Brazil great Cafu feels he and "one of the best right-backs in the world" Trent-Alexander Arnold share many similarities, while he heaped praise on England's transformation under Gareth Southgate. 

Alexander-Arnold remains in contention for an unprecedented quadruple with Liverpool, who have already won the EFL Cup and FA Cup and face Real Madrid in the Champions League final next Saturday. 

Jurgen Klopp's side also head into the final day of the Premier League season just a point behind leaders Manchester City, requiring a win against Wolves and hoping Pep Guardiola's side falter against Aston Villa. 

Alexander-Arnold has again been one of Liverpool's stars this campaign, with his 120 chances created far ahead of any other defender in Europe's top five leagues – David Raum in second has 88. 

The England international also leads the way for assists in the same group this term, with his 18 putting him three clear of Liverpool team-mate Andy Robertson. 

Former right-back Cafu, who played most of his career in Serie A with Roma and Milan, was quick to hail the progress Alexander-Arnold has made. 

"I have been following Alexander-Arnold and the campaign he has had at Liverpool," he told BBC Sport. "His progress over the last few years has been amazing and for sure is one of the best right-backs in the world. 

"He is young, strong and has developed hugely considering his age. He also has a lot of experience and I see a lot of similarities between him and myself. 

"We both had a will and commitment to attack, to go forward and have the boldness to shoot and to put the crosses in. The diagonal movements he makes on the pitch are also similar to what I was making as a player." 

Alexander-Arnold will hope to carry his club form into international duty in the Nations League with England before aiming for World Cup glory in Qatar in November and December. 

Southgate's side made their first major final since 1966 by reaching the Euro 2020 showpiece and Cafu credited the changes the England boss has overseen. 

"I have been following England and the evolution of their national team has been very good under Gareth Southgate," he added. "Along with Portugal, I consider England as the team to have evolved most on the pitch in the last few years. 

"They have a very strong squad with individual players who are performing at a very high level for their clubs. This helps the national team and the progress they have shown with their players means they have a good chance to go far in the [World Cup]. 

"If the England players listen to their coach as a group, then they have a better chance of winning." 

Diego Simeone is targeting some new signings to reinvigorate an Atletico Madrid squad that "needs new energy". 

Atletico were disappointing in the defence of their LaLiga title and have lost nine games and conceded 42 goals – both their worst totals since the 2011-12 campaign, when they appointed Simeone midway through the season. 

A strong finish to this term, in which they went on a run of nine wins in 12 outings, enabled them to secure a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League. 

Simeone still has faith in the ability of his squad but feels it would be wise for Atleti to try to conduct some galvanising transfers. 

"We have a strong squad. In almost all areas, we have players who can give us what we want. We don't need many players, but we do need some to reinforce a team that needs new energy," said Simeone. 

The Atleti boss took responsibility for the team's shortcomings because he felt he did not do enough to solve the issues they faced. 

"I'm not happy with this season at all. After winning LaLiga, I always had the hope of being closer to defending it. It's a good lesson in life to keep learning," said Simeone. 

"The 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 that we were using – that also made me feel a bit dizzy. There is not much difference between the two but I could have done more than I did. 

"We have to refine things. We suffered with the absence of [Kieran] Trippier and were not able to solve it as I would have liked. [Marcos] Llorente played a whole year in a position where he couldn't show what he showed last season. 

"We suffered a lot with the central defenders – [Stefan] Savic and [Jose] Gimenez have had injuries and setbacks. They seem like excuses, but they are realities. I couldn't solve it in the best way. 

"There's always a lot of self-criticism and it's harsher than what the media says. We want to win. The club's goal is to get in the Champions League, but ours is to win. 

"It was an unusual season. We're not used to conceding so many goals and we lost many games. But with all the difficulties we qualified for the Champions League with two games to spare." 

Atleti will hope to finish the season by defeating Real Sociedad on Sunday and claiming back-to-back away LaLiga wins for the first time since June 2022. 

Los Colchoneros have won six of their 10 away games against Sociedad under Simeone, having won only six of the previous 28 such encounters.

Xavi hailed Barcelona for saving a season that "could have been worse" but wants improvements next term from the Blaugrana, who Ousmane Dembele could play his last game for on Sunday.

