Chelsea will be without N'Golo Kante for Tuesday's Premier League trip to Crystal Palace after the France midfielder sustained a hamstring strain.

Kante is also likely to be absent from the Blues' weekend assignment at Sheffield United, although head coach Frank Lampard does not expect his absence to extend much further due to the injury being "low level".

"Kante won't be in the squad, he hurt his hamstring," he told a pre-match news conference.

"It's a low-level hamstring [injury], so we're hoping it is a week or so.

"We'll play that one as it goes but I would expect we'd be very lucky to have him for Sheffield United."

Mateo Kovacic returned to training following an Achilles problem on Monday but the visit to Selhurst Park comes too soon for the Croatia international.

It means Jorginho is set to resume duties at the base of Chelsea's midfield – a position he made his own under Lampard and predecessor Maurizio Sarri until the Premier League resumption last month.

The former Napoli star has been an unused substitute for the Blues' last three matches having not featured in the matchday squad for the 2-1 comeback win at Aston Villa – one of three "Project Restart" victories, which leave Lampard's men fourth, a point behind Leicester City and two better off than Manchester United in a knife-edge battle for the Champions League places.

"He has been very professional about it," Lampard said of Jorginho. "He wants to play as every player does.

"One of the hardest parts of the job is telling a player who is not playing, or picking a squad and leaving out players. Particularly when they are training well and Jorginho always trains well.

"But he has handled it professionally and that's what I would expect. It is important for players in a long season, with the competitive squad that we have, that they are there to support players when they are out, and he has done that.

"So we will see with my selection tomorrow. I don't want to go into the personal details of positional and tactical. I just have to pick a team as I see best. They are just my choices."

Lampard hopes that positive attitude extends to his whole squad when it comes to the pressure of sealing a top-four place – something he insists Chelsea's players should relish with five top-flight games remaining.

"I like to think they are not ignoring what's around them. Football is on TV more than ever," he added, reflecting on the Premier League's rebooted schedule.

"I expect them to buy into that and want to see what results are happening around us. I think that's human nature and on a sporting level I think that means you care and want to see what's happening.

"I think then there needs to be a slight switch off to focus on what's happening to yourself. We can't control the other games, although we are certainly interested in them, but we can control what we do.

"So it can fire you up to see what happens around you. The position we are in means it is in our own hands and that's the main thing. We need to focus on putting on the best performance when we train and play."

Mikel Arteta has been outstanding in coping with the pressure at Arsenal and shown "courage" in his initial months at the helm, says Brendan Rodgers.

Leicester City play away to Arteta's Arsenal side in the Premier League on Tuesday.

They won November's reverse fixture 2-0 as Unai Emery's tenure with the Gunners was drawing to a close, with Arteta taking charge the following month.

Arsenal have won four straight games in all competitions ahead of the Leicester clash at the Emirates Stadium, and Foxes boss Rodgers has been impressed.

"I think Mikel has done very, very well since he's gone in," said Rodgers, whose team are third in the table.

"He's gone into a club with huge expectations, which he knows from being a player there. He's gone in on his first job, into a huge task, and I think how he's dealt with it so far has been outstanding.

"From a tactical perspective, he's made it very clear how they want to play. The style, you can see.

"That is not an easy style to put in place and implement, especially at a club that want to be challenging straight away as well.

"His courage since he's gone in, to want to develop that. They've played with a couple of different systems but the style has always remained the same. 

"That is something that bodes well for the future and for him."

Leicester have said James Maddison and Ben Chilwell are major injury doubts for the game, with Chelsea and Manchester United breathing down their necks in the race for a top-four finish.

Saturday's 3-0 home win over Crystal Palace ended a four-match winless run since the Premier League's resumption and Rodgers has confidence ahead of the last five games of the campaign.

Asked if his side were capable of finishing the job to secure Champions League football, Rodgers said: "There is absolutely no doubt.

"We've shown over 33 games our talent. Okay, we are maybe missing some players that have helped us along that way but as a squad we're very focused on achieving it.

