Mikel Arteta will be able to call on Mesut Ozil for his first game in charge of Arsenal as the Gunners visit Bournemouth on Boxing Day.

Arteta labelled the much-maligned Ozil a "massive player" for Arsenal on Friday after he was confirmed as the Gunners' new head coach.

However, Ozil, who was struggling with a foot injury, was not involved as Arsenal drew 0-0 with Everton in Freddie Ljungberg's final match in temporary charge on Saturday, with Arteta watching on from the stands at Goodison Park.

The playmaker - who Ljungberg said would not have been involved even if fit due to his petulant reaction to being subbed off against Manchester City - has now recovered from the problem, however, and will be available for selection at the Vitality Stadium.

Arsenal will also be hopeful of having Dani Ceballos available, after he has returned from a hamstring injury, while Hector Bellerin is also back in full training.

Gabriel Martinelli is being assessed, as is Rob Holding, though Calum Chambers is suspended.

Sead Kolasinac will be out until at least January with an ankle injury, and Kieran Tierney, who dislocated his shoulder, has had successful surgery and will return to training in March.

Manchester City battled to a 3-1 comeback win against Leicester City to keep alive their slim Premier League title hopes, while Everton and Arsenal played out a bore draw at Goodison Park.

Riyad Mahrez struck against his former club to cancel out Jamie Vardy's opener in a game the reigning champions went on to win comfortably, moving them to within a point of their second-placed opponents.

Elsewhere, Miguel Almiron scored his first Premier League goal to fire Newcastle United to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, while Everton and Arsenal played out a bore draw at Goodison Park.

Paraguay international Almiron volleyed home late on to get off the mark on his 27th appearance in the competition and settle a match that was heading for a goalless draw.

Goals proved hard to come by in the stalemate between Everton and Arsenal, a low-quality match watched from the stands by respective incoming bosses Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta.

Everton failed to record a shot on target in a top-flight home match for the first time since January 2018, while Gabriel Martinelli went closest to scoring for the visitors.

Elsewhere, Burnley, Sheffield United, Wolves and Southampton all won away from home, the latter seeing off relegation rivals Aston Villa 3-1 to boost their survival hopes.
 

City comeback flattens Foxes

Pep Guardiola's side entered Saturday's late kick-off sitting four points behind Leicester and 14 adrift of Liverpool, meaning only victory would do if they were to keep their outside title aspirations alive.

Those hopes were further dented when Vardy got on the end of Harvey Barnes' pass and scored through Leicester's first effort at goal but, inspired by another Kevin De Bruyne masterclass, the champions roared back to claim back-to-back league wins.

Mahrez, who won the Premier League title with Leicester in 2016, fired a deflected shot past Kasper Schmeichel to pull one back and Ilkay Gundogan converted from the penalty spot after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Ricardo Pereira.

De Bruyne picked up the assist his performance deserved in the second half by setting up Gabriel Jesus - who had not previously scored on home soil this season - to seal the victory.

Arsenal's poor form continues

With Arteta not officially taking charge of his first Arsenal match until the Boxing Day trip to Bournemouth, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg oversaw yet another below-par display from his side.

The Gunners looked the more likely side to score on Merseyside but lacked cohesion all over the field and had to settle for a point, making it just one win in 13 matches in all competitions.

Arsenal did at least manage to test Jordan Pickford - the England international doing well to keep out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the second half - with the Toffees rarely troubling the opposition defence.

Ancelotti was confirmed as Everton's new manager on a four-and-a-half-year deal shortly before kick-off, giving him a chance to witness up close just how big a task he has on his hands when taking the reins from stand-in boss Duncan Ferguson.

Almiron ends drought to extend Palace's winless run

A third victory in four Premier League matches for Newcastle was secured thanks to Almiron, who has had a tough time of things since arriving from Atlanta United for a reported £20million in January.

Almiron converted with a first-time finish seven minutes from time after being teed up by Andy Carroll's header, ending his long-running goal drought and sending United up to ninth place.

Palace, now without a win in three league outings, saw more of the ball and had the better of the chances, but Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke were unable to find a way past home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Ings inspires Southampton to vital victory

Southampton leapfrogged fellow strugglers Aston Villa into 17th place with a Danny Ings-inspired win, the one-cap England international reaching double figures for the season before Christmas.

Ings scored either side of Jack Stephens' towering header as Ralph Hasenhuttl's charges raced into a three-goal lead at Villa Park with 51 minutes played.