Blaugrana great Xavi was appointed in November as the successor to Ronald Koeman, with Barca languishing in ninth in LaLiga after an underwhelming start to their 2021-22 campaign.

However, Xavi has reinvigorated Barca as the Catalan giants have climbed up to second in the league, albeit 13 points behind champions Real Madrid with one game left to play.

Barca conclude their campaign at home to Villarreal, and with second place already secured Xavi praised the recovery his side has made, but urged them to improve to compete with Madrid next season.

"We have saved a situation that could have been worse," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday. "We have gone from less to more. We have competed but it has not given us any reward. We have to win titles. 

"I don't give myself a grade because whatever is said will be criticised. We have improved a lot. I am the first to demand more from myself. From now on, we will look to improve further.

"We have to improve in every way – psychologically, physically, which we have already improved, and reinforce the squad with two players per position. And also tactically, so everyone understands our ideas."

The game against Villarreal could prove to be Dembele's last at Camp Nou as contract negotiations remain ongoing.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea are reported to be keen on the World Cup-winning winger, whose 11 LaLiga assists in 2022 is more than any other player has registered across Europe's top five leagues.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has reiterated his desire to keep the France international at Barca, and Xavi hailed Dembele for his efforts in the second half of the season.

"It could be the last. You have to be optimistic. He has played excellent games and when he has not been involved we have noticed," he said of the former Borussia Dortmund player.

Barca have won their last five games against Villarreal in LaLiga, and could register six wins in a row against them for the first time in the competition.

However, Xavi expects a tough task when his team host Unai Emery's side, who made it to the Champions League semi-finals this season, where they were defeated by Liverpool.

"The result will be important. I would like to see a team with good feelings, bravery and finish with the best feelings," he continued.

"Villarreal is the best team we have faced. They have a lot at stake, and are a difficult opponent. You have to have a personality that the fans come to enjoy. There will be chances and it will be a good show."

Barca have confirmed Ronald Araujo will return to the squad after recovering from a head injury that caused him to spend a night in hospital following the game against Celta Vigo on May 10.

Christian Eriksen has declared he "has an idea" over his future but is yet to make a decision amid reported interest from Manchester United and former club Tottenham.

Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest when playing for Denmark against Finland at Euro 2020 last July and was brought back to life on the pitch.

However, the 30-year-old was unable to play for Inter on medical grounds as Italy prevent players from competing after having a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted.

Brentford offered the midfielder a six-month contract in January and he has subsequently delivered, scoring once and assisting four in 10 league games to help the Bees away from the relegation zone.

Eriksen has also created 26 chances since his Brentford debut in February, with only Son Heung-min (27), Martin Odegaard (33) and Kevin De Bruyne (37) providing more opportunities in the Premier League over that period.

Speculation persists over Eriksen's future with his short-term deal to expire in June, with Spurs and United reportedly interested.

Eriksen has suggested he dreams of playing in the Champions League again and, although Thomas Frank has stressed his desire to keep him at Brentford, the Denmark star is yet to make a decision.

"I don't know what the future holds," he told BBC Sport. "It will be a decision from a sporting perspective but also be a family perspective going into the decision of where we're going to go."

Asked if staying at Brentford remains an option, he said: "They are, they definitely are. I haven't made up my mind 100 per cent of where I'm going.

"I have an idea, but what's going to happen I don't know. But Brentford are definitely in the category of one of the clubs."

Eriksen also reiterated his hopes to compete for trophies at the top level with whoever he opts to join.

"I've always wanted to win trophies. I'm always on the competitive side, I always want to be the best version possible in any way, playing at the highest level possible," he added.

"In the end it takes time and also it changes perspective if something like that happens and how my family reacts.

"Just the feeling of being with my family is more important, not that it wasn't important before, but you just realise: 'Oh, this is something that I care about even more now'."

Tammy Abraham capped a memorable first season in Serie A with a slice of history as Roma defeated Torino 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday. 

A first-half double saw Abraham become the highest-scoring English player in a single season in the Italian top flight, surpassing the previous mark of 16 set by Gerald Hitchens at Inter in 1961-62. 