"We will fight to the very, very last whistle to finish as high as we possibly can."

Chelsea are one point adrift of Leicester, with a resurgent Manchester United three behind.

Seventh-placed Arsenal have moved to within six points of United and are still hoping to challenge for a European place.

James Maddison and Ben Chilwell are "big doubts" for Leicester City when they travel to play Arsenal on Tuesday, says manager Brendan Rodgers.

Leicester won the reverse fixture 2-0 in November, with Maddison scoring and Chilwell playing the full game.

But the two England internationals are unlikely to be fit this time around, with the Foxes embroiled in a competitive battle to finish in the Premier League's top four.

Maddison injured his hip ahead of last week's defeat at Everton and had to miss Saturday's 3-0 home win over Crystal Palace, a game in which Chilwell had to be withdrawn at half-time.

"We've got doubts over James Maddison and Ben Chilwell," said Rodgers.

"They are the two that could struggle but we'll see how they are [on Monday]. We just have to wait and see. There are big doubts over both.

"Ben's is his plantar fascia, the bottom of his foot, which is giving him pain. We'll just have to assess that and see what the specialists say on it.

"You can play through it but of course there are times you get a real bad pain in it, so it's just trying to manage that.

"They will both be big doubts ahead of the game but we'll give them every chance."

The win over Palace was crucial for third-placed Leicester, who had failed to win their first four matches since the top-flight's resumption.

"It was important, but it always has to be about performance," added Rodgers.

"We've been down on our luck lately and I felt the win was coming. We knew we had to improve, but the confidence it gives you is huge."

Chelsea have moved to within two points of them while a resurgent Manchester United are three behind with five matches to go in the race to secure Champions League football.

Nemanja Matic has put pen to paper on a new contract with Manchester United that runs until 2023.

Serbia international Matic had one year remaining on his previous deal.

But the club announced on Monday he has been signed to fresh terms following some impressive displays under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 31-year-old joined United from Chelsea in 2017 and has made 114 appearances.

"I am very happy that I will continue to be part of this great club," midfielder Matic said in a statement.

"As a player, I still have a lot more to give and achieve in my career and to do that with Manchester United will be a huge honour.

"This is a really exciting team to be part of, we have a good balance of youth and experience within the squad and there is great comradery amongst the group.

"This is a key part of the season and we are playing well. We will continue to fight to finish the season on a high and make our amazing supporters proud."

Solskjaer added: "I am delighted that Nemanja has signed a new contract, I know his experience, professionalism and leadership will be invaluable to this young talented group.

"We have great strength in midfield and Nemanja's attributes are a key part of that. Nemanja has been here for three seasons now and really understands the values of playing for Manchester United.

"He remains hugely ambitious and determined which will be vital as we look to achieve our aims over the coming years."

Matic has started each of United's past three Premier League games, helping them extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 16 matches.

Solskjaer's side have moved up to fifth in the top flight, three points behind third-place Leicester City in the race for Champions League qualification.

Jose Mourinho hit back at Arsenal after they appeared to mock Tottenham following their loss to Sheffield United.

Spurs were beaten 3-1 at Bramall Lane on Thursday and Arsenal seemingly took the chance to poke fun at their rivals.

In a post on Facebook, Arsenal posted highlights of their FA Cup win at Sheffield last month with the caption: "It's not easy beating Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Here's a reminder of how it's done."

Mikel Arteta's men are seventh in the Premier League, four points ahead of 10th-placed Spurs, and Mourinho slammed Arsenal for the post.

"If they were top of the league or fighting for top four and in a really good moment, they wouldn't enjoy the problems of others," the Spurs head coach said.

"You only enjoy the problems of others when you are also in trouble. I think in the end it's a little more about that. They don't have much to celebrate, so they have to take any opportunity to do it. They are in a very similar situation to us in the table.

"I don't like to connect the club with such posts or tweets because probably the person who did it did it by himself. I don't believe it was Arteta who posted it — probably it was some guy who has been working from home for three months. No problem, at home we will be waiting for them."

