamaica international and Manchester City striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw has achieved another remarkable feat in a dazzling career that has left her heat filled with pride and gratitude.

The 26-year-old, whose journey from humble beginnings in Spanish Town, St Catherine to stardom for both club and country, has been nothing short of triumph of talent and tenacity, and copping the Footballer Writers' Association's (FWA) Women’s Footballer of the Year for 2023-24, is another testament of her unwavering determination and indomitable spirit to rise above challenges.

Shaw won the women’s Footballer of the Year award with almost 80 per cent of the voters opting for either the Manchester City striker or Chelsea’s Lauren James.

James finished runner-up with another Manchester City standout Alex Greenwood finishing third. Yui Hasegawa, Elisabeth Terland and Khiara Keating completed the top six.

The prolific Shaw scored 21 goals and got three assists in 18 Women’s Super League (WSL) games for her side who are on the brink of securing their first WSL title since 2016.

“I am very proud and privileged to have received this award and to be recognised in this way is a special honour," Shaw, who recently did a season-ending surgery for a broken leg, said in a statement.

"I want to also thank all of my teammates. They provide me with the chances to score goals and I could not have won this award without them. I also owe a lot to Gareth [Taylor], the rest of the coaching team and everyone else here at City. It’s a pleasure to be part of such a special group.

“Many thanks to all who voted for me and to my fellow nominees. It means such a lot to have won this award. Hopefully the side can now finish off the season in style and give everyone special cause to celebrate,” she added

Meanwhile, another Manchester City stalwart, Phil Foden, copped the Male Player of the Year award.

Foden has enjoyed a fantastic campaign with Manchester City, scoring 24 goals in all competitions so far. He garnered more than 42 per cent of the votes with teammate Rodri, and Arsenal's Declan Rice, named as runners-up.

"Being named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year is a huge honour. I’m very, very happy to receive this award but I could not have done it without the help of my teammates. We have a very special squad of players at City, and I’m privileged to be a part of that group. I want to thank all my team-mates as well as Pep and the coaches for all the support and advice they have given me," Foden said in his statement.
 
"I strive to be the best that I can be every single day and that is all down to the way the manager and my colleagues always seek to improve and get better. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted for me as well as my fellow nominees. I’m immensely proud to have won this award. Now I am focused on seeking to finish the season as strongly as possible and to try to help City win more trophies," he noted.

It is the second time that two City players have won the men’s and women’s awards. Raheem Sterling and Nikita Parris picked up the prizes in 2019.

Pep Guardiola says it is a "dream come true" to be fighting for the Premier League title once again as his Manchester City side prepare to take on Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Sunday.

City head into this weekend in second, one point behind leaders Arsenal with a game in hand as Liverpool continue to falter. The Gunners play before Guardiola's men on Sunday, travelling to take on fierce rivals Tottenham, and any slip-up could allow City to move top of the table.

City are on the hunt for a sixth Premier League title in seven seasons, and though Guardiola's men have been in the fight at the summit so often in recent times, the chance to win top-flight silverware again has not lost its appeal.

"Of course, all the teams in the [title race] are tired," Guardiola told reporters. "It's normal at the end of the season.

"But at the same time, it's so exciting. Fighting again for the Premier League? It's a dream come true.

"I could not expect it, honestly. I know always you dream to be there."

At the other end of the table, Forest are fighting for their Premier League lives, a battle not aided by dubious officiating decisions in the 2-0 defeat at Everton last weekend.

The controversial loss leaves Forest heading into their tough fixture this weekend just a point above the drop zone with four games to play.

In his pre-match press conference for the City game, Forest head coach Nuno Espirito Santo was still fuming about the refereeing against the Toffees, saying: "I still can’t quite believe how the decisions went against us.

"It has a big impact as it eventually means points, it means frustration and disappointment. It feels like it’s always against us."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Nottingham Forest – Morgan Gibbs-White

Gibbs-White has been involved in four goals in his last three Premier League home games (two goals, two assists). Indeed, since Forest's return to the top-flight last season, Gibbs-White has been involved in 19 goals at the City Ground, at least eight more than any other player (eight goals, 11 assists). City will have to keep a watchful eye on the former Wolves man.

