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Gabriel Jesus scored twice as Manchester City eased past 10-man Wolves to cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table to four points.

City did not manage a repeat of the scoring feats that had seen them hit 16 goals against Rotherham and Burton in their previous two games, but the outcome was rarely in doubt despite the relatively modest winning margin.

Jesus opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Leroy Sane ran on to a peach of a pass by Aymeric Laporte and squared for the Brazilian to slide home.

A tough task for Wolves got even harder when Willy Boly was dismissed nine minutes later, with the French defender shown a straight red card for a dangerous jumping challenge on Bernardo Silva.

City initially failed to take advantage of their extra man and were given a scare when Jonny narrowly failed to turn in Diogo Jota’s cross on a rare foray forward by the visitors.

That woke them from their slumbers and moments later they extended their lead from the spot.

Ryan Bennett sent Raheem Sterling tumbling as he burst into the box and Jesus stepped up to take his personal tally to seven in City’s past three matches and put his side in complete control by half-time.

The only question left at the break was how many more City would score. Pep Guardiola’s side had got five goals in the second half against Burton in the Carabao Cup and four against Rotherham in the FA Cup but had to settle for one this time.

Substitute Kevin de Bruyne whipped in a cross from a short corner routine, and Conor Coady could only deflect it into his own net to complete a miserable night for the visitors.

City just shy of record
City ended the night pushing for more goals but ended the evening one short of 100 in all competitions for the season.

It meant they missed out on equalling the record they set themselves in 2013-14 for being the fastest team to that landmark in the Premier League era but, other than their league position, that is just about the only thing they can be disappointed about at the moment.

They are the highest scorers in the Premier League with 59, and this was another message to Liverpool – who they beat here at the start of the year – that the title race is very much on.

Tuesday will mark a month since City last topped the table, and will also see Liverpool overhaul them as the team to have spent the longest at the summit this season – with the Reds leading the way with 75 days to City’s 74.

And, on the evidence of this latest relentless attacking display, Guardiola’s side have the firepower to keep the pressure on the leaders.

Wolves forced into damage limitation
The first points that City dropped this season came in an enthralling 1-1 draw at Molineux in August, and Nuno Espirito Santo has shown that was no fluke with his side’s subsequent results against Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool.

On this occasion, however, Wolves were unable to lay a finger on City, especially once Boly had been dismissed – and they struggled to get a touch on the ball too.

They played only 271 passes to 870 by the defending champions, and very few of them were in the City half.

A fourth-minute header by the French defender that looped harmlessly wide was Wolves’ sole effort at goal in the 90 minutes, and they only managed five touches in the City box.

Wolves continued to work hard, and restrict City’s chances, but it was clear this was an exercise in damage limitation and they will have to wait a little longer for their first points of the new year.

Atletico Madrid are in talks to sign Alvaro Morata from Chelsea.

Morata has been linked with a Stamford Bridge exit after losing his place as Chelsea’s first-choice striker, with boss Maurizio Sarri preferring to utilise Eden Hazard as his main point of reference in attack.

The former Real Madrid striker could be set for a return to the Spanish capital, less than two years after joining Chelsea in a club-record £70m deal.

Sarri has made no secret of his desire to add two players to his squad and has targeted a reunion with former Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain, who is currently on loan at AC Milan from Juventus.

Higuain is Chelsea’s priority to reinforce their attack although the club are also weighing up a move for Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, with the England international also interesting West Ham, who may need to find a replacement for Marko Arnautovic.

Blancos coach Santiago Solari doesn’t favour the playmaker, but the problems run deeper and a summer exit looks likely
Real Madrid, despite being decimated by injuries and struggling for goals across the board since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, are showing no signs of reintroducing Isco to the starting XI under Santiago Solari – but why?

The situation is a complex one, especially given the lack of communication coming out of the Spain international’s camp, but Goal will attempt to explain.

Firstly, Solari is not a big fan of the four-time Champions League winner’s style of play. The Argentine coach prefers a 4-3-3 system without a recognised number 10 – the very position that the playmaker plays his finest football.

In addition, Isco has not been in his best form since Solari’s appointment (one only has to watch his performances to note that as fact), but is seemingly showing no interest in training sessions to rectify that fact.

Indeed, it is thought that Isco had counted on being given more game time to return to his best, but Solari has no intention of giving additional minutes to someone who seems not to be pushing personal limits to return to 100 per cent match fitness.