Tottenham face Everton on Monday before matches against Bournemouth and Arsenal.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta said the club must speak with Alexandre Lacazette to see if the forward wants to sign a new contract.

Lacazette is contracted to Arsenal until 2022 after arriving from Ligue 1 outfit Lyon in 2017.

The 29-year-old came off the bench and scored in Arsenal's 2-0 Premier League win over high-flying Wolves on Saturday.

Lacazette has only started two of Arsenal's last eight Premier League fixtures and Arteta acknowledged the Frenchman's future has to be resolved.

"We have to have a chat about the next step with him and get his ideas and his feelings. As I said, I am really happy with him," said Arteta, whose Arsenal face Leicester City on Tuesday.

"He's a player that I've always liked, even when I wasn't here, because of what he brings to the team: his qualities, his ability, his work rate. So let's see.

"Now we are in a crucial moment. It's no time to talk about a lot of contract situations. We still have time and we will do it in the right moment."

Arsenal are seventh in the Premier League after 33 rounds, three points adrift of sixth-placed Wolves and nine behind Leicester – who are third.

The Gunners are in the midst of a four-game unbeaten streak, having also reached the FA Cup semi-finals.

Paris Saint-Germain have reportedly agreed to let Neymar return to Barcelona, while Borussia Dortmund have set their asking price for Jadon Sancho.

Neymar, 28, has regularly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, and that could be getting a step closer.

But can the LaLiga giants make it happen?

 

TOP STORY – PSG AGREE TO LET NEYMAR RETURN TO BARCELONA

Neymar has reached an agreement with PSG to return to Barcelona ahead of next season, according to AS.

However, the report says Barcelona must still find the means to make it happen.

Neymar starred across four seasons at the LaLiga club before joining PSG in a world-record €222million move in 2017.

ROUND-UP

- If Manchester United want Sancho, it seems they know what they need to pay. Ruhr Nachrichten reports Dortmund want £108.3m (€120m) for the star attacker and the deal must be completed before August 10.

- Amid links to Barcelona, Xavi signed a new contract with Al-Sadd until 2021. However, Mundo Deportivo says the club's former midfielder has a release clause in his new contract to be able to sign to take over at Camp Nou before his deal ends. Staying at Barcelona and the club have agreed to lower Ivan Rakitic's price, according to Sport, with the midfielder linked with a Sevilla return.

- Nemanja Matic has found form at Manchester United. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the 31-year-old midfielder – whose contract was expiring next year – has signed a new deal with the Premier League club until 2023.

- While Hector Bellerin has a deal at Arsenal until 2023, his future is somewhat uncertain. The Daily Express reports Paris Saint-Germain are keeping tabs on the Spaniard.

- As they near promotion to the Premier League, Leeds United could be ready to strengthen. The Sun reports Leeds are prepared to sign Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard – who has been linked to Manchester United and Arsenal – if they return to the top flight.

- Valencia are searching for a new head coach after the sacking of Albert Celades. L'Equipe reports former PSG boss Laurent Blanc is on the LaLiga club's list of possible successors.

Manchester United teenage sensation Mason Greenwood is ready for an England call-up amid his fine form at Old Trafford, insisted manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Greenwood, 18, scored twice as red-hot United defeated relegation-threatened Bournemouth 5-2 in the Premier League on Saturday.

The highly rated forward – who has drawn comparisons to former United star Robin van Persie – has netted 15 goals across all competitions this season, including eight in the Premier League.

Solskjaer backed Greenwood to make the step up to Gareth Southgate's England squad.

"When you play for Man United, I think that's a test that's good enough and difficult enough," said Solskjaer, whose United are in the midst of a 16-game unbeaten streak.

"If you can handle playing for Man United then you can handle playing for any team and Mason's got the qualities that not many others have.

"So he could play for England full team or Under-21s, I don't really mind. I know he's doing well for us and it's great to have him here.

"Mason's a naturally good finisher, so he'll always score goals. He's a humble boy, he wants to learn, he listens and he works hard.

