Nemanja Matic is enthused by the young talent that has fired Manchester United's revival but believes more improvement is needed to challenge for the Premier League title.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are enjoying an unbeaten run in all competitions that stretches back to January 22.

Since the Premier League's return from lockdown, United have been in electrifying form, with breakout displays from teenage forward Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes' galvanising effect to the fore.

Matic claimed Premier League glory in 2014-15 and 2016-17 at Chelsea and feels United and their exciting attack must continue to realise their potential more fully if they are to dethrone Liverpool.

"I have to be honest: it was not always easy to be in our team because we had a lot of young players, with no experience of playing at the highest level," he told Stats Perform News.

"But that was a period of transition of our team and I think in the last few years many players matured a lot.

"I have to mention [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, Greenwood, so many players matured a lot. They know they have a lot of responsibility; they play every game.

"I am happy to see them improving, taking responsibility and I am sure this team can only improve.

"It was difficult for us in the past because we were inconsistent, but I think the team is ready, more experienced. If we can improve 10 or 20 per cent more then we can challenge for the title next season."

Chelsea's 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday has left the door ajar to the top four and United will go above Frank Lampard's men if they beat Southampton on Monday.

"We are fighting, we are playing, we want to finish in the top four. There are only four games left but we are there," Matic said.

"We are fighting with Chelsea and Leicester [City] for that position, we know it's going to be hard, but we will try and win every game until the end. We want to win the Europa League and the FA Cup."

Chelsea are also in United's way in next weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, while a 5-0 first-leg lead over LASK means they can expect to contest a Europa League quarter-final against Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen next month.

Lifting the Europa League, as they did in 2016-17, of course represents another route into the Champions League if required.

"I don't think it adds more pressure, but it does give you more chances to play in the Champions League," Matic said.

"I think it's great what they did that clubs have an opportunity to fight for the Champions League.

"Also, a trophy is a trophy and we want to win, we can show our kids one day, every trophy is important to us."

The likelihood is that VAR decisions will come under the microscope once again as United contest the closing weeks of the season with all to play for.

Nevertheless, Matic is broadly a fan of the much-maligned system, although he feels breaks in play could be speeded up.

"I think it is better with VAR," he added. "Before, when referees made mistakes, it was finished.

"Now with the VAR they reduce the mistakes. There will always be mistakes because we are human, but I believe it will reduce the mistakes, so I support it.

"It needs to be faster. In the game against Bournemouth [United's recent 5-2 Premier League win] we had to wait too long.

"It's not easy to decide quickly but if they could improve more then it would be perfect."

Marcus Rashford deserves more credit for his "amazing" teamwork for Manchester United despite his goal return drying up, Bruno Fernandes says.

Rashford reached 20 for the season in all competitions with a penalty in the 5-2 Premier League win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

This has been the England forward's most productive campaign of his career in terms of goal involvements, but he has not yet scored from open play since the Premier League returned last month.

Fernandes has had no such trouble finding the net, his four goals in his past three league games helping him to win the Premier League Player of the Month award for the second time in a row.

But the Portugal star insists Rashford is hugely important for a United side unbeaten in 17 matches and with a top-four finish now in their own hands.

"I think everyone is talking about Marcus not scoring a lot of goals but he is doing an amazing job," Fernandes told United's website ahead of Monday's game against Southampton.

"The game he is playing now, maybe he is not achieving his goals and everything but, with everything we are doing now, he will achieve more goals and more assists. In the games, in the complete football, because football is not just about goals and assists, it is about the team and Marcus is playing very well for the team.

"I hope Marcus can find more goals because he deserves it for the work he is doing for the team, and nobody sees it because everyone sees the goals and who scores and assists. The work he is doing for the team is amazing.

"Marcus was injured for a long time so it's difficult to find that confidence again, to do things like shoot from far out. But he is doing an amazing job for the group and I think he deserves credit for this."

Fernandes drew attention to Rashford's off-the-ball run in the 3-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion that helped to create the space for the swift counter-attack that ended with Fernandes volleying in United's third goal.

"The play we did, the way we came to score, means it's one of the best goals from a team [perspective] that I've scored,” he said.

