Manchester City regaining the Premier League title is not a foregone conclusion yet, despite Pep Guardiola's side moving three points clear of Liverpool on Sunday.

That is according to Manchester United great Gary Neville, who believes the injury to centre-back Ruben Dias in City's 5-0 rout of Newcastle United offers hope to Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool.

Liverpool were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Tottenham on Saturday, before a Raheem Sterling double inspired City to a comfortable victory the following day.

City furthered their advantage with three games to play and also boast a better goal difference than Liverpool, whose 64 is four fewer than Guardiola's side.

However, Neville – speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast – insisted the title race is not over yet as City face challenging trips to West Ham and Wolves, and a home clash with Aston Villa to secure the championship.

"I do believe Wolves or West Ham could shock Manchester City," he said. 

"With Ruben Dias injured, they are going to teams who have got systems of play that can hurt City. Both teams have had good seasons. They are awkward. City will need to be at their best.

"The centre-back partnership has been obliterated. The injury is a boost for Liverpool's chances. I do think there is something left in this title race. It won't go plain sailing to the end.

"If City get through the next two, they'll win it. Wolves or West Ham have to pull points off City but it's not over.

"If Liverpool had to pick two away games to send City to it probably would be Arsenal and Tottenham, but after that it would be West Ham and Wolves.

"Manchester United have gone and Chelsea have dropped their levels. There is a lot to play for. It's good for the league that Liverpool are playing first and can get level.

"I don't think Liverpool will drop points. They will do their job.

"Whoever finishes first or second you won't say the other one has blown it or bottled it. These two teams never disappoint with their work-rate or attitude. Being professional and preparing well is a permanent thing.

"These two teams do it so well. They care about their work, their attitude, their ethos. It's constant. Under Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, it's been faultless."

At the other end of the table, Leeds United slipped into the relegation zone for the first time since October after their 2-1 loss to Arsenal and Everton's 2-1 win at Leicester City.

Neville acknowledged Jesse Marsch's Leeds are now the favourites to go down alongside Watford and Norwich City, especially after Luke Ayling's mindless dismissal meant he will miss the rest of the season.

"I fear for Leeds I really do," he added. "They are favourites to go down. Everything that could go wrong, Stuart Dallas, Luke Ayling, the spirit and energy of the club, is not there. They are massive players. What Ayling has done will cost them.

"We'll see what happens. But we've got a title race, a good top-four race and a compelling yet awful relegation battle.

"The desperation of going down. And the financial loss is too great. That drop is enormous and a club is going to suffer it. We hear rumours of Burnley paying a £65million loan back, imagine the losses that Everton would suffer and there will be lots of losses at Leeds too.

"It's going to be awful. I've heard the difference between staying up and going down for a Premier League club is £120m of cash they'd have to put in if they didn't sell any players. It's not pocket change.

"That can't be right that the cliff edge is so steep. The fall is so big. But that's the Premier League."

Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool are the neutrals' favourites for the Premier League title, but he knows it will not matter if Manchester City keep winning with the support of their fans. 

City endured a difficult week in which their Champions League hopes were dashed for another season, yet they reached Sunday evening in pole position for their latest domestic triumph. 

A 5-0 home win against Newcastle United moved City three points and, perhaps crucially, four goals ahead of Liverpool, who were held by Tottenham on Saturday. 

However, in a remarkable post-match interview with beIN SPORTS – in which he also highlighted Liverpool's lack of Premier League heritage – Guardiola suggested City's potential title success would not be popular in England. 

Asked about the change in the title race this weekend, the City manager quickly pointed out his side had already been in control. 

"One week ago, we were one point in front," he said. "But everybody in this country supports Liverpool, the media, everyone, because Liverpool has an incredible history in European competitions. 

"Not in the Premier League, because they've won one in 30 years. 

"But it's not a problem at all. The situation is what it is. We have to do nine points or maybe six right now – it depends on what is going to happen in the next two games in terms goal difference. 

"Now, Wednesday [against Wolves] is the real, real, real final for us. We are going to try to go there to win. Our destiny is in our own hands, and that's important. We have to look at ourselves. With one point or three points, nothing changed." 

Later in the same interview, Guardiola was asked to explain his comments. 

"Liverpool alongside [Manchester] United are the most important teams in history in terms of legacy, titles, history, dramas, for many, many things," he replied. 

