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." 

Liverpool won their first game at Anfield as Premier League champions as a 2-0 victory piled the misery on relegation-threatened Aston Villa.

Having been angered by the Reds' 4-0 loss to Manchester City on Thursday, Jurgen Klopp saw his side triumph on Sunday even if the performance still left much to be desired.

Sadio Mane's 71st-minute goal broke the visitors' stubborn resolve before Curtis Jones added late gloss as Dean Smith's men, winless in nine in the league, remained in the bottom three.

For Liverpool, this was not the celebratory homecoming they would have envisaged after a first top-flight title in 30 years but their march towards the 100-point barrier continues.

A tepid first half made very clear that Villa's game plan was to sit deep and frustrate Liverpool, who simply could not find a way through.

Indeed, when the first shot on target finally arrived in the 33rd minute it was Alisson who was called into action and not former Reds goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

That Douglas Luiz strike, easily dealt with by Alisson, proved to be the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock before the interval.

With Liverpool having won their previous 23 home league matches, they were always likely to emerge victorious in this one and Klopp's side got the job done in the second half.

The German made a triple change on the hour mark, introducing Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum.

And finally, the breakthrough came. Mane – who scored a 94th-minute winner in the reverse fixture – stroked home from Naby Keita's assist via the underside of the crossbar to register his 50th Anfield goal for Liverpool.

Jones, who signed a new contract this week, was introduced in the 85th minute and scored his first Premier League goal four minutes later, steering into the bottom-left corner from Mohamed Salah's knockdown. 

What does it mean? Reds still rolling towards history

Liverpool are now 11 points shy of the century mark and that is a tally they will be eager to reach to cap this remarkable campaign in style. Villa, meanwhile, are running out of time to put enough points on the board to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Mane the man for Liverpool

In a poor game of precious few chances, Mane had to step up when the time came, and he did just that. The Senegalese connected well with Keita's low cross and that strike took the wind out of Villa's sails, leaving them vulnerable to another setback, which Jones duly provided.

Robertson off his game

Andrew Robertson's stellar form this season has been one of the many highlights for Liverpool, but he has now turned in a couple of off-colour displays. The full-back was arguably the worst of a bad bunch at City and was only marginally better here, in far less testing circumstances.

What's next?

Brighton and Hove Albion will be the next team to form a guard of honour for the champions when Liverpool head to the south coast on Wednesday, while Villa must defeat in-form Manchester United on Thursday if they are to avoid having their winless run taken into double figures.

West Ham twice failed to hold onto a lead in a 2-2 draw at Newcastle United while Burnley and Sheffield United also finished level at 1-1 in Sunday's Premier League action.

Having defeated Chelsea at home in midweek to ease away from the relegation zone, West Ham picked up a point on their travels to move four clear of 18th-place Aston Villa.

Michail Antonio opened the scoring in the fourth minute but Newcastle responded through Miguel Almiron, the Paraguayan converting Emil Krafth's low cross to cap a flowing team move.

Tomas Soucek put the Hammers back ahead in the second half, only for the visitors to concede just 92 seconds later. Jonjo Shelvey fired in with his left foot to level again, though the visitors did at least avoid an eighth-straight league defeat on the road.

In the early kick-off in the top flight, Sheffield United made sure Burnley remain just behind them in the table thanks to an 80th-minute equaliser at Turf Moor.

John Egan emphatically converted Billy Sharp's flick-on to score his first Premier League goal, the defender showing excellent attacking instincts with his half-volleyed finish beyond Nick Pope.

Burnley had taken the lead thanks to one of their centre-backs, James Tarkowski poking the ball in to break the deadlock shortly before half-time.

Virgil van Dijk has revealed the Jurgen Klopp factor was the reason he joined Liverpool instead of Manchester City or Chelsea.

The centre-back left Southampton for Anfield in January 2018 for a reported fee of £75million, which represented a record transfer for a defender.

There were other interested parties in Van Dijk's services, notably City and Chelsea, but the Netherlands international only had eyes for the Reds due to manager Klopp, who led Liverpool to their first Premier League title this season.

"I had the chance to go to Chelsea and Man City," Van Dijk said in quotes published in several national newspapers.

"When you compare the clubs, you look at the history, the town, the current squad, their plans for the near future.

"But the most important thing you look at is the manager - and Jurgen Klopp is an important reason why I chose for Liverpool.

"Klopp has something special. Is it his energy? Is it his overall image?

"I sometimes sit and think about what he does and what he has more than others.

"I think it is his man-management. These days that is more important than anything in football.