Manchester City – Phil Foden

It had already been Foden's best league scoring season of his career before the City youth product netted his 15th and 16th Premier League goals of the campaign to help his side to a 4-0 victory at Brighton on Thursday. He has been absolutely crucial for City this term, and he could be the man to help unlock the Forest door this weekend for another huge three points in the title race.

MATCH PREDICTION – MAN CITY WIN

City are looking to complete their first league double over Forest since the 1999-00 campaign in the second tier, and their first in the top-flight since 1990-91.

However, Forest have lost just three of their last 16 top-flight home games against City (10 wins, three draws), going down 2-0 in 1985, 3-1 in 1990 and 2-0 in 1993.

They have been strong at home of late, too, unbeaten in their last three at the City Ground despite winning just one of their last nine Premier League outings.

It will have to be an almighty effort to topple City, however, especially considering Forest have kept just one clean sheet in their last 23 Premier League games, with that coming via a 2-0 win over West Ham in February.

City have lost both of their Premier League games in the Midlands so far this season, going down 2-1 at Wolves and 1-0 at Aston Villa. However, they last lost three consecutive such visits to the Midlands between March and December 2008, and with the title on the line, it is hard to see past them as strong favourites to pick up the three points on Sunday.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Forest: 10.8%

Man City: 69.3%

Draw: 19.9%

Phil Foden hailed Manchester City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne as the Premier League's best player after the pair both netted in the 4-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

De Bruyne opened the scoring in Thursday's contest at Amex Stadium before Foden took over with a couple of goals of his own before half-time.

Julian Alvarez rounded off the scoring just after the hour in a one-sided contest as an Erling Haaland-less City moved to within a point of leaders Arsenal with a game in hand.

Belgium international De Bruyne now has four goals and six assists in just 13 league appearances for City this season.

Speaking to Sky Sports News after the win over Brighton, Foden said: "I think when he is at it, he is the best player in the Premier League."

Foden's first goal came via a deflected free-kick that he himself won, although replays showed he slipped rather than being fouled.

The England international doubled his personal tally with a composed finish after Brighton were caught in possession at the back.

Asked about playing more centrally, Foden said: "I have always said that I see myself there. This year I have moved inside and it has helped me massively. 

"I enjoy it in the middle. It's where I want to be. At the moment, I am just enjoying my football and playing with freedom."

De Bruyne had earlier opened the scoring with a brilliant opener - his first headed goal for City in the Premier League - as City made it 30 games unbeaten in normal time across all competitions.

Alvarez then went on to round off the scoring in a game that not only saw the reigning champions close the gap on Arsenal, but also narrow the goal difference margin to eight.

"It was a good game," De Bruyne said. "I think we played really good in the first half and every game is a lot of pressure. All we can do is prepare as we did today and win the game that is in front of us.

"We just want to win game-by-game and push for the title. We don't get ahead of ourselves. Now the next game is coming quickly. Try to recover and we go again."

Kyle Walker assisted the De Bruyne and Alvarez goals - the first time the defender has set up two goals in a single Premier League game in what was his 390th appearance in the competition.

Reflecting on his rare headed goal, De Bruyne said: "It doesn't happen too much. Kyle gave a good cross and I think the only way I could reach it is by jumping to it. I will take it but it's not something I am good at."

City have rather ominously won four Premier League games in a row and travel to strugglers Nottingham Forest next up at the weekend, knowing victory in their remaining five games will secure an unprecedented fourth straight title.

"I trust my team. All respect to Liverpool and Arsenal, they are amazing," De Bruyne added. "Arsenal are doing what they need to do and we are also needing to do it. Work hard and be humble enough to keep pushing."

Phil Foden equalled the feats of Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland when he scored his 50th league goal as Manchester City stormed into a 3-0 lead against Brighton.

Foden scored twice in the first half at the Amex Stadium on Thursday, setting Pep Guardiola's team on the way to a potentially pivotal win in the Premier League title race.

The England international's first, which came after Kevin De Bruyne's excellent diving header, came as his free-kick deflected in off the unfortunate Pascal Gross.

It was that goal that marked Foden's 50th in league football, with all of those coming under Guardiola.

