Dejan Lovren returned to training with Liverpool on Tuesday after six weeks on the sidelines and said he felt "happy to be back".

The 30-year-old defender suffered a muscle injury in the final Champions League group game against Salzburg on December 10, with that blow compounding the loss of Joel Matip as manager Jurgen Klopp's resources were stretched.

Matip was back in full training last week, though, after recovering from the knee problem he suffered in October, and now he and Lovren will be targeting a first-team return with the Premier League leaders.

Lovren and Matip have played a part at the back for Liverpool during their so-far highly successful season, with the Reds' rearguard marshalled by Virgil van Dijk.

Joe Gomez has started at centre-back alongside Van Dijk in recent Premier League games, with Croatian Lovren and Cameroon international Matip facing a battle to earn favour from Klopp ahead of the England defender.

Lovren posted a series of pictures on Instagram of himself in training on Tuesday, with the caption: "Happy to be back with the team."

Liverpool face Wolves at Molineux on Thursday in their next league fixture.

Manchester United have been charged by the Football Association (FA) for failing to control their players during their 2-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

Having gone ahead in the 14th minute through Virgil van Dijk's header, Liverpool thought they had a second when Roberto Firmino curled home soon after.

However, the goal was subsequently disallowed following a VAR check, with Van Dijk having been deemed to foul United goalkeeper David De Gea prior to Firmino's strike.

Referee Craig Pawson did not initially blow up for a foul, with United's players - including goalkeeper De Gea, who received a booking - gathering around the official to protest prior to the video review.

The FA have now taken action against United, charging the club with a breach of FA Rule E20(a).

"It is alleged that the club failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the 26th minute of the Premier League fixture against Liverpool on Sunday," read a statement on the official FA Spokesperson twitter account.

United have been given until Thursday to respond to the charge.

Kylian Mbappe has reiterated his commitment to Paris Saint-Germain amid renewed links to Real Madrid, while the France forward described Liverpool as "like a machine".

Mbappe has become one of the world's best strikers since joining PSG from Monaco in 2017, scoring 81 goals in all competitions in his two-and-a-half seasons at the club so far.

Before signing for PSG, Mbappe was heavily linked with LaLiga giants Madrid, and speculation of a move to Santiago Bernabeu has never died down.

However, the 21-year-old insists he has no plans to leave PSG just yet, adding it is not beneficial to the club or his development for a possible switch to Madrid to be continuously discussed.

"Everyone talks about it - when I was young I talked about it too. But now I'm a player and I know it's not the moment," Mbappe, speaking at the launch of his charity "Inspired by Kylian Mbappe (IBKM)" told BBC Sport.

"We are in January - it's the money time of the season. Imagine I answer your question and say something. Everybody will talk about it and it's not good for PSG.

"Now I'm with PSG and I'm 100 per cent with the club. I want to help the club grow this season, to win a lot of titles, so for me it's not good to talk about [my future].

"I think about the club because the club helped me. I came here at 18. I was a talent but I was not a superstar. Now I'm a superstar, thanks to PSG and the French national team.

"I have to stay calm and stay focused on PSG. After that, at the end of the season, we will see. But now I'm focused on my game."

Liverpool have also been linked with making a move for Mbappe to add to their fearsome attack, though Jurgen Klopp has previously said the forward is out of the club's financial reach.

Mbappe, however, has been in awe of Liverpool's form this term, as the Reds storm towards the Premier League title.

"What Liverpool do in this moment is amazing," Mbappe said of the defending European champions. "They're like a machine, they've found a rhythm and are like 'we play again, we play again'.

"They've lost zero games. When you watch you think everything's easy but that's not easy. The guys are focused, they play games every three days and they win, they win, they win.

"Now the problem is that everybody watches Liverpool, and everybody watches what we can do against them, so now they have to show they are strong again but it's a very good team with a very good manager."

Pep Guardiola concedes Liverpool are "extraordinary", but he is more focused on improving Manchester City than worrying about how they stack up against the runaway Premier League leaders.

City have won the title in the past two seasons under Guardiola yet now trail Liverpool, who have a game in hand, by 16 points.