"Klopp gives you this great feeling. He is genuinely happy when you walk into the club in the morning. It may sound daft, but that really inspires you as a player."

Van Dijk, 28, has already lifted the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup as a Liverpool player.

In the coming weeks he will get his hands on the Premier League trophy too, with Liverpool's status as champions confirmed last month with seven games still to play.

"I have always said that lifting the Premier League ­trophy would be a dream. That dream has become reality now," he added.

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho said he is prepared to break social-distancing rules just so he can hug Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Mourinho's struggling Tottenham will welcome Ancelotti and Everton to London for Monday's Premier League clash.

Spurs boss Mourinho heaped praise on counterpart Ancelotti ahead of the showdown – pitting ninth against 11th in the table – with the Portuguese willing to break coronavirus protocol for his love of the Everton coach.

"I think everyone in football admires Carlo [Ancelotti] as a coach and as a person," Mourinho told reporters.

"If you don't know him as a person at least you know him as a coach. I like him so much as a person that I'm going to say the obvious, which is that he is one of the top managers in the world in the last two decades and of course now.

"I think it's a privilege for the Premier League to have Carlo back. It's a privilege for Everton to have him as their manager or head coach, whatever you want to call him.

"As a person, I've had the privilege of knowing him for a few years, to stay and be with him a few times, at UEFA meetings or other different occasions and I just love Carlo.

"I think he is a fantastic guy so I think I am going to break the rule of one-metre distancing and I'm going to hug him because I like Carlo very much."

Tottenham have only won one of their past nine games across all competitions following Thursday's 3-1 defeat to Sheffield United.

Spurs – Champions League runners-up under former manager Mauricio Pochettino last season – are 12 points adrift of the top four with six matches remaining.

"I believe, but it is also possible that does not happen. And if that does not happen it is not the end of the world. If that does not happen, it is probably the beginning of a new world because things change," Mourinho added.

"Change for you, change for other clubs. The squads they change. The motivations they change, the group dynamic changes. The group that possibly was strong 10 years is ago is not strong anymore. A player that was in the maximum of his motivation is not anymore and vice-versa.

"It is also possible that we don't get into a top-six position. And if that happens of course we have to look at it not smiling, but we have to look at it with optimism and look at it with a professional profile of next season has to be different.

"Because if you analyse Tottenham for example last year, how many matches did Tottenham win away from home? When I arrived I think it was almost a year without an away victory. If it happens [finishing outside of the top six], it happens but we don't want it to happen and we are going to fight for it not to happen."

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard wants his players to embrace the pressure of trying to qualify for the Champions League in their Premier League battle with in-form Manchester United.

Lampard's Chelsea moved back into the top four with a 3-0 win over Watford after United had briefly leapfrogged them following a 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, two points clear of United with five matches remaining in the Premier League, as the top-four race goes down to the wire.

And Lampard told his players to ignore United, who have gone 16 matches without defeat across all competitions, after bouncing back from Wednesday's shock 3-2 loss at West Ham.

"I think every game is going to be pressure now," Lampard told reporters. "West Ham was pressure because we knew we could go third. It's a different kind of pressure but it's still the same in how you focus on the game and job at hand.

"You cannot get too caught up in what everyone does at the moment. We did that tonight. There was no nonsense. The mentality was right. We started brightly and we carried on and got the small details of the game right at both ends of the pitch, which I was happy with."

"It is not a comparison to get too caught up in," Lampard said. "They are a very good team; we know that. The individuals that they have, the squad, the coaches that they have. We can only respect that.

"I watched their game early and with the individual quality when you look across their frontline you see two players on 20 goals and Mason Greenwood doing what he is doing scoring regularly.

"[Bruno] Fernandes and [Paul] Pogba in midfield, the signing of Harry Maguire. They are a really strong outfit. We know that and the fact we are two points ahead we have to be happy about.

"We know it is going to be contested right until the end of the season with the form that they are in. With respect to Manchester United and the teams around us, we have to focus on ourselves and try to keep picking up results. That will be the main importance to us."

Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley were on target for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

However, midfielder N'Golo Kante suffered a hamstring injury in the win after he was withdrawn with 12 minutes remaining in London.

Lampard, who insisted Jorginho remains part of his plans despite finding himself out of the line-up, added: "N'Golo has got a small hamstring [injury] which we'll have to scan tomorrow [Sunday] and see how bad it is.

"We hope it's small, that's what I've been told so far. After the scan we'll know but I'm guessing it'll be a problem for [Crystal] Palace on Tuesday."

Lampard also heaped praise on goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has been linked with a return to LaLiga, after the former Athletic Bilbao star produced an agile save to thwart Danny Welbeck.