The only Roma player to score more than the England international's haul of 17 in a debut Serie A season with the club was Rodolfo Volk, who registered 21 in the 1929-30 campaign. 

Abraham has also found the back of the net nine times in 13 appearances in the Europa Conference League this season and is hopeful of capping a memorable campaign with a victory in the final against Feyenoord on Wednesday. 

"I would have loved to get three, to score a hat-trick for my team, but the most important thing is we won," he told DAZN. 

"I fell in love with this club on the first day and I'm always going to help the team as much as possible with my goals and assists. It's been a good year for me. I'd like to build on it and hopefully we can finish with a trophy and this will be the perfect year." 

Asked if he will stay at Roma, Abraham replied: "I love this club. They've given me the opportunity to show myself and my heart is here. We'll see what the future holds but my heart is here." 

Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed Angel Di Maria will leave the club upon the expiration of his contract. 

Di Maria joined PSG from Manchester United in 2015 and has gone on to enjoy a stellar stint in the French capital. 

The former Real Madrid winger has won five Ligue 1 titles, enjoyed as many Coupe de France triumphs and collected four Coupe de la Ligue trophies. 

He has not been able to help PSG win the Champions League, though he did get a runners-up medal in 2019-20. 

Di Maria, who scored in a 4-0 rout of Montpellier last week, contributed to 40 goals in his first season at PSG, scoring 15 and providing 25 assists. 

In the 2021 Coupe de France final, his pass for a Kylian Mbappe goal saw Di Maria become the player with the most assists in PSG's history (104). 

He has assisted 71 goals in Ligue 1 since his debut in 2015, 27 more than any other PSG player in that time frame, and created 482 chances – way clear of second-ranked Neymar's tally of 267. His 55 goals place him fourth, behind Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Mbappe. 

Lionel Messi's arrival last year limited Di Maria's minutes, with the Argentine featuring 30 times across all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign and starting 21 of those games. 

On Friday, ahead of PSG's final game of the season against Metz, Di Maria posted a picture of the squad to his official Instagram account with the message: "Gracias. Merci." 

"Angel Di Maria has definitely marked the history of the club," said PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. 

"He will be remembered by supporters as a player of impeccable spirit, who showed unwavering commitment to defending our colours.  

"I invite the whole Paris Saint-Germain family to meet [Saturday] at the Parc des Princes to pay him the tribute he deserves." 

Reports have suggested that Juventus have lined up a move for Di Maria, who turned 34 in February. 

Real Madrid closed out their title-winning LaLiga campaign with a low-key 0-0 draw against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu on Friday. 

Neither team had anything to play for and that was clear from the outset, with the match played at a sedate tempo as Madrid looked to avoid overexerting themselves ahead of next weekend's Champions League final against Liverpool. 

Carlo Ancelotti named a strong line-up for the match but Los Blancos remain winless and goalless in five home league games against Betis. 

Marcelo and Isco were sent on for their final appearances at the Bernabeu but it was not to be a triumphant farewell as Betis held on for a draw. 

Toni Kroos fired wide after Karim Benzema's shot was blocked and Willian Jose narrowly missed the target from 20 yards after an open start to the half. 

Decent openings were few and far between, but Casemiro rifled a low drive just outside the post on the stroke of half-time after charging through the middle. 

Benzema volleyed straight at Rui Silva seven minutes after the restart and Rodrygo sent his follow-up wide under pressure from Marc Bartra. 

Joaquin came off the bench in the 74th minute for his 600th LaLiga appearance, joining Andoni Zubizarreta (622) as the only players to reach the milestone. 

The 40-year-old winger was unable to mark the occasion with a goal as he lifted an effort from the edge of the six-yard box over with three minutes remaining, but the point was enough for Betis to clinch fifth place.

Casper Ruud is one match away from successfully retaining his Geneva Open title, while Cameron Norrie has a shot at redemption in Lyon. 

World number nine Ruud was a 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 winner against Reilly Opelka on Friday, putting him on the brink of a second ATP Tour crown of the season and a sixth in his past seven ATP 250 events on clay. 

The Norwegian made the semi-finals at the Internazionali d'Italia last week and maintained his momentum ahead of the French Open. 