Jack Grealish scored a fine goal to reduce the arrears, but Villa left themselves with too big a mountain to climb and are now in the relegation zone after a fourth defeat on the spin.

Norwich cut further adrift

Norwich City failed to make their first-half dominance count in a 2-1 home loss to Wolves that leaves them six points adrift of safety at Christmas.

Todd Cantwell pounced on a loose ball to give Norwich a deserved 17th-minute lead, but they could not build on their advantage and Wolves hit back.

After a subdued opening hour, Romain Saiss sparked his side into life with a powerful header and Raul Jimenez made it 16 goals for the season across all competitions late on to condemn Norwich - who have one point from their last five home matches - to another defeat.

Wilder's men overcome more VAR frustrations

Sheffield United continued their march up the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, despite the frustration of having two goals ruled out by VAR.

John Egan's bundled finish was chalked off for handball and Jack O'Connell was denied for offside - the third and fourth goals United have been awarded on the field this term, only for VAR to intervene.

Not that it mattered, though, as Oli McBurnie's third goal of the season - a powerful strike past Mat Ryan after 23 minutes - proved enough for Chris Wilder's men to keep their unbeaten away record this season intact as they moved into the lofty heights of fifth place.

Rodriguez settles contest between shot-shy sides

Burnley edged out Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium in a game that saw the sides register just five shots between them - the fewest recorded in a Premier League game since records began in 2003-04.

The one and only attempt on target arrived in the final minute of the game, Jay Rodriguez heading in Ashley Westwood's cross from close range to settle a dreadful game.

Jefferson Lerma's 30-yard effort over the bar was as good as things got for a Bournemouth side that have lost six of their last seven league matches to slip into relegation danger.

Miguel Almiron scored his first Premier League goal to fire Newcastle United to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, while Everton and Arsenal played out a bore draw at Goodison Park.

Paraguay international Almiron volleyed home late on to get off the mark on his 27th appearance in the competition and settle a match that was heading for a goalless draw.

Goals proved hard to come by in the stalemate between Everton and Arsenal, a low-quality match watched from the stands by respective incoming bosses Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta.

Everton failed to record a shot on target in a top-flight home match for the first time since January 2018, while Gabriel Martinelli went closest to scoring for the visitors.

Elsewhere, Burnley, Sheffield United, Wolves and Southampton all won away from home, the latter seeing off relegation rivals Aston Villa 3-1 to boost their survival hopes.

Arsenal's poor form continues

With Arteta not officially taking charge of his first Arsenal match until the Boxing Day trip to Bournemouth, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg oversaw yet another below-par display from his side.

The Gunners looked the more likely side to score on Merseyside but lacked cohesion all over the field and had to settle for a point, making it just one win in 13 matches in all competitions.

Arsenal did at least manage to test Jordan Pickford - the England international doing well to keep out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the second half - with the Toffees rarely troubling the opposition defence.

Ancelotti was confirmed as Everton's new manager on a four-and-a-half-year deal shortly before kick-off, giving him a chance to witness up close just how big a task he has on his hands when taking the reins from stand-in boss Duncan Ferguson.

Almiron ends drought to extend Palace's winless run

A third victory in four Premier League matches for Newcastle was secured thanks to Almiron, who has had a tough time of things since arriving from Atlanta United for a reported £20million in January.

Almiron converted with a first-time finish seven minutes from time after being teed up by Andy Carroll's header, ending his long-running goal drought and sending United up to ninth place.

Palace, now without a win in three league outings, saw more of the ball and had the better of the chances, but Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke were unable to find a way past home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

Ings inspires Southampton to vital victory

Southampton leapfrogged fellow strugglers Aston Villa into 17th place with a Danny Ings-inspired win, the one-cap England international reaching double figures for the season before Christmas.

Ings scored either side of Jack Stephens' towering header as Ralph Hasenhuttl's charges raced into a three-goal lead at Villa Park with 51 minutes played.

Jack Grealish scored a fine goal to reduce the arrears, but Villa left themselves with too big a mountain to climb and are now in the relegation zone after a fourth defeat on the spin.

Norwich cut further adrift

Norwich City failed to make their first-half dominance count in a 2-1 home loss to Wolves that leaves them six points adrift of safety at Christmas.

Todd Cantwell pounced on a loose ball to give Norwich a deserved 17th-minute lead, but they could not build on their advantage and Wolves hit back.