"I am pleased for him and the back four in front of him as well because I thought we defended pretty well when we needed to," Lampard said. "But the moment when we slipped and they got in; he made a really good save.

"That's what you want from your goalkeeper, you want them to make those saves and stay alert. It will be good for his confidence along with the clean sheet as well."

Frank Lampard was full of praise for Christian Pulisic after Chelsea cruised to a 3-0 victory over Watford to regain fourth place in the Premier League. 

Big-money signing Pulisic has taken his game to another level since the season resumed last month and caused the Hornets all sorts of problems at Stamford Bridge. 

Goals from Olivier Giroud, Willian and Ross Barkley moved the Blues back into the top four after Manchester United had briefly leapfrogged them with a 5-2 thrashing of Bournemouth earlier on Saturday. 

Lampard was not keen on comparing Pulisic to former Chelsea forward Hazard but is delighted with the progress the United States international is making after overcoming the injury issues that blighted him earlier in the campaign. 

Asked by Sky Sports about Pulisic and his similarities to Hazard, Lampard replied: "They can both go by players and are great to watch. Eden did it here and was sensational. 

"I don't want to quite get on that comparison, but at the same stage I don't want to take anything away from Christian. What he's showing is a real natural ability, a balance, speed to dribble with the ball. 

"The next step for him is a better end product, more goals, more assists. But since the restart, he's already shown that, which is great. 

"He’s had injury problems this season but he’s a good one, a really good one. I'm very happy with him." 

Lampard was impressed with the way his players responded to a 3-2 London derby loss at West Ham in midweek. 

"We have to accept that pressure. Before West Ham we could have gone third and we let ourselves down," said the former Derby County boss. 

"Today there was a bit of pressure to get back into fourth and we produced. We have to get used to that pressure, whatever way it looks, because it's going to be tough all the way through." 

Chelsea cruised to victory over Watford, moving them back above Manchester United, while Leicester City boosted their bid for a Champions League spot.

The in-form Mason Greenwood struck twice as United thumped Bournemouth 5-2 at Old Trafford to briefly rise into fourth place in the Premier League, but Chelsea later responded to a midweek loss at West Ham to leapfrog the Red Devils. 

Leicester are a point better off than Chelsea in third after they ran out 3-0 winners over Crystal Palace, Jamie Vardy reaching the 100 Premier League goals landmark with a late double. 

Arsenal dealt a huge blow to Wolves' top-four hopes with a 2-0 win at Molineux, while Norwich City looked doomed to relegation after they lost 1-0 at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. 

 

Willian on target again on Lampard anniversary

Brazilian Willian again showed why Frank Lampard is so keen to keep him, scoring his sixth goal in his last seven games as he converted from the penalty spot against Watford at Stamford Bridge. 

Olivier Giroud, preferred to Tammy Abraham, opened the scoring before Willian struck late in the first half. Ross Barkley rifled home his first Premier League goal since October 2018 in stoppage time to round out a comfortable 3-0 triumph. 

Chelsea had too much quality for relegation-threatened opponents a year to the day since Lampard was appointed, Christian Pulisic again catching the eye with another dazzling display. 

Ruthless United march on, Gunners fire

United stretched their unbeaten run to 16 matches in all competitions by putting beleaguered Bournemouth to the sword. 

Teenager Greenwood gave another demonstration of his quality with a goal in each half, with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes also findingthe net after Junior Stanislas had given the Cherries a shock lead. 

Meanwhile, goals from Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal a win at Wolves that moved them into seventh place, three points behind their opponents. 

Foxes get back on track, time running out for Canaries 

Former England striker Vardy scored his first goals since the season restarted as Leicester got back on track following a run of four games without a win. 

Brendan Rodgers' side were looking over their shoulders after losing at Everton in midweek, but Kelechi Iheanacho put them on their way to a home victory over Palace before Vardy took centre stage. 

In the early kick-off, Brighton eased their relegation fears and pushed bottom side Norwich closer to an immediate return to the Championship, Leandro Trossard scoring the only goal at Carrow Road. 

Mikel Arteta has called on Bukayo Saka to continue pushing himself after the youngster scored his maiden Premier League goal for Arsenal in a 2-0 win over Wolves.

Saka opened the scoring 43 minutes into Saturday's top-flight clash at Molineux, sending a half-volley beyond Rui Patricio, with Alexandre Lacazette subsequently wrapping up a win which greatly boosts Arsenal's European hopes.