"But we are in the last 10, 11, 12 years always there. I know we are sometimes uncomfortable, but I don't care. If the people want more [for] Liverpool to win than us, it's not the issue. It's normal. 

"Maybe there are more supporters all around the world for sure and here in England that support Liverpool more than us, but this is not the question. The question is, today, before the start of the game, the people cheering and supporting us more than ever in one home game. 

"They know that even being out of the Champions League, we can rely on these players. The support was amazing, and hopefully we can arrive at the last game here with the chance to be champions." 

Manchester City edged closer to the Premier League title, while there was significant change at the bottom of the table on Sunday.

City were eliminated from the Champions League semi-finals in dramatic fashion by Real Madrid in midweek, but saw their domestic hopes boosted when Liverpool dropped points against Tottenham on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola's side subsequently breezed past Newcastle United to move three points clear of the Reds with three games remaining, while West Ham hit relegated Norwich City for four.

Elsewhere, Arsenal continued their charge for Champions League qualification with a narrow victory over 10-man Leeds United, who ended the day in the relegation zone after Everton triumphed at Leicester City.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of the Opta data from the day's top-flight fixtures.

Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle United: Sterling provides as title charge continues 

Raheem Sterling was at the double as City strengthened their grasp on top spot with a 5-0 rout of Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium.

Sterling and Aymeric Laporte struck in the first half, with Joao Cancelo teeing up the England international's opener as the full-back became the fourth of Guardiola's players to reach 10 assists in all competitions this season (also Kevin de Bruyne with 13, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus - both 11).

City are the only team in Europe's big five leagues to have four or more different players reach 10 assists in all competitions this campaign, and Guardiola's men furthered their advantage after the interval.

Rodri then scored following a corner, as Laporte did in the first half, as City managed their 19th and 20th goals from set-piece situations this term in the league, excluding penalties. They have conceded just once from set-pieces themselves, with their plus-19 differential the best figure recorded in a single season in the Premier League since such records are available (2006-07 onwards).

Foden added a fourth before Sterling capped a fine victory with his 51st Premier League goal at the Etihad, becoming only the second player to pass 50 strikes for City at home in the competition after Sergio Aguero (106).

City have beaten Newcastle 28 times in the Premier League (D8 L8), more than they have any other side in the competition. In their league history, they have only beaten Everton (72 times) more often than the Magpies (68 times).

Meanwhile, Eddie Howe has lost all 12 of his Premier League meetings with City – 10 of those against Guardiola – the worst 100 per cent losing record a manager has against a single opponent or against another boss in the competition.

Arsenal 2-1 Leeds United: Ill-tempered Whites fall into relegation zone

An Eddie Nketiah double kept Arsenal on course for Champions League qualification as they triumphed 2-1 against 10-man Leeds, who dropped into the bottom three for the first time since October 30.

Nketiah fired the Gunners into a 2-0 lead as he became just the second Arsenal player to score twice in the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League game after Kanu (versus Sunderland in October 2002).

With Alexandre Lacazette out of favour, Nketiah has stepped up as Mikel Arteta's talisman, scoring four goals in his last four league games – just one fewer than he had managed in his first 52 top-flight appearances.

Luke Ayling was then dismissed for a mindless two-footed lunge on Gabriel Martinelli after 27 minutes, Leeds' earliest red card in the competition since April 1998 (when Lucas Radebe saw red after 17 minutes against Everton).

Tempers continued to flare before the interval as Leeds picked up their 95th and 96th yellow cards of the season, setting a new record for the most bookings for a club within a single Premier League campaign.

Diego Llorente offered Jesse Marsch's visitors brief hope as he poked home with Leeds' first shot on target, which marked the first home league goal Arsenal have conceded from a corner since February 2021 (also against Leeds).

However, Arsenal held on for victory to move four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who they face on Thursday knowing victory will secure Champions League football next campaign.

Leicester City 1-2 Everton: Toffees move out of bottom three

Mason Holgate's second-half header proved the difference as Everton climbed out of the relegation zone with a battling 2-1 victory at Leicester.

Before this game, Leicester had won eight of their last nine top-flight matches against sides starting the day inside the relegation zone (D1), but the Foxes were caught cold by Vitalii Mykolenko's early volley.

That made Mykolenko the first Ukrainian to score a Premier League goal for Everton, the 39th different nationality to find the net in the competition for the Toffees, the sixth most of all clubs.

