Manchester City star Raheem Sterling revealed he voted for Tottenham striker Harry Kane to receive the PFA Player of the Year award, not Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk.

Sterling and Liverpool defender Van Dijk are the frontrunners for the award ahead of the PFA ceremony in London on Sunday.

Van Dijk said he voted for Sterling – who has scored 17 Premier League goals and tallied nine assists for reigning champions City this season.

However, Sterling did not return the favour, instead opting for England team-mate Kane, who did not make the six-man shortlist.

"It's nice to be recognised on that front but, to be honest, if we don't win the Premier League, I don't really want to be in contention," said Sterling.

"What I want to do is win the Premier League, win the FA Cup, then think about stuff like that, even though the awards are before that. Without that, it doesn't mean much to me, really.

"I voted for Harry Kane. My vote for him is because he scores so many goals every year, he does so much for the team, gives so much for his team.

"There was a lot of talk about Virgil van Dijk. I knew he would have a lot of the votes, so I looked at someone I thought being around him in the national team, how he puts in his work, his work ethic, how he looks after himself.

"He's always there, especially coming back from injury, as a professional I looked at him and that's my reason for voting for him, seeing him on a day-to-day with the national team."

Sterling's City team-mates Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva are also in the running for the award, as well as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and Chelsea star Eden Hazard.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United have to prove they can be consistent if they are to compete with Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title next season.

Ahead of a derby clash with rivals City at Old Trafford on Wednesday, United are 24 points behind leaders Liverpool, although they have played one match fewer.

Solskjaer's side face a battle for Champions League qualification with United, who have lost six of their past eight games in all competitions, three points behind Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish.

United have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and Solskjaer is uncertain over how competitive the Red Devils can be in 2019-20.

"I don't think we've got the consistency to do that," Solskjaer told reporters when asked if United can fight City and Liverpool for the title next season.

"Over the last 18 games, we're not far away from them but it's doing it over the course of a season. We've done it for half a season now. Let's see. You can never say never.

"You cannot expect things to happen overnight and we know that. It will happen gradually and we have to be realistic enough as a club that we have to take it step by step. 

"That's not changing 10 players now and bringing 10 players in. It's slowly, slowly but surely. It has to be the right quality, right personality, the right standards to get us back to where we want to be."

United fans have been left to weigh up whether they would rather see neighbours City or equally fierce rivals Liverpool be crowned champions.

"It's not about taking something away from others," Solskjaer added. "We have to want to overtake them, and not just because it's City and Liverpool.

"For a supporter, as I am, and as a manager now as well, we know [them well] because they are so close in the vicinity. 

"We want to be the best, we have been the best and it's not nice seeing those two at the top."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will go up against former team Borussia Dortmund in one of three pre-season friendlies the Reds have announced in the United States.

The Reds will face Dortmund, who Klopp guided to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final during his seven years at the club, in a high-profile fixture at Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana on July 19.

Liverpool will also take on Sevilla at Fenway Park on July 21, before concluding their Stateside tour with a game against Sporting CP at Yankee Stadium three days later.

Klopp's side are chasing their first top-flight title since 1990 and sit two points above second-placed Manchester City, who play their game in hand away at neighbours Manchester United on Wednesday.

Klopp's men have three Premier League games remaining and meet Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final next Wednesday.

Trent Alexander-Arnold says he will be among the Liverpool fans cheering on Manchester United in this week's derby against the Reds' title rivals Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side play their game in hand at Old Trafford on Wednesday knowing a victory would move them back above Liverpool in the Premier League table.

City have won 10 league games in a row in a relentless run, but Jurgen Klopp's men have kept up the pressure on the defending champions by going unbeaten since losing at the Etihad Stadium on January 3.

Former City midfielder James Milner said he would not be tuning into the Manchester derby as he feels it is "a waste of energy" to wish for his old club to slip up.

Alexander-Arnold's England team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard could also boost Liverpool's chances of winning their first title of the Premier League era.

But although Reds supporters would not ordinarily find themselves hoping United win, Liverpool-born Alexander-Arnold feels it is a small price to pay.

"It's a funny one," he told reporters. "At this stage of the season you sometimes need to support someone you wouldn't normally like.

"There's no secret, for our ambitions and goals we need a team to do us a favour somewhere along the line.