The 18-year-old's goal caps a week in which he signed a new contract with the Gunners, and though Arteta has urged the winger to improve his game, he has been greatly impressed by Saka's attitude.

"He has a lot of things to improve, that's my message," Arteta told Arsenal Digital. "He struggled in some moments in the game today in the first half.

"I [played him] in a different position because I believe that he could hurt the opponent in there and he scored a really good goal.

"But what I like is that when things weren’t going for him, how he reacted and the personality to try and get the ball and fight for every ball and keep trying. He got rewarded."

At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal's defence – which has looked shaky all season – kept Wolves at bay, much to the delight of Arteta, who deployed a back three with wing-backs.

"I'm very pleased," he said. "They’re playing in a little bit different positions from what they are used to and it's a formation that we haven't used much or trained much, but the effort and attention and everything they are trying to do, that's when it brings the focus and then the results.

"I think they are really happy and that they are enjoying playing with each other in the way that they are training and the way that they are behaving. Hopefully we can continue.

"It's a long process but the hardest thing is that continuity all the time and that we don't come back to where we were and go back to bad habits. If we do that then we will compete every game."

Liverpool youngster Curtis Jones has signed a new long-term contract with the Premier League champions. 

The 19-year-old – who became Liverpool's youngest ever captain when he led out a youthful side in an FA Cup replay against Shrewsbury Town at Anfield in February – has started to break into the Reds' first team this term. 

Having made his Premier League debut as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Bournemouth in December, Jones scored his first senior goal to claim a 1-0 win in over Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round in January. 

"For me, as everyone knows, it's massive," Jones told Liverpool's official website. 

'It's my boyhood club and it's the whole of my family's club as well, so for me it's huge. I think the environment and stuff is all positive and keeps me as positive as I can. 

"Of course, we're working with a great manager and around the best team in the world, so for me it was easy and [I'm] extremely proud." 

Jones, who has made eight appearances in total this term, also believes he is learning from the best as he attempts to cement his place in Jurgen Klopp's squad.

"It's a perfect environment. I've got great boys around that help me every day – Hendo (Jordan Henderson), Millie (James Milner), [Adam] Lallana, Fabinho, the whole of the team is perfect for me to watch every day in training," he added.

"But to be involved with them, you pick up so many things and the detail in what they do and they do everything perfect – their professionalism around the place, it's perfect.

"So I'm picking up all that and taking it into my game and to me as a person. It's paying off right."

Pep Guardiola has challenged Manchester City to approach the final stages of this season's Champions League with the desire and passion to become kings of Europe. 

City return to action at Southampton on Sunday after a resounding 4-0 victory over the Liverpool side who deposed them as Premier League champions. 

Such is the scale of Liverpool's lead at the top of the table – Thursday's reverse merely trimmed it to 20 points – that the Champions League has long been the competition that looks likely to define City's season, even allowing for the fact they could add the FA Cup to an already retained EFL Cup. 

Having swept the board domestically during his Etihad Stadium tenure, Guardiola is aiming to complete the set by lifting a trophy he has not won since prevailing twice with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. 

City hold a 2-1 first-leg lead over Real Madrid ahead of their August return, which could be moved from Manchester to Lisbon if UEFA rule a game in the United Kingdom to be unworkable due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Guardiola acknowledged a confidence boost from thrashing Liverpool and believes it will be essential to harness a positive mentality against Madrid - lending greater weight to this than the bright tactical tweaks that bested Jurgen Klopp's side. 

"Every game is different from the other one," he said. "I cannot deny that beating Liverpool the way we beat them gives us… football is feelings, is moments. 

"Sometimes your mood is up, sometimes it's down and you face these games. We beat maybe the best team in the world right now. We can do it. 

"Madrid play in a different way, we have to adjust to their qualities. What I want is to arrive in the best conditions possible for these games. 

"These games are not won with tactics and ideas. It is desire, it's is passion. We want to do it. And when one team wants to do it, okay they can be beaten, but it will not be easy for the opponent." 

Lisbon will also host the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of this season's competition as a mini-tournament, with a switch to one-off games from the standard two-legged format. 

That would at least spare City from exiting on away goals again, as was the case in their respective 2017 and 2019 knockout ties against Monaco and Tottenham, which finished 6-6 and 4-4 respectively. 

Guardiola does not want those setbacks, uncertainty over where the Madrid game will be staged or City's ongoing case with UEFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to build a perception of his club being doomed in their quest for Champions League glory. 

"This club is fantastic and we learn to accept our defeats. It is part of football, part of life," he said. "Learn from this, maybe one day we will be lucky 

"I know exactly what happened all the time in the last years in the Champions League. It is a competition where the details make the difference. 

