The writing has long been on the wall for Gareth Bale.

Zinedine Zidane wanted him gone from Real Madrid before the previous transfer window closed, but a move did not materialise.

But as the January window approaches, Bale is reportedly ready to leave.

 

TOP STORY – GARETH WANTS TO BALE

Gareth Bale wants to leave Real Madrid in January amid links to the Chinese Super League, according to Cadena Ser.

Bale was poised to make a shock switch to China after being told to move on by Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, though the Welshman remained at the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Bale is reportedly desperate for a January exit and wants Madrid to listen to offers from the CSL.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has offered himself to former club Juventus. Bologna have confirmed their interest in the LA Galaxy striker, whose contract is set to expire. A-League team Perth Glory want to bring the 38-year-old to Australia. Ibrahimovic spent two years at Juventus, however, the Serie A champions are reportedly not prepared to bring back the veteran as they look to trim their squad in January.

Roma are close to reaching an agreement with Manchester United for on-loan defender Chris Smalling. Calciomercato reports the Serie A side are preparing to present a €17million (£14.6m) offer for the Englishman.

William Saliba is yet to play a match for Arsenal but he could already be on the move. Saliba signed for the Gunners in July before he was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 season. However, Defensa Central claims Real Madrid are eyeing the 18-year-old French defender. Monaco's Benoit Badiashile and Boubacar Kamara of Marseille are also on the list to potentially replace Raphael Varane.

- The Telegraph says Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is a target for clubs in the Chinese Super League and MLS. Lallana is out of contract at the end of the season.

Ronald Koeman dominates the frontpage of Monday's SPORT newspaper. The Netherlands boss is heavily linked to Barcelona having revealed a release clause in his contract, and amid growing pressure on head coach Ernesto Valverde .

- Former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta are among the candidates to replace Unai Emery should the Gunners sack the Spaniard, according to the Mirror. Allegri has also been linked to Bayern Munich and Manchester United, while Arteta is serving as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City assistant. Jose Mourinho has also reportedly emerged as an option.

Pep Guardiola expects David Silva to sit out Manchester City's mouth-watering Premier League clash with leaders Liverpool on Sunday.

City captain Silva sustained a muscular injury during the first half of City's 2-1 win over Southampton on Saturday and was replaced at the interval by Gabriel Jesus.

The former Spain international – who is in his last season with the Premier League holders – will also miss Wednesday's Champions League visit to Atalanta.

Asked during a media conference if Silva would be fit for the showdown with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, manager Guardiola said: "I don't think so.

"I didn't speak with the doctor but when he has some muscular problems and can't play more minutes it's because he has something, and muscular problems normally mean 10 to 12 days out."

City travel to Anfield knowing a win over the Reds would cut their lead at the Premier League summit to three points.

Liverpool produced yet another late show to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and maintain their six-point lead at the Premier League summit.

That margin could have been greater were it not for Manchester City's own fightback at home to Southampton, with Kyle Walker's goal four minutes from time sealing all three points for Pep Guardiola's side.

Manchester United reverted to type after a recent mini revival, slipping to an insipid 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth, while Chelsea were 2-1 winners over Watford at Vicarage Road.

Our Premier League Data Diary sheds some light on the detail behind the major stories from this weekend's big games.

 

LIVERPOOL LEAVE IT LATE AGAIN

Liverpool's stunning start to the season continued with a last-gasp win over Aston Villa.

The victory means Jurgen Klopp's side have earned 31 points from their opening 11 Premier League games. In English top-flight history, only Tottenham in 1960-61 (33, adjusted to three points for a win) have had more at this stage of a campaign.

Trezeguet looked to have sealed a famous win for Villa but Andy Robertson equalised three minutes from time. The Scotland international has now scored twice in his last six games – double the amount he scored in his first 88 appearances for the club.

That set the scene for yet another late show from the Reds, with Sadio Mane heading home deep into stoppage time. That was the 35th 90th-minute goal by Liverpool in the Premier League – 10 more than any other side in the competition's history.