"That's because of all the teamwork. We won the ball with the header from H [Harry Maguire], Nemanja [Matic] takes the ball and Mason [Greenwood] did an amazing run but, at that moment, Rashy did a perfect run. He was one of the far [off] guys but comes so fast to the goal that defenders know if they give him space, he will score. 

"So maybe he [the defender] closes him down being closer to the ball and, when the cross comes over, and it was a great ball by Mason, after that I just need to score the goal."

Juventus and Inter are reportedly ready to do battle for Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo.

Zaniolo, 21, made his return from a serious knee injury this month and has repeatedly been linked with a move away from Roma.

A pair of Serie A giants may be ready to fight for the midfielder's services.

 

TOP STORY – INTER, JUVE TO BATTLE FOR ZANIOLO

Inter are ready to challenge Juventus to sign Roma star Zaniolo, according to CalcioMercato.

Zaniolo is considered one of Europe's best young talents, and left Inter for Roma in 2018.

Roma reportedly want at least €50million for the five-time Italy international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Contracted at Manchester City until 2021, Sergio Aguero may yet stay at the Etihad Stadium a little longer. The Mirror reports City have not ruled out giving the star forward, 32, a one-year extension.

- With Neymar repeatedly linked with a return to Barcelona, it seems the LaLiga giants are wanting to distance themselves from the Paris Saint-Germain star. Marca says Barca are keen to see the rumours of a potential return for Neymar stop.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barcelona apparently have interest in two players from Tottenham. The Daily Star says Barca want Ryan Sessegnon and Tanguy Ndombele. However, it reports Spurs will reject all offers for Sessegnon this close season.

- Philippe Coutinho's future remains unclear. Mundo Deportivo reports the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona until the end of the season, will not decide his future until after the Champions League next month.

- Plenty of talk continues to surround Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is coming out of contract at the Premier League club next year. The Daily Star reports the forward will sign a contract extension with Arsenal – if no other club makes an official approach.

- After just two goals in 25 games for Real Madrid, Luka Jovic seems set for an exit. According to Mundo Deportivo, Juventus, Inter, Chelsea, Leicester City, Milan and Napoli are all considering moves for the forward.

Pep Guardiola lauded Raheem Sterling's development after the attacker's hat-trick in Manchester City's 5-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Sterling's treble saw him move onto 27 goals this season, the most he has scored in a single campaign.

Guardiola paid tribute to the England international, with Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva also on the scoresheet in the convincing win on Saturday.

"All credit to [Sterling]. Not just for the three goals, it's important for what we have ahead of us," the Manchester City manager told a news conference.

"His development as a player is because he wants to improve and we are so delighted with his performance.

"Raheem himself knows exactly what he has to do. He's a huge competitor and is self-confident, aggressive, he loves to score goals.

"We have wingers with the mentality to score goals which is so important."

City's win saw them mathematically secure a top-four finish in the Premier League with three games remaining.

However, they will have to wait until Monday to learn whether their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against a two-year European ban has been successful.

Guardiola said he was "very" confident City would be successful, while adding they had proven they deserved their place in the Champions League.

"It's the [CAS] decision, so it's so important. Of course it is. We have done what we have done, won our qualification on the pitch. No one can doubt this," he said.

"It's been an outstanding season from Liverpool, and congratulations to them again for winning the Premier League.

"In general, the level that we played at today has been quite similar for the whole season and now we're going to wait for Monday for the decision that will be taken."

Raheem Sterling is eager to make his record scoring season count by helping Manchester City secure silverware after his hat-trick in the 5-0 away win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

City made a top-four finish mathematically certain, as well as all but wrapping up second place as a treble from Sterling, plus goals from Gabriel Jesus and Bernardo Silva, saw off sorry Brighton.

It was a welcome away win on Saturday after three consecutive Premier League defeats on their travels, with a home game with Bournemouth up next before a key FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

Sterling has six goals in his past five games and moved onto 27 in all competitions, making this his best scoring season.

"The most important thing for me is trying to have goals to add value to the team," Sterling said to Sky Sports.

"At the end of the day [it is most important] to try and win the FA Cup final and try to win the Champions League as well otherwise these goals don't mean anything.