"On Saturday we all supported Tottenham [against City] and on Wednesday the majority of Liverpool fans I think will want United to get a win.

"Without even saying it they [Rashford and Lingard] know they'll be doing us a massive favour if they get anything.

"With what they're going for and going for the top four, they probably need to get a result. I'm sure it will be a good one.

"I probably will watch it. I don't know if there are any other games on, but I'll watch. It's exciting, but you try not to get too caught up in hoping that City lose."

Liverpool midfielder James Milner will be supporting Manchester United for the first time, but he will avoid watching their clash against City.

Wednesday's Manchester derby shapes as being vital in the Premier League title race, with Jurgen Klopp's men two points clear at the top but City holding a game in hand.

Milner, a former City and Leeds United midfielder, said he would be supporting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.

"First time in my life," he said.

"But I won't be watching. It's a bit of a waste of energy, willing the ball in the other goal.

"I can't do anything about it. I'll maybe put my phone away for a few hours and check it after. I've no idea what I'll do, maybe go out for some food."

With three games left, Liverpool are up to 88 points and could finish the campaign with 97 but still not win a first league title since 1990.

While Liverpool have matches against Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Wolves left, Manchester City will meet Burnley, Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion after the derby.

"There's three games left after that [derby]. People think United is a challenge, but it's not the only one," Milner said.

"It's an old cliche, but the Premier League is tough – whoever you play, teams battling at the bottom."

Jordan Henderson says Liverpool will keep fighting for the Premier League title until the end of the season ahead of a decisive week for both the Reds and Manchester City.

Liverpool won 2-0 at Cardiff City on Sunday to move back to the top of the table, but Pep Guardiola's side play their game in hand at rivals Manchester United on Wednesday.

City's 1-0 defeat of Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium this weekend was their 10th straight Premier League win and the defending champions know the title is theirs if they do not drop any points in their final four matches.

But Henderson insists his side will keep believing in their chances as they seek to win the Premier League for the first time.

"It's a big result for us and we want to keep fighting right until the end, to keep winning games," Liverpool's captain told the club's official website after their Cardiff victory.

"It was a different type of test for us and I thought we came through it really well. We've got to keep believing, keep our confidence going and win as many games as we can.

"We knew it would be a difficult game. It was very hot, so we knew it would be difficult but, to be fair, it was the same for both teams.

"The conditions were difficult, but I thought we dealt with that really well and dealt with the game, coming back off the big win we had in midweek [at Porto in the Champions League quarter-finals].

"They were fighting for their lives, so we knew it would be difficult. We had to be patient and keep probing while making sure we were defensively organised. Overall, we have got to be very happy with the performance and obviously the three points."

Liverpool's next Premier League game is away to already relegated Huddersfield Town on Friday, before Jurgen Klopp's men go to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals next week.

Jurgen Klopp trolled Manchester United by suggesting they will not be able to influence Wednesday's derby clash with Manchester City on the evidence of Sunday's 4-0 hammering by Everton.

Klopp's Liverpool are top of the Premier League table, two points ahead of City who have a game in hand – the midweek Manchester derby.

Many have suggested the trip to Old Trafford is City's final major obstacle in their title defence after they overcame Tottenham 1-0 at home on Saturday.

United go into that encounter in wretched form, with Sunday's embarrassing loss to Everton being a sixth defeat in eight matches across all competitions.

Klopp was asked about the importance of the Manchester derby and he took the opportunity to take a pop at United.

"It [the derby] is not something we can influence, and it does not look like United are in a place to, either," Klopp quipped to Sky Sports after beating Cardiff City 2-0. "What was the [United] score today? 3-0, 4-0, to Everton?"

The German also addressed the situation in his post-match news conference, and reminded his players they need to just continue concentrating on one match at a time, otherwise they could become complacent.

"It [the derby] is a normal game, a game they [City] have to play," he added.

"We had to play that game as well and Man United was in that moment obviously in a much better moment when we played them, so it was a 0-0. So, on a good day maybe, it [the derby] is a draw.

"We'll see what comes out on Wednesday, we have no influence on that, but we still have to play games after that.

"So, if United get a point or whatever and we win [against] Huddersfield Town, go to Newcastle United after Barcelona and think we have it halfway or whatever, then we will get a knock there.

"It's all difficult, we just have to stay focused on our things – that's what worked really well so far and I don't see any reason why we should change."