After a subdued opening hour, Romain Saiss sparked his side into life with a powerful header and Raul Jimenez made it 16 goals for the season across all competitions late on to condemn Norwich - who have one point from their last five home matches - to another defeat.

Wilder's men overcome more VAR frustrations

Sheffield United continued their march up the Premier League with a 1-0 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, despite the frustration of having two goals ruled out by VAR.

John Egan's bundled finish was chalked off for handball and Jack O'Connell was denied for offside - the third and fourth goals United have been awarded on the field this term, only for VAR to intervene.

Not that it mattered, though, as Oli McBurnie's third goal of the season - a powerful strike past Mat Ryan after 23 minutes - proved enough for Chris Wilder's men to keep their unbeaten away record this season intact as they moved into the lofty heights of fifth place.

Rodriguez settles contest between shot-shy sides

Burnley edged out Bournemouth 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium in a game that saw the sides register just five shots between them - the fewest recorded in a Premier League game since records began in 2003-04.

The one and only attempt on target arrived in the final minute of the game, Jay Rodriguez heading in Ashley Westwood's cross from close range to settle a dreadful game.

Jefferson Lerma's 30-yard effort over the bar was as good as things got for a Bournemouth side that have lost six of their last seven league matches to slip into relegation danger.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba is coveted at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His French connection with Zinedine Zidane means there is constant speculation.

However, Pogba is set to remain at United for the time being.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID GIVE UP ON POGBA… FOR NOW

LaLiga giants Real Madrid will not sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba in January, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Pogba – still recovering from injury – continues to be linked with Madrid amid doubts over his United future.

Madrid, however, recognise there is "no chance" of prising the Frenchman from Old Trafford in the New Year.

 

ROUND-UP

- A return to Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake looks likely, claims Bleacher Report. Chelsea have a £40million buyback clause for Ake, who left Stamford Bridge permanently in 2017. Manchester City have also been linked to the 24-year-old defender.

- Barcelona defender Jean-Clair Todibo has turned down a move to Milan, reports RMC. The 19-year-old has also been linked to Ligue 1 outfit Monaco and Premier League giants Manchester United.

- Qatari outfit Al Rayyan have re-opened talks with Juventus regarding the transfer of out-of-favour striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. United and Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund are also reportedly interested in the veteran Croatian.

Napoli have offered Dries Mertens a two-year contract extension, says Sky Sport Italia. The Belgian, who is out of contract at season's end, has been the subject of reported interest from Dortmund.

- Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to swap Leandro Paredes for Juventus midfielder Emre Can, reports the Daily Mail.

- La Nazione says Fiorentina are looking to bring former Milan striker Patrick Cutrone back to Serie A. The Italian left San Siro for Premier League side Wolves at the start of the season.

- Former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is in talks to join Javier Mascherano at Argentine outfit Estudiantes. Iniesta currently plays for Vissel Kobe in Japan, however, TNT Sports claims the 35-year-old midfielder could move in 2020.

Points were dropped by several Premier League sides with top-six aspirations on a weekend when leaders Liverpool were rescued by Mohamed Salah's finishing as they extended their winning streak and their cushion at the top.

The Reds beat Watford 2-0 at Anfield to move 10 points clear of Leicester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by struggling Norwich City.

There was also frustration for a top-four side at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea failed to score for the second time in three Premier League home games as they succumbed 1-0 to Bournemouth.

Manchester City suffered no such slip-up when they travelled to Arsenal on Sunday, as a 3-0 win for the third-placed defending champions moved them to 14 points behind Liverpool.

Tottenham nudged up to fifth after beating Wolves 2-1 to offer further evidence that Jose Mourinho has addressed some of the problems his side faced on the road under Mauricio Pochettino.

Take a deep dive into the big stories of the weekend in our Premier League Data Diary.

REDS STREAK RANKS THIRD AFTER TRICKY HORNETS TEST

Goals from Mohamed Salah and some wayward Watford finishing ensured Liverpool claimed a 2-0 win at Anfield to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to 34 games.

Only Arsenal (49 between May 2003 and October 2004) and Chelsea (40 between October 2004 and October 2005) can boast longer undefeated sequences in the competition, and the Reds have won their last 16 league games at Anfield.

Five more consecutive home wins would see Jurgen Klopp's men match the record (21) set by Bill Shankly's title-winning Liverpool side between January and December 1972.