Instead, Solari prefers players with a good engine and willing to run themselves into the ground for the team. One must only look at Lucas Vazquez, Fede Valverde, Vinicius Jr. and even Brahim Diaz being picked ahead of him to recognise that.

So what chance does Isco have of regaining his spot in the starting XI? Well, he has been named on the bench several times, so there is nothing to suggest that he has been frozen out. It is more likely that his coach won’t place his trust in him until he returns to match fitness.

That’s all well and good, you might say, but how does he feel about Dani Ceballos, four years his junior, being introduced off the bench against Betis, with 15 minutes to go and Madrid needing a goal?

In general, the people in Isco’s camp are staying quiet, but one look at the player’s face during matches paints a picture of an unhappy and angry young man.

One friend of the 26-year-old did speak out via Instagram, however, stating: “Solari has the same idea of football as I do of engineering” before calling the Real boss a “murderer of football”.

Another large matter of note is the complete lack of public support from Isco’s team-mates – not a single member of the squad has defended him during his time in the wilderness. That could be a suggestion that the players are in agreement with the coach that Isco’s style simply doesn’t suit the club’s football.

And let’s not forget being booed by his own fans in Madrid’s clash with CSKA Moscow. Couple that with a lack of support from the club and it’s easy to imagine that a departure from the Santiago Bernabeu could be on the cards as soon as is feasible.

So is Isco’s Real Madrid career over? In short: yes. Certainly as long as Solari remains in charge and Isco is not at 100% fitness. Even if Madrid do appoint a new boss in the summer, however, the damage may already be irreversible.

What happens next? A January move is unlikely. Even with Castilla players being preferred ahead of Isco, the club are still in tatters with regards to injuries, and a player with such a high profile means negotiations will not be fast.

Although he has been linked with Manchester City in the past, Goal understands that a move to the Etihad will not be forthcoming as he does not fit into Pep Guardiola’s plans. Instead, reports suggesting Juventus as a potential destination are probably closer to reality.

For now, Isco’s seat on the bench is likely to stay warm until the summer at the earliest.

The Gunners were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by a clinical Spurs side who learnt their lessons from the recent league defeat

A clinical Tottenham side exposed Arsenal’s defensive frailties on Wednesday night as the Gunners were defeated 2-0 at Emirates Stadium, though in the long run there will be plenty of lessons learnt from the comprehensive loss to their cross-town rivals, who scored from two of their three shots on target.

Unai Emery’s side simply weren’t clinical enough in front of goal and should had taken the lead when Henrikh Mkhitaryan shot straight at Paulo Gazzaniga, while Aaron Ramsey hit the post and Sokratis Papastathopoulos headed wide from a corner.

Spurs meanwhile scored from a simple Gazzaniga drop-kick which Son Heung-min latched onto, while a slick second-half strike from Dele Alli put the game to bed and secured a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. Harry Kane, who started on the bench, had only been on the pitch for 66 seconds before assisting Alli’s goal. Alexandre Lacazette’s second half cameo couldn’t replicate the England striker’s impact.

Going into the clash, Arsenal had only won one of the previous five games they’ve trailed in at half-time this season, though that comeback victory did come against Spurs earlier this month. Pochettino’s men, however, clearly learnt their lessons from that crushing defeat in the Premier League by scoring two crucial goals when it mattered and held onto their lead.

The defeat does come with its positives though, giving Arsenal an extra breather in a packed January month of fixtures, where the squad is already suffering from a plethora of injuries in defence.

That said, there can be no hiding that Emery wanted to progress in the competition as he fielded the strongest possible line-up – albeit with the omitted Mesut Ozil, who wasn’t even named in the matchday squad for ‘tactical reasons’.

Emery’s tactical changes have raised eyebrows in recent games, mostly due to the fact that he’s seen his defence depleted by injury. Granit Xhaka’s new-found role at centre-back continued on a chilly night in north London and the Swiss international struggled, as did Arsenal, without his bounce in the deep lying role that he usually plays in.

The ease with which Tottenham pierced through Arsenal for both goals will be particularly worrying for the Emery, who saw Southampton put three past a makeshift back four on Sunday.

Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal have both recently returned from long-term injuries but they haven’t looked nearly convincing enough in either game, which will surely prompt head of recruitment Sven Mislintat to bolster a paper-thin defence when the transfer window opens next month.

As for Arsenal’s silverware hopes, another one bites the dust.

Their chances of progressing in the Europa League are high while the chase for a top four spot is on the right track, although they will need to cut out the naïve defensive mistakes if they are to secure a place among Europe’s elite next season.