The Reds have dropped just two points in the top flight, but City manager Guardiola would prefer to focus on how the defending champions can raise their game.

"In terms of what we are as a team, we are open, we accept," he told a news conference before facing Sheffield United on Tuesday.

"We cannot deny it - the Liverpool team is extraordinary in terms of football, in terms of results.

"But every day I live almost 24 hours thinking about my team and what we are, what we are doing, what we can do better. I'm not too much distracted by other teams in other leagues or, in this case, Liverpool."

City have scored more league goals than any other team in the division this season, yet they have also conceded more than Sheffield United and last Saturday's opponents Crystal Palace, who claimed a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium.

"We concede few, but the opponents score goals from a few chances," Guardiola said. "That is difficult to solve. We have to improve in this area.

"We have scored I don't know how many more goals than Liverpool [12], so our way is good. I don't have the statistics here, but I don't think we concede more chances in one game. From the few, we concede goals that we shouldn't and drop points.

"You start from Tottenham in the first game, they shoot twice in the half on target and score two goals. Norwich shoot three times and score three goals.

"When this happens, it's difficult to fight against this Liverpool. We have to improve in this area."

Guardiola revealed John Stones and Benjamin Mendy had knocks following the weekend draw, although he was not yet sure if the issues would keep them out against the Blades.

The Spaniard felt criticism of Stones after the Palace game, in which he appeared to struggle against Wilfried Zaha, was harsh.

"It was unfair, yeah," he said. "We are there, I am there. Ups and downs in the career, the football manager always has to be strong. We know his quality."

Jurgen Klopp applauded Liverpool for securing a "dominant" 2-0 win in what he viewed as one of their most captivating matches against Manchester United.

Virgil van Dijk's 14th-minute header and Mohamed Salah's stoppage-time sealer saw off the Red Devils at Anfield on Sunday and sent Liverpool 16 points clear atop the Premier League.

Roberto Firmino had a goal disallowed following a VAR review midway through the first half but the hosts made the result safe when Salah chased down Alisson's long ball, held off Daniel James and completed a scintillating counter-attack.

"It was a really good game, one of the best derbies we have played for sure," Klopp said.

"Very dominant in most periods of the game. I didn't like too much in the first half, the last five or seven minutes. Nothing happened really, just we weren't as dominant as before.

"And obviously the last 10-15, maybe, of the game. Okay, [it was] an exception."

"The start to the second half was absolutely brutal," Klopp continued. "We jumped in and had three, four chances at least. Didn't score and then it's how it always is... the opponent has the chance to come back.

"We had to defend and the organisation was okay. We defended with a lot of passion, a big heart and stuff like this. Carried as well by the atmosphere, which was great.

"And then the last situation of the game - Alisson Becker, what an assist. Mo Salah, what a goal. There was a sprint duel of two really quick boys and Mo used his massive experience. A big relief in that moment."

Liverpool fans sang gleefully about their team's apparent title destiny after full-time and Klopp welcomed the sense of excitement.

"If our fans could not be in a good mood now that would be really strange," he said.

"Of course they are allowed to dream, sing, whatever they want, as long as they do their job as well when we play. All fine. We will not be part of that party yet, but it's no problem - we know our job."

Dreams of Premier League glory began to feel like an inevitability at Anfield as Liverpool beat Manchester United on a weekend that saw Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester City drop points.

Jurgen Klopp's side dispatched their old rivals with goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, leaving Reds supporters full of confidence after Burnley came from behind to beat third-placed Leicester 2-1 at Turf Moor.

There was a surprise result at St. James' Park on Saturday, Frank Lampard's Chelsea dominating for long periods against Newcastle United but succumbing to a late Isaac Hayden goal in a 1-0 defeat.

There were late goals at the Etihad Stadium, where Sergio Aguero thought he had won it with a brace, only for Fernandinho to put through his own net in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.

The weekend's Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, as well as Wolves' dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Southampton at St. Mary's.

 

ANFIELD FULL OF HOPE AFTER BACK-TO-BACK HOME WINS OVER UNITED

They are no longer saying it quietly: Liverpool fans firmly believe the title is theirs after watching their side beat United on Sunday.