Salah's double takes his goal tally to 84 in 126 appearances for Liverpool, eclipsing Luis Suarez's record of 82 goals in 133 games for the Reds.

Watford have taken just nine points from 17 league games this season, and the omens for them are not good: all of the nine teams to accumulate nine points or fewer after 17 Premier League matches have been eventually relegated.

 

HONEYMOON PERIOD A DISTANT MEMORY FOR LAMPARD

After seeing Chelsea lose just two of his first 12 Premier League games in charge, Frank Lampard watched his charges slip to a fourth defeat in five against Bournemouth on Saturday.

The 1-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge came courtesy of Dan Gosling's first league goal since April and left the Blues with just one fewer home defeat (five) in all competitions this season than they suffered in 62 games over 2017-18 and 2018-19 combined.

Chelsea have lost two of their last three top-flight home games, as many as they had in their previous 28 at Stamford Bridge, and failed to score in both of those defeats.

Since their promotion in 2015, no side has won more Premier League away game at Chelsea than Bournemouth (three, level with Liverpool).

 

MOURINHO'S MEN MAKE PROGRESS ON THE ROAD

Prior to Jose Mourinho's arrival as Tottenham boss, Spurs had failed to win a Premier League away game this season. But since he took charge they have won two out of three in the league on the road.

Lucas Moura's spectacular solo goal gave them the lead at Molineux and the Brazilian has now scored three goals in five top-flight appearances under Mourinho.

Wolves pulled level after 67 minutes of a scintillating game, Adama Traore scoring his fourth goal in 26 appearances in all competitions this season - twice as many goals as he scored in his previous 82 matches.

But Jan Vertonghen restored Tottenham's lead in second-half stoppage-time, inflicting a third home league defeat for Wolves in 2019 while extending Mourinho's record of not losing Premier League games when his side score first to 54 games since October 2015.

 

CHAMPIONS CRUISE AGAINST SHOT-SHY GUNNERS

Arsenal shipped three goals in 40 first-half minutes as they lost 3-0 at home to Manchester City, which left the Gunners with one win from their last nine Premier League matches.

Freddie Ljungberg's men are without a win at home in six games across all competitions - the club's longest such run since an eight-game streak between December 1994 and February 1995.

Kevin De Bruyne produced a masterclass at the Emirates, scoring either side of Raheem Sterling's tap-in, which he set up, to take his goal involvement tally to 19 in the league this season (seven goals and 12 assists).

Sterling's effort was his seventh away goal in the league this season - his joint-highest return on the road in a single campaign (also seven in 2017-18).

While City were prolific, Arsenal mustered just one shot on target all game - their joint-fewest in a Premier League game at Emirates Stadium (one v Everton in 2010, and v Chelsea in 2015 and 2016).

Liverpool kept their first home clean sheet of the Premier League season in a 2-0 win over Watford as Mohamed Salah's double rescued the off-key Reds.

The manner in which Jurgen Klopp's men can win when out of sorts must be hard to swallow for second-placed Leicester, who drew 1-1 at home to Norwich City, and third-placed Manchester City, who travel to Arsenal on Sunday.

Chelsea failed to put pressure on the top three as they succumbed to a 1-0 home defeat to Bournemouth, but Sheffield United moved up to fifth after brushing Aston Villa aside in a 2-0 win.

Chris Wood's goal was enough to bring Burnley's three-match losing streak to an end and condemn Newcastle United to a first defeat in four league outings.

 

Watford make Reds work for 16th straight home win

New manager Nigel Pearson left Anfield with every reason to be proud of his Watford side's performance on an afternoon when the Hornets had enough chances to claim a shock victory against the Premier League leaders.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue were guilty of wasteful finishing that let Liverpool off the hook and Salah made Watford pay in spectacular style.

The Egypt international curled a spectacular opener into the top corner after 38 minutes and then wrapped up a hard-fought win with a cheeky tap-in in the last minute.

The satisfaction Jurgen Klopp took from an ugly win was dulled by an injury to Georginio Wijnaldum, who suffered a muscle strain that looks set to rule him out of Liverpool's trip to Qatar for the Club World Cup.

Liverpool have now won 16 straight home Premier League games, with their lead up to 10 points.

Four defeats in five for Lampard's Blues

Bournemouth arrived at Stamford Bridge in the midst of a five-game Premier League losing streak but emerged with all three points after Dan Gosling's late goal clinched a surprise 1-0 victory over Chelsea.