AGUERO AND WALKER SAVE SHOT-SHY CITY

City were far from their fluid best against Southampton but late goals from Sergio Aguero and Walker ensure they remain within touching distance of Liverpool at the top.

James Ward-Prowse had earlier given the Saints a shock lead, taking advantage of a rare error from Ederson. Since the start of last season, only Danny Ings (11) has scored more Premier League goals than the midfielder.

An onslaught on the visitors' goal failed to materialise after that, with Aguero's leveller in the 70th minute City's first shot on target. That was the longest they have had to wait for their first shot on target in a league match since December 2016.

That goal was teed up by Walker, who went onto to claim the winner in the closing stages. After 272 appearances in the Premier League, it was the first time he had scored and assisted in a game.  

RED DEVILS SUFFER ANOTHER SETBACK

United's miserable start to the campaign continued on Saturday, with Bournemouth registering their first win against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side since December 2015.

They were undone by Josh King's first-half goal, the Norwegian ended Bournemouth's run of 358 minutes, three games and 50 shots without a Premier League goal.

That strike means United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 Premier League away games – their joint-longest run without one on the road in the competition (also 11 between August 2002 and January 2003).

United have amassed just 13 points from their opening 11 games of the campaign – their lowest tally at this stage of a league campaign since 1986-87 when they had 11 points.

BLUES INFLICT MORE MISERY ON HORNETS

Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic were on target for Chelsea as Frank Lampard's side extended Watford's winless start to the season.

The Hornets have now failed to win any of their opening 11 games to a league season for the first time in their history. They are the first team to do so in the Premier League since QPR in 2012-13.

Abraham got Chelsea on their way with yet another away goal. He has now scored seven in his six away appearances in the league this season – only Kevin Phillips in 1999-00, Edin Dzeko in 2011-12 and Sergio Aguero in 2016-17 (all eight) have scored more in their opening six away games of a Premier League season.

Pulisic then followed up his hat-trick against Burnley last weekend with the Blues' second. The American has now been involved in nine goals in all competitions this season (four goals, five assists) – only Abraham (12) has been involved in more.

Andy Robertson highlighted Sadio Mane's last-gasp winner against Aston Villa as more evidence of how much the Liverpool star has raised his game in 2019.

The Senegal international shone in Mohamed Salah's absence on Saturday, setting up one and scoring the other to inspire a remarkable late comeback at Villa Park.

Liverpool trailed for over an hour before left-back Robertson met Mane's brilliant cross towards the end of 90 minutes.

The winger then cleverly glanced in Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner in the fourth minute of added time as the Premier League leaders maintained their six-point advantage over Manchester City.

"It was a smashing goal," Robertson told Liverpool's official website of Mane's decisive header.

"We worked on it in training, worked on the front post... the big moments happen in the 94th or 95th minute and he pops up. An incredible finish.

"Sadio has been magnificent since I've come in, but 2019 I think has been his year. He's really turned it up. He obviously shared the [Premier League] Golden Boot last year and he's off to a flyer this year."

Mane, who has now scored 10 goals in all competitions this term, was booked for simulation before half-time and has been accused of occasionally diving by City boss Pep Guardiola, a comment sure to stoke tensions ahead of next weekend's top-of-the-table encounter at Anfield.

Liverpool will care little for now as they celebrate winning from a losing position for the third time in their past four Premier League matches.

Robertson attributed the catalogue of rescue jobs to Jurgen Klopp's demanding fitness regime.

"Like we said last season as well, it's all about the work that goes into pre-season and we worked so hard to get fit and we believe we can go right to the end," the Scotland captain said.

"We went 95, 96 minutes [at Villa] and that's why, when teams start to get tired, we kind of find our second gear and we start getting good chances."

Out of work and looking for a job – Massimiliano Allegri could be poised for a return to the dugout.

Allegri left Juventus at the end of 2018-19 after guiding the Old Lady to five consecutive Serie A titles.