Patson Daka restored parity five minutes later, with all five of the striker's Premier League goals coming at the King Power Stadium – only Jamie Vardy (6) has netted more often at home for the club in the top-flight in 2021-22.

Holgate delivered the decisive finish in the 30th minute with his second league goal in his last five matches, one more than he had managed across his previous 109 top-flight appearances beforehand (one).

Brendan Rodgers will be left frustrated by the nature of Holgate's goal, given it was the 15th Premier League strike Leicester have conceded from a corner this campaign – the most by a side in a single campaign since Brighton and Hove Albion in 2017-18 (16).

Victory marked the first away league win in 15 games for Everton, ending a seven-game losing streak on the road as Frank Lampard's side moved a point clear of Leeds and Burnley having played one game fewer.

Norwich City 0-4 West Ham: Bowen and Benrahma on song to down Canaries

Said Benrahma scored twice as West Ham responded to Thursday's Europa League semi-final heartbreak by cruising past relegated Norwich 4-0 at Carrow Road.

Benrahma struck after 12 minutes before Michail Antonio ended his joint-longest goal drought in the top-flight with his fifth Premier League strike against the Canaries, only against Tottenham (six) has he scored more in the competition. 

Algeria international Benrahma doubled his tally before the interval, taking him to 21 direct goal contributions in the competition (nine goals, 12 assists). Since his debut in 2020, Jarrod Bowen (30) and Antonio (28) are the only other Hammers to register 20+ top-flight goal involvements.

Bowen assisted both of Benrahma's strikes as the former Hull City man became just the second player for West Ham to register at least 10 goals and 10 assists in a Premier League season, and the first since Paolo Di Canio in 1999-00 (16 goals, 13 assists).

Indeed, only Harry Kane (32) has been involved in more goals among English Premier League players in all competitions than Bowen this season (27 – 16 goals, 11 assists).

Manuel Lanzini's second-half penalty rounded off the victory as West Ham won a Premier League away game by at least a four-goal margin for just the third time, while it was the first time the Hammers have put at least four goals past a side in consecutive league visits since doing so against Tottenham in November 1966.

Meanwhile, Norwich have failed to score in 20 different league games this season, becoming the first side to do so in at least 20 matches in three different Premier League campaigns (also in 1994-95 and 2019-20).

Jamie Carragher has told Manchester City not to go "anywhere near" Paul Pogba after the Manchester United midfielder was linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium. 

Pogba is out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of the season and recent reports have suggested City could make a move to take him from their local rivals. 

However, after Pep Guardiola's team went back to the top of the Premier League following a 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United on Sunday, Carragher stated his belief that Pogba would not suit City's style and work ethic. 

"I wouldn't go anywhere near him," the former Liverpool defender said on Sky Sports. "[City] win the league every year, get 95-100 points every year. He doesn't work hard enough, as much as the other [City] players. 

"If Pep could get it out of him, fantastic, there's no doubting his ability... but when you see the players City have, you see [Phil] Foden, Bernardo Silva, these types of players who are brilliant players and don't stop running, don't stop working from minute one to minute 90. That's what makes Manchester City what they are." 

Fellow Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp had a different view, believing it would be a move that would make sense for both parties. 

"An incredible move, it'd be one that, I have to be honest, I wouldn't have seen coming," he said. "But you have to weigh it up. Free transfer, he'll have a point to prove because he's taken a lot of stick since he's been at United. 

"No matter what you say about Paul Pogba, as a free transfer – high wages, of course, but that's not a problem for Man City – you would take him in a heartbeat. 

"He adds a lot to this team, and I think he'd be hungry to come and show what he can do. He lives in the area, I think it would be an incredible move. It'd be a brave move, but I'd love to see that in the Premier League. I think it'd make sense all round." 

Pep Guardiola revealed Manchester City will be without three key defenders for the Premier League title run-in and joked Phil Foden might have to step in at the back.

Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias have been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury, with Dias forced off at half-time against Newcastle United on Sunday with a muscle problem.

City won 5-0 and were dominant against a sluggish Newcastle side, but there are testing away games at Wolves and West Ham to come for Guardiola's team, before they round off their campaign at home to Aston Villa.

A three-point lead over second-placed Liverpool could come under threat if the situation becomes any worse.

Aymeric Laporte was partnered in central defence by veteran Fernandinho for the second half of the one-sided Newcastle clash, after which Guardiola told a media conference the news about Walker, Stones and Dias.