That makes Foden just the third player to score 50 league goals under Guardiola while aged 23 or younger, after City team-mate Haaland and Barcelona great Messi.

Foden netted his 51st Premier League goal soon after, drilling in after City capitalised on some slack Brighton play.

Pep Guardiola has said he will rest Rodri if the Spain midfielder asks to sit out Saturday’s Premier League match against Luton.

Following Tuesday’s 3-3 Champions League draw with Real Madrid, Rodri’s 41st appearance of the season, the 27-year-old said he was tired and that a rest was “something we are planning”.

Rodri is arguably the most difficult player for Guardiola to replace in his squad, and City lost all four of the domestic games he missed through suspension earlier this season. They have not lost any of the last 66 games in which Rodri played.

“I didn’t speak with him but if he needs a rest he will have rest,” Guardiola said on Friday. “Or no. I don’t know.

“I have the feeling that the games when he was tired like against Crystal Palace and Madrid, he was better in the second half. He runs more and was more precise in the second half than the first.

“More than the physicality, it is a case of spending mental energy. Playing every three days, three days. Of course he’s tired, playing a lot of minutes. Rodri is so important for us and we’ll decide tomorrow what we have to do.”

If City beat Real in next Wednesday’s second leg of their Champions League quarter-final, they will not have a free midweek for the rest of the campaign, and Guardiola acknowledged it is increasingly difficult to manage player fitness during such an intense schedule.

“If a player doesn’t want to play then he’s not going to play, simple,” he said. “Another one will play. If he’s exhausted, it can happen and another player is going to play.

“It’s not just Rodri. I’d love to rest central defenders but we don’t have them. In the (international) friendly games they were injured and we are in big, big trouble. So they cannot rest.”

Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol got City’s goals in Madrid, with Erling Haaland having scored only one in his last five for City – although he has 30 goals for the season so far.

Haaland may have scored 82 goals in 90 appearances since joining City at the start of last season, but Jamie Carragher this week said he was a luxury player who is not yet at a world-class level.

Guardiola has defended the 23-year-old striker against criticism but said there was still much he could do to improve his game.

“He’s a young player,” Guardiola said. “He has some departments where he has to improve, like a 33-year-old player has margins to improve too. But it’s more about the team than him. We scored three goals (in Madrid). They had two central defenders close to him and it’s not easy.

“It’s the most difficult position on the pitch. Two against one. They were so tight and are really good defenders…

“He has to play more minutes, learn what you have to do. The target is not to win the Ballon d’Or, it’s the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and he did it.

“Without him what we won last season, five titles, it wouldn’t be possible, no chance.”

Phil Foden admits his confidence is soaring after delivering for Manchester City yet again.

The England international claimed his 22nd goal of the campaign with a stunning strike from outside the area in City’s thrilling 3-3 draw at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old, who scored a hat-trick against Aston Villa earlier this month, appears to be City’s most in-form player heading into the closing stages of a season they hope will yield another three trophies.

“I seem to be in good scoring form this year,” said academy graduate Foden. “When you’re scoring, your confidence is really high.

 

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“I put it down to my determination and wanting to score goals. I always believe – no matter what – I’m going to get a chance in the game and hopefully I can put them away.”

Foden’s brilliant long-range effort at the Bernabeu pulled City back level at 2-2 after they had surrendered the lead.

“It’s one of the best goals I’ve scored,” he said. “I always have this special ability in and around the box where I see myself scoring a lot of goals – it’s one of those you practice on the training ground after training.

“When I received it on the edge of the box, I thought why not try it. Thankfully I got a chance in the game to do that. I made good contact with it and when it went in the top corner, I was delighted.

“It’s one of the best feelings – to score in one of the best stadiums in the world, I can say I’ve ticked it off the bucket list now.”

Foden’s goal was followed up by an equally impressive strike from Josko Gvardiol but Real hit back to level again and ensure the second leg of the quarter-final next week will begin evenly poised.

“We stayed calm when we went behind and we just played our football, we grew into the game,” Foden said.

“I feel we’ve come a long way to come here and do what we did. We could have controlled it better when we went 3-2 up but we’re playing one of the best teams in the world.

