Brazil star Neymar is reportedly interested in a move to the Premier League after being informed Paris Saint-Germain will not stand in his way if he wishes to depart.

ESPN is reporting that Neymar's agent has been in touch with Chelsea to gauge their interest in bringing in the 30-year-old, who scored 13 goals and added six assists in 22 Ligue 1 contests this past season.

While Neymar's talent is not in question, his health may be, having missed over two months of this campaign after suffering an ankle injury, and that is coming off a 2020-21 season where he only played 18 league games due to ankle and adductor injuries.


TOP STORY – NEYMAR WEIGHS UP CHELSEA MOVE AS PSG GIVE GREEN LIGHT

ESPN's report mentions that Neymar's agent, Pini Zahavi, believes there are only "two or three teams" that would be able to meet his wage demands, and it is thought that Chelsea are hoping to make a splash under the new ownership of Todd Boehly.

Spanish publication Sport claims Neymar activated a clause in his PSG contract as soon as he possibly could on July 1 to add one extra year to his deal – tying him to the French giants until 2027 – but that does not rule out a move happening.

Chelsea's Brazilian centre-back and Neymar's former PSG team-mate Thiago Silva has been vocal about his desire to recruit the superstar forward, but his salary of €43million could stand in the way if the Stamford Bridge club decide they would rather use this transfer period's resources in defence.


ROUND-UP

– The Star is reporting that Manchester United are closing in on a deal with Christian Eriksen as his contract with Brentford has expired and he is available on a free transfer.

– Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is expected to leave on a free transfer, with Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich the three teams listed by Marca as his potential landing spots.

Everton are hoping to replace Richarlison with Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis after their Brazilian forward departed for Tottenham this week.

– According to The Sun, Fulham are finalising a £17million move for 26-year-old Sporting defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha.

– ESPN is reporting Fulham have offered £10m for Manchester United's Andreas Pereira as the 26-year-old returns from his loan stint with Flamengo.

Watford have cancelled a proposed friendly against the Qatar national side following complaints from supporter groups concerned about the country's human rights record.

The Championship side, who were relegated from the Premier League in May, had pencilled in a friendly against Qatar during a pre-season training camp in Austria next week.

However, news of the match was greeted with anger by fan groups the Proud Hornets and Women of Watford FC.

The groups said they were "disappointed" by the decision due to Qatar's condemned views on homosexuality, human rights and women's rights.

Qatar has also been criticised over its treatment of migrant workers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

In a statement released on Monday, Watford confirmed the friendly against Qatar will no longer be going ahead.

"The game was never finalised and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised," a club spokesman said.

A joint statement by Proud Hornets and Women of Watford added: "We are delighted that Watford FC has listened to our concerns and cancelled the game with Qatar.

"We look forward to continuing our discussions with the club on all equality, diversity and inclusion issues."

Qatar will stage the World Cup from November 21 to December 18 this year.

Vincent Kompany's reign as Burnley manager will start with a difficult test on the road against Huddersfield Town.

The Championship fixtures for the 2022-23 season were released on Thursday and Kompany's first game with the Clarets, who were relegated from the Premier League last season, comes against defeated play-off finalists Huddersfield.

Burnley's relegation from the top-flight was confirmed on the final day of the season after defeat at home to Newcastle United to bring an end to a six-year spell in the Premier League, with Leeds United surviving following victory at Brentford.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, saw off Luton Town in the Championship play-off semi-finals but lost to Nottingham Forest at Wembley, denying them a return to the Premier League for the first time since the 2018-19 season.

Elsewhere, Watford's first game back in the Championship following relegation comes at home to Sheffield United, while Norwich City are on the road against Cardiff City.

Sunderland, after a four-year stint in League One, mark their return to the second tier against Coventry City, while League One champions Wigan Athletic face Preston North End.

The new season begins on July 29 with Huddersfield's hosting of Burnley and marks the start of a challenging campaign for the 24 teams in the division, who face disruption due to the World Cup in Qatar midway through the season.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly assessing his options for next season as he does not feel he fits in the aggressive press-from-the-front system expected to be implemented by incoming manager Erik ten Hag.