"In this situation it is not a problem. If Rodri has to play in that position it is not a problem, or if it's someone from the academy," Guardiola said.

Guardiola had earlier told Sky Sports: "If Phil Foden has to play as a central defender, he will play as a central defender."

Asked if that could really happen, Guardiola replied: "No."

Foden the attacker would be an obvious misfit in the backline, and City will hope they do not have excessive defending to do over the closing fortnight of the campaign. Wolves away is the next test, at Molineux on Wednesday.

Guardiola said City were "outstanding" and delivered a "perfect" display against Newcastle, four days after their agonising Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.

"With what this team have done, did you have any doubts?" Guardiola said.

"We've been five years doing this, every three days. If some people doubt us, it's because they still don't know this team and what it is able to do.

"I'm not talking about winning or losing. It's not about one afternoon or one night. How many years, being there every three days, every time."

City have scored five or more goals in a Premier League game 30 times in the Guardiola era now.

Newcastle, meanwhile, are winless in 32 away games in the competition against teams starting the day inside the top two places in the table (D4 L28) since beating second-placed Arsenal at Highbury in December 2001.

City chief Guardiola was unsure why critics, including former players, might question the character in his ranks.

"It's one of the best groups I've ever trained in my life," Guardiola said.

"We passed through two tough days, but today we spoke for the first time [since Madrid] and I said, 'You have a perfect life, in the perfect club'.

"We are three points up front, nine points to play for, goal difference four goals ahead. Another final on Wednesday."

Jack Grealish hailed a "perfect" response from Manchester City as a 5-0 thumping of Newcastle United banished their Champions League blues. 

City will not be champions of Europe this season after their dramatic semi-final exit to Real Madrid, but they are red-hot favourites for the Premier League title after this weekend's turn of events. 

Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Tottenham, which halted the Reds' 12-game winning run in the league at Anfield, allowed City to pull three points clear on Sunday. 

With only three rounds of games remaining, City would have to throw it away. They have Wolves, West Ham and Aston Villa to come, and the onslaught against Newcastle saw City go four ahead of Liverpool in the goal difference stakes too. 

As Grealish acknowledged, the destiny of the title is very much in City's hands. 

Grealish told Sky Sports: "We always knew there was going to be pressure on us today, especially after what happened in midweek, but we bounced back perfectly. 

"We've stuck together as a team and a unit in the past few days, which was needed. We'll just try to end the season strongly, and we've certainly done that today." 

City were 5-3 ahead on aggregate against Madrid heading into the closing moments in the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, but Rodrygo's late double and a Karim Benzema penalty in extra time left Pep Guardiola's visitors shaken. 

"Today was a perfect response and a perfect performance," Grealish said. 

"We're in the driving seat. We can't look at what's going on around us. It's in our hands, and we have to go and win every game as we would anyway." 

It was the 30th time that City have scored five or more goals in a Premier League game since Guardiola took charge at the start of the 2016-17 season. 

Grealish teed up Oleksandr Zinchenko to cross for Phil Foden to score City's fourth, and the former Aston Villa man played in Raheem Sterling for the fifth in stoppage time. 

Rodri had earlier headed the third, and the Spanish midfielder said: "The personality we saw today was unbelievable – 5-0 after what happened [in Madrid] is incredible. 

"The mood wasn't very high as you can see, but on Friday the team woke up and focused on the game." 

Pointing to his head, Rodri added: "I think we do unbelievable work here. Sometimes it's more important than in the legs and that's what the champion teams do." 

Manchester City can sniff silverware after moving three points clear of Liverpool at the Premier League summit with a ruthless 5-0 win over Newcastle United.

Raheem Sterling started and ended this rout, with Aymeric Laporte, Rodri and Phil Foden also on the scoresheet as City made no mistake at the Etihad Stadium.

Rocked by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday, City did not play as though they were nursing a hangover from that bitter blow.

Pep Guardiola said the Madrid game was sure to be on his players' minds, but a welcome distraction arrived when title rivals Liverpool were held by Tottenham on Saturday, a major blow to the Reds' hopes. On this evidence, City should be celebrating a successful title defence back at this stadium in two weeks' time.

Newcastle's Chris Wood missed a glorious chance after eight minutes when he put a tame header straight at Ederson from Allan Saint-Maximin's cross, and from a corner moments later at the other end Laporte skied a close-range shot.