One sour note from the Reds' win at struggling Cardiff was a late head injury suffered by Fabinho in an aerial duel, but Klopp is not hugely worried about the Brazilian.

"It was very unlucky," he told the club's official website. "Fabinho is OK, but he had a bit of shaky legs and that's of course not a good sign in the moment.

"It's a 100 per cent 'yes' or go off; if it's 95 per cent in that game in that position, we cannot make that decision [to stay on]. It's all good."

Jurgen Klopp revealed how Liverpool's attention to detail meant they opted not to cut the grass at Melwood in preparation for their trip to Cardiff City.

The Reds returned to the Premier League summit with a 2-0 triumph in the Welsh capital on Sunday, Georginio Wijnaldum opening the scoring in the 57th minute before James Milner's late penalty wrapped up the points.

Liverpool not only had to overcome a dogged home side but also a dry pitch and warm conditions, though they were not caught out by the playing surface thanks to Klopp's pre-match plans at the training ground.

The Merseyside club now have 88 points, already their highest ever total in a Premier League campaign with three fixtures still to go.

"Yesterday we didn't cut the grass at Melwood and didn't water it,' Klopp told Sky Sports.

"Obviously it's how people do it, so we trained on it and it helped, because it's so difficult, so different. 

"I didn't want to come here and be surprised by it, so we trained already for one hour and 10 minutes on a dry pitch, so the boys were used to it.

"It's not about it not being possible, you just have to be ready for things not to happen quickly and not to get frustrated. 

"We deserved the three points, it's an outstanding moment and 88 points is pretty special. This team deserves it."

Liverpool put the pressure back on Manchester City in the title race after taking over top spot again on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds returned to the Premier League summit thanks to a hard-fought 2-0 win away at struggling Cardiff City, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner scoring the goals in the second half.

The result lifts Liverpool two points ahead of their rivals, though City do still have a game in hand going into the closing weeks of the campaign.

Pep Guardiola's side can leapfrog over the leaders with victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday, though Milner admitted Liverpool are at least making it tougher for the reigning champions to retain their crown.

"All we can do is keep the pressure on them and win our games," the former City midfielder told Sky Sports. 

"It makes it tougher for them, as if we slip up it gives them that little cushion, allows them a draw or a slip-up.

"All we can do is win the rest of our games and hopefully that's good enough. If not, fair play to City, but we are asking all the questions of them that we can.

"Both teams have been ruthless and clinical in doing their jobs. It's not easy week on week - we've lost one game all year and were second [before Sunday's result]. We go back top now, though, and puts a bit of pressure on them.

"We just have to concentrate on being perfect and will see if that's good enough."

Wijnaldum's opener - a well-struck shot from a set-piece routine - was crucial against Cardiff, with the home side having made life tough for their opponents.

Yet despite having to wait until the 57th minute to break the deadlock, the Netherlands international was always confident Liverpool would win after controlling the first half.

"It's always a relief, especially at this time of the season. You know that you have to win - in the first half we created chances but didn't score," Wijnaldum said in his post-match interview. 

"Everyone was waiting for a goal and when you get it, it's a relief. I was really happy, and the fans were really happy, too."

Liverpool maintained their pursuit for a first league title in 29 years with a battling 2-0 victory over relegation-threatened Cardiff City on Sunday.

After Manchester City moved to the summit with a hard-fought triumph of their own against Tottenham just over 24 hours earlier, the Reds were made to sweat in the April sunshine by a side occupying the final relegation spot in the table.

Eventually, Liverpool found a clever way to break down a stubborn Cardiff defence, Georginio Wijnaldum meeting Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner with a powerful first-time finish.

A foul on Mohamed Salah by Sean Morrison allowed James Milner to wrap up a ninth successive win in all competitions for Jurgen Klopp's side from the penalty spot, meaning they now sit two points clear of the reigning champions, who have a game in hand.

After booking their place in the Champions League semi-finals in midweek, Liverpool returned to domestic duties knowing only a victory would suffice in the Welsh capital.

Roberto Firmino carelessly lifted their best chance of the first half over the top, wasting good work by fellow forwards Salah and Sadio Mane as his left-footed shot cleared both the advancing Neil Etheridge and the crossbar.