The 37-year-old showed he is still more than capable of contributing at the highest level in 2021-22, scoring 18 goals in 30 Premier League appearances and six in seven in the Champions League.

With one year remaining on his contract, the Portugal icon would demand a fee, but there are reportedly some familiar faces interested in acquiring his services.

TOP STORY – RONALDO SHUNS TEN HAG, WANTS OUT OF OLD TRAFFORD

Jose Mourinho is said to be enquiring about the possibility of bringing Ronaldo to Roma, with the Italian club hoping the legendary coach can move the needle and convince him to return to Serie A, according to La Repubblica.

Mourinho will reportedly have to compete with the nostalgia factor as Sporting CP have also thrown their hat in the ring, with the thought Ronaldo may want to finish his career where it began at the Primeira Liga club he called home before he was first picked up by United in 2003.

If the five-time Ballon d'Or winner truly decides his time with United is up, as the report from the Italian outlet claims, there will undoubtedly be a bevy of suitors willing to bring in one of the game's most marketable superstars.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are said to be "cautiously optimistic" of signing Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, although Sky Sports is reporting the club are hoping to pay closer to £30million, rather than the £50m asking price.

– According to The Athletic, Arsenal are also targeting Leeds United winger Raphinha and Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.

– ESPN is reporting Chelsea are investigating whether it is possible to replace Romelu Lukaku with Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski

United are expecting Barcelona to lower their asking price for Frenkie de Jong due to their financial problems, according to the Guardian.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Everton view Watford striker Emmanuel Dennis as a potential replacement for Richarlison if he leaves during this transfer window.

Manchester City sealed the Premier League title in dramatic fashion as they came from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

It meant Liverpool's own comeback win over Wolves was rendered meaningless, as Jurgen Klopp's team finished second, one point off the pace.

Chelsea capped an ultimately underwhelming campaign by beating Watford, who will be joined in the Championship next season by Burnley – the Clarets relegated by a defeat to Newcastle United, while Leeds United beat Brentford to stay up.

Already safe Everton were hammered 5-1 at Arsenal, but the Gunners' big win was not enough to get them into the Champions League as Tottenham thrashed Norwich City.

Elsewhere, Manchester United lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace to end a dismal season for them, but they did at least qualify for the Europa League, as West Ham were beaten 3-1 by Brighton and Hove Albion, meaning David Moyes' team will take a place in next season's Europa Conference League.

For the final time this season, Stats Perform looks at the best facts from across the Premier League's fixtures, using Opta data.

Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa: Gerrard's dream dashed by Gundogan

Steven Gerrard never managed to win the league with Liverpool but he looked destined to give his old club a huge helping hand when Villa took a 2-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho put Villa 2-0 up midway through the second half, and he has now scored five goals against City in the Premier League, more than against any other team.

However, substitute Ilkay Gundogan became the first player to score twice from the bench for City since Sergio Aguero did so against Everton on the final day of last season, as he inspired a comeback for the ages.

Gundogan scored either side of Rodri's equaliser – there were just 12 minutes and 22 seconds between City going 2-0 down, and then leading 3-2 in the match.

City have now won a sixth Premier League title, with four of those coming in the past five seasons under Pep Guardiola, while it was the first time the club have come from two goals down to win a top-flight game since February 2005.

Liverpool 3-1 Wolves: Salah seals share of Golden Boot but Reds settle for second

There will be no quadruple for Liverpool, who nevertheless have a Champions League final to look forward to on May 28.

Liverpool have finished the season on 92 points, the second-highest total by a side that did not go on to win the title in English top-flight history, behind only their own 97 in 2018-19.

Sadio Mane cancelled out Pedro Neto's opener (the third-earliest Premier League goal for Wolves, timed at 02:11), with the Senegal star having scored six goals on the final day of the Premier League season for Liverpool, the most of any player at the club – three of those strikes have come against Wolves.

Mohamed Salah finally got Liverpool in front in the 84th minute to take him to 23 goals for the season, meaning he shares the Golden Boot with Son Heung-min. Andrew Robertson added a third, which means Wolves have now lost their last 11 league meetings with the Reds by an aggregate score of 24-3.