“Overall, it’s not a bad result for us. To come here and score three goals, we’ll take it back to the Etihad.”

Rodri admits he needs a break amid the intensity of Manchester City’s relentless pursuit of an unprecedented second successive treble.

The Spain international, who has not lost any of his last 66 games for club and country in a run stretching back more than a year, is vital to City’s bid to make history.

Yet Pep Guardiola’s influential midfield driving force looked laboured at times in Tuesday’s thrilling 3-3 Champions League draw at Real Madrid and concedes the schedule is taking its toll.

The 27-year-old said: “Every one of us can do better, even myself, but we need to rest to be honest.

“I do. I do need a rest. Let’s see how we speak, how we live the situation. Sometimes it is what it is.

“I need to adjust. It (rest) is something we are planning, yes.”

Guardiola could therefore make some changes for Saturday’s Premier League encounter with relegation-threatened Luton, as he looks ahead to the return clash with Real next Wednesday.

Yet with just a point separating the top three in the domestic competition, there is little margin for error for third-placed City.

Rodri felt the holders showed their mettle as they recovered from a 2-1 half-time deficit to lead on an enthralling night at the Bernabeu Stadium.

Bernardo Silva’s early strike was wiped out by a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort, but the English side responded with stunning strikes from Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol.

Real, however, were able to have the final say as Federico Valverde volleyed a late equaliser to ensure the second leg of the quarter-final tie will begin evenly poised.

“We showed our mentality to come back, to be honest,” said Rodri. “To go against them and come back with those goals sums up the mentality of the champions we are.

“It was a good result for us in terms of how the game was and everything is open. It’s one game in our home now and we are very strong there.”

City claimed a draw at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the semi-finals last year before thrashing the Spanish giants 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium to go through.

“Of course we can recreate it,” said Rodri, a former Atletico Madrid player. “We know how strong we are in our home.

“The key thing was, we knew whatever happened it wasn’t going to be over, even if we won or we lost. We have a draw that is the same result we had last season.

“It’s a good result in terms of the feeling of the team. We were finding the spaces in the second half, we did it great and now we move to Manchester. If we copy the first 20-30 minutes of the second half here, it’s going to be difficult for them.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed his side’s character after the Champions League holders played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at Real Madrid.

Guardiola claimed the City of previous years could easily have crumbled under the weight of pressure as the Spanish giants twice hit back in a compelling quarter-final first leg at the Bernabeu.

City led after just two minutes through Bernardo Silva but Real hit back to go in front with a Ruben Dias own goal and Rodrygo effort.

Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol turned the game around again with stunning second-half efforts but Federico Valverde levelled to ensure next week’s return clash at the Etihad Stadium will begin evenly poised.

Guardiola said: “I think it was really good. Two teams that want to attack. The quality of the goals was fantastic.

“What I liked most is how we played in the second half. We were 2-1 down, playing here without much composure.

“They are so dangerous on transitions and could score more goals but we controlled the game really well.

“This game, in the first three seasons together, we’d have lost 4-1 or 5-1 as we were not stable emotionally.

“You need time to learn and now we are more stable and hopefully in the future we can do better and better.

“We went 2-3 but here it is never over. It’s Madrid, it’s special. We take the result and in one week in Manchester, with our people, it will be sold out and they will help us.”

City were without chief playmaker Kevin De Bruyne after he was sick shortly before kick-off.

Guardiola said: “He started to vomit when we arrived and he didn’t feel good to play.

“But one of the secrets at the high levels is to adapt quickly to chaos. There is no time to complain.”

In De Bruyne’s absence, it was Foden who played the key role as City recovered from their half-time deficit.

Guardiola said: “Phil was not involved in the first half. He was not one of the best performers but he has this spark and incredible talent to score goals and create something.”

Foden was taken off with an injury late on but Guardiola played down fears it was serious.

He said: “It’s a knock. He was grumpy with me for the substitution so that means he’s OK.”

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was taking charge of his 200th game in the competition, felt the result was fair.

“It was a well-balanced game,” the Italian said. “Both teams really competed to the limit. It was a hard-fought draw.

“They scored early but we reacted really well and played excellently for 60 minutes, but City scored two unstoppable goals.”

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