Any hopes the Blues had of a return to strong domestic form following their 2-1 midweek victory over Lille began to fade as chances went begging while Bournemouth grew in confidence.

As the Cherries piled forward, Jefferson Lerma's looping header into the box six minutes from time found Gosling unmarked and he lifted the ball over Kepa Arrizabalaga and over the line.

Chelsea had 18 shots at goal throughout the match but failed to force an equaliser and Frank Lampard's men trudged off the field with a record of one win and four defeats in their last five Premier League outings.

Foxes come up short as winning streak ends

Teemu Pukki's third goal in four Premier League matches gave Norwich City the lead at King Power Stadium, where Leicester City's eight-match Premier League winning streak came grinding to a halt.

The Finland international fired Norwich ahead after 26 minutes, but their advantage did not last long, with Tim Krul palming Jamie Vardy's header into his own net seven minutes before half-time.

Daniel Farke's Norwich fought hard for their share of the points in a second half that saw Leicester heap pressure on their goal, attempting 12 shots on goal.

Ben Chilwell's cross forced a late corner from which substitute Harvey Barnes fired agonisingly wide for the hosts, who remain second in the table.

Blades up to fifth after victory over Villa

Any doubts over which of this season's promoted sides has the best chance of a top-half finish appeared to be resolved at Bramall Lane, where Fleck scored both of Sheffield United's goals in a 2-0 win over Aston Villa.

Chris Wilder's men have proved themselves extremely tough to beat and Villa's hopes of inflicting what would have been only United's second defeat in 10 league games suffered a blow when Scotland international Fleck finished a neat passing move with a goal after 50 minutes.

Fleck coolly slotted home his second 23 minutes later before Jack Grealish hit the crossbar with a penalty, leaving Villa winless in four Premier League matches and in trouble towards the foot of the table.

Frank Lampard has demanded more urgency from Chelsea after they suffered a fourth defeat in five Premier League games against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Chelsea were poor against Eddie Howe's men – who went into the game on a run of five straight top-flight losses – and scarcely tested Cherries goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale before Dan Gosling's 84th-minute winner, given by VAR after it had initially been ruled out by referee Graham Scott.

The Blues come up against former manager Jose Mourinho when they travel to Tottenham next weekend and Lampard has demanded his side loosen the shackles in which they appear to be playing.

"If we are not at our best and if we don't have enough, then we need to find another way," he told a media conference.

"We need urgency in our play. Getting it through the lines. Don't play safe; we played too safe.

"In front of our home fans, it's clear we are not playing well enough. We are creating a lot but giving away silly goals. We didn't create enough. We didn't get the fans excited enough."

Asked if he was blaming the result on the poor atmosphere created by fans, Lampard responded: "I'm not blaming them. I would be the first to say that, but I am never going to say that today. The play was too slow. I won't blame the fans. The responsibility is on the players.

"I have been in the dressing room playing after those games and I am not going to draw a line between me and the players. We have a long week where they can go away a couple of days and, when they come back, train hard for Tottenham. We have to admit at the moment it is not good enough."

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe was delighted with his side's display and hopes the VAR decision in their favour can act as a catalyst for a run of improved results, with Gosling's goal allowed to stand after an initial offside flag.

"We certainly needed it," he said. "It was the best we have fought and competed. We looked a real threat in the second half. Everyone gave everything.

"It is a difficult one [the VAR decision]. It happened in a flash. I don't know if they stopped. I thought it would be tight. VAR took a long time. We are delighted it bounced in our favour.

"You are in the moment so are just waiting. It was hopefully something that turns our fortunes. There were some great performances."

Chelsea's form in the Premier League continued to deteriorate as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

A dire display against Eddie Howe's men shattered any Chelsea hopes that progression to the Champions League last 16 – secured by a midweek win over Lille – would rejuvenate a team who had lost three of their previous four domestic league games.

The Cherries' winner six minutes from time was initially ruled out for offside, but a VAR review showed Dan Gosling was onside before he superbly hooked over Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Blues' gap over fifth place could be reduced to two points on Sunday if Manchester United overcome Everton or Wolves beat Tottenham. Bournemouth, for their part, celebrated bringing a halt to a run of five consecutive top-flight defeats.

Christian Pulisic can give "a lot more" to Chelsea than he has in his Stamford Bridge career to date, according to head coach Frank Lampard.