Arsenal 5-1 Everton, Norwich City 0-5 Tottenham: North London rivals go big

It has been a frustrating end to the season for Arsenal, who let a Champions League place slip out of their grasp and fall into Tottenham's lap.

The Gunners put five past a much-changed Everton team. Arsenal have now scored more goals against the Toffees than any other side has netted against another team in Premier League history (117).

Arsenal are also unbeaten in their final league game in each of the last 17 seasons (W15 D2), winning the last 11 in a row, while Everton have lost their final league game in five of the last six seasons (D1), conceding at least three goals in each defeat.

Only in 1993-94 (22) have Everton lost more games in a Premier League season than the 21 defeats they have suffered in the competition this term, but they have nevertheless stayed up. Norwich were not so lucky, and their place at the bottom was confirmed by a hammering at home to rampant Spurs.

Tottenham ended the season with 71 points, only in three previous Premier League campaigns have they had more points – 86 in 2016-17, 77 in 2017-18 and 72 in 2012-13.

Son Heung-min is the first Asian player to win the Premier League Golden Boot, while Harry Kane has scored nine goals on the final day of Premier League seasons, the joint-most in the competition's history.

Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United, Brentford 1-2 Leeds United: Another late show caps Whites' survival

Leeds defeated Brentford thanks to a last-gasp Jack Harrison goal, and only City (nine) have netted more goals in the 90th minute than the Whites have this season (eight).

That effort, combined with Burnley's defeat at Newcastle, ensured Leeds avoided the drop and it was Burnley who were relegated.

Burnley netted their 300th Premier League goal, the 32nd side to hit that milestone in the competition, but it was not enough to inspire a comeback after Callum Wilson's double.

The Clarets faced a team in form, with only Liverpool (51), City (43) and Tottenham (41) having picked up more points than Newcastle in 2022.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was "happy for a good final day" as Ross Barkley marked his 100th appearance with the winning goal against Watford, while Ben Chilwell made his long-awaited return from injury.

The Blues secured third place ahead of Tottenham as Barkley's stoppage-time header sealed a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

Tuchel's side controlled large periods of their clash with the relegated Hornets, but looked like they would have to settle for a point when Dan Gosling cancelled out Kai Havertz's first-half strike.

But substitute Barkley celebrated his 100th appearance for the club by heading in Reece James' cross in the 91st minute to snatch only a second win in six Premier League games on home soil. 

The Blues' campaign also ended on a high as Chilwell returned to action, having not played since November after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

It capped off what was a pleasing day all around for Tuchel, who also handed Kenedy his first Premier League appearance for Chelsea in five years.

"It looked like we almost gave it away again at the end and had another draw at home, but we came back strongly," he said.

"Reece and Ross turned it around in our favour. I'm happy for Ross to score on what was his 100th game in a Chelsea shirt.

"It was a mood changer for us today, and we are happy to end with a win. 

"The season was more or less finished for us, so we gave some players an opportunity to play who didn't have many minutes. 

"I was happy they could show up and take a deserved win, which is a big step-up in terms of consistency for us.

"We also managed to get [Chilwell] back on the field, which was really nice, so overall I'm happy for a good final day."

Chelsea finished their Premier League campaign with an unexpectedly dramatic 2-1 win over relegated Watford.

Already secure of third place having long since seen any chance of a title challenge fade, Chelsea had little to play for on the final day.

Kai Havertz, who on another day would have had a hat-trick, gave Chelsea the lead with his 11th-minute effort.

Dan Gosling's late header looked to have earned Watford an unlikely point, only for Ross Barkley to respond in kind in the 91st minute to secure the points.

 

Forest Green Rovers expressed they are "disappointed" with Rob Edwards and Watford after confirming their head coach was leaving the club.

Edwards led Forest Green to the League Two title this season, winning 23 games as they finished above Exeter City on goal difference.

However, Edwards will not be in charge of Rovers in League One next term, after it was confirmed he is departing.

He is widely expected to replace Roy Hodgson at Watford, whose short spell at Vicarage Road will come to an end at the culmination of the Premier League season.

Watford's relegation back to the Championship was confirmed last week after a 1-0 defeat to Hodgson's former side Crystal Palace. 

