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Vlasic, N’Koudou seal loan deals; Ospina gets Napoli medical

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Two Premier League players are departing their clubs for loan stints elsewhere in Europe, and a third is a medical away from leaving London.

Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina is reportedly undergoing a medical ahead of a move to Serie A powers Napoli.

[ MORE: Premier League Club Power Rankings, Week 1 ]

The Colombian will have a chance to start after a long-term injury to Napoli’s No. 1, Alex Meret, who was bought from Udinese for nearly $40 million this summer. Pepe Reina left Napoli in the offseason.

The club’s goalkeeping corps also includes ex-Waftford player Orestis Karnezis and 22-year-old Nikita Contini.

Everton’s Nikola Vlasic is leaving Goodison Park for a season with CSKA Moscow. Vlasic, 20, played 19 times for the Toffees last season, scoring twice.

Also on the move is Tottenham’s Georges-Kevin N’Koudou. The 23-year-old Frenchman is headed to the Bundesliga with Mainz after going on loan to Burnley last season.

Of the three, only Ospina is probable to leave his parent club after the season, with Napoli holding an option to buy the player.

Pep praises Man City after win over Spurs

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Pep Guardiola struck a defiant tone after Manchester City bounced back from its midweek UEFA Champions League set back to topple Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Pep gives KDB update ]

“As a footballer, I could not have done what my players have done today,” Guardiola said. “The title is still in our hands. I’ve not done anything. I’ve told my players that if they’ve forgotten what happened it’s good but if it still hurts then it’s good. Those 10 seconds of joy and happiness to devastation. That kind of experience has given us emotions we wouldn’t have had. Today our fans were incredible.”

When asked whether the club can manage to win the rest of its matches and the Premier League, he pointed to its 10-match winning run and motioned that it of course can move forward for four more.

“We came back with this sunshine, the effort of the players was incredible,” Guardiola said. “Even if we don’t do it, we’ve been on a remarkable run. Every day with this club and these players. It doesn’t matter what happens next. We’ll fight until the end. We’ll see how far we get.”

Guardiola noted the strength of Tottenham, having played them thrice in two weeks. City beat Spurs 4-3 and 1-0 while losing 1-0 in the Champions League first leg.

And Liverpool will not be expected to drop any more points while City meets Manchester United in a pivotal derby on Wednesday.

“Tottenham is an incredible team and club. They are an incredible organization. We are fighting with the best Liverpool ever, one of the best teams I’ve seen in my whole life.”

Will City do it?

Watch Live: Four Premier League games, 10am ET

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Four Premier League games take place at 10 a.m. ET, as Brighton & Hove Albion have a massive game in their battle against relegation.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

Wolves host Brighton, Leicester head to West Ham, Fulham travel to Bournemouth and Huddersfield welcome Watford.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for all four games at 10 a.m. ET is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


10 a.m. ET: Wolves v. Brighton – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham v. Leicester – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Fulham – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Huddersfield v. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Player ratings from Man City 1-0 Spurs

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The goal were scarce, but Man City and Tottenham Hotspur went on with their ability to entertain in a bounce back win for City at the Etihad Stadium.

[ MORE: Match recap | ]

A flop from either would’ve been understandable given the 7-goal thriller at midweek, but both provided fine accounts of themselves as Phil Foden was the match-winner.


Manchester City

Ederson:  9 – *Man of the Match* here was plenty of luck in his thwarting of Lucas Moura‘s late deflected strike, but the Brazilian will enjoy a clean sheet following Wednesday’s second leg.

Kyle Walker: 6 – Would VAR have him conceding a second half penalty for handball?

John Stones: 6 – Not terrific, though his partial block that led to Ederson’s last big save was bigger than we realize.

Aymeric Laporte: 7 – A notable error between Laporte and Stones late takes this down a point, but he was huge along with Ederson in the early stages.

Oleksandr Zinchenko: 7 – Is City in the UEFA Champions League semifinal with a healthy Zinchenko in place of Mendy, Delph, et. al.

Kevin De Bruyne (Off 38′): N/A – His injury will be alarming for City, given recurring knee troubles this season.

Ilkay Gundogan: 6 – An unspectacular display as time ticks down on his career at City.

Phil Foden: 8 – The fifth-minute header could hardly have been a more important first Premier League goal.

Bernardo Silva: 8 – A delightful dribble and cross to the back post set up the opener, as the Portuguese playmaker continues a fine season.

Sergio Aguero (Off 66′): 7 – Perhaps a bit quieter than usual, but his headed assist was what City needed early at the Etihad.

Raheem Sterling: 7 – Absolutely in the discussion for Premier League Player of the Season, and has been switched on from moment one.