Joao Cancelo smashed wastefully wide after Kevin De Bruyne's cross from the left, but City were soon ahead. The opener came in the 19th minute when Ilkay Gundogan's floated pass was headed across goal by Cancelo for Sterling to nod in from close range.

Wood had the ball in the City net, but his close-range finish was disallowed for an offside against Bruno Guimaraes, and the hosts doubled their lead in the 38th minute when Martin Dubravka spilled Gundogan's 20-yard volley from a corner routine and Laporte bundled in.

Rodri made it 3-0 on the hour when De Bruyne's corner from the left found him at the near post, and the midfielder's header pinged low past Dubravka.

Oleksandr Zinchenko had a fierce drive tipped over by Dubravka as City looked to boost their goal difference.

They grabbed a fourth in the 90th minute when Foden converted from close range after Jack Grealish and Zinchenko combined on the left, and Grealish fed Sterling to drive home a fifth to rub it in for both Newcastle and Liverpool.

What does it mean? Who can stop City now?

Guardiola must take his team away to Wolves and West Ham before they host Aston Villa on May 22, the final Sunday of the season. Few would have expected Newcastle to take anything from this game, regardless of their improvement since the turn of the year.

Newcastle have never won a Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium (D2 L15), losing each of their past 13 visits to the stadium now, and when Wood's feeble header let City off the hook early on, it was pretty clear that dire run was not about to end.

Sterling brings up his fifty

City's opener was notable for it being the 50th goal that Sterling has scored in the Premier League at the Etihad Stadium. He added number 51 in the final seconds. Only one player has beaten that total, with Sergio Aguero bagging 106, including five in one game against Newcastle in October 2015.

City's set-piece supremacy

The goals from Laporte and Rodri stemmed from corners and were City's 19th and 20th goals from set-piece situations this season in the Premier League, excluding penalties. They have conceded just once from set-pieces themselves, with their plus-19 differential the best figure recorded in a single season in the competition since such records are available (2006-07 onwards).

What's next?

City face a tricky trip to Wolves on Wednesday. Newcastle are not back in action until May 16, when they host Arsenal.

Erling Haaland looks set to announce his exit from Borussia Dortmund within days as the club prepare to lose their star striker. 

Dortmund's Sebastian Kehl, who will step up from his player licensing role to become sporting director at the season's end, said on Sunday that the club were braced for the 21-year-old to move on. 

Manchester City are reported front-runners for the signature of the Norway international, who joined Dortmund in late December 2019 after catching the eye at Salzburg. 

Kehl told German broadcaster Sport1: "I think we will have clarity next week. I wouldn't be surprised if he moves on in the end." 

Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona have also been heavily linked with Haaland, but the prospect of a move to LaLiga has seemed to cool in recent months. 

Haaland's father, Alf-Inge, had a playing stint at City and the Dortmund striker was born in Leeds, so a move to England may hold particular appeal. 

Pep Guardiola, the City manager, has repeatedly declined to discuss the prospect of bringing in Haaland. 

However, with Champions League trophy success again proving elusive for City this season, acquiring a striker of Haaland's pedigree looks imperative for Guardiola. 

Dortmund are expected to sign Karim Adeyemi from Salzburg as Haaland's replacement, with Kehl also expecting movement in that direction in the coming week. 

Haaland has scored 28 goals in 29 games across all competitions for Dortmund this season, proving prolific despite his campaign being disrupted by injuries. He scored 41 times in 41 matches last term, his first full season in Germany. 

Daniel Sturridge has issued a rallying cry to his former club Liverpool after they dropped points in the Premier League title race.

The Reds were held to a 1-1 draw by Tottenham at Anfield on Saturday, giving rivals Manchester City a boost ahead of their clash with Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Should City win, they will go three points ahead of Liverpool with three games remaining.

Sturridge – who played for both teams either side of a spell at Chelsea – took to Twitter on Sunday to share his belief that "all isn't lost" for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Despite the setback in their title push, Liverpool still have Champions League and FA Cup finals to look forward to, having already secured the EFL Cup in February.

"To all the red men out there. All isn't lost," Sturridge wrote. "Big games ahead, a lot to play for. An unbelievable squad, backroom staff and ownership intact.

"The club has improved immensely in the last 10 years. My optimism for what @LFC are and will become hasn't wavered. #redordead"

The former England international played 160 games for Liverpool between 2013 and 2019, scoring 67 goals and registering 20 assists.

He left Anfield to sign for Trabzonspor before moving to Australia with Perth Glory.