The United States international did not make a start in the Premier League for almost two months before an explosive performance against Burnley in October saw him score a hat-trick in a 4-2 win.

Further strikes against Watford, Ajax and Valencia followed, but Pulisic has not now registered a goal or an assist in his past four appearances.

Although Lampard has been pleased with his development, he will not let up in the demands he places on the £58million winger.

"I have just mentioned there about conversion of chances. I think he gets himself in so many good positions with his talent and his dribbling ability that I think more goals will be the next stage of that," Lampard told reporters ahead of Chelsea's meeting with Bournemouth on Saturday.

"I am really pleased with him. I have asked a lot of him. He has played a lot of games recently, back to back, in a new league that we know is very physical for him. I am asking a lot, but he has done very well. I expect a lot more."

Fikayo Tomori is one youngster to have impressed consistently for Chelsea this season, and the centre-back was rewarded with a new five-year contract on Thursday.

"He has come a long way, and that is all his own work," Lampard said. "From the moment he came to Derby County [on loan last season], he has shown a work ethic, a want and desire to listen and improve himself.

"His personality has come out even more. He was quite quiet when he first came to Derby; he is less quiet now.

"I think everybody saw his performances in the Championship last year, [he was] Derby Player of the Year. Then [there were] big question marks in the summer over whether he can do it in the Premier League.

"He certainly hasn't proved that yet over a period of time, which is the important thing. But from my point of view, I have full trust in him. I am delighted in him to where he has got to now.

"The important thing now is that he doesn't take anything for granted now that he has got that five-year contract. It is important that the hard work starts again. I am delighted with what he has done."

Lampard is similarly pleased with the progress of full-back Reece James, who has shown signs of real promise when deputising for Cesar Azpilicueta.

"I don't want to compare him to anyone. I just want to concentrate on Reece himself," Lampard said. "He's got a great role model in Azpilicueta, who has been doing it for years here in terms of how he's been playing in recent games.

"His attitude – talk about urgency and intention to get up and down the pitch and give everything and set the tone – I think it's great for Reece to see that as well alongside him every day. But Reece also brings a real quality in his delivery and in his forward play.

"There's work to do with him, he knows that, he's a young player. So, I think he's done really well on his first steps into the team. Again, like some of the other young lads, I expect a lot more from him because I can see the quality in him."

Frank Lampard has no plans to discuss the respective futures of Olivier Giroud, Willian and Pedro before January as the trio prepare to enter the final six months of their Chelsea contracts.

Having had their transfer and registration embargo ended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Chelsea are free to sign new players in January and look set to be active.

Many expected this season to be tough for the Blues given their inability to bring in new recruits in pre-season, but they have surpassed expectations under Lampard and are fourth after 16 matches.

Supporters' outlooks might become more ambitious following the embargo's end, with several areas of Chelsea's squad seemingly in need of reinforcements.

While that could see some of the club's more experienced campaigners shown the door, Lampard insists no such decisions will be made until next month when the transfer window reopens.

Asked if he had spoken to Giroud about his future, Lampard said: "No. All the players that are here, I won't have any talk about January until we get to January. Everybody.

"I am happy for him to stay, as with every player in the squad. I want them to be here for Chelsea, have the right professionalism and right desire to be here.

"He has shown me that in his training every day this season. That's what I am happy with."

On the subject of Willian and Pedro entering the final months of their deals, Lampard added: "It is always an issue for the club as well as myself.

"I obviously, as the manager, have full conversations upstairs. There's a money side and a playing side, so I want players who want to be here and perform well for us.

"I think they both have done that over their careers here. So, that's simple from my point of view. I want good players here."

One player heavily linked with a move to Chelsea in January is Bournemouth's Nathan Ake.

The Dutch defender joined Bournemouth - who visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday - from the Blues in 2017, but Chelsea retained a buy-back clause reportedly worth £40million in the deal.

Lampard seemed unmoved by the significance of the clause, though he acknowledged they should look to bring new players in if they can.

He added: "I don't know how clever it [the buy-back clause] is - it is what it is.

"Nathan came through here and, when he has gone to Bournemouth to be able to play regular football, I think he has done fantastically well. He has shown himself as a really good defender in the Premier League.

"In terms of the back four and with the defence I have, I am very happy. Again, it [signings] won't be anything I consider until I feel otherwise, and at the minute, we can do no business.

"I am happy with the squad, but we have to improve if we can. It is not just my business; in the modern day, since I have been in management and at most clubs, it is a joint-effort. I can put forward a lot and we will work together.