Emery meanwhile was left to answer to the biggest question of the day – why was the highest paid, most creative player in the squad left out for a huge derby match in place of youngsters on the bench?

It was a decision which only weakened Arsenal against Spurs and could have been the difference between getting something from the game or going out.

“Tactical decision” was repeated again in his post-match press conference, before stating: “Today I’m happy with our performance but not happy with our result.

“We are doing our process and [Tottenham] are ahead of us in this process. We need to continue creating our identity and to be more consistent in games.”

Additionally, Emery was unwilling to give a clear answer as to whether he wants Ozil, who watched the match from the stands with Sead Kolasinac and Shkodran Mustafi at the Emirates, to stay at the club.

Whatever’s going on behind the scenes at Arsenal, it’s Tottenham who will get their day out at Wembley.


Harry Redknapp believes the Spaniard is doing a fine job in north London and would be advised to steer well clear of succeeding Jose Mourinho

Mauricio Pochettino has been warned off succeeding Jose Mourinho at Manchester United by Harry Redknapp, with the Argentine told “he’s got a better team at Tottenham, by far”.

With the Red Devils having taken the decision to part with their Portuguese coach, there is now a high-profile vacancy at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken the reins on an interim basis , with the former United striker returning to England on a short-term agreement.

Various candidates have been mooted as a more permanent replacement for Mourinho, with Pochettino among them .

He has enjoyed a productive spell in the Premier League with Southampton and Spurs, which has helped to raise his profile, but Redknapp feels he would be making a mistake in taking on a “difficult” job in Manchester.

“I love him. I like his character and his personality and he gets the best out of his players.

“Would he leave Spurs to go to Manchester United at the moment? He’s got a better team at Tottenham, by far.

“I think Daniel Levy is looking after him very well, he’s got to be up there with the top wage earners and he maybe sees Tottenham as a team he can win trophies with.

“Man United is a massive club, but I think in his situation when he’s building such a good team at Tottenham – there’s a lot of work to be done at Man United to build a good team. Where do you find the players, it’s getting more and more difficult.

“They are way short of being anywhere near the top couple of teams at the moment.”



Franck Ribery scored an 83rd-minute winner as Bayern Munich cut the gap between themselves and Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund to six points by beating RB Leipzig.

Bayern capitalised after Dortmund suffered a first defeat of the season at Fortuna Dusseldorf on Tuesday.

It was a frustrating evening for the champions until Ribery sidestepped two defenders and slotted home.

Ex-Swansea loanee Renato Sanches was one of two players sent off late on.

The Portuguese midfielder was dismissed in the final minute after picking up a second yellow card for reacting angrily to Stefan Ilsanker’s tackle, with the Leipzig player receiving a straight red for lunging in on Thiago Alcantara.

Bayern stay third in the table behind second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach, who defeated Nuremberg 2-0.


Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Kashima Antlers to set up a Club World Cup final against Al Ain, of the United Arab Emirates, on Saturday.

Wales forward Bale scored the semi-final’s opening goal in Abu Dhabi via the post after a one-two with Marcelo.

He tapped his second into an empty net after a defensive error and two minutes later blasted a third from a tight angle from another Marcelo pass.

Shoma Doi pulled one back for the Asian champions.

Bale, who has now scored six goals in five Club World Cup games, had been a doubt with an ankle injury, and was substituted by boss Santiago Solari just before the hour mark.

Real Madrid are aiming to win the tournament for a third year in a row.

They face Abu Dhabi side Al Ain at the Zayed Sports City Stadium on Saturday (16:30 GMT) – with live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Al Ain, who qualified as champions of the host country, shocked Copa Libertadores winners River Plate by winning on penalties in their semi-final.

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The striker has made a big impact since joining Arsenal in January
The Gabon striker has shone for the Gunners since his club-record £60m move from Borussia Dortmund in January, continuing the goalscoring form that made him one of the world’s most feared strikers during his time in Germany.
Aubameyang made an instant impact at the Emirates Stadium, scoring on his debut against Everton, and now sits joint-top of this season’s Premier League scoring charts with Mohamed Salah.

What do the stats say?
Aubameyang’s 20 Premier League goals have been split evenly across the two seasons. He hit 10 in 13 appearances in the first half of the year, and since the start of the 2018/19 campaign he has scored 10 in 17. His total is all the more impressive considering he has spent many games stationed on Arsenal’s left flank.

Aubameyang has contributed seven assists, demonstrating that he is also a team player, but it’s his clinical finishing which has helped Arsenal most.