The draw with Spurs was only the third time Liverpool have dropped points in a Premier League game since the turn of the year, and was the first time they have failed to win at home in the league since a 2-2 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in October.

Following their exit at the hands of Roma in the Europa Conference League semi-finals, Leicester City are at the fork in the road that faces every club their size following some success.

History says that sustainable progress will have to come at the expense of selling the players who got the club to such heights.

While James Maddison and Wesley Fofana have long been on the wish lists of bigger clubs, Youri Tielemans reportedly looks set to leave also.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL, REAL MADRID SET ON TIELEMANS

Arsenal are closing in on a £40million transfer for Leicester City and Belgium midfielder Youri Tielemans, The Sun is reporting.

Real Madrid are waiting to pounce, however, if Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League this season.

Leicester are now reportedly resigned to selling the 25-year-old, whose goal won the Foxes the FA Cup last term. 

Tielemans has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football, meaning Manchester United have dropped out of the race.

ROUND-UP

- Fernandinho appears set to leave Manchester City, despite having a year remaining on his contract, citing a personal decision, per Fabrizio Romano.

Tottenham are looking to sign Villarreal's Pau Torres for a fee below his release clause of £55million (€64.3m), Football Insider reports.

- The Daily Star are reporting Nemanja Matic, who will leave Manchester United at the end of the season, is set to join Juventus.

- West Ham are leading the race to sign 23-year-old Chile international Ben Brereton-Diaz from Blackburn Rovers, according to The Sun.

Joey Barton had cited Real Madrid's remarkable Champions League fightback against Manchester City as an example to Bristol Rovers before Saturday's promotion decider, but even he might have struggled to imagine the "footballing miracle" that unfolded.

Former City and Newcastle United midfielder Barton led Rovers into their final match of the League Two season outside the automatic promotion places on goal difference and so needing to better Northampton Town's result by five goals.

Still, boss Barton's focus was on what Rovers could achieve against already-relegated Scunthorpe United, rather than worrying about Northampton's result at Barrow.

"If we win 10-0, we're up, aren't we? It is in our hands in that way," he said, adding: "It's very rare you do someone by 10, but who knows?"

As it was, seven would do – tying a club record.

At half-time, Rovers were 2-0 up, but Northampton also led by two, 3-1 in front and coasting towards League One.

Having scored four in the second half of the previous week's sensational 4-3 win at Rochdale, Barton's side this time needed five in the same period.

But the one-time England international was not daunted by the challenge, having pointed to Madrid's turnaround that secured a Champions League final place.

"Madrid thought they were out of the Champions League, then they scored two goals in stoppage time," he had said. "It only takes a second to score a goal."

Rovers certainly did not lack ambition in pursuit of their unlikely aim, attempting 34 shots – the second-most by a team in a single League Two game this season.

Elliot Anderson, the Newcastle loanee dubbed 'the Geordie Maradona' following a comparison from Barton to the late Argentina legend, contributed to 15 of those efforts, taking eight shots himself and creating seven chances.

Following his signing, winger Anderson – who only ended up at Rovers after a Championship loan collapsed – led League Two in shot involvements (133) and ranked second for goal involvements (13).

It was no surprise then that the teenager, having supplied two assists, scored the decisive seventh goal in a 7-0 win while Northampton failed to add to their lead. Even Madrid would surely have been impressed.

"Incredible," Rovers owner Wael al-Qadi told BBC Sport. "It was fantastic to have experienced such a moment.

"The plan was to go for it. I never doubted this bunch of players. They went for it and look what happened. It's a footballing miracle."

Both the owner and Barton had taken to the pitch to plead with Rovers fans to return to the stands and allow the match to finish after Anderson's header.

"I can't describe it," Barton added. "It's probably something when I'm in my rocking chair, and the fact I've headed a lot of balls out at the near post area has caught up with me, I'll remember this favourably with Weetabix running down my chin.

"I'll be thinking of the scenes at the Mem on this day."

Manchester City have become a shock suitor for disgruntled Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Pogba, 29, has previously spoken about regretting his move to Old Trafford, and had been expected to leave the Premier League in the upcoming transfer window, being strongly linked with Barcelona and Real Madrid.

While the Frenchman has highlighted his desire to compete for trophies, he may not have to leave the city to get his wish, with a chance to insert himself into Manchester football folklore if he ditches the red for sky blue.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TO OFFER POGBA FOUR-YEAR DEAL WITH FREE TRANSFER

The Daily Mail is reporting City have interest in bringing in Pogba on a free transfer, while the Guardian claims the French midfielder would like to work with Pep Guardiola, and that the club are willing to offer a four-year deal.