A statement issued on Forest Green's official website read: "FGR confirms the departure of head coach Rob Edwards. Rob was a key part of the team that gained promotion to League One this season.

"We're disappointed that our support, loyalty and honesty towards Rob has been repaid in this way – with negotiations taking place behind our backs. We had no contact from Watford, from whom we might expect less, but in any event this kind of behaviour gives football a bad name.

"We thank Rob for all his work at FGR – forgive him the manner of his departure and wish him well."

Watford failed to save themselves as their relegation from the Premier League was confirmed by a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday.

It meant Watford boss Roy Hodgson saw the final blow inflicted by one of his former clubs, as the Hornets missed out on the win they required to keep survival as a long-shot hope.

Wilfried Zaha's 31st-minute penalty, following a handball by Hassane Kamara, put Palace in front and proved to be the match-winner. Kamara was also sent off midway through the second half for a second bookable offence.

Even if Watford had won at Selhurst Park, they would have required further victories in their final three games against Everton, Leicester City and Chelsea, while hoping Leeds United or Burnley lost each of their remaining fixtures.

Hodgson, who left Palace last May after four seasons with the Eagles, was appointed Watford manager in January and inherited a side sitting 19th in the Premier League.

After earning promotion with Xisco at the helm, Watford fired the Spanish coach in October and brought in Claudio Ranieri, the Italian who led Leicester City to a shock title in the 2015-16 season.

Ranieri showed little sign of repeating past glories, and Hodgson also found the going tough, with Watford remaining 19th and now condemned to a swift return to the Championship, along with already-doomed Norwich City.

This will be Watford's fourth relegation from the Premier League, making them the sixth different side to be relegated from the competition on four or more occasions, after Norwich (6), West Brom (5), Palace, Middlesbrough and Sunderland (all 4).

Hodgson, who will leave Watford at the end of the season, this week said he would not be putting his name forward for Premier League jobs in the future at the age of 74.

Watford have now won just one of their last 30 league matches against London sides (D7 L22), with the exception being a 1-0 home win over Millwall in April 2021. They have lost 15 Premier League matches in a row against teams from the capital, the longest ever losing run against London teams in top-flight history.

Roy Hodgson has confirmed he will leave his role as Watford manager at the end of the season and does not foresee taking up another Premier League job.

The 74-year-old was appointed on a short-term deal in January to replace Claudio Ranieri, but he has been unable to pull the Hornets away from relegation trouble.

Hodgson has so far taken charge of 14 games since arriving, winning two, drawing two and losing 10, including each of their last five outings.

Watford's relegation from the Premier League will be confirmed on Saturday should they fail to beat Hodgson's previous employer, Crystal Palace.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, the former Liverpool and England manager said he explained to the club's board that he was only ever interested in a short-term deal and so will leave Vicarage Road once the campaign concludes.

"Obviously, it's a short-term [deal]," he said. "Certainly, I made it clear [to the board] it would need to be a short-term one between now and the end of the season. I took that job on and came out of retirement to do that particular job.

"Now that job has unfortunately ended. I've enjoyed my time doing the job. I don't think I shall be putting my name forward anymore for further sorties in the world of Premier League football. It's a very demanding world and I think I've earnt the right to step back and enjoy some free time and spend some time with my wife and son."

While Hodgson indicated this would be his last job in football, he did say the same after leaving Palace at the end of last season, before answering Watford's call, and admitted "itchy feet" could see him return, though not at the top level.

"I don't think we'll ever lose that [itchy feet]," he added. "I think you can speak to any other managers that have actually decided to step aside and announce their retirement, but they still do something within the game.

"I'd like to think that I'm always going to be passionate enough about the game and involved enough in the game that some particular aspect of work might come my way which I think I can happily do but as I say, it's not something I'm punting for.

"It certainly won't be in charge of a [Premier League] team. I think that's my swansong on that one."

Hodgson was at Buckingham Palace to receive a CBE from Prince William for his services to football.

The Premier League witnessed drama at both ends of the table on an absorbing Saturday, as Manchester City and Liverpool continued to trade blows in the title race.