"I need to try and make these goals count.

"I think the problem we have had this season is we have created a lot of chances, but last season and the season before we had finished them and buried games early on.

"This season we haven't had that slight bit of luck but we are growing, doing things right and that is we need to do, continue making chances. We can't complain.

"We were disappointed last weekend with the loss away to Southampton when we created chances but we didn’t finish them. It is great to bounce back with another away win."

Sterling moved onto 17 Premier League goals and was asked if he was eyeing a late push for the golden boot, with Jamie Vardy five ahead of him atop the scoring charts.

Sterling said: "I said to myself earlier that I'm on 14 now and I need to score a hat-trick – and I’m grateful that I scored a hat-trick."

The England international was laughing as he attempted to answer what his intentions were for his hat-trick goal, which came in unusual circumstances nine minutes from time.

He inadvertently scored a header – his second of the match – through the legs of goalkeeper Mat Ryan while he was falling to the ground having forced his way past two Brighton defenders.

Sterling said: "I tried to flick it over his head, and I've seen the keeper come out and I have headed it in! It counts!"

Kieran Tierney is going nowhere after finally making his presence felt at Arsenal and proving to be "a great addition" to Mikel Arteta's team.

Arsenal paid a reported £25million to sign left-back Tierney from Celtic last August but he did not make his debut until the end of September due to a groin problem.

He then required surgery on his shoulder in December and was ruled out for three months, finally making his return when the Premier League resumed in June following its hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Arteta has deployed a three-man defence in the Gunners' past three matches, with Tierney gaining plaudits for his performances in a slightly more advanced role on the left.

Earlier this year the Scotland international was linked with a move away from Emirates Stadium due to his injury problems, but Arteta feels he can be an asset to Arsenal in the long term.

"I'm very impressed with him since I joined, just before he started to play games as well, just how he was acting and working on his rehab," said Arteta ahead of the north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday.

"Everyone loves him at the club and it's not a coincidence, he earns that every single day [with] the way he treats people, the way he walks around the club, the energy he brings to the place. Then with his performances, I'm delighted.

"He's adapted really well, he's a player that gives you everything in every session and every game, and the quality as well that he's added, he's still so young, still things to improve obviously, but he's been a great addition to the team.

"He's not going anywhere. He had a really difficult period because of the injuries, because he moved to a different city and a different context.

"Back in Glasgow he was with a club that was winning all the time and he was very settled. It was a challenge for him and he's been dealing with that in the best possible way – with some difficulties, he needed the club to support him and his team-mates to make life easier for him.

"We're all trying to help him, but you help him with pleasure because of what he brings and how willing he is all the time to work, improve and give his maximum to the team.

"I think Kieran has adapted really, really well. Obviously it's a collective game and you need the right structure, the right people around you, the right players supporting you, to play in your best position obviously, and we are learning where he feels most comfortable and how he can have a bigger impact on the team. It's a process we are in."

Arteta outlined the reason for his recent tactical shift, stating it was part through necessity and part due to a desire to add some unpredictability.

"Well, we changed a little bit our formation in the last few weeks, just adapting to the injuries we have and the issues that occur around the team," he said.

"We need to be more flexible and we need adaptability, and we cannot be so predictable as well.

"I think it's very important that we are able to dominate different areas, different formations to improve as a team."

Arsenal are unbeaten in five games since losing back-to-back matches against Manchester City and Brighton and Hove Albion upon the league's return.

"I think you learn from every performance, from every reaction that situations bring to the team. The Brighton team again, I never faulted their effort or how willing they were or how hard they fought, it was about competing," said Arteta.

"In this league you cannot switch off, you cannot give anything to an opponent. If we are able to do that in a consistent way, we will be very difficult to beat. I know that for a fact, and I can see the progression of it.

"But without that, it doesn't matter what we do for 85 minutes, we will give many games away. That's the difference between top teams and teams that are not fighting for anything."

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City ran riot in a 5-0 away victory over Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.

England international Sterling made it six goals in five games, moving on to 27 strikes in all competitions – his best scoring tally in a single season.

His opener and a goal from Gabriel Jesus, who ended Saturday's match with two assists, ensured City were in complete control by half-time after making six changes to their starting XI.