The victory marked the first time Liverpool have claimed consecutive home Premier League wins over the Red Devils since winning three in a row between September 2008 and March 2011 and there was an air of invulnerability around Anfield at the final whistle.

Liverpool have taken 91 points from a possible 93 in their last 31 Premier League matches, winning 30 and drawing just one, while United have now lost nine of their last 16 top-flight away games (W3 D4 L9).

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have failed to score in eight of those games and they gave Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson little to do despite creating a number of goalscoring opportunities.

Alisson kept himself busy by becoming the first Reds keeper to assist a Premier League goal since March 2010, when Pepe Reina laid on a goal against Sunderland.

 

 


LATE HAYDEN WINNER LEAVES LAMPARD'S BLUES REELING

Chelsea have lost as many Premier League games this season as they did in the entirety of 2018-19 after Hayden scored in the 94th minute to snatch victory for Newcastle over Lampard's inconsistent Blues.

Four of Chelsea's eight league defeats this season have come in their last eight matches and supporters making the trip to Tyneside had reason to be fearful of their side coming unstuck.

Chelsea have now lost five of their last seven top-flight trips to St. James' Park but defeats to teams managed by Steve Bruce have been a rare occurrence - this was only the second time he has beaten the Blues in 23 games against them as a manager (D5 L16).

Prior to Hayden's strike, Newcastle had not scored a last-minute winner since Ayoze Perez struck against Tottenham in December 2015.

It was Hayden's third Premier League goal and came in his 70th appearance in the competition, his last coming in February 2019 against Wolves.

 

POROUS CITY PAY FOR ERRORS AT THE BACK

City came from behind to lead with three minutes left in their clash with Palace but conceded at home in the Premier League for the 12th time this season as the Eagles secured a point at the death.

Pep Guardiola's men have now conceded as many goals at home in the league as they did in the whole of last season and this was their third draw of the 2019-20 season - in their title-winning campaign last term they only drew twice.

Aguero's double inside five minutes marked the Argentina international's 250th and 251st goals in all competitions for the club in his 360th appearance, but Fernandinho became the first City player to score a Premier League own-goal since Nicolas Otamendi against Huddersfield Town in November 2017.

The scoring was opened by new signing Cenk Tosun, who netted in the 39th minute to become the fourth Turkish player to reach 10 Premier League goals after Muzzy Izzet, Tuncay Sanli and Tugay.

Palace are ninth in the table after four consecutive draws - the last time they drew as many Premier League games in a row was in 1992-93 when they started the season with the same sequence.

 

WOLVES EMERGING AS COMEBACK SPECIALISTS

When Raul Jimenez scored from the penalty spot at St. Mary's he pulled Wolves level after they had been two goals down, but there was even better to follow for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.

Jimenez scored again in the 76th minute, taking his tally to 19 goals in all competitions this season and clinching three points for Wolves that means they have now picked up 18 from losing positions in the Premier League this season - seven more than any other side.

Falling behind after 15 minutes to a Jan Bednarek goal was nothing new for the visitors, who have conceded first in 16 league games this season including each of their last seven in a row.

But Jimenez has been directly involved in 28 goals this season and after Shane Long netted his 54th Premier League goal to make it 2-0 to the Saints, Pedro Neto scored for the second time in his last three league appearances to tee up the Mexico international for a memorable brace.

Jimenez now has 19 goals and nine assists to his name in all competitions this season, giving him more direct goal involvements than any other top-flight player in 2019-20.

Jurgen Klopp has no issue with supporters celebrating as if they have won the Premier League, but says Liverpool are in "exactly the same situation plus three points" after beating Manchester United.

Liverpool defeated United - the only team to take points off them in the league this term - 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

As Klopp's men moved 16 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, fans on Merseyside chanted: "We're going to win the league."

The win, secured with goals from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, was quickly deemed by many significant in Liverpool's pursuit of a first top-flight championship since 1989-90.

But Klopp was adamant he and his players still could not afford to celebrate.

"[The fans] can sing that, but they sang that a couple of times in the past, I think," he told Sky Sports. "There's absolutely no problem. Everybody should celebrate a situation - apart from us.