"I will recommend players that can improve us, fit with the style and the way we want to go and come in really hungry. I want people who come here wanting to win and to be a Chelsea player."

Steven Gerrard has revealed he is on the brink of signing a contract extension with Rangers.

Rangers appointed Gerrard on a four-year deal in May 2018 and the former Liverpool midfielder led them to second in the Scottish Premiership in his first season in charge.

The 39-year-old missed out on a first piece of silverware in senior management after a controversial 1-0 loss to rivals Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final on Sunday.

However, Gerrard remains committed to guiding the club back to their previous heights after they were relegated to the Third Division for the 2012-13 season.

"The club approached me probably a week, 10 days ago about a new deal and it's a pretty simple decision as far as I'm concerned," said the Liverpool legend.

"I'm happy here and I'm as hungry and determined to get the good days back here as I ever was, so talks have been pretty straightforward and positive.

"When it's signed and announced you'll have to wait and see."

Gerrard stated official confirmation of renewals for Allan McGregor and Steven Davis could arrive after Rangers take on Young Boys on Thursday with a place in the last 32 of the Europa League on the line. He also hopes to tie down Bournemouth loanee Jermain Defoe beyond this season.

"[Extensions for] Allan McGregor and Steven Davis are imminent. That'll be very close and will probably be announced after Thursday's game. But that's all agreed," said Gerrard.

"They're two players I want around for a year's extension on top of this year.

"Jermain's is a bit different because he's a Bournemouth player until the end of the season but it's a similar situation in the fact that we want him to stay around.

"We'll obviously deal with that as and when we need to."

With Neymar's future far from certain, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly planning for life without the star forward.

Neymar appears to covet a Barcelona reunion, after leaving the LaLiga champions two years ago.

Should Neymar's wish be granted, an African sensation lighting up Anfield is said to be on the agenda.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR OUT, MANE IN

Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want Liverpool star Sadio Mane to replace Neymar, report France Football and Mundo Deportivo.

PSG star Neymar wanted to leave Paris during the previous transfer window, but a proposed return to Barcelona did not materialise.

Doubts remain over Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a €222million transfer in 2017 – and the French powerhouse are said to have identified Mane should the Brazilian depart the capital.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to Calciomercato, Napoli have agreed a deal for former Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso to replace head coach Carlo Ancelotti. It comes with Ancelotti on the brink amid a nine-match winless streak ahead of Tuesday's crucial Champions League clash against Genk.

Manchester City are set to rival Chelsea for Bournemouth's Nathan Ake, says Sky Sports. Chelsea want to bring Ake back to Stamford Bridge following his exit in 2017. However, Premier League champions City are reportedly interested amid their defensive woes.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been offered an 18-month contract by Napoli, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. The 38-year-old is a free agent after leaving MLS outfit LA Galaxy and he has been linked to Milan and Inter.

- Sport claims Inter want to sign either Ivan Rakitic or Arturo Vidal from Barcelona in January. Antonio Conte is determined to bolster his squad as Inter challenge for Scudetto honours and juggle Champions League commitments. Rakitic has also been linked to Serie A holders Juventus.

Everton hope to have Vitor Pereira installed as manager for Sunday's Premier League fixture at Manchester United, according to Sky Sports. After sacking Marco Silva, the Toffees are ready to offer the Shanghai SIPG coach a three-year deal. It comes as Sky Sports also reports former Arsenal boss Unai Emery was approached about the Everton job.

- The Mirror says Manchester United are ready to show their faith in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer by backing him in moves for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez and Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland. The spotlight was on Solskjaer following a poor run of form and Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham exit. However, the Norwegian has overseen consecutive victories over Tottenham and Manchester City.

Bayern Munich and Manchester City are monitoring the progress of Rangers teenager Kai Kennedy, says the Daily Record.

Jurgen Klopp said a first clean sheet in 14 games meant Liverpool's 3-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday was a "perfect" peformance.

Klopp's side cruised to an emphatic victory over the Cherries thanks to goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah.

It was Liverpool's 15th Premier League win of the season and put them 11 points clear at the top of the table, although that gap will be cut to eight should Leicester City beat Aston Villa on Sunday.

However, the manner of Liverpool's first shutout in all competitions since a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on September 29 particularly pleased the German.

"It was a professional performance, controlled, scoring wonderful goals. It was a perfect game," Klopp told the BBC's Match Of The Day.