If he makes the move, Pogba would be arguably the biggest name to ever make the switch, rivalling Carlos Tevez, but the Guardian report notes he would be taking a pay cut in doing so.

It is not known if offers coming from Spain would be more lucrative financially, but arguably no team can offer a better chance at European and domestic success than City.

In 154 Premier League appearances since his arrival in 2016, Pogba has scored 29 goals and laid on 41 assists.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Telegraph is reporting Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter is considered the favourite to replace Antonio Conte at Tottenham if he is to leave at the end of the season. Brighton are said to be seeking compensation of £10million from Spurs in the agreement.

Manchester United are interested in 19-year-old French striker Hugo Ekitike from Reims, according to the Daily Mail.

– Football London is reporting Chelsea are considering a move for Torino defender Gleison Bremer.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, Monaco will not accept less than €70m for Liverpool defender Aurelien Tchouameni.

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting Liverpool have agreed to a £7m deal for Fulham's 19-year-old Portuguese forward Marco Silva.

Real Madrid's dramatic Champions League turnaround against Manchester City showed Carlos Sainz he has plenty of time to get his Formula One season back on track. 

Riyad Mahrez looked to have done enough to deny Madrid a place in the final of Europe's premier club competition on Tuesday but two last-gasp goals from Rodrygo forced extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Karim Benzema's penalty then gave the Spanish giants a 6-5 aggregate semi-final victory to book their place in the showpiece match against Liverpool. 

Madrid fan Sainz is finding himself under pressure to turn things around at Ferrari, having been forced to retire in the opening stages of the previous two races. 

Ahead of this weekend's maiden Miami Grand Prix, Sainz joked that anything is still possible for him this season given the feat Madrid managed to pull off. 

"Missing the 600 kilometres [of the past two races] hurts me more than the zero points, because the kilometres are what make you learn about the car and the new regulations," he told AS. 

"I did a test in Imola in which I also had a problem, but we are recovering as best we can. It's part of the athlete's life. There are always better and worse moments. 

"The last two races have not been ideal – far from it – but we have also had a bit of bad luck. Now we want a clean weekend to try to recover. 

"Madrid had it worse. I have 19 races left. Madrid had five minutes left!" 

However, Sainz revealed that promotional duties meant he missed Rodrygo's late double. 

"It was amazing. I missed the last few minutes of chaos because I was in the middle of an event with Shell. It shows that nothing is decided until the last minute," he added. 

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City have already achieved their aims by being contenders in every competition, insisting he was not brought to the Etihad Stadium to win the Champions League.

City's wait for European football's top club prize will go on after they lost 6-5 on aggregate to Real Madrid following an incredible semi-final collapse.

But in a lengthy response to a question about his players' chances of ever winning the competition ahead of Sunday's Premier League game against Newcastle United, Guardiola explained how the club view success differently from "the people" on the outside.

"I don't know [if this team can win it]," he said. "It's a question I cannot answer. Before Madrid, I did not know if we were able to win it.

"I don't have an answer to all your questions. Football is incredibly unpredictable – we saw it.

"This is my feeling, maybe I'm wrong: Abu Dhabi didn't buy this club and invest in these incredible facilities, invest in players, like a lot of other clubs in the world, to be what we lived the last years.

"It's not to win just the Champions League. They did it to be there in all competitions, in every season, compete, compete, compete until the end.

"In the Champions League, we want to do it – maybe I'm not good enough, nobody knows what happens with another manager – but we want to be there as much as possible in all competitions. For us, it's an honour.

"There are people who I know didn't appreciate what this club is doing. Maybe it's not enough, but for me it's incredible, remarkable.

"Being in the semi-finals of the Champions League again, after last season, making steps to be there and compete against an outstanding team in this competition, the way we did it, home and away...

"We were close – not close enough, because the team who wins deserves it – but we were there. This is my feeling.

"It always depends on winning the Champions League, winning the Champions League, winning the Premier League, winning the Premier League – nothing about what we have done since the takeover one decade ago, with all the players that went before, the managers that went before – it doesn't make sense.

"We will try again next season; it will be difficult, because the teams are good. I know the people want to be in that way, I accept it from day one, I have to handle it, but it's not a problem for me.