"We have no problem with that. There's nothing changed. We have exactly the same situation plus three points, which is great, wonderful, unbelievable. But nothing else has changed.

"I'll tell you immediately the moment it feels different. So far, it feels exactly the same always."

The Liverpool manager added he was looking no further ahead than their next match at Wolves.

Klopp said: "I have no idea if we can be caught or not. First and foremost, it's the Premier League. We play on Thursday against Wolves.

"They played an exceptional comeback last night [a 3-2 win at Southampton]. They have not had the results they wanted, but they've caused us here a lot of problems.

"It's the next massive challenge we face, and why should I think about more than that? I'm not smart enough to do that, to be honest. There's not enough space in my brain.

"We will prepare for Wolves, try our best, and then we will see."

Liverpool were pushed by United prior to Salah's stoppage-time clincher, with Anthony Martial missing a big chance, but Klopp claimed the visitors had set up to "annoy" his side.

"What a performance against an opponent with the quality of United and the set-up of United," he said.

"It was about, and I'm sure Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] would say the same, [United] wanting to annoy us, disrupt our game, defend, counter-attack.

"They had moments when they played football, but it was not too often, and all the other moments were just difficult against them to create chances.

"But we did it. Wow. The manner in which we created chances was really exceptional."

Roy Keane believes Anthony Martial's costly miss against Liverpool showed he is "not quite good enough" to play for Manchester United.

Martial, signed from Monaco in a reported £36million deal in 2015, has 11 goals in all competitions this season.

But he passed up a golden chance for United to equalise at Anfield in their 2-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday.

Trailing to Virgil van Dijk's early header, Martial controlled on his chest on the left-hand side of the penalty area in the second half but blazed over the crossbar with just Alisson to beat.

Mohamed Salah wrapped up a Liverpool victory in stoppage time and former United captain Keane, speaking in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, bemoaned Martial's inability to hit the target.

"Martial has come to Man Utd, and the big strikers score in the big moments," Keane said. "But that miss sums up his career at Man Utd in a nutshell.

"You hit the target. Excellent build-up play, but you have to hit the target. No excuses.

"The big strikers who are remembered by those supporters hit the target and the back of the net.

"That's why that guy is not quite good enough for Man Utd. That moment summed him up."

United are set to be without Martial's strike partner Marcus Rashford - who missed the Liverpool game - for more than six weeks with a double stress fracture in his back.

Now you're gonna believe them.

After Mohamed Salah, at last, scored against Manchester United, as their 2-0 victory was at last assured, Liverpool fans made it clear to the world that they think this, at last, is their year.

"We're going to win the league," they sang, for the first time this season. They're right. Jurgen Klopp won't say the same, not yet, but he must know. Everyone knows.

Sixteen points clear, sixteen games to go. Ninety-one points won from the last 93 available. No league defeats in 12 months. Listening to Anfield on Sunday, the party has already started.

United are the only team to stop Liverpool winning in the Premier League this season, but now they, like 17 others, have tasted defeat to Klopp's relentless Reds (West Ham got a reprieve thanks to the Club World Cup). Discussions about the best ever teams in Merseyside, indeed the country, are for another time. In 2019-20, nobody comes close.

That said, on the evidence of this game and the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October, the gap between these teams in simple quality – in terms of the overall picture of the side – is not quite as yawning as some would think.

Under some dazzling pink skies as the sun set over the stadium, Liverpool were no more sparkling than United were appalling. This wasn't the Liverpool that tore Leicester City to shreds on home turf, nor the United that plumbed new depths of away-day embarrassment at Watford.

Neither was this the mismatch of the EFL Cup semi-final first leg this month at Old Trafford, when it seemed the only reason Manchester City did not try to match their 9-0 destruction of Burton Albion a year ago was because the players wanted a second-half breather.

Yet there is something more redoubtable about this Liverpool than their quality of play. Their greatest weapon, as it is for great sides through history, is a conviction bordering on zealotry that, come what may, they will win the football match.

There was nothing spectacular about the opening goal, nothing to reflect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's glowing praise of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Salah's bamboozling interplay. It was a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner and a Virgil van Dijk header; a simple cross, a routine forehead finish, straight out of the annals of English football.