The Italian coach has been linked to Manchester United but, with Niko Kovac on the brink at Bayern Munich, Allegri could find himself in Bavaria.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN GO FOR ALLEGRI

Bayern Munich want former Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri to replace Niko Kovac, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Kovac is on the verge of being sacked after Bayern's humiliating 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, with the Bundesliga champions cancelling Sunday's public training session as pressure mounts.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax's Erik ten Hag have been linked but Bayern have reportedly identified the man to take over in Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Manchester United are ready to hijack Liverpool's move for RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner. Champions League holders Liverpool have been linked to Werner, however, United want to bring the Germany international to Old Trafford in January.

Perth Glory are still optimistic they can lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Australia, reports The West Australian. After revealing an approach for Ibrahimovic on a guest-player contract, A-League side Perth have seen Serie A outfit Bologna confirm their interest in the 38-year-old striker ahead of the January transfer window. Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract will expire before the end of the year.

Tottenham are eyeing a January swoop for Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana. With Hugo Lloris out injured, Spurs are on the lookout for a new keeper and £35million could see Eredivisie champions Ajax sell the Cameroon international.

- According to the Guardian, Arsenal have joined United and Juventus in the transfer chase for Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barcelona have dropped their interest in Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar. The Slovakia international has established himself as one of the best defenders in the world since joined Inter in 2017.

United and Paris Saint-Germain are leading the race to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp called for clarity on offside decisions and VAR after Roberto Firmino was harshly denied a goal against Aston Villa.

Premier League leaders Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1 at Villa Park on Saturday thanks to last-gasp headers from Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane, cancelling out Trezeguet's first-half opener.

It was a triumph which maintained Liverpool's six-point lead over titleholders Manchester City atop the table, while also extending their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 28 matches.

However, Klopp's side may not have needed to rely on late drama had Firmino's goal been allowed to stand shortly after Villa took the lead.

Mane delivered a cross which Firmino bundled home, only for the linesman's offside flag to disallow the goal.

VAR took over to assess the decision, but even though Firmino appeared to be onside, it was not overturned, with the Premier League's official Twitter account later explaining that the Brazilian's armpit was adjudged to have been offside.

"You what? His armpit?" was Klopp's incredulous response in a news conference after he was told of the official explanation.

"We won 2-1, so it's now not that serious. But we are talking about serious moments, it's not right that we are sitting here talking about it and everybody wants to laugh.

"There's nothing to laugh about, to be honest. A manager can get sacked for losing football games.

"I don't want to make it bigger than it is. We just have to clarify it. I don't say anybody is doing it on purpose."

Klopp also acknowledged Liverpool - though worthy of getting something from the game - were certainly not guaranteed to go on and claim all three points even after Robertson's 87th-minute equaliser.

"We still have to learn, we still have to improve, we do, we will, I know that," Klopp added.

"Sometimes you need to get knocks but so far, we could sort it, most of the time. Yes of course when you score these kind of goals, it's lucky but it's not that we didn't deserve to win the game.

"I never thought a second about "did we lose already?" or "can we win?". We just have to try to score, that's everything. It's not that I think because now we have a couple of comebacks today is another comeback."

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola stoked tensions with Liverpool ahead of their clash next weekend by accusing Sadio Mane of diving.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are six points clear of City ahead of the visit of the defending champions to Merseyside on Sunday, November 10.

Both City and Liverpool secured dramatic late wins on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp's side 2-1 victors against Aston Villa thanks to a late winner from Mane.

The two sides have midweek Champions League commitments to negotiate before the Anfield showdown.

However, Guardiola has looked to crank up the rivalry after he took a swipe at the Senegal forward by claiming he attempts to trick referees after he was shown a yellow card for simulation at Villa Park.

"Sometimes he [Mane] is diving," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"Sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. He's a talent."

Liverpool's victory came courtesy of goals from Andrew Robertson and Mane in the 87th and stoppage time, respectively.

Guardiola acknowledged there is nothing fortunate about the manner in which Klopp's team are able to grind out such results so late in games.