Jurgen Klopp's men downed in-form Newcastle United thanks to Naby Keita's first-half strike, before City responded by cruising to a 4-0 thrashing of Leeds United at Elland Road.

At the other end of the table, Norwich City were condemned to a record sixth Premier League relegation at Aston Villa, and Watford look destined to join them after Burnley continued their incredible upturn in form at Vicarage Road.

After another frantic day of action, Stats Perform looks at some of the key Opta facts from Saturday's contests.

Newcastle United 0-1 Liverpool: Keita continues Reds' run

Liverpool's bid for a remarkable quadruple faced a tough test when they travelled to Eddie Howe's in-form Newcastle in the first clash of the day.

However, Naby Keita's 19th-minute goal proved the difference in a competitive encounter, and was Liverpool's earliest winning goal in a 1-0 Premier League victory since December 2016, when Georginio Wijnaldum netted after eight minutes against Manchester City.

Klopp's side had chances to extend their lead, with home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka making nine saves, his highest tally in a single Premier League match. Since 2003-04, when Opta data began, the only Newcastle goalkeepers to make more saves in a Premier League game are Tim Krul (14 against Tottenham in November 2013) and Karl Darlow (11 against Tottenham in September 2020).

However, a 21st clean sheet of Liverpool's league campaign was enough to move them to the top of the table - only in 2005-06 (22) have the Reds kept more shutouts in a single Premier League campaign.

Liverpool have now picked up 40 points from the last 42 on offer in the competition, and the win turned up the pressure on City ahead of their trip to Leeds later on Saturday.

Leeds United 0-4 Manchester City: Visitors draw on set-peice prowess to reclaim top spot

The Reds were not top of the table for long, however, as City claimed a 4-0 win over relegation-threatened Leeds at Elland Road. Goals from Rodri and Nathan Ake both came from set pieces, meaning City have now scored 18 set-piece goals (excluding penalties) this season, their most in a Premier League campaign since 2013-14 (22).

Pep Guardiola's men have also kept five consecutive away league clean sheets, the best such sequence in the club's history.

After Gabriel Jesus had made the points safe, Fernandinho stuck a superb fourth goal late on, becoming the club's oldest ever Premier League goalscorer at 36 years and 361 days old, overtaking Frank Lampard in 2015 (36 years and 338 days old).

Leeds, meanwhile, are looking over their shoulders after another heavy defeat. They have conceded a remarkable 20 league goals against the two Manchester clubs this season (11 against City, nine against Manchester United) – a new top-flight record for goals conceded against the duo in a single season.

Watford 1-2 Burnley: Clarets' revival continues after Cork ends barren run

Elsewhere, Burnley continued their incredible revival by coming from behind to defeat Watford, making Mike Jackson the first Clarets boss to win three of his first four league games in charge since Jimmy Mullen won his first four in 1991.

After James Tarkowski's own-goal put Watford ahead, Jack Cork ended his run of 84 Premier League games without a goal with his first strike since December 2018 (against Liverpool), before Josh Brownhill scored a late winner.

The Clarets are now five points above the bottom three after winning three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since April 2019, having won just three of their previous 21 games.

Roy Hodgson's Watford, meanwhile, look destined for relegation after becoming the first side in English top-flight history to lose 11 consecutive home league matches.

Aston Villa 2-0 Norwich City: Canaries suffer another relegation at Villa Park

Burnley's win had other ramifications, contributing to Norwich suffering their sixth relegation from the Premier League – the most of any club in the competition's history – after the Canaries were beaten at Villa Park.

Remarkably, Norwich have been relegated in each of their last four Premier League seasons (2013-14, 2015-16, 2019-20 and 2021-22). They are only the second side in English league history to suffer relegation in four consecutive campaigns in the top-flight, after Crystal Palace (1992-93, 1994-95, 1997-98 and 2004-05).

 

Dean Smith's men saw their fate sealed after becoming the first team to concede 70 Premier League goals this season after just 34 games, representing the earliest point in any league campaign they have reached 70 concessions since 1956-57 (in their 34th game in the old Third Division South).

Ollie Watkins set the tone for Villa's win with his first-half strike, and he has now scored at least 11 more goals than any other Villa player since his September 2020 debut (25 goals in all competitions).