"It's not about that; it's about in the Premier League again being there, in the FA Cup semi-finals again, in the Champions League semi-finals, this season it could not happen but even the Carabao Cup four times in a row.

"This is where the club want to be. That's why they ask me to come here, for that.

"They never ask me to win any one title. They never ask me anything, the club, if anything just to play as good as possible and compete with all the teams in England and all the teams in Europe we have to play. It's completely opposite to what people think about it.

"I'm not saying it's fair or not fair; I'm not saying that.

"People say if they this group of players or this manager doesn't win a title, they're failures. I accept it, but I completely disagree, completely. We know how difficult it is, but I accept it.

"I'm not going to make it a thing where I am right and you're wrong. You can do whatever, say whatever, but as a club, the feeling that we have, it's to try to do it.

"We are sad, of course we are sad – we were close. The players wanted to play the final. But for this club to compete with Real Madrid the way that we did was a joy.

"How close we were, wow, but we could not do it, okay. I say congratulations to Liverpool and Real Madrid; if they are in the final, they deserve to be in the final.

"It's important that next season we are going to try; if it doesn't work, we are going to try again; if it doesn't work, we are going to try again.

"And in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup next season, we want to go further than we were this season.

"This is when we became a club, you know, a club where this club is great, it's good. Look at all the big clubs in Europe, who every year are there, are there, are there; in the last years, we are there.

"Sometimes it's not possible. Sometimes you put in everything and you do not achieve it. What is the problem?

"Okay, we did not achieve it. The next day, you try to do it; in the good moments, take credit; in the bad moments, more sad than usual. The next day, you try to do it. The club is good for this."

Guardiola insisted he "cannot live" for European glory alone – and suggested City would be criticised even if they did win the Champions League.

Asked if the defeat gave him added hunger, he replied: "No, always I am starving.

"I know the people outside here demand Champions League, Champions League, Champions League, we know it, but I cannot live [just for that].

"The moment we win the Champions League, they'll say look at the money we spent. If not, they spent all that money and didn't win the Champions League. We are the only club in the world in the last 10, 15, 20 years who spent money."

Eddie Howe has revealed he will call a team meeting at Newcastle United to clarify comments made by Allan Saint-Maximin, who appeared to criticise his team-mates.

Saint-Maximin's interview with So Foot was published this week, in which the winger compared himself to Sadio Mane and said he would provide assists more regularly "the day when I have a player capable of finishing the actions".

The 25-year-old has only four assists this season despite creating 45 chances from open play – the eighth-most in the league and most outside the top six.

Callum Wilson, who has been out injured since December, remains Newcastle's top scorer with just six goals. Only Wolves (Raul Jimenez, also six) have had their leading marksman tally so few.

But Saint-Maximin did not intend to criticise his team-mates, Howe says, with both the player and coach seeking to ensure there was no "damage" to the team before a big game away at Manchester City.

"I saw the quotes, spoke with Allan," Howe said on Friday. "I think I need to make this clear that Allan's quotes didn't come across in the way he meant them to.

"He was concerned yesterday. We spoke, and in no way did he mean to damage the team and the unity that we've built. Of course, he said things in an interview, but, as I said, it wasn't in the context that he meant, although it happened.

"We'll be speaking with the squad and making sure there's no fallout from that, because unity has been our strength. It's vitally important that we keep that."

Regardless, Saint-Maximin and Newcastle will be boosted by the return of Wilson, who "looks in a good place and there's a good chance he'll be involved on Sunday".

England right-back Kieran Trippier is "slightly behind Callum" in his recovery but could still feature, while Howe is holding out hope for Fabian Schar to play despite missing training this week following an injury against Liverpool on Saturday.

Newcastle lost 1-0 to Liverpool and now face their title rivals City at the Etihad Stadium, where they have never won in the Premier League, losing their past 12 such matches.

Howe has been beaten in all 11 of his league games against City, including nine against Pep Guardiola – two competition records for one coach losing 100 per cent of their matches against any specific opponent or manager.

But City are coming off a painful Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, potentially making them vulnerable on Sunday, although Howe wants his team to improve, too.

"[The Champions League defeat] can work both ways," Howe said. "It can emotionally affect them in the positive or the negative.

"We will 100 per cent prepare for the best Manchester City, so we have to be the best Newcastle we can be. Looking back to last week, that was the disappointment for last week. We just missed the intensity in our work."

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