He added: "Another close Liverpool win? If it's one time, two times, 'we were lucky, we were lucky'.

"But it happened in the last two seasons many, many times. They have a special character to do that.

"We look at ourselves, we know which team we face, I think they have won 10 and drawn one.

"Next week we go to Anfield to try to play them."

Jurgen Klopp was not convinced Liverpool had it in them to claim all three points against Aston Villa after his side completed a dramatic comeback on Saturday.

Late headers from Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane salvaged a 2-1 win for Liverpool, meaning the Premier League leaders keep up their remarkable unbeaten run in the Premier League.

The Reds have now avoided defeat in their last 28 top-flight matches, their last loss being a 2-1 reverse to title rivals Manchester City back in January.

However, while Klopp has full confidence in his side's powers of recovery, he acknowledged a host of missed chances prior to Robertson's equaliser did not fill him with belief that a win was on the cards.

"No," Klopp answered when asked if he expected to win the match in stoppage time. "But if there is enough time, I know that we will try [to win].

"When we got the equaliser, I thought that was the main thing we deserved today. A couple of things I didn't like in the first half, but not enough to lose the game with all the passion we showed in the second half. 

"Quite nervy, to be honest. I didn't like it too much. Playing against a team who wanted to fight, not enough good finishing. Of course it was difficult for us. We scored a goal which I don't know why exactly was given offside but who cares now. 

"We stayed in the game and tried everything, became better and better, it was pretty intense. Everything went against us pretty much, but we scored a wonderful first goal.

"The set-piece routine we have tried in lots of games worked in the big moment. Of course it is unlucky for Aston Villa but we were dominant today, it was clear as well, though they would have deserved something for all they put in. That's not cool I know, but the deserved winner was us and we did it."

Liverpool looked to have scored an equaliser much earlier on after Trezeguet had put Villa ahead midway through the first half, only for Roberto Firmino to have his goal disallowed for offside.

VAR failed to overturn what appeared an incorrect call on closer inspection, though the Premier League subsequently confirmed on social media that Firmino's armpit was actually offside, much to Klopp's bemusement.

"It looked like they took a minute or longer until they found the picture where Bobby is offside," Klopp said when asked about the incident.

"What can I say about that? When we got the introduction to us, offside to me looked really easy. This time somebody looked like somebody tried really hard to find any part of Bobby that could be offside and in the end he was offside.

"I think nobody is 100 per cent happy. The referees aren't 100 per cent happy, how can I be 100 per cent happy about today after that? I'm not too angry about it because we won the game, but maybe if we hadn't it would have been different."

An incredible day of Premier League drama saw both leaders Liverpool and champions Manchester City rescue all three points with late fightbacks.

Liverpool trailed at Aston Villa while City were behind at home to Southampton, although Pep Guardiola's men looked set to profit when they turned their match around as the Reds continued to flounder.

Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane clinched a stunning away victory, though, and Liverpool remain six points clear of City at the top after both sides won 2-1.

Elsewhere, Bournemouth, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Brighton and Hove Albion all won, while Wolves held Arsenal.

 

INCREDIBLE DRAMA AT THE TOP

Villa away and Southampton at home - particularly after the Saints' horror show against Leicester City - looked like straightforward enough fixtures for Liverpool and City respectively.

However, it appeared for long spells on Saturday as though both would come away empty-handed.

At Villa Park, Trezeguet netted after 21 minutes and not until the 87th minute did Robertson level matters. Liverpool still appeared set to see their advantage cut, only for Mane to strike deep into stoppage time.

City were also given a scare as Southampton led through James Ward-Prowse early on.

But Sergio Aguero struck with 20 minutes remaining and then Kyle Walker, like Robertson an unlikely scorer, stole victory with just four minutes left on the clock.

 

BOOS FOR EMERY'S ARSENAL AGAIN

At Emirates Stadium, pressure continues to grow on Unai Emery after a third Premier League game without a win.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - captaining the Gunners in Granit Xhaka's absence - put them in front, the striker scoring his 50th Gunners goal in his 78th appearance.