Sterling netted again and Bernardo Silva scored before the hour mark as Brighton, who remain eight points clear of the bottom three, had no answer.

Nine minutes before the end, a determined Sterling grabbed his third.

Jesus and Eric Garcia had already missed early chances by the time Sterling put the visitors in front after 21 minutes.

He cut inside from the left and impressively found the far corner from 20 yards after collecting Jesus' headed lay-off.

Jesus had a shot deflected onto the crossbar by Brighton defender Lewis Dunk and also showed some great footwork to create a chance which Riyad Mahrez narrowly fired wide.

But City were not to be denied, Jesus tapping in from under the crossbar after Rodri had helped on a Kevin De Bruyne corner a minute before the break.

De Bruyne cannoned a free-kick off the post shortly after the restart and City soon got their third after 53 minutes when Sterling headed in Mahrez’s in-swinging free-kick from inside the six-yard box.

It was four in the visitors' next attack when Mat Ryan could not hold Bernardo Silva's deflected effort and Jesus kept the ball alive to allow the Portugal international to convert a simple follow-up.

Sterling’s hat-trick goal came in unusual fashion, as he forced his way past Dunk and Adam Webster before somehow creeping a header between Ryan's legs while he fell to the ground, with a scrambling Dan Burn then helping it over the line.
 

What does it mean? City emphatically end away-day blues

City had lost their last three Premier League away games, while they had scored just three times in their last six top-flight matches on their travels, despite an expected goals figure of 13.

They had no issues bringing those poor runs to a welcome end with a victory that all but secures second place in the Premier League after Chelsea's defeat against Sheffield United.


Jesus impresses with Aguero out

Brazil international Jesus scored his first goal since lockdown against Newcastle United last time out and, apart from the superb Sterling, was excellent as City's other standout in this game.

He scored one and assisted two as well as being a constant threat in a lively 63-minute outing. He now has 20 goals and 10 assists in a season where he has become even more important with Sergio Aguero out injured.


Brighton backline a concern

Convincing home defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool and now City mean Brighton are not yet mathematically safe. Facing Pep Guardiola's side is a formidable task at the best of times, but their defending did themselves no favours here, with City players constantly finding themselves unmarked close to goal.


What's next?

City will likely make changes ahead of their FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal when they host struggling Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday, a day before Brighton could seal safety when they play away to Southampton.

Frank Lampard is not concerned with Chelsea potentially being fifth in the Premier League by the time they next play but warned his side they cannot repeat the approach taken in Saturday's 3-0 loss to Sheffield United.

The Blues' Champions League ambitions were dented as a brace from David McGoldrick – one goal either side of Oli McBurnie's header – sealed all three points for the Blades

Third-placed Chelsea were second best throughout at Bramall Lane, with a limp defeat meaning Leicester City and Manchester United can leapfrog them with wins over Bournemouth and Southampton respectively.

Fifth may still be enough for Champions League football, depending on the outcome of Manchester City's appeal against their two-year ban from the competition.

However, Lampard has no designs on putting Chelsea's fate in the hands of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Lampard told Sky Sports: "What we have to do now with that game is put that to bed because the only thing that matters now is that we fight for top four and we're still in that race because of how we've been this season. We have to put this game away very quickly, but I learnt a lot.

"They were stronger than us, I think you could feel that. We don't have a crowd so you hear every voice, all I could hear was Sheffield United voices.

"They were stronger in that sense, and they're good players, they're a good team. We all know that this season. So if you come here and perform below par collectively as we did, it's going to happen."

However, Lampard is not focusing on where Chelsea could be in the table come their next game against relegated Norwich City on Thursday, which is followed by the FA Cup semi-final with United and the Blues' final two league matches versus champions Liverpool and Wolves.

"That's the reality of it but I'm not concerned so much about top four today," Lampard replied when asked about dropping to fifth. 

"All I do is sit and watch all the games on TV and consider where we're at and what we want to do, because, of course, I want to get there, but today I'm concerned about how we performed and I learnt a lot about that.