But reflected in Van Dijk's fourth league goal of the season was that triumphant certainty that has become the lifeblood of Klopp's team. Alexander-Arnold had a poor game by his standards, but you knew a good cross was coming. Van Dijk was marshalled, but you knew he'd win the header once the United blockers had faltered.

With Liverpool, you just know.

That's where United fall down in comparison. A club that came to define what it means to have a will to win under Alex Ferguson, who watched on from the stands here, has barely an ounce of that same quality these days compared to their great rivals. Solskjaer was right to argue that this Liverpool will only define an era like Ferguson did if they win consecutive titles, but there is no doubt which team best reflects the great Scot.

United had their chances. Good ones. But as Andreas Pereira failed to turn Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross into an open net, as Anthony Martial volleyed over the bar with the goal at his mercy, did anyone really believe they were going to take them? Did they?

United were boosted before kick-off in that Chelsea's loss to Newcastle United meant the gap to the top four was never going to increase. They remain five points behind Frank Lampard's side – at this stage of the season, especially given Chelsea's inconsistency, they will not panic about their Champions League hopes at least.

Their performance in the final 30 minutes was also at least some cause for encouragement. The trouble is, when it comes to United, the next setback never feels far away. Even before kick-off, we learned Marcus Rashford could be out for weeks, maybe months, his back broken from carrying the Red Devils attack.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are disappearing over the horizon, 21 wins from 22 games in their pocket, already thinking of the visit to Wolves next week. Molineux is a dangerous ground for any side these days, a place where City have already lost this season, where United have failed to win in four attempts since last March.

Does anyone think the same thing will happen to Liverpool? They don't.

Virgil van Dijk said the memory of losing the Premier League title race to Manchester City in 2018-19 is keeping Liverpool grounded after his side's 2-0 victory over Manchester United at Anfield.

The Netherlands international scored his side's opener after 14 minutes of a game that threatened to slip through their fingers when the visitors finished strongly, but Mohamed Salah doubled Liverpool's lead in second-half stoppage time to put the Reds 16 points clear at the top of the table.

Chants of "we're going to win the league" rang out around Anfield at the final whistle but Van Dijk insisted the team's focus would immediately be on a difficult trip to Wolves on Thursday.

"Everyone wants us to say something about it but we won't get carried away," Van Dijk told Sky Sports. "We in the squad cannot and we won't.

"I think what we experienced last year is something that made our mentality like this. We just want to go one game at a time, trying to stay fit and improve. Even after today, which was a well-deserved, fantastic win.

"We all know how difficult Wolves is, what good tactics they have, the players they have, the manager is fantastic there. What we try to do is prepare very well, make sure we all recover from this, be 100 per cent.

"We all expect it to be a very tough game. It makes it easy to prepare if you know it's going to be tough and you know there will be difficult moments."

Van Dijk disagreed with the VAR ruling that judged him to have fouled David de Gea in the 25th minute as Liverpool had a Roberto Firmino goal ruled out.

But the Reds, by Van Dijk's own admission, had enough opportunities to put the game out of United's reach before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men caused nervous moments as they probed for a late equaliser.

"I think I didn't jump with my hands up," said Van Dijk, explaining his challenge on De Gea.

"It's difficult to say but if the VAR gives it you just have to accept it and carry on. I thought it was no foul.

"We had plenty more opportunities to score goals today and make it look easy. We had two, three, maybe four clear cut chances to make it easy but you have to find a way and we did."

Mohamed Salah joked that Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 on Sunday because he was back from injury.

Egypt international Salah missed the 1-1 draw between the teams at Old Trafford – the only Premier League game Liverpool have failed to win this season – due to an ankle injury.

In the build-up to the return match at Anfield, the 27-year-old cheekily suggested Jurgen Klopp's side had failed to come out on top because of his absence.

Liverpool moved 16 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City, while still possessing a game in hand, after Salah latched onto a long ball from Alisson following a corner in second-half stoppage time, adding to Virgil van Dijk's opener in the 14th minute.

"As you can see today I get back from the injury so we won the game, so I'm very happy for the team now," Salah joked to Sky Sports. "We enjoy the moment and hopefully we finish like that.