He converted the match's only breakpoint in the penultimate game and sealed the deal in the next, dropping just five of 46 points behind his first serve throughout.

Ruud will take on Joao Sousa – who was the runner-up to Thomaz Bellucci in Geneva seven years ago – in the final after the Portuguese defeated Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2. 

Norrie will also be hopeful of making up for a past final defeat after winning his last-four encounter with Holger Rune at the Lyon Open. 

The Briton was a set and a break up before Rune recovered to force a decider, which Norrie took for a 6-2 5-7 6-4 triumph in a little over two hours.

Norrie was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final but it is Alex Molcan who stands between him and the trophy this time around. 

Molcan, who is yet to win a Tour-level title, claimed an impressive victory 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over Alex de Minaur. 

Ravichandran Ashwin blasted an unbeaten 40 as Rajasthan Royals secured a top-two finish in the Indian Premier League with a dramatic five-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings.

Moeen Ali breezed to a 19-ball half-century as the Super Kings raced to 75-1 at the end of the powerplay, but they did not capitalise on their early impetus in Mumbai on Friday.

Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2-26) and Obed McCoy (2-20) were the pick of the bowlers to peg back Chennai, with MS Dhoni (26) the only other batter to pass 20 in support of Ali (93) in the Super Kings' 150-6.

Jos Buttler fell for just two to Simarjeet Singh (1-18) in response, before Sanju Samson (15) followed to Mitchell Santner (1-15) and Ali bowled Devdutt Padikkal (3) to leave the Royals 76-3 in the 12th over.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal batted on as his partners fell, making 59 off 44 balls before being dismissed by Prashant Solanki, with Rajasthan requiring a further 47 to win from the last five overs.

Solanki soon added the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer (6) to his list of scalps, but Ashwin – promoted up the order – took charge of the chase to see his side over the line with two balls to spare.

Victory meant Rajasthan will have two chances in the playoffs to make the final on May 29. Lucknow Super Giants must settle for third place.

Ali efforts in vain

All eyes were on Buttler, who leads the run charts with 629 in this year's IPL, but it was England team-mate Ali who delivered a scintillating performance at the Brabourne Stadium.

The 34-year-old fell in the final over just seven short of a century after a tremendous 57-ball innings that included 13 fours and three sixes.

He then superbly posted figures of 1-21 with the ball from his four-over allocation – but his efforts ultimately proved in vain, with Ashwin's 40 from 23 proving decisive.

Chahal equals spin record

Chahal once again edged ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore's Wanindu Hasaranga in the battle to be the competition's top wicket-taker.

The Royals' leg-spinner picked up two wickets, while going at just 6.5 an over, and equalled Imran Tahir's tally of 26 (in 2019) for the most wickets by a spinner in a single IPL season.

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Antoine Griezmann is among the top three or four players in Europe and will remain with the Spanish club beyond this season.

Griezmann sealed a return to Atletico from Barcelona last August on an initial loan with an option to buy after spending just two years at Camp Nou.

He has struggled to recapture his best form with Atleti, however, having scored just eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.

Indeed, the France international is on a 14-game run without finding the net in LaLiga, which is one short of his longest goal drought in the competition.

Griezmann's 13 direct goal involvements in 2021-22 is the fourth most among Atletico players, meanwhile, behind Luis Suarez, Joao Felix (both 15) and Angel Correa (18).

But contrary to suggestions in the Spanish press that Atleti are reluctant to purchase the 31-year-old outright, Cerezo has made clear a deal is being worked on.

"Griezmann is our player. He has a contract with Atletico Madrid and will stay here at Atletico Madrid," he said at an event on Friday, as reported by AS.

"In my opinion, Antoine is among three or four best players in Europe."

 

Atletico last week announced that Suarez will depart Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the campaign.

They still have Alvaro Morata on their books, though, with the Spain international's two-year loan at Juventus coming to an end after Saturday's Serie A clash with Fiorentina.

Unlike with Griezmann, Cerezo was less assertive when it came to discussing Morata's future in the Spanish capital.

"The truth is that I don't know what will happen to him," he said. "He's our player, but I don't know what will happen. I don't know if Juve will keep him or not. We don't know."