"I'm not thinking right now, 'We might be fifth, we might still be third or fourth.' I'm thinking that we'll see by the time these teams play and by the time we approach Norwich, and we cannot approach Norwich or Manchester United or Liverpool and Wolves in the same vein as we did today."

Burnley players blocking Alisson at set-pieces was the reason for Jurgen Klopp remonstrating with referee David Coote after Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Burnley on Saturday.

Klopp was disappointed with the lack of protection received by the Brazil goalkeeper as Liverpool's 24-game home winning run in the Premier League was ended by Sean Dyche's side.

Andy Robertson headed the Reds in front during a dominant first half, but they were unable to add to their tally with Nick Pope in inspired form.

Jay Rodriguez fired a 69th-minute equaliser in for Burnley and they would have won it had Johan Gudmundsson not been denied by the crossbar late on.

The draw dented Liverpool's hopes of surpassing Manchester City's record haul of 100 points – they must now win their remaining three games to do so.

Klopp, joined by Robertson, fumed at the referee and his assistants on the pitch at the final whistle and explained the reason for his actions in a post-match news conference.

"I spoke [to the referee] about the goalkeeper situations," said Klopp.

"I feel like we've lost the game, we didn't, I know that, and maybe it's not the best time to talk about these things … but how can you let it happen? When a corner comes in, three players are allowed to block the goalie - that's just not how it should be.

"But for the ref it was not a foul or not a problem and that's why he didn't whistle in these situations. That's what I told him, but it had no influence on the result."

Roberto Firmino hit the post early in the second half and remains without a Premier League goal at Anfield this season.

However, the Brazil international created six chances for his team-mates and Klopp does not think his lack of home league goals could become a serious issue for him.

"It cannot become a psychological problem for him because Bobby played an outstanding game today and we don't judge him, so I hope he won't read your newspaper if you make a story of it," said Klopp.

"We just don't think about it. It's not important who scores. We need Bobby for other things. We need Bobby in exactly the spaces where he was today. We need him as the link-up for all the other things.

"We only have chances because Bobby plays the way he plays, and he will score, there's absolutely no doubt about it. We are not worried at all about that, because he played an outstanding game today and was involved in so many decisive situations.

"Nobody scored apart from Robbo [Robertson] with a header, so it will not become a problem."

Burnley boss Sean Dyche was proud of his players for riding out the storm and coming away with a point to boost their hopes of a return to European football.

"I thought, [in the] first half they [Liverpool] were terrific, as they have been virtually all season. Not just with the ball, they press, they harry you, they hardly give you a chance to get in the game, which we didn't, we had to just defend," said Dyche.

"That's the way it is sometimes against the top sides. We just about hung in there. The keeper made a couple of big saves and big moments. We did have one golden chance for Jay Rodriguez and a couple of moments from set-pieces, so we'd done enough to at least ask a question.

"At half-time I said to them, 'Look, even for top sides I think it's difficult for them to keep that up for what ends up being a 95-minute game.'

"They didn't quite manage that, still very good second half, but I thought we just about found a foothold in the game and started asking more questions.

"I thought we were a threat from set-pieces all day and then we found a big moment, which we have done lately."

Chelsea's Champions League ambitions suffered a setback as they slumped to a 3-0 Premier League defeat at top-six hopefuls Sheffield United.

The Blues had responded to their 3-2 defeat to West Ham on July 1 with back-to-back wins over Watford and Crystal Palace but were easily second best in south Yorkshire.

David McGoldrick's first Premier League goal and a header from Oli McBurnie saw the Blades take command in the first half.

The visitors dominated possession but did nothing with it in a dismal display, their misery compounded as McGoldrick doubled his tally 13 minutes from time.

United leapfrog Wolves into sixth place, having played a game more. Chelsea are six points ahead in third but remain only a point above fourth-place Leicester City and two ahead of Manchester United in fifth.

McGoldrick ended his wait for a top-flight goal in the simplest of fashions as he hammered home the rebound from point-blank range after Kepa Arrizabalaga had reacted well to McBurnie's deflected volley.

Fifteen minutes later, McBurnie was not to be denied as he headed Enda Stevens' left-wing cross into the bottom-left corner after the Blades cut through a lackadaisical Chelsea defence.