"In the second leg against Madrid we would love to be here, in our city to feel close to our people. But we will go where UEFA decides we have to play. If we have to go to Portugal, we will go." 

CAS is soon set to deliver its verdict on whether City's appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA competitions for Financial Fair Play breaches will be upheld. 

"We are waiting. I have a lot of confidence and trust that we will be allowed to play in the Champions League," Guardiola added. 

"On July 13 we'll know the resolution and hopefully for the club, for all the workers, staff and everyone we can continue to grow up as a club in the next years." 

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists he will not dwell on the 4-0 loss to Manchester City and is so used to suffering setbacks that he is able to process them better these days.

Klopp was visibly irritated as he faced the media in the immediate aftermath of the heavy defeat to Pep Guardiola's side on Thursday, the champions' first match since winning the Premier League.

The German insists nights like that one never stop hurting, but his preference is to use them as fuel for the challenges to come rather than shouting wildly at his players.

"I've had so many setbacks, so I have for sure needed more than a night, but not much longer," he said about coping with the City defeat ahead of Sunday's return to top-flight action at home to Aston Villa.

"I decided a long time ago that things I cannot change, I'm not bothered [about], and I cannot change the [City] result. I can only use it for the next game. 

"But you cannot stop feeling and a defeat feels really, really average.

"It needs time, but sometimes human beings give themselves too much time to suffer from something that didn't work out, in my understanding. 

"I'm not 'self-pity'; I'm not talented in that. I'm very self-critical and give myself stick for stuff that I don't like, but I was not a lot of time self-pitying because as long as I'm healthy, I can be influential on my situation. 

"Do I have problems with people who see differently? I'm not sure. I don't know a lot of people in these moments.

"Who do you meet after a defeat? My players listen to me and a little bit my mood, if I'm right, so if I come in shouting like crazy then we can suffer longer. 

"If you focus on the facts, then you can see, 'Okay, it's done, the boss is obviously not 100 per cent happy but we work already on a solution, so let's carry on'. 

"I don't expect from other people that they're like me, as I don't expect that I'm like other people."

With six games to go, Liverpool are still in with a chance of beating the single-season points record held by City, who recorded 100 in 2017-18.

The Reds have 86 points, with Brighton and Hove Albion and Burnley their next two opponents after facing Villa.

Pep Guardiola believes Gabriel Jesus should be valued in his own right at Manchester City and not compared unfavourably to the club's record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.

A knee injury to Aguero has afforded Jesus his latest chance for an extended run as first-choice striker at City, although the opportunity has arrived with the Brazil international enduring a barren run in front of goal.

Since scoring a vital winner at Leicester City and heading in the equaliser in City's 2-1 Champions League win at Real Madrid in February, the 23-year-old has gone eight matches without adding to his season tally of 18.

As his attacking colleagues dazzled in Thursday's 4-0 win over Premier League champions Liverpool, Jesus endured another evening of personal frustration and missed the opportunity for a statement performance with the 32-year-old Aguero into the final year of his contract.

Ahead of Sunday's trip to face Southampton at St Mary's – where Jesus enjoyed one of the highlights of his City career two years ago, scoring decisively in stoppage time to seal a 100-point season in 2017-18 – Guardiola offered his backing, citing the forward's "unique" selfless qualities.

"No one can compare to Sergio, what he has done in his career – first because he is older than Gabriel," he said.

"It is perfect for us because they are complimentary. What one guy has the other one maybe struggles with.

"Gabriel has something that is unique in the world. He helps us to be more aggressive. He is a fighter.

"I remember how many goals we have scored the last three or four or five games thanks to him.

"Gabriel is something special for us. It is unfair to compare players. Every player is different. We have to adapt his qualities for the benefit of him and the team."

By contrast, there are no notable questions over the talents of midfield talisman Kevin De Bruyne at present.

The playmaker turned in another swashbuckling showing to down Liverpool, opening the scoring with his fourth consecutive penalty conversion before having a hand in all of the other goals.

De Bruyne wore the captain's armband last time out and, a year on from long-time skipper Vincent Kompany leaving City and with club captain David Silva heading for the exit door, Guardiola praised the 29-year-old's growing leadership qualities.

"Yes [he is a leader], for the role he takes in the locker room and takes responsibility on the pitch," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss added.

"When he is captain, he wants to be captain. He wants to help, he wants to play a part and put the club and the team in front of himself.

"For sure [I see increased maturity]. Myself, I am not the same person I was when I was 25. I changed in many things. Kevin, for sure."

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