But again Arsenal dropped points despite leading, Raul Jimenez heading home Joao Moutinho's cross with 14 minutes to go to extend Wolves' unbeaten run to six league games.

Although Emery had restored fan favourite Mesut Ozil to the XI, boos rang out at full-time.

 

UNITED BEATEN BY BOURNEMOUTH

An entertaining day of Premier League action had kicked off with Bournemouth beating Manchester United, ending the Red Devils' brief resurgence.

After three straight away wins looked to have turned United's season around, former Old Trafford youngster Joshua King grabbed the only goal of the game at Vitality Stadium.

King turned away from Aaron Wan-Bissaka late in the first half, before slamming past David De Gea acrobatically for what proved to be the decisive strike.

 

NEWCASTLE HOLD ON, BLADES WIN BIG

Even the games on the slate not involving 'big-six' teams were full of thrills and spills.

Newcastle won 3-2 at West Ham, ending the match clinging on after dominating for an hour. They scored through Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Jonjo Shelvey, and the Magpies should have netted two or three more before the Hammers mounted something of a fightback, but ultimately fell short.

There was no such response from Burnley, as they went down 3-0 at Sheffield United, with John Lundstram on target twice as all three goals came in the first half.

Brighton ended the day all the way up in eighth after beating Norwich City 2-0.

Manchester City's battling 2-1 win over Southampton meant they stayed in touch with Premier League leaders Liverpool ahead of a blockbusting trip to Anfield next weekend.

The gap at the summit remains six points after Sergio Aguero cancelled out James Ward-Prowse's first-half opener from a rare Ederson error, before Kyle Walker proved to be an unlikely matchwinner.

But Pep Guardiola's champions are undeniably some way short of the supreme form that saw them amass 198 points over the course of back-to-back Premier League titles, having laboured for long periods against a Southampton side that shipped nine goals eight days ago.

A repeat of Wolves' win at the Etihad Stadium last month appeared on the cards until Aguero intervened.

Liverpool retained their advantage at the top thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Sadio Mane at Aston Villa, coming after Andy Robertson set up the 2-1 win with an 87th-minute equaliser.

It means that if City's visit to Merseyside is not quite "must-win" it is almost certainly "must-not-lose". Guardiola raged at the officials during the closing stages against Saints, but here are some of the issues with his own players that will be causing concern.

Slow starts

"The intensity must be there from kick-off," Guardiola implored in vain in his matchday programme notes. Aside from the 8-0 demolition of Watford in September, the fast starts with which City frequently blitzed opponents during their title-winning seasons have been largely absent this time around.

Their goalless effort before the break in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa last weekend was dubbed a "relegation" performance by their manager. Atalanta scored first at the Etihad Stadium before being beaten in the Champions League and if the sluggishness beginnings against Wolves, Villa and Saints are on show at Anfield, City are likely to pay dearly.

Defensive stability

Since Aymeric Laporte was laid low by a meniscus injury at the end of August, City have conceded in six of 12 matches in all competitions. Not a howling record by any means, but Guardiola is still searching for solutions without his ball-playing defensive lynchpin, both in and out of possession.

Fernandinho is having to acclimatise to a new position quicker than was originally planned, while Nicolas Otamendi's nightmare showing against Wolves appears to have cost him Guardiola's trust.

John Stones and left-back Benjamin Mendy – the latter rested against Southampton – are working their way back to form and match sharpness, while Walker is only recently back from a bout of illness. Overall, the picture painted is not one of the robust unit required to repel Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

Under-performing attacking stars

If City were at their free-scoring best in attack, it would mask plenty of the defensive deficiencies. The problem is, they aren't. Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne are the only members of City's creative department who can claim to have reached top form this season, and both were way short of their best against Southampton.

Aguero pilfered the equaliser to move on to 13 goals from as many appearances this term but it is notable that Gabriel Jesus is pushing him harder for a starting place than he has for at least 18 months.