Atleti have conceded 42 goals in 37 LaLiga games this term, which is their worst record in a single campaign since 2011-12 when Diego Simeone took over midway through.

Jan Oblak in particular has endured a difficult campaign, though Cerezo rejected suggestions that the goalkeeper could move on in the upcoming transfer window.

"There are always rumours about everything," he said. "Jan is a goalkeeper for Atletico de Madrid, and he has a contract. He may yet renew for another 10 years."

Massimiliano Allegri hailed the "heavy legacy" Giorgio Chiellini will leave as the Juventus head coach suggested the centre-back and Paulo Dybala will feature at Fiorentina.

Chiellini confirmed he will leave Juve at the end of the season and was substituted in his final home appearance in the 17th minute on Monday to honour his 17-year spell with the Bianconeri.

The Italy veteran handed the captain's armband to Dybala as he made his way off the pitch, with the forward also heading for the exit door when his contract expires in June.

Dybala, who has 115 goals for the Bianconeri, will leave as the third-highest non-Italian scorer in Juve's history in all competitions, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

Monday's draw with Lazio was expected to be the pair's last appearance for Juve, but Allegri suggested the duo could yet feature in Florence on Saturday, while Weston McKennie might return from injury.

"A good match against a team that has the objective of hitting Europe," he said as he previewed the Fiorentina game on JuventusTV. "We will find a warm environment and we have to have fun.

"Tomorrow I think it will be an open game with many goals. Then usually in the final season in these games there are many goals.

"We will all go to Florence apart from Danilo, [Federico] Chiesa and [Mattia] De Sciglio. Then the others are all available. [Weston] McKennie comes back and maybe he will play a piece of the game."

On Chiellini's departure, Allegri added: "He leaves a heavy legacy because in any case he was an extraordinary player and he still is because he plays tomorrow.

"Also on a moral level he will have left excellent lessons to the players who remain in the locker room."

Juve will end this season with 73 points if they defeat Fiorentina, their worst total in a Serie A campaign since 2010-11 (58).

Allegri is aware that improvements are needed for next season to compete in the Champions League and with the likes of Milan and Inter, who are still vying for the title.

"They are the ones that must have a team that aims to win and that fights for all the goals for which it participates," he said of his team.

"We definitely need to improve this year's season. It's true, but also that we have a good base to start from."

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has been disappointed by questions over his side's integrity ahead of their season-ending clash with Manchester City.

It means Gerrard, a Liverpool great, has the chance to do his old club a huge favour. Should City drop points against Villa on Sunday, then a win for the Reds over Wolves would ensure the Premier League title is theirs.

Villa hosted Liverpool last week, with some doubts raised over how Gerrard would approach that game, but the Reds were pushed hard before ultimately triumphing 2-1. 

Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings started on the bench on Thursday in Villa's final home game of the season – a 1-1 draw with Burnley – with both players coming on in the final 20 minutes.

Those questions, however, have frustrated Gerrard.

"In terms of Liverpool, I totally understand and respect the external noise and the questions that have been coming my way for some time," the former England midfielder told a news conference.

"They're involved in a title race, and I spent a lot of time there. It is disappointing when people mention integrity and aim it towards me or Aston Villa or any of my players.

"We'll go out at the weekend and give it everything we've got to try to get points for Aston Villa and our supporters. If that inevitably helps Liverpool, fantastic."

City have won nine of their last 10 Premier League games against Villa (D1), including the last six in a row, while Villa have lost 15 of their last 16 trips to the Etihad Stadium in the league, losing each of their last 11 on the bounce since a 2-0 win in 2007.

Speaking of facing City and Liverpool, Gerrard said: "In terms of my experience being back in the Premier League, they have been the two best sides by far that we have faced.

"Very different – one tries to hurt you with positional play and possession and one tries to hurt you with speed and intensity.

"They are both extremely consistent and have got top managers. They have both recruited extremely well over a period of time and had a lot of time to work with the team so it is no surprise that they get the results that they do."

Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool's quadruple tilt represents one of the greatest seasons from a Premier League side, regardless of the outcome of their final-day title tussle with Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp's team remain in contention for the second top-flight title of his tenure when they host Wolves at Anfield, having already won the EFL Cup and FA Cup, while reaching the Champions League final.