"We didn't want to make it overly exciting again so we wanted to control Bournemouth.

"The most used word in the dressing room at the moment is clean sheet – finally! There were wonderful performances; it was a really good game for a lot of players.

"We asked is it possible to enjoy all these games. The answer is 'yes'. 

"There will be moments especially between the games where we have to switch the machine off, then we really can recover. And then switch it on again and have to be there."

The only sour note for the Reds was an injury to centre-back Dejan Lovren, who limped out in the first half, but Klopp is optimistic the Croatia international's injury was not a serious one.

"Lovren was hopefully cramp," Klopp said. "We didn't want to take any risks, but apart from that it was all round nearly perfect day.

"We have only three days and play Salzburg in an all-or-nothing game. It is the next big game for us."

Jordan Henderson helped a much-changed Liverpool to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth and then claimed it is "easy" for the unbeaten Premier League leaders to maintain their good form due to their squad depth.

Jurgen Klopp made seven changes from the side that beat Everton 5-2 on Wednesday and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah – three of those who came in – were all on target.

The victory, the Reds' 15th out of 16 in the division this season, ensured they will end the day 11 points clear at the top of the table.

With Klopp shuffling his pack at the start of a gruelling run of games, Henderson was asked whether it was difficult to maintain momentum when such wholesale changes are made.

"When you've got so many good players, it's easy," the Reds captain said.

"They've been working every single day, not only the people that might have played a lot of games. People might want more game time but in training the intensity is always high, everyone's pushing each other, and I think the lads that have come in have been outstanding.

"We need to use the whole squad. The manager has said all the way through the season there's going to be a lot of games, so we need everybody and that's proven the case so far. We need to keep that going right until the end."

Liverpool also recorded their first clean sheet since September in the league, with Bournemouth unable to muster a single shot on target against returning goalkeeper Alisson.

"It's a start but one's no good, we want more and more and more," Henderson added.

"I thought it was a proper performance, both defensively and offensively.

"We'll be happy with that, but we want to improve, want to keep going and onto the next game."

December: The month Liverpool's Premier League title bid is supposed to come off the tracks.

Yet here we are, seven advent calendar chocolates down, numerous Christmas parties already in the books, and Jurgen Klopp's Reds keep adding to their own Carry On series: Carry On Winning.

The 5-2 victory over Everton on Wednesday was their first of nine games in 26 days across the final month of the year. A festive schedule so packed it might rival the Radio Times' bumper Christmas edition.

How would a squad perceived to be weaker than rivals Manchester City's group cope with such a haul? One that includes two games in as many days, in countries 3,000 miles apart.

The early indications are they will be just fine.

Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri came in and scored three of Liverpool's five goals against Everton. Neither kept their place on Saturday as Klopp rolled the dice again by making seven changes.

Three of those who came in - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah - scored the goals in a 3-0 success over the Cherries, who have now lost their past five Premier League games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, on target in the Premier League for the first time since January 2018, and Keita became the 15th and 16th outfield players to score for the Reds in the division this term. Liverpool have used just 19, including teenager Curtis Jones, who came on for his Premier League debut 14 minutes from time.

There was a time when Klopp would not have felt as comfortable making such wholesale changes.

Players like Dominic Solanke, who failed to impress for Bournemouth on Saturday, were simply not able to replicate the performances of the men ahead of them in the pecking order when they came in. It was why sustained title challenges never materialised. Now - with Liverpool ending the day 11 points clear - it feels different.

Even without the injured Joel Matip and Fabinho, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, top scorer Sadio Mane and Origi only in reserve to begin with, with Dejan Lovren coming off with a problem, Liverpool did not miss a beat.

The most impressive performer was Salah, which has not always been the case in 2019-20.

The Egyptian had scored just once since the end of October but appeared refreshed and revitalised having had Wednesday night off.

It was his delicious backheel assist that took out three Bournemouth players and teed up Keita for the second, with the roles then reversed for a game-sealing third after the break.

Of course, sterner tests than out-of-sorts Everton and Bournemouth lie in wait, including a crucial Champions League encounter with Salzburg on Tuesday and a top-of-the-table tussle at Leicester City on Boxing Day.

Yet this is a Liverpool side boasting greater strength in depth, one equipped for a flurry of festive fixtures across four competitions.

Surely only the grinches can confidently predict December will be Liverpool's undoing this time around?

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