Cardiff's goalkeeper was needed to make a close-range save to deny Salah shortly after, though Liverpool did not pick up the pace until after the interval, leading to Wijnaldum’s 57th-minute strike from a well-worked set piece.

Having wasted a free header with the score at 1-0, letting Alisson off the hook after the goalkeeper had failed to deal with a corner, Morrison was adjudged to have pulled down Salah in the other penalty area, allowing Milner - who replaced fellow substitute Fabinho due to a head injury - to put the result beyond doubt.


What does it mean? Over to you, City

For some time now, the Manchester derby has appeared the crucial fixture in deciding who will be crowned champions.

Pep Guardiola’s side can leapfrog Liverpool again with victory at Old Trafford on Wednesday, putting them in pole position to retain their title with three games remaining. Astonishingly, Klopp’s squad could end up as bridesmaids on 97 points.

Gini shows his bottle

Wijnaldum's form has dipped during recent weeks, yet the midfielder made a crucial impact in a must-win situation, showing excellent technique to slam home a rolling ball.

Morrison's unwanted impact

The Bluebirds captain had a glorious chance to nod in an unexpected equaliser only to fluff his lines, while his grappling with Salah ended any hopes the home side had of getting something from the game.

What's next? 

Liverpool host relegated Huddersfield Town at Anfield next on Friday, while Cardiff City travel to another Championship-bound club in Fulham the following day.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he is living like a hermit as the Reds close in on a potential drought-ending Premier League title.

Klopp's Liverpool are second and a point behind defending champions Manchester City in their pursuit of a first league crown since 1990.

Liverpool are also preparing for a blockbuster Champions League semi-final with Lionel Messi's Barcelona.

Amid the title hype in Liverpool, Klopp revealed: "I don't go out — apart from football.

"Why should I? I have enough pairs of jeans to last me for the next 20 years, so I'm alright. I don't go to the shops. I don't do any of that.

"I can imagine the mood in the city is pretty good but I don't need to hear it, I don't need to see it.

"But it's football, and for most of my life I have been a pure football supporter, so if my team was doing this I know what I would have been like. My favourite thing would have been a situation like we have now, where it is buzzing.

"I can imagine people want to go out and celebrate, talk about it, but we are not part of that. We have to make sure it stays like this – and that's no problem.

"I love the situation we are in, it's really good, but of course we have to prove it every day and every game. It's all good, but it's not perfect, so we have to carry on working like we have been doing."

Liverpool are in the midst of a 17-game unbeaten streak, including eight consecutive victories after their 4-1 second-leg rout of Porto in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.

Klopp's side travel to relegation-threatened Cardiff City on Sunday and the German added: "It seems good, but it is like being a 400m runner. You might think you are in a good place. You have run the perfect race with 100m to go – but then you don't ­concentrate for a moment and the ­others go past you. The race is only finished when it is ­finished – and not ­before.

"But we are OK with ­injuries at the moment and we are really in a proper competition mood. If we are tired we don't feel it. We want to be playing and winning, not sitting at home and hoping the others lose. That's exactly how you should be feeling as a professional sportsman."

Liverpool and Manchester City have dominated nominations for the PFA Player of the Year award, with Virgil van Dijk and Raheem Sterling seen as the frontrunners to triumph.

Reds duo Van Dijk and Sadio Mane are joined by three City stars - Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva and Sterling - among the six players in the running, with Chelsea forward Eden Hazard the only man outside the Premier League's top two sides to make the shortlist.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah won last year's award, but has not made the six-man list of nominations this year despite having 19 league goals to his name. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Harry Kane are among the other prolific strikers to miss out.

The Reds could see a player win the award for a second straight season, with defender Van Dijk emerging as favourite after his magnificent displays at the back helped Jurgen Klopp's side launch a serious Premier League title challenge.

Stiff competition comes in the form of ex-Liverpool star Sterling, who has recorded 17 goals and nine assists in the top flight for City so far this season.

Hazard won the accolade, which is voted for by players, in 2014-15, while the other five men nominated are chasing their first victory.

Sterling and Silva were also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, along with Declan Rice, David Brooks, Marcus Rashford and Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold.

City's team-mate Leroy Sane scooped the prize last season. Winners will be announced at the PFA awards ceremony in London on April 28. 

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson is overjoyed to see Joe Gomez back on the pitch again after four months out with a broken leg.