With Liverpool one point behind City and possessing an inferior goal difference, the Reds will need Pep Guardiola's men to slip up in their home game against Aston Villa to preserve their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple.

Liverpool and City have set a relentless pace at the top of the Premier League table this season with the Reds winning 15 and drawing three of their last 18 league games, while City are unbeaten in 11 league outings after rescuing a 2-2 draw at West Ham last Sunday (eight wins, three draws).

Alexander-Arnold was part of the Liverpool team that finished as runners-up despite amassing 97 points in the 2018-19 season as City finished one point clear of the Reds.

The England international believes Liverpool's effort on four fronts this term represents a historic achievement amongst Premier League sides, whatever the outcome of Sunday's title fight.

"I think back in March, or April I was thinking 'this is going to happen again', but when there are seven or eight fixtures to go you think 'surely someone has got to drop a few points'," the full-back told Sky Sports.

"We have [a 1-1 home draw with Tottenham last month], but it's been quite even and it's all we could do. You think back to January and we were miles behind them, and we fought back and got ourselves into an amazing position.

"I think, to push the way we have in all competitions this season, it's got to be, for me, one of the best team performances over the course of a season in Premier League history.

"We've taken every trophy to the last game, that's all you can really ask for, and I think it's been a special achievement no matter what happens on Sunday."

Liverpool will be supremely confident of doing their part after going unbeaten throughout their last 22 home Premier League games (17 wins, five draws).

If the Reds avoid defeat against Wolves, they will have gone unbeaten through an entire home Premier League campaign for a fifth time, the joint-most of any club (alongside Chelsea).

However, rivals City have ended 10 of their last 13 campaigns with a victory (two draws, one defeat), not losing on the final day since suffering a 3-2 reverse against Norwich City in 2013, while the defending champions have won nine of their last 10 Premier League games against Villa.

Look away Liverpool, this may make for painful reading. Manchester City are not quite home and hosed in the Premier League title race, but all signs point to them brushing off Aston Villa on Sunday to clinch the trophy.

Another gripping race for domestic dominance culminates in City hosting Villa, while rivals Liverpool face Wolves at Anfield.

If City drop points, a Liverpool win would make Jurgen Klopp's team the champions. Yet recent history shows us that City rarely stumble against Villa, so a slip-up in the clash with Steven Gerrard's side would be a monumental shock.

A sixth title in the Premier League era beckons, which would rank City outright second behind Manchester United's haul of 13 championships.

Stats Perform takes a look here at key Opta numbers ahead of the final-day showdown

Saving the best for last

Pep Guardiola has repeatedly denied City lost their nerve against Real Madrid, when they remarkably surrendered what should have been a match-winning lead in the Champions League semi-finals.

Such wild things happen in football, Guardiola has reasoned, which is why he will take a meticulous approach to preparation for the Etihad Stadium clash with Villa. There could yet be an extraordinary finish to the season, but not if Guardiola can help it.

City have kept running through the tape in each of Guardiola's seasons in England, winning all five of their final league games under the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss. That ranks as the best such 100 per cent record for a manager in the competition's history.

Going back even further, to the start of the Abu Dhabi ownership era, City have lost just one of their final league games in the last 13 campaigns (W10 D2). That loss came when they went down 3-2 at home to Norwich City in 2012-13 when Brian Kidd was in caretaker charge for the last game. A year previously, they famously beat QPR by that same scoreline to clinch a first Premier League title.

This season, City have lost just one of their last 27 Premier League games (W22 D4), and are unbeaten in 11 since losing 3-2 at home to Spurs in February.

 

What it would mean for Guardiola

The City manager, who reports have claimed is ready to extend his contract until 2025, stands on the brink of Premier League history.

Should his side keep Liverpool at arm's length, Guardiola will become the outright leader for English top-flight titles among non-British managers, going one clear of both Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.

This would be his fourth such Premier League title success in England, with only Manchester United's Alex Ferguson winning more. Guardiola has no intention of staying long enough to match Ferguson's staggering stack of 13 titles.