Riyad Mahrez's impressive start to the season has tailed off, while Bernardo Silva – City's player of the season in 2018-19 – was often utterly awful as Southampton's massed defensive ranks inflicted an afternoon of rain-sodden anxiety upon the champions.

Guardiola: Season four

This is only the second time the famously meticulous and intense Guardiola has entered a fourth season in charge of a club. The last time that happened in 2011-12, Barcelona were unable to hold off a relentless Real Madrid and conceded their LaLiga title.

This is a different time in a different league with a different set of players, with Guardiola older and wiser. But the common features of City's poor performances this season – predictable attacks, edginess under pressure and an endless parade of crosses (although those belatedly paid off on Saturday) – indicate the message from the dugout might be at least a little careworn.

Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson struck late on as Premier League leaders Liverpool came from behind to claim a stunning 2-1 win over Aston Villa.

Jurgen Klopp's side looked set to be heading for just their second top-flight defeat of 2019 at Villa Park, Trezeguet's 21st-minute effort having put the hosts ahead in a clash containing further VAR controversy.

Trezeguet's goal stood following a check for offside, but a review did not overturn the decision to disallow what appeared to be a valid equaliser from Roberto Firmino.

However, Liverpool's second-half dominance eventually finally paid off in a dramatic finish. Robertson headed in from point-blank range before Mane flicked home the winner in the fourth minute of added time, keeping the Reds six points clear of Manchester City at the summit.

Roberto Firmino had a goal disallowed against Aston Villa as his armpit was in an offside position, the Premier League have confirmed.

VAR inconsistencies again came to the fore at Villa Park on Saturday, when Firmino had what appeared to be perfectly a valid equaliser ruled out by the linesman.

Despite a lengthy check, VAR - which had earlier allowed Trezeguet's opener to stand - did not overturn the decision.

Offering an explanation of the decision, the official Premier League Twitter account posted: "Liverpool's Roberto Firmino was flagged offside before putting the ball in the net against Aston Villa and the decision was confirmed by VAR.

"The red line signifies Firmino and was aligned to his armpit, which was marginally ahead of the last Villa defender."

The statement accompanied an image of Firmino appearing to be level with Villa defender Tyrone Mings before he latched onto Sadio Mane's cross.

 

 

Liverpool are motivated to maintain their unbeaten streak in the Premier League and go one better than last season by lifting the title, according to midfielder Naby Keita.

Jurgen Klopp's side have not lost in 27 top-flight matches since January's 2-1 reverse to Manchester City, four short of the club's all-time record, set between May 1987 and March 1988.

The Reds finished a point behind champions City last season but are six clear this time around after winning nine and drawing one of their opening 10 league games.

Next up for the leaders is a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday and Guinea international Keita, who requires a late fitness test, does not expect his side to take their foot off the gas.

"You always have to remain focused," he told the club's official website. "It's that focus that brings the desire - and it's that desire that helps you a lot in achieving your goals.

"It's that momentum that motivates us, builds confidence and drives us to do even better. That's the goal we all set ourselves as players, as a club and as the manager too. I believe we will remain focused and calm and continue to make progress.

"We know we have players who like to beat our own records. We know what we achieved last season, but we're not going to just look back on that achievement with any sense of complacency - we're going to try to do even better than last year."

Not helped by an injury at the start of the season, Keita has been restricted to eight minutes of Premier League action this term and was an unused sub in last week's 2-1 win over Tottenham.

Liverpool fell behind to Harry Kane's goal after 47 seconds, but a Jordan Henderson strike was followed up by Mohamed Salah's penalty as the Reds rallied to secure all three points.

"A tough match like the one we just had gives you more experience, so you can try in subsequent training sessions to eliminate those faults or those attempts that didn't work out right," Keita said.

"We set about correcting those few errors we made in the match against Tottenham during our training sessions in the lead-up to the match at Aston Villa. Going there and putting in a good performance is paramount for us.