Dean Henderson did well to preserve the two-goal advantage, getting down low to keep out Reece James' drive.

Chelsea offered precious little as an attacking force despite controlling the ball, with the introduction of Olivier Giroud in the 66th minute failing to spark a revival.

McGoldrick made sure there would be no comeback as he pounced on a dreadful error from Antonio Rudiger, with Lys Mousset spurning a gilt-edged chance to make it 4-0 in a rare mistake from a home side excellently positioned to play at least in the Europa League for the first time.

Jurgen Klopp felt Liverpool only had themselves to blame and hailed Nick Pope after Burnley ended the champions' long home winning run by securing a 1-1 draw at Anfield in the Premier League.

The Reds dominated the first half on Saturday, but only held a one-goal lead at the break courtesy of an Andy Robertson header.

Pope produced a string of stunning saves, denying Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as Liverpool played some scintillating football but came across a Clarets goalkeeper at his brilliant best.

Roberto Firmino rattled the post before Jay Rodriguez equalised with a clinical finish, and Johann Gudmundsson almost snatched a winner for Burnley when he struck the crossbar late on.

Klopp expressed his frustration after Liverpool's 24-game winning home run in the top flight - stretching back to February 2019 - came to an end, leaving them needing seven points from three games to match Manchester City's record points tally of 100.

The Reds boss told BT Sport: "It was a really good game, but we left the door open for Burnley and we should have closed it.

"We should have scored two, three or four goals at least. The referee let lots of challenges go so it was clear that if the ball comes into the box it was dangerous. They did what they are good at and I respect that."

Klopp praised a stunning performance from Pope but said his side should have been in control long before Rodriguez struck after 69 minutes.

He added: "Of course it is frustrating, we should have scored much earlier. We warmed Nick Pope up and at the end he was properly really warm, he made some sensational saves.

"It's our fault because we should have closed the game, but we didn't. Burnley is a team who stay in the game and they have two top strikers who constantly go for each ball.

"It's an intense period and at the end we were pushing up and they are always dangerous. That's why you have to take your chances.

"But we stand here with only one point and that is not exactly what we wanted."

Gerson has no interest in leaving Flamengo despite reported interest from Premier League duo Chelsea and Tottenham.

After an unsuccessful stint at Roma, Fluminense youth product Gerson returned to Brazil after an €11.8million deal was agreed with Flamengo in July 2019.

The 23-year-old has since won the Campeonato Brasileiro, Copa Libertadores, Supercopa do Brasil and the Recopa Sudamericana, while the Campeonato Carioca could be secured next week with Jorge Jesus' side taking on Fluminense in a two-legged final.

Gerson's displays have led to links to some of Europe's biggest clubs, but he insists he is happy at Flamengo.

"After a year with Flamengo, I can promise that I never spoke with another club. My focus is totally on Flamengo," he told Globo Esporte.

"I feel at home, I am happy, I am wanted and I am at a club that is on the level of European sides.

"We can't shut doors, football shows this, but today I am very happy and fulfilled to be in the club of my heart.

"I rediscovered myself here and I want to win yet more trophies in this shirt."

Jay Rodriguez's equaliser ended Liverpool's 100 per cent home Premier League record and dented their hopes of setting a new highest points tally as Burnley secured a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

The champions dominated the Clarets for much of the game and Andy Robertson put them in front in a one-sided first half that saw the outstanding Nick Pope make a string of fine saves.

Roberto Firmino hit the post after the break as Liverpool remained on the front foot, but the in-form Clarets started to pose more of a threat and Rodriguez salvaged an unlikely point.

Johann Gudmundsson rattled the crossbar late on as Burnley almost snatched a stunning victory.

Liverpool need seven points from their last three games to match Manchester City's record of 100 points in a top-flight season after slipping up at home following 24 successive league wins.

Liverpool played with the swagger of champions from the start and Pope produced a brilliant reflex save to keep out Mohamed Salah's right-footed volley before the Clarets goalkeeper superbly denied the Egypt forward once again.

The Reds applied relentless pressure and they were rewarded after 34 minutes, Fabinho picking out Robertson with a pinpoint diagonal ball and the left-back ghosted in unmarked from the right to plant a header into the far corner of the net.