Norwich City's relegation from the Premier League has been confirmed after the Canaries fell to a 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa and Burnley beat Watford.

The Canaries' tame loss to manager Dean Smith's former employers, coupled with Burnley recovering from a goal down to stun fellow strugglers Watford 2-1, condemned Norwich to an immediate return to the Championship, which they won last season.

Norwich have now been relegated from the Premier League on six occasions, more than any other side in the competition's history, with Smith and predecessor Daniel Farke overseeing just five wins in 34 league outings this term.

Meanwhile, the Canaries have been relegated in each of their last four Premier League seasons (2013-14, 2015-16, 2019-20, and 2021-22), becoming just the second club in English football history to suffer that fate in four consecutive top-flight campaigns (after Crystal Palace in 1992-93, 1994-95, 1997-98, 2004-05).

Fellow promoted side Watford look destined to join Norwich in making an immediate return to the Football League after throwing away a one-goal lead in their home defeat to Burnley.

Late goals from Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill mean Burnley's caretaker boss Mike Jackson is the first Clarets manager to win three of their first four league games in charge since Jimmy Mullen won his first four in 1991.

Burnley look to be battling Leeds United and Everton to avoid taking up the third relegation spot, having been reinvigorated since making the shock decision to sack Sean Dyche earlier this month.

Pep Guardiola described Gabriel Jesus as "fantastic" after the striker hit four goals in Manchester City's 5-1 rout of Watford.

Jesus scored his first Premier League hat-trick on his 155th appearance in the competition. It made him the fifth Brazilian hat-trick scorer in the competition, after Afonso Alves, Robinho, Roberto Firmino and Lucas Moura, but the first of those to score four times in a single match.

The 25-year-old also assisted Rodri for a brilliant 25-yard strike in the first half, meaning he recorded five goal involvements as City kept the Premier League title race in their own hands.

City moved four points clear of title rivals Liverpool with the resounding victory, ahead of Jurgen Klopp's team hosting Merseyside rivals Everton on Sunday.

Guardiola, who has won all of his 11 managerial clashes with Watford by a combined score of 47-5, said City could still improve upon their five-star display, but he was full of praise for his versatile Brazilian forward.

"We didn't defend well, we were not aggressive enough," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "But the players up front, not just Gabriel for his incredible four goals, all of them were brilliant.

"If there's one person who deserves the best in life for him, his family and his friends, it's Gabriel.

"All of us at the club, when he has one of these situations, we're happy for him because he's so generous. It doesn't matter what position he's going to play, we know how he fights for his mates. He's fantastic."

City also became the first English side in history to record 15 consecutive competitive wins over a single opponent by hammering the Hornets, but Guardiola insisted the victory didn't alter the Premier League title race.

"Nothing changes," he said. "When we won against Brighton we were two points behind [before the game], now we're four in front. Brighton was a 'final'. We had another 'final' today and we won it. Now we have an opportunity to play a 'final' against Leeds [next Saturday].

"Nothing changes. We have to win all five [remaining] games to be champions."

Jesus, meanwhile, was beaming after his four-goal haul, praising his team-mates' creativity after moving from three goals for the Premier League season to seven in under an hour at the Etihad Stadium.

"Today was my day," the striker told Sky Sports. "We played very good today, we created a lot of chances, that's what we need to do.

"We made passes and passes to create chances and try to score, and today we were very good on the finishing. I'm very happy with the three points. The team played so well, and we deserved it.

"It was my first hat-trick in the Premier League. I've tried. Sometimes I've scored two then I've hit a post, the defender has blocked [my shot], or the keeper has saved, but today was my day!"

Jesus is just the second City player to be directly involved in five goals in a single Premier League game (four goals, one assist), after Sergio Aguero scored five against Newcastle United in October 2015.

Saturday's City hero also became the third player to score four goals in a Premier League match for the club, after Edin Dzeko and Aguero, with the latter doing so on three occasions.

Gabriel Jesus scored four times as Manchester City kept the Premier League title race in their own hands by thrashing Watford 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Jesus netted twice within 23 minutes, with Rodri drilling home a stunning third after Hassane Kamara pulled one back for the Hornets midway through an entertaining first half.