He is averaging a goal every 118.2 minutes, the third-best strike rate among Premier League players in 2018 behind only Sergio Aguero and Salah.

While he ranks below Aguero and Salah in terms of his strike rate, however, he is ahead of them in terms of shot conversion. His 20 goals have come from just 71 shots, giving him a conversion rate of 28.2 per cent – the highest of any player to reach double figures in 2018. By comparison, Aguero and Salah’s conversion rates are 19.5 per cent and 20.5 per cent respectively.

The 29-year-old has been particularly clinical this season. At the start of December, he became the first Premier League player to score with 10 consecutive shots on target since Benni McCarthy managed it for Blackburn in 2007.

Aubameyang started his Arsenal career in style, scoring a fine debut goal in that 5-1 thrashing of Everton in February. He hit his first doubles for the club in victories over Stoke and Burnley last season, and he also had the honour of scoring the last goal of the Arsene Wenger era – his strike sealing Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Huddersfield on the final day.

There have been more memorable moments this season. Aubameyang came off the bench to score twice in consecutive games against Fulham and Leicester, and earlier this month his goals helped Arsenal to a thrilling 4-2 win over Tottenham in the north London derby.
Aubameyang’s first goal came from the penalty spot at the Emirates Stadium, and he scored his second with a brilliant curling finish from the edge of the box in the second half. Arsenal fans will hope for more of the same in 2019.

“I think he is one of the favourites to be top scorer this season,” says Charlie Nicholas. “I think he will really push the likes of Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Mohamed Salah and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out on top.

“Having said that I still don’t think he’s a proper number nine. He can play there but I think he’s kind of a 10-and-a-half. He doesn’t play as a wideman but he’s best starting there and coming inside.

“I actually think he has played better when he has been with Alexandre Lacazette because he doesn’t particularly like the physical side of things or linking play. He likes it in behind because of his pace that he’s got.

“His record is really good though. I like him a great deal. He’s a big improvement for Arsenal. I just much prefer him when he’s linking up with Lacazette rather than being a solo number nine.”


The Norwegian coach has been installed as the club’s new temporary boss following Jose Mourinho’s sacking

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as Manchester United’s interim manager for the rest of the season.

The former Red Devils striker, who played at Old Trafford for over a decade between 1996 and 2007, takes over on a temporary basis in the wake of Jose Mourinho’s exit on Tuesday.

A United statement read: “Manchester United announced today that former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been appointed as caretaker manager until the end of the 2018-19 season.

“Solskjaer will take charge of the first team with immediate effect and will remain in place while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new full-time manager.”

He arrives from Norwegian side Molde, having returned to the club for a second stint back in 2015. Mike Phelan has also returned to United in the role of first-team coach and will work alongside the club’s former midfielder Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna.

United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added: “Ole is a club legend with huge experience, both on the pitch and in coaching roles. His history at Manchester United means he lives and breathes the culture here and everyone at the club is delighted to have him and Mike Phelan back. We are confident they will unite the players and the fans as we head into the second half of the season.”

A forward perhaps best known as a “super sub” for United, Solskjaer famously came off the bench against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final to score an injury-time winner and hand Sir Alex Ferguson’s side their first European honour for over 30 years.

He also picked up six Premier League titles and two FA Cups, among other honours, during his time as a player at the club.

At international level, he won 67 caps for Norway and was a member of their 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship squads, reaching the last 16 in the former.

Following his retirement, Solskjaer transitioned from the United playing squad to the managerial set-up, where he took charge of the reserves at Carrington under Ferguson between 2008 and 2011.

He left the club to take the reins at Molde, where he had played before switching to United, and won the Tippeligaen league title in his first season in charge, in 2011.

He was coaxed back to the United Kingdom in early 2014 to replace Malky Mackay as manager of relegation-threatened Cardiff City but was unable to prevent the club from making the drop back into the Championship.

A subsequent dismissal followed after a run of poor results to open the 2014-15 campaign and Solskjaer was reappointed Molde boss the following October on a three-and-a-half year deal.


Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale is among the nominees for this year’s men’s Ballon d’Or award.

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and Paris St-Germain attacker Edinson Cavani are also contenders.

The 30-man list of nominees will be revealed throughout the day.

The Ballon d’Or, a prestigious award presented since 1956, is given to the best player of the year.

The ceremony to announce the winner will take place in Paris on 3 December, when a women’s award will be presented for the first time.

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Juventus from Real Madrid in the summer, won last year’s Ballon d’Or.