Burnley were on the ropes and Pope produced more heroics on the stroke of half-time, somehow palming Sadio Mane's rasping left-foot drive away for a corner.

Liverpool carried on where they left off after the break, Firmino striking the post with his left foot before Curtis Jones - making his first Premier League start - fired into the Kop.

Salah was denied a penalty when he tangled with James Tarkowski, who was then involved in an equaliser from out of the blue with just over 20 minutes to go.

The centre-back nodded down a free-kick in the Liverpool penalty area and Rodriguez swivelled to drill into the far corner with his right foot and Gudmundsson struck the bar in a dramatic finale.

 

What does it mean? Reds have little margin for error in pursuit of a century

It appeared Jurgen Klopp's men were going to ease to yet another win on Merseyside, but a combination of Rodriguez and Pope had other ideas.

The champions need to win all three matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle United to better City's tally of 100.

 

Outstanding Pope continues to stake England claim

Liverpool could have had the points sewn up at half-time if it were not for the brilliance of Pope. 

The Burnley keeper has been outstanding this season and is putting serious pressure on England number one Jordan Pickford.

 

Woe for Firminho 

Firminho has played a big part in Liverpool's success this season, but the Brazil forward has still not scored a home goal in the league.

He was left holding his head yet again after he beat Pope with a left-footed shot but saw his effort come back off the woodwork.

 

What's next? 

Liverpool travel to the capital for a clash with Arsenal on Wednesday, while the Clarets face Wolves at Turf Moor on the same evening.

Jack Grealish has not seen sufficient ambition from Aston Villa to tempt him to stay with the club, according to former captain Stiliyan Petrov.

Relegation from the Premier League looks a near certainty for Villa now, after Watford and West Ham claimed potentially decisive wins on Saturday to pull clear of the bottom three.

It will mean Villa's return to the top flight has lasted just one campaign, after Grealish spent three seasons in the Championship helping his boyhood club battle their way back to the elite level.

Grealish is widely expected to leave, having been linked with a host of leading clubs including Manchester United, and the 24-year-old may risk his potential going unfulfilled should he drop into the second tier again.

Although Villa were among the big spenders leading into the 2019-20 season, Petrov suggests the 1982 European Cup winners have still not matched Grealish's needs.

And in turn that leads to the inevitable suspicion he will call time on his Villa career.

Speaking to Stats Perform News, Petrov said: "As a Villa fan I'd love him to stay. Jack likes to compete, he wants to do that at the highest level. He loves the club. He showed that in the Championship, he helped us get promotion, he battled hard in the Premier League.

"If that moment comes [when Grealish leaves], it would be sad to see because he is an exceptional person, not just player. But as a club, have we done enough to keep him?

"I don't think so and it's a big problem going forward as a club, because we may get good players through the youth system, but can we do enough to keep them?

"If he goes, I don't think he can be blamed."

Former Bulgaria star Petrov, who made over 200 appearances for Villa from 2006 until 2012, says it would be a natural progression for Grealish to step up to an established Premier League club.

"Jack has a growth mindset," Petrov said. "He likes to improve, he wants to achieve.

"He likes to be in the spotlight, wants to be counted. He wants to compete at the highest level.

"Of course, he will generate interest from the top clubs because he does perform. If you remember, Pep Guardiola said he's one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

"That compliment comes from one of the best managers in the world. Those managers don't waste their words saying this about someone who doesn't deserve it.

"That's why Pep came out and said he's one of the best and his performances this season have attracted attention. It's completely normal."

Hakim Ziyech has had his first training session as a Chelsea player.

The 27-year-old signed a five-year deal with the Blues after Ajax accepted a deal that could be worth €44million in February.

With the Eredivisie season having been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ziyech has largely been out of action since early March, but he was put through his paces during a fitness session at Cobham on Saturday.

The Morocco international arrived in England on Friday and was pictured with friends at a Mayfair restaurant that evening.

Ziyech underwent light fitness training with a view to being incorporated into first-team sessions in the coming weeks, although he is unavailable to head coach Frank Lampard until the 2020-21 season.

Chelsea, who are third in the Premier League with four matches remaining, face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

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