"As far as I am concerned, not all matches are the same, but we were happy to get the three points against Tottenham, that was essential. You can't always run every game the way you might like to, but the key thing is to come away with the three points."

Jurgen Klopp said Mohamed Salah's ongoing ankle problem is annoying but believes his star forward will be fit for Liverpool's clash with Aston Villa this weekend.

Salah was cynically fouled by Leicester's Hamza Choudhury last month and it seems he is still suffering from the injury on a recurring basis.

The Egyptian required ice on his ankle as he hobbled down the tunnel following last week's win over Spurs and has spent most of this week training away from the first team in a bid to recover.

There may be temptation to rest Salah for the trip to Villa Park with an eye on next weekend's top of the table fixture with Manchester City, but Klopp is confident Salah will be involved for Liverpool on Saturday.

"He should be fine. He has had to do his own individual stuff, but he will be training," he told reporters.

"I think it is really more annoying, not for me, but for him. The fact the injury always has a bit of fluid in, and he has to deal with it, we get it out and it comes back, stuff like that.

"But this is not a real injury in this sense, so I've heard (from the physios), so he should be fine."

Jurgen Klopp is open to fielding two entirely different teams in the EFL Cup and Club World Cup next month but says Liverpool's star men would be in Qatar.

The European champions are due to play a Club World Cup semi-final on December 18 - the day after a scheduled domestic quarter-final at Aston Villa.

Klopp suggested after Wednesday's remarkable last-16 victory over Arsenal that his side may have to pull out of the EFL Cup altogether, but an alternative solution may yet be found.

The Liverpool boss made 11 changes against Arsenal and, in a bid to fulfil nine fixtures in December, he might consider leaving a young squad of fringe players behind to face Villa.

"We have discussed it already," Klopp said at Friday's news conference before playing Villa in the Premier League. "We have to because there's not too much time to make that decision. 

"There's not a final decision yet but, if we would play while we are in Qatar, it would be two different teams. We cannot leave any [senior] players at home for the EFL Cup - we have two games [in Qatar] in a very busy period. 

"It's not that we can go there with 11 players and say these 11 guys play the two games in Qatar and the other [senior] guys play at home in England against Aston Villa. We have to make a decision and we will make a decision but not yet."

Klopp also criticised the scheduling of Liverpool's festive fixtures last year and has previously taken aim at UEFA for putting further demands on his international players with the introduction of the Nations League.

When asked if there is a concern his players are being pushed too far, Klopp offered an impassioned reply as he highlighted some issues with the English football calendar.

"Let's have a look how they deal with it," he said. "If you see the schedule that's coming up, it's all okay.

"The Premier League, what a competition, sensationally cool; then the EFL Cup, nice competition, what a game we had on Wednesday night. 

"But then at the end of January, after a very busy schedule in December, there are two semi-finals. It's an easy decision for me to say if you keep that competition then why don't you make just two semi-finals?

"We still have, in February, March and April, FA Cup games at the weekend.

"I'm four years in and, before I knew about it, people discussed it already. That's the difference to other countries - Italy has 20 teams as well.

"England is the only country where nobody wants to touch it, or maybe wants to touch it - the FA wants to touch the League Cup, the Football League wants to touch the FA Cup - but nobody really wants to discuss it. 

"Then, on top of that, UEFA decides to make the Nations League to give the boys who are already pretty busy - some very successful players, good players - another couple of intense games. 

"I said it before and it always sounds like it's my problem. I'm not involved in Nations League games, I don't play international games at all. I have a couple of days off, it's not my problem. I only discuss from the same perspective that you should discuss it but you don't."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola backed Klopp's stance on fixture congestion and called on the relevant governing bodies to do more to protect players.

"I completely agree," he said. "How do we pay bigger squads? We need less fixtures, less competitions, more recovery. We play [December] 27 or 29 in winter time.

"In UEFA meetings, always they talk about it. I'm with Jurgen when he makes these kind of statements about too many games."

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