"Mason is one of the best if not the best finisher I have worked with and seen. He is so calm."

United, who have not lost since January, are fifth in the Premier League and two points behind Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification with five games remaining.

The Red Devils are next in action away to lowly Aston Villa on Thursday.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola does not believe Sunday's surprise Premier League loss to Southampton highlights the need for the club to sign new players.

Guardiola's City suffered their third consecutive away defeat in the Premier League after going down 1-0 to Southampton at St Mary's on Sunday.

After routing newly crowned champions Liverpool 4-0 last time out, City – who rested Kevin De Bruyne and others – succumbed to Che Adams' first Premier League goal as they fell 23 points adrift in second position.

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly and Bayern Munich's David Alaba have been among the players linked with moves to City at the end of the season.

But when asked if City's defeat was a question of needing new players, Guardiola told reporters: "No, I don't think so.

"I think we play good, honestly. We play with the character and desire to drive until the end. We played against Southampton who had 10 players in the penalty area. We did it really well.

"We will review the game, and with the chances that we had, we can do more. It's difficult to create more chances than we created and the way we did it.

"I'm so proud, so I liked the way we played but it's not enough. There's no complaint about the players. We played really well, I like it but it's not enough to win the games."

Guardiola, meanwhile, does not feel City goalkeeper Ederson is to blame for the loss to Southampton.

Adams scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute, catching the Brazilian keeper off his line after Oleksandr Zinchenko had been dispossessed of the ball.

"We use our keeper to build up our play. We use our keeper to play better," Guardiola said. "It gives us a lot. The mistake is part of the game but we didn't lose for that reason.

"It happens many times this season this situation. The amount of chances we have but it's football. The amount of chances we have but not able to score goals."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp labelled Thiago Alcantara a "really good player", but was unwilling to say too much about the Bayern Munich midfielder.

Thiago, 29, is out of contract at the Bundesliga club next year and has been linked with a move to Anfield.

Asked about the former Barcelona midfielder amid the transfer talk, Klopp only praised Thiago's quality.

"Would you be surprised if I don't give an answer on that? Just because I never answer these kinds of questions," he told a news conference after Liverpool's 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.

"Thiago Alcantara is a really good player. I like a lot of other players out there, but that's all I have to say about that."

Liverpool returned to winning ways thanks to second-half goals from Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones as the champions moved closer to the 100-point mark.

Naby Keita set up Mane's opener and Klopp praised the midfielder, who has struggled to impress since arriving from RB Leipzig in 2018.

"Naby is a top player and it was a difficult game and he was really good. He helped us a lot, not only with the goal. He always made offers. It was not his best game but it was good," he said.

"We play in three days again which is tough, then three days again. It's a tough period, but you need to find solutions for the different moments and Naby was the solution."

Liverpool are away to Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.

Bernardo Silva accepts Manchester City cannot afford to drop points away from home with such regularity if they are to compete for the Premier League title again next season.

Deposed champions City thrashed title-winners Liverpool 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium in midweek but came unstuck on the road at Southampton, losing 1-0 to a stunning Che Adams goal on Sunday.

It was a third consecutive defeat away from home in the league for City, manager Pep Guardiola's worst such run of his coaching career.

City star Silva could not explain the disappointing streak but recognised the team must improve before the 2020-21 campaign.

"I don't know. I don't have the answer to that," the Portugal international said. "Of course, it's always better to play at home, a place where we're used to being.

"But there's no excuse for that. We need to improve next season if we want to win again the Premier League."

However, after mustering 26 shots and forcing Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy into six stunning saves, Silva felt City had performed well in defeat.

"I honestly think we played well today," explained Silva, whose City are second and 23 points behind Liverpool with five games remaining. "We created plenty of chances but couldn't score them. Then little mistakes cost us the game.

"Overall, I think 88 minutes of the 90 of this game were spent in the Southampton half of the match. But congratulations to them.

"We didn't play a bad game. I thought we started well in the second half especially - we put a lot of pressure onto them - but we couldn't finish our chances.