The Brazilian celebrated twice more within eight minutes of the restart as relegation-threatened Watford collapsed, Jesus first winning and converting a penalty before sweeping home from Kevin De Bruyne's pass.

All eyes will now turn to Anfield on Sunday, where title challengers Liverpool will attempt to keep pace with Pep Guardiola's men by beating rivals Everton.

Jesus needed just four minutes to give City the lead, turning home Oleksandr Zinchenko's fierce left-wing cross after the Ukrainian latched onto Joao Cancelo's overhit ball.

City almost doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Ben Foster got down well to turn away Cancelo's left-footed shot, but Jesus was soon on hand to grab his second when meeting De Bruyne's excellent right-wing cross with a firm header. 

Watford briefly halved the arrears when Kamara raced through to power a left-footed drive into the bottom-right corner, but Rodri restored the two-goal cushion in stunning fashion after 34 minutes, unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard volley into the top-left corner.

Jesus then completed his hat-trick just four minutes into the second half, rolling home a penalty after chasing down a poor clearance and being felled by Foster, and helped himself to a remarkable fourth four minutes later when he converted from De Bruyne's cut-back.

Riyad Mahrez could have added a sixth when sending a wild right-footed volley over late on, as City saw out an incredible 15th consecutive victory over Watford. 

What does it mean? Reigning champions keep title destiny in their hands

City's dominant win meant they established a four-point lead at the Premier League summit ahead of Liverpool's Merseyside Derby against Everton on Sunday.

Their bid to retain the title is gathering steam at the perfect moment, with Guardiola's team now unbeaten in seven league games (five wins, two draws).

Jesus show downs Hornets

Having been linked with a move away from the Etihad in recent days, Jesus bettered his Premier League goals tally for the rest of the season (three) in less than an hour against the sorry visitors. 

Jesus also teed up Rodri's thunderous first-half strike, meaning he has contributed more Premier League assists than any other City player this term (eight).

City dominate favourite opponents again

City made history with Saturday's victory, becoming the first English league side in history to win 15 consecutive competitive games against a single opponent.

Meanwhile, Guardiola maintained the best 100 per cent record of his managerial career; he has now won all 11 of his meetings with Watford in all competitions by an aggregate score of 47-5.

What's next?

Guardiola's men must switch their attention to Europe as they host Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday. Watford, meanwhile, host fellow strugglers Burnley next Saturday.

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are treating every fixture as a knockout game in their pursuit of a Premier League and Champions League double.

City hold a one-point lead over Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table with six matches to play ahead of a clash with Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

They will also have home advantage for a Champions League semi-final first leg against LaLiga leaders Real Madrid next Tuesday.

City's hopes of winning a treble were ended when they were beaten 3-2 by Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley last weekend, but they have back-to-back Premier League titles and a first Champions League triumph in their sights.

Guardiola knows they cannot afford any slip-ups in the hunt for more trophies.

Asked if they are taking the mindset that each game is a knockout, the City boss told reporters on Friday: "Definitely. We can't drop points, but they [Liverpool] can't either.

"The players know it, we were in this position before. We played a final versus Brighton to be able to play another one. If we win we have a chance to play another.

"We try to recover injured players, be fresh in the mind. When we finish tomorrow, another [game] in three days in Champions League. Then Leeds. Be fresh, relax, ready for the moment of the game."

Guardiola says City are relishing the challenge of trying win more silverware.

"Of course we enjoy it, prefer to be in this position than don't have chance to make back-to-back titles," he said.

"After the game, remains six games, already qualified for Champion League, big success. Now we target the Premier League.

Guardiola revealed the fitness of defenders Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake and John Stones will be assessed ahead of the visit of Watford.

Second-bottom Watford will have to pull off a great to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, but Guardiola expects Roy Hodgson's side to pose a threat.

He said: "Roy Hodgson has incredible experience as manager, we struggled to break down Palace [when Hodgson was in charge].

"Every game is the of the same importance. Watford have their quality,,their physicality up front. We have to be ourselves and get three points."

City could be four points clear by the time Liverpool face Everton in the Merseyside derby on Sunday.

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