"I got a pass from Alisson, no one else could get me the ball, but I'm very happy for the result, that's the most important thing."

Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title by a single point to City in 2018-19, with a defeat to Pep Guardiola's side in January 2019 shortly followed by a run of four draws in six league games.

Having missed out by such a narrow margin last term, Salah urged his team-mates not to take their foot off the gas. 

"I think we just need to focus on each game, we don't have to think now we've won the Premier League," Salah added.

"We have to keep it game by game, that's the only way we can win the Premier League. We struggled last season at the same time, so we have to keep calm and focus on each game."

Jordan Henderson, who saw a second-half shot tipped onto the post by David de Gea, felt Liverpool were good value for their 2-0 victory but also implored his team-mates not to get ahead of themselves.

"When it's 1-0 it's dangerous, we know that from the Spurs game. I feel as though we should've killed the game off earlier with the chances we had, but we kept going, defended well and managed to get the second in the end, which we deserved I think," said Henderson.

"We're not really thinking about the end again. Why should we change now? Why think about the end of the season? There's still a lot of games left.

"We've taken it by each game for a long time now and it's put us in good stead, so there's no need to change. For us as players it's the next game, the next challenge. United played well at times today but I felt as though we deserved the three points.

"At Liverpool there's always expectation to win and be successful and that hopefully won't change for a very long time."

Liverpool moved 16 points clear at the Premier League summit after Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah secured a deserved 2-0 victory over rivals Manchester United at Anfield.

Second-place Manchester City drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace on Saturday and Liverpool, who still possess a game in hand, took full advantage to tighten their grip at the top and boost their chances of a first league title since 1990.

United are the only team to take points off Jurgen Klopp's men this season and deployed a three-man defence – including Luke Shaw at centre-back – as they did when the teams drew 1-1 at Old Trafford in October.

But Liverpool took just 14 minutes to take the lead through Van Dijk and, despite an improvement from the visitors in the second half, Salah raced away on the break to clinch the three points in second-half stoppage time.

After Fred and Brandon Williams let Van Dijk get loose in the area Harry Maguire was United's last hope, but the Netherlands international leapt above the man who took his tag as the world's most expensive defender to nod in the opener.

Liverpool had what they thought was a second ruled out by VAR in the 25th minute.

David de Gea spilled a high ball under pressure from Van Dijk but referee Craig Pawson did not blow his whistle after putting it to his mouth. Play continued and Roberto Firmino curled home a fine finish, only for the challenge on the United goalkeeper – who received a yellow card for his protests – to be deemed a foul upon review.

Andreas Pereira failed to convert a rare United chance against the run of play from inside the six-yard box, before De Gea managed to keep out Sadio Mane on the stroke of half-time.

Liverpool came flying out of the blocks in the second half, with Salah scuffing a glorious opportunity wide and De Gea brilliantly tipping a venomous drive from Jordan Henderson onto the post.

Anthony Martial showed a lack of composure when he hacked high and wide after a brilliant one-two with Pereira before the hour mark, while Mane passed up an opening after a swift break from the hosts.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer switched to a back four for the final 15 minutes but, as United pushed for an equaliser, Salah punished the visitors by surging clear from a corner and holding off Daniel James to seal the win with a cool finish.
 

What does it mean? United need attacking reinforcements

Solskjaer said pre-game Marcus Rashford was facing "weeks" out with a back injury, though reports subsequently emerged claiming he could be facing up to three months out.

With James and Martial doing little up top, United would be wise to look to the transfer market to bolster their options. Failing to secure the signature of Erling Haaland, who scored a hat-trick after coming off the bench on his Borussia Dortmund debut on Saturday, now looks like even more of a blow.

Van Dijk a colossus

Not only did he score the first goal, Van Dijk was immovable at the heart of Liverpool's defence and comfortably dealt with United's limp attack. His exemplary distribution from the back helped keep Solskjaer's men on the back foot for much of the game.

The Pereira conundrum

Having made a marginal impact as a winger at Valencia, Pereira fared little better when deployed in a deep-lying midfield role last season. He played as a number 10 at Anfield and missed United's best chance while creating just one chance for Martial.