Subs
Fernandinho (On 38′): 7 – Easy to applaud anyone who comes on for an hour off the bench and doesn’t miss a beat. Broke up some serious Spurs threats.
Leroy Sane (On 66′): 7 – Short spell, but effective. Should’ve collected an assist for his set-up of Sterling

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Tottenham

Paulo Gazzaniga:  7 – Solid enough and made a great point-blank save in the second half from Sterling.

Juan Foyth: 6 – A little lost at right back, but worked hard and made some important tackles.

Davinson Sanchez: 6 – See above. Solid on his return to the starting lineup. Maybe could have done better on the goal as Aguero peeled off him.

Toby Alderweireld: 7 – As dependable as ever. Good block from Aguero in the second half, which had a hint of handball, but the Belgian knew nothing about it.

Jan Vertonghen: 7 – Dominant display and tried his best to get Spurs moving forward when he could.

Ben Davies: 6 – Struggled to cope with Bernardo Silva, but then again most defenders have this season.

Eric Dier: 5 – Has been out with injury for a while, and looked rusty on his return to central midfield.

Christian Eriksen: 7 – Some lovely balls forward for Son, and he was denied by Ederson in the first half when he should have probably scored.

Dele Alli: 6 – A few majestic flicks in the first half, and appealed for a penalty kick on Kyle Walker. Looked a little jaded, which is understandable.

Lucas Moura: 7 – Hurried and chased all game long, and nearly got in to score in the second half but Ederson denied him.

Heung-Min Son: 6 – Another sharp display, but will be disappointed he didn’t score after having three big chances in the first half. Led Spurs’ charge on the counter attack.

Subs
Danny Rose: 6 – Did okay and brought his usual energy to the left back position.
Victor Wanyama: 5 – Booked. Did his best to provide a better shield than Dier in front of the Spurs defense.
Fernando Llorente: 5 – Hardly touched the ball in his brief cameo on the pitch. No hip/arm touches today…

Three things learned: Man City v. Tottenham

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Manchester City edged out Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as Pep Guardiola‘s men won their 10th straight Premier League game to return to the summit.

After Spurs knocked Man City out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, the reigning champs responded with a resolute display and dug deep as Phil Foden‘s early goal kept their title bid on track.

What did we learn from a tight, tense encounter?


CITY RESPOND, FOUR WINS FROM TITLE GLORY

Manchester City have won 10-straight games in the Premier League, but this was one of the most nervous victories they’ve had. We learned a lot about this Man City side on Saturday, as the crushing disappointment of having their quadruple hopes dashed by Tottenham in midweek was put behind them and Guardiola’s boys delivered. Starting Foden for just the second time in the PL was a risk, but the 18-year-old delivered the game-winner and didn’t look out of place.

With a massive Manchester derby at Manchester United on Wednesday, Guardiola rotated his squad well and City did just enough to get past a resilient Spurs. It wasn’t a classic Man City display, and they showed some nerves in the first half when leaving Heung-Min Son too much space to hurt them on the counter. But all that matters is the victory, and City need to win four more to secure back-to-back titles. City’s display was all about grit rather than panache and they got their mentality right to take a big step towards the title. If they beat United, Burnley, Leicester and Brighton, they will be PL champs. It is as simple as that. But it never really is, is it?


DE BRUYNE’S INJURY A HAMMER BLOW

Kevin De Bruyne‘s return to full fitness has been a huge bonus for City over the past few weeks. Seeming him crumple to the floor in the first half after tweaking his left knee is the last thing Pep Guardiola wanted to see ahead of the final few weeks of the season.

De Bruyne, 27, could have just gone off as a precaution, especially with a massive game at Man United coming up in four days time. However, his reaction suggested it was another setback in a season of setbacks. De Bruyne has twice spent lengthy spells on the sidelines this season and the Belgian playmaker has been sorely missed by City. Guardiola will be hoping this latest injury is a minor one, and City’s fans will be waiting with bated breath to find out what the problem is.


SPURS WASTE CHANCES ON THE BREAK

Tottenham were dangerous on the counter throughout and Heung-min Son could have had a hat trick in the first half alone. Twice he broke free but was denied by Aymeric Laporte and Ederson, while Christian Eriksen was denied by Ederson as City’s defense was caught flat-footed but Spurs didn’t make the most of their opportunities. Lucas Moura had another chance on the break in the second half but Ederson came up big again, as this game had a lot of chances but unlike their heroic Champions League performance in midweek, Spurs didn’t take any of them.

With the defeat at Man City, Tottenham’s top four hopes have taken a hit. However, with three of their final four games at home against Brighton, West Ham, Bournemouth and Everton, Spurs will fancy their chances of getting maximum points to dovetail with their UCL semifinal games against Ajax. Whatever happens now, Spurs have hung in there admirably this season amid injuries, stadium moves and no money spent. If they reach the UCL final and finish in the top four, that will have been beyond Pochettino’s wildest dreams at the start of the campaign.