"I think we need to improve. We need to check the mistakes that we made today, the little mistakes that, for example, cost us the goal and the few chances they had.

"But overall, the way we played, I honestly thought it was good."

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Sunday told the story of their Premier League season.

Just three days after thrashing champions Liverpool 4-0 in a stunning response to the failure of their title defence, City could find no way past Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

McCarthy made a series of superb saves, while Che Adams pounced on an Oleksandr Zinchenko error to score from 40 yards and pinch the points for Southampton.

The result – a third consecutive away league defeat – left City 23 points behind Liverpool again, with manager Guardiola bemused as he reflected on a largely positive display.

"It was a little bit our season," the Spanish boss said. "We played really well but allowed mistakes in our box and they punished us a lot.

"Afterwards, we created a lot and we could not score. It was a little bit today resuming what happened this season in the Premier League.

"We must improve, but in terms of performance, in terms of the way we played, there's nothing to say. We attacked incredibly well and had 10 guys in the box.

"They scored a goal and they had one chance at the end, but no more than this. We played really, really well."

Reflecting on the season, Guardiola added: "This season, in the Premier League, we've lost a lot of games - but not for a lack of [good] games.

"In general, I think we've played really well in most of the games. But when you have 20 shots and 10 players in the box, you have to score goals.

"When one team has a lot of chances and they beat us and we don't create enough chances, it can happen. But it happened very few times in all competitions.

"We create a lot, but we struggle. In a few they do, they score a goal. We do a lot and we cannot score."

But Guardiola was hopeful City could take a lesson from their setbacks as they prepare for key FA Cup and Champions League ties against Arsenal and Real Madrid respectively.

"Maybe it's going to help us, this situation, to arrive in key moments a little bit better," he said. "But we have to get better.

"The first goal in Chelsea [a 2-1 defeat] was our present to them. In a lot of games, always we give them a chance. When an opponent does a good thing and scores a good goal, it's okay. But that didn't happen."

Che Adams ended his wait for a first Premier League goal with an incredible long-range strike to see Southampton to a shock 1-0 win over Manchester City.

Adams was making his 25th top-flight appearance for Saints since his £15million signing just over a year ago, but he picked a fine time to break his duck.

City rested Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, among others, after crushing champions Liverpool in midweek and lacked fluency from the outset at St Mary's, although Adams' wonderful finish preceded a flurry of chances for Pep Guardiola's men.

Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was in inspired form, however, and the hosts held on to hand City their ninth league defeat of the season and their third in a row away from home.

The second-placed side were made to pay for their sloppy start when Stuart Armstrong stole possession from Oleksandr Zinchenko on halfway and the ball ran for Adams – without a goal since April 2019 – to sweep a stunning 40-yard effort over the stranded Ederson and into a gaping net.

Pressure subsequently built on the Southampton goal, where McCarthy watched Gabriel Jesus miss the target from close range before getting to work.

In a frantic spell, McCarthy parried from Raheem Sterling, dived after a Fernandinho shot that bounced away off the post and then sprang back to his feet to brilliantly repel David Silva's header.

Riyad Mahrez was next to find the insoured keeper blocking his path, before a stretching Danny Ings volleyed over when he might have doubled Saints' lead just before half-time.

McCarthy was at it again following the interval, keeping out Jesus' header and then smothering from Silva after a pinpoint Zinchenko pass.

De Bruyne and Foden soon arrived from the bench, but the withdrawals of Mahrez and Sterling only seemed to hurt City further and Ederson had to stop an Armstrong blast as his side stuttered to a surprise loss despite applying plenty of late pressure.


What does it mean? City miss key men

All 20 teams in the Premier League are adapting to a packed schedule that ensures a number of star players must be rested regularly. This time, it was the turn of City pair De Bruyne and Foden.

But with Sergio Aguero also out through injury, City lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Guardiola will hope to have all three fit and firing by the time the Champions League rolls around again.