Gomez, 21, suffered a fracture to the lower part of his left leg against Burnley in December and was initially only expected to be out for a matter of weeks.

But the England international has encountered setbacks and only managed to make his return to the Liverpool team when appearing as a second-half substitute in the Reds' 4-1 Champions League quarter-final second-leg win at Porto on Wednesday.

Prior to his injury, Gomez had nailed down a place in Liverpool's starting XI, forming a fine centre-back partnership with Virgil van Dijk.

His next task is to once again move ahead of Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip in the pecking order for the right to start alongside Van Dijk, and Alisson is thrilled to see the talented Gomez back in the squad.

"I'm really happy to see him back," Alisson told Liverpool's official website. "He's a top guy both on and off the pitch, 10 out of 10.

"He's a great person that deserves the very best in his life. To be able to have him on the pitch is always great [and] he came on and made a great contribution against Porto.

"At the beginning of the season, before his injury, he was a really important player for us defensively.

"That [the injury] is part of football and he dealt with the setback really positively. He was out for longer than expected, but he was always a really positive influence in the dressing room, supporting us, being positive and showing a great desire to get back playing, which was clear for all to see on the pitch against Porto."

The 6-1 aggregate win over Porto set up a semi-final with Barcelona, whom Alisson helped eliminate last season while at Roma, and the Brazilian hopes he can use that experience to the Reds' favour this time around.

"I think there's always something we can bring to the table, we're constantly learning in life," Alisson added.

"It was an incredible experience to participate in the quarter-finals for Roma, losing the first leg 4-1 then winning 3-0 at home.

"I actually didn't have too much to do in that game [the second leg], my team put in a great defensive and attacking performance.

"If we are to beat Barcelona we will have to work very hard defensively. They're a team with such a potent attack, not just up front, as there's a lot of support coming from midfield.

"They're a very organised team and they're very strong at dead-ball situations, so we'll certainly have to give our everything to get through to the final."

Ernesto Valverde is wary of the "very powerful" Liverpool ahead of Barcelona's Champions League semi-final against the Premier League giants.

The LaLiga champions will meet Jurgen Klopp's men in the last four, with the first leg to be played at Camp Nou on May 1.

Barca are in control of LaLiga, while Liverpool are fighting for the Premier League title and were runners-up in Europe's top club competition last season.

Valverde said Barca would be tested, particularly by the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

"Liverpool are a very powerful opponent. Offensive players have been showing their potential in the last two years," he told a news conference on Friday.

"Last year they reached the final. This time they're having a great tournament. They are also fighting in the Premier League.

"It's a very attractive game for them, for us and for the public. It will be very hard, for them and for us.

"The final is just there and we'll give our best to reach it."

The winners will meet either Tottenham or Ajax in the final at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1.

Barca can take another step towards securing the LaLiga title when they host Real Sociedad on Saturday, with Valverde's men nine points clear with six games to play.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted his team were still enjoying the pressure of chasing a double late in the season.

While Manchester City hold a game in hand, Liverpool are two points clear atop the Premier League and have just four matches left to play.

Despite being close to capturing the club's first league title since 1990 – while also preparing for a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona – Klopp said the pressure was being embraced.

"We still don't feel the pressure. We see and feel it as an opportunity. We are used to the challenge, playing a season like we played – it's usually pretty positive," he told UK newspapers.

"They are massive games, such an interesting period and so positive. We are really enjoying it. It's good that you are involved in two competitions. It's a sign of success.

"Now, it's about how you mix your potential with attitude. We obviously have good players, and mix it with a world-class attitude. We did that from the first day of the season and so far it worked out – we are difficult to play against."

Speaking at his first news conference as Liverpool boss in October 2015, Klopp was confident he would deliver at least one title within four years.

Despite three cup finals, he is yet to do so, but the German – who signed a new six-year deal in mid-2016 – said he was happy with where Liverpool were at.

"A lot of people reminded me that when I first came here I signed a three-year contract and I said in four years if we're sat here we probably would have won something. It didn't happen yet," Klopp said.

"Look, both sides – the club and myself – have a wonderful commitment that we really try everything to make the club as successful as possible.

"How long it will take, I have no clue. The position we are now in I am really happy with."

Liverpool's Premier League title push continues with a trip to Cardiff City on Sunday.

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