City have won 168 of the 227 Premier League games they have contested in the Guardiola era, scoring 562 goals in that time. Those are inevitably league-best figures, and it would be hideously out of character for them to crack against Villa.

A one-sided rivalry

It was not always this way, of course. Villa finished ahead of City as recently as the 2008-09 season (finishing sixth to City's 10th), but the tables turned in the dynamic between the teams when the Abu Dhabi investment began at the Etihad Stadium.

In recent years, this has been almost a formality victory for City, who have won nine of their last 10 Premier League games against Villa (D1), including the last six in a row.

City's last defeat to Sunday's opponents was a 3-2 loss at Villa Park in September 2013.

It is even more of a grim story when the focus falls solely on the games in Manchester. Villa have lost 15 of their last 16 away league games against City, losing each of the last 11 in a row since a 2-0 win in April 2007. This run of 11 is Villa's longest away losing streak against an opponent in their league history.

What's more, Villa's record when facing any league-leading team is unimpressive. They have won just one of their 21 Premier League away games against league leaders (D3 L17), beating Leeds United 2-1 in January 2000, and have lost the last seven by an aggregate score of 21-1.

Villa pulled off a shock of sorts when beating fourth-placed finishers Chelsea on the final day of last season, but they have not won their last game of a league campaign in consecutive seasons since the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. The second of those wins came against champions Arsenal, but that is almost a quarter of a century ago.

 

Doubling up on the last day?

City will have Erling Haaland on board next season, so a flip of tactics seems inevitable to accommodate the prolific striker. This term, City have tended to rely on their midfield and attacking wide players to deliver in front of goal, and three players have reached double figures: Kevin De Bruyne (15 goals), Raheem Sterling (13) and Riyad Mahrez (11).

Now it could be Phil Foden's turn.

Foden has scored nine Premier League goals this season, and if he scores against Villa it would make this season the first for City with two English players (Foden and Sterling) scoring at least 10 goals in a league campaign since 2004-05, when Robbie Fowler and Shaun Wright-Phillips were the pair.

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch says he expects to stay with the club regardless of whether the Whites can "outpoint" Burnley in the Premier League relegation battle.

Marsch inherited a struggling side from Elland Road favourite Marcelo Bielsa and has been unable to transform their fortunes, with Leeds in 18th due to an inferior goal difference compared with 17th-placed Burnley.

Everton secured their Premier League status with a dramatic 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Thursday, when Burnley took the lead but were held to a 1-1 draw by Aston Villa.

Leeds must better Burnley's result on Sunday to escape the drop but face Thomas Frank's Brentford, who are unbeaten in their last 10 home league games against the Whites (W6 D4) since a 2-1 loss in 1950.

Marsch, speaking at a pre-match news conference on Friday, acknowledged the game with Brentford likely represents a must-win clash otherwise Leeds will be reliant on Burnley faltering against Newcastle United.

"[There were] lots of emotions watching it. We can learn a lot from how the other players can handle the pressure differently," he said of watching Thursday's Premier League games.

"We're excited for this challenge – we know we have to be at our best. I never came here to think it would be easy. I knew we'd have to fight for everything. I'll make sure we'll do this on Sunday.

"It would have been a lot easier if we were locked into the league already, but the fact that we have to outpoint Burnley makes it very clear for us. A win gives us the best opportunity.

"I slept well last night because I still have confidence in our group. [It is] better when we control our fate, but that's not the case. [We need] to do whatever we can to get the points."

Marsch will be hoping to call upon Patrick Bamford, who has been out since mid-March with a foot injury, but is yet to make a final decision.

"More than anything, we're not risking him at any level," he said of his star striker. "At the moment I don't believe we would be able to.

"We will have one more meeting tomorrow with Patrick on what it looks like, what the loads have been, how he feels and then do a final assessment of is he available, how many minutes, what's the best strategy and then we have to be ready to let him go and play. That's where we are at."

Regardless of whether Leeds will be playing Championship football next campaign, Marsch plans to still be in charge.

"I'm still planning to be here even in relegation," the American added. "It's a long-term project and the club committed to me in that way. The connections we have made mesh well together.

"The support from everyone has been amazing, but I'm not thinking about the long-term project, only about Sunday and preparing for that."

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