McCarthy makes amends

In Southampton's previous home game, their hopes of beating Arsenal were hindered by a poor McCarthy error that allowed Eddie Nketiah to net the opener. The goalkeeper's display on Sunday ensured that mistake will be quickly forgotten.

While the energy of the hosts' outfield players forged opportunities in attack, they were grateful to McCarthy for save after save to improbably keep City at bay.

Defensive difficulties

Many have highlighted frailties in the centre of the City back line as the root cause of their failed title defence, but Aymeric Laporte has usually avoided criticism.

The Frenchman was uncharacteristically shaky on the south coast, though, hastily hacking at two mistimed clearances, while partner Eric Garcia almost played in Adams to net again midway through the second period.

What's next?

In-form Everton lie in wait for Southampton at Goodison Park on Thursday, by which point City will have faced Newcastle United in Manchester.

Dean Smith took scant consolation from pushing Premier League champions Liverpool close after Aston Villa fell to a 2-0 defeat, insisting he had no love for the "valiant loser" tag.

The Villa boss set his side up to defend at Anfield and the visitors did frustrate the home side until Sadio Mane's 71st-minute opener.

Curtis Jones doubled the Reds' lead late on as Villa's winless run in the league was extended to nine games on Sunday.

Smith noted that his side had more shots than Jurgen Klopp's men, who lost their previous game 4-0 to Manchester City, but still the overwhelming feeling was one of disappointment.

"I don't want to be a valiant loser, we're scrapping for points," Smith told Sky Sports.

"To out-shoot Liverpool at home at Anfield, in terms of efforts on goal, it's excellent – but we need to take our opportunities. We never found the quality in the final third, they did.

"Was it the best time to come to Anfield? Jurgen Klopp teams don't take their foot off the gas, I don't thank him for bringing the three subs on, that strengthened them but we were in the game the whole way through.

"Unfortunately they beat our press with their quality in the end."

Next up for Villa is Thursday's visit of a buoyant Manchester United, who put five past Bournemouth on Saturday.

With his side still occupying the relegation zone, Smith knows the route to safety will be a difficult one.

"It's a tough task but we're still in it that's for sure," he said. "Our performances since the restart haven't got the results they deserved. We have got to make the most of our chances.

"We need to keep the belief in the dressing room, it's some achievement to come here and play as we did but we have to maintain the belief. I thought we more than matched them."

Jurgen Klopp highlighted Liverpool's 2-0 win over Aston Villa as a prime example of why his side are Premier League champions. 

The Reds, playing their first game at Anfield since ending a 30-year title drought, were made to work hard by their relegation-threatened visitors. 

Late goals from Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones got the job done as Klopp's side continued their 100 per cent home record in the league in the 2019-20 campaign. 

And the German, who was left angered by Thursday's 4-0 loss to Manchester City, felt it showed just why his side have reigned supreme this season. 

"A very difficult game for different reasons," Klopp told Sky Sports. 

"Villa are obviously organised and made it tricky for us. The wind made it tricky for both, but it was really hard to play normal football. 

"We had to stay on track and do the right things and in the second half we had more of the good moments. You could see we needed time to get used to it." 

The result took Liverpool to 89 points, within 11 of City's record tally, but Klopp insists that was not on his mind on Sunday. 

"The only thing I can say is there's no chance to win records if you constantly think about records," he said. 

"We don't want a record we want the three points. We don't think about these things, three points is difficult enough. 

"Aston Villa was fighting with all they had and it makes life uncomfortable. I like it, it was not a brilliant performance but it was a good performance that gets us three points." 

Mane echoed his manager's sentiments after scoring his 50th goal at Anfield for Liverpool. 

"We pushed as a team until the end and created some chances. It wasn't an easy game but at least we deserved these three points," he told Sky Sports. 

"I think sometimes you can't expect always to score four or five against a good opponent. They were really organised and we were playing patiently until the gaps opened and we scored the two goals. 

"For us right now it is most important to win games, then you can think about records. 

"We have important games and we will try to play game by game. It won't be easy but that is the Premier League – it is always difficult." 

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