What's next?

Liverpool travel to Molineux to face Wolves on Thursday, with United at home to Burnley a day prior.

Marcus Rashford is not in the squad for Manchester United's Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield.

The forward misses Sunday's game after failing to recover from a back problem suffered after he came on as a substitute in the FA Cup third-round replay defeat of Wolves.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named Anthony Martial, Daniel James and Andreas Pereira as United's attacking players in what appears to be a similar setup to the 3-5-2 with which they started the 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Old Trafford in October.

There are suggestions Luke Shaw will join Victor Lindelof and new club captain Harry Maguire in a back three, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams as wing-backs, while Eric Bailly is fit enough only for the bench following his comeback from a serious knee injury.

Liverpool are unchanged from the 1-0 win at Tottenham, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield alongside Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum for Jurgen Klopp's side.

The Reds start the game 13 points clear at the top of the table, with two games in hand over nearest rivals Manchester City.

United are fifth, five points outside the top four and a huge 27 adrift of the league leaders.

Patrice Evra has revealed Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore wrote to him to apologise for the Reds' backing of Luis Suarez following a controversial incident in 2011.

Evra accused Suarez of using a racial slur against him during a match between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool nine years ago.

Suarez was subsequently charged by the Football Association (FA) and banned for eight matches.

Liverpool supported the striker throughout the process, with their players even wearing t-shirts with his name and number on while warming up for a home game.

Jamie Carragher - a key member of Liverpool's team at the time – apologised to Evra while working alongside him as a pundit last October.

The former France full-back has confirmed Liverpool's CEO Moore has also expressed his regret over how the club acted.

"First of all I was really pleased with Jamie Carragher apologising and then I received a personal letter from Peter Moore and I was really touched by it," Evra told Sky Sports ahead of Sunday's clash between the Premier League leaders and United at Anfield. 

"He said he hopes it's never too late, because this incident happened nine years ago. Three days after the show [he made contact] and I said thank you very much, this letter has touched my heart.

"I was really disappointed at such a big club like Liverpool to support [Suarez], but now I can see it’s real, honest people working at this club and I get even more respect for Liverpool because I can see they are fighting this problem with the human race.

"I was really pleased and I just said I hope they do not win the league, but that was three months ago! Even though there is a big rivalry between us, it shows Liverpool is a top-class club."

Liverpool head into the contest 27 points clear of United and a win would see them lead the way at the top by 16 points with a game in hand on second-placed Manchester City.

Benjamin Mendy urged Manchester City to avoid dwelling on predictions of doom for their title defence following Saturday's dispiriting draw against Crystal Palace.

City squandered two precious points at the Etihad Stadium after Fernandinho's 90th-minute own goal forced a 2-2 draw.

Pep Guardiola's men had come from behind to take a late lead but ultimately missed a chance to reduce Liverpool's advantage at the top, which could be extended to 16 points on Sunday.

Mendy admitted his team-mates felt "sad" at full-time, but the left-back backed the Premier League champions to block out criticism.

"When another team is doing well you can't be upset or angry," Mendy said, insisting City would "deal well" with the latest setback in their bid to catch the Reds.

"We know when you start the season, after winning the league, you have to win most of the games. This is the truth, no-one can complain. [Liverpool] are a good team, strong team who win, win and win.

"So, in our dressing room, we try to focus on us.

"All the people say Man City are finished, they're finished. They can say what they want – we will just keep focusing on us, play our football, win the games, and fight until the league is finished."

Beginning with Tuesday's trip to Sheffield United, City have at least six domestic games - and a seventh if they progress to round five of the FA Cup - to address their deficiencies before facing Real Madrid in the first leg of a much-anticipated Champions League last-16 tie.

Mendy said the countdown to that Santiago Bernabeu blockbuster would elevate the team's motivation levels.

"That will be another kind of game – Champions League, big game," he said.

"Every game is big, but everyone knows that this game will be watched by everyone so mentally you have a feeling, the atmosphere, how you come to the game puts you on fire, [gets you] excited.

"We will be